This year is my 20 year high school reunion.
My immediate thoughts about this were as follows:
Where has all the time gone?
What am I going to wear?
I see and talk to everyone who I really care about from high school in person or on facebook. Why should I go?
Have I accomplished the success I thought I would by now?
How will other people perceive me?
But then the unexpected happened and everything came full circle.
This is that story.
My boss at University Art, Dave, a fellow alumni from an earlier graduating year from my high school says to me, “Jenny, would you like to be the artist of the year at Christian Brothers High School? If so, I’ll tell the art teacher to consider you.”
Artist of the year? I’m listening…
“They do this every year with a different local artist. The kids make art inspired by your work. You go and talk to the classes about being an artist. Then we’ll host the art show of their work here in the store as a fundraiser”
Time passed. I got wrapped up in life, and back at school about 75 kids were visiting my website to look at my artwork and began making Jennifer Laurel Keller inspired pieces.
The gravity of how cool this was going to be had not yet sunk in.
As the date approached to visit the classroom, I was brainstorming what I’d talk about. How to be a professional artist, how to paint, how to do this and that. But none of it really connected until University Art proposed that I pass out donated sketchbooks to the kids. Bingo!
The first step to being an artist is getting inspired! What better place to keep your inspirational material than in a sketchbook art journal, and who doesn’t listen up when there’s a free gift involved? Topic of presentation - check.
The day came along and as I was walking down the halls so many memories flooded in. Pulling up in the parking lot with carpool, getting detention for breaking dress code, seeing a crush in the hallway, the table my friends and I sat at in the quad. All like a hologram in my mind that could be projected onto this backdrop. So vivid I could almost touch it.
Then I arrived to class. The same art classroom I sat in 20 years ago probably down to the minute. In those 20 years I’ve done so much yet I don’t really feel that different. Even the music they were listening to (a perk of art class = music) was from the 90s. Right out of my era. Every day is a winding road... and other golden oldies.
Teenage me working on art projects in the very same classroom
There the kids were, all working on in-progress pieces that all were so similar to my own, but interpreted in their own unique way.
It was truly a humbling and impressive kick in the pants. Such young talent! I don’t remember being that good when I was their age. It was astounding!
I saw my old and new pieces mirrored back at me. Some as fresh in my mind as if the paint was still wet. It was like a tour of the 20 years since I’d sat in that classroom as an 18 year old. Chills!
My own art staring back at me, but different.
We had lovely conversations about finding and capturing inspiration. I showed off my brimming art journal, talked about going to art school and the importance of also taking business classes. But the best part was connecting with kids who really had the spark of curiosity in their eyes and giving them feedback on their progress.
I left that day light on my feet with a little buzz in my heart. After 20 years out on my own, what really matters is the journey, not the end result. It doesn’t matter what my fellow classmates from 1997 think of my “success” when I go to my reunion, but rather that I find my own life inspiring and rewarding. Just like the message I was giving to these kids about their own art.
It won’t hurt to brag just a little that I was Artist of the Year, though. That’ll feel good. Tee hee :-).
So now I’m looking forward to reminiscing about all those memories and having a great 20th reunion. Because everyday is a winding road… and I get a little bit closer to feeling fine.
I’d like to thank Mr. McIntosh and Ms. Kerr and all the students for allowing me to have this experience. Keep up the great work!
If you would like to see the pieces the kids made, I invite you to swing by University Art Sacramento during the month of May, 2017 and check them out! You can see the store hours here and the show will be up in the window and visible at all times of day.
If you would like to make a purchase contact Findlay McIntosh for inquiries.
If you want to learn more about finding inspiration, art journaling, and creating unique artwork, just like I talked about with the kids - and more - check out my online e-course How to Overcome Artist’s Block and Reclaim your Creative Power. There you’ll find loads of lessons about getting in the creative flow from a place that resonates with your soul.