Tag Archives: art

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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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. 🙂

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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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My Latest Days

Oxymoron: (from the Greek),

an expression with contradictory words: a phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are used together for special effect

(Bing Dictionary)

“Are you ready to sleep in and enjoy your first day of Spring break tomorrow?” It’s Friday night and we are driving home from a spur of the moment decision a few hours earlier to go out to eat as a family and attend a Nicole Noredeman concert. The fast food dinner, Piada: Italian Street Food, was a new experience and a most tasty one! My main reason for going out that evening was simply dinner with family; I had initial thoughts of not going, but quickly resolved that I could read a few chapters in my book when the others enjoyed the concert session. The concert being at a church, I sat reading in the foyer and got to text my sister, Megan, as well. An evening satisfactory to all.

My question on the drive home was at a red light; there was enough street lights glowing for me to lip read. Marcia slightly nods but adds, “I think I would rather have a full day of doing nothing than sleeping in all day.” I nod in agreement, but as the fullness of her sentence replays in my brain, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing! “Do you realize that what you just said is a huge oxymoron!!” I continue to rant in laughter about this sentence and we discuss it for a few more minutes until it is dark again. The rest of the drive home, I sit in silence.

“A full day of doing nothing.” Right now, my days sometimes feel like this. It is not that I am actually “doing nothing” all day–more what I am doing is nothing planned on my agenda. I am notorious for daily to do lists…there are days when I see great progress and check marks on the sheet of paper; other days, I simply cross off the current ‘day” and set the next in hopes to complete the projects then. I don’t think it is necessarily bad to make lists (I would forget important events/dates/details otherwise), but it has also taken me a few years to learn to become flexible. I am still learning to be flexible. And so, my latest days have been filled with being flexible and “doing nothing” on my to do lists.

Take today for example. I was hoping to get up early and have my usual breakfast with coffee/readings. My list entitled doing the dishes and getting my laundry done; making a phone call to my grandparents; finishing a painting; writing a blog post (different one than this); and finishing a book. Actual day included rising early–nothing like a Charlie horse cramp in your right leg for an alarm clock–and falling out of bed, because I had put my right foot forward in attempts to get to the bathroom. You hear people talk of starting your day by getting out on “the right side of bed” (figurative); since I already have that part complete (literally), I say, “Start your day with your best foot forward.” Obviously for me, it is my left foot.

I contemplated getting ready for the day and having my coffee time early. Instead, I crawled back in bed figuring I can read a little; if I fall asleep, I assumed that I would wake in an hour or so and be back on my feet around 9am, as that is pretty typical. I end up waking four hours later..bummed that I had wasted my morning hours, I get brunch and coffee anyway. I get ready for the day, type a few emails and run some errands in town with Mom in the mid-afternoon. When we returned, I had about an hour before I was to have a Skype session and so I started my laundry.

My Skype chat was to be with a group of girls from the University of Cincinnati DAAP about my artwork. A social worker from Children’s Hospital–who was the first person to initiate my paintings as part of an art viewing when I first moved here-had given my name and contact to this group, “Art for Survivors,” led by Jenny Ustick. Since I cannot make the actual class in physical presence, Jenny suggested Skype.  I brought up some paintings from the basement to show and ask my questions. My session was set with three students of Jenny, who were familiar with my painting styles through my blog. It was a great conversation! I asked my questions on how to thicken my paint for texture, abstract ideas, different brush sizes for different techniques, and pricing artwork. They gave me some suggestions for new abstract techniques and will gather some painting medium information for me as well. Towards the end, art shows were mentioned and I was invited to take part in their art viewing in April.

Suddenly, my “full day of doing nothing” turned into an evening of full possibilities! I am ready to restart my paintings–growing and learning in the process; living in flexibility. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Paintings, Uncategorized

Weekend Projects

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My painting table starts off with one painting.

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I have left over paint.

I grab another white canvas from the shelf.

Another painting to the table.

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Ideas emerge.

Creativity enlightens.

Another canvas is added to the table.

Paint starts to dry.

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Details take the completing stages.

As the glue dries, the paintings are nearing the end of another artistic session.

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My painting table is now empty.

It is ready for a new weekend.

A new white canvas full of possibilities.

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An Invitation!

It is that time of year again! Around this area, every town seems to have a festival of some kind throughout the summer and into the Fall. There are the art and craft festivals, the music festivals, farmer’s markets full of fresh produce, history festivities…to name a few.

Early last spring, through Beans-n-Cream, I heard about an annual art festival in Yellow Springs called, “The Art on the Lawn Festival.” Yellow Springs is an artsy, tourist town–and so the thought of being part of this event really excited me. It would be an opportunity to be alongside other local and out-of-state artists for a day. I would get to see their work and others could see mine. It would also give me a chance to tell more people about my story of living with NF2 and how I started painting.

So, I set out to apply for a booth space at the festival. After being approved, I vigorously painted for the festival, enjoying every minute of it (stress and tears were part of making the day a joyous one!) At the end of the festival, I was personally invited to next year’s show. I found that special and an honor.

In May, I resubmitted my application to secure a booth position and started slowly painting, thinking all the while, “I have plenty of time!” Here it is: two weeks to the festival! No stress or tears as of yet, but let’s just say these next two weeks, my primary focus is on the art festival details and finishing a few more paintings.

With that being said, you are invited! 😀 I am so thankful for the opportunity to be in this event yet again! If you are in the area and have the chance to stop by my booth, I would love to meet you and answer any questions you may have about my paintings or the NF2 disease. (For those who can’t make the day–a blog of the event and pictures will follow.)

I dream my painting and I paint my dream.

~Vincent van Gogh

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P.S. If you received a hard copy of the invitation from me, you may (or not) have noticed that the year was wrong on the festival date. Just disregard the error. 🙂

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Coloring Cupcakes

For my birthday this year, my sister sent me a flower muffin mold, icing, sticks, and edible markers. Although I had good intentions to use these, they sat on the cupboard shelf unused until a few weeks ago. My first attempt at the flowers was using brownies. The brownies were delicious~but they looked like they had been trampled upon in the garden. 😉

Since Megan was coming to visit, my next idea was cupcakes since I still had the unused frosting and markers. Last night we made our Funfetti cupcakes, added the frosting, and set them to dry. We colored them after lunch today, but in doing so it became quite clear: Mel paints on canvas, but cannot color cupcakes.

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DSCN2356 Yes, sad to say…these are mine.

DSCN2363 It must be something about coffee mugs. At least I had one that turned out somewhat artistic.

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Now that we decorated them, we get to eat them. And I don’t think taste buds hold regard for outer appearances. 🙂

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The Bigger Picture

You know today was different. It was great. I think Miss Stacey had something going there when she told Anne, “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it,” (Lucy Maud Montgmery.) I am pretty sure my day has had a few mistakes in it already, but it is fresh. It started so fresh and just seems to keep flowing with a good theme. Even now, it is a beautiful evening!

I am learning things in my daily readings, though they seem more like puzzle pieces at the time. I cannot see the whole picture yet, but start to get a faint glimpse of something..the bigger picture. I have several devotional books I am going through simultaneously. This morning they all related to each other…they all discussed forgiveness and kindness. They discussed unity. They all mentioned the passage from Ephesians 4:31-32,

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I start getting ready for the day thinking mostly about kindness. Who can I show extra kindness to today? In my mind I envisioned an opportunity would somehow be presented during the day…an open door to extend kindness. Little did I realize that I would not be giving kindness, but receiving it.

I spent the day in the town of Yellow Springs. It is a great little town. Full of shops that sell mostly handmade items and lots of artwork!!! Different aspiring musicians will play on the street corners and my favorite part is that the public restrooms are located in the old renovated train station. 🙂 The town is adorned in bright colors, funky store names that you remember and at this time of year–loads of spring blossoms (which also means huge bees!)

My goal was going to a pizza parlor to discuss a possibility of displaying my paintings. I had missed my contact, so I just decided to eat there for lunch and read. The man who took my order was very kind. He explained and re-explained things when I could not understand. He showed me to the salad bar and caught my book as I clumsily dropped it while asking more questions out of curiosity about the pizzas and toppings. I found a booth and sat down. I noticed while I was reading/eating that the man who took my order was the only waiter there. He also took the orders up front for carry out and ran the cash register. Then I remembered only seeing one chef too. I had come in right when they opened at 11:30 a.m. By noon, they had a full house. These guys had every reason in the book to be grumpy if they wanted. But instead they were kind and full of energy, resulting in a positive mood throughout the room. I enjoyed my meal and after paying, thanked them on my way out. I don’t think they heard me as the line had piled up behind me at the register.

My friend came to Yellow Springs a bit later. We walked around, going into different shops and enjoying the nice day (windy, but nice!) We stopped in this store that had just about everything. It was almost set up like a half antique store/half Charming Charlie store. The merchandise was organized by colors and themes. Towards the back, we found the craft section. I found a few pieces of fabric for my paintings, so we headed back to the front to pay. I was a few dollars short in cash and there was a $10 minimum for swiping your card. I was just about to say something like, “Let me keep looking.” Or, “Let me look at the candy section.” (They had fudge!) I figured I could just get myself to the $10 limit and then use my card. (Note to self: carry cash next time.) The lady placed my few fabrics and post card in a bag and handed it to me. I took it and started open my mouth to say something about continuing shopping when she said, “It’s ok. Take it and have a great day!” It was genuine. She was not mad I did not have the cash. In fact, she was smiling. I questioned to be sure and she confirmed. All I could say was, “Wow. Thanks so much!” Then proceeded to the door where my friend was waiting outside and I told her about the kindness I had just received.

Aesop said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” I experienced this today. When I observed the kind attitudes in the pizza parlor and experienced the gift of kindness in the craft shop, I think that I started to see the bigger picture from my “puzzle pieces” this morning. I should not go around expecting to give kindness. It should flow–it should just be part of me. It should be in my words, deeds, thoughts. I should not be expecting to receive kindness either. When I do receive it, it should be taken in with a heart of gratitude, thankfulness, praise. It leaves me humble.

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