Gratitude: A Thanksgiving Day Thank You to Three Fabulous Art Teachers

I want to praise and thank three art teachers who probably don't know how they changed my life - so I want to share my gratitude with them and share about their work with you - but first I need to say a little bit about my story and why this Thanksgiving day is blowing my mind - because as my daughter would say, "Seriously, Dude," my cup runneth over.

Some Personal Stuff

Here we go: my life is good. It really is. I have so so much to be grateful for - family, friends, health, employment, enjoyment, and - especially today - an abundance of food. It wasn't always this way. Ten years ago my life and my dreams as I knew them had completely fallen apart - with two exceptions: I had my daughter with me and my mom on my side. It was their love for me and my love for them that helped me rebuild my life and create new dreams for the future. And all that time because of them, even though it was a humiliating, frightening and stressful time, I never gave up hope that things would get better. I love you both so much!

I know not everyone is blessed with that kind of love and self-sustaining hope. I know the holidays can be rough - really rough. In December of 2004, I was bankrupt and underemployed and I took out my first in a long series of payday loans to put presents under the tree for my kiddo. In hindsight, I know that wasn't the best decision I could have made in that moment, but I was in survival mode which isn't often graced by foresight. Days of survival and drama and struggle preceded that day and followed for many days to come. 

But things are different now and frankly I'm a bit stunned by it. When I look around me and see how wonderful life is, I either feel like dancing or turn into a big pile of mush because I start crying. We've added to the love in our home. Jim and I celebrated five years together as an old married couple. And my daughter, my husband and I all have the same last name now! How marvelous is that!?! I never dreamed that was possible. I'm so happy to be spending this day with my daughter, my mama, and my husband. I love you, Jim Malinee! Today is a mushy dancing kind of day. So I want to say, if things are rough, I feel you. Hang on to hope and hang in there. Gratitude for the smallest thing can make a difference. 

I didn't mean to go into all of that, but I'm writing straight from the heart right now so - there you have it.
<Insert a warm hug for anyone reading this here!>

Thanks to Three Amazing Teachers

Now, I want to share my gratitude for three of my favorite art teachers! Each one of them - no matter how well I do or don't know them personally - has made a huge difference in my life. Thank you!

I'll start with Whitney Freya, the founder of Creatively Fit. I know I talk about Whitney a lot on this blog, but I don't think I've ever taken the opportunity to say 'thank you' to her. Thank you, Whitney! The Creatively Fit Coach Training changed my life in so many ways that it's difficult to describe the impact of it. I really think Creatively Fit changed the way the neurons fire in my brain. It may have even changed my DNA. What I'm saying is "This work/play went to the core of me, stirred things up, and brought color to my life in a trans-formative way." One of the things that truly makes me grateful to Whitney is that she is open and generous in sharing her personal journey and transformation with her coaches and her students. I feel privileged to be witness to her ceaseless creative expression. And I can wait to meet her and several of my sister Creatively Fit Coaches in person in Nashville in January!
(Full disclosure: I am a Certified Creatively Fit Coach and an Affiliate of

I want you to meet Whitney:

Next, Tamara LaPorte, of Willowing Arts. Tamara is the creator of Lifebook which is in its fourth year! Lifebook is an amazing year-long art experience filled with lessons and inspiration from Tamara and 25 amazing art teachers. The energy, kindness and generosity in Tamara's virtual classroom goes beyond encouraging and enters the realm of illuminating. I know that sounds all mushy-gooshy over the top, but I'm speaking to you about the truth of my experience with these amazing women. My deepest gratitude and many thanks to you, Tam! Lifebook is a tremendous value for the cost. Really. Art classes aren't cheap in person or online for the most part, but Lifebook is an incredible bargain for the amount of learning and the community. Here's Tamara Laporte to tell you about Lifebook 2015! This is a long video so if it doesn't load on my page use these links to take you to the Lifebook 2015 page on Willowing.
(No disclosure necessary on this one. I'm not an affiliate.) 

The first class I took from Tamara Laporte was her Digital Dreams class. I still love that class. The piece below is the first piece of art I 'painted' in Photoshop and actually one of the first faces I ever painted. Fly Free was my final project for the Digital Dreams class. Isn't she sweet!?! It took my hours upon hours to create her and I still adore her. I had never done anything like this before, but I was determined - and inspired by my teacher.

And I also want to thank Tangie Baxter. Tangie is the creator of the Art Journal Caravan. And she's the teacher who brought digital art journaling and collage to life for me. All of the pieces in my Digi Art gallery were inspired and guided by Tangie's teaching. She's guided me through the intricacies of Photoshop with her wonderful Photoshop for Mixed Media classes. Oh! and eventually the my 2015 DIY Planner will feature pages made with one of my favorite goodies created by Tangie Baxter, the Tangible Plans! (What's not to like? It's digi-scrap meets planner pages! Hello!!!) I couldn't find a video of Tangie to share so I'm going to share her Tangible Plans video. Thank you Tangie! - for being a wonderful teacher and sharing so much of your talent and your creations with your students.
(No disclosure necessary on this one. I'm not an affiliate.) 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

Kirsten Malinee2 Comments