Defying Gravity

“Defying Gravity” – Snowman Oil Series #2 – 48″ x 24″ oil on canvas. 2013 Lesley Humphrey.  (Private Collection of FCB)

Breeding, power, training, skill, intelligence... Time and time again these are the components considered vital to win, or simply get ahead, especially in the horse business.  So many ordinary horses deemed 'the wrong type' or 'poorly bred' are seldom given the chance to even compete with "the big guys", yet when they do... sometimes... miracles happen.

Such was the case with Snowman... And in fact, a lot of people I know....

You may think you're from the wrong side of the tracks, the wrong country, in the wrong religion, the wrong color, physical shape, gender - to get ahead - to win, and the list is endless.

Thanks to the wonderful young people involved in Heartlift for this image. is a non- profit registered charity that takes young people struggling on the fringes of society.


I've been told art is not a 'proper job'.  Then a teacher all but convinced me I couldn't paint and forbade me to use anything other than a 6" house painting brush for 1.5 years.

At Heartlift, we take young people existing on the fringes of society, many of whom have had very difficult childhoods; Young people who believe they are alone in all the world, and, through the vehicles of art and sports, love and compassion,  we convince them they are not.

Gravity can be created by physical issues, social situations, economic strife.  It can be racial/ethnic/gender related... Gravity can be imposed by political, religious and/or tribal dogma - anything that 'keeps you in your place', brings you back down to earth, keeps you under control;  Gravity creates self doubt, always the biggest weight to overcome, time and time again.

We all have gravity.  Gravity can be like a suite of armor made from disapproving labels others/society has applied to you.  Gravity is like clay that weighs you down, and the more clay you accept, the harder it is to get up and keep trying... Yet you must, especially if you want to someday fly or


I was 33.  I had 3 very young children.  I had a burning desire to ignore 'the clay' that I had accepted.  I heard that a 'great' professional, local artist was giving lessons in his studio, so I went. He told me on the first day that I didn't have enough time to become a good painter, since I couldn't go to an art institute like he had attended, and it was pointless to have that dream as a housewife with young kids. My ears 'heard him'; What he said made sense to my brain, but my entire body screamed disagreement.  Some part of me stood defiant and actually felt angry - I thought, "I might be a mother, but I'm not dead, for goodness sake!" I decided he was an arrogant p$&*!!$, and a burning desire was born to 'prove him and everyone else wrong who would label me incapable - for whatever reason.   That burning desire provided and fueled the 'escape velocity' (#1 painting in the series), burning away clay every step of the way. I decided to keep my head down, and keep going; to follow my bliss, no matter what.... To defy gravity.

I am very proud to be a Trustee of Heartlift. I can honestly say I love working with Heartlift and its people. Watching the transformations. Letting art and our supportive programs break off their ‘clay’ labels, one step at a time and watching them bloom with possibility.

You too can burn through the clay.

Your contributions will help us make the difference in a young person's life.  If you feel moved, please visit Heartlift at

Now off you go.... have a great day, shed some clay, and fly away.