My name is Candace Cooksey Fulton

I am a monster maker.

It is an addiction I donít try to fight. It is a habit that makes no sense, especially considering my age and otherwise logical thought processes.

Wait. Did someone say chocolate? Where? Available now, you say. Hang on. Iíll be there in a jiff.

OK. OK. OK. So maybe monster making isnít my only addiction. But maybe, and I donít think I am in complete denial, Iím not even addicted to monster-making. No. Thinking about it, I donít know that I am at all. Iím pretty sure I can stop anytime I want to. Offer me some more chocolate and we can forget I ever mentioned this whole monster-making addiction claim.

Seriously, I believe now the desire to make monsters lay dormant for years, but, last summer, as a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club in San Angelo, I was overwhelmed to, to Ė well to get messy and just do it.

And when I say just do it, I mean gather as many youth around as possible, collect baskets full of plastic jugs, bottles and containers, gather Papier M‚chť materials and assorted wood pieces, chenille stems, googly eyes, acrylic paints and other sundry craft and/or throw-away items and start making monsters.

All that is the round-about short version of how I came to be in Brownwood on Thursday, demonstrating monster-making at the 16th annual Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit Ė soaking up the delightful affirmation of sharing that ďjust doingĒ art and being creative may be addictive, but it is a great and somewhat preventive medicine for fixing a lot of things that can be troublesome and/or depressing.

So Iím talking about how to assemble or make a monster, whatís the best glue, materials to use to make a monsterís head, lips, nose or arms; but Iím actually teaching patience, a what-comes-first thought process, offering a you-can-do-this encouragement and giving an ďItís OK to be differentĒ affirmation.

The great thing is, I received all of those same great vibes, looking into my audiences Ė children sitting uncharacteristically still and intently curious so that I could practically see the wheels of imagination turning inside their heads.

Iím 55 to 60 years older than those children, but I remember like yesterday being their age and discovering the happiness and soul-soothing delight of making something fun, being creative and discovering what will work, what wonít and how to make adjustments so it will.

I was one of the lucky kids whose mom found a way to keep paper, scissors, crayons, glue, fabric scraps and buttons always accessible for us should a ďbe creativeĒ urge hit, then praised our efforts and displayed our successful finished projects. It may have taken me years to connect the dots of how those childhood endeavors went a long way toward helping me be who I am Ė in a good way.

It bears repeating Ė so let me just say Ė I love, love, love the Stars exhibit. When I think of Brownwood and consider it as the place I called home for 10 years, Stars, Brown County Youth Fair, Relay for Life (among numerous other events, groups and organizations) are at the forefront of what I remember made it feel like home.

But the Stars of Texas was and is extremely special. The wonderful art on exhibit notwithstanding, the demonstrations fill a void for children that may be missing from their homes and that is having more and more to be limited in the classroom.

We canít all be artists. Iím not, and I know I would be if I could and think maybe I will be in another life. But we can try, and we can learn to be creative. And we can always, always discover the energizing and positive rewards of celebrating the unique, appreciating what is individual and embracing what feeds the soul.

EDITORíS NOTE: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, editor living in San Angelo, Texas. She can be reached at ccfulton2002@yahoo.com.