Monday, January 2, 2012


Note from Mel:  This post is the first in a series I'm calling "Resolutions".   Happy New Year!

Ah, this time of year.  So much reflection.  So many plans for the twelve months ahead.  Hopefully, no regrets for the previous twelve.  :D

As a society, we're all about "improving", aren't we?  Our homes, our situations, our body parts - it can always be better.  Some of these I agree with, some I think are ridiculous.  One such improvement happened to me two years ago today, and was the impetus for a MAJOR re-haul.

January 2, 2010 - at about 11 a.m., I got an e-mail from a woman named Pam Kueber.  She had seen my work on Flickr and wondered if I could do a collage for her Web site, Retro Renovation.  WOULD I?  I had been to her site before and marveled at the comprehensiveness of it - it's not just a renovation site, but a mecca if you're into mid-century design (or more accurately, mid-century modest; Pam's slogan is "Love the House You're In!").

One teensy issue:  Pam wanted the collage by 1 p.m.  I had to make a decision - do I attempt this collage or be more realistic and tell her it just can't be done?  I played it safe and told her it just couldn't be done.....

.....And about 8 minutes later scrambled to the studio to get my a-double-s in gear and crank out a collage in 2 hours.  About 45 minutes into the project I realized that I could indeed have the collage done by 1 p.m. - only problem is, we had plans with our good friends in Milwaukee at 1:30!  So Brian talked with our friends, who were totally cool about our being late, and I e-mailed Pam and told her that yes, it could indeed be done (best reversal decision I ever made).  I created the collage and Pam really liked it.  Here it is:

My "Love the House You're In!" collage, created two years
ago today.  Thank you,  vintage Life and Better Homes
and Gardens
magazines - you changed everything!

I sent it off to Pam and we got ready to leave for Milwaukee.  Luckily, I checked my e-mail one last time before we left - Pam wondered if we couldn't perhaps talk on the phone the next evening about an opportunity.

By now, my head is swimming.  Brian and I talked about the possibilities of this new venture on the way down to Milwaukee and, like many decisions that are necessary, we both knew what had to be done.  So by the time we arrived at our friends' house, I knew I was going to be a full-time artist.  Holy smokes. I believe I had several coronaries that day.  

I did indeed talk with Pam the next evening, and by Thursday, January 7, I had given my two weeks at The Reporter.  Unlike so many of my friends who had lost their jobs to layoffs I left on MY terms and with all the goodwill and fare-thee-wells of my co-workers.  I got the most wonderful send-off anyone could imagine.  And I embarked on what I now know is my life's work.  Will it be remembered after I'm gone?  Probably not (well, maybe my family will).  :D  But that's not my goal - my goal is to "take the discarded and make it arted" - and hopefully, I will be able to create art until my hands no longer let me.  It's been an unbelievable two years, and I'm SO glad I took Pam up on her very generous offer.  Thank you for letting me change my mind, Pam!  :D

Incidentally, I went on to create 18 more collages for Pam and I loved every single minute of it (you can see all of my work here - and I "met" so many wonderful people this way!  Pam's readers - and Pam herself - are AWESOME).  What a ride!  It was Pam and my friend Suze who gave me the spark to embark on something even more scary/thrilling - a solo show coming up in November of this year.  The project is still under wraps to everyone except about 5 people, including Pam and Suze, but let's just say I've been at work on it for half a year already.  Here's to an exciting 2012!


  1. Oh my gosh. What a wonderful story, Mel. It has been great working with you. It is true: We all change each other's lives in ways small -- and sometimes, big -- every time we intersect. Onward and upward in 2012! xoxo

  2. Thank you for being such a major impetus in my life, Pam! Onward and upward indeed! :D

  3. Good googly moogly....that was a most awesome story! Bravo to you Mel! You give me hope that I'm gonna eventually be in the right place at the right time.....

  4. Thanks Dawn! My thought for you? Get a Flickr account, join a lot of groups there, and also create a page for your artwork on Facebook and get your friends (like me!) to follow you. Then, link that page up with Twitter and you'll have great coverage. The more people who see your work, the better your chances! :D Best of luck to you in 2012! :D

  5. I love that story! So inspiring! I checked out your collages on your friends site and, of course, I loved them! I like how you use paper-punch circles for tree leaves, and how you made custom collages for people, even including their pets. how cute! The one with several kitty-cats in it was my favorite! That would be my dream house if my hubby would let me have that many cats!

  6. P.S., I like your advice to Dawn. I too hope to be in he right place at the right time. I will look into Flickr. And, yeah, instead of just having a photo album of my art on FB, why not give it its own page. You're a marketing genius, Mel! I wish I could spend more time making art. My ideas far exceed my completed projects!