Have you ever wanted to paint or create or draw or write…

…and someone told you that you shouldn’t?

Someone told you that you weren’t good enough.

Or talented enough.

Or creative enough.

Or capable enough.

Someone who may or may not have known anything about anything told you to hide your light under a bushel and start again and rethink what you were thinking and go back to the drawing board.


Then this story is for you.

See the stool right there on the left? It was my grandmother’s.

She lived her life during a time when pearls and cocktails and poodle skirts and supper dances were a thing.

Her hair was cut in a perfect bob and she teased up and wore cat eye glasses and looked like a movie star.  She had a smile that lit up a room and a laugh that made you giggle and she was funny and witty and beautiful and knew how to rock a pair of capri pants and a set of rhinestone earrings.

She lived her life in panoramic color with extra sparkles…

…and she loved red lipstick.

But underneath the red lipstick and country club dinners and tea parties and supper clubs—underneath all the glitz and the glamor way down deep in her soul…

…she was an artist.

A while back, I discovered a stack of canvases tucked away in the very back corner of the attic at our beach house.

A little forlorn.

A little forgotten.

A little tattered and torn.

There were beautiful, incredible, amazing pieces she painted of the dunes and the sunsets and the jetties and the ocean at the Cape.

I didn’t truly understand that she was an artist until I discovered those canvases in the attic, but once I saw them I met a part of my grandmother I never knew.  It was as if those paintings were a glimpse into her soul.

Those were canvases she painted for herself.

Canvases that were painted softly and without fanfare.

You could almost hear the whisper in every brushstroke.

You see–she never really talked about her art.

I don’t know why.

Maybe someone told her she wasn’t a good painter.  Maybe someone told her that her sand wasn’t grainy enough or her ocean wasn’t blue enough or that she didn’t use the right technique or she needed to paint the sky in vivid hues instead of soft, gentle breezes.

Maybe someone told her she wasn’t enough.

But she was.

And she didn’t listen.  She painted anyway.  She sat on this stool and painted because she couldn’t help it.  She had to create because she had art and painting and creative inspiration running through every vein.

This was her painting stool.

Every drip.  Every drop.  Every scratch and dent and rough edge and splatter were hers.

Every dream.  Every brushstroke.  Every line.

It was her legacy.

There’s such a life lesson in those long ago drips on this rough and splattered stool.

And the lesson is this…

When life tells you that you can’t.

When life tells you that you are not enough.

When life tells you to hide your light under a bushel and put the paint brushes away.

Paint your heart anyway.

PS  You got today rock star.  Truly.

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  1. Image for Janet Janet

    Yes! Let's see the paintings, please. I can share a similar story. When we cleared out the last of my mother-in-law's belongings, my daughter and I discovered a few of my MIL's paintings. I knew about the large one, which hangs in our guest room and which I will not part with. But another, much smaller painting of a bird on a branch was charming. My daughter framed and hung it in her apartment. We suspect she really liked painting, but was never encouraged. And I'm so sorry about that. W under what else she painted that she did not keep or would have painted if she had continued.

  2. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Oh I just love this story, and the way your beautiful words paint the page about her heart on canvas...well, it just makes me long to see those paintings of hers. Looks like talent runs deep in that family of yours!

  3. Image for Tracey Tracey

    Oh thank you so much for this. My husband told me last night that I "would never get a job, that I'd never amount to anything." I grew up with this kind of negativity and I hate it that I have it in my own marriage. I'm working on my blog dothebeach.com. And I hope some day I can bring in more income than my husband. Love you. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

    1. Image for Ann C Ann C

      I just said a prayer for you Tracey. I pray that God leads your husband to apologize for being so negative and that you prove him wrong! I also hope you find something you love to do, that's more important than how much you make doing it.

  4. Image for Kelly Mansulich Kelly Mansulich

    I could write a blog post myself on how much it would mean to me to see photos of your grandmothers paintings. As someone who paints but refuses to call herself an artist, I understand how your grandmother might have felt. Not only does painting feed my soul but going to museums and galleries and viewing how others have expressed themselves in this solitary activity we call art does as well. Please, please, please give your grandmother a delayed gallery showing by posting her paintings on your wonderful blog. It would mean a lot.

  5. Image for Tracey Tracey

    I wanted to share a quote from a friend at a recent Ladies Retreat I attended. There is enough. You have enough. You are enough.

  6. Image for Leila Jane Leila Jane

    I would LOVE to see one of your grandmother's paintings of the dunes or the sunset.... Or are they all at the framer's right now? :) Smile. From your description, it sounds like they would be lovely hung in each one of her grandchildrens' homes!

  7. Image for Georgina Georgina

    What a Beautiful Soul Felt tribute to your Grandmother and her legacy!! Made me think how much I want to paint Whimsey and afraid to try!! I am going too, my mother was a artist too!!!

  8. Image for june june

    Your words have such an impact on so many...I love reading every one of the responses you get because I learn something from each one. I really needed this today...as I flounder through what feels like empty days. I know I'm enough but it's the negative self talk that gets in the way from patterns of what I was told as a young girl/woman. Today I will wear red lipstick.

  9. Image for Linda Linda

    I enjoy the way you share your life and inspire us to do what we love! Glad you don't hide your talents under the bushel!

  10. Image for Renee Renee

    How wonderful that you discovered your Grandmothers art!! I am one of those that was told by a teacher that my art wasn't good enough! I was in college before I tried art and discovered I did have talents, not ThomS Kincaid talent but talent! Don't let nay Sayers stop you from creating if only for yourself!!!


    Beautiful story! Precious Grandmother! Wonderful Granddaughter! Have a blessed day, KariAnne! Put on your red lipstick and enjoy! You and your Grandmother were a lot alike! Blessings!

  12. Image for bobbie bobbie

    What an up-lifting post ~ thanks for sharing the story with us! And I agree with all who have asked to see some of her work .

  13. Image for Kris Kris

    Aww. My husband and daughter are artistic and I love it that both of them have been/are encouraged to do what they love. I hope my children feel they can explore their creativity--I have tried to encourage that (even though my house gets messy!). Thanks for a beautiful story.

    1. Image for Cindy in Oklahoma Cindy in Oklahoma

      Do you ever wonder if maybe the most important things you ever learned in your whole life were in Vacation Bible School?

  14. Image for Peg Peg

    Oh how I would love to see her paintings of "Old Cape Cod" !!! [Patti Page playing in my head!] Love this story, love you!!! xoxo

  15. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    Bless you, KariAnne. If I know you, I know you've put that stool in a place of honor. Love, love, love this!

  16. Image for Dawn Dawn

    Oh! How I wait for your words, your pictures, your ideas. You have a wonderful gift to show the sweetness of life. Thank you for sharing your gift with us!

  17. Image for Ann C Ann C

    As I was reading I was wondering what my grandchildren will say about me after I'm gone. I too paint. Not well but love it. I took up water colors after my husband passed. Then I tried to teach my father. He also had an artist somewhere in his soul. I have his and my pictures framed and hung around my home. No one else has to like them. Please share your grandmother's paintings with us.

  18. Image for Nan, Odessa, DE Nan, Odessa, DE

    Lot of what you say about your grandmother, describes YOU! Glad you are enjoying your memories and heritage. YOU, GO girl!

  19. Image for Shirley Shirley

    Another lovely story KariAnne. So glad the stool wasn't upcycled. I am so worried about you Tracy. Emotional abuse is still abuse. My ex was just like that always putting me down , knocking my confidence & self esteem. Now I realise he was only masking his own inadequaces. He always told me I couldn't manage without him. Well I can!!! Hope you make a great big success of your blog.

  20. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Yes! Don't ever let someone smash your dreams...just because their vision is small, doesn't mean yours has to be too. As a matter of fact, I just wrote a blog post about this very thing. :) Don't quit, no matter what! Please share your grandmother's art! I'd love to see it.

  21. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    Love the story-perhaps she didn't talk about it because it was her peace in a noisy world-I paint like that-no one knows except my husband and now all of you :)-it gives me peace. My husband always tells me they are great (he is like that).

  22. Image for Vicki radunz Vicki radunz

    Great post Kari-Anne! Beautiful inspirational words! It's Saturday morning in Australia and I get to have my coffee in bed and love it when you have a new post on a Saturday! X

  23. Image for gina gina

    I love that your grandmother's talent was passed down to you and your siblings. Earlier today I bought a magnet for my refrigerator to encourage my son. It says: "Do what they think you can't do."

  24. Image for Mary Mary

    You are the best! What a treasure for you to have discovered your grandmother's hidden talent. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

  25. Image for Louise Adkins Louise Adkins

    Recently a friend encouraged me to start painting again. I did-last week. I've started but I just have to continue but I am bugged with...what if it isn't good enough...even good enough for just me? Time will tell. I would love to see your grandmother's paintings.

  26. Image for Janet Cole Janet Cole

    Needed this today - so very overwhelmed right now. Looks like that's the case with a lot of your readers...I think we must all be universally overwhelmed these days and that is, strangely, comforting.

  27. Image for Emma Emma

    I needed this so much! Thank you so much for sharing your grandmother's story and your beautiful and encouraging words! I'm going to pull out my paints tonight.

  28. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Legacy. How lovely. Loved this story, KariAnne. And I think your grandmother and I could have been kindred spirits. What a treasure to find those canvases. Truly ready to see them in another post.

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