Tranquility and time

Local teacher and photographer discovers painting

If you go

What: Peace Yourself Together grand opening party and art by Lara Blair.

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 3 at 506 N.E. Everett St. The event will include raffles, food and drinks. To see more of Blair’s art, visit www.instagram.com/modernprairiegirl/ or www.etsy.com/shop/Larablair.

Tropical seascapes brighten up a treatment room at the Camas clinic.

"Courage Grows," was inspired by January's series of winter storms. "With this, you make it from your heart with no agenda. It's really exciting," Blair said.

Blair finds inspiration for her painting at the beach, whether it is at the Oregon coast or a tropical location.

Lara Blair has been a “maker,” her entire life. So, after the Camas photographer traded in her camera for a third-grade classroom, she needed a new creative outlet.

“I love kids, but when you spend your entire day with so many little people, you need your own space,” she said. “I started taking that time, and just showing up to paint. When you’re doing what you love to do, it makes a huge difference.”

Blair began experimenting with acrylics and texturing a few years ago, and focuses on landscapes, particularly the beach.

“The ocean is my happy place,” she said. “It is where I go to meditate and be creative.”

Blair’s professional life has evolved, much like an artist with paints and a blank canvas. She left the classroom in 2000 after her two children were born, and became a professional photographer.

“I have always been creative,” she said. “I was the artsy, funky photographer that people went to when they wanted something totally different.”

For 13 years, she ran a successful business, capturing everything from dogs to equestrian competitions all over the Western United States.

Blair also taught workshops with friend and fellow artist Elida Field, which continue to this day.

“However, my art became so much of a business that I lost my mojo,” Blair said. “It was all about making my rent. I realized that although I loved taking pictures, it didn’t make me feel like I was leaving a legacy. I spent a lot of time alone.”

After daughter Rachel broke her leg in a middle school soccer game, Blair found herself going to Skyridge Middle School to retrieve her assignments, and got reaquainted with former co-workers.

“I started subbing again, and then a month later I knew I wanted my own classroom,” she said. “Even on your worst day, when you are teaching, you know that what you are doing matters.”

She and husband Dave talked about it, and he encouraged her to go back to teaching.

“He is such a huge support,” Blair said. “He always tells me, ‘At least in your job, you are making a difference.'”

When Blair discovered a passion for painting, her creative spark returned.

“I get up at 4 a.m. every week day to paint, but it is worth it, even with less sleep,” she said.

Blair is self-taught, learning much of her craft from online classes and perusing art stores.

“I try to paint when my kids are asleep because I know I will blink, and they will be out of the house,” she said.

During the recent winter weather that shut down schools for 10 days, Blair found herself painting for hours at a time. The result is an abstract piece titled, “Courage Grows.” It is on display, along with several others, at the Peace Yourself Together Clinic, a new Camas business. Blair will have an exhibit, which coincides with the downtown Camas First Friday on March 3.

Business owner Lee Huntington saw Blair’s work on social media and approached her about displaying it.

“Everything she paints fits in very well with the work we do here, which is focused on wellness therapies,” Huntington said.

Noted Blair, “This is definitely what I was called to do. When I wasn’t creating, I was not as happy. It gets all trapped up inside me.”

Blair’s long-term goal is to make, what she refers to as, “big art.”

“It is kind of intimidating painting something on a 4-foot by 6-foot canvas, but once I stare at it long enough, I will know what needs to go there,” she said.

Blair continued, “For me, it’s all about the tranquility of earth, water and sky. It’s different than photography, because with this, you make from your heart with no agenda. It’s really exciting.”