My Story: How a Big Black Tree Changed Everything

Hi there, friend.

I’m Amanda, and this is my story!

I’m a mixed media artist, and I love to use a variety of mediums on a canvas to bring an unusual twist of texture to my pieces. I most often paint with acrylics using a palette knife, but I might also add bits of vintage paper clippings, doilies, fabric, lace or other items to bring an unexpected pattern or structure to the surface of the canvas.

I want to share my story with you because I know that it is a blessing that needs to be shared. My prayer is that it will really encourage you!

Art has changed my life, my family’s life, and the lives of many other people along the way….here’s my story.

 

My Story

I’m a Southern girl from Alabama. I grew up in a small town in a wonderful home full of love and encouragement.  My mom is very creative and crafty. We always had some kind of project going, and my dad is a nature lover. He always pointed out little things outside that I still notice now: sunsets, clouds, birds, and just the beauty of God’s creation in general. Looking back I can see how they both contributed to my love of creating.

That’s me in Kindergarten!

 

In high school I really had problems trying to decide what it was that I wanted to do. I made good grades and all of my teachers encouraged me to go to college. However, college was not really interesting to me…at all. I went and tried it but dropped out, got a job, got married, and had two sweet babies instead of paying for a degree in something that I hated. I was content and a very happy homemaker for many years. When our daughter was old enough, I began homeschooling her. The years passed, and I kept teaching both of our children at home.

The kids in 2011 painting with watercolors.

 

We learned all sorts of new things (I learned too because everything looked so different and more interesting to me at this point in my life).

 

One of the things we added to our day was art, and I found that I loved researching and teaching the kids about art! It became my favorite subject.

 

 

So after a little dabbling with art in homeschooling, I got brave enough to try painting something for our living room wall. I didn’t have the money to buy something as large as I wanted to hang over the couch, so I just made something myself! I painted a big black tree silhouette with a sunset in the background on a huge piece of paper and framed it. It wasn’t the most beautiful painting on earth….but it was so much fun! I shared what I painted with my friends on Facebook and got so much encouragement! That’s where it all began…

This was it! The first thing I painted and where it all began.

 


Accidental Artist and Entrepreneur

I guess you could call me an accidental artist and entrepreneur! I didn’t go looking for an art business. It found me. I went from homemaker to full time artist in just a few years! Y’all, I am making real money with this! I’m talking about a full time job that is helping my family financially in ways that I never could have dreamed of! (The internet can be a great blessing!)

Everything really evolved from that one painting and my tiny bit of blogging experience that I had gained because of homeschooling. I started blogging about art, got on Etsy, and kept on painting. A few years later, I learned how to create my own website where I now sell my work and teach art lessons (which is where my heart is!!) . I was contacted about illustrating a children’s book and have very recently been contacted by companies about licensing some of my work. I’ve had prints of my work sold across the USA in Kirkland’s Stores, gift shops, and specialty boutiques! I have phone cases being sold online and pillows in gift shops!

 

It’s really crazy how this all happened. I didn’t know I wanted this, but I don’t think I could do without it now. I am a very shy and introverted person, so I’ve had to really push myself to find the courage to keep growing and follow these new and unexpected dreams. In the process, I’ve learned so much about myself and how creativity can change your life. It’s my biggest wish to help others see their potential and know their worth.

I am passionate about the reality that creativity can play a big part in your overall mental health. I truly believe that art is so much more than home decor. It is a much needed escape from the chaos of life. Art is a spark of joy in a world of unpredictable events. It is sometimes the life line that holds us when we feel like nothing in our lives is going the way we thought it would. Aside from my deeply rooted faith in God, art is a necessity to keep my sanity on this side of Heaven.

 

This was my first work table and painting area.

 

Pursue Your Dreams

I want to encourage you to pick up a palette knife or a brush and dream big! Pursue your dreams, and never stop learning! I would love to show you the basics of painting, help you find the joy of a creative life, and if you are interested, start finding ways to look for professional opportunities with your art!

There are several things here on my website that I have made for you to help get you started.

You can try painting with a palette knife with this free video lesson: How To Paint Cotton 

If you’ve been painting some already and need help with narrowing down your style, try this free mini class: Find Your Style

And…for those of you wanting to learn how to make money with your creativity, try my business course: Brave Wings

You can also find painting lessons, prints of my work, my original paintings and more in my shop: Shop

My new studio area in our home. Click on the photo for a tour.

 

If you’d like to get to know me even more, you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram for daily peeks into what I’m painting in the studio, as well as other inspirational offerings and ideas throughout the day. You can also subscribe to my newsletter. Check out all of my Art Lessons that I offer online! Teaching and inspiring others to create is what I love to do most.  I’m always brain storming ideas for new things to offer to help others, so be sure to check back often!

P.S. Here’s some of my recent work…(I’ve learned a lot since that black tree painting 🙂 )

 

12 Responses

  1. Judy Baker
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    I enjoy you. YOUR story is inspiring…Thank you for sharing all that you do. God has blessed me with my business as well. NOT AT THE SAME level. I STARTED a business of painting when my kids were young self taught as well. I started homeschooling and my kids were at the age they kept me busy. Driving them everywhere I stepped back from selling. ANYWAY 2 years ago I went back to it a year ago quit my job. And I paint every day love every moment. In local store and so happy God has blessed me with a passion.

    • Amanda Hilburn
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      Judy,
      I’m so happy for you! Painting every day is so awesome!!

  2. Ramona Hart
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    I loved reading your story. You are such an inspiration to me and i’m sure to many other people as well. I was a hairdresser and loved it for most of the years I worked as a hairdresser. I just retired 1 1/2 years ago and still adjusting to all this free time I have. I have always dabbled in crafts and then started making jewelry about 10 years ago. I got good at it and began selling at craft shows and in my Salon. Stopped making jewelry after 8 years cause I spent too much money in inventory and didn’t make what I should’ve made. Now, I am working at an antique store selling restored antique furniture and my crafts along with selling paint with a company called Fusion Mineral Paints. I stumbled onto your site and fell in love with pallet painting. I did your free course and it has blossomed to using paint brushes as well as pallet knife. Your style is so darling and your class is fabulous. You know how to teach! Thank you Amanda!

    • Amanda Hilburn
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      Ramona,
      I’m so happy you are loving creating with the knife and it’s so awesome that you are making it your own by adding brushes too! Thank you so much for these sweet words!

  3. Rhonda
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    I LOVE your story!!! “An escape from the chaos of life”…this is why I make what I make!
    You inspire me to pick up the paint brush again! Thanks for sharing!

    • Amanda Hilburn
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      Rhonda,
      I’m so happy you were inspired to pick up your brush again! You just made my day!!

  4. Sherry Darlington
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    Thank you for sharing. I retired a couple of years ago & desperately needed something to fill my days. You came along and now I paint almost every day. I love it!

    • Amanda Hilburn
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      Sherry,
      I’m so happy to have you in our group and am super excited that you are painting almost every day!!

  5. Deborah Parks
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    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! You have been such an inspiration! I recently got laid off from my job after 10 and a half years. I have always wanted to have my own craft business and truly believe God has used my job loss to push me forward!

    • Amanda Hilburn
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      Deborah,
      In this time of connection and technology, the sky is the limit for you! Go for it! You can make it happen!!

  6. Sandra Runyan
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    Amanda, your story has touched my heart. It’s very evident watching and listening to you, your gift is a God thing not only for yourself, but for others as well.
    I joined your community probably over a year or so ago. Though I’ve only painted a few paintings, I long for our house reno and move to be over at the end of June to be here.
    My time since retiring has been so full of just that, but my membership is so valuable to me, it’s not something I will let lapse and pick up later. I watch when I can and sometimes in the wee hours of the morning watch and learn. My times coming and I cant wait.
    The community you’ve created is so wonderful and it feels like family.
    Thank you for listening to your heart and sharing all that you know to those of us who start out as strangers but soon find ourselves included in this creative family of yours. It is such a joy to be a part of this online family.
    Thank you again Amanda for sharing not only your story but your passion and assuring us we all have wings to fly.🥰

    • Amanda Hilburn
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      Thank you so much, Sandra! I’m so happy you feel like our group is family. I just love this community of artists and am so encouraged by you all!