The Story Behind the Work

The Story Behind the Work : Bernice

This is Bernice.

I didn't know Bernice Jones. But I do know that if you pronounce her name "Ber-Niece" you probably didn't either. For those who knew Mrs. Jones, they knew that you pronounced her name, "Burn-is".

What most local folks do know about the Jones family is short : they are the people for whom The Jones Center is named. 

As a newcomer to Northwest Arkansas I didn't even know that much when I traipsed into my position as communications director at The Jones Center. After working there for almost two years before Sam was born I now know this:

  • The Joneses were people who had no problem with hard work.
  • Mr. Jones went from own a team of mules to owning and eventually selling one of the largest trucking companies in America.
  • Once you know to look, a visitor to Springdale Arkansas can easily spot a half dozen public facilities / infrastructure that bear their names as a reminder of their generosity.

It was one day, about a year after resigning my position that I visited my friends at The Jones Center. As I walked up, I noticed these gorgeous hollyhocks which, according to my gardening magazines (ie. the sole source of my botanical knowledge), represented one of the quintessential antiquated blooms.

The next day I sat down and painted this painting inspired both by that flower and the memory of that lady. Both delightfully old school in the best way.

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The current "Story Behind the Work" series describes the people, places, and experiences that have influenced the pieces in my first art show - Local Color

Be sure to check out paigemeredith.com/localcolor for more stories behind the art as well as information on how to buy an original piece of art.

The Story Behind the Art : Mama Millie Ford

This is Mama Millie Ford.

I originally created this painting as an entry into the King Biscuit Blues Festival poster contest. It didn't win. I still adore it.

The festival was named after “King Biscuit Time,” the longest running radio show ever that influenced greats like BB King. King Biscuit referenced the flour and cornmeal that pictured blues music legend Sonny Boy Williamson on it's packaging. Millie Ford, the painting's namesake, was the mother of Sonny Boy- the wife of a sharecropper in the Delta. 

Though history doesn't remember much about her, I can imagine that Millie Ford was a beautiful influence on her son's later musical success. This painting is meant to call to mind the simple pleasure of fresh food that is served with love while surrounded by laughter and good music.

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The current "Story Behind the Work" series describes the people, places, and experiences that have influenced the pieces in my first art show - Local Color

Be sure to check out paigemeredith.com/localcolor for more stories behind the art as well as information on how to buy an original piece of art.

The Story Behind the Work : Glenda

This is Glenda.

I was probably twelve or so when I distinctly remember hurting my mom's feelings regarding one of her favorite past-times: The beautification of our front yard.

It was a muggy early summer night and beneath the din of the frogs singing from the pond behind our house, she had been trying to teach me the difference in a perennial that comes back year after year, and an annual that only lives for one year.

We must have also have also recently had a discussion about budgeting because I remember quipping, "Why buy annuals then if they're just going to die? If you have to buy them every year doesn't that get expensive?"

I remember her looking at me with a startling clarity.

"Because..." she struggled to answer.

Who was this blonde haired almost teenager who had taken away her sweet little girl? When had she been able to begin asking questions that stung?

"Because," she answered after a while, "they are pretty."

She continued her process of digging new holes and transplanting the technicolor annuals. And that day she taught me that there is value in "pretty". That it's okay to pursue something just because it's beautiful and because it makes you smile.

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The current "Story Behind the Work" series describes the people, places, and experiences that have influenced the pieces in my first art show - Local Color

Be sure to check out paigemeredith.com/localcolor for more stories behind the art as well as information on how to buy an original piece of art.

The Story Behind the Work : Engineers are Rad-ish & Carrot Pi

On one of my first dates with my husband we made homemade shrimp diablo from scratch. 

This was my favorite meal from a family run restaurant a couple states away and when he said, "I can cook anything," I thought I would test him out.

I had no clue that "from scratch" meant that we would be making our own pasta. Up until that point, "homemade" pasta simply meant dried pasta from a box instead of spaghetti-o's from a can. "Of course we can make pasta!" said my new engineer boyfriend. "It's easy!"

As we made the pasta dough and put it through the KitchenAid mixer and ate the delicious pasta with the spicy tomato sauce with shrimp I realized that time spent in the kitchen didn't have to equate to hard labor.

It could mean learning about food and one another. It could look like experimenting and dealing with easy fix (i.e. pizza delivery) failures.

Five years on I've realized that cooking with my husband often looks like falling in love over and over again.

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The current "Story Behind the Work" series describes the people, places, and experiences that have influenced the pieces in my first art show - Local Color

Be sure to check out paigemeredith.com/localcolor for more stories behind the art as well as information on how to buy an original piece of art.

The Story Behind the Art : Morning, Afternoon, Evening

When I painted these cacti I was thinking about the question that I've been asked a lot from other creative moms, "How do you find time to create?"

My quick answer is often, "Childcare, lots of dirty laundry, and pizza nights," ie. I don't do it all.

The answer to the question, "When do you create?" is a bit more nuanced.

Morning:

Before Sam wakes up. This was a big goal my first year as a mom. I saw other's talk about how they were making it happen early in the day and I would almost cry.
"I can't wake up earlier than he does! Earlier than 5:30 is too early!" 
If you're reading this and that is you, imagine me patting you on the back and saying, "It will be okay. There will be a time when he will sleep past 6am. Rest."

Afternoon:

This is when I often am most productive when it's just the two of us. Especially when I was working on The Late Bloomer Project, I would purposely schedule my days to fit around the fact that I needed to start painting as soon as his nap started. Did it constrain our schedule? Oh yes. But it's what I needed to do to make it work.

Night: 

Nights are a bit hit and miss as far as creative productivity for me. When I was neck-deep in Hear Motherhood night time was my creative escape even if that meant being up and working on audio editing until Sam's 1am feeding. Now, I'm doing my best to be in bed by 10:30, which means I might get an hour of work done after putting Sam to bed at 8. Sometimes though I will watch netflix and be astonished by the artistry of another artist.

The moral to this story: There is never and will never be a perfect time to create. Motherhood has toughened me up and taught me to grow through less than ideal conditions. Kind of like a cactus.

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The current "Story Behind the Work" series describes the people, places, and experiences that have influenced the pieces in my first art show - Local Color

Be sure to check out paigemeredith.com/localcolor for more stories behind the art as well as information on how to buy an original piece of art.

The Story Behind the Work : The Highways

The fish who forgets he lives in water: that's the reference that someone gives when they want to remind someone something that is so all-encompassing that they've forgotten about it.

In a similar vein : It's easy to forget I live in Arkansas. The Natural state.

Most days, I disregard that fact that there are several dozen trails within a hours drive from my house.

Most days, I fail to appreciate that I can simultaneously live in the middle of town and in the middle of the Ozarks.

Most days, I get in my car and forget to see the wildflowers that bloom along the highways, exploding like birthday confetti.

And the days that I don't forget these things are often some of my favorite days.

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The current "Story Behind the Work" series describes the people, places, and experiences that have influenced the pieces in my first art show - Local Color

Be sure to check out paigemeredith.com/localcolor for more stories behind the art as well as information on how to buy an original piece of art.