The value of online workshops – #colorpatternpaint – part 1

This past winter I discovered the wonderful world of online art workshops.  It was a bit scary to delve into a new realm, but the workshop I signed up for had already taken place, so I had access to all the class content right away, and didn’t feel any pressure to share my work or interact with other students.  It was great.  Seriously, when it’s -34* C in Minnesota, who wouldn’t want to watch art videos and work in a sketchbook?

This summer, however, I resolved to take a more challenging workshop in real time, and signed up for “Color, Pattern, Paint” through Sarah Ahearn Bellemare’s website.  It has been so much fun.  Sarah is a splendid teacher, and communicating with other artists has been both inspiring and educational.

One of the first assignments was to create color palettes for our subsequent projects.  Below you can see what I came up with.  My experiment in color mixing to match a fabric swatch was particularly enjoyable and beneficial.  I gained confidence in color mixing, but don’t think I’m quite ready to give up the handy reference book!

IMG_0013                                  IMG_0012

IMG_0016                IMG_0107

After this initial assignment, I began a practice piece, which would use the first palette and incorporate a contact-paper image transfer as the subject matter.  Here are a couple of process photos, as well as the “almost-finished” piece.   The little girl in the photo is me at four years old.  I was, indeed, tickled pink that day because I got to wear my sister’s black boots with embroidered flowers!

IMG_0034                     IMG_0048

IMG_0111

“Tickled Pink” 12x12in Mixed media on cradled birch panel

That’s all for today.  I’m excited to share additional work from this class in future posts.

Thanks for visiting and have a great day,

Melanie

 

My biography – hoping to make a difference

Hi!  Thanks for visiting my blog.  As I mentioned at the end of my biography, this past year my eyes were opened to all the troubled kids living in my community.  Working as a substitute teacher has its own set of hurdles when it comes to connecting with kids and earning their trust.  Multiply that x20 when dealing with troubled kids who already don’t trust people.  That’s where art comes in.

After working at both the middle school and high school this past spring, I found my heart broken and sense of compassion expanded by the kids I had the privilege of teaching.  As a person of faith, I feel it’s my responsibility to help hurting people, and couldn’t help but wonder if an opportunity to create art outside of school might nourish the souls and lift the spirits of some of them.

So that’s my vision…to create a non-profit, after-school art program.  It’s in the very, very baby stages, and yet it’s amazing that I’ve already met people who share my vision, and learned of others who have created such programs in their own communities!

I’m excited to share future developments with you.

Tomorrow…..I’ll be sharing my art experiments from “Color, Pattern, Paint” – the online workshop presented by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare.

Thanks for visiting, and have a great week.

Melanie

It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece…

It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece to be time well spent!  One colossal hurdle that many a beginning artist must overcome is the idea that every time he or she goes to the studio, there better be something astonishing to show for it.  This was my mindset for a period of time, and nothing could be more paralyzing, especially for a recovering perfectionist.

It’s understandable that no one wants to waste time, especially when carving out “art time” means postponing other responsibilities that will be waiting right where we left them when “art time” is over!

One parallel that has helped me is relating art to music.  Both of my daughters play piano.  I love listening to them practice.  My 17-year-old is understandably more accomplished than my 12-year-old.  It’s a daily reminder that practice is absolutely essential to progress, and the mistakes do indeed propel us forward.  Perhaps it’s a bit easier for musicians, however, since they don’t have to look at  their mistakes at the end of a practice session!

It’s also helpful to remember that art is supposed to be fun.  I’m currently taking an online class from Sarah Ahearn Bellemare.  As she shared with the class last week, “if you’re not having fun, put the paintbrush down and go do something else for a while.”  Great advice.

Below is a piece I made last week when friend came over to do art with me.  She had done other kinds of art, but not mixed-media.  Therefore, I wanted to focus on helping her enjoy the process, and worked on my own project without any grand expectations.  Here are my results.

IMG_0080

“Dream” – mixed media on canvas, 6×12

And another piece of “word art” from 2012

IMG_0091

“Miracle” – Neocolor II and permanent pen on paper. 13×13 framed

Thanks again for visiting, and have a great day!

Melanie

My biography

Hi!  Thanks for visiting my blog.  I have to say that I really don’t like to talk about myself.  If I were to meet you in person, I would much rather talk about YOU, and want to learn more about your interests and passions.  Since this is my blog, however, I guess I do have to talk about myself:)

As a person who didn’t discover art, except for quilt-making, until I was 40, one might wonder what I did before that time.  I was born in Brainerd, Minnesota in 1969 and lived there until my parents moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1982.  Although we only lived in the South for five years before returning to Minnesota, I fell in love with southern living, and hope someday to return.

I graduated from Brainerd High School in 1988 and went on to study biology in college.  I graduated from Bemidji State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1993.  It was there that I met my husband, Tom Rietveld, in a college physics class.  We met in 1990, but didn’t date until the end of 1992.  Eight short months later, we married, just weeks before Tom started Veterinary School at the University of Minnesota.

Although I worked while Tom was in vet school, it was always our plan to start a family during his senior year, and for me to stay home and raise our children.  Our daughter, Delaney, was born a few months before Tom graduated in 1997.  We moved to western Wisconsin that summer and Baby Paul was born in September of 1998.

We had the wonderful opportunity to move back to Bemidji, Minnesota in 2001, and all circumstances fell in place for us to do so.  Nine months later, Baby Amy was born, just twelve days after the death of my dad.  Talk about a punctuation mark of SUNSHINE after a very dark storm.  That’s what Amy was to me and continues to be in the lives of everyone who meets her!

In 2007, I helped Tom start a one-room veterinary practice in the living room of our previous home.  We worked tirelessly to establish a quality business, and were able to move out of that home a year later because the business was growing so fast.  At the end of 2012, we hired our third employee and agreed that it was the right time for me to stop working at the clinic so much and have the opportunity to pursue my own interests.  I had already discovered my love of art, but needed time to just breathe, relax, reconnect with friends, and make new ones (preferably ones who loved art!)

I had my first public art exhibit in April 2013 at our local library.  Although I’ve not exhibited since then, that is a primary goal for the remainder of this year.  This past spring I also became licensed through the state of Minnesota to substitute teach in our local school district.  I love teaching at the middle school level and have had several opportunities to teach middle school science.  Through this experience, my eyes have been opened to the many troubled kids in our area……

Please visit again to find out how this impacted me and what I plan to do about it!

Thanks for your time.  Have a great week,

Melanie

The next chapter…breaking free

Around the time I was feeling the need to break free from the perfectionism of quilting, I purchased the book “Floorquilts” by Ellen Highsmith Silver.  Although I wasn’t sure if making a floorquilt was something that appealed to me, I loved the idea of treating fabric with diluted matte medium so it would behave more like paper.  Heaven knows, there was A LOT of fabric in my stash after ten years of quilting, and it seemed the right thing to do to use it.

The first attempt was abysmal!  The beginnings of that project are in a dump somewhere far, far away.  I did, however, try again to just use fabric as collage material and make a simple mixed-media piece based on my knowledge of quilt design.  Although it has been in the crawlspace for a few years, here it is…my very first mixed media art piece, created in 2010.

IMG_0063

2010 – Mixed media on canvas – 10×10

I was quickly realizing that there’s a lot more to creating beautiful art than just picking up odds & ends and trying to make them look nice together.  It was clear that I needed to learn some techniques in order to advance and make the kind of art I was feeling inside.   According to the ancient proverb, “when the student is ready, the teacher arrives…” or something to that effect.  That has certainly proven to be true time and time again in my life and art.  As that thought was germinating, I found and purchased “Taking Flight” by Kelly Rae Roberts.  It was exactly the “teacher” that I needed to start taking baby steps forward.  Here is the second mixed media piece, inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts’ book.

IMG_0054

2010 – Mixed Media on wood – 10×10

And another of my first pieces, using techniques found in “Cloth Paper Scissors” magazine.

IMG_0065

2011 – Mixed media on canvas, 8×8

Thanks again for visiting and letting me share the beginnings of my art journey.  Have a great day!

Melanie