Who I Am • by Rachelle Panagarry
Sitting Up and Taking Notice
Art has saved me, it really has. In fact it has been the thing that has helped pull me through some really difficult times, especially when things took a turn for the worse with my own health. Being creative was a real conscious decision that I made one day whilst laying in a hospital bed sometime in 2010. I was there being treated for some unknown ailment, which turned out to be an infected pacemaker that eventually led to serious heart complications. You might be thinking this was a bad thing—and it was—but it was also one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me. It made me stop and think, and really see what I wanted from my life. I guess when you are surrounded by women who have suffered heart attacks, and some of them a similar age to me, you sit up and take notice. That’s just what I did.
Longing to Make More Art
I had been teaching in schools for the last eleven years, being a late starter after getting my qualification at 30. Raising a son as a single mom and teaching was something I loved to do. I adored the children, the school, and everything about it. But despite this love, for the last five years of my teaching career I had started to long to make more art, to be more creative myself, just for me. I had even begun to browse through job vacancies for art teachers, art tutors, or anything else related to art. I couldn’t really put my finger on what exactly I was looking for but I just knew in my heart that it was ART.
So with the illness forcing me to take a break from work, and the wake-up call that it gave me, I started making art once more. One evening whilst watching TV, I got out a bag of paper scraps, glue, acrylic paints, and an old canvas and started to make a picture. That very picture, my “Madame Butterfly,” was the one that made things happen. She was the first piece of art that I’d done in years, but not only that, she was the first piece of art that I actually believed was “quite good.” It was with that tiny spec of confidence that I put her “out there” on the Internet for the whole world to see, and that’s when art really saved me.
Fully Embracing my Arty Self
The last twelve months have seen me transition personally and grow creatively in more ways than I could ever have imagined. I now have a very supportive husband, two step-children, and a four-year-old daughter (and she’s an arty chick too—I’m starting her young!).
I fully embrace my true arty self these days. I write a blog, paint, draw, glue, and generally get messy every few days, and I LOVE it. I have had the pleasure of writing guest posts on some fabulous websites, had some of my art published, become a licensed artist, and met so many lovely new friends. I still teach, but now it is just art workshops both online and in person. Most of all, now I can say this too, I am an ARTIST—that is who I am.
To learn more about Rachelle Panagarry, visit arteyecandy.com.