She may have turned a blind eye (or two) when my classmates and I would use the art classroom at odd hours of the morning and afternoon to paint and complete projects, but besides playing on the volleyball court, there was no place I'd rather be in the whole high school than the art room (ok...maybe the math room but only because I was a bit of a math geek as well as an art geek). I loved the smell of years and years of paint the room had lived through. That is where it all began for me as a painter.
Ms. McCord also suggested I study art in college and major in painting, which I thought was a great idea and that is exactly what I did. After high school graduation our paths forked, but years later she came to my wedding. Many years after that we corresponded through a few Christmas cards. I value the link I have with her to the beginning of my life as an artist.
This is a picture of my mom and dad. They had artwork hanging in our house and were, in my mind, supporters of the arts in that way. They bought me art supplies for birthdays and Christmases and tolerated a lot of art projects in my room. My junior year of high school, I commandeered the family card table and set up shop in my room complete with a light hanging precariously from my armoire. (Not long after I got a drafting table and clip-on table-top light.) They didn't freak out when I decided to major in art in college. They flew out to Utah for my college graduation. They even bought some of my paints after I was married and before I started making money doing art. I still have the very first paintbrush my mom and dad bought me from a Michael's Craft Store my sophomore year of high school. I don't use it because it's worn out, but it lives in my studio in my brush jar.
My parents recently visited me out in Utah and they brought me this plate I made when I was three or four. It's in a shadow box with a little plaque that says "Who Would Have Guessed?". ha ha ha. See what kind of artist I was as a kid? Look at that sense of balance, wow. Apparently I was blonde, too.
Nestled on my bookshelf in my studio is the box of Prismacolor colored pencils my parents bought for me in high school. I remember so many high school projects using these, and how fortunate I was once I started my college art program that I had such a nice set. My parents were so encouraging when I was a kid who loved art, and they are now some of my greatest cheerleaders as I am becoming a professional artist. It's been a nice circle to make.
These are pictures of one of the first easels Matt built me. He drilled little holes (bottom picture) for my brushes to sit in. When I first got my website www.cristallharper.com, I wrote the link right onto my easel. I scribbled artists/song titles from the radio that I wanted to remember for some reason or another. There are so many paintings in this easel, and he made it just for me.
In his crazy, busy wood-shop, he is usually juggling multiple projects for clients. Besides his normal job, he takes extra time to build the panels that I paint on. I will let him know that I need a 35x52" panel for a commission and he will cut the masonite to size, I paint the back red, he builds a frame onto the back of the panel, routes and sands the edges, and I gesso the surface. I've recently begun to appreciate more his emotional support of my life as an artist. He truly is proud of me and what I've worked hard to accomplish. We are a good team. I really don't know what I'd do without him.
Ms. McCord, Mom, Dad, and Matt: THANKS AND I LOVE YOU.