Greg Miller and his wife, Heather, first founded My Handyworks in Broken Arrow, Okla., in the mid-2000s soon after the birth of their first child. At that time, the couple was creating lion and fish designs using handprints and footprints, and selling their creations via craft shows.
Demand for the art grew, and Greg (the artist) began creating more designs. But Greg was an Air Force Reservist and in 2008, he was deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq. So expansion of My Handyworks was put on hold.
“War is not a pretty sight,” Greg says. “War became our daily routine, always on alert. Our base was mortared many times and the sound of gunfire was an everyday occurrence. I suppose the hardest part of the war was saluting the coffins of dead soldiers as they were boarded onto the plane.”
Not surprisingly, Greg was diagnosed with severe PTSD upon the completion of his tour of duty. Thankfully, he found a way to turn his passion for art into therapy.
“Art has always been something I have enjoyed and it has proven to be very therapeutic for me,” he says. “I was encouraged to follow my dream of owning an interactive art studio, under the direction of my therapists.”
So, the couple decided to give artwork their full attention and they opened a My Handyworks shop on Main Street in St. Charles
. In addition to selling handprint and footprint design, the studio sells other beautiful pieces of artwork and offers Greg’s services to paint murals in homes, offices and other businesses. Families, Scout troops and other groups can visit the studio to make wax molds of their hands or create art work or t-shirts with handprints and/or footprints.
Plus, the studio offers art classes for all ages, including kids.
“We give instruction on pencil/charcoal drawing, painting classes using watercolor, acrylic and oil paints. We also offer a class in spray painting,” Greg says.
Greg says that art can be therapeutic for anyone because a lot of concentration is involved, which lets the individual escape the “real world” for just a little while. “There also is great satisfaction when your art is enjoyed by everyone,” he says.
And Greg encourages others to follow their dreams, as well. “It may not always be easy, but if you truly have it in your heart, you can draw strength to see the finish line,” he says. “I have seen and experienced many horrible things in my life. There was a period when all hope for a better future was lost. My faith in Jesus Christ and the support of my beautiful wife have given me the strength to continue.”
By Michelle Cox, contributing writer for SmartParenting