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One of the first things Ben told me about Kate is that she is one of those people that you’re better for knowing. She is emotionally strong, paves her own way, and his friends tease him that she’s funnier than he is. She lets him be him, and she strikes a perfect balance between being outspoken, but subtle.

Kate always teased Ben that he loved her from the first time they met. He would never admit it until now, but she was right. And after several years together, he wanted to create a painting for her as part of a wedding proposal. He wanted her painting to reflect the colors he knew she loved. He even studied the clothes in her closet to find the right hues. But most importantly, he wanted the painting to include the words, “You were right. I loved you from day one.”

On May 29th, Ben reserved a room at Shakespeare’s West and told Kate his parents were coming in town to fix up the family cabin. When the couple entered the room, a crowd of loved ones started clapping with excitement. Kate looked so confused and shocked. But then Ben dropped to his knee and asked if she would marry him. Kate giggled uncontrollably and said yes! He slid a ring pop on her finger (they’ll design the ring together later) and jumped up with excitement. He explained the painting with his words on it, and used it to express his love for her. It was a beautiful day.

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Some blind dates are painfully awkward. But some mark the beginning of a love story. When a mutual friend set them up, Liz felt an instant connection with Greg, and that bond grew deeper as they spent more time together, sharing experiences and struggles. Six months after they got married, Liz’s father passed. Greg and Liz became partners in the family construction business, and Liz was glad to keep the business in the family. The two worked together with a love for manufacturing and bringing real, tangible things to life that you can share with others.

After their children were born, Liz dedicated herself full time to raising the kids. But Greg has an entrepreneurial spirit and continued to pursue new business ventures. He has always run his businesses with good judgment, striving to do what’s right. Once the kids started playing soccer, their interest in the sport grew, and they eventually purchased the MLS team, Sporting KC. Liz will tell you how she loves Greg’s Midwestern values, his character, and his work ethic. Greg will tell you that Liz is his hero. She is dedicated to serving their family and others.

Greg and Liz have many strengths, but what really makes them special is their understanding that we are all connected. We have experiences and struggles that bond us as individuals, families, and people. We are more than isolated individuals. Liz and Greg’s bond was born on a blind date on the Bristol Plaza. Then their bond expanded to include two beautiful children, Alexandra and Max (Liz loves that their initials form the word GLAM), and completing their family.

Liz and Greg know that their love and connections will continue to expand over the years, so their piece is a triptych – three separate paintings that flow together and hang side by side. Each piece has a hidden message that connects one to the other. As their children leave the nest, they will each take a painting with them for their own homes to serve as a symbol of their parents’ love and be a physical reminder of their family connection. Liz and I created a color pallet that reflects her feelings and desires, and then I interpreted the elements and details of Liz and Greg’s relationship to create a texture-filled, rich, layered composition and hidden in each painting is the word GLAM. 

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Here is an open letter to my kids and any creative eyes out there… I stand in my studio and listen to gun shots and bombs go off as the battle of creative control forges on in my head. I catch the enemies editing and critiquing before I even begin. Exhausted already, I have to march on. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what art or craft practiced out there this war might be real across the land. I have observed this creative battle and tension for as long as I can remember. It has only calmed down with practice, grace and a few reminders that the process has got to start messy before it gets clean. Surrender.

How to surrender? I don’t know exactly. But I have followed some clues. The moment I enter into this vulnerable messy paint flinging stage is when the critics want to start marching in. Ms Fancy pants Editor and Ms Snobby Critic were not invited into this first messy drafts. Oh but they want to attend this party. So, I will picture them, talk to them and sometimes say with great exclaim, “get the f bomb out of here, go back to where you belong” but I’ve also noticed that when I have a deeper sense of belief/faith in my task in the moment and ‘hear’ their voices they begin to fade. Recognizing that there will always be resistance in some form, and in some ways expecting it to come diminishes it’s power tremendously. Belief. Acceptance.

Believing in ourselves is scary and putting our hearts and art out there can feel even scarier. Self promoting myself is freaky and uncomfortable because it feels exposed and I sometimes hear myself say, “what’s the point, oh here she is bragging again, stay humble and direct attention to others, will I handle haters…..” However, i think these insecurities are often lies that keep us from the good that is waiting for us on the other side of the spilling open process. I believe walking forward into your truth and authenticity and into unknown territory is worth the risk if you choose to live the life of an artist. Faith.

Art not only begins with the physical manifestation of mess but emotional mess as well. When we spill open and have faith in the process, the good bad and ugly parts of our inner workings release and start to reorganize themselves helping us get past the fear of the unknown. We have to leap off the cliff and stop waiting to be discovered and start believing in our messes, what ever that is. When we stop waiting for somebody to save us, discover us, give us the answer, publish us, give us the time, represent or what ever the …”if only then” is in our life we will say goodbye to those fears and start believing in the nagging feeling inside that says create create create in some form. I believe when you take that leap and start your messy creative thing doors will open. Give yourself the permission to create a small something messy today. Try. Bump along.

The world needs to see you, the world needs to hear you try, the world needs to experience your vantage point. A world with out a multitude of perspectives, paintings, colors, photos, sculptures, poems, novels, jokes, expression is a bleak environment. I know you have something unique to offer from the deep down inside of yourself. I have met many artists and most of them wrestle with excuses and disbelief in the themselves. But together we must try and believe. Collectively we must share this faith so we can teach and exemplify the necessity of expression, art, creative needs to the generation of artists to come. For my sweet son and daughter. Cradle this side of yourself, the toddler or teenager that just wants to write on the walls and claim their space in life. You deserve that space. Don’t wait for someone else’s permission to write on the walls of your own life. Maybe that’s how it worked in school but I have experienced real life doesn’t work like that. Create your art first, follow your heart first, then observe the doors and opportunities that start opening. Masterpiece.

Will you let your critics hold you back from living your truest self? Maybe. But I hope not, for your sake and mine. Each one of us is a masterpiece and we all start messy inside and fear can’t have the power or the right to take that from you. There is an abundance of expression waiting to be born and exist in the world. Shout it. Post it. Share it. Please get messy. Just don’t hide it.

After thoughts:

……..Jealousy can be your friend. But you can reinterpret jealousy instead of letting it continue to stir in your gut and give you the millions of excuses to hold back. Jealousy often screams it’s not fair they get to do that and I can’t. They have it (or seem to have it) so easy. If only I were them. If only I had… Everyone has these thoughts and you are not alone but learn to use them as flag posts and recognize them as your body and mind saying, Hey listen, I think I really want to try that someday. Many people who have succeeded in their creative journey have all fought hard against the creepy fears inside themselves. Your not alone. I’m not alone.

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Kate and Scott decided together to include art in their wedding registry, but Kate had no idea they would enter their marriage with a personalized piece – named after her and inspired by their love. Scott had the brilliant idea to reach out to the people closest to them to collectively purchase their legacy painting as a wedding gift. Those names are listed on the back of the painting so the couple always remembers their love and support.

When I met with Scott to discuss the painting, he was bursting with wonderful things to say about Kate. He wrote some of them out in an “I Love You” list, and I attached his list to the back of the painting along with the names. When the painting was unveiled at the reception, Scott read his list out loud, making the beautiful details of his joy known to all their wedding guests.
“I love you because you put up with me and still love me.”
“I love your eyes, your hair, your face, your smile…”
“I love your ambition and how hard you work for Mizzou and at your volunteer positions.”
“I love it when we laugh together, or even when you just laugh at me.”
“You bring out the best in me and help smooth out the rough parts of me.”
“I love that you care about whether I eat healthy food and that you make it taste good!”
“I am excited about all of the things we plan to do in our future, together.”
“I love you because you said yes when I asked you to marry me (even if I had to repeat it)!”

Kate shared her joy at having this piece as a daily reminder of the cherished community that surrounded them on their wedding day. She said, “It’s amazing to think Scott’s inspiration is in that painting, but everyone’s love is behind it.”