Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Sister and I Go Full Circle with Our Art

My Sister, Melanee Herrera, of Williamsport, PA, painting in her studio during my visit in 08/09.

After being estranged from most of my family for the last ten years, I reconnected with them in 11/08. I noticed how much my sister had changed, thanks to applying the spiritual principals of Eckhart Tolle's, "The Power of Now," to her life. She told me about, "The Law of Attraction," and how she is now focused on what she wants rather than what she doesn't want. I'd heard about these books before, but hadn't taken them to heart. It made me sit up and take notice, because her life had obviously changed for the good.

               Me happily painting in my sister's studio.

During the conversation, she reminded me of the oil paintings I had done as a teen. I'd taken summer art classes at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, PA, where our Mother worked as a secretary. As a child, I had always loved art and my Mother encouraged all of her kids to draw, paint and make crafts throughout our childhood. But somewhere along the way, for reasons unknown to me, I stopped painting, drawing and creating anything. I know I was told I couldn't be an artist when I grew up, so perhaps that's why I stopped. But my sister reminded me how much fun painting was. She suggested I "just play" with paint on paper and mix some colors to see the stunning results I could get. So I did!

My sister's new Angel painting after I showed her the Julie Prichard style of drip painting. (Julie teaches this method online.)

The result was the beginning of my foray in Mixed Media Art, focusing on acrylic painting with collage. I poured over internet web sites, art blogs and Yahoo art groups; getting tons of ideas of things I wanted to try. I began taking workshops and art classes in San Diego, CA where I live. Unlike my sister, I'm fortunate so many talented artists live here and travel here to teach.

Meanwhile, my sister, Melanee, was stuck in an artistic slump. She hadn't painted anything in ages, except the Angel painting, (shown above), she was finishing up when we reconnected. I went to visit her for my summer vacation in 08/09 and we spent almost everyday painting together in her studio. I showed her what I had learned from taking classes with Chris Cozen, Julie Prichard and Karen O'Brien. She soaked it up like a sponge. Previous to my visit, her style mainly focused on Vintage and she wasn't attracted to bright colors like I was.

Here are some cool Needle Punch Rugs she made:

She had also discovered Mixed Media Art and made this assemblage for a friend of hers to help her after a painful divorce.

But it was the heavily textured, sgrafitto painting style I had learned from Chris Cozen, which really changed the way she thought about color, texture and painting in general.

Look at these!

Shortly after she painted these, she visited a few galleries in Williamsport, PA and found one where she imagined having her work hung one day. Just before Thanksgiving, that dream became a reality. They are now hanging in The Harvest Gallery on W. 4th Street, as pictured below.

She's already sold a few pieces and is busily creating more! News of her work in this gallery even made the local paper.

Melanee and I also had a blast painting Mythical Creatures as taught by Karen O'Brien. Here's what she made during my visit.

Here's what she created on her own after I left, with more of a vintage style.

Meanwhile, I showed her the web site of one of my favorite inspirations, Mixed Media Artist, Teesha Moore. Here's what she came up with!

                    These are also hanging in the gallery!

So there you see the full circle. She encouraged me to start painting, after being dormant for too many years. I didn't resist, but instead, flourished with her support. So I took a few workshops and taught her some of the techniques I had learned and viola' ... her work is hanging in a gallery, she's sold a few pieces and thrilled and happy to be painting more and more!

Meanwhile, I have applied the spiritual principals of, "The Power of Now," and "The Law of Attraction," to my own life and it's bettered my life more than anything since I got sober, 22 years ago. I would encourage anyone who wants to make some changes in their life to read these books. Changing the way you think, will change your life!

Please click on the links to learn more about the artists I've mentioned. Thanks for visiting!

Please note: ALL of the art work in this posting is the property of my sister, Melanee Herrera. She created ALL of them. None of these are mine. You can easily view my artwork in previous posts.


  1. I think this is really interesting, Nina.. I reconnected with cousins I have not seen since I was a toddler and it is amazing to see how we all are alike in so many ways. You have an awesome collection of work shown here..thank you for the shout out and best wishes for a creative and happy 2010! I'm sure I'll see you around somewhere soon.


  2. It is so exciting to see your art and are sharing what you learn with others. I am grateful for our ever-expanding art community! This is why I teach...blessings in the new year.

  3. Nina, you never cease to amaze me! I am so taken with the idea of collaboration and the power of sharing thoughts, ideas and interests. When we share instead of hoard we are all enriched. Blessings on you, your sister, and your reconnections. May they bring you both an ongoing source of inspiration and motivation. Happy Holidays and all the best in 2010.

  4. i already know melanee - how funny is that? OK i only know her from farmville and fishville, but still.
    i love that you two have similar styles.

  5. Wow ! you wrote the story so well. I was just trying to put it in words myself , but you did a great job at telling it. I hope for more things to come full circle with us, not sure what it could be but it`s been pretty great so far.
    I`m so happy making my new work. I was stuck for so long and if I had had supportive women like you Ca. & west coast artists around, maybe it wouldn`t have taken so long. Hopefully I can create or gather a community here of supportive women. Thanks you for sharing my work Nina, I feel overwhelmingly blessed.

  6. She put into words some of the amazing story she and I have been through in this last wonderful year of our lives. It`s been like nothing I`ve ever experienced. Both of us finding many of our answers to life`s mysteries, and then putting them into practice. It`s been great to have someone to share our experiences with , who understand`s this new way of being.
    And art is a major part of the experience. It`s such a great teacher. It`s teaches, self worth, patience, courage, expression, creativity, integrity. It`s a place to be,(in the zone) is what I like to call it. It brings joy and happiness. The colors have just made me so happy, after using mostly historical colors for so many years, which I still like, but I was limiting myself to them. And when Nina came to visit, I was totally open to whatever she had to offer, as she was open to trying to paint in the 1st place, when I asked her about trying art again.I had no resistance, except one point when I thought I couldn`t do it and I wanted to go to bed and quit, and she wouldn`t let me. So many artists work alone, and that`s just been an accepted story, but the movement that seems to be spreading is to make art with others, whether it be in groups, classes, or online groups , friends getting together.
    The teachers who teach techniques and share their knowledge are really doing so much more than they will ever know. It`s not a small thing you all are doing when you teach. Planting seeds all over the place that grow into beautiful things and experiences. You have helped my sister and I connect on a level that we might not have gone to if you hadn`t made available the classes you did . I thank you for that. Thank you Nina . I love you.

  7. Thank you to my teachers: Julie, Karen, Chris for your comments! You've given me so much this year and I was so happy to share it with my sister, Melanee, who is also an important teacher in my world. Mel, your words gave me tears of joy. I too, wish you could find a group of artists to create and share your art with. I am blessed to have so many amazing women here in San Diego to connect with. I wish we lived closer so we could paint together all the time!

    I've also had some other wonderful teachers since my visit to PA; including Lisa Bebi, Jane LaFazio and Pam Carriker; who I haven't had the chance to share with Melanee yet - but I will!

    Thanks for your comments! ~Nina~ xoxo

  8. Nina, it has been a delight getting to know you this year, in the various mixed media art classes we've taken together. Hasn't 2009 been an AMAZING year for us??? You told the story so beautifully in this post - your sister's journey, your journey, and how the two of you have re-connected. I look forward to more art adventures together in the new year. Merry Christmas, Nina. :-) -- Davi

  9. Nina, you popped into my head all day. Maybe because I started watching Dexter! Then amazingly, I received your Christmas card. Thank you so much for including me on your list. I love the card, it's beautiful and I love that you made it.
    I wanted to send you a note of thanks and then I read your story. Although I hear you talk about your trip and your sister, reading your story made me really feel the emotions from both you and your sister and I'm so happy for you. I know there's no regret about the past 10 years because without them, you may not be where you are today on your journey together. And, today is awesome! BTW, I think Melanee's art is beautiful! Ooooh! How wonderful that she is able to show it and is selling. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel that much of this happened, not only because of her amazing talent but also because of the fact that you shared yourself, and your art, and your teachers with your sister. I love good stories with happy endings! Thank you for sharing and being so open and heartfelt! Have a great Christmas. xo Kat

  10. Ladies, this is such an absolutley wonderful post...SO VERY inspiring. I am definitely purchasing these two books just as soon as I can.

    Thank you for sharing your story, your art and your hearts!

    Take care, Doreen

  11. You both are extremely talented. I have been talking about synchronicity and Abraham Hicks to a few people lately including tonight. I always feel like i'm going in the right direction when I talk about The Power of Now thinking, synchronicity, the power of positive thinking, and then I come across someone new somewhere, (blistfully AJ) and here it is again on a fellow art sister's blog! I LOVE IT!!! Take care both of you.