by Shadra Bruce

For most of my adult life, I’ve allowed myself the small indulgence of watching repeats of Bob Ross on PBS whenever I ran across his program. Something about listening to his voice and watching his canvas transform into an amazing picture was soothing and inspiring all at the same time. I would often fantasize about being able to paint like Bob Ross – he made it seem so easy!

For my 40th birthday Dave bought me all the supplies I needed to actually try my hand at oil painting. Eager to begin, I watched part of the Bob Ross instructional video and then grabbed my palette, paints, and brushes and started in. I realized right away that this would be an expensive (I needed more brushes, a bigger palette, and lots of canvases) hobby, but once I took that first step it didn’t matter if I was good or not. It was freeing and fun and relaxing. I realized that, like the poetry I dabble in and the writing I do, it’s not about whether or not anyone else likes it or gets it – it’s about moving through the creative process.

I think as women and as moms that we sometimes allow our own interests and dreams to get shoved aside as we prioritize other things, like raising our children, paying bills, careers, and the needs of others in our lives. Reconnecting with that part of myself that loves creative expression in all its forms (I also write poetry and find writing and blogging to be a creative endeavor) has been incredibly fulfilling. Parker and Anika have both been inspired by my efforts and sometimes join me with their own paints, and I love seeing them explore their creativity too.

I’ll probably never become famous as an artist, and I’m not planning a gallery opening any time soon, but I love the freedom to express that painting allows me – and I’m grateful for Dave’s support when I want to disappear for four hours and work on a painting.