Some of you might not know how I started painting, so here's the story:
It was the fall of 2006, and I was 50. My mother had died in July, and 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, to the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, NY, 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 24x48 - 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, and I took a beginning oil painting class. I joined a 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 Wallkill River School plein-air group, I asked endless questions - and those wonderful people answered them all.
In January of 2007, my boss and dear friend Mike Levine died. In April, the Times Herald-Record eliminated the job I'd thought I would have for the rest of my life.
I have come to believe that painting was given to me as a way to cope with these huge, life-altering losses, and I have been grateful every day since.
Carrie Jacobson, a former Ledyard resident, grew up in New London. She now lives in Wachapreague, VA.