09/07/2012 12:47 pm ET Updated Nov 07, 2012

Respecting the Work of Others

An Unknown Artist

I sat in the coffee shop trying to concentrate on the book with which I was struggling. My mind kept wandering, so many things to think about but I tried to force myself to concentrate on my book; I wasn't very successful. The sun was shining so I moved to one of the outside tables to see if I could soak up some Vitamin D while I tried to read. I was able to sit still for about fifteen minutes before I gave up and went back inside. There was one seat left that shared a table with a young woman who was heavily involved with her sketch pad and artist's pens.

I asked if I could share her table and she motioned yes along with a barely audible, "OK." I once again settled into my book but the continuous movement across from me kept attracting my eye. I peered over the top of my book at the artistry taking place on the pad that rested in front of the unsuspecting receiver of my stare. The beauty that a simple black pen could create astounded me. And while it was not your typical art, it was, most certainly, art.

It appeared to be amped-up graffiti.

I put my book down when my curiosity got the better of me. "Are you just doodling?" I stupidly asked. She looked up at me and weighed me very carefully before answering. "No, this is money." She saw my questioning look and continued, "I am designing a business card. I have a client in LA interested in my work." She seemed an unlikely designer of business cards or any other business, whatsoever. Her chapped hands tediously worked, her mind busy with what would come next, how to shade, where to add an angle. She was brilliant and I couldn't help but throw more questions her way. She tolerated me for another fifteen minutes before she packed up her pad and pens, citing the need to leave for another appointment. Geez, you'd think I was a writer or something.

My first impression was wrong.

Wendy, as she told me was her name, managed a grace I had not yet encountered. Her appearance gave away her station in life but the intensity of her work proved the path she was on. My first impression was wrong; I had been mistaken, I readily admit. She was packed with talent and aspirations. I had seen just a small portion of it and been fascinated by her undeniable passion and zeal. She begrudgingly shared only minor glimpses with me about her life and her work. I was caught up in how different we were and yet how alike.

Respect for the work and lives of others, no matter how different the lot or the work, is essential in this ever-increasing world of diversification. There was a want and need for what she could produce. Her work was important to her as was respect, respect she demanded -- not by action or words but by her intensity and skill. I will never forget Wendy and I have often looked for her. I did manage to finagle her email address before she got away and I will contact her someday. I want her art on my wall, in my home and office.

I am thankful for second impressions, perhaps she doesn't think I am such a nosy, undeserving chick in a suit. Somehow I doubt it.