Although I have been living in Alabama with my family for the past 20 years, and in Huntsville, the “Rocket City” for 14 of those years, I am really just a small town Southern girl born and raised in Mississippi. My branches may be in Alabama, but my roots run deep, all the way back home to Mississippi.
I spent most every summer hanging around my grandparent’s general store in a small rural town in central Mississippi because my two brother’s and I would go and spend part of our summer with our Dad there. He had a sign painting shop attached to my grandparent’s store and everything about that old place has played a part in who I am today. In that place I was exposed to my Dad’s artistic talents, who not only painted nearly every sign in that small rural town, but he was also an accomplished artist and over the years, he has painted many lovely oil paintings, some of which made me blush during my teen years. He was an artist and artists have been known to paint nudes. I loved watching him paint signs and would sit and watch his steady hand as he would hand letter signs, some of the signs he painted were quite large. It always amazed me how smooth and steady his strokes were. It was mesmerizing to watch. Today, hand lettered signs are a lost art for the most part, as the speed of vinyl signs have taken over.
Our grandfather, another influence in my life, was a jack-of-all-trades who could make anything useful out of the most mundane objects that others would have long since discarded. This fascinated me and my two brothers. He always had a story to tell about the objects he would find in the woods, an elsewhere ~ an unusually shaped stick or branch, petrified wood, an odd rock or stone. He would collect his odd finds until he figured out something useful and unique to make out of them. Sometimes it would just be yard art because it resembled a snake or an alligator. He definitely had an eye for looking beyond what everyone else saw and was capable of thinking outside of the box long before that was ever encouraged and he was probably thought of as eccentric for doing so. If he was, I never knew it. I was completely fascinated by the things he made and the stories he would tell us of his unusual finds.
My brothers were also influences in who I am today…. I was the “goody” in the middle of my two brothers. Being the only girl and the middle child, I wanted to stand out, so I was a girly girl and a tomboy all wrapped into one. I could climb a tree better than most boys, which I mostly enjoyed doing when I was at my grandparents place.
My older brother was a couple of years older and I always thought since he was older, he was wiser, so he was the one I would go to for advice. I still do to this day and somehow he always seems to know the answer. It’s like he’s a walking encyclopedia.
However, I got into more calamities with my younger brother who was only 11 months younger than me, but he was usually the instigator of said calamity. Most of the time we didn’t get caught. We would build forts and he was good at making rafts for the pond. We rediscovered and created our own previously rejected objects into something we felt was useful for childhood play. Little did we know that we were doing what is now dubbed as repurposing and upcycling and that some 35-40 years later this would be a well-respected and popular trend. With an artist for a Dad, painting was most certainly part of our activities. However, at times, we painted items that we weren’t supposed to paint.
Eventually, this all led to an interest in decorating and design, which later led this little country girl that could run barefoot across gravel on a dirt road without batting an eyelash, (but occasionally there was a scent knee, if not two scent knees), but it eventually led me to go off to college and get a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design. I learned a bit more about refinishing furniture there and thus began my love for painting, refinishing furniture and creating faux finishes.
My desire to save old furniture began out of necessity, having a very small budget back then, but the desire remains to this day. The old folks used to say “Waste not, want not” and that is somehow ingrained in me. And yet, I wanted a beautiful home even when I had a small budget, so I did everything myself way back before there was this trendy term for it, “DIY”. From painting walls and furniture to sewing draperies, pillows and bedding and creating my own art, I enjoyed every minute of the DIY process!! So what was born out of necessity opened the door to honing my craft as an artist and designer.
Because I wanted to be surrounded by beautiful things, I found beauty in simplicity in order to obtain it.