For seven years I lived in a striking landscape. Mountains shoot from the valley floor. Rivers run as clear as air. I was too afraid to stand in it alone. I was convinced that the grizzly wildlife would strike me from behind, streaking my canvas with blood and immortalizing me in all the wrong ways.
I got past that last week. I was back in Teton Valley ID for a visit. I had just launched the biggest project of my career on a crowd-funding platform and I was excited to see it succeed. I had been consumed by it. I dreamt about it for almost 20 years. I put in the hours. I focused all of my energy on it. I spent money we didn’t have. I put potential FingerSmear jobs on the back burner. I wanted to rock the clubhouse with this philanthropic gig of a lifetime.
I am not one to tout the pains in this world. They are there. A blind man can see them well. My life and my art are about the beauty that lives, and the world that I believe is possible. Through it, I will connect a generation of girls. I will inspire them to be stronger and more fully engaged in their future. I will tell them to forge the future THEY see – not the one that others see for them.
I have dedicated my life to art and this collaboration is possible because I’m taken by the power of it. My drive to communicate through paint is vital to everything I have to offer this world. For me, everything I do in art – teach, collaborate, FingerSmear, or paint in the solitude of my studio – must all coexist together. They all go hand in hand. They are more powerful together than they are alone – just like mighty fingers…
I drove out to the end of the road, to that same valley floor where I’ve seen the wild life roam many times before. I set up my easel and I painted. I ignored the phone and worried not about the bears. My mood turned from anxiety and exhaustion to peace. The shifting of colors absorbed me. The quiet covered my fearful mind, and I was gone.
I am working to raise funds for my project that I know will shift life for the girls that participate in it. My paintings will help me move Mighty Fingers Facing Change from one place to the next. My art is what makes this project possible. It’s what gives me the ability to think that I can take this canvas around the world, and the strength to make it happen.
I can stand alone in the wilderness. I am not afraid anymore. But the fact is, most of the time I prefer a bit of company.