“You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
This quote has been attributed to both C.S. Lewis and a motivational speaker, but it could just as easily have come from any woman that has spent most of her adult life raising children and devoting herself to her family while putting her own interests on the back burner.
“This is what I did, and I don’t regret a single moment,” says watercolor artist Cheryl Gray, whose work is featured at the Walton County Coastal Branch Library this month. “I love being a mom to three, stepmom to two, and now grandmother to seven. I find it a high calling from God.
“I believe with all my heart that my three children were divinely chosen for me to care for, and I have been blessed beyond measure for devoting my life to their care.”
Gray’s last little one left the nest for school in New York when Gray was in her early 50s. Her two girls had already left—they’re both married now with kids of their own. “I didn’t feel sad or depressed when they moved out,” says Gray. “I was happy for them, and happy to begin the next chapter in my own story.”
She told her husband she wanted to learn to paint. “I had never taken an art class and never really picked up a brush, except for one semester in high school,” says Gray. “But I had always had a love for the arts and a strong desire to pursue this passion.”
For Christmas that year, Gray’s husband gave Cheryl a year of lessons at the South Mississippi Art Alliance. “My instructor was Bobby Walters, a fantastic watercolor artist,” she says. But she almost turned around and walked out on her first class.
“I was expecting a large group, but instead it was just three men and myself,” says Gray. “And it was obvious they had been painting for many, many years.” But Gray stuck it out, and her classmates were very kind and helpful. “I showed up every Tuesday night for three years until my husband Steve and I moved to Santa Rosa Beach two and a half years ago.”
The simple things inspire Gray’s art. “Life isn’t always easy or comfortable, but I have learned ‘acceptance with joy,’” she says. “God loves me, I’m grateful for whatever talents or abilities He has given me, and I feel truly blessed to be able to share the joys and beauty of His creation with others through my art.”
The exhibit runs through Feb. 28. The library is located at 437 Greenway Trail in Santa Rosa Beach.
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