By Ryah Cooley
She had never painted—not really—and her hands were slowly getting weaker each and every day.
Melodie Jordan had some leftover paint from finishing her Atascadero home. Within five months both her mom and niece had died, and she didn't know what do with all her grief and sadness. So she picked up the can of paint, a brush, and an old painting bought from Goodwill, and got to work. The end result was a tempestuous sea landscape filled with calming shades of teal and blue alongside stormy blacks and grays. Several years later, Jordan is now a full-time professional artist who has never taken a lesson.
In the midst of her heartbreak, Jordan said a voice inside told her, "I'm going to be your joy and your peace."
So far that statement is holding true. Aside from being self-taught, painting simply shouldn't be easy for Jordan, who has a form of muscular dystrophy in her hands, making many tasks difficult.
"I can hold a paintbrush, but putting the caps back on is hard," Jordan said. "Painting has brought me so much joy. I don't feel pain when I'm in my studio and I'm painting. It's a trip."
Pieces by Jordan and other artists from the Paso Robles Art Association are currently on display as part of the Contrast show at Studios on the Park, with artists delivering contrast in all forms: photography, sculpture, glasswork, mixed media, painting, pastels, and digital art.
Jordan often brings a multimedia aspect to her acrylic paintings, using artifacts like sand, beads, and puzzle pieces to create texture and contrast in the work. In her piece Ebb and Flow, Jordan makes use of contrast by painting two waves, one filled with blues, whites, and grays, the other composed of reds, yellows, and blues, with sand creating texture and depth at different sections of the waves. In the painting Golden Autumn, a grove of treetops appear busy and full from the use of beads, while their skinny painted trunks stand in stark comparison.
"Out of sadness and sorrow, it felt like a gift that was given to me," Jordan said of her relatively new craft. "None of it makes sense to me, but I'm riding a wave and I love it."
Jordan, who said she is inspired by her faith as a Christian, primarily creates abstract, impressionistic landscapes. She prays before beginning each piece, turns on some soothing music, mixes her paints, and thinks, "Just show me what to paint."
Soon, Jordan will need to use leg braces to move around, but she still has no plans to stop painting.
"I paint because I get a chance to tell people what happened to me," Jordan said. "It's a love, an amazing all-over goodness." Δ
Arts Writer Ryah Cooley is exploring the subtle differences between shimmer and glitter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Contrast exhibition, put on by the Paso Robles Art Association, will be on display at Studios on the Park downtown through Oct. 3. Visit studiosonthepark.org for more information and details.