Anyone can create a Zentangle. Even if you have never drawn a line; you can pick up the pen and make a beautiful piece the very first time. People who are sure they are not "creative, artistic, or talented" are always delighted and surprised to see what they can create.
In true Louisiana style - over a glass of wine and a wonderful meal - I got a peek into the life of Baton Rouge native and local artist, Emily Callender-Efferson.
Emily has had an interest in art since early childhood and when she talked about watching John Gnagy on TV (one of my early memories) and dreaming of getting into a "famous" art school by winning one of those drawing contests ... I immediately felt a personal connection. It is clear that art has always provided lasting and fond memories in Emily's life as she recalled - "I had a 6th grade teacher who made a lasting impression on me." He encouraged his students to create artwork for many of the subjects they studied. In the 70's, Emily continued taking what workshops she could, but working full time left little time for painting. In the 80's, she lost almost all of her painting supplies in a storm; over the next couple years, she slowly worked toward replenishing her supplies. Then it happened ... life and work pressed Emily for time and she found herself painting less and less over the next 15-20 years. Emily's sister, Dino, was her biggest supporter. "You have a God-given talent and you're wasting it away," Dino would say to Emily whenever Emily did not paint enough to suit her. Sadly, in 1995 Emily lost Dino, unexpectedly, after a surgery. However, inspired by her sister's words, Emily got back to painting in 1997 and has never stopped since - she is sure that her sister is smiling about that!
Although, she works full time, Emily has learned that "you have to make time for the things you enjoy ... you're a lot happier when you make time for yourself ... painting is my sanity." Emily belongs to the Decorative Painters Society as well as Louisiana Art and Artists' Guild and enjoys getting together with fellow artists 2-3 times a week to spend a few hours painting. She also enjoys taking a variety of workshops. She prefers painting with groups because it is so much fun to talk to the different artists, hear the different critiques and learn about the different techniques of other artists. Emily started out as an oil painter, then she tried acrylics, and 7 years ago she fell in love with her favorite medium - watercolor. These days she is also experimenting with colored pencils and some soft pastels. She often sits in front of the TV using colored pencils, honing her artistic abilities. She says, "I never want to stop learning."
For beginning artists, Emily says "Don't rush, and don't give up. You WILL get better with practice. The desire to learn is what you need more than anything else ... you never stop learning." She says painting is like cooking: "You don't start off preparing a gourmet meal ... but if you keep practicing, someone will eventually say how great it tastes."
We rarely see artists' first paintings, but Emily graciously decided to share her very first watercolor painting (lily photo). Emily has had paintings juried into the National River Road Show in 2013 and 2014, Brush with Burden in 2013 and 2014, and in 2015 she had two paintings in the show (crawfish and alligator photos). She has been invited to show in the Baton Rouge Art League show 2012 thru 2015.
Emily is always ready to share a smile and an interesting story, or some artistic tip, so if you see her at a workshop or exhibit, be sure to say hello ... I know she will have a story for you too!