Nothing happens unless first we dream. — Carl Sandburg
When I was young girl, I spent many summers visiting the cabin home of my grandparents. Nestled in the mountains, we were minutes away from the Santa Cruz beach. Going to the beach was a daily sojourn, where we body surfed, ate cotton candy and rode the wooden roller coaster at the famous Boardwalk. Sunscreen was pretty much unheard of as we spent countless hours laying in the sun. We played endlessly in the sand, where sandcastles were formed to match our latest vision. We were not deterred by the shifts of the sea. We just kept rebuilding. We were unwavering in our pursuit.
I was inspired recently by an image of a young girl building her dreams by the shore and it brought back those memories of long ago in which life was felt and imagined through the eyes of innocence and hope for the future. I knew I had to paint the scene. Doing so transported me back to a time in which anything was possible. There were many moments I had to put the painting aside because I didn’t know what to do next. I brought the piece to my teacher, Cathy Carey, who suggested variations in color and value, emphasizing the importance of creating the mood. The dance of shadow and light was a constant. The bucket became more pink, the girl’s bathing suit deeper in tone. I went back to the painting each time with more questions until I began to see the subtleties of what Cathy was suggesting. I added slowly until I was “satisfied,” if there ever is such a thing for someone like me. The dance of shadow and light is my greatest teacher.
Painting and gardening are my happy places, and I realize I use both to tell a story, my story, your story, the story of creatures who can’t paint the picture or say the words and need our voices or hands to communicate. The more I get out of the way and let that happen through me, the more I become like that young girl building her dreams on a beach. We should remember that child in ourselves and take time to let him or her out to play. Imagine what would happen if we did.