|Terri Smith's paintings, one of my first students:)|
"To all of my water colorist friends. You can follow my mentor, and friends blog here. Carrie is truely an inspiration to me. She taught me watercolor techniques while living in Germany. Ten years later, she continues to embrace the medium, involving her children, family, and friends in the process. She is a true artist!"
This really touched my heart. Terri was one of the first students I had while living in Germany. We became fast friends and even traveling buddies. Through facebook I've recently been able to reconnect and prod her along to start painting again. She even began teaching her own classes and a student of hers sent me a message on facebook.
"Carrie, Terri, was my first art teacher, she inspired me to continue to learn to paint. She always talks about you as a teacher who inspired her as an artist. I thank you for being a great artist and teacher as it directly touched my life." Nina
How great is this? It really reinforced the message to me that one person can make a difference. If we take the gifts that we have, whatever they may be, and pass them along, it does really matter. You never know how you will inspire others, even if you just make someone smile that day, you have made a difference.
Teaching watercolor classes has brought me such joy. I haven't taught in several years, but this makes me want too again. I started teaching classes when my husband and I moved to Germany in 2001. I was a fresh college graduate with a job, no less, in Interior Design, in Chicago and gave it all up to take the path less traveled and marry the man of my dreams. We met in college, were acquaintances for a few years and during our Senior year we finally had a class together (Brian's major was Architecture, mine Interior Design). Brian asked me to be a partner on a project in that class and we've been partners ever since. Brian was in ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and commissioned into the Air Force right before graduation. His first assignment was Germany. When he found out he was going overseas, he asked me to marry him and during finals week our Senior year we had a small ceremony--this enabled me to be on his orders. (We had our big wedding a few months later).
So I found myself as a newlywed in a foreign country that had no use for my Interior Design degree. I had to reinvent myself and figure out what I was going to do. I just knew I wanted to do something creative with my work, so I found out that you could teach classes at the Skills Development Center on base. I had to think about what I would teach classes in and somehow decided on watercolor. I really didn't know very much about it so I checked out every book at the library and educated myself. I painted a few paintings and off I went for an interview. I was hired and people actually showed up for my classes:) I met the most amazing people during these classes, I'm still friends with several. I eventually broadened my classes to off base. I taught groups of ladies all over the Kaiserslautern/Ramstein area. I started teaching kids and ended up teaching to the entire home-school group for the military community. I made a full time job out of my art. I painted murals for the Army and became the Art contractor for the Boys and Girls Club of Landstuhl. I look back and it was a very fulfilling time. When it was time to move I promised myself that I would only work in a creative field wherever we were stationed. Since then I have painted murals full-time, worked in my Mom's frame shop, created two little boys along the way and now am a full time Mommy and Artist.
All along the way I have had God whispers telling me I was on the right path. And after reconnecting with Terri and hearing from her student I'm wondering if I'm supposed to teach again. I've won awards and done well with my watercolor career so far but one of my best accomplishments was when I had another student tell me that after taking my class they really "saw" for the first time. She told me that she had never really paid attention to her surroundings before and that after me talking about my process she really started to pay attention. She said for the first time she looked at a tree and didn't just see brown and green she saw lights and shadows and hundreds of different colors and subtleties. And for me that is what it is all about, helping someone else to really "see"
I would love to know how you got your start, inspired someone or had someone inspire you. Have an inspiring weekend:)