Three and a half years ago, Stephanie Canaday took her first art class. She was in her final semester at Grayson College and she just needed the art credit so she could graduate with her associate degree in psychology.

But Canaday fell in love and now holds an art degree from the school, as well as a graphic design degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

“My specialties are graphic design and acrylic painting,” she said. “It’s fun because painting is harder to control.”

Living in a world of structure, Canaday knows all about control. She said studying psychology is nothing like studying art.

“Doing art is like being a detective working on a puzzle,” she said. “Art is hands on. There is technique and design to it, but it is just about going with what you love.”

Art, Canaday said, really can push those that love structure out of their comfort boxes.

“I am very organized and meticulous,” she said. “I like to have my life scheduled out. This is really an escape from having to be in control all the time. In my ministry work and school, I have a lot of structure. Doing art has really given me peace.”

Anything can be considered art and Canaday thinks everyone should pursue something artistic and use it to help them find peace.

“Try anything that may be fun,” she said. “Exercise. Do art. Play music. You do not have to be great. Art is something I happen to like and I happen to be good at. You can get caught up in a painting and everything else can melt away. Making that time or spending time away makes you more productive in your day-to-day activities. You do not become great over night as well. Let go and let it happen. Feel the art.”

Currently, Canaday is showing her work at the Mary Karam Gallery in Denison. “Finding Beauty in Ordinary” will be on display until Oct. 13 at 404 W. Main Street in Denison.

“I have 35 works in the show,” Canaday said. “I have been working on the pieces for two years. ‘Art Major’ is my favorite piece right now. I took everything that my teachers at Grayson and SOSU taught me and I put all of the chaos into the painting. It is abstract. It has all the rules in it.”

What Canaday says that she really enjoys about having learned and studied art in school is that she now knows how to correctly break the rules of technique.

“I like to paint one object pictures,” she said. “There are design rules that say to paint three of an object. That is how you have a good design. They say not to paint one and do not put that one object in the center of the canvass. I like to take something pointless and silly and focus on it. Like a bag of Doritos or a camera and put it in the center of the canvass and paint just one. I love playing with color. It is simple and it can make the piece special.”

Since her discovery of art, Canaday says there will never be a day when she goes without it and there will never be a day when she stops learning.

“I paint to make myself happy,” she said. “I am on a ride and I am painting what I enjoy. With graphic design, I love to help churches. I do logo design, T-shirt design and that kind of thing. I want to make God known by making church locations known. I want to help churches because they are places of love and people need to know where the love is.”