I remember the very first time I discovered the world of decorative painting, tole painting or country painting as many international students describe this art form.  At the time I was working at our local hospital when one of my fellow workers mentioned that a neat decorating store opened up down the street.  With the opening of the store, they were going to be offering various classes.  It intrigued me, so that day during my lunch hour I ventured to the store to check out the class schedule.  Never knew how this day was going to change my life forever.  I was beyond excited.  Went back to work, but truth be told, I had a really hard time keeping my thoughts on my job at hand.  Just could not wait to go home, call my friends to run the classes by them, told them we can do this and let us sign up for some winter fun.  Yes, it was the dead of winter and I thought what a better way to get through another long New England winter.  The next day we were all signed, sealed and ready.  Class schedule was sent to my home, along with the supply list.  Not knowing what the heck we got ourselves into, we were all off to the store to buy the necessary supplies.  We all kept saying to ourselves, “Do you think we can do it?”……”Will it be hard, above our heads or really something we will like?”...”Have we totally lost our minds?”  I said we will never know if we never try it.  That drive to our first class was the beginning of something exciting for me. 

I always loved to draw, color and create when I was a little girl and in school.  I never was able to take art classes in school because I played a musical instrument (flute) from grade school until I graduated from high school.  My Dad was a wonderful artist and he would create lots of different things throughout my childhood.  He was the go to person when we needed anything art related.  Always wanted to learn what he knew. 

Our first class with my friends started in the winter of 1978 and we started with oils.  What fun we had and we discovered that we truly loved this new found art form. 

                                                                       Renee Cook Design

I stayed with these classes for 7 years and then our teacher decided that she no longer wanted to teach.  I, we were all devastated and felt a true void.  What was I going to do now?  I knew I would miss these classes immensely.  The friends I had formed, the projects I had created and most of all the knowledge I was acquiring.  Immediately the hunt was on to find a new place to paint.  I could not imagine doing anything else.  It took me over 6 months to find another studio but I did.  However, the only classes they offered were in acrylics.  I did not care, I just wanted to paint.  So once again I signed, sealed and was ready to go.  I picked up my first project and could not wait until the next week.  Interesting how we often say, “Things happen for a reason”, for me that was soon to become true.  These classes would bring me so much happiness and soon would change my career and life forever.  After a few years, my yearning to teach became so strong.  I was still working at the same hospital but decided I wanted to try my hand at my dream.  During the summer of 1988 my husband built me a studio in the basement of our home.  On Sept. 1988 I opened, Heavenly Heart Creations with my first few classes.  I still worked full time but soon that would come to an end.  I finally found my passion….Painting….Creating…..Teaching. 

When I first started teaching I did not know too much.  Well in my eyes I did not.  I was not designing at the time but painted many other artists designs.  I would prepare a full schedule worth of projects for my students.  We had structured classes…everyone painted the same thing.  Tried open classes but the students always went back to structured classes.  Here is the first project I taught to my students.  It is a Pat Olson project.  At the time I never thought I would be able to advance beyond this style of painting (it was my safe zone) but through trial and error, education and additional classes I broadened my horizon. 

                                                                         Pat Olson

I not only challenged myself but also my students.  I felt to develop into a better teacher that it was important to study as much as I could.  Practice as often as possible.  Take as many classes and read as many books or magazines I could get my hands on.  After all these studies I wanted to test myself to see where I was in my knowledge and art form.  I decided in 1992, I would try the certification program offered through SDP (Society of Decorative Painters).  Ordered the pattern for the still life, and painted on this project off and on for 4 months.  Sent it off actually on my birthday and waited for the convention.  I was so excited to find out it passed and I was awarded my CDA (Certified Decorative Artist).  I was floating on cloud nine during that convention.  My hard work paid off.  A little secret, the judges did not like my apple at all...lol..I knew it but had a hard time keeping it within my color scheme.  I did feel my details and other items would be a winner. 

                                                                         CDA Board   

I decided the next year I wanted to test the waters with my own designs.  I submitted to teach at the next year’s convention and this was the start of my new pattern packet line.  In 1994 these were my first two designs I created.  I was hooked.  Right after the convention I received a very special invitation to become a travel teacher and it took me to Japan.  From this point on my business took a huge turn. 

                                                                         My Bearry Best

                                                                         Gingerbread Sweetie

I continued teaching for many years in my home based studio until I discovered designing, traveling and now doing my own booth at conventions.  It was hard for me to keep up with my hectic weekly schedule.  I made a very hard decision to close my home studio.  To this day I miss that time I had with all my students.  How they all became my dear friends.  Many of them I still see from time to time.  I dearly thank all of them for giving me a chance to become who I am today. 

                                                                         Country Collectibles

It is so funny how things transpire in our lives and if we stick to our dreams they do come true.  Did I ever know that entering that neat decorating store that particular day would change my life forever?  For that I will be forever grateful. 

Always paint with a happy heart,


blog comments powered by Disqus