Hi! I’m Rebecca Reck. Most friends call me “Bex”.
I’m a self-taught, mixed media artist living in a small town called Saltillo… no, not Mexico… Pennsylvania! We have a gas station, a post office, and a cemetery. Not even a traffic light. A big difference from my younger years, growing up in Baltimore, MD but I’m grateful my journey has lead me here. After all, it’s here that I met my husband and we started our family: two handsome sons, who are the most delightful and hilarious weirdos around. They are my finest masterpieces! We have 2 dogs, and a whole lotta ducks! I create from home, which is a big, old, brick place that used to function as “LaPalace Hotel” back in the 1800’s.
I teach my public classes in acrylics and use them most often in my work, but I also have a strong love of watercolor, ink, pencil and charcoal. My favorite subjects are people. Sometimes I create realistic portraits, but mostly enjoy a more whimsical style with exaggerated features and vibrant colors. Being the extremely introverted person that I am, maybe this was initially a way for me to make friends? Literally make them. They’re visually pleasing and never require awkward conversation.
I didn’t plan to be a teacher. I am painfully uncomfortable in large groups of people and am definitely NOT a fan of being the center of that large group’s attention. What I do love is the satisfaction of a job well done. Of seeing people come into my class, nervous and doubting themselves, muttering to their friends “No way I can do that!”, then seeing their mood shift and their excitement grow as I prove to them “Oh yes you CAN!” They stepped out of their comfort zone to paint, just as I stepped out of mine to teach, and that’s how we grow as humans: by challenging ourselves. So thank you for being here, playing a role in my creative journey, challenging me… and for dragging me, kicking and screaming, out of my comfort zone. Let’s paint!
My creative journey…
I’ve been making art since I was a young girl. One of my earliest “artsy” memories is my clothes line art show at Grandma Jean’s house in Baltimore. “Selling” my creations for free to any relatives and neighbors I could get to stop. I never thought I’d become an artist though. I didn’t know any professional artists at the time and that goal seemed as unrealistic as becoming a famous actress or a super model or an astronaut. People did it… but only the truly exceptional. So for most of my life, creating was just a hobby and I was content with that.
It wasn’t until fall of 2010 that a dear friend encouraged me to set up a booth at a local festival and Bluebird Designs was launched. (The “Bluebird” inspired by one of my favorite Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds songs) I still felt like the shy girl with her clothes line. I secretly suspected most of the purchases were pity buys from kind neighbors who felt sorry for me. Two years later, my friend Amanda asked me to collaborate with her on a children’s book she’d been dreaming up. With our 1st book, “An Italian Hand Story” I got to add illustrator to my job title and Betty & Al Books for Young Readers was created. I also started giving private lessons to kids and teens from my home.
Then it happened… in the summer of 2015, that same friend who encouraged me back in 2010 had another bright idea: take my super fun kids classes and gear them toward adults. But with alcohol! I was terrified. But since this friend is a pretty smart cookie, I took her advice once again. I bought 8 easels and 8 brush sets and invited 8 of my closest friends over for a trial run of “Ladies Night at LaPalace”. Surprisingly, I didn’t stink it up too bad, so I decided to take it further and practice on strangers. 8 students grew into 10 and eventually 15. I remember the 1st time I taught a group of 20 I was so nervous, my voice shook and I felt like I was gonna puke! A few months later, I was asked to do a fundraiser for J.C. Blair’s Pink Power Paint Night. That really kicked things into full gear for me professionally. I was astounded by how quickly my business was growing and how in-demand my services were. It was pretty overwhelming for a gal who just kinda jumped into this thing on a whim!
I thought this trend would continue for a few months, then fizzle, and I’d be on the curb next to someone’s old Beanie Babies and a broken Tamagotchi. But here I am. Still at it. Still growing, both personally and professionally. I mean… look at me… I had to give in and create a website! (A pretty big deal for a non-technical dummy like me.) I still feel uncomfortable standing in front of people. I still have days where I’m so sick and anxious, I can barely function. But the love of my job and my customers makes it so worth it to me.
I am truly grateful to everyone who played a role in getting me to this point in my life. I actually became what I wanted to be when I grew up and I didn’t even know it! I am a lucky little bluebird.