Another full day of painting went on at Gateway Mall today. Although bitterly cold today I was out at the mall as soon as I'd dropped the boys off at school. I wasn't nearly as nervous today about working but more so about my insurance going through. I've never had to get insurance for working on a piece of art but because it is in a public space I'm getting exposed to the need to have coverage in the event of something terrible happening. I have had a wonderful insurance lady, though, who has busted her hump to get me a great policy even though she has been out of town for a few days. So with that finally settled this afternoon, I feel a little better about leaving the bulb there by her lonesome. Although the bulb is never really alone. I have found working with Gateway Mall to be AMAZING. Brian, head of security, and his team are super and so good at making sure the bulb is safe and making sure I am comfortable. I am so thankful to be working with the staff at Gateway for my first time working publically like this. They have bent over backward for me and are great at coming to see the progress and encouraging me. So thankful to have met them years ago when the boys were in a stroller and along with me for my daily walks. Who would've known that that connection would lead to this. God sure works in mysterious ways.
After, Monday's experience, I couldn't wait to get back to the mall to paint. I was able to distance myself enough yesterday and get other work done but was more than ready to spend the day painting again. As with Monday the first couple of hours were full of my fellow walkers coming to say hello including Shirley who takes many pictures. Shirley is special to me and to my youngest Ian as she and I have walked together 2-3 years already. She brightens my day and is such an encourager. She even brought along a couple of friends today to see the progress. She makes me smile. I also got to talk with a gentleman I met just this year. After our talks on Monday he came back to chat. We discussed how wonderful it is to give to others. He has found his joy in making dozens of Kolache and giving them away. And WOW what a blessing when he brought me one to munch on today -- it was spectacular and reminded me of my grandmother (who was Czech).
I was a bit tired today, but the many "good jobs," "keep up the good work," and "look mom she's painting" seemed to help keep me energized and going strong. There was even a little boy about 2 or 3 yelling "HI" every time he and his dad walked by -- made me laugh and smile every time. Reminded me of my own boys at that age.
I had a special visit from a lady I work with at Lincoln Berean Church -- what a surprise and encouragement to see her and meet her family. Finally, met one of the security guards (by name) today. We've said hello in passing and Monday he told me about his own artistic pursuits and those of his brother and today I finally have a name to got with the face.
An artist I met through another project, stopped and chatted for a bit today and through our conversation, I was reminded of how blessed I am to have a spouse who is SUPER SUPPORTIVE of the calling God has placed on my life to create art and serve at the church in the Visual Arts Ministry. I know there are so many artists out there who are not encouraged by spouses, children, or parents and I have to say I've been gifted with one of the best men. He supports me and is even willing to spend extra money and time to help me afford a heater for the garage (so I'm not working on my other bulbs in the cold), purchase insurance, and help me haul these huge bulbs ALL OVER LINCOLN! I have met several today who but down their creativity long ago. That makes me sad because God has created us all to be creative and for art minded folks creating is SO essential to life. So if you don't have someone who is encouraging you, may I be that voice of encouragement that says "go for it." Be creative -- do that which God has made you to do! Just see what it does for your state of mind and life. It isn't easy to be an artist - especially if you work a "day job," but creating is worth it all.
I also have to say a very special lady stopped by today. What an encouragement! Although her husband died recently she still walks at the mall and she took time to say hello to me today and I was able to share how I pray while I paint and how hours just fade away when I'm working. I have often said that painting is the closest I will ever be to heaven on this earth. There is something amazing about doing that which you've been created to do. I am so thankful that we are all created unique and special and that we all play a role in a greater community. It is becoming ever clearer to me that it takes all of us to make our city and community the best it can be. As I told people about the meaning of the bulb design I was again reminded of this -- that we each need to do our part so that we can accomplish much -- together.
And as I packed up to leave I met an amazing group of Bettys. Yep, they were all named Betty and there is actually a Nebraska Group of Bettys that meet ever year at a conference. That is SO cool. I was even encouraged to start and Ann(e) group. So what do you think fellow Ann(e)s? Again, makes me smile.
So the day is over. It was a good one. Learning so much about people and enjoying everyone I meet and loving sharing Lighthouse and this amazing project with others. So thankful for the opportunity to share. I hope that the time at Gateway will bring more awareness to the amazing work Lighthouse does for Lincoln, NE and how they are affecting lives of Middle and High Schoolers. So thankful for my friend Liz who has supported me working at the mall from the time I presented the idea and for her coming to me and saying, "I'm leading an art project I want you to be an artist on." Again one of those friendships that God has blossomed. (I met Liz while she was taking some classes at UNL in the printmaking studio). What a gift.
So the painting continues on Friday for an extended time -- 11 or noon to 7 pm.
Ann has worked as a professional artist since 2006. She currently works on her own studio artwork as well as large, commercial works and with other artists in any way she can.