EBENSBURG, Pennsylvania – A case of empty nest blues led Marian Ross to find her artistic passion as the owner of Follow Your Art.
“It started in 2012 when my children graduated from their colleges and embarked on their careers and moved,” the Carrolltown resident said.
“I started breaking glass and reusing windows for what are now known as ‘Boxes of Promise’.
“I needed promising direction to take out my pain once my children moved and that name was born.”
Ross said he turned a shed into a glass-footed oasis.
“I started making my ‘Panes of Promise’ and it was a really nice retreat after working all day in a job I didn’t love, and couldn’t wait to go home and create something inspiring,” he said.
“I started telling my family and friends what I was doing and before I ran out of pieces, they wanted to buy them.”
Each piece has a story behind it.
“I record and tag them and I know who owns every single piece, up to 73 pieces,” Ross said.
“They were created on large reused wooden window frames that I would have sanded down, but I didn’t repaint or repaint them because I liked the display of the history of the window. Once people knew what I was doing, they gave me windows and wherever I saw a colored vase or tray, I would take it, destroy it and put it back together into something new.
He said his drawings include everything from flowers to sunrises, dragonflies, fish, underwater and Christmas scenes.
“I would like to be very detailed and it took a long time,” Ross said.
Handling of shells
In 2018, she branched out into the art of shell manipulation and created her ‘Timeless Collection’, building scenic representations of nursery rhymes and captured activities.
“I was designing the glass on the window substrates and the shells on the wooden shadow boxes,” Ross said.
Follow Your Art was born because Ross wanted to get away from participating in craft fairs.
“In the fall of 2019, I started investigating other artists who had the same thought process as me, who loved to create, but didn’t know what to do with their stuff unless they sold it at craft fairs,” he said.
“I was wondering if artists would like to host their art with me in my place.”
Ross opened Follow Your Art at 226 W. High St., Ebensburg, in May 2020 with the idea that it was a cooperative where artists could work together to help each other.
The gallery offered a place for artists to sell their art and also allowed various workshops with local artisans.
“I was there for a year and a half, we were advertising on Facebook and people were following us and they were holding tickets and workshops,” Ross said.
“We were 1,100 square feet and space was very limited, but we got it to work. We had 15 to 20 people we could do in workshops in that space ”.
He said every penny that was earned went back into the business right away.
“I just wanted a really happy and positive workplace and I wanted other people to come and feel it, and I think they did,” Ross said.
“In the first two years of business, we provided over 35 different forms of art workshops, from painting to sewing, crochet, decoupage, glass and shell art.”
He said the business eventually outgrew space and in April Follow Your Art moved to Cambria Office Towers at 313 W. High St., where it occupies the back suite on the first floor.
“With this space, I knew I would never have to move again if my business continued to grow like in the first couple of years,” Ross said.
“There are also three free parking spaces right outside the door.”
Follow Your Art features over 50 artisans from Cambria, Blair and Huntingdon counties and artists from North Carolina and Peru, selling their handcrafted items.
As the art is sold, it is replenished with new pieces at the artist’s liking.
Currently 25 workshops are offered, including alpaca needle felting, calligraphy and cursive writing, pottery, floral appliqué, jewelry, mixed media, painting, pottery, scrapbooking, and tapestry.
New workshops are added based on what interests people.
Workshops for the elderly and children are planned.
“We also developed Follow Your Art to Littles Landings to keep the kids busy all summer,” Ross said.
“With this, the children are instructors, so it is the children who teach the children.
“We are introducing literacy into art.”
A new addition will be a Kids Camp which will be offered from noon to 2 pm from 11 to 15 July.
Ross said his hope for Follow Your Art is that people will use the space more often.
“We have created opening hours from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday for people to come in and create,” he said.
“Now that school is over, the kids come to make plans and they don’t have to do the same thing or have an instructor.
“We introduce them to the art supplies we host here and they can just go to town using their imagination to create their own artwork.”
Ross said she never imagined Follow Your Art would take off the way it did and is grateful for the community’s support.
“There’s so much to do and it’s so much fun to create,” he said. “It’s an inspiring place to come.”
Follow Your Art hours are from 10:00 to 18:00 from Tuesday to Friday and from 10:00 to 14:00 on Saturdays.
For more information, call 814-935-7533 or visit www.followyourartinc.com and Facebook at www.facebook.com/fyainc2020.