Chelsey Pirkle was a barista at Frank & Joe’s, a smiling face that welcomes you and takes your order. She was good at what she did, helping people feel welcome and making their coffee. Not unlike the thousands of other people around you every day. Not unlike you; doing what you do and doing it well. Smiling and pretending that you’re happy. Chelsey had dreams, not unlike you. She had dreams of traveling and pursuing her art. Some thought she was crazy. We think she’s a role model. Meet Chelsey Pirkle.
Most call me Chels or Chel. The moment I picked up a coloring book, along with map colors, I fell in love. I found myself discovering the joy that came with creating something in my image. The way you feel and see the colors reflecting the beauty of a memory, or rather, the ability we have elaborating one’s imagination. How we imagine it would look like if we splashed a little color on the blank sheet of fine paper. Lines were in the way, however, as a young girl they somewhat guided me, giving me structure. The more time I spent creating, the more these lines became irrelevant. I learned the beauty in letting go of control, and allowed my imagination and creativity to paint through me. As art is a surrounding nature in all of our lives, it has been much more to me; my day to day inspiration. Simple, but beautiful moments that occur. Like a bird leaping to fly for the first time, or a wave meeting the shoreline as if it hadn’t before. Ongoing life is art and that’s why so many try and capture it within words; the imagery of what we feel. It’s in our nature. I started painting and drawing at a very young age. Most of my paintings have been given throughout my family but for many years I tried to hold my them captive. Merely sheltered until the day I realized the ocean does not belong to me, just like the bird that makes eye contact was only there to give me a glimpse of hope. Inspiration and creativity are not mine to keep but important to share. Let this “about me” section not be about me, the artist, but simply about the art. It’s about you, the very reason I create is to hope that the colors and the inspiration touches your heart, giving you that glimpse of hope. Colors of love. The art of life and people. Focus on the present, cherish the people, the memories, the encounters, nature, and the flowers. That is my story; being myself, doing life the way it was meant to be lived, unique and purposeful. Growing each and every day, spiritually, physically, and mentally. Most importantly, love one another. Love is powerful. It’s free and everyone deserves to be, and is, loved. Some just need to be reminded that from time to time.
You recently decided to just pack up and hit the road. What prompted such a drastic, spontaneous decision? I was comfortable where I was and I suddenly felt a tug on my heart. Unsure what the tug meant or why I felt like a shift was about to take place in my life. I just did what I always did, go to work make everyone coffee, and on my days off, painted and continued to work on the book I’ve been writing. I started to have these dreams of this river and saw a group of individuals. The dreams were back to back. The group of individuals in my dreams continued to tell me to go to California. No way, I thought. The last dream I had I was standing in front of a mirror giving myself excuses as to why I couldn’t. When I woke up, I knew that the tug on my heart was to head to California. I felt a strange feeling of new beginnings and opportunities. The more I thought about it and continued to write, the more it made sense. I was writing about dreamers and leaving your comfort zone and I was comfortable. I needed to step out of my own comfort zone, so I did and I will never regret doing so. The encounters I’ve had, the moments of freedom, and the moments of struggle have all been worth it. I continue to grow and learn. I can see more clearly than I have before. Learning to go with the current is much more peaceful than fighting the waves. Some say I’m brave, some say I’m crazy. I think I’m just walking out my own journey, just living life, not in the way the world tells you, you should.
Can you share any of your encounters with us? I was painting in a random park, on a random day. I imagine this day felt a little blue and a little purple mixed with some pure white (see “Crossing Paths”). Three young boys playing tag, running around being boys. The moment they had spotted me painting near a shaded tree I was suddenly surrounded with questions and conversation. As the colors mixed it seemed to have been the highlight of their day. One went on to talk about how his dad “used to” be an artist and how he would watch his dad paint and draw growing up. Earlier in the same random day in Colorado I had hiked up the seven falls to sit on a rock and write in my old worn out journal for a solid hour or so. As I looked down to see the city so far and so small at the bottom, all my worries belittled before my eyes. A moment of appreciation for the valleys in my life. I never asked why that young boy’s dad didn’t consider himself an artist anymore. Maybe it was that he had drifted from what he loved and it was a matter of a child’s perspective. As I continued to paint we continued talking about growing up and dreams. It was about that time for me to get back on the road, to continue on to the next encounter that awaited me. The painting remained in Colorado with the three precious boys. One was off to share the story with his father; to inspire him to return to the artist he once was. The other two may have found a new interest in painting. The painting they now carried was a reminder, always to stay humble in your success. When you grow up remember the encounters you have and the people you’ve met. When you encounter valleys in your life appreciate them, for it creates character and growth. Never let anyone tell you that your dream is not possible, and don’t let the growth process drift you from your true self.