Little Girl, Big Dreams

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By Linda Cicoira — Inspired by the natural beauty of her surroundings, the poised and articulate Autumn Irons, a 19-year-old psychology student and Eastern Shore native, has surmised through her paintings of landscapes, flowers, and more, that art is therapeutic. 

It is her goal to spread joy through her works and brighten the lives of others in the same way her paintings have improved her life through expression.

Painting “helps me unwind after a stressful day,” she said of her four-year and counting endeavors, which have resulted in about 200 images. Irons prefers seascapes and works with acrylics on canvas and paper. “I like to work on one or two at the same time. Because it helps me come up with new ideas with each one. … It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

“I am very much inspired by nature,” she said. “I really marvel at the daily beauty. … The sky is one of my favorite things to paint. It fills me with wonder. Every day we get a new creation.”

She calls herself “Little Big Girl” because she considers herself a young girl with “big dreams that come alive on the canvas.” Irons loves to paint “because I get to create beautiful things,” all of which she attributes to her higher power.

“I would just like to give all the glory to God,” she said Monday. “I know that without him in my life I would not be where I am in my art career and my experiences. I would also like to thank my family and my sister and my friends for their encouragement,” Irons added.

Her faith has led her to others. Her parents, Rick and Jennifer Irons, are missionaries who sold their belongings about five years ago and took the family to Poland for their calling. Autumn attended Accawmacke Elementary and Nandua Middle when they lived in the states. She was taught at home for high school and completed those studies in 2017. “I like to joke that I was the valedictorian and voted most likely to succeed,” she laughed regarding her one-person classes.

“I always had my sister to talk to,” she said of her schooling. “It’s a bit lonely, but we had friends around us from our church. We went to a Polish public school for a couple of classes. They were taught in English. We made some friends through that experience.” The two learned Polish by taking a music class at the local university and by having private tutors.

Her sister, Maya, is a senior at Nandua High. “We balance each other,” she said. “We really help each other. We are best friends.” She calls Maya a local celebrity since her sister recently won “Nandua’s Got Talent” with her piano playing and singing.

“My parents are going back (to Poland) in August if they can get full support,” she said. The sisters will continue their studies. Autumn is taking online classes at Liberty University for a degree in psychology.

Irons’ paintings are on display at the Book Bin, in Onley, where she spoke about her journey. She also is trying to sell her art through Facebook. She provides commentary there. Price tags for the paintings range from $50 to $70. “I tried to keep it as low as possible,” she said. “I feel like art is something that should be shared and not unobtainable.”

“I used my artwork to help raise funds for my volunteer position in Germany last summer,” she said. “I was an assistant teacher” at a camp where Bible stories were told and games were played. By making sales she paid for her room and board.

“The Lord really helped me because he’s been a big part of my artwork,” Irons said. The Book Bin owner, Philip Wilson, “attends the same church that I do. He’s a really kind man.” She said she told him in November that she was looking for a place to exhibit her work. 

“In January, he got in touch with me. He had been praying about it, considering it. He said he would like to help me share my art with others.”

It started as a gift-giving venture. “I really hope people enjoy receiving,” she said. “I’ve had some friends send me the pictures in their room and that just lets me know they treasure them as much as I do.” One of these presents prompted another friend to start painting. “We encourage each other” via the internet, she said. “I just was looking for a new hobby and I started painting,” she explained. “My dad particularly really encouraged me. Dad is a crafty guy. He used to work on model cars … He tries to help me with my own work with the details.”

Irons was also motivated by Bob Ross, the creator and host of “The Joy of Painting,” an instructional television program.“That just spurred me on,” she said. Living in a city, Wroclaw, Poland, also assisted her because there was an abundance of architecture, parks, and museums.

One of her old hobbies is reading — which gave her the love of books and a step forward in the world where her art is being shown. She also enjoys watching black-and-white movies.

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