was born in Cincinnati. She now lives with husband Chris in Hudson,
has for the past few years, but the road here was long and not without
adventure or faith.
At twenty she moved to New Orleans,
the French Quarter. Why? "Adventure. The air is heavy with coffee
and magnolias and garbage and Mississippi river water. The streets
are heavy with music; it's excessive with the sensory aspects of life.
I think that taps something in people. It's not a part of us that
gets exercised very much." New Orleans ignited the spirit of life
for Pam Jarrett; it peaked her interest in art. She bought her first
oil paint set there, "I painted lots of little paintings, little still
life's and would give them as gifts, whether people wanted them or
She painted for about a year
then was sidetracked by the hotel business, working fourteen-hour
days climbing the corporate ladder. She quickly became the assistant
manager of the Fairmont Hotel.
God's timing intervened a couple
years later; she broke up with her boyfriend and simultaneously lost
her job. "My whole life ended in a week and I thought, I'll never
recover." That was not destined to be. Three weeks later Pam wound
up in San Francisco carrying a suitcase with a rope wrapped around
it, to keep it closed, $73 in her pocket and a new job as the assistant
manager of the Stanford Court Hotel. Painting went on hold. "I never
looked at a canvas, I never thought about it. I wanted to be an executive."
Eight years passed. She got
married, changed jobs and was transferred to England. After three
years in London, "I found I was suffocating. The job was really huge,
my marriage was on the rocks, so I bought a paint set and I painted
roses." She asked her husband what he thought of the paintings and
he said, "stick to business." So she did. She divorced him and transferred
back to San Francisco.
"It was there in San Francisco
I met the love of my life," a delicious smile tugs at her lips when
she talks about Chris. But Chris lived in New York so Pam quit her
job, climbed into her MG with a suitcase (no rope this time) and drove
to New York via New Orleans. She went back into the hotel business
at the Ritz Carlton, but the work was not satisfying, "I was desperate
for a creative career." She began searching for that creative outlet.
All the while the paint set remained packed away.
Once again God's timing interceded;
an uncle died leaving her a small sum of money, the exact amount necessary
for her to quit her job and study Faux painting for six months. She
unpacked the paint set and studied, soon she was running a lucrative
business of her own. She became quite accomplished painting faux marble
or wood grain, but had to hire friends to paint faces or portraits
on the walls when clients desired them. This disturbed her, but a
realization, a direction surfaced; she needed to become a fine artist.
"I thought, if I could render a human person beautifully that would
be all I would ever want in my whole life." So Pam went to Chris and
said, "What do you say we sell the apartment and move to Italy?" When
Chris closed his mouth he said, "That's a good idea."
Pam stumbled onto a book, Julia
Cameron's, "The Artist's Way" and it changed her life. "I couldn't
close the book. There was no choice, I was driven and I decided nothing
was going to get me off my track ever again, no business, no money,
no job, no nothing that was going to stop me from doing what I really
needed to do." So they took the risk and moved to Florence. Pam studied
painting in the style of the masters, the way Rembrandt painted, single
light source, minimal dark colors that don't compete with the face.
Trusting her heart and God's
timing everything on her path lined up. "In my heart I knew I was
home, completely connected." The work was difficult but she fell in
love with portraiture. "I've always loved faces and color." At school
she was permitted to use only charcoal on paper; after a year and
a half she was finally allowed to paint.
"How did you know you were ready
to paint portraits?"
"I saw a woman in town and I
fell in love with her face, beautiful olive skin, blue eyes, half
Sicilian, half Tuscan and I quit school and painted her."
Because she pursued, fought
for, refused to be deterred and trusted God's timing, Pam Jarrett
fulfilled her life's dream.
Painting is discovering the
essence, capturing the life force of each subject; portraiture is
an extremely intimate process. "I fall completely in love with my
subject every time. Say the subject has an ordinary mouth, you look
at that mouth long enough, you watch it move when they think and it
becomes a beautiful mouth. It has never failed me that I fall in love
with every feature of a person. The more you look at somebody who's
letting you look, the more you realize that everything is beautiful."
We'll talk next time, From the
to Road Archive