A couple of decades ago, as I was flipping through TV channels, I discovered Bob Ross, a mild-mannered PBS art instructor who convinced me, over the course of a few shows, that painting was as easy as it was fulfilling.
Stoked, I turned to a wall in my sons' room and tried to paint a mural.
My children have never allowed me to bury that failure in my past. It always pops up at family gatherings just after I have cooked the food they shovel into their mouths.
Whenever I feel emboldened to try my hand at painting again, fear of failure stops me.
But now that I have met Adele Prager of Lexington, I'm thinking I just might not be old enough yet.
Last year Prager, 85, who has a master of fine arts degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., taught a class at Briarwood Apartments of Lexington, a 204-unit rent-assisted complex for elderly and disabled residents, where she also lived.
"They show a lot of appreciation," Prager said. "Art is something most people don't get near. It is alien to them.
"I can teach art to anyone who is inquisitive. If you are not inquisitive, you can't learn art."
The 10-week class met once a week and attracted a dozen students before health issues culled the number to three.
"A lot of people here have disabilities and health issues," said Vicki Tyson, service coordinator at the apartments. "It took a toll. We had a lot of obstacles. Even the three who completed the course had a lot of obstacles."
The story could end there and we'd all applaud Prager's ability to remain vibrant in her senior years.
But there is more to the petite and soft-spoken woman than casual observers might realize.
In 2010, Prager applied for and received a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to set up a Web site that would feature photographs of her work and images she has created throughout her life. The grant also would fund a drawing course for low-income women at Briarwood. The goal was to inspire other women to become confident in their artistic abilities.
The Web site didn't work out, but when she tried to return the money, a foundation official told her to use it for materials in her art class.
"I love to teach art," Prager said. "For me that is a labor of love. Showing is a labor of love, too. If you make something beautiful, it gives you good karma."
Prager moved to Lexington in 1976 from Lynbrook, N.Y., near Brooklyn, from which the name Lynbrook was derived and from which many of its residents had moved. Two of her three children lived in Lexington and persuaded her to join their slower pace.
"I have never regretted it," she said.
But she did have her doubts. How would she make a living? Lexington's art community was small.
She started a sewing business, Spice and Flowers Sewing Co., creating designs for adults and later children and selling them at craft shows and a boutique in Chevy Chase.
She had been working 10-hour days for some time when she had a bad reaction to sinus medicine and landed in the hospital. "It was really exhaustion," Prager said.
"While I was recovering, I started drawing," she said. "I created an iris growing in a creek bed. It was very detailed."
The inspiration had occurred nearly a decade earlier when she first arrived in Lexington. The image never left her. "I said if I ever finish this, I won't be sewing anymore," Prager said.
In the mid- to late-1990s, she had accumulated enough watercolor paintings for a successful show at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. It was a sellout, and she has had several showings since then.
"She's been more devoted to art than anything else," said Prager's daughter, April Prager, a local cosmetologist, TV makeup artist and fashion consultant. "She was born with a real direction, a driven force she came into the world with."
Adele Prager also taught art in the Donovan Scholars Program at the University of Kentucky. "I am a very shy person," she said. "I didn't really know I could teach. I have a small voice that is squeaky sometimes. But now my friends are some of my former students."
Her son, Andy Prager, said she enriched her children's lives by taking them to museums in New York City. "She has always been involved in art by way of teaching, painting, art shows, and in earlier years an art student herself," he said. "The smell of oil paint and watching her stretch a canvas onto a frame I cannot forget. And still to this day, several of those paintings are on display in my home."
Adele said anyone of any age can express themselves on paper.
"What interests me is contemporary abstraction," Prager said. "Contemplative art. That's the ability to have very strong attention to detail. It's the notion of space and gentleness. Some contemplative art isn't gentle. I think mine is gentle."
She has moved from Briar-wood to an apartment with a well-lighted room she uses as her studio. And it is there that Prager hopes to give private art lessons.
But what about hesitant students who aren't quite sure if they should even try to become artists?
"I tell students to remember you are human," Prager said, "and this is something that humans do. We make art.
"The spark of human intelligence that makes art is in almost all of us and exists in all ages."
That's exactly what I will say when my children bring up that mural again.