Assessing How Much My Life Has Grown Over the Past Year – What A Difference A Year Can Make!

This past weekend, my friends and I went to a garden show. Last year, I was still living in the Northeast, and I went to the Philadelphia Garden Show, which is the largest one in the world. The display we saw this past weekend paled by comparison to the show in Philadelphia, but the day was still fun. This time of year, I am always thinking about gardening. This year, I’ll work a different garden, and other things have changed, too.

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Jacki Kellum Garden in New Jersey

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Hardy Hibiscus in Jacki Kellum’s Garden in New Jersey

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Fireball Red Hibiscus – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Today, it is February 27, and I am living in Harrison, Arkansas, which is in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. A year ago, I was living on the New Jersey Shore, and I was struggling with making a decision about whether or not I should move back to the South. In January of last year, I ended a long, dry spell of not painting, and by February of 2018, I had painted a banquet of flowers. I wrote about how my flower painting was helping me through the winter blahs–a time when I had typically mourned the dreariness of the weather. A year ago, I wrote about how I had painted flowers during the winter of 2018, and about how that had helped me minimize the effects of winter by painting my garden inside:

Spring Will Come, but Until Then, I Am Painting My Garden Inside

Daffodil Looks Up – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Several days ago [the first week of February], I was driving through my current hometown, and I saw two banks of daffodils that were already blooming, and I thought about how much my life has changed over the course of one year. The changes have almost been staggering.

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The Last Rose of Summer – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Last year, I was strluggling to make the payments and to pay the taxes on a large house in New Jersey, and by  miraculous chance, I reconnected with one of my old and dear friends from Ole Miss, where I initially attended college. After visiting her in the Ozarks, I realized that the time had come for me to move back to the South.

What’s My Next Step? I Am Ready to Break Free & Move Forward

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Jacki Kellum’s Cabin Home in the Ozarks

Within a matter of weeks, I moved from New Jersey ino a small cabin in the Ozarks, and during the first months that I lived here, I painted what I saw around me, in my new home.

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Ozarks Anywhere USA – Jacki Kellum Watercolor 2018

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Abandoned Farmhouse – Jacki Kellum Watercolor 2018

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Fence Row – Jacki Kellum Watercolor 2018

By January of 2019, I had settled into my new space, and I was ready to move forward with my life’s goal of illustrating some of the picture books that I have written over the years. Most of the books that I have written are about precocious farm animals, and I have always imagined that they lived on a rolling hill farm.

The Sun Nees to Rise – Jacki Kellum Illustration 2003

Mrs. Cow Is Very Thrilled – Jacki Kellum Illustration 2019

The first time that I visited the Ozarks, I knew that this was where I need to be to experience the hills where the characters of my books would live.

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Mrs. Cow Loves to Garden – Jacki Kellum Illustration 2019

This year, I am only painting an occasional flower study, per se/ This year, I am putting those flower studies to work. Beginning in January of 2019,  I finally moved full steam into the task of completing the illustrations for my books. Many things have changed for me during this past year, but the greatest change is that now, I paint everyday, and I am well toward the completion of my goal. I have almost finished illustrating the first of my picture books, and I have begun illustrating two more, too.

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Mrs. Cow Down Home – Jacki Kellum Illustration 2019

My first book is about Mrs. Cow, and it tells about how she is miraculously changed from an ordinary farm animal into something magical.

Mrs. Cow Loves Polka Dots – Jacki Kellum Illustration

I know Mrs. Cow very well. Mrs. Cow is me. Her story is mine.

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