Thursday, December 29, 2011

Commitment-phobe: How not to be one in 2012!

Unless commitment is made,

there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.

Peter Drucker

Damn! New Year's is happening in China right now and I'm missing it!

Commitment. It’s so final. You make a decision that feels like you are taking yourself out of the good life and putting yourself in commitment purgatory. The future looks dismal and bleak, like a tattered sepia photograph from the Depression era. The thought of the commitment being so forever, so final, and you get the sweats. Your stomach churns. Panic. Then comes the negotiating- your mind with yourself. One more little fling won’t hurt. Just one, then I’ll commit to my commitment forever. And then the next thing you know, the whole pack of cigarettes has been smoked, that bag of Oreos that was full twenty minutes ago is now empty and no, you didn’t go to the gym everyday like you’d promised your 2010 self.

Yes, it’s the time where New Year’s resolutions are upon us. I, like everyone else, probably didn’t stick to my commitments I made to myself last year. I think I wrote them down but somewhere in the three full house moves I made this year (yes three!) they were thrown out with the trash, which is where they belonged, because I didn’t commit to them anyway, it seems.

But in July, I decided I wanted to be a little more proactive about my health. One thing I could do is cut out sugar. Sneaking a Starbucks cookie in with my afternoon coffee had become a bad habit. But cutting out sugar forever? It seemed so final. So not fun. Because sugar is in everything. Sauces, soy milk, breakfast muffins. Everything.

At the time, three things things happened.

One, I watched a Ted talk: "Try something new for 30 days" by Matt Cutt: (It’s only three minutes, worth the watch!)

Two, My friend Keveen Gabet of Korakor launched his own 30-Day Challenge. (I guess Keveen watched the same TedTalk!) And here I decided to join Keveen’s 30-Day Challenge and I cut out sugar for 30 days. I put a calendar on my fridge and marked off the days one by one. Truthfully, I stuck to it and the month flew by. And I felt great. I even kept it up for quite a while, though Christmas has certainly killed that! (Time to cut out sugar again.)

Three: I was working in a language school in Gastown and I was teaching a lesson on future tense in a grammar class. I like to tie my lessons into something that involves the Vancouver community so students can learn as much as they can about their social environment and since Lululemon originated in Vancouver, and yoga pants are everywhere, I printed off Lululemon’s goal setting worksheet for homework in preparation for the next lesson. I told the students I would do it too, so we could all see what each other’s goals were.

Boy, was it hard! The students furrowed their brows over the sheet, not because the English was difficult, but because none of us had sat down and tried to figure out our 1, 5 and 10 year goals. We couldn’t finish in class time, but we all agreed it was a good idea to take it home and finish it as a general exercise in whatever language worked best.

But Lulu’s goal setting sheet wasn’t a 30-Day Challenge, nor was it a New Year’s resolution. Instead, It was a way to check in at different times of the year to make sure you were on top of your goals. After all, the person you are today is a direct result of the person you wanted to be in the past. So wouldn’t it be a good idea to get a very strong and positive picture of the person you’d like to be five and ten years from now?

So here is my 2012 New Year’s Resolution:

I’m not making any New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions are too big, too broad, too final and simply, too restrictive and boring. Instead, I challenge myself to fill out Lulu’s goal setting sheet in my sketchbook- something I have with me all the time and won’t lose. And I will do this four times a year when the seasons change. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, because these are times of renewal, just like New Years.

And second of all, I am going to start with monthly challenges- Which means my challenges will be 28, 30 and 31 days long. Otherwise, I may fall off my track and not start a new 30-day challenge for a few weeks. Just being honest here! I’m not perfect! This way, if I do fall off my track, I have a definite date to start again.

So here is to 2012! And to goal setting all year round.

(Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to cram all the chocolate in I can before January 1st. Juuuust kidding!)

Link to Ted Talk

Link to Korakor

Link to Lululemon goal setting (PDF goal setting sheet found here. I challenge you to fill it out, even just once!)

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yarn Bomb Victoria!

Improving the Urban Landscape
one stitch at a time!
(Except this one is at the beach, so not purely urban.)
Just before Christmas I took off to Victoria to visit friends for the weekend. After a lovely coffee at Ogden Point with my friend Kelly (after a lovely breakfast with the Morley-Brucker family! Oh how I love this vacation thing!), I found this bee-yooo-ti-ful yarnbomb on the beach at Dallas Road. Oh Victoria, I really do miss you!

One of the coolest yarn bombs I'd ever seen with my own eyes. Kelly had never heard of yarnbombing, but had seen one before so she was also quite happy to have stumbled across this little gem. I'm sure if I had been able to spend more time in Victoria I would have found them everywhere, as it seems like a very Victoria thing to do.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Introducing Naramata Chronicles!

Congratulations to MyNaramata and
Craig Henderson, Author of Naramata Chronicles
on a job well done!

Craig Henderson is the hard working journalist/writer behind MyNaramata, which over the years, has become the indispensable go-to website for anyone remotely interested in all things Naramata. Lucky for me, Mr Henderson is also a fan of the Creative Caravan and I'm honoured not only to be included in this book about Naramata, but my artwork is on the front, back and middle of the book as well! Yay Craig! Yay me!

Craig took some time out of his schedule to send me my own personal copy last week and I am really amazed at how great it looks and what a fantastic job he did choosing articles and essays that reflect the spirit of Naramata, past and present. Certainly a few of you will be receiving books from me for Christmas!

I'd tell you what was written about me inside, but I'll let Craig tell you himself. Here is the link to the book along with the Url to where you can buy it through Pay Pal. there is also a great little video that visits all of the great people of Naramata who are included in the book.


Naramata Chronicles (The book!)

Naramata Chronicle's Link to PayPal (For the hopelessly impatient!)

Look I'm in print! Just like Edna Ferber!

Thanks again,Craig!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Halloween!

There are few who'd deny, at what I do I am the best,
For my talents are renowned far and wide,
When it comes to surprises in the moonlit night,
I excel without ever even trying.
With the slightest little effort of my ghostlike charms
I have seen grown men give out a shriek,
With the wave of my hand and a well placed moan
I have swept the very bravest off their feet!
~Jack, the Pumpkin King

One of the only non-scary Halloween costumes I've ever had, made from scratch! In High school. I made all of those beads from white flour dough baked in the oven and painted. It weighed a tonne! I didn't win this costume contest because I refused to walk like an Egyptian. I was too shy. (Which is pretty funny, considering!)

Yes, I know I'm a week late, but that's just the way these two months have been.

Halloween is by far my favourite holiday, and since I don't usually spend Halloween in Canada, I decided that I would go all out celebrating my favourite holiday with style. Usually, I am a witch year after year, which is pretty boring for a creative type like me, I know. However, I only seem to have fun when I'm really really unrecognizably ugly. And this year, I felt like I wanted to switch things up and be some kind of nameless zombie.

My first attempt at being a ghoul with big help from my sis, the queen of ghouls. Together we transformed my friend Kevin from a Blues Brother (Lame!) to the beauty he is here. Kevin recently admitted hehad the best time being scary. (He was Captain Kirk this year. I tried to talk him into dead Captain Kirk, but he didn't go for it.)

So I eschewed the homework and went to Value Village sometime in Early October. I don't know Vancouver very well, but I know there is a Value Village out on infamous East Hastings. So off I went, trucking from ritzy Kits to Value Village East Hastings. The staff were in costumes, the customers too tired of waiting for dressing rooms donned costumes over their clothes. I was in search of a cheap white nightie that I could rip up and roll in the dirt. But sadly, there were none to be had.

My sister Rene cutting my head off many years ago! But don't worry, I'm immortal. It's hard to kill me.

I started looking at old crappy stained wedding dresses, but all the dresses were too expensive for my tastes or strapless, and since I would be going to high school in this, I figured I'd better cover the boobage up. I did find a hot pink merangue dress though, which was so hideous I decided I could do something with it, but it wasn't really what I wanted. But the price was right and I didn't have time to keep looking.

Considering this was Halloween in Taiwan, I think we pulled together some great Costumes. Rene was te Queen of death with her Skull crown. We made kids cry! And we loved it! (One of the secretaries kept my black tooth goo for me and gave it to me a few days after Halloween becuase she was afraid would use it all up on Halloween, hence the clean teeth here. I still don't understand her logic of not giving it to me on Halloween!)

As I stood in line, I saw a man with stringy long hair wearing a big frilly wedding dress over his clothes. He was tall and skinny and the dress actually fit him quite well. What a costume! He looked absolutely ridiculous in it. He saw me admiring the dress so I gave him a thumbs up.

"I totally want your dress!" I called over the tills at him.

"Really?" He shouted back. "I found it in the alley in a box. I'm trying to trade it in for some warm clothes over the winter."

The UBC costume contest labelled me, Old Zombie crow bride. I don't like the bride bit, I don't think it looks like a wedding dress anymore. I took it in myself with some real Sally Nightmare before Christmas stitches!

Before I knew it, I was in negotiations over this dress. The guy was happy to sell it to me if I bought him some warm clothes. Our deal was almost made until the Value VIllage people stepped in. They wanted the dress. It had beautiful beading and lace sleeves. "This one won't go for cheap," The employee told me as she unzipped the dress down the homeless man's back.
I met this guy on the bus! He says he knit the helmet and beard himself.
Man after my own heart!

But honestly, the dress stank, and was ripped up one of the seams, and was missing a few beads. So for shits and giggles, I asked her to ask what the dress would cost as is. Ten minutes later, I'd bought my first and only wedding dress for 40 bucks with tax. Before I left the store, I found the homeless man searching through the coat section.

Japanese girls in the boat bathroom! We had good times.

"I just paid forty bucks for your dress," I told him. "Make sure you get your money's worth!"

I took the dress home, threw it in the wash machine and once it was clean, I dirtied it up again. By the way, Coffee grounds stain up a dress to make it look dirty quite nicely! Though you need to keep the dress out of your bedroom for the first week if you have any plans to sleep.
The whole Enchilada!

I wore this dress once to my practicum high school, once to a boat cruise with the language school I worked at this summer, and again to UBC where I tied for first place in the Education department's Halloween Costume contest! (I won a twenty dollar gift card! Woo hoo! Thanks, ESA!) When it was time to put the dress away, I was kind of sad not to have a reason to wear it again till next Halloween. (Or unless I get married this year! I've already got a dress!)

I'm Jack! The Pumpkin King! And I just can't wait until next Halloween,
I've got some new ideas that will really make them SCREAM!

And I carved probably one of the scariest pumpkins I've ever made. So sad to see them rot over the next few days. My Jack-o-lantern was so scary my roommate said he had to turn the face away while he ate dinner. Yes! Success.

One of my favourite pictures! Mainly because my friend here has no eyes.

I'm not sure where I'll be next Halloween. But you can be sure that if I am still in Canada, the old Zombie with the crow will be out haunting the streets of some town, this time next year.

And I just can't wait until next Halloween,
Cause I've got some new ideas that will really make them SCREAM!
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kitsilano Yarnbomb Spotted!

As you know, though I am a pathetic knitter, I love a good yarn bombing. And I especially love yarn bombers who yarn bomb trees across the street from my house, in the yard of Kitsilano Community house!
Happy Thanksgiving~!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Post Wanderlust: Where to now?

Melanie Mehrer: Wanderlust!
September 16- November 6th, 20011,
Penticton Art Gallery

It's fall and it feels like a turning point.

The closest thing to having my name in lights!
But the question is, What's next?

Quick recap: This weekend I attended the opening of my first public art gallery show at the Penticton Art Gallery alongside an artist I would list as one of my inspirations, Nick Bantock, whose retrospective took up residence in the Main Gallery. We had an extremely successful opening, And Director-Curator Paul Crawford said it was the second biggest turnout ever in his history of working at the gallery.

My Travel journals on display: The first time they've seen by the public.

"The only opening to beat you were the Tibetan Monks." He informed us over dinner.

Nick, Joyce (Nick's wife) and I decided we were okay with being beaten by Tibetan Monks. (Which if you think about it literally, is a pretty funny visual.)

The Wanderlust exhibition in the Toni Onley Gallery:
Nick's retrospective is behind the right wall in the main room.

Sometimes when I find myself in bizarre situations, I like to stop and take a mental photograph of where I am and thing of all of the experiences, moments, turn of events that brought me to these moments. Sitting with the Bantocks, at my favourite restaurant in Penticton, talking about art and yarn bombing and Tibetan Monks seems all absurdly natural. I told NIck that when I went to University in Victoria I worked in a tourist gallery that sold his stationery sets. Even though I barely had two nickels to jingle in my pocket, I bought myself a set and poured over the images. When the letters were written and the postcards sent, I put all of my important letters and postcards in that Griffin & Sabine box. If you told me back then that one day I'd be breaking bread with the Bantocks I would think you were absolutely bonkers.
Artist Melanie meets Nick Bantock. Oodles of fun! Nick and Joyce are super. If I had money to burn and knew where I'd be next September, I'd jump on their artist's retreat in Spain. (Link at bottom of the page)

Anyway, at the dinner table Nick and I chatted a lot about his alter egos, the characters in the books he writes, Griffin and Sabine and the new WasNick Blog he's been writing. He is like an animated version of his own books, slipping in and out of character as he retold stories, and shared his insights with me.

High school art student Melanie tracked down my high school art teacher and invited him to the opening. It was great to see him after all these years. I'm now four years older than he was when he was my teacher. When I was in his class, my goal in life, oddly enough, was to be a high school art teacher and have a show at the Penticton Art Gallery.

So over the course of the next few days, I started thinking about myself and my alter egos. We all have them, and truthfully, I've never given them much thought. But the opening on Friday night for me was very much a time where I slipped into a very old character- one I haven't seen in years, as I had my old classmates, my parents, my relatives and my high school art teacher all in attendance- I was the 38 year-old version of my 18 year-old self.

Cousin Melanie, Niece Melanie, and Daughter Melanie with my family.

And then there is my exhibition itself, hanging on two parallel walls, facing each other like dance partners waiting for the music to begin. Someone told my mother that if you stood in the middle and looked at both walls, the left with linocuts of Taiwan comics and the other side with paintings of Turkey and Canada, you might think there were two different artists, yet they are both me at different times of my life when different things were important and parts of my character and understanding of the world were different too.

Abu Dhabi Melanie was represented! My good friends and former coworkers Maureen and Rachel happened to be in the right hemisphere at the right time. These two were an amazing support team for me when I was really down in the Emirates and I will never forget their willingness to put up with me at that time. Cheers to you both!

It's hard to put words to it but looking at the art there on the walls made me realise that what I do is interesting and appealing, but it's also very safe. I don't usually start anything until I've thought it al the way through to it's successful state. What was that? Safe? Not usually an adjective you would associate with someone who has travelled the world over like me.
Taiwan Melanie was also at the Opening with Taiwan friend/roommate Scott and his wife Ou. Scott had to gingerly step over most of the Taiwan prints which were drying in rows on the floor of our living room for weeks. He said it was really cool to see the same images hanging on the gallery walls 12 years later.

But if one were to look closely at my art, you'd notice that there is quite a bit missing from the UAE chapter in my life. What never made the artist's talk is that I left the Emirates at the lowest point of my life and safety and contentment is what I needed at the time. And Turkey handed that to me on a big Turkish tea platter complete with tea and sugar. And so my Turkish paintings were painted out of that necessity for safety and security. The Canadian paintings have been a big part of that healing process. It didn't really hit me until I was in the middle of my artist's talk.

My high school classmates! Not only was it an opening, it was a reunion!
Very cool to see everyone and strange that twenty years have passed since I have seen some of these people. Once zitty teenagers, we are now teachers, artists, designers, wine industrineers, mature university students, scientists and computer software engineers. New versions of our past-selves.

A friend of my mother's filmed the artist's talk I gave on Saturday, and in trying to edit it I have had time to watch myself answer on-the-spot questions in the gallery without too much thought and I've had time to think about some things. If I had to answer some of those questions again, a few days later, I'm not sure I'd be so quick to answer. I still don't have answers, if fact, I'm not even sure I have questions! But something is a changing. I feel like I'm going in a new direction, and I'm not sure if it's up, down or sideways, but it certainly isn't the linear left and right path I have been on lately.

I can't categorize which Melanie I am around Paul- He knows them all. Paul Crawford, Director-Curator at the Penticton Art Gallery is also a close and personal friend who has infiltrated my university days, my Taiwan days, and is an honorary member of my family. We haven't always gotten along, and because of that, I think we have a really strong friendship. As Rumi Says, if you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?"

And then there is the present fractioning of who I am which really gets to the heart of my recent feeling of Schitzophrenia: Me as an artist, Me as a teacher, and me as a prospective Art teacher Candidate in the UBC education programme. I've been trying to imagine myself as this future art teacher, opening up students to different ideas, to be open, explore their creativity and get them moving in new directions they never thought possible.

The wall of Canada!

The wall of Taiwan!

Lucky for me, (The Grand Poobah of "Me"s,) knows that I've got time to figure out which path I'm going down next while I take this programme. Where I'll be this time next year is a giant question mark for me. Maybe I'll be teaching, maybe I'll be back living in my parent's backyard. Maybe I'll have spun off in a new direction I never anticipated. (I'm kind of liking that last idea.)

Until then, I think I'm going to put the paints away for a bit, focus on school, draw inward, and see what happens when I stop being all the "Me"s I think I need to be.

Hibernation is a covert preparation for a more overt action.
~Ralph Ellison

Links to Wanderlust! Videos on Youtube:

Wanderlust Artist's Talk:

Links to Nick Bantock:


Sunday, September 11, 2011

MyNaramata: World Travels in Gallery Exhibit!

Thanks yet again to MyNaramata & Craig Henderson for their article on my upcoming exhibit,
Wanderlust! At the Penticton Art Gallery.
You can see the article in its original form here:

Here is the article below.
Thanks, Craig! The show opens next week! See you there.


10th September 2011
World Travels in Gallery Exhibit
A Naramata artist is celebrating her first exhibit at a public art gallery.

Melanie Mehrer’s Wanderlust exhibit opens Friday evening September 16th ( 7 – 9 PM) and an artist’s talk has been scheduled for Saturday, September 17 at 1 PM at the Penticton Art Gallery.Currently, Melanie divides her time between Naramata and Vancouver, where she is completing an education degree at UBC. Upon graduation she hopes to find placement as a high school art teacher.
In the past, Melanie attended Okanagan College as a visual arts student and later transferred to the University of Victoria where she completed an honours degree in art history with a focus on Islamic art history.

Before and after her formal education, she has been a consummate traveller and artist.Melanie describes the upcoming exhibit:“This will be an overview of the work I have done over the past fourteen years. You will see LinoCut collages from Taiwan, Blankets from Shanghai, My travel journals from the Middle East, Thailand, Cambodia, Cuba, Dominican Republic and a few from India, mosques from the United Arab Emirates and my paintings from Turkey and Canada.”Read more about her background and upcoming exhibit:

In recent years, her art has been featured frequently at Café Nevermatters, and at the Naramata Christmas Craft Fair. has featured several past articles on her Naramata scenes:

Recently, Melanie wrote on her blog about her curiousity of ancient paint mediums, perhaps inspired by some of the First Nations pictographs found in Naramata:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wanderlust! Exhibition opening at the Penticton Art Gallery

Penticton Art Gallery (Toni Onley Gallery)
Melanie Mehrer: Wanderlust
Artist talk Saturday, September 17 at 1 p.m.
Opening September 16th
I'm very excited to announce my upcoming show at the Penticton Art Gallery! The Press release came out this morning and somehow it's all very surreal and real and exciting.

You can see the press release/ artist statement from the

I will be showing in the gallery next to Nick Bantock, who is the creator of the Griffin and Sabine Trilogy. I have owned all of his books and stationery sets and poured over his images in the past. I even have all of my special papers and postcards in a Griffin and Sabine box Somewhere in my boxes of things packed away for literally decades now. My travel journals, which were largely inspired by Griffin and Sabine will be on display as well. I never though tin a million years Nick Bantock would actually see them one day!

This will be an overview of the work I have done over the past fourteen years. You will see LinoCut collages from Taiwan, Blankets from Shanghai, My travel journals from the Middle East, Thailand, Cambodia, Cuba, Dominican Republic and a few from India, Mosques from the UAE and my paintings from Turkey and Canada.

So with that, I invite you to come to the opening
at the Penticton Art Gallery on
Friday, September 16th,

7-9 pm. See you there!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Little Bow-Wow Series: The Crying Girl of Kyoto!

~Edward Saywell

I'm gearing up for the big show at the Penticton Art Gallery in September. (More info to follow) but in the meantime, a month of cutting paper has finally come to an end for the "Little Crying Girl of Kyoto." It's a run of 20 artist proofs, 19 of them will hit the public soon.
(I have to keep one for myself, don't I?)

Here's how she was created:

First, I carved this block in Taiwan about ten years ago, but never had the time to print it properly. I even brought this block to Shanghai where it sat in my shelf for a few years, then in a box in Canada for a few years. When I was offered a show at the Penticton Art gallery, I went to the Okanagan, went through my boxes, and found the plates I had never printed. (More to follow! She's not the only one I haven't finished!)

So I printed her, and began collaging coloured acid-free paper over her. The pieces will be printed over one more time so it's best the colours bump up against each other instead of overlapping, because the ink has more of a change of getting where it needs to go.

Prints ready to be glued on!

This is pretty much how it's done. Yes, it's tedious.

Some pieces are reallly small!

I made twenty four collages, so to get to this stage took me about a month. Still, I have no idea how it's going to really look until I print it.

Time to bring the plate out again!
The plate itself took me a few weeks to carve out.

A non printed and a printed version.

Twenty four prints later, I have twenty nice ones and lost four.
This is to be expected with printing!

I love pulling prints off the plate. It's like Christmas!
After such a long wait Did it work? How does it look?
Yay! I like it!

Only three plates to go! But I assure you, I won't be printing 20 this time!

The Penticton Art Gallery opening is September 15th.
I hope to see you there!

Previous Blog Post on Linocuts...Click here!