A funny thing happened the other night...my extended family gathered in my art studio to celebrate recent birthdays--namely, my mother's 80th, Uncle Bob's 70th, my 51st, some others in between, and all the way down to baby Joey's 1st!

Most in their right mind would consider this event risky for kin. Honestly, there was a bit of apprehension in the air when the relatives arrived--lots of procrastination at the food and beverage table, a survey for the best table to paint (and hide), and definitely the ol' deer in the headlights look when I showed them what we were about to paint.

"Who are these people, and why are they in my barn?"
Typically, we've played it safe--sitting around a dinner table for holiday meals, opening Christmas and birthday gifts, taking a stroll together before we hop in cars or board planes and head different directions to resume our daily lives. But on this evening, we ventured into new territory!

Now, I'm not saying any of us are DaVinci's or Picasso's (although we tend to lean that way!), but something unique happened that was different from all the other times we've gathered. 

I had prepared to lead a somewhat guided lesson of "bear" art. But, before I could hardly lay brush to canvas, each artist (some who claimed to had never held a paintbrush--or at least not since childhood), found their own inspiration and ventured off to their personal land of imagination. 

While we painted, we became one--a big, happy, relaxed family, all mixed together like colors on a palette. In a cool new way, each painting, and most importantly, the process of expressing our individuality, bonded us in an uncanny way. 

"Do I know you?"

"I'm not sure. I can't see you." 

Before we knew it, a raccoon was mingling with a moose. An owl stared at a cat, while a couple dogs surveyed the scene. A bear and tiger checked out one another's colorful attire, while a pair of llamas wondered if they shared the same genes. A tribal bull surfaced from the past, and an abstract buffalo (who transformed into more of a bull), wandered the plains. Finally, a perplexed cow pondered the deep meaning that only Freud might understand, of my brother Tom's creation.

Nephew Andrew - voted "Best of Show" -- Always a bit of friendly family competition!

So, this wild and crazy family of mine went out on a limb and exposed our hidden, artistic talents. In those remarkable words of Robert Frost, we redefined our traditional family get-togethers and, "...took the road less traveled, and that made all the difference." 

For me, the evening was a reminder of the power of art and creativity. But, most of all, it was a reaffirmation of how much I love my family--our similarities, our differences, and how uniquely we have been created. 

Disclaimer:  To those family members whose art is not featured...you are still loved and valued! I tried to include them all, but your paintings sold for millions of dollars and weren't available for photographing! To those of you who couldn't join us, we know who you are, and we have a reserved seat for you at our next paint party!