Local arts lend help for post holiday blues

In early December I was honored to be the guest of Greystone writer Susan Murphy at the meeting of Pen Women held at The Club.

Pen Women is a local group of the National League of American Pen Women, an organization that has had considerable attention by presidents’ wives for over a century.

Murphy has a book you’ll want to read, especially if you have post-holiday blues. It’s called Murphy’s Law, and I dare you to not laugh before ending the first page. Some call her “another Erma Bombeck.”

I say Erma could learn from this North Shelby writer. Email Susan at Formurphys@aol.com to get a copy of Murphy’s Law.

Now, Susan and I’ve become writer buddies. I tag along wherever she invites me, to meet with other writer groupies to critique and admire one another’s gifts. On this day, we were entertained by artist Terry Strickland of Pelham.

I’ve dabbled in art a little, so I can spot a professional from across the room. Strickland’s art has won awards all across the nation, and her work is featured in the June 2008 issue of Artist’s Magazine. She was represented by the Hawthorne Gallery in Birmingham, and currently has an exhibition in the Whitney Gallery in Savannah, Ga.

How does your average artist go to the level of Strickland, who paints like Norman Rockwell in a surreal mood? Strickland once was a courtroom sketch artist and also worked with computer-assisted graphics. She gives credit to taking an art class at UAB. But Strickland has a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Central Florida. See her Web site at ww.terrystricklandart.com and you’ll know part of the reason she’s fabulous. No doubt Strickland has tremendous talent, but her volume of work says practice, practice.

“My current inspiration comes from life transitions,” she says, noting that her own life is somewhat reflected in her work.

As Murphy drove us home through foggy streets littered with late autumn leaves, nosed the car east on Highway 280, I reflected on Strickland’s inspiration, which mirrors my own reasons for feverish writing pace and literary proclivity. I’m very thankful for inspired artists, writers like Murphy who motivate me, who provide an arts community in our area. Beauty in every form helps keep our chins up when Christmas lights disappear.