gifts

Unexpected Gifts and the Art of Resurrecting Bees

My husband gave me a wondrous gift the other day..

a dead carpenter bee he found in the yard.

He knows me so well.

This beautiful

black-velvety little creature

and his single coppery wing..

will live again

in my paintings.

 

 

Steve Gompf, Oreo Cookies and the Art of Constructive Criticism

Portrait of Steve Gompf by Michele Bledsoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2018, the world lost a great artist

and I lost my friend.

A true creative genius..

Steve Gompf was one of the most wildly imaginative

and passionate artists I have ever known..

and he taught me the true meaning

of constructive criticism.

 

When we shared a gallery years ago

my work had become very gray.

Soft tones and faded colors..

I was struggling with my palette

and I had lost my way.

It was Steve who brought me back.

 

Wonderfully eccentric,

playful and engaging..

Steve was also as blunt as a sledgehammer.

 

He marched up to my work

and held an Oreo cookie against a “dark” area

in one of my paintings..

“That’s not dark!” he exclaimed,

THIS is dark.”

I was floored.

He was absolutely right.

After this artistic epiphany

my work improved dramatically.

 

When Steve asked me to paint his portrait

I had no words..

but I was thrilled at the opportunity

to pour out my love and gratitude

in a way we would both understand.

Neglected Paintings and the Art of Doing Laundry

A work in progress by Michele Bledsoe

Life got busy.

Really busy.

It happens..

but I let it pull me from my easel

for too long.

That was a mistake.

Suffice it to say

I was no longer myself..

I had become

an unbalanced load of laundry.

 

So, I ran to my neglected painting

to set things right

and threw myself into it

with wild abandon

falling fearlessly

and gratefully

into the glorious embrace

of God’s gift.

 

 

Dollhouse Paintings and the Art of Giving Your All

My sister asked me to make a painting

to hang in her dollhouse.

So I did.

With squinting eyes,

I leaned in close

and poured my soul onto that tiny canvas.

Is it a waste of time to put so much of myself

into a 2″ x 2″ square?

No.

Art is all or nothing.

Every time.

SEEDs for Autism and a Place to Grow

I work with young adults on the autism spectrum.

In other words, my days are spent with some of the most

fascinating, honest and creative individuals

I have ever known.

I am there to lift them up..

and encourage them to grow.

I am also their writing instructor.

In addition to a monthly newsletter,

my students create the content for their own blog

where they can share all their unique interests

and experiences with the world.

I am glad to be a part of it.

SEEDs for Autism is a vocational training program that teaches young adults on the autism spectrum a multitude of job skills focused on the arts. For more information about this life-changing program,  please visit SEEDs for Autism.

Cat Portraits and the Art of Being Selfless

“Portrait of Munchkin Giggle-Sprinkles” by Michele Bledsoe

 

Recently, I put aside my work in progress..

and ignored a looming deadline

to pour myself into a special request –

A portrait of my sister’s beloved cat

who passed away last year.

This is what art is all about.

Not the galleries and the exhibits.

Not the personal attention

and public exposure…

it’s about the gift

and what you choose to do with it.

 

Terrifying Visions and the Art of Trusting the Gift

“The Ghost and My Obsession” by Michele Bledsoe

Several years ago I was sitting at my desk

in my high-level corporate job

and I had a terrifying vision.

I imagined myself far in the future

sitting at the same desk..

doing exactly the same thing

and wondering to myself

what life would have been like

if I had decided to pursue my art instead.

Not long after that, I quit my job..

and let my path take me to where I was meant to be

instead of where I thought I should go.

In life, as in art

we must be fearless.

Trust the gift.

 

Painted Presents and the Art of Christmas

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It’s hard to paint with a cat in your lap.

Many years ago I painted a portrait of my sister

for her Christmas present.

I am a slow painter.

If I remember correctly…

I started that painting

many months before Christmas

giving myself time

to linger over my work.

“Portrait of Sherry” by Michele Bledsoe

This Christmas

my sister asked for another portrait.

Not of herself,

but one of her beloved cat, Munchkin

who passed away this year..

leaving me 6 days to finish the painting.

6 days.

As of today, it is 5.

Did I decline her request?

Did I make excuses?

Did I explain that I simply had too many other things to do before Christmas?

No.

I just grabbed a blank canvas and started painting.

The Desire to Create and the Art of Embracing Your Gift

The Bridge by Michele Bledsoe

The Bridge by Michele Bledsoe

 

The desire to create is a gift from God.

 

The ceaseless passion to paint and draw

has been with me since childhood..

and by embracing this gift

it has defined my path in life

and led me to my purpose.

 

By nature,

the gift is selfless.

It has nothing to do with

the empty pursuit

of fame and fortune..

it is so much more than that.

 

Through art,

I met my husband

made friends..

and forged relationships.

Through art,

I became a volunteer drawing teacher

for a group of inner city kids..

and began working with young adults within the autism spectrum.

 

As an artist

I’ve found that’s it’s not all about me..

I am just a paintbrush in God’s hand.

 

Imaginary Boxes and the Art of Unwrapping Gifts

"Soliloquy" by Michele Bledsoe

“Soliloquy” by Michele Bledsoe

Imagine a box wrapped in many layers of colorful paper..

taped shut

tied up in ribbons

and topped with an elaborate bow.

There is something wonderful inside,

but you have to open the gift in order to get to it.

That wonderful thing hidden beneath all that wrapping paper

is the artist you were meant to be.

The way to open that gift is to keep drawing pictures.

Keep making art,

and never stop.

Remember

without you, the gift is nothing..

and a bicycle cannot ride itself.