Many Waters Cannot Quench Love – Saying Goodbye to my Mom

There’s a part of me that finds this difficult to write and share.  My mother passed away on Christmas Eve.  There are few words right now for all the memories and emotions.  But in the meantime, there is art.  When my mom, Sara, got sick two years ago, I flew to Texas to be with her.  In a quiet moment, I sketched her sleeping.

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Mom sleeping

I still remember the little yellow flowers on her hospital gown.

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One yellow flower in watercolor pencil

Looking back, it’s a gift to have these sketches.  They’ll always remind me of her.

Living 1100 miles apart, we got to spend very little time together.  In recent years, her health issues made it difficult to communicate.  This picture was taken in 2004.  It’s one of my favorites of us together.

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Mom, me and my daughter, Amy Kate – 2004

Although we were parted in life and are now parted by death, I have the hope of seeing her again in heaven….and many waters cannot quench love.  She will always be my mom, and I will always be her Mellie.

Thank you for reading my blog and letting me honor my precious mother.

Have a wonderful New Year,

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Working at the Food Shelf Changed my Life – Part 2

When the student is ready, the teacher arrives, right?  I had heard that saying, but was soon to find out how very true it is!

It was a great feeling to create the sign for the Food Shelf’s new location in September, 2012.  After it was complete, I felt a little lost and unsure of what to do next.

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As it happened, I had to make a trip to Southern Minnesota at the end of September for a cousin’s funeral.  Because of other commitments, I chose to make the 5 hour drive to Mankato, MN and back in a single day….that meant a lot of time in the car to think, listen to music and enjoy the Minnesota scenery.  I also said a prayer, asking God to give me another project to work on.  (Seriously, I don’t know why some prayers get answered right away and some take 20 years…or longer….and I’m not “Suzy-Super-Christian”.  I’m just a girl who wants to honor Jesus and hopefully bring some hope and happiness to all the people I meet.)

Two days later, at a food shelf board meeting, my prayer was answered.  A gentleman named Don Houseman was there as the spokesperson for “Studio 10”, a local  artists’ group that wanted to do a fundraiser for the food shelf.  Don explained their idea, called “Small Art 4 Big Hearts”, and mentioned that he’d like someone from the board to assist them!  Again….a no-brainer!  It was easy to raise my hand and say that I would help with this fundraiser.

Here is a link to the the news clip that aired on Lakeland News right before the “Small Art 4 Big Hearts” event took place.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ons3lqXiTTw

The “Small Art 4 Big Hearts” fundraiser raised more than $4,000 for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, and I made some great friends.  Don Houseman is a retired art teacher, artist and author from a nearby community.  I asked him recently if he would mind if I mentioned him specifically, because his friendship and encouragement to me as an artist has been a huge part of my art journey.  Kathy Gustafson is another wonderful person and member of Studio 10 who does amazing pet portraits as well as other subject matter.  You can see more of her work at http://kathygustafson.wordpress.com.

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Don Houseman, Kathy Gustafson and me

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My piece for the Small Art fundraiser

Thanks for visiting my blog and letting me share more of my creative story.

Have a great day,

Melanie

 

 

 

 

Working at the Food Shelf Changed my Life – part 1

As other writers and artists know, it’s hard to tell your story in one fell swoop…or even two.  Unless a person has chosen to write a comprehensive autobiography, or has a highly organized thought process, it doesn’t usually happen.

So it is with my creative story.  Reflecting back on the past few years, I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t be blogging and sharing my art today if I hadn’t worked at our local food shelf.

From January, 2011 through September, 2013, I served as a board member for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, BCFS.  This organization is a collaborative effort of several area churches to help the needy in our area.  Each participating church appoints a contact person, who then has a seat on the board.  Board members communicate information, help schedule workers and assist with various projects.

In June of 2012, I attended the monthly board meeting…business as usual.  I had been making art for about 18 months, and was getting antsy to do more.  At this meeting, the food shelf coordinator mentioned that the United Way was creating a non-profit “village” for the county fair, and for a $50 fee, the food shelf could submit a canvas to publicize itself.  He stated that he thought it would be nice if a board member could do it, but if not, he would ask an artist friend.

My heart was beating 100 miles per hour!  I wanted to say “yes, I’ll do it!” but I wondered internally if I was ready for such a project.  As a person of faith, I said a silent prayer and asked God to direct me.  As I sat and prayed, the meeting continued.  I don’t remember what was talked about next, but when it came time for someone to make a motion to approve something, the lady sitting next to me nudged my arm and said “Be Brave!”

“Be Brave!”…this dear woman had no idea that God spoke through her to answer my prayer that day.  With knees knocking and voice quivering, I talked to the coordinator at the end of the meeting and told him I would do the project.  (I later shared with Lorraine the significance of what she said at that meeting!)

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My original sketch for this project

I found out while doing the project that the United Way was going to put the lettering on each canvas, so I had to change the presentation a bit.

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Finished canvas – remember I was still technically a beginner!

At this same time, BCFS was preparing to relocate to a larger facility.  The coordinator asked if I would make a “Future Home of….” sign, so they wouldn’t have to pay for a sign that would only be in place for a short amount of time.  It was easy to say “yes”.  No prayers required!

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4’x6′ – It was fun to work on a larger board, and I got to choose the colors and layout, utilizing the Food Shelf’s logo.

Here ends part 1 of my food shelf experience!  I can hardly wait to share part 2!

Thanks for visiting my blog and have a great day,

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flops of ’14

Looking back over this past year, I can see how starting a blog and scheduling an art show have helped me stay committed to making art.  An acquaintance recently mentioned that she visited my blog and was disappointed that I didn’t have more art on my site.  I honestly told her that I hadn’t posted more art because some of it stinks!

When I went back through 2014, I was surprised to see that I hadn’t even made that much art during the first half of the year.  Aside from some random sketches and experiments, finished pieces were few!

Since December is such a busy month, and it’s unlikely that I’ll complete new work before the end of the year, I want to share the Flops of ’14.

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Stacked cups cut freehand from fabric

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Collaged onto prepared canvas, and penwork added

I decided this piece was a flop because I covered up the background pattern on the canvas.  I also was impatient and did the penwork before the layer of matte medium was completely dry….another lesson learned!

The next piece was based on this reference photo, from Puerto Morelos, Mexico.  (Yes, you can question my sanity for taking a photo of an outhouse and deciding to make art from it!)

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Photo – Puerto Morelos, Mexico, 2013

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First layer – working through ideas and placement

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Final piece turned out rather lifeless.

I decided this piece was a flop because I think my intention was to create something more abstract.  Perhaps I’ll revisit this idea when I’m in the mood for more bathroom art!

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I’m planning to share some sketches and experiments throughout the month, so check back….

…and have a great December,

Melanie