We have a winner for the $20 gift certificate from either of Melanie's Etsy shops! The winner is:
Congratulations! I'll be contacting you to get your mailing information.
Also, I know Melanie has been having a rough time of it lately with her condition, so your prayers, your healing thoughts, your best wishes for her will mean a lot. And thank you again, Melanie, for giving us a peek into your artistic life and the challenges you face.
I'm thrilled to be able to introduce you to one of my favorite online artists and a woman who deals with daily challenges that not too many of us have to face. So sit back, pour a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy this visit with Melanie Pruitt.
FK: Good morning, Melanie. What’s your morning “cuppa” – Coffee? Tea?
I used to be a morning coffee drinker, and afternoon tea drinker. These days though… it’s tea-tea-TEA! I love tea…I am even an official tea reviewer. I write reviews on all kinds of teas for “The Tea Review Blog” and I get paid in tea samples! You should see my collection and choices of tea. I drink it all day long.
FK: That's cool! I'll pour coffee for myself while you tell us about your online activities.
I have 2 Etsy shops: I opened the first in 2006 and the second in 2008. TheCreatorsPalette is my art – paintings, prints, notecards, ACEO’s. My second shop is TCPJewelry. I started that shop to sell the beaded medical ID bracelets that I started making for myself. I sell them as inexpensively as possible. I also make other jewelry like earrings, anklets, and bracelets.
FK: Wow! After all that, I’m almost afraid to ask what other art activities you are involved in …
Just this week, I entered my second ever Art Show. Last year I won an Honorable Mention award. Can’t wait to find out if it was just luck or if I win another award this year. (FK NOTE: She won second place!)
I used to be a very active person. I am a published author. I spoke at women’s retreats and conferences, taught preschool creative dance and pre-ballet classes, as well as taking adult ballet, and participating in the Nutcracker Ballet as a mother in the party scene. I played tennis, did a lot of gardening (I have more than 50 roses) and loved to read.
FK: I’m aware of why that is, and we’re going to talk about that important topic a little later. But first, where do you live? Tell me about your family.
I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest! I love it here! Yes, it rains a lot, but you cannot beat the gorgeous skies, the snow-covered volcanic mountains and the green that is everywhere! I grew up in California, as did my husband. Our parents lived six blocks from each other as we grew up! I’ve been married 26 years and no, we were not high school sweethearts. We met after high school. We had our first child and then moved up here for my husband to attend school. We are glad to have been able to stay here ever since!
I have 3 kids – 24, 20 and 17. They are the best kids I could ever wish for!
We also have a wonderful little lap dog named Taran. He’s named after a character in Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain series. He belongs to my son, but he’s my lapdog during the day. He’s a little Malt-Poo and as sweet as can be.
FK: How cute! Now for a more serious subject. Since I have been on Etsy I’m amazed when I come across yet another artist who perseveres with artwork in spite of dealing with a chronic and/or debilitating illness. And you are no exception. Tell us a little about your condition and how it affects your work. What techniques or methods have you developed to cope and to allow you to continue to work in spite of your illness?
I have ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which not only causes fatigue (which is indescribable… it’s not “tiredness” like a normal person understands it) but it affects all kinds of things including my sleep, causes pain, and has affected my Autonomic Nervous system (ANS) causing something called POTS (high heart rate and low blood pressure when I’m standing) among other things. Basically, the ANS controls everything automatic, so any of those functions can be affected. For me the biggest issues are digestion and POTS, but many other symptoms come and go.
This is a huge and important topic to me because CFS has been ignored too long as “Yuppie Flu” but it’s finally being recognized as a real illness with biomarkers to prove it.
However, even though it has caused a total u-turn in my life, and I have days of grieving my losses, I also rejoice over the things I have gained through this illness. For one, I learned to paint. I have also met some of the most wonderful people online. Because of my illness, I spend a lot of time with my laptop and I just love the communities and people who have become a part of my life (like you, Felicia).
I do hope and pray for understanding, treatment and even a cure for ME/CFS. You’ll see in both my Etsy shops that I donate 10% of my proceeds to The Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease. They are on the cutting edge of research to understand and treat ME/CFS patients.
I’ll just add a couple more points. I have found several things very important to not only surviving this illness, but thriving in the midst of it. The first has been to hold true to my values. I believe in pursuing two basic values – Loving God with all my heart, and loving others. I’ve found that, though I feel some of my previous life has been stripped away, nothing can keep me from pursuing these basic life values.
Second, I have found that I must allow myself days of grief. Though it is similar to losing a loved one, it’s also a continuous process of losing, grieving, moving on, losing again, grieving, moving on. But I can’t move on if I don’t allow myself the space to grieve. So I have private times in my hot tub where I let the tears flow. I have grumpy days. I have days that anything can bring tears to my eyes.
But I also have to look at this as a new stage of life! It’s not necessarily a journey I expected to travel. But when I view it as one more stage of life, I know I can find positive aspects to it. Finding these keeps me going.
FK: Melanie, I read it when you first posted it, and I was stunned at your dedication and perseverance - and the painting is gorgeous! It has made me stop and think when I complain about small stuff. Your watercolors are absolutely beautiful. Do you work in other media?
Watercolor is definitely my favorite media to work in. I think it’s the flow and movement of the pigment and water – the mixing and “dance” that intrigues me and engages the “active” side of me. I also like it because it’s easy to clean up, easy to set up – which I really need with my illness.
In fact, for that reason I don’t work in acrylics anymore – though I used to do a lot of tole painting. I have never used oils, though I’d love to some day if my health allows me to face the clean up and mess that it requires.
I have played around with collage and even a bit of digital collage, which was fun. And I have a nice little set of oil pastels that I occasionally play with.
One unusual side of my watercolors is that I also paint on watercolor canvas. This is more challenging in some ways – as the paint can be washed right off the canvas. It has to be sealed with spray varnish once the painting is done. But I love the look I can get on these specially made watercolor canvases.
My very favorite “quiet place” is not that quiet … but it really quiets my soul! It’s a drive in my little convertible Miata that my husband bought me this year. I’ve driven it with the top down in rain, in snow and, of course, my favorite is in the sun! I have a great stereo with a variety of playlists – from moody piano music to jazz to loud boppin’ music! For me… it’s like a butterfly finally getting out of its cocoon and stretching its wings. I may not be able to do all the active things I want anymore, but I “fly” in my little red car with the top down!
FK: That’s wonderful – good for you! What part of being an artist is the most gratifying to you, and what do you dislike the most?
To me, the most gratifying aspect of being an artist is when my art moves someone’s heart. I was showing art at an outdoor market last summer when a woman viewing one of my pieces got tears in her eyes. I felt fulfilled, even though she didn’t buy the painting!
The part of watercolor painting that I dislike most is the middle stage. I almost always hit an “ugly” stage, and I have to keep my mind’s eye on the outcome I have planned and that I know will eventually become evident – even as I work on something that makes me cringe.
FK: What do you do when you’re not being an artist? What activities do you enjoy?
I spend a lot of time online. I meet friends on Facebook. I keep in touch with church friends whom I don’t see often because my illness often keeps me home. I have groups of art friends, groups of CFS friends, and even family on Facebook. I also use Twitter a lot, and have met a bunch of great people there. I surf, I sign up for giveaways on blogs, I read as much as I can about the current CFS research.
But on my bad days, I watch Netflix movies! I often stream them straight to my computer as well as getting them in the mail. I love documentaries and have watched a lot of them.
FK: Melanie, it has been my great pleasure to visit with you. I have enjoyed hearing about you and your art, and I feel I have been educated about an illness that affects a lot of people but, as you pointed out, is so often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Thank you so much!
FK: Now, tell us about your giveaway.
I would like to offer a $20 gift certificate and FREE shipping for any product or combination of products in either of my Etsy shops. I will also honor the $20 as a discount if the winner desires to purchase something larger and will still include FREE shipping for anything purchased when using the gift certificate.
FK: That’s a wonderful gift!
You have several opportunities to enter your comments:
First entry: Visit either of her shops, come back here, and enter a comment about your favorite pieces.
Second entry: Enter a comment if you signed up to follow one or both of Melanie’s blogs (or comment that you already follow)
Third entry: Enter a comment that you signed up to follow my blog (or comment that you already follow)
A friend of mine passed away, and I'll be going to the visitation and funeral this week. He was an extremely interesting man - the kind of person who was either loved or despised. And he deserved both. To some of us, he could be wonderfully fun, generous, self-deprecating, very smart, and caring. To others he was mean, petty, insensitive and vindictive. He and I got along and worked well for many years together. Somehow I figured out how to deal with him so that by and large he let me do my job and didn't interfere too much except to request some small change just to make his mark. (I won't use the common slang for that type of behavior!) And when I thought I could get away with it, I privately chided him on his bad behavior toward some people.
He was a force to be reckoned with, one way or another. And he was never boring, that's for sure. With all the bombast and fury he possessed, he fought two different cancers for many years, the second cancer the result of chemotherapy from the first one. A while back, knowing that he had been given only a few more months, we brought his friends together to have a cocktail or two or three with him, just to say goodbye without really having to say it. What could have been a morbid evening was enjoyable and nostalgic, mostly because he was very open and matter of fact about his limited time, could still tell great stories, and could still laugh heartily with his friends.
The following words are from a column that appeared in our local newspaper many years ago. I repeat it here in honor of my friend. Godspeed, JB.
Summer ends for everyone.
So do all of life's troubles and promises.
What matters isn't the length of someone's season.
What's important is how often they laughed and wept,
... which would you choose? It's no secret that my Etsy sales - and the sales of a lot of other artists - have been in the toilet very slow so far this year. I try not to take it personally since there are so many other factors at play, not the least of which is the economy. However, some artists are doing well and some are doing fabulously well. Even though I try to follow good advice to do the kind of work I love and therefore others will love it, I think it's natural to start trying to second-guess potential buyers by trying to create artwork I THINK they might want to buy. Notice I said "buy," not just "like." I have certain pieces in my shop that attract many viewers, but for whatever reason they don't result in a sale.
I have been working on a new series of blank greeting cards, and since spring is blooming away and it's also one of my favorite colors, I'm featuring pink as in "Think Pink" or "Pretty in Pink" or whatever. I have three different approaches and samples below and I would like to get your feedback as to which you prefer. There's three styles: (1) the unaltered photograph, (2) the photograph with writing included, and (3) the photograph with a TTV (through the viewfinder) style frame.
So what do you think? Feel free to leave any comments you would like. And no fair saying you like them all! Force yourself to narrow it to the style you like the most. I might just surprise somebody whose comments I like the best with some of these cards when I have them completed!
A few months ago I did a great interview and giveaway with Pam Moran of MyChartreuseRoom. Pam is also a personal friend; we worked for the same company a number of years ago. The artwork she is doing for her Etsy shop is graphic and gorgeous!
Pam recently posted a new card series that just made me smile - they are absolutely delightful! Here's some samples. You can see all of the cards in her shop in this section: Animal Speak Cards. Go take a look - I dare you not to smile!
I'm in a new treasury this morning featuring my favorite season, Spring. I can't wait for everything to bloom so I can get out there with my camera. My green-yellow tulip is included.
The best part of this treasury is that it was curated by Melanie of TheCreatorsPalette and it gives me an opportunity to give you a Preview of Coming Attractions. Very soon, I will be featuring Melanie with an interview and giveaway. You are going to love her and her gorgeous art! Stay tuned!
Those of you who entered your guesses for the April Charades contest are going to be disappointed. No one guessed all the answers correctly, and most of you had only ONE wrong! AARRGHHH! They were all good guesses and made sense, but I had to stay with my original choices (see below).
We do have a winner for the drawing, and I know she will be one happy person:
Cindi from Clayitagain/12midnightoils
Here's the answers.
1. Sweet Home Alabama –Lynyrd Skynyrd
2. Hotel California - Eagles
3. Heart of Glass – Blondie
4. Brown Sugar – Rolling Stones
5. American Pie – Don McLean
6. We Will Rock You/We are the Champions – Queen
7. Fire and Rain – James Taylor
8. We are Family – Sister Sledge
There were fewer people participating, probably because many people were busy with the Easter holiday. Thanks to all of you for playing!
What a nice Easter treat - I'm in two new treasuries. The first one shows one of my Lavender wreaths, which is on final sale (hint...hint). The treasury was created by taylorseclectic, where you can find some really pretty jewelry. Take a look.
This is one of my favorite cartoons, maybe because I'm an April baby. (Not today, but in a few days.) That little clown never fails to make me smile - and I'll bet it will make you smile too. Happy Day from this Fool to all of you Fools out there!
Please do not use or copy any text or images in this blog in any way whatsoever without my written consent and/or the consent of the artists featured. All rights reserved. Thanks for your consideration.