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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.

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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.

 

Sowing Seeds and the Art of Sharing Knowledge

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“The Church of Instinct”, “As Above So Below” and “From the Old House” by Michele Bledsoe

 

First and foremost, I am a painter..

but I am other things as well.

 

I have learned a lot

throughout the course of my life..

cultivating valuable skills

that I have worked hard to accumulate.

Through trial and error

I have gained experience..

And with years of practice

I’ve learned to do things

that I used to think were

miles beyond my capabilities.

 

I suppose I could hold a series of costly workshops

on a number of  topics..

everything from social media marketing

to formatting and publishing ebooks.

 

Or maybe I could hoard my knowledge

and use these skills for myself alone.

 

Instead,

I went in a different direction..

choosing to focus more on

what good can I do through sharing my various gifts

rather than how much money I can make

selling them.

 

So now I spend my days

working with young adults within the autism spectrum..

teaching them

everything I’ve learned.

 

Maybe that’s not the path

to making myself a ton of money..

but by sowing these seeds

and watching my students grow

I am already rich beyond measure.

 

 

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.

 

Small Moments and the Art of Tremendous Consequences

"Metamorphosis" by Michele Bledsoe

“Metamorphosis” by Michele Bledsoe

I remember making a book when I was little.

I vaguely recall the story had something to do with a family of animals living near a beach.

I made drawings of weird dog-like creatures on pieces of paper that I folded to look like pages.

When I showed it to my grandfather

He knelt down so we were face-to-face

And looking directly into my eyes

He said to me:

“Michele, you have a gift from God.”

 

Believe me, the drawing wasn’t THAT good…

Sure, I drew recognizable objects

But that’s a far cry from being like some child prodigy drawing like Michelangelo at the age of 4.

 

Did he see something I didn’t?

Was it a glimpse of the artist I would become..

or was it something else?

 

My husband I volunteer to teach art

To a group of inner city kids in downtown Phoenix.

A couple of days ago

Something beautiful happened.

 

Surrounded by kids,

talking and drawing together

at a crowded table..

I saw a small boy.

so small, and quiet

he practically disappeared.

His tiny head was bent down

intensely focused

on the drawing in front of him.

 

I glanced at what he was working on

and I felt time stop.

All the chaos in the room

faded into the background.

There was something different about this child.

Something rare and beautiful.

I saw it.

Felt it.

And in that

seemingly small and insignificant moment..

I understood that there was something tremendous

in consequence

that brought me here.

 

“That is a great brontosaurus, “I told him

“and what a terrific volcano!”

The boy looked up..

clearly surprised that I noticed him..

that I was talking to him.

“You draw really well,” I continued

“I can see your wonderful imagination

in your drawings.”

With a tiny smile, and light in his eyes

The boy whispered. “Thank you.”

I asked him his name..

“Jesus.” He replied.

I leaned in real close so we were face to face..

And looking directly into his eyes, I said,

“Jesus, you have a gift from God.”

The Return of Boo Radley

A random act of artistic kindness..

The Secret Kingdom

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In “To Kill A Mockingbird”, Boo Radley left gifts for Jem and Scout in the knothole of an old, oak tree.  He wanted the children to be aware of his presence, to understand that he cared for them, and to know that he was watching out for them.

Now, I am going to tell you a story that will explain why I call this painting “The Return of Boo Radley”.

Once upon a time I lived in a one-bedroom apartment with my dog, Gunther. In the center of the complex, there was a large grassy area surrounding a sandbox where the kids could play.  Scattered on the ground, I would find some of the largest and most beautiful pinecones I had ever seen. Whenever I took Gunther for a walk, I would grab a couple and bring them back to my apartment to marvel over.

One day, I noticed a little girl…

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