This weekend I am both a happy graduate and a happy mom.
This is the story of one mom’s solution to filling the sadness of an empty nest and the journey of rediscovering a lost dream.
I had been a single mother, displaced when my ex moved me to a city far away from my hometown, family and friends and divorced me. With only one year of college and four children, I struggled to make ends meet. Eventually I remarried a wonderful man, but as my children left home I was filled with an overwhelming sadness. I don’t if being an artist means you feel more deeply so you can generate the passion you need to create, but the truth was that I was hurting, Newell suggested I go to the local college and take an art class. Genius idea. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was in my final semester at MiraCosta College in Oceanside taking the 6 science and health classes I had avoided for 30 years to complete my A.A.
Then we felt prompted to move to Utah, we fought it and lost, relocating to Salt Lake City where he took a job with the University of Utah Hospital (one of the benefits was half-price tuition for his dependents; can you guess where this is going?) After four more years of art studies here we are today.
My husband Newell, daughter Heather, her husband Paul and children Noah, Lynnie and Elle celebrated my graduation from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in art teaching with a drawing and painting emphasis.
After a cumulative of thousands of hours of studying, drawing and painting and designing projects, I earned an A.A. from MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA, then a BFA after four more years of coursework at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT.
I wore a Stewart (Stuart) tartan stole, inspired by by my 3rd cousin 10x removed, Queen Anne, great granddaughter of King James who had the Bible translated into English and the last of the Stuarts to rule England; my great grandmother’s family from Scotland, the Holladays and my husband’s Scottish name: McMurtry.
The paper rose lei was created from the pages leftover from an antique dictionary I had used for an altered book project for my artist’s book class.
Thank you Newelly for supporting and pushing me along when I felt like quitting.
The tartan mortarboard was a requisite for the traditional toss up in the air at the end of the graduation ceremony; my grandchildren came all the way from California to see that, I couldn’t disappoint them.
Heather even took me for a manicure, red polish with a collegiate U!
My other children had obligations that required their attention, but Bill and Laurel sent beautiful flowers with their heartfelt congratulations
And Andrew who is in U.S. Army Recruiting School, Elder Tim McMurtry who is serving a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alabama sent their love and greetings as well.
We went out afterwards for Brazilian barbecue and had fireworks to top off the night. It was an exciting and fulfilling event; both the graduation and the process.
Many thanks to my parents who helped with my early education, my teachers; especially Dr. Beth Krensky, the University of Utah for providing the structure and programs, my friends and fellow artists who made the journey so interesting and enjoyable.
I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite projects – enjoy!
175,200 Hours: an installation that is an homage to the work of mothers
Traveling Time: a journey to discover the history and attributes of family members where time is relative
Castle: a 12th Century Irish castle
Old Ugly: a charcoal drawing of an antique chair my husband inherited
A collaborative oil painting with Darcy
The Light of the World: a dry point etching
Warts and All: an oil painting on which I made the decision to show all of the details of a pumpkin, not the idealized version
Skull; a charcoal drawing from one of my head and hands classes, I love the form
Tulips and Daffodils from my garden
Still Life on Red
During the course of my education, I also finished and published on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com
A Harvest and Halloween Handbook
A Christmas Handbook
A Holiday Handbook I
A Holiday Handbook II
A Mermade’s Tale
Did a project for Macy’s City Creek holiday windows
The Deseret News
The Daily Meal
The Guardian (U.K.)
McClatchy News Service
Natural Awakenings magazine
2nd Hand Social
meal Train and others.
Did holiday segments on Kim Power Stilson’s Talkworthy
BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 broadcasts
Sent a son on a mission and tried to keep up with
(plus my sisters, bestie and others…)
Served as a counselor in the Kaysville 10th Ward Relief Society,
kept the home fires burning
…and lived happily ever after.