Carrie’s Painting of the Week: 01/10/13

Field of Flowers

By Carrie Jacobson

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

It was the fall of 2006, I was 50, and we were living in Cuddebackville. I was working at the Times Herald-Record, as the Sunday editor, and one of a four-person group that ran the newsroom.

My mother had died in July, and in October, 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 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 24×48 – 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 from Shawn Dell Joyce, and I took a beginning oil painting class from Gene Bove. These are two of the folks who founded the Wallkill River School, which is now in Montgomery.

I joined the Wallkill River School 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 WRS plein-air group, I asked endless questions – and those wonderful people answered them all.

In January of 2007, as some of you probably remember, a heart attack killed my boss and dear friend Mike Levine, the editor of the Times Herald-Record. In April, the paper eliminated the job I’d thought I would have for the rest of my life.

These events, the death of my mother and Mike, and then the loss of my job, and all in the course of 10 months, this string of blows could have broken me.

I have come to believe that painting was given to me as a way to cope, and I have been grateful every day since.

Here’s that first painting:

Six Dogs

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4 Responses to “Carrie’s Painting of the Week: 01/10/13”

  1. Marshall Rubin Says:

    Carrie–Your story is inspiring. In the late Sixties I was facing similar hard times so I got my dad to take my money from unemployment and buy me a Minolta SLR. That got me hooked on photography which probably saved my life, spiritually.
    I’ve had my normal ups and downs since then but photography has always been there for me to maintain my compass. I never tried hard enough to break into photographing professionally, which is probably a good thing, for it never became a job, or chore. Thanks for your candid account.

  2. carrie Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Marshall. Isn’t it amazing how the things that can save us just happen? All of this has brought me to faith, and I am thankful for that. I have had my worries about painting becoming a chore, but I don’t think it will. There’s really nothing I’d rather do. Pretty much my first thought every day is about painting – and it is a thought that comes with joy.

    I am so glad that you’ve found your joy, and kept it up for all these years. I’d love to see some of your photographs…

  3. Jean Webster Says:

    I appreciate your sharing your story, and totally understand the importance of painting in your life. I believe that my mother saved her own life by (first) taking piano lessons in her 30’s, fulfilling a dream she must have had since her father taught her the necessary chords to play in his Italian band. Then, in her 60’s, she started painting. Took lessons in her Brooklyn neighborhood, and in Manhattan. Always artistic, she became a serious painter and continued until her health would no longer allow it. She nagged at me to paint, and sadly, I didn’t start until after her death. But I do think of her often while doing something I too love.

  4. carrie Says:

    Hi, Jean – Thank you for sharing your story. Your mom sounds like she lived an art-rich life. Love thinking of the Italian band. Can I see her work somewhere on the web? Can I see yours? Aren’t we lucky?

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