ABOUT PAINTINGS FOR OAKLEY
ME & OAKLEY
As it stands
My name is Melanie and I’m the woman behind Paintings for Oakley. Everything I create is dreamt up in a small town in-between Staffordshire and Cheshire. I work in the Stoke-on-Trent ceramic sector, I’m married to a synthesizer addict, I’m mother to a baby girl, a sassy 3-year-old girl, stepmum to an 8-year-old boy and catmum of four. I love being in the outdoors with my family, watching them all be weird and wonderful together. I play a bit of guitar. I’m also involved with animal activism, protesting fox hunts and patrolling in badger cull zones.
Essentially, a part of me that is never obvious to the outside world, is the fact that I have a son, Oakley, who I carry in my heart. We lost Oakley due to ‘intrauterine fetal demise’. In other words, he was stillborn. He would be 4-years-old now. He’d probably have dark hair and olive skin like his daddy. He’d probably have a long list of nicknames stemming from funny anecdotes and incidents, none of which I could tell you now. Oakley didn't get to live the life he was given, but he is in my thoughts every single day and his legacy lives on. Some may consider it strange or taboo to talk about a stillborn child, but I am still proud of him. He deserves to be remembered. He is a part of me I could never disown or ignore. I talk about him because I love him and I always will.
HOW & WHY
Painting became the answer
I always loved art as a young person, but since I started reading History of Art at University and then entering the workplace, I didn’t really pick up a paintbrush again. That was until March 2017, two months after we lost Oakley.
I suppose it was a sliding doors moment. In those very dark days, getting out of the house and into the normal world again was really tough. I just walked around in a bubble, soulless, numb, on autopilot. Get up. Get dressed. Drink coffee. Stare into the log burner. I really didn’t know what to do with myself. Television and radio were too jolly. I couldn’t concentrate on a book.
One of my first outings was to Hanley's cultural quarter where my husband took me to my favourite vegan café. We also popped into The Art Department, a small independent shop, just for a browse, but I saw a Winsor and Newton paint palette on offer and it came home with me. What else was I going to do on maternity leave with no baby to look after?
That afternoon I did my first painting. It wasn't a masterpiece I'll admit but it was the start of a healing journey and something I now really enjoy. There is something very therapeutic about using watercolours. Diluting the paint, washing the brushes, flooding the page- it is all very methodical and soothing. Painting has provided a way for me to be reflective, creative and calm. It encourages me to use my imagination and can bring peace to a storm raging within.
After several months of sharing my work online, I began to get requests for watercolours and unintentionally I found myself making tributes for babies. Wreaths, symbols, special wording and flowers all became prominent features in each request.
WHERE INSPIRATION COMES FROM
& the creative process
I’d love to say it comes from all the exotic holidays and adventures I go on (fake news)! In truth, inspiration can come from the very mundane: a flick through a magazine, a walk in the woods, a stroll through the wallpaper section in B&Q, a scroll on Pinterest.
I love the satisfaction in looking back and seeing your own progression and improvement. This can be applied to most hobbies. The great reward comes in practicing and seeing results. Anyone can do it- you don’t need hours, just dedicate 10 minutes every day to doing something you love. We’re seeing more and more the importance of self-care or mindfulness.
THE BEESWAX WRAP CO.
I was delighted to have created a design for the Beeswax Wrap Company – a company with a genuine care for the earth and the people and animals on it.
My first design for the Beeswax Wrap Company (pictured left) came from a number of places; my love of oak leaves and acorns – icons of Paintings for Oakley. The design was transformed into a fabulous print for their bestselling medium Beeswax Wrap Pack, from which the Beeswax Wraps Company donated 10% of all sales to Sands. Sands is a stillbirth and neonatal death charity providing invaluable support to families around the country. The design is now discontinued but we are proud to have donated over £2000 to Sands.
THE NATIONAL TRUST
'BEAUTIFUL WATERCOLOURS IN A VERY DISTINCTIVE STYLE. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.'