EVERY CHILD HAS A GIFT and A PASSION
The great thing about being a kid is that you have to learn when to NOT go for something, because we come out of the womb ready to jump at any chance life throws out. Like every child, I was born with a gift, but I was fortunate to also have a passion for using that gift and found encouragement along the way in the moments that counted.
The only downside? My gift was the ability to draw and paint photo-realistic portraits of anything I saw. Why was that a downside? Because art was never considered a viable way to make a living when I was growing up. If you’ve read any articles about my past, you know that I lost my mom when I was 17 and that I moved out on my own right after that.
What you may not know is that I give a lot of the credit for my art and writing success to my mom.
My mom, like many moms, spent hours helping her five children with homework and class projects, but she and my father differed on one point. My mom appreciated my gift of art and encouraged it where my father didn’t. He’d been a child of the depression and believed school was only about studying math, science, English, etc.
I was 11 years old and in sixth grade when I placed in a national art competition that really impacted my life. I placed third, and that might not seem like such a big deal, except 1st and 2nd places had been awarded to two high school seniors. Because of this, a local tv station wanted to interview me.
My dad did a great job of keeping his family fed and sheltered, but one thing having grown up in such hard times caused, is that he didn’t know how to encourage something he couldn’t perceive as valuable. He saw art as extraneous fluff. School work was important. Art was a waste of time. When the tv station called, Dad said no, I couldn’t go to do the interview.
I can count on one hand the number of times my mom stood up to my dad and defied his mandates, but this time, she did. Beneath the ladylike dress and feminine trimmings beat the heart of a warrior when it came to her kids.
I got to go to the television station to be interviewed, and to this day I remember the lady reporter, down on one knee in front of me going over questions, checking to see if I was nervous. I looked pretty small next to the two seniors, but everyone was very nice to me and best of all – I remember how proud my mom was. Every time something positive about my art happened, I became a little more determined to develop that skill—to go for my dream.
So even though I had her for only a short time, my mother played a powerful role—and has continued to do so—in my life because it was her encouragement, more than anything else, which helped me to stay true to myself. My mom taught by example. I learned from her how to pursue a dream with passion, but didn’t realize this until I looked back years later. She had to be passionate about being a mother—about her kids– to have done all that she did with so little. I’m in awe of mothers for this reason.
A woman gives birth and raises a child or a houseful of children because of her passion for those kids—for her family. Why else would a woman do that?
So I’ve lived by a simple rule: I won’t pursue anything I’m not passionate about. That’s been my life motto throughout my art career, and one that I continued to adhere to once I caught the fiction-writing fever. As I look back, I can see how encouragement at the right times stoked the fire of my passion to pursue my dreams.
For this reason, I’ve always believed in encouraging others to pursue their dreams. A few years ago I came up with the idea for a paranormal series based on the Belador Warriors. I finally got the opportunity to make another dream happen when I co-wrote and released BLOOD TRINITY with Sherrilyn Kenyon. I was thrilled when fans embraced that first urban fantasy book, but touched they found one particular character, Feenix, as adorable as we did. I kept thinking We need an image of Feenix.
That’s when it hit me.
Art competitions had been important to me as a young artist. What better way to encourage artists than to sponsor an art competition and have artists, young and old, create images of Feenix!
After a few months and a lot of work with a great team, we’ve just launched the My Feenix™ Art Contest with separate divisions for High School Students and Adults – because no one is too young or too old to start going after a dream. With three categories there are lots of ways to submit art for a piece of the $10,000 in prizes. Because I want to help schools too, the Art Departments and libraries of students whose art finals will also win donations.
Many times in my life I’ve heard things like, “That’s great art but you can’t make a living painting. “ Or, “Writing is a nice hobby, but you’ll starve to death so you better have something to fall back on.”
I was fortunate that I never quit trying to reach my dreams. I want to offer encouragement to others and I’d love it if you’d help me do that by sharing this opportunity with an artist you know.
All the My Feenix™ Art Contest entry forms, rules, prizes and details are at www.MyFeenix.com
Make a difference in someone’s life this week. Take a moment to share the simple, but powerful, gift of encouragement.