Many people stop doing the things they truly love because they don’t offer that many opportunities to make money. But the power of passion must not be underestimated. Discussing what it takes to chase your dreams, Julia Gentry sits down with the talented Maria Barry, the artist who made the colorful cover of her book Dream—I Dare You: A Wake-Up Call to Greater Alignment in Your Faith, Family, Career, and Community. Maria looks back on how unlocking her full artistic potential was delayed because of self-doubt and lack of support, yet she still managed to win in the end nonetheless. Inspiring others to follow her footsteps, she explains how one can remain passionate with their dreams by looking beyond the obvious, challenging yourself to aim big, and breaking out from society’s limiting expectations.
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Dare To Dream: An Interview With The Artist, Maria Barry
I have a special guest with me who was even walking into the studio. It brought me to tears because of her power, her beauty, and someone who has moved me to my core with the gift that she brings to this world. I am honored to not only have her on our show but I’m also honored to be doing tea. She even set a table of tea. Dreamers, I want to introduce you to the artist, Maria Barry, who designed, created, and dreamt up the lion that you see in my book. She is here with us. Introducing, Maria Barry. I can’t even believe that I am with you. When I got out of my car, even seeing you, it brought tears to my eyes because of how much your gift has moved me and is moving the world around us. I’m honored to be doing this with you.
Thank you for that. I appreciate that.
The fact that you made tea.
It’s the Brit in me.
She’s like, “We’re going to do tea.” There’s a part of me that was like, “That is what every mother of four children needs to be doing every afternoon to unwind.” Thank you for this beautiful setting. The whole conversation is going to be about this manifesting of dreams and the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the challenges, and what it takes to own the gift finally. Once I started to write this book, I knew that I wanted a cover that from the moment someone saw the cover, it would awaken the dream on the inside of them. The light bulb would turn on and it would set the stage for everything that’s written in this book because this book is a meaty-read.
It is not an easy read. It ruffles some traditional feathers because it pulls people into a new world and possibilities. I knew that I wanted a cover that would do that. Because it was dedicated to my dear friend who was killed in a car accident, Mallory Smith. I knew that I wanted it to be heavenly but I didn’t want it to be traditional because, even in this book, it challenges people’s mindset around who they think God is. I didn’t want any of the traditional narratives but I wanted it to feel heavenly and awaken people.
I hired a graphic designer, which, I come to find out, is different than an artist. Maria is not a graphic designer. Graphic designers are not artists. The conversation with my graphic designer after giving me a couple of iterations, I said, “This is not what I wanted.” She said, “Go look up some stock photos then.” I thought I was going to lose it. My heart broke. I was like, “I want a one of a kind.” She said, “What are you looking for?” I was like, “That’s the whole point. I don’t know it until I see it.” “I’m getting on this, I promise.” I crawled into bed that night and I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes, and I said to him, “Am I going to know?” He grabbed my hand and he said what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear. He said, “You’re going to know.” I didn’t like that answer because I wanted it right in that moment. I fell asleep with tears in my eyes.
I woke up the next day and I’m sitting outside on the porch with my little girl, Aslan, and she says, “What are you doing today, mommy?” I said, “I’m figuring out the cover of my book.” In my head, I was annoyed. I was supposed to know and I don’t know. She was like, “You know what it is.” I said, “I wish I did but I don’t know what it is.” She says, “Yes, you do.” She says, “It’s your angel lion friend in heaven.” All of a sudden, I saw this image of a lion. That’s how it started. I looked her and I said, “What did you say?” She says, “It’s your angel lion friend in heaven.”
Immediately, I get online and I do what any normal human being does. I google angel lion, fire angel, lion, angel fire, all the keywords that made no sense. I took a bunch of screenshots of all the lions that I loved. Maria’s was the first. I sent it to my graphic designer and I said, “I want this. Can you do this?” She laughed back, “Not a chance. Why don’t you contact the artist?” Instantly I was like, “Okay.” I googled MS fairy, lion pictures, lion anything, and up popped your website. I reached out to Maria and the rest is history. It’s the beginning of the story. It’s all because of my little five-year-old who said, “My angel lion friend.”
I said all that to give some context of who Maria is and how she truly made room for herself in my life and this message. I’m honored because it was in our first conversation, you shared some of your stories that the world needs to know. You’re the epitome of a dreamer, which is you have the world telling you not to, maybe a key couple of voices telling you not to dream, or to put your gift on the shelf. I wanted to share your story because it’s going to inspire people. The world is waiting for our gifts. It’s waiting for it to make room for itself. I would love to know the background story of your journey to becoming an artist because people would appreciate that. Would you start at anywhere that you think is fair or is noteworthy of that pivotal moment when you want it to be the pivotal moment and when you decided not to be? Will you share that with us?Don't let other people crush your God - given talents!. Click To Tweet
I would be happy to. I’m going to start in a conversation I had with a friend I found on Facebook a couple of years ago that I hadn’t seen in years. He saw my work and said, “I can’t believe you’re doing this. Imagine where you’d be now if you’d have fulfilled your dreams of going to art school.” I said to him, “No. If my parents would’ve allowed me to go to art school, which they didn’t, at that stage in my life, I would not have the confidence or conviction I have now.” That wasn’t the right time for me. I held it against my parents for the longest time that they wouldn’t let me go.
My father said, “We all heard of the starving artist. You’re never going to make any money drawing.” It’s what I wanted to do. As a kid, I would go in the bathroom away from everybody, and I’d draw the sink, the faucets, the shower curtain, and the way it came down. If I had gone to the art school then and do what I thought I wanted to do at that time, I would have probably done exactly what I’ve told you to do. In my midlife, an opportunity presented itself. The passion never went away. I know who I am, what I want, and where I want to go. It’s been a dream for a long time. I would’ve given up on the dream. It had to happen at the right time. As a child, I was never encouraged to draw and paint.
By never encouraged, tell me about that.
My older sister is eleven months older than me. We’re almost like twins but we’re different, personality-wise. She was much more academic. She was into math and science. Although my parents didn’t say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” I was much artsier. That was the way to go. It’s the old-school way of thinking. Instead of my parents encouraging me, I would try to say to them, “This is a God-given talent. It’s something that can’t be crushed.” I would say to every parent, if your kid has got a pencil in their hand, encouraged them to do it. As a child, I wasn’t as outgoing as I am now. My drawing was my vehicle to communicate because I could communicate all this emotion on a piece of paper but I couldn’t do it verbally as I’m doing it now. It’s taken time and effort.
I ended up painting people’s faces. I became a makeup artist. That was the outlet. I had to. My Greek mom and my English dad, I spoke Greek. Not to any degree of fluency at that time, it was always around. When I went to work around Greek country for eight years, I didn’t have the confidence to say, “Yes, I speak Greek.” At that time, there wasn’t an English person that spoke the Greek language. French and German, maybe. When I went to work overseas, that was my best education in life. That gave me the confidence that I needed. That fired another passion I didn’t know I had. I loved to travel. That’s how I progressed with my career. I traveled extensively. That’s what brought me to America in the end.
I went back into the travel industry as senior sales and marketing director. I was quite happy to do that because that afforded me to travel. It’s what got me paid for. I would find myself drawing in the hotel room because I’ve got past a certain age of wanting to go down to the bar every night. People in the travel industry would see what I’ve done. It was like, “I wonder what Maria’s doing tonight. I wonder what she’s painting.” That led me to be commissioned by the convention to produce a piece for a trade show that’s coming to town and it’s going to be on a poster. All the delegates got this poster. I’m beginning to feel a little more confident.
When every person came to a class, all they did was say, “I can’t draw a straight line.” I’ll say, “If I had a penny for everyone that said that to me, I would be rich.” I could draw a straight line. You’d be a cuckoo if you could. I’m a visual person. I want to see how it’s done. I don’t want somebody to tell me. When you were driving here, I said, “Let me give you a visual.” It was much easier for you to know what building you’re looking for than to find it out electronically. That’s how the story started. I did get laid off from my Corporate American Job in 2008.
By this time, you were how old?
I was in my early 50s.
You had lived mostly finding a little bit of the edge of what you love to do but not being at its fullest expression. It’s beautiful that you even said, “I’m a firm believer that God uses all of it. Nothing is ever wasted.” Even though you weren’t at your fullest expression, it was all positioning you to not only be at your fullest expression but be convicted when you finally found it. When you look back, what do you think were the reasons that you waited until you did to find the fullest expression? Was it a habit? Was it what your parents said growing up? Was it approval? What stopped you from starting sooner with your fullest expression do you think?
A lack of confidence. Nobody can ever accuse me of that now. I am confident in what I do but I wish I would have had the confidence then. I haven’t changed as a person. I’m the same person. It was all there all the time. We need to get validation sometimes. Who better to validate than yourself? I started with watercolors and now I do colored pencils, oils, acrylics, and lots of different mediums. I believe that if you’ve got an eye to do something, why stop at one medium when you can explore lots of different avenues.
When I was concentrating on my watercolors, I said to my husband, “I’ve arrived. I’m there. I’ve mastered it. It’s what I’m doing.” He looks at me and he said, “You just touched the tip of the iceberg.” He was right because I hadn’t reached my full potential. I don’t believe that I have. I like to say that in this profession, as an artist, you get better because none of it gets wasted. You build upon what you’ve done. There are always different avenues to explore. That’s true with everything in life if you’re passionate. We have a passion. I don’t think we realize our passions and allow ourselves to fulfill them.
I’ve never been happier. I gave up my Corporate American job, my 401(k), and my health insurance, which I didn’t have when I became an artist and going alone. I went to my friends and buy a product before I could even go and sell it. Where do I sell it? I’m in Universal Studios. I’m at some of the Central Florida attractions. Because of COVID, it slowed it down. Things will pick back up again as empty nesters will want to do something for themselves, want to get creative, and want to explore the things that we never have time in life to do.
You said something interesting to me and is such a core message in this book. Sometimes I feel like we’re looking around for ourselves like, “I’m out there. It’s out there. My confidence is out there. My purpose is out there.” Only to realize that it’s been there all along. We’re looking for external validations and that’s fair. That should be the icing on the cake but it should not be the cake. You made that point of self-validation. You finally recognize yourself for who you are and the gifts that God has given you. The passion, the desire, and the want didn’t go away. Walk us through 2008 when you finally quit the corporate job and you jumped all-in not because it’s comfortable or because all the stars aligned and you had $1 million in the bank. Tell us about that transition?When we challenge ourselves, we become better people. Click To Tweet
Being in the travel industry here in Orlando, I used to go to trade shows with people in the travel industry. In London, we would go and promote our product, whether it’s an attraction or a short-term rental home to the masses. The people overseas that were looking to have contracts with you to send their clients. One of the attractions was Gatorland. There’s not another place to block it in the world.
We went there.
Did you see my artwork on the walls there?
Those were not yours.
All that work is mine.
Maria, I had no idea.
That’s where it started. When I lost my job, I’ve done the poster.
This is what you’re telling me about. First of all, Gatorland blew our minds.
It’s a great park.
It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It feels like you’re in a different dimension. This is the guy that you said was googling Gator artwork.
No. I painted those gators because I was at Gatorland. When I stopped working for Corporate America, I knew everybody in the travel industry. I took myself to Gatorland. This is where the confidence came in. I went to the sales and marketing director there and I said, “I will sit here and paint every weekend. Take pictures in the park and paint my pictures. I’ll pay you a commission on everything that I sell if you give me a chance. If I can put my work here on consignment, I can be an attraction within an attraction.” She said, “That’s a great idea but let me speak to the gift shop managers.” This was years ago.
The gift shop manager thought I was off my rocker. I brought him some samples of things that I’ve done, not necessarily gators. I caught him off guard. He didn’t know what to say. He said, “Okay.” For a long time, for years, I sat in Gatorland every Saturday and Sunday. I set my table up and I painted the pictures that I had taken at the park. Like every attraction in Central Florida, you go through the attraction and then you go through the gift shop. That was the last thing you saw on the way out of the door and that’s exactly what I planned to do. I don’t paint there anymore. Things are good. They put my White Gator onto a coffee mug. We’ve worked closely together. We’ve had a great relationship, everyone that goes down there. I would replenish the stuff that sold.
There’s also an attraction on International Drive where I used to have my artwork. The owner of that attraction, when I went there to present my work said, “I have two of these paintings in my home.” I said, “Really?” He said, “I bought them at Gatorland.” I told him, “That’s me. I have my works at Gatorland.” That’s another source of people that see my work. Maybe you don’t go to Gatorland to buy a painting but if you like what you see, you go home and think, “I like that painting. Can you send it to me?” That’s where it all started and it didn’t stop there. Other attractions approached me. There’s another company called Amazing Animals in St. Cloud. I’m going to be doing a fundraiser for them. We’re doing a paint night. We’re going to paint capybara. The money donated will go towards feeding these exotic animals, which is giving back.
Boldness is a willingness to say yes. We think that boldness is this strong, heroic, courageous like, “I’m frontlines.” Boldness is someone going, “Here we go.” It’s the willingness to go, “I trust.” One thing leads to the next. Your story is the epitome of that. Walk me back to 2008 when you lose your job. What’s the pivotal moment? What are the thoughts that ran through your mind to finally go, “I’m going to chase this dream? I’m not going to talk about it. I’m not going to skirt the issue. I’m going to go for it.” What was that conversation for you and with yourself? What was that conversation with your husband? Walk us through that?
In a way, working for Corporate America and putting that behind me became a little bit more of a relief. This is on the back of your book cover, “If not now, when?” This is something I have to do right now. This is something I’m passionate about. My husband was a massive support. He said, “You need to do it.” What’s the worst that can happen? Of course, getting a job and doing something else. I got so much experience doing different things but it’s not what I wanted to do. It didn’t seem like the ideal job because who’s going to buy your art? I don’t want to paint what somebody wants me to paint. I don’t want to be a victim of somebody else’s demands.
For example, a lot of my artwork is about animals. At Gatorland, people would say to me, “Do you have a horse? Have you got a cow? Have you got this?” My inventory of animals grew. Humans have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, you’re tall or short, fat or thin. Giraffes have a long neck. Dolphins are huge. Every animal is different. It made me look at things. I started to realize that I looked at life differently. I didn’t see shadows as being black. I saw those be purple and blue. It opened my eyes. I saw a different way to live. I thought, “Even if I don’t make a lot of money doing what I want to do, I’d be happier doing it.” If you’re happy doing what you’re doing and you’re passionate about whatever it is that you do, you will make money doing it because a piece of you goes into everything that you do.
Everything that you’re saying, I’m like, “How do you bottle that up and give that to someone?” Many people reading is exactly where you and I have been, all the reasons, preconceived notions, the paycheck, and the bills. We almost stack the cards against ourselves until we get on the other side of this choice. You and I are on the other side of a choice of living however many years we live and not pursuing our dreams. When you finally get on the other side, you look back, and you’re like, “Why would I do anything differently?” To the person that’s reading, no matter how big circumstances are or how real things are. Back in 2008, you look back now and go, “Look at all that beauty that decision made?” What would you tell that person that’s at the cusp of that decision in their own life?
It’s the fear of the unknown. We have to challenge ourselves. When we challenge ourselves, we could become better people. Being a visual person, I was never particularly good to be handling a computer. Being an artist, you have to be good at many things. I’m an accountant. I have a job in accounting. I have to produce the work, market it, sell it, maintain a website. I have an Etsy shop. That all involves a computer. Because of my desire to succeed and put my work out there, this piece brought you happiness. That’s what it’s all about. It was worth the title of learning the things that I didn’t want to do but we don’t challenge ourselves.
The road was tough. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. It wasn’t the case of picking up a paintbrush and paint to your heart’s content and going to bed feeling happy that you did that. There are many other things to do. What’s the point of having all these beautiful paintings if you can’t get out there and sell them? The message would be to never give up on your dreams. The worst-case scenario is what do you have to lose other than the dream? I would hate to think that my life is going to end and a part of my life wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. People can channel you into living life a certain way.
I did have a student who, for six months, never spoke to me. She came in and paint every week. Every week, I’ve encouraged her to, “You’re doing a great job. It’s fabulous. You might need a little bit more shadow here or highlight this.” She never said anything. She carried on. After six months, she said to me, “I went to another class before. The first time, the teacher said to me, ‘Don’t bother coming back. Clearly, you’re not good at this.’” I can’t imagine that somebody would crush another person that way. I took her to a trade show with me. I have a painting of a rusty old truck that sells well. She would paint my paintings to do the cost project. I said to her, “You need to go off and do your own thing. Find your own truck, your own subject, and your own passion. Don’t copy mine. Learn the techniques now. Find your own thing and I’ll help you to do it.”
Long story short, she sees a truck with tires piled on the back of it. It’s different from my truck. At the side of the road, she took a photograph and she painted it. She showed me the painting and I said, “This is amazing. This is yours. You own this.” I took it home and she said, “Will you do me some prints of it?” I said, “Absolutely.” I was on my dining room table at home. My husband came home from work and he said, “Can I get one of those at my office?” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because I like it.” I said, “What do you like about it?” He said, “It’s not as bright as you normally do it but I like the personality.” I said, “Anything else you’d like about this?” He says, “I like everything about it.” I sent her the email and I said, “My husband wanted to buy your truck.” I didn’t give him a free print. I made him pay for it. You’re earning. I sent her an email and she framed the email in her living room. Another important thing in life is to get encouragement from people. I could never say to anybody, “Forget it. This is not for you.” There’s always a way.Every master is once a disaster. Just begin. Practice as you go. Click To Tweet
They say, “The master was once a disaster.” Never forget where we are in our journey and someone else is on their journey. Even over here, you have your first painting and you giggled about it because where you start and where you end are two different things. You made a comment and you said, “That’s when you find yourself.” What does that feel like?
This painting you’re talking about was the first one. I’ve done five. Somebody asked me if I would like to exhibit my work at a show but it’s not a big art show. It was with some student artists. I thought, “Show my work on it. I only have five pieces.” My husband kept saying, “Do it. Go for it.” I was afraid then. I took them to this place to prop them up. This woman came to me and she said, “I hear you’re the artist of that piece.” I said, “It’s me. I painted it. I’m not an artist.” She says, “How much do you want for it?” I said, “It’s not for sale.” She said, “It would look perfect in my sanctuary.” My husband was dicking me and said, “Sell it. You can do another one.” I said, “That’s my baby. I can’t sell that.” She said, “Let’s start with $350.” This was years ago. It was a lot of money.
I wouldn’t sell it and I haven’t sold it to this day. I’m glad that I didn’t sell it. That was a turning point. When I thought I was beginning, I was learning, then you realize that, “Just because you have a painting, it doesn’t mean that somebody else isn’t going to love what you do.” You have written your first book. Are you an author? You are. When you become a number one bestseller, you have to think, “I’m doing something right here.” You have to get better at your craft.
It’s funny that you said that because I did a video and it was all around our greatest fears. One of the top ten greatest fears that people have is a loss of identity. When someone says, “Are you the artist of that?” Everything up here goes, “No.” Everything in here is like, “Maybe.” If this means a loss of identity up here, who you were born to be, your heart starts to beat again. Someone was saying, “Who’s the author?” I stumbled over my word saying it because I’ve thought about it and I wanted to fulfill this dream for so long and then getting to say it is crazy.
It’s a great feeling. It’s on a total high. I commissioned a few famous American artists to come and do workshops here. This one watercolor, I loved it to pieces. I love everything about his work. We can always learn more. We can always get better. Not to copy anybody but to see the way he unveils things and sees the world. When I took his workshop, at the end of it, he said, “You are born to paint.” I was thinking about that now because I was born to paint, for sure. The journey was to get me there. Sometimes, we have to go through some hardships.
I hear my dad constantly saying, “Take your pencil out of your hand. Don’t waste your time doing that. You need to be studying this.” We were constantly butting heads about this. Before he died, I was starting to get recognized. The tables turned and then he said, “You know, don’t you?” I was like, “I wish I had that encouragement when I was younger.” On reflection, things do happen for a reason in life. Now, midlife, I’ve found my own style. I’ve found my own feet. It took the traveling to make me realize that I love to travel. That got me teaching on cruise ships several times a year. Because of COVID, that’s come to a hold. That’s not to say I’m not going to take that back up again. I will. That married the passion for painting and for traveling. All this was meant to be it.
That’s the powerful piece and this is one of the chapters in the book is all around. The whole concept of having a dream is not about making a believer out of anybody else. It’s about making a believer out of you. They’ll believe it when they see it but will you believe it before you see it? In your dad’s defense, he didn’t see it. You saw the dream inside of you. As parents, hopefully, this episode will cause us to slow down in our words to our children. He did the best that he could with what he had, even those motions of taking the pencil out of your hand or saying those words probably to compartmentalize and try to control or he didn’t think, you carried the dream. He didn’t ever have that dream.
What happens is that we think that someone else is supposed to see it but it’s ours. The journey is about building that strength, conviction, and resolve within us. Once the dream is born, it’s a whole lifetime of continuing to manifest it. It needs us to be strong. It’s cool even to know that because it proves my theory that this isn’t about anybody else. This is about you becoming the best version of you. I love your flow. Talk us through the minute you finally said yes. You’re at Gatorland and then you’re in other exhibits. Talk us through the power of saying yes and how one thing after another opened one door, which opened another door. Tell us a little bit about that journey when you finally said yes to painting.
I saw life differently. I felt that once I was in a couple of the attractions, I started going to the hotels. Still, I was buying all the supplies, putting a ton of effort into it. I still wasn’t bringing the money in. I wasn’t making money. I was rotating it. I would go to hotels and say, “Can I put my artwork in your hotel lobby?” There’s this one in Celebration that is right in front of the hospital and I said, “Flowers die and a lot of times hospitals don’t take flowers because it’s not good to breathe the air but you can spend $30, $40 on a painting and that’s something you take with you forever.” The doctors will stay in the hotel if they’re in town for a convention. That was another means of income for me. That encouraged me to keep finding different avenues. The more my artwork was out, the more I was getting recognition for it. People would say, “Everywhere I turn, I see your artwork.”
I bumped into somebody by accident and said, “I can’t believe I met the artist.” She bought two paintings from my website and put them in a prominent Florida Hospital in Orlando. It was a children’s hospital. It’s still there. One of my turtles is outside the turtle room. There’s a parent outside the parent room and they asked the kids, “Which room do you want to go with the doctor? Do you want to go in the turtle room or the parent room?” It’s bright and colorful, it makes kids happy when they’re in that place. Ronald McDonald asked me if I would furnish a suite of theirs. We donated our paintings. All the paintings are on the wall. All this that you’re giving back to society is giving you exposure. That propelled me to continue. I thought, “What I’m doing is working. It will all come around, eventually.”
I’ve made a lot of money and I’ve lost money but it’s not about the money. It didn’t change me as a person. You either eat better or you don’t. You go out more or you don’t. You have a bigger house or you don’t. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the core of who you are. Be true to yourself in fulfilling the passion that you have. If you have a talent or a gift that you can share with others, that, to me, is something else I wanted to embrace.
You made that comment that you started to see things differently. Do you think it’s because you finally said yes and it opened up that flow?
I remember going on this painting cruise and this was the first time my eyes were open to something different. We were going to paint the horizon. It’s a bit boring, blue sky and blue sea. The instructor said, “What do you see?” We said, “Light blue sky meets the dark blue sea.” He said, “That’s it, the two blues?” “Yes. We can only see the two blues.” “Anything else?” “No.” He says, “Look closely. There’s something else that you’re missing.” We all looked and we couldn’t see it. He said, “There’s a white line between the two blues. That’s the haze on the horizon line.” Sure enough, it was there but we’re not trained to see things that way. Kids are much more open to seeing things than we as adults as we get older.
Another little thing I’d like to share with you is that I don’t do children’s classes. I do adult classes. I stepped in to do a children’s classroom for a teacher that couldn’t make it. Kids have no inhibitions to get straight in there. Give them a pencil or a crayon and they go. “I can’t do this,” you’ll never hear that. We were going to draw a picture of our families. This little girl gets a pencil and she’s straight in there. Big, fat mom with red lips. I guess that was mom. There were three boys, a huge bunny rabbit, and a huge dog. I assisted her, “Who is this? Is this your mom?” She says, “Yes.” I said, “Does she wear red lipstick?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Who’s this person next to her?” She says, “That’s my dad.” I said, “I can see that you love your bunny rabbit.” She says, “I do.” I said, “I think you like your dog even more.” She says, “I do.”
I said, “Tell me about these three guys here because they have their hands chopped off.” I said, “What’s the story with these? Who are these?” She says, “They’re my brothers.” I said, “What happened to their hands?” She says, “They always have their hands in their pockets.” She didn’t know how to draw their hands. Kids see things where we can’t see them. They don’t cloud their vision and that’s what we do. They’re innocent, open, and honest. Like the haze on the horizon, it was there but we’re not trained to see things like that.
We could talk for hours about that. You’re right. Often, we want answers but I’m always challenging people with, “I know that you want the answer but are you ready to listen?” You don’t want to see. You want to have vision. You don’t want to hear. You want to listen. That’s such an interesting, powerful statement. What was that greatest transition for you to where you finally “saw” the haze on the horizon? At what point did you start to see differently? When was that for you?
That was the start of it. It made me realize that it was there and I couldn’t see it or I was looking at it but I wasn’t looking at that. I wasn’t paying attention to the details. I wasn’t intuitive. I don’t go out of my way to look for things that might be there. I see things differently. For me, color is important. A lot of my students say, “I wish I could see colors as you do.” As time goes on, as we’re painting together, I say, “Can you see the purple here as opposed to the gray? Can you see the blue?” More and more, I’m opening people’s eyes to see beyond what’s right in front of you. That’s what we’ve got to do. It goes back to challenging yourself. We can all see the obvious but to give you a greater depth of a character or a personality, we need to look beyond the obvious.
That’s what the dream is. Our dreams don’t exist in our reality. It takes no courage to continue to duplicate your reality. Most of us don’t even like our reality and yet we keep doing that over and over again as opposed to trying to open your eyes beyond the obvious. It’s the ability to have wisdom, courage, and intuition to tap into a different realm. The boldness to pull that out into our reality, that’s how you birth a dream but it’s training yourself. For me, it was 25 years. For you, it was about 50 years. We trained ourselves to look at life a certain way and it does take some time almost to retrain what you see, smell, and how you hear. At first, that can feel daunting. Part of it is unlearning. It’s already there. It’s unlearning all of the things that don’t serve you yet.
That’s the hard part. Another thing is I love to cook. I can’t bake. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I probably could if someone gave me the ingredients. I wouldn’t be good at it because my heart is not in it and I don’t like it. I like tasty food. I have a Greek mom. Some people say to me, “Can I get that recipe?” I don’t have a recipe. You put more of this and you put more of that. If it doesn’t taste right, add a bit more. How much of this and that do I put into it? I don’t know but that’s intuition or knowing what you want. Knowing that if you add a little bit more of this, you will achieve them.
If you walk away from something and come back to it, you can see better than tiring yourself. Another thing about painting, for me, is you want to paint in life. There was a restaurant that I painted, there’s music going on, and there are people eating. I’m starting to paint in dim lights and people always come to me and say, “How can you concentrate or think about what you’re doing with those noise going on?” I said, “I could zone it out because I have a relationship with this.” I’m so focused. For me, it’s like having a good night’s sleep. In our busy lives, we’re busy multitasking. You’re on the phone. You’re writing a list. You’re thinking about what we’re going to have for tomorrow. You think about the kids or what the time is it. There are many things where we’re multitasking. We walk into a room and have forgotten why we ended up there. Maybe you’re not at that age yet but it happens all time.
You’re busy and your head is in many different places. For me, when I’m painting, I can’t think about anything. I can’t even think about a thing other than what I’m doing. That one-on-one time is the only time other than sleeping that I’m not multitasking. Sometimes, it’s nice to listen to music and relax but it can also be a distraction.
What happens is we all need that. We’re designed to laser in our gift. My definition of dreaming is great and intense focus with deep absorption of thought in a different realm that brings about possibilities. That’s how I define dreaming. What starts to happen is we’re born to do that. We’re born to laser in on the thing. Because most aren’t doing that, we’re looking to zone it out, so we start all of our coping mechanisms, why we run, why we dive into TV, or why we start drinking. The high or the buzz that we’re looking for is found in the thing. It’s in the thing that we were born to do but we keep zoning out as opposed to tuning in.
It’s interesting that even in those choices, I feel like we’re born to do that because being busy is so much for our psyche and our souls. Our dreams are offering us the chance to tune in, get into that state, and watch the creation and magic happen. We tend to run around as depressed, depleted, anxious, and stressed out because we never get in that zone. It’s no wonder we’re depressed, frustrated, and anxious because we’re running around crazy all the time as opposed to that zone.
Here’s what I have to say from the bottom of my heart, I say this all the time in the book, the world is waiting for your dreams. Maria Barry, I have so much love for your dream and creation. I feel like my dream is being fulfilled simply because you said yes to yours. That cover, for me, my life makes sense. That’s what that did for me. It tied up so much pain. It put on a bow on top of all the questions that I’ve ever asked. It’s giving me a launching point to share my message and my gift with the world. It’s the entirety of so much in my life that I ran from.
My product management team, all the time, are like, “Is this for you or the consumer?” I’m like, “Both.” I want to honor you and your gift. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for saying yes in 2008. I want to say thank you for saying yes to this project. Thank you for making this lion come alive in people’s lives. People are moved and transformed by this book. They’re blown away by your artwork. From the bottom of my heart, I am indebted to your gift.
I’m also delighted that you chose me to be on your book cover. There’s an old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Rules are meant to be broken, sometimes. Who wouldn’t pick up something that can be appealing to the eyes and wonder what this is all about? It has a strong message on the front. It has to have a strong message on the inside. I’m glad that we were able to get together through our passions to create that.
I had an amazing team behind me. There were a lot of times where they go, “Authors don’t do artwork on their book.” I was like, “It’s another reason I am going to do that.” If it’s in you, it’s possible. We need to figure it out. One last point, if it’s in you, it’s possible even though the industry or people around you might say, “No. Don’t.” In your case, “Take the pencil out of your hand.” It’s about finding the oompf and the resolve. That thing of like, “I cannot do this.” You end up with this. Maria, where can people find you? Where can they learn more about you? How can they follow you?
I have a website, it’s nice and simple, MariaBarryArt.com. I also have an Etsy shop. I don’t have my originals on Etsy. I don’t have my originals in America because I do a lot of commission work through both those channels. My Etsy shop is MariaBarryArt@Etsy.com. Those are the two places. Through those two channels, I can be reached by phone or by email.
She does respond. I still remember the day that my graphic designer was like, “Email her.” I was like, “Who’s going to respond to this?” I kid you not, she does respond. Dreamers, this is Maria Barry. She is my dream come true. She is a gift to this world. We are honored to be here. When we talked on the phone, I said, “One day, I will meet you.”
You were right.
I’m honored to make tea with you and to share this expression with you.
Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.
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