Category Archives: Paintings

NF Awareness Month

Well, it came and went–May, as I forgot and was reminded yesterday–was NF Awareness month. It was also Autism Awareness month. I don’t find it necessary to tell you facts or stories of NF–you have already read my blog entries. So, I will end this NF Awareness month with something different–none of the talk, such as, “This is a side effect of medicine or tumor function;” But talk of living life with NF2–because, I will tell you plain, it has, is and will continue to change my life.

Once in a conversation with my friend Jess, we discussed our thoughts and feelings about the topic of researchers finding a cure for our disease. I thought about it for a long time and finally responded to her email, saying that I cannot imagine life without it. Please don’t consider me a strong person, because if anything, this disease knocks you down. There are more moments were I detest my own body, wishing that I was something more rather than being thankful for what I have–in other words, as my body continues to unwind, I feel left behind.

Yet looking back at the road thus far, I am aware that life has been filled with divine moments. Moments where God met me in my lowest state and helped me back to my feet, never leaving me behind. And so life continues–to the end, which is the beginning of Life.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

PS. I believe that God has given doctors and researchers the skills, resources and knowledge to help individuals suffering with illnesses, such as myself. Although at the current moment, there are no treatment options available for me, I still desire to walk with hope in the Cincinnati NF Walk, June 22nd, and support the further research of NF, along with those persons in which the research impacts through results, such as new treatments. If you would like to donate for this cause, there is still time: Team A Mile in Mel’s Shoes

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Under the Heavens

Yesterday at breakfast, Megan and I started discussing some of the different college courses we had taken during our years of studies. Old college days have been in thought since this weekend marked Marcia’s college graduation. Our “baby sister” now a college graduate! 🙂

In the course of our breakfast chat, Megan and I discussed our science classes. I had taken Environmental Science (being a Business major, this was the easiest to comprehend–bonus, the shortest labs!) and Megan had taken a course from her college that was equivalent in study to my Environmental class. We both concluded that the study of rocks was not our keen interest. We ventured to other areas of nature…the oceans and heavens, and it made me think back to the last summer I lived at home (San Luis Valley), before permanently moving to Denver that Fall to finish school and work.

IMG_4951 Cosmos.

To cap off my Gen-Eds, I took several online courses from Red Rocks Community College. Besides my Humanities curriculum and online discussions, my next favorite that summer was Astronomy. Being in the science department, this also meant labs. But I didn’t mind the labs. From my parents backyard, on clear evenings with little or no moon, the heavens sparkled!! I could spend hours gazing at the stars, trying to find constellations in my Dad’s telescope or drawing the phases of the moon. One couldn’t do that living in Denver.

Growing up, we sisters would take blankets out on clear summer evenings and lay out on the grass. We would talk about life–funny stories, the little insignificantly seeming things that back then got on our nerves, fears or dreams–and stare up at the sky. I remember feeling so small…one can’t even see the whole expanse of the sky without turning your head. I know the ocean is deep, unmeasurable, but the heavens are unfathomable.

il_570xN.592181820_c2f2 Northern Lights Show.

Once in junior high, I was getting ready for bed. On summer evenings, it was typical of us to leave our windows open as to get a cool breeze and hear the outside voices of nature (my poeticness version of saying, “Hear the cows chewing the grassy fields and mooing distress-fully.”) I was closing the curtains half-way when I noticed the sky was glowing red. My first thought, “Jesus is returning!” and went into an excited panic moment. Then realized it was not, but couldn’t put my finger on what I was seeing. Still in an excited panic state, I ran downstairs (yes, I literally used to run down the stairs), and yelled, “The sky is red!!” My Chicken Little moment. Dad looked out the study-room window, but the corner of the roof blocked his view of the red, making my Chicken Little situation all the more realistic. But I persisted that he go outside. When we did, the sky was aglow! Northern Lights…right out my bedroom window. Unfathomable.

He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    and turns deep darkness into the morning
    and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is his name.

Amos 5:8, ESV

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Today, May is here

Today I got to paint.

Today my sister, Megan, and Mom joined me. 🙂

Today, my “painting studio corner” in an unfinished section of the basement, became artistic.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’
then by all means paint,
and that voice will be silenced.
– Vincent Van Gogh

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More to come…

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrushstrokesbyMel

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The Art Show

Last week, we–as a family–headed down to Cincinnati for an evening of fun. First stop was a run-around through Ikea (that place is like a corn maze!) with the intent of finding a reading chair for my room. The hunt turned out quite successful as we left with a small recliner-style chair loaded in the back of the suburban. It is a simple, but lovely black chair and it has already been well used! We also went to Jungle Jim’s–the coolest international market around! We all ventured to our favorite places around the world in search of goodies. My focus was the variety of teas: Papaya and Passion Fruit black tea from the Asian section and herbal teas from the England section–Raspberry Cream Caramel and Tangerine Almond.

We then headed out to the Clifton Cultural Arts Center for the art show in which I was a participant, with collaborating artwork and two of my own paintings. Although I barely missed meeting with the three girls that I had been in Skype contact with over the previous months, I did have a chance to meet the two professors–Jenny and Sarah–and one other student from their class. The collaborating watercolor cards (that I started) were not yet complete, so I look forward to seeing the outcome when the girls send them to me in the mail; the painting canvas, however, was finished and on display. Because I had only started the canvases, seeing the outcome didn’t feel like I had any part in the project, though I did. A very strange and new experience, because I still feel as though I make art thinking inside the box…a very traditional view of art I guess. IMG_4913

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IMG_4932 Jenny, me, Sarah

IMG_4916 My own paintings: Clematis in Full Bloom and Fire and Ice

As I ended viewing the art exhibits around the room, I had a chance to talk more with Jenny about the class, art experience and purpose of this particular show. I had noticed a theme: much of the art descriptions discussed around the area of cancer or other life-threatening traumas–the pain, emotions, questions, fears, doubts, hopes and dreams, survival. Jenny mentioned that she had encouraged the students to think deeply of these things and portray them–because we are all affected, whether you are the one facing the trials or it is someone else you know. Art is a medium to express these different side-effects of disease.

One art set was a participant project where cards and pens had been placed on a table. You were invited to write an encouraging letter to an anonymous adult cancer survivor or patient. (Read about full project here: The Mandala Project.) I locked my walker so I could sit at the table and picked up a blank card. At first I didn’t know what to say…I get a lot of encouraging letters, sometimes even from strangers, but here I sat speechless for a few minutes. I finally started just by saying my name and that I didn’t have cancer, but a rare disease with tumors. After my first introduction sentence, thoughts just started to come…

I concluded my note by mentioning strength, because, let’s be honest…whether it’s cancer, NF2 or another disease, any can initially wipe out your strength–physically, mentally and emotionally. I have been there. I still am there. And it is when you cry out in your uttermost weaknesses, that God answers in His fullness of strength…in ways you never anticipated, hoped or dreamed.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26, ESV

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Beautiful Earth!

DSCN3425Be praised for all Your tenderness
By these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless
And bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat
And be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green
That fills these fields with praise

The Color Green.” Rich Mullins.

A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band. 1993.

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Water Color

It is hard to believe that it has been slightly over a month from which I wrote a blog entry about a Skype conversation with a few students from the University of Cincinnati DAAP. Since that time, I have had a few more interactions with these three peer tutors and met the instructor, Jenny Ustick, via Skype as well. I really enjoyed the chance to ask my questions, get new perspectives for my painting techniques, recommendations for supplies to assist in the techniques and even a few good reads about different artists and art in general.

During the first Skype conversation, I was invited to take part in their art show, though at first I understood it to be an art viewing held there at the school. The art show will actually be held at the Cincinnati Cultural Arts Center. As I got more details, it became more exciting. I was permitted to send in two of my own paintings–choosing was not too difficult. I chose ones that represented the best of my painting techniques: Fire and Ice. and Clematis in Full Bloom.

The second part of this art show and experience in general was something new: collaborating art. These past two weeks, I have been working on my portion of the pieces–a canvas and water-color cards–each in which I was the beginning half. Painting has never been so full of thought! But it was a different thinking…I usually paint with an ending in mind; a finale, final project and work towards that image in my mind (though they don’t always turn out as hoped.) I simply sat for a good half hour just forlorn, “What am I to paint?” I finally formulated some ideas as I dug around in my bead and fabric cases. When I finished my starting half, I felt satisfied with the result, but in my mind, I kept saying it needed more. The first of my “expanding your horizon” experience!

The second part was water-color cards. I have only used water colors a handful of times a good three years ago, and even my high school art class (years ago, haha). All the times, prior this week, the water colors were pencils…then I applied the water with the brush. This time, Mom let me use her set of water-colors…true water-colors that look like mini paint tubes. It must be my reputation for using a lot of paint, because Mom’s first comment to me was “It doesn’t take much.”

The cards were easier in terms of what to paint, because for two of them I did have an ending in mind. Not that I know the ending, but I painted images that just need ink details. My portion for the cards was just the water-color as even holding a pen to sign my name is difficult these days. I just sent the cards back to the university where ink will be imaginatively drawn for completion.

Here is one of my image cards:

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It is a Beta fish. 🙂

– – –

Working collaborating art reminded me of how we interact daily with each other. We have all been given gifts–mine are specific to me as the same for you. When we recognize our gifts and live them, it starts a beautiful, detailed picture.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11, ESV

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April Showers

It has been grey and rainy. But this time, I find that I don’t mind as much.

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Rain means moisture. And as Earth drinks, it begins to become green again.

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April showers have me anticipating beautiful May flowers, leaves on the trees, bushes in bloom, gardens anew.

Life in the Spring.

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You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth. Psalm 104:14, ESV

DSCN3398 Title: Ripening Watermelon

All on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrushstrokesbyMel  🙂

More to come…

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