What I learned from the Painted Violin project and life challenges

Priming the violin for painting, Painted Violin project for DYAO

Priming the violin for painting, Painted Violin project for DYAO

My painted violin is finished!

I was kindly asked to join the Painted Violin project by Vickie Temple who saw some of my paintings at Osmosis Gallery in Niwot Colorado, Boulder County. It sounded like a fun project, why not contribute to the good cause for helping young musicians achieve their dreams?

Soon I was on board to paint a violin to be auctioned at the DYAO annual event to raise funds for support for the young musicians. My own brother Bob Gillis is a master jazz musician who has found support from programs that support talented musicians. How could I refuse, not that I even thought of refusing. Who gets to put a painting on a violin, such a lovely instrument? I looked at past violins painted and transformed by various painters and sculptors in our Denver area over the past years, how inspiring!

Violin I was given, just starting to sand and prime the surface for painting

Violin I was given, just starting to sand and prime the surface for painting

Then came our family challenges, and the decision to sell our home of 13 years and move on. We had hoped to simplify our lives after our children flew the nest, and the time has come. Do you drop everything on your plate when stressful things like a home relocation comes on the scene? It’s tempting. Deadlines looming over a person’s head add to the feeling of being overwhelmed.

But. And there is the But. A long time ago I learned that making art gets a person through life’s really tough challenges, when I was going through a difficult marriage break up in my twenties. I was just beginning my freelance career as a graphic designer and illustrator. Fortunately I had a full-time job for my client, and it kept me busy. I could move on.

Now my family is going through a new challenge. Stepping away from the family home where we raised our kids and moving to a new place, as yet unknown. Here is the good thing that happens in life challenges.

Our former Pastor Miller (who married us) said that if you are going through a challenge, that is the time to help someone else. That stuck with me all these years, because I saw truth in it.

I would like to encourage the artists who have signed up to paint their violin and might be feeling like circumstances might keep them from going through with this project. Go ahead and finish your violin, even if life is tough right now. It will give you a sense of completion, but even more importantly, the process of making your art will keep you going and carry you through to the next project. You have a gift. Keep on going, it will make your life more complete if you let yourself move the gift forward.


P.S. We artists were asked to keep photos of our painted violins under wraps until the time they would be shown to the public. Thanks for sticking with me, friends.  In the fall of this year of 2013 we will see our works revealed.

P.P. S.

Here’s a verse that helps me keep painting. We need hope in our lives:
“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”


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