Serendipity or Chance? Surprises Await When You Move in the Direction of Your Dreams!

Serendipity…have you experienced it?  If so, do you brush it off as a crazy coincidence??  I’ve come to appreciate the small miracles in life that some might call coincidental.  I call it serendipity, and when it happens, I try to pay attention. Serendipity has a magical way of meeting you in your dreams.

I was raised with the tradition that prayer has power, and over the years I know it’s true.  Time and again life has shown me that thoughts seem to have an influence on events.  Just the right person, or just the right thing has come along at just the right time all too often to call it random or coincidental.

I’m currently on a trip that is bringing back memories. I’m here in Philadelphia at the Museum of Art, and will be enjoying a day at the exhibit of American Watercolors in the age of Homer and Sargent.

My relationship with Sargent and his work feels very personal.  The art gods, the universe, or whoever governs serendipity, definitely sent me a message through Sargent’s watercolors at the beginning of my journey as an artist.  The message was,” Pay attention and keep going. You’re on the right track. Keep following your dreams.”

Here’s a little story for you…

To learn something new, I like to find someone who is an expert at what I want to do, and then imitate them.  For me, it’s a great place to start.  Over the years, I’ve copied many other artist’s work.  By doing so, I’ve learned a great deal about how to handle my materials and achieve the effects I want.  When I started with watercolors, I began by copying Sargent’s work.  I was brazenly trying to emulate the best.

One of my first watercolors- An attempt to copy Sargent’s painting


After spending hours and hours on the painting above, I happened to travel to Venice, Italy with my family.  Late in the day one afternoon, my husband came back to our hotel room and said,” You’re never going to believe this, but there’s an exhibition of Sargent’s Venetian watercolors at the museum here!”

He was right.  I couldn’t believe my luck, but I ran to the museum! There I found a collection of privately owned paintings by Sargent on display.

As I walked around the collection, I was in awe.  The paintings were even more beautiful in person than I expected. That’s always the case.  Photos never do paintings justice.

I rambled around, and then I was stopped in my tracks…There was the very painting I had spent hours trying to copy right in front of me! I was dumbfounded!  How could it be that this painting was here at just the same spot on the planet as me?  Neither one of us belonged there, and yet our paths were crossed.  It was beyond belief!

I stood in front of that painting as long as I could.   It looked totally different than it had online. The colors were more vibrant and the details revealed techniques I hadn’t appreciated in photos.

The original Sargent watercolor


I felt as if I was given a personal gift that day.  It was almost like heaven reached out to say,” Pay attention.  Your dreams and efforts have been noted, so keep going!  You’re right where you need to be and you’re on the right track…”

I did pay attention, and thankfully I’m still going!  Feeling grateful for the many other moments since then where serendipity has encouraged me to continue along this creative path.

Have you had moments like that in your life?  Moments when you received just the right message at just the right time? An opportunity that came knocking just as you needed it? Perhaps it was a person who held just the right key to open a door for you…

I don’t think I’m unique or special in saying that my life is filled with these kind of moments! What I am is a believer that your thoughts and your dreams have power.  Our thinking is an influential component of our reality.  I don’t think it makes me superstitious or naïve to believe this.

Carl Jung built a career and a place in history exploring the relationship of dreams and reality.

In fact, I was really fascinated to read that this type of phenomena was studied by Jung.  He and Nobel Prize winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli were both fascinated with the concept of events being influenced by thoughts.  They corresponded over the years about this very subject. In fact the term “serendipity” is attributed to Jung.

These guys were no mental midgets, so if you believe in serendipity, you’re in good company!  Here’s an article discussing Jung and Pauli’s dialogue on the subject if you’re interested in reading more.

What’s the take away?  For me, it simply confirms the need to reach for your dreams.  Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you Working.” My twist on that phrase would be,

“Serendipity is real, and will meet you as you move in the direction of your dreams.”  

Keep dreaming and creating with me, and I’ll look forward to celebrating the small miracles that will surely meet us along the way…Love, Rebecca


Another of my early attempts to copy Sargent

Here are some favorite watercolor paintings from my visit today.  All are part of the exhibit of American Watercolors in the age of Sargent and Homer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

These 3 paintings are by Maurice Prendergast.  I’ve always loved his oils, and seen many of them in the Barnes Collection, also located in Philadelphia.  It was a surprise to learn that he was very well known as a Watercolorist before painting in oil. I loved these!

These two by Sargent were stunning:

Ps- many of you are aware that I’m hoping to create an online course over the summer.  Please think about giving me your input and as a thank you, I’d like to send you my 10 Secrets to Painting Success.  I also will enter your name into a drawing for a free class if you leave your email address.  I look forward to learning more about YOU!! ❤️??

Here’s a link to the survey: Rebecca’s online course survey

Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at

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Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Nancy Wagner says:

    Love this article and did not realize Sargent did so much in Venice! After our short visit there I recognize the town! Your writing is spot on for me….if I had not moved to NC, built in a neighborhood with a painter and live in a town with loads of artists….would I ever have started to paint? Serendipity!! I bless every day for this opportunity!

    Did the survey…

    • I’m so glad the topic resonated with you! I think we have all had moments when we feel as if the stars align and events simply happen as if they were meant to be. I’m also happy for you that art is part of that experience for you. It’s certainly been a central theme to many of the crazy coincidences that I’ve experienced in the last few years. The story I told in this blog is merely one. Sargent’a paintings always remind me of it, so it seemed like a good one to share.

      I hope we can hear more of those kinds of stories from others who may post responses. Thanks for checking in and for participating in the survey! It’s always so nice to hear from you.

      I’m off to the Neue Gallery today and hoping to get up close and personal with some Klimt paintings! Maybe even the one from that movie, “The Woman in Gold”! Love you and can’t wait to travel together again…❤

  • Joan Savino says:

    Hi Rebecca…I definitely believe in serendipity and I can’t thank you enough for rekindling my dreams which have been dormant because of worrying about others and their desires. While I never want to stop having empathy for others, it is so refreshing to be able to forget and immerse myself in learning again. I have enjoyed your class and hope that I take the time to continue. However, I have to stop being so critical of my attempts…

    You are an inspiration not only in art but your spirituality shines through. Thank you.

    • Hi Joan, I’m so happy to hear that you feel as if art classes are rekindling something that may have been lying dormant within you! There’s nothing more invigorating than feeling as if we are learning and growing, and best of all CREATING! Art has become a virtual fountain of youth for me. It helps me wake up every day and say,”oh goody, what mischief can I make in the studio today?!” Watch out, this can be contagious, and it sounds like you have Signs of beginning symptoms! I’m so happy you found your way to me and my studio! I look forward to watching you blossom with the paintbrush. As well as you can draw, you’re going to be a natural! Thanks for checking in… hugs coming your way ?

  • Vicki says:

    Rebecca, Thank you for expressing yourself where I have access to your thoughts. Your museum trip has reminded me of an impressionist book I own and now want to bring out and enjoy. All of the artists you mentioned are illustrated in my forgotten book. After reading this blog I plan to give more thought to opportunities right before me. Hugs, Vicki

    • Hi Vicki, so nice to have you along with me in my trip! Getting that book out sounds like a great plan. Find your favorite and do your own imitation! Then send me a photo…I’d love to see it ❤

  • Hi Rebecca, I’ve just found you and feel such a connection! 2017 is my year for Revitalizing My Life. This blog post about Serendipity is perfect, and I am a firm believer that when we listen, trust and believe, then great things come our way! It’s our job to act on those great things, and create our dreams into reality. I have recently reconnected with an old friend, Marie Fratoni, and learned about her trip to Italy, which coincides with your trip. I am an artist at heart, just coming out of a long marriage, and ready to take my next steps — and Serendipity has brought you and Marie into my life! Thank you for being such a bright light and sharing your art with the world. I look forward to meeting you soon!
    PS. I did your survey, and hope you do some online classes!

    • Omg Michelle, I’m so happy to read this, and apologize for not answering sooner. Somehow I missed the fact that you’d written. This month has been an incredible one for me as well! With the arrival of our first grandchild, my head has been elsewhere frequently, without regrets. I was so thrilled to be present for her entrance into the world…quite amazing to experience from a different vantage point ?.

      I’m happy to know that you’ll be with us in Tuscany! It will be a trip to remember, and after being there many times, I can tell you that it never gets old! Marie is a joy to spend time with and I look forward to being with all of you while we are there.

      I have some tutorial lessons on YouTube if you’re interested in nurturing your creative center…I highly encourage you to pay attention to your artist’s heart which is often the voice of the divine within .❤️ If it’s calling to you, then answer that call. It helps any path we are traveling if we stay I in tune with our highest self.

      Can’t wait to meet you and share a beautiful week in Tuscany. We will be heading on to a separate Add-on in the Cinque Terre afterward. There is room if you’d like to tag along and bring a sketchbook with us…just a thought ???

      Thanks for checking in…xo Rebecca

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