June 27, 2015

A Knack For Design

I grew up in a family of artists.  No, not the visual kind, but rather musicians.  Both my parents were professional musicians.  My father taught music in the public school for over 40 years and was an accomplished violinist.  He also played a plethora of other instruments quite well and used his talents in church and community settings.  My mother is a vocalist and music teacher and still uses her talents in many ways.  There was never a dull moment growing up our large family of 7 children.  I was the only girl among 6 brothers.  Wow!  That was an experience in itself.   Our family was naturally centered around music.   We each played several instruments and sang.   The typical weekend was booked with singing and instrumental engagements in churches, nursing homes, banquets, etc.

Since we had inherited our parents abilities, you would think we would naturally all turn out to be musicians today.  Although several of my brothers are still active in music, I chose to take another path.  I knew that I wanted to be an artist since early childhood.  While my family used music stands to hold their music, I used mine as an easel for my canvas.  I asked my parents for art lessons, and they signed me up for several local art classes that taught oils, charcoal drawing and pen and ink.  When I first entered college I thought I would major in music, since that was what I grew up knowing, until, I sat in a music seminar and the speaker made this comment.  "If  you cannot eat, drink and sleep music, then you should not do this." After that seminar I discovered that the only thing I could "eat, drink and sleep" was art.   The college didn't offer an art major, so I took the few art courses they had as electives while there.   When I look back, I realize that I took the long way around to becoming an artist, but I never gave up in the pursuit of practicing my passion.  Although I was unable to chase my passion of art through school, in a sense it chased me and I am where I am supposed to be today, because I didn't give up on my dream.  It also created endurance in me.

As parents, we want the best for our children.  We want them to experience many things so that they discover their talents.  However, I think the best way of helping your child discover their passion is to listen to them.  What do they talk about most?  What do they enjoy doing with their free time?  As a parent I wanted to make sure that I gave my daughter, Vanessa  the opportunity to discover what her God given abilities were.  After trying her hand at painting, I could see that she had talent, but I noticed that it just wasn't "her thing."  She informed me that she had a love/hate relationship with art when she was in grade school.  She liked the creative process, but never cared to be forced to create the same thing that everyone else around her was making in art class.

Vanessa, First Grade

Entering 12th Grade

When Vanessa reached high school she was already pursing her passion during study hall without our knowledge.  Every chance she had, she would pull out a piece of notebook paper and start creating designs.  We didn't know she was doing this until the end of 10th grade when we found her notebook full of designs, each one done by hand.  

Her first design in 8th grade

A sampling of Vanessa's designs.

A few of her finished designs on art paper ready for printing.

I'm not sure how Vanessa will choose to use her designing ability, but I think the lesson here is to listen to your children and to give them many opportunities to explore and discover what they both like and dislike until they find what they are passionate about. 


  1. Mary, you are also talented at writing/communicating because I loved reading your thoughts. Thank you for a glimpse of your family. It's a wonder that you weren't spoiled rotten, with all those brothers! And we share a love for music.

    You were blessed that your parents encouraged you to follow what you were passionate about and it's wonderful that you're doing the same with Vanessa. I can't imagine how her particular type of artwork can be used, but she certainly has a unique talent. I will enjoy keeping up with her through your blog.

    I hope you don't mind that I featured one of your paintings on a 4th of July blog post of various artwork. I've always been drawn to folk art and I can't explain why, but you're one of my favorite artists. I'd still like to feature you on my blog sometime. My audience may mainly be readers, but I think anyone would appreciate your art and I'd to all I could to promote the post. Just something to think about.

    I had your email at one time, but my "efficient" organization has let me down. Here's mine: cjarvis [at] bellsouth ]dot] net


  2. Thanks for your comments, Carole. Vanessa enjoys doing the designs as an outlet. She likes working with her hands. Thankfully, a great opportunity opened for her this summer and she is learning the skill of picture framing at a local gallery. It suits her well. Also, thanks so much for featuring my artwork. My email address is: starlitestudios.art@gmail.com. on A Knack For Design