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Amy Helley: “I wake up, paint. Get home, paint. It’s my life.”

SAN DIEGO -- When I asked my friend Amy Helley why she paints – she looked at me and said: “Why do you write?” I told her I write because I have to, and she said: “exactly.”

Amy Helley paints because it’s her life.

Like most artistic and creative people, it’s not really about the art for Amy; it really is about her life. With each stroke of the brush and each and every color Amy is putting her life on the canvas.

Amy is having her first-ever art show opening Friday, July 12, at Happenstance during Pride Week in San Diego.

“I never tell people I paint, and the first time I do, someone offers me a spot in an art show. I’m sitting there getting my hair cut talking to my hair stylist, Michelle Scott, randomly talking about art.” She said. “I show her some of my pieces and she says ‘Maybe someday we can hang your art here.’ Seriously? What are the chances?

“Being able to share my art for the first time to the public, especially during Pride, is an honor and an opportunity I would have never expected but will forever be grateful.”

There are those who paint to find fame and fortune, but Amy paints because she has found herself in her paintings.

“I want people to know that I've literally just found myself, and in my paintings, what you see, is my personality, something that is growing by the day, by the emotions I pour into my brushstrokes. Every piece I paint is a thought, an emotion, a desire, and a part of my past that I'm giving away,” she said.

As Pride can be a coming-out experience for some, Amy sees her art show as “a coming out story for my art. It’s a celebration of who I am and the freedom that I’ve allowed myself to be. My art liberates me and it’s a reflection of my journey.”

I asked Amy what Pride meant to her. I found her answer so inspiring that I’m just going to use the entire quote as she told it to me.

“It's funny, growing up gay, Pride meant something different than it does to me now. Then, Pride meant that I was damn sure you're going to know I’m PROUD, which usually meant throwing a rainbow flag on everything I owned and making sure people knew I was gay. If you couldn't tell, I'd tell you. Today, Pride has nothing to do with what others know about me. It's the fact that I can come home every night to my partner, Cortnie Cozeck, and not think twice. To never feel ashamed, to never second-guess myself and to just know, it's OK. Proud that we have anything anyone else could ever have, to love as all others do.. To dream, and to make our dreams, reality ... Then, all I wanted was to make a point. Today, all I want is to just live, one day at a time, proud to be who I am, but now ... It's OK if I'm the only one who knows.”

There is a lesson in Amy’s art for each and every one of us. Live each day and be proud of who you are.

Amy’s art will be ready for viewing and sale on Friday, July 12, and it will be hanging until the fall at Happenstance, located at 416 University Ave. in San Diego.

SDGLN Contributor Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.