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  • Writer's pictureKarla Brooks #IMMH


Pablo Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real.” I believe Picasso is saying that which exists in our minds, holds the possibility to flourish in this world. When something is in our heads, we can share that with others as well. This reality exists in the world of ideas often made tangible in a visible form by artists since the beginning of time. These geniuses, whether four, forty or eighty-four, have the ability to take a thought and transform it into a similar reality for others to connect with and enjoy.

Sixth grade Catholic school, Ms. Dumke couldn’t control our lively class. In an effort to keep our attention she brought in travel photos from her semester abroad. I was mesmerized with the slides from Italy and knew I needed to go there. A few months later, my Aunt Jeanie was talking with my mom on the phone, trying to convince her to be her plus one on a Roman Holiday led by my uncle Fr. Charlie. Immediately, I started jumping up and down while delightfully pleading, “I want to go. Tell her I’ll go. I want to go. Please. Please. Please.”

My young mind went from envisioning myself wandering in an olive grove to standing in line with passport in hand, about to board a direct flight from Chicago to Roma. The next thing I knew, I was in St. Peter’s Basilica, staring at Michelangelo’s La Pieta. Mother Mary, with the softest of features is cradling the lifeless body of her adult son in her lap. Pieta translated means pity. I felt a lump in my throat as my right hand instinctively reached out to caress her cheek.

What trip souvenirs, magnets, or t-shirts have you held onto?

Soon afterwards, the tour group exited the church and crossed traffic to enter the Vatican Souvenir Shoppe. The shop attendant held up a replica of La Pieta for Fr. Charlie to inspect. I looked at the sculpture in awe, envious of the treasure that would sit on my uncle’s mantle throughout his life. When he passed away, my mom passed it on to me and today it too sits within my gaze.

Art has the ability to move us. I fell in love with Michelangelo and the Renaissance on that trip and turn credit card points into $10 round trip tickets to Tuscany any chance I can get. On my first solo trip to the country, I booked a stay at a guest house run by the Sisters of the Atonement to write a curriculum. Sister Sue assured me the town is safe to wander, even after dark. It was raining when I found myself in an alley off the town square in front of a sign that said, “Free entrance. Artist studio upstairs.”

I looked and turned to walk away. It wouldn’t be smart to walk into a dark upstairs room on my own. Yet, I couldn’t walk away. What if the art was really cool? I couldn’t take the chance of missing out and promptly walked up the narrow stairway. Inside I was mesmerized by bright primary colors and greeted by Alberto and his Ragamuffin kitty. My artist friend shared his vision of St. Francis, the guy who talked to the animals and adorns many bird baths. Alberto saw Francis as a joyful spirit, not sad and dressed in brown as he’s typically depicted. He painted the saint smiling and wearing a bright blue robe. I purchased a copy which Alberto signed in the corner “Mi Rende Felice!,” the Italian translation of, “It Makes Me Happy!,” and a hand-drawn smiley face.

Have you ever acted foolishly in the name of art?

You don’t have to travel around the world to discover the beauty behind the doors of an open studio. Green Bay, Wisconsin based artist Naomi Moes hosted a show at a local studio, Great works of art across time and space move me to tears. My friend, Naomi’s piece, “Demons of Our Insecurities,” did the same. I stood in front of the piece and stared, embracing this moment for 15-seconds, imprinting the moving artwork in my mind. What a privilege it is to know such a talented sculptor and have her share her gifts with the community.

What kind of art are you drawn to? Has a piece of art ever moved you?

Art is all around us. A simple snapshot taken with an iPhone and a filter or frame can be downloaded and sent for processing on canvas, metal, barn wood or glass. Back in the days when a U.S. passport would allow for entry into most countries except Cuba, my Goddess friends, Penny, Lynne and I found ourselves on a boat named, “The Tuna,” on a boat and bicycle tour in Croatia.

Our first ride found us on a small hamlet just under a mountain top, overlooking the sea where we stopped to dip our toes into the cool water. I remember observing a small rock which caught my attention. At the same moment, Penny snapped a photograph. That “Moment in the Sun,” became immortalized on canvas by Penny’s high school art room companion, Mark Zelten.

Is there a special photo you’d like to turn into a masterpiece?

As a child, my mother allowed me an art drawer in the dining room. I’d grab my watercolors, crayons, construction paper and glue and make a mess on the kitchen table. After each session, I remember feeling as though I created a priceless work of art. Bravo to the adults who allow their children to create without abandon.

During the March 2020 lockdown, my friend, April’s 5-year old daughter Nora took commissions to create drawings of Facebook friend’s favorite animals. She created more than 20 pieces and donated $300 to the Susan G. Komen fund to fight breast cancer.

Nora inspired me to start drawing again as well. I grabbed my old crayons from the basement shelf, a set of markers from IKEA and resolved to create one drawing a week. While I began my career as a graphic designer, the inhabitation I felt as a child to create was lost after working with many artists who were much more talented than me. Drawing again helped me realize the statement, ironically printed on a picture in my office, “Use the talents you possess…for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except the best,” from Henry Van Dyke.

How can you share your favorite art with others? Art past, present and future

– It Makes Me Happy!

CLICK HERE to discover more joy and happiness in your everyday life. To reach Karla directly, email : or join the conversation on Facebook or Linkedin at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: In a world where loneliness has reached epidemic numbers, Karla Brooks, Founding Creator of It Makes Me Happy, LLC is passionate about creating, connecting, and inspiring community. This happens through Circle of Friends’ groups; a safe [now virtual] space offering love and acceptance, where healing begins, and empowerment takes root and grows.


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