Burning to Paint

A dear blog friend of mine, Deb over at C-Dog reminded me about this post. I published it awhile ago. I’m putting it forth again (with a few tweaks). It explains how I came to not simply enjoy art, but to understand the soul of it.

Jess’s Story

I think we can all remember the epiphany or spark that ignited each of our unique creative journeys.

For me it was a newspaper article. I think the year was 1977. There was a photo of a little girl’s face – beautiful and horrifying at the same time. She’d been caught in a fire and sustained third degree burns over most of her body. At the time of the article, I was fourteen. Jess was much younger.

The newspaper article’s primary focus was on the miracle of modern medicine and a magical procedure to ‘regrow’ damaged skin tissue. After my parents finished with the paper, I asked if I could keep the article. I stowed it in my top desk drawer. That night, as I tried falling asleep, Jess’s face filled my dreams. The next day and the day after that Jess’s skin covered mine. Her sorrowful eyes peered into my head and rested themselves in my dreams.

By the fourth sleepless night, I knew what I had to do.

Ever since I was little, I’ve created art and kept diaries. Like many little girls, I drew horses. I eventually moved onto other subject matter and took up painting. I knew I enjoyed art, same as I enjoyed eating a good cookie or playing sports. But, something inside me changed after reading Jess’s story. I had to paint. It wasn’t a choice. Painting her little, damaged face was the only way I could give her the respect and hope she deserved. It was the only chance I had to remove her burning image from my mind and place it elsewhere. Not to be forgotten, but to be remembered…
JessOnce I painted Jess, my nightmares stopped.
And my creative journey began…


23 thoughts on “Burning to Paint

  1. I’m so glad you reposted this one, AM, for a variety of reasons: the gorgeous art needs to be seen again, yes, but your story, as artist, needs to be shared with other artists/writers. Jess haunted you, and you internalized that, processed, and created. Painting, writing — both are, as you say, not a choice, but a calling. (And btw: many thanks for the “link” — unnecessary but humbly appreciated.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I reposted too, I just popped in studio for a few minutes to WP – I think I’m ‘readdicted’ this past month…
      Thanks for reminding me about this post. It’s nice sharing backgrounds…
      30 kid countdown in 1 hour – I think I’m ready, except I’m still in pjs.
      am 🙂


      • I’ll start calling you Julia (as in, Child). Vino, the movie Gaslight here. Just learned what the term “gaslighting” means. Remember to dip the dipper in water before you scoop — that’s what I learned from my mother-in-law, a Master Scooper. 🙂


      • You’re probably in for the long haul, Miss. Teens pull all-nighters, don’tch know. 🙂 In Indiana, “last call” is 3 a.m. — oh that’s right, the party’s at your house. 🙂


      • Post away! Sinatra is good company. 🙂 Hey, I see where your friend Judy (O’Brien W.) just commented on my FB page! That’s cool. Funny how cyberspace allows for cross-pollenization (sp.?). When I ate out at the terrible Mexican restaurant, I mentioned how we were going east, and planned to see a blogging friend, and my one friend said “AnnMarie?!” and I said “yes!” and I was just going to ask her how she knew you, but then she mentioned that she saw “you” on FB. Too funny, and cool, too. You know, for kids, the night’s young. Just sayin’ … 😉


      • Thats’ so cool! Judy is such a cool lady 🙂
        That’s the beautiful thing about all this technology. The part where it is humanized. Maybe the food would taste less terrible if you ate with your eyes closed and nosed pinned shut 😉
        Sinatra was most excellent company last night. I have it on good authority he likes staying up late. 🙂


    • Thank you, Dave. I appreciate your kind words. What’s more amazing is that I remember it. My memory has never been wonderful (it’s why I don’t have enemies ;-)). But this particular moment, I remember as if it was yesterday.
      Have a lovely Sunday.


      • Thanks AnnMarie…I know I’ve certainly forgotten more than I remember, lol, if that makes any sense. 🙂
        But I love the way you honoured that little girl. You gave her a little piece of yourself and the blessing you meant for her came right back at you. That’s what I love about this story…something we (I) could all learn from.
        Take care ~ Dave


      • Thank you in kind, Dave. It’s funny – the things that stay embedded in one’s brain as if they only happened yesterday… Now if I could only remember where I put the car keys everyday, I’d be in good shape 😉
        Thank you for your kind words. Jess stays with me in my studio always, to remind me – what’s important and what’s not.
        AnnMarie 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is the first I have read of yours and it is inspirational. I am hoping a little of that magic might rub off on me…thank you for calling by and reading my blog, I am looking forward to dipping into yours! That was a lovely first taste…thank you so much.


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