20+ years later I still remember sitting in my second grade art class making a painting of a clown. My teacher, Mr. Jones, guided us step by step as we painted his expression and black tux with some sort of tie.

It has been years since I have seen that painting. I am sure it is around here somewhere and once I come across it I may have to frame it and hang it proudly in my studio.

I recall my painting, which I later entitled “Mr. Sad”, had a flower in his black top hat. I do not consider myself much of a painter these days. I prefer to dye outside the lines and without the confinement of a brushstroke. But for a second grader, my painting ability was clearly a step up from the finger paintings I brought home in day care.

After I finished the painting, I remember going with mom to get a mat for Mr. Sad in order to enter him in the Kentucky State Fair. I think that was the first year I entered my artwork in the fair. On opening day mom and I went aisle by aisle through the Junior Division, searching for Mr. Sad. We had virtually given up our quest and mom consoled me and explained that perhaps we did not follow the entry rules and my painting was disqualified. We turned the corner to look for another entry, and there, high, high up on the peg board wall surround by all of the special purchase prize and merit award winners was Mr. Sad, with not one but TWO blue ribbons! In fact, Mr. Sad won a first place ribbon and a Palette Club Merit Award rosette ribbon. For a second grader and a state fair novice, having two blue ribbons was pretty awesome.

That painting ignited a love for entering my artwork in the Kentucky State Fair and perhaps art competitions in general. Over the years I have been awarded over 100 ribbons at the Kentucky State Fair. I won the Junior Textile Sweepstakes Award twice and a Best of Show Award in the Hobbies division. While I have not entered anything into the fair for a number of years, I think back to Mr. Jones from time to time and remember the budding artist he inspired when I painted Mr. Sad.

Thank you Mr. Jones!