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Artist gives up commute to pursue dream

February 15, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN -- Several years ago, Rebecca Montgomery commuted from the Hagerstown area to a job near Washington, D.C., dealing with too much traffic, too much noise and too much time on the road.

When her car broke down one evening, she had an epiphany. She needed to make some changes in her life.

That's when Montgomery decided to pursue her dream of working full time as an artist.

It's a decision she has never regretted.

"This is who I am," she said. "I couldn't be happier."

Montgomery has always thought of herself as an artist.

From the time she could hold a pencil, she said, she loved to doodle and draw.

Then she discovered the paint brush -- and that's when her love affair with art truly began.

"I painted everything I saw," she said. "I ate, breathed and lived art."

Montgomery studied art in high school and college. But when it came time to choose it as a career, she wasn't so sure.

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Instead, the local resident headed in other directions, including that daily commute to the big city, where she worked for an aviation company. 

Finally, she said, she found the courage to live her dream. 

Today, Montgomery teaches art throughout the Tri-State area. If she's not working with students at Hagerstown Community College or a local art supply store, she's offering classes at area senior centers, including the Washington County Senior Center at Girls Inc.

"That's the fun part of my job," she said. "I get to meet people from all age groups and walks of life."

Montgomery insists you don't have to have professional talent or an art background to enjoy painting.

"It can just be a relaxing pastime," she said. "When you're painting, you forget all your problems. It's a little like basket weaving. Your cares just seem to fade away."

But she understands some people's hesitation when it comes to sitting down at an easel.

"Nothing is more intimidating than a blank canvas," she said. "You just have to get past that fear and then it really becomes enjoyable. Many people discover a creativity they never knew they had."

Montgomery teaches all forms of painting, including oil, acrylic and watercolor, and offers classes for beginners, as well as skilled artists.

She has found the most fulfillment teaching at senior centers, she said.

"It's tremendously satisfying," she said. "I recently had a woman who was battling cancer and when she first came to one of the classes, she seemed depressed. After a few weeks, she would come into the room smiling and couldn't wait to sit down and start painting. That, in itself, is a life reward."

With years of painting under her belt, Montgomery said she still can't get enough of it.

She lives in a 13-room farmhouse and said three of those rooms are studios, filled with art supplies.

"All of my waking hours are spent doing some form of art," she said. "Other than my family and dogs, art is one of my top priorities. And nothing brings me more joy than sharing it with others."

Montgomery teaches painting every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Washington County Senior Center at Girls Inc. on Washington Ave. in Hagerstown. A small fee is charged to cover materials, she said.

More information is available by contacting the center at 301-671-2368.

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