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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Diaz-Gilbert

The Road to My First Entry in an Art Exhibition

Updated: Jan 19

Once upon a time, about fifteen years ago, my husband Jon said that he wanted to start painting. So for Christmas/Hanukkah, I gave him canvases, paints, and brushes. He never painted.

Five years ago, when he was getting chemo & radiation, I got him an easel for Father’s Day. I thought the easel would excite him and that he’d start painting to help him relax during this difficult time. It didn’t happen. The canvases, paints, brushes, and easel quietly collected dust.

Then two years ago this summer, after the pandemic took my adjunct professor job, I officially “retired” early and got creative. If Jon won’t create and play with the paints and brushes on the canvases on the easel, then I will. And so I did.

After painting fifty-two acrylics, this summer I entered a painting from one of my twenty-seven national parks paintings in an annual juried art contest and exhibition. The event is open to professional and nonprofessional senior artists in their 60s to 90s, and runs through September 30.

Mediums include acrylic, oil, pastel, watercolor, photography, print, sculpture, craft, mixed media, works on paper, and digital art. One hundred and one pieces of art were submitted and exhibited.

I submitted painting no. 16 of my twenty-seven national parks collection paintings. The painting, painted in November 2021, is my interpretation of the natural entrance to Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.

Jon is still not interested in painting. But if he had never said to me fifteen years ago that he wanted to paint but never did, and if the pandemic had never stuck, I would have never put the paints, brushes, canvases, and easel I gave him to creative good use. And I would not have become a self-taught painter who is still learning with every stroke of the brush, and looking forward to more roads to future exhibitions.

Everything happens for a reason. Opportunities present themselves. So, seize the day. At any age.


I am the author of Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times. My journey of a self-taught painter makes an appearance. You can order the book here from from the publisher, Amazon, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble.


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