i remember the first time a painting really took me. i was just a third grader, and it was my mom's first day as the "picture lady" at our school. as a volunteer, a true troubadour for the arts, she came in toting her big black leather portfolio filled with large giclee prints of the masters. she pulled out the paintings one by one, talked seriously about the artists who made them, and the time periods in which they were made. she treated us respectfully, not like little kids. she showed us what made each work special, and let us know that it was within all of our reach to be able to make art like that. we were a captive audience. it was my first exposure to artists like degas, monet, van gogh, picasso, braque, renoir, warhol, hopper, o'keefe, whistler, singer sargent, johns and many others. i remember taking a fancy to van gogh's starry night, and hopper's nighthawks. it may have been the moodiness of the work, or how those pieces captured light in their own unique way. but for some reason, those formative moments of exposure to the world of fine art are forever cemented in my memory. yes, those images took my breath away as just a little girl, and are part of why i am a painter today, and why i work so hard to get better every day. when i look at art, i want to feel the way i felt when i saw my first masterpiece: awestruck. because i am hungry, as hungry as that little third grader ever was, hungry to see work that really gets to the essence of what it means to be human. i want to take in the art that makes me jealous, the art that makes me wish it was i who i had done it, the art that makes me feel, and drives me to be better. yes, i'm hungry, i want to soak it all in, soak in the art that teaches me a thing or two about what i've been overlooking all along.