Marchand Heimann took a headlong leap of faith and landed on her feet.

It happened in 1988. Heimann was married, raising four children and was office manager for a dentist's office in Ione.

At heart, though, she knew she belonged in an art studio.

She spent her free time painting various subjects and in various styles. She dreamed of making a living as an artist.

One day, Heimann realized something had to give.

So she walked away from her job to chase her dream.

"It was the scariest thing I ever did," Heimann said last week, sipping from a coffee mug at the Pickle Patch in San Andreas. "It was more scary than getting married or having children. I had no job security."

In time, her gamble would pay off.

Heimann did have more time to volunteer at foothills schools. Now she gets paid to travel to schools in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties to teach different art methods, such as painting or paper-making.

She was at Sonora Elementary School recently, teaching students how to recycle old scraps to make colorful paper. She had students scour their desks to find their ingredients.

"What a powerful thing," Heimann said, when asked about her artistic influence on children.

"I come in, exposing them to the art and passion I feel. Art isn't for everyone, but it could be for you."

Crossing lines

Heimann's path to get to where she is has been long, but steadily uplifting. When she started, all she had was the support of family and friends.

Her husband, Mark, worked as a youth counselor and earned the bulk of the household income for five years. He also built her an art studio at their home.

Heimann started volunteering to teach art at Valley Springs Elementary School, where her daughter, Sarah, was in kindergarten. Word of her skills spread among teachers, and soon she was getting requests to help with more classes.