My whole life I wanted to be able to paint but try as I might I could not transfer what I saw with my eyes onto a piece of paper with paints. Everything came out looking like a one dimensional blob. I was artistic in other ways but I considered myself to be more “crafty” than artistic.
Then one winter JC got the position of on site security at a very remote gravel pit.
We had no TV, radio, phone or internet. It was winter and we were living in a small holiday trailer. I was going crazy with nothing to do. I would ride with JC during the day as he hauled cars and made deals. One day he was given a van full of “stuff”, some of the stuff was painting supplies. I tucked them aside when we got home.
I have always hated to see something perfectly good and useful get thrown in the trash and I got hooked the first time someone introduced me to dumpster diving. It was right up my alley (pun intended)
In the dead of winter I was tearfully flipping through gardening magazines and on a whim decided to try painting flowers on a cookie sheet because that way if I made a mistake I could wipe the one section clean and redo one it without having to throw away the whole picture.
Being out in the forest with nothing but time I started to take notice of my surroundings; all the magnificant shades of green there was for moss, how the mountains could look almost black somedays or blue others. Green was no longer just green, I started mixing colours to come up with a colour closer to what I saw with my eyes. I noticed that the evergreen trees were almost black in the centre with graduated shades of green. I noticed how the sun reflected off the pedals of a flower and some pedals shadowed the lower pedals.
All of a sudden my paintings came to life and started to look like what I saw. I was so pleased with some of my work I clear coated it and kept them. I became obsessed with painting, I painted day and night. Paints and brushes were a buck at the dollar store and of course my canvasses were free.
I painted everything and anything; I even painted flowers on the kitchen cupboard doors. One day JC teased me that maybe I needed to sell some of my artwork because it was a little bit much in our tiny trailer. He said every time he came home he expected to see the seven dwarfs singing “Hi Ho Hi Ho” as they marched down the driveway.
“A little too crafty around here?” I laughed.
I removed some of my art from the walls and had it laying outside when a buddy of JC’s came by. He saw my stuff and wanted to buy a few pieces for his wife. I was flabbergasted!! Someone wanted to pay for my paintings. I think I charged him $5 a piece but he took two and gave me $20.
For years, every night I’d paint until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, sometimes falling asleep with a paint brush in my hand and a pot of paint on my knee. I’d wake up with paint splattered every where.
In 2005 we were living in another hell hole, struggling to make enough money to eat, fighting constantly, him sabotaging my vehicle so I couldn’t work and I’d had enough so I moved out. My brother offered me a job working for him but that didn’t pan out so I was broke. I had just enough gas to get to Fort Langley, a quaint little town full of little antique shops and crafty type stores. I loaded up everything I had painted and headed out determined to sell something, I HAD to, but when I got there I lost my nerve. I went into shop after shop never getting up the courage to approach anyone about buying my stuff. I berated myself for being such a coward; I knew I didn’t have enough gas to get home, I HAD to sell something!!
There was a highend shop on the outskirts of town and I stopped. It was 5:50 and the woman was bringing in antiques she had displayed outside.
I swallowed hard and approached her stammering something about having painted stuff to sell. She checked her watch and said,”Ok, show me what you’ve got”.
She looked at what I had, picked a couple of pieces and asked how much. I shrugged and said I didn’t know. She said, “You have to know the value of your work, tell me what its worth to you”. I gave her some prices and she paid what I asked.
I thanked her very much and she replied that she was going to Australia the next day for 7 weeks to visit her son. She gave me her card and told me to do alot of painting during that 7 weeks and bring everything I had when she got back. Then almost as an after thought she said,”You have talent, don’t short change yourself. You have to know your worth, you’re good, people will buy it”.
Seven weeks turned into several months, I was back with JC and had lost my nerve again. Then the day came when I was totally broke again and I loaded up my car and called her. She had a day off, but after a few seconds of hesitation she told me to meet her at the shop at 3:30.
It was a 45 minute drive and I prayed the whole trip. “God, please, I need to make a hundred dollars minimum! In your son’s name amen.” Over and over I prayed.
Shirley looked at my collection of painted stuff, picked out half a dozen pieces and said, “How much?” her eyes told me I had better have a price ready for her. She smiled when I told her the prices. She tabulated how much she owed me and then she looked very serious.
She said, “I am going to tell you something I wouldn’t tell many people, but I think you will appreciate what I am about to tell you”.
I said,”Ok”. And held my breath.
Shirley went on, “You were praying on your way over here today weren’t you?”
I nodded yes.
She continued, “You prayed for $100 didn’t you?”
I nodded yes.
She showed me her addition and it came to exactly $100, then she told me that when I called, God told her this girl needs $100. She said she really didn’t feel like coming in on her day off but God put it on her heart that she had to come.
“So” she said, “God and I are investing in you not just me.”
Before I left she told me she would like to carry my stuff in her shop but she wanted exclusive selling rights in Fort Langley. I have sold hundreds of pieces of art through Shirley’s shop.
Unfortunately I had photos of everything but they disappeared quite a few years back.
I’ve painted everything from an old barn door that had a price tag of $275 but got stolen out the back door of the shop. (Shirley always paid me up front for my stuff and then doubled the price in her shop) to a pair of old gumboots, and water skis. My hottest sellers have always been my broken shovels which typically sold for $100.
I haven’t painted much since the economy tanked at the end of 2008. When the economy crashed Shirley couldn’t afford to buy my stuff upfront and I was working so hard trying to make ends meet I didn’t have time. I painted a few special pieces for family and friends. I painted a sweet little chair for JC’s nephew, of the ocean, fishes, clouds and kites in the sky. At Christmas I love to paint snowy winter scenes on plates and have graduated to painting deer, santa, veggies, mountain scenes and more. If I can see it, I can paint it.
At my Grandma’s memorial I mentioned to my cousin that my blog needed a trademark. I said everyone uses a ribbon, I want something unique; maybe even something I could sell that symbolizes life with and after the narcissist. She immediately suggested my painted shovels.
Then we got on a roll.
My painted stuff is something someone else deemed worthless and discarded. I take it and give it new life, a new and different purpose than it had before. Whereas it was a functional shovel at one time I make it into a one of a kind piece of art to be treasured. The damage done to it add to its beauty giving it character.
Plus a shovel comes in handy if you are still with the N, you can use it to shovel all the shit that comes out of his mouth.
You could use it to hit him over the head the next time he pissed you off. And you could use it to bury the evidence.
Once you are split you can use it to shovel through all the lies and false acusations he’ll toss at you during the divorce.
Then when he is out of your life you can use it to “bury the hatchet” , “bury the past”, and “break new ground” as you start your new life without him.
And last but not least, you keep it as a reminder that just because one person deems you worthless and discards you does not mean he is right.
As Shirley said years ago, “You determine your worth, you have to know your value and then set your price. If you don’t set your price high enough no one is going to say,”Oh no I want to pay you more”. So set your value high, people will pay it, you have to know your own worth. I recently pulled out my paint brushes again. This is my latest project. I got the platter out of the Home Sense dumpster a couple of years ago. You can see the handle is missing on one side. I wanted to paint the platter to match the cushions in the living room but I added a little Hummingbird right in the centre.