Taking Flight

How painting came into my life

Some of you might not know how I started painting, so here's the story:

It was the fall of 2006, and I was 50. My mother had died in July, and I was still a total wreck. Truly devastated. When I look back, I really don't know how I managed to go to work, go home, talk to people.

I was driving to work one day, to the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, NY, when I was struck by the idea that I should make a painting of our dogs to give to my husband for Christmas.

I'd never painted. As a girl, I'd drawn houses and horses. I'd doodled all my life. I'd made pottery, I'd done a lot of writing, but that was it. And so, if I'd have been my normal self, the self that easily said "I can't," I wouldn't have listened to the voice with that crazy idea. I'd have dismissed the notion, or maybe I'd have hired someone to do it.

Instead, I bought a canvas (it was 24x48 - huge! But we had six dogs, so I figured I needed a big canvas). I bought white paint, black paint, brown paint and blue paint, since one dog has blue eyes. I bought a big brush and a small brush, and I set out to make a painting.

From the moment I began, I loved it. And that first painting was fabulous. It was as if I'd been painting my whole life - I just hadn't picked up a brush.

I took a drawing class, and I took a beginning oil painting class. I joined a plein-air group. And I painted. I painted and painted and painted and painted. At every opportunity, I painted.

I looked at my paintings, stared at them, tried to figure out what worked and what didn't.

I pestered painters and artists and friends and family members to look at my paintings and critique them.

When I painted with the Wallkill River School plein-air group, I asked endless questions - and those wonderful people answered them all.

In January of 2007, my boss and dear friend Mike Levine died. In April, the Times Herald-Record eliminated the job I'd thought I would have for the rest of my life.

I have come to believe that painting was given to me as a way to cope with these huge, life-altering losses, and I have been grateful every day since.

Carrie Jacobson, a former Ledyard resident, grew up in New London. She now lives in Wachapreague, VA.

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Pem McNerney January 03, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Wonderful Carrie! Thanks!
Audrey Fitting January 08, 2013 at 01:13 AM
My story is similar to yours Carrie. At age 65, i decided i wanted to paint. For Christmas that year my children bought me everything from Blick in Plainville. I began with acrylics because my daughter told me i am the impatient type and it would dry quicker. Two days after Christmas I had finished my first Amish painting, my son said, mom, how did you know how to do that? Just like you, I was ready. I recently had a month long art show at the Atwater Memorial Library, and it was very rewarding to hear people's comments, so positive.Best of luck. Taking on a canvas that big is a real challenge. I have a 24X36 waiting for me to start my magic, but it hasn't come yer. Bless you, and sorry for your losses, but you can lose yourself with a painbrush in your hand, this I know. Audrey
Carrie Jacobson January 08, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Hey, Pem and Audrey, thank you! Audrey, I really appreciate your sharing your story. Isn't it amazing to be given a gift like this? Congratulations on your showI Please sign up to get my blog, The Accidental Artist, by email (carriejacobson.blogspot.com). I'll put some of those blog posts up here, but not all... and would you send me a jpg of your paintings?


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