Old boats, trucks, and the unusual capture my attention. I search for images from friends on Facebook, from things I see along my way, and the internet. If it inspires me enough to paint it, I hope it will in some way stir an emotion, a memory, or perhaps a longing in others. For things that used to be or could have been, or even may be once more. When I was 12 my mother gave me a paint by numbers set. I have no idea what prompted that surprise, but it awakened something inside. I devoured them. I painted so many I lost count. Painting was my reward for getting my chores done. I began to dabble on my own when I went off to college, but it was just something fun to do. I never took painting seriously. Never believed it should be cultivated, not when babies needed raising. Not when bills had to be paid. I can’t talk about my journey to here without telling about the one person who has unfailingly encouraged me to call myself an artist. To BE an artist. Shirley Garrett needed a large painting to tie together her newly updated home on the lake. I knew the message she wanted to convey. The perfect picture showed up the next day on Facebook. We went into Atlanta to buy a 3 x 5 foot canvas. Shirley bought all the supplies I needed. I tried to convince myself I could do this...but there was a whole lot of doubt. Never had I ever attempted such a daunting undertaking. Daily, I was sure I could never pull it off. The encouraging support of friends and family kept me trudging along until one day, “Coming Home” was finished! Shirley invited several friends over to see her new painting. One lady walked in the door and immediately burst into tears when she saw “Coming Home” hanging there on the wall. Seeing her emotional reaction to something I had painted profoundly touched me....and completely changed my whole perspective. It was in that moment, I knew I was an artist. For a long time, I couldn’t decide how to sign my work. Finally, I chose CLGarrett. I’ve always been a Garrett. In some small way using my maiden name honors my mother. Whether her gift was inspiration or desperation doesn’t matter. What matters to me is she gave me a present for life in that little paint by numbers set. She opened a door I did not even know existed. I have been on this artistic path to one degree or another, all my life. The difference, now, is I fully embrace this part of me. Like every artist, mine is an ongoing journey. I have so much to learn, so many skills to acquire. Evolving as I go. “Thank you” to all the people who have, and who continue to, encourage me. For believing in me....even when I didn’t.