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  • Writer's pictureAllison Stratton

Breadcrumbs Pt 3: Answering an inner voice and suddenly opening the floodgates of expression

As I wrote this I realized I don't want to leave anything out. This is the most pivotal part of my life and deserves 2 posts. So there will be a Part 4!


In 2018, after a year of doing pet portraits for friends, I yearned for a looser, more free way of doing art. The dogs took a lot of focus, time, and accuracy and while the outcome is always gratifying (including handing the piece to the owner and seeing the love!), a voice inside me was asking for expression. Expression versus representation.


I had no idea what that meant. I just felt it in my bones and started searching online for classes. I came across a class called "Mark Making" that was labeled as a drawing class, but the example works in the description seemed to answer that question "Can we do something else?" in the back of my mind. So I registered!


It was a huge financial commitment. More than I think I have ever spent on myself. But I had the privilege of affording it at the time and since it was in August, I considered it a gift to this Virgo. The class was a three-day course at the Grand Marais Art Colony "up north" in Minnesota on the coast of Lake Superior.

The rocky shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, MN

At the time of registration, the website did not name the instructor. I almost cried when I entered the beautiful once-a-church-now-a-studio and saw my absolute favorite artist who has a studio in the neighborhood I lived in for 10 years, the NE Minneapolis Arts District! During the epic weekend art crawl, Art-a-Whirl, I beelined to Lynn Speaker's studio every year. First, her pieces are ethereal and evoke a sense of delicate light shining through the composition of wispy, ghost-like shapes that look to be foliage or grass or flowers. Amazing.


SECOND, she does all of this with GUNPOWDER. How badass is that?! Something seeming so dangerous and violent creating something so delicately beautiful blew my mind.



So when I walked into that room and saw Lynn Speaker standing there, my heart skipped a few beats. I confessed my fangirling and she said she thought she recognized me from somewhere. Yep, guilty of stalking your studio on a weekend of May every year the past four years.


This was the first confirmation that my inner voice lead me right to where I needed to be.


...to be continued...

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