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My Journey to Grad School (and My Acceptance of the House of Hufflepuff).

By July 30, 2013Miscellany

Have you ever taken one of the many Harry Potter quizzes about which house you would get sorted into?

Begrudgingly, I will admit that I’m a Hufflepuff to the core. Give me a project or task to accomplish and I’ll plow through it, no problem, ’cause we are hard-working folks.

Don’t get me wrong, patience and perseverance are excellent traits to have, but when compared with the other houses (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin) Hufflepuff just seems (and sounds) less badass.

Houses in Harry Potter

@courtneymackweb, our Harry Potter aficionado, has done her best to keep my bad attitude towards the Hufflepuff house in check. However, it wasn’t until I set out to apply for grad school that I finally decided, it isn’t so bad being a badger.

Be Unafraid of Toil

I decided to pursue UNC’s Master of Arts program last August. In order to apply, the school needed 20 (gulp!) samples of my work. I wanted to focus on painting, but to be honest (another common quality of the Hufflepuff house), I didn’t have any recent pieces of work, let alone paintings that I felt were “portfolio-worthy”. It had been quite a while since I last picked up my paint brush, and I felt rusty and out of practice.

It boiled down to this: if I wanted to do the program, I had 10 months to create 20 paintings. I calculated that I’d need to create 2 paintings per month, and  save a few weeks to go through the application process itself…talk about a tight schedule.

This meant being creative on days when I felt no creativity at all, opting out of social plans with friends, and skipping climbing days at the gym (which resulted in losing arm strength, and giving up my dream of scaling buildings like Spiderman).

In other words, this meant sacrificing fun stuff, staying focused, and working really hard.

While daunting at first, this crazy, two-paintings-a-month goal got a lot more realistic once I broke it into a weekly schedule. Then I stuck to it until it became a habit (and one that I actually started looking forward to).

And it all got much easier once my efforts paid off and I found a fantastic mentor in Deb Kaylor, a painter here in Colorado. Between my weekly practice and Deb’s weekend watchful eye, my painting life changed dramatically.

Deb was essential in pushing me to work past the crappy stages of a painting. Those moments where your painting looks so very far from the vision in your mind, that you want to quit, and hide the thing in a closet until you have a moment to gesso over it.

It took a few months, but slowly, after consistently painting on weekdays (and seeing Deb on some weekends) I started to see small improvements in my paintings. By golly, my hard-work was paying off.

Five points to Hufflepuff.

Value Patience

How true it is that practice makes perfect. It’s the unseen hours, days, and years of practice that turn one into a master of their craft. If I wanted portfolio-worthy art, I had to keep my nose to the grindstone.

Eventually, my patience paid off. This was a painting I created during my first month of work:


And this was one of my recent pieces:


So yeah, patience is a good thing too.

Ten points to Hufflepuff.


So, after a somewhat busy and frenzied 10 months of painting, I submitted my portfolio, and was accepted into the Master of Arts program for this Fall (Hufflepuff, true enough!).

Here are a few of my favorites of the pieces I submitted (‘cause it would be cruel if you read a post like this without getting to see some of them).





Without working hard and staying focused, I wouldn’t have seen this come to fruition, which makes me think that a badger can be badass after all.

Also, this sort of helps:

Honey Bader Takes What it Wants

What’s Next

All that to say, I start classes September 10th. But don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. My role is simply adjusting here at Mack Web (‘cause Mack is awesome). I’ll still be doing a plethora of design stuff for us and for our clients.

I’m just going to four days a week and creating a flexible schedule in order to fit school in. I’m excited about what this fall holds for me personally, and for Mack Web as we continue to grow.

And for all you folks that get categorized as honest, loyal, hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone sort of people, embrace those qualities, and just remember this:

Haters Gonna Hate

Author Nat Touchberry

More posts by Nat Touchberry

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Ariana says:

    Congrats Natalie!! I love your style, you’re going to do fantastic in school 🙂 Great story too, thanks for sharing.

    • Natalie Touchberry says:

      Thanks Ariana! Yeah, I can’t wait to start school, I begin in September. Really looking forward to it 🙂

  • June says:

    Congrats on getting into school. I knew you would. I love the paintings you did…can’t wait for mine!

    • Natalie Touchberry says:

      Thanks June! Yours is definitely on my to do list! Cross your fingers that it looks like the image you gave me, or a close version of it…

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