This month, MilspoFAN is proud to introduce you to Adelia Wilson. Adelia is a painter and a third-generation Air Force spouse. As Adelia tells her story, I find myself drawn in by her palpable enthusiasm for life. Her dreamy artwork, rooted in her spirituality and a desire to honor the military that she cherishes, is equally compelling. As Adelia says, she has found both an outlet and a calling in her painting. I’m so pleased to share her story with our MilspoFAN community…
Find Adelia at-
MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.
Adelia: My name is Adelia Wilson and I was born in Washington D.C. and raised around the United States as a military brat. My father was a B-1, B-2, & B-52 bomber pilot and served 34 years in the Air Force alongside my amazing mother as a dedicated Air Force wife, and he retired as a three-star General in 2012. His father, my Papa, was also an Air Force bomber pilot on the B-29 and served a few tours in the Vietnam and Korean Wars, then retired as a Colonel with my Nana in 1979. With my husband now continuing a legacy of service to our great Nation also as an air force pilot, art has become my “therapy” and how I choose to express my emotions when he deploys.
While my dad was active duty and stationed at the Pentagon as the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Rob was a cadet from Embry Riddle and was selected for the Spaatz award that either had to be given by a Governor, Congressman, federal judge or military General. So my dad happened to still be at the Pentagon late that evening and invited Rob and his family into his office and talked to him for a little before the award ceremony. He had a picture of me on his desk and mentioned to Rob he had a daughter about his age and the rest is pretty much history! We like to joke and tell our friends it was an arranged marriage, ha!
My husband is now a Special Operations aircraft pilot and our first assignment was at Cannon AFB. Now we are living on the beautiful beaches of Florida at Hurlburt Field and continuously loving the growth of our wonderful Air Force Family and squadron!
MilspoFAN: How did you become an artist?
Adelia: I always doodled and enjoyed art since I was a child, however, I took my first painting class when I was in college and I loved it! The newness and discovery of paint and how liberating it felt to express whatever color, idea, or emotion was in my heart and put on a physical surface was so therapeutic for me. But the more art classes I took, the harsher the professors became and less confident I felt in my work. Also, social media and Instagram came along and that really made me compare myself to other artists on a daily basis to the point where it got extremely unhealthy… and addictive. I spent almost five years of my life trying to be like other artists and just ended up completely miserable. I had to go back and remember my “child-like” faith when I first started painting, and that’s when I finally started to wake up and realize what I wanted to paint, and more importantly, why.
My art career and direction in art began to take off while we were stationed at Cannon AFB. We had a plane crash in our squadron that took the lives of three of our dearest friends, Andy, Kenny, and Drew. It was the most tragic thing Rob and I had ever gone through in both our lives and marriage and literally felt as if our world had turned upside down. A few days after the accident, I had a vision from God of their plane soaring across these heavenly, breathtaking skies and felt this very eerie but happy feeling of intense peace and warmth. Immediately I knew it was a “nudge” from above to paint something and try to emanate exactly what I had felt in my dream but use it as a message to those who were in such mourning like I was for our Squadron’s loss. The next day, I created my painting called “Godspeed” in honor of Demise 25, their families, and our Dark Horse community. To this day it represents exactly where I believe our boys are and that we will reunite and see them again one day in Heaven. A lot of people don’t know there’s also an American flag faded in the background.
MilspoFAN: What has surprised you most about being a military spouse?
Adelia: I am pleasantly surprised at the fulfillment I receive out of being a military spouse. When I chose to marry into the military, I knew I was choosing a lifestyle that would require me to be able to “pick up and go” in standing by my husband wherever the Air Force would send us. However, my art business has granted me the best of both worlds in working from home so I can be a support Rob or our squadron when it needs, but also have something of my own to lean on and that I can feel successful with on a daily basis.
The instant bond and sisterhood of military spouses was also something I did not expect. Little did I know how much I would need to rely on them for support especially during deployments, and I have never seen a more resilient and empowering group of women who give me the confidence and make me feel like I can accomplish anything. We are called “dependents” but we are in fact the exact opposite in how we manage life on the home-front and take care of things that may be stereotypically a man’s job. It’s nice knowing I can be the one to fix a garbage disposal, a leaking sink, dead car batteries, and even sell a house all by myself!
MilspoFAN: How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work as an artist- creatively, logistically, or otherwise?
Adelia: Almost all of my paintings reflect some kind of message of faith, struggle, or growth that reflects on me being a military spouse. Being in a Special Operations Unit and specifically Rob being a pilot, our men and women in uniform deploy quite often. When Rob and I first got married I really struggled with this in worrying about his safety and I had panic attacks that would keep me awake an entire night and caused me to be sick. But art opened a window of healing for me to express my anxiety and helps shed a light on the families and what we go through when our spouses are thousands of miles away from home. This painting here is called “Fight or Flight” and it represent s the choice I have to make every day in how I combat my anxiety and stress.
MilspoFAN: What is the most practical piece of advice that you would give to other artists?
1. Do not compare yourself! You will never be happy if you’re constantly trying to please the Instagram world or worse be like someone else. I’m a huge fan of Joyce Meyers and I’ll hear her say sometimes we have to “go around the mountain” a couple times in order to learn the hard way why all this energy, emotion, and work we may be putting into something isn’t working out… So my advice is to really look inside yourself and ask “what makes my heart sing?” Or “what is the purpose of what I want to create?” Passion and purpose go hand in hand.
2. Find your “Flock” Find yourself some artist friends, mentors, someone you can trust who you respect, admire and know you can rely on them to help you better yourself when you need someone for support. In return, be to them exactly what you desire and need in a friendship. I have an amazing group of women of all ages and stages of life who I know I can 100% rely on for various things, whether spiritually, artistically, emotionally, or for business advice, and some of them all of it! The bottom line is to find people who do nothing but uplift you and help you press on to be the person you want to become.
3. “Step out and find out” Another quote from Joyce Meyer that is my favorite. There’s this pressure in society for women to “do it all” and be both the domestic goddess and CEO of a company, and I see a lot of women particularly become miserable when they allow their circumstances in being a stay-at-home-mom and military wife convince them that’s all they will ever be, when it’s not even in the slightest true. I think it’s very important we all have balance and something we can do for ourselves whether it’s a hobby, art, dance, music, finding a part-time job or even volunteering somewhere so you can feel fulfilled in your life. Find out your talents, passions, gifts and maybe take a class on something you’ve never tried before but always wondered about and see where it takes you. Or maybe you have excellent people skills and would be a perfect fit to help organize a base-wide fundraiser or charity event. The possibilities are endless when you choose to keep an open mind and attitude.
4. Random Acts One more piece of advice for anyone struggling with a deployment or being a military spouse in general: Make it a mission every day to go out and be a blessing to someone else. It may just be asking how the cashier is doing while checking out in line at the grocery store, running an errand for a friend who just had a baby, or helping another spouse who’s struggling with a deployment. Opportunities to uplift others are available in every single corner of our lives, from our doorsteps all the way into our squadron units, local churches, base thrift shops, you name it, there is ALWAYS a need. Find a way to blossom where you’re planted and realize how much of a positive influence you can be to someone else. The reward can last a lifetime.
MilspoFAN: What’s next for you?
Adelia: I’m excited about the blog I just started on my website at www.artbyadelia.com called “Wings of Faith” and it’s about my personal journey of faith and growth as an artist. I truly hope it helps even just one person who struggles with anxiety like I do, or needs words of encouragement every now and then. Without my faith I would not have my art or the skills to even produce it, therefore it’s very important for me to include God in everything that I do and make sure he receives all of the credit.
Right now I am about to finish a work in progress and debut this painting on the left I am calling ‘The Legacy” to open the next chapter of my art in ‘Military Appreciation.’ Because of my painting “Godspeed” and the tremendous amount of love and respect it received from our fellow squadron family members, I have felt so humbled and called upon to paint ‘Military Appreciation’ art. This includes all branches of the military but especially my love for aviation and skies is truly where my heart has found it’s home. Like they always say, “Home is where the Air Force sends you.”
Thanks for reading,
A big thank you to Adelia for sharing your story! MilspoFANs, do you have questions or comments for Adelia? Do you share similar experiences? Want to know where you can see her art? Inspired by her beautiful Instagram feed? PCS-ing to someplace she’s lived and the skinny on the arts scene in the area? Be sure to comment below or head on over to the Facebook Group (MilspoFAN members) or Facebook Page (for anyone and everyone).