It's been ages since I've run an artist profile, but there is no better way to jumpstart 2014 than with today's featured artist.
Before we launch into Ellen's biography, I want to share an astonishing fact. Ellen has not missed a single swap since she discovered MMSA in September of 2012. That's 54 consecutive swaps. 54!!!!
Chances are, if you've done a few swaps with us here, you've had the pleasure of receiving Ellen's work. And if you're
nosy curious like me, you've wondered "who is this lovely woman and how can I learn more about her?"
Without further ado, here's Ellen in her own words:
(I took the liberty of sprinkling examples of her MMSA work throughout the post)
Hi, I am Ellen MikaBrown. I have lived in Williamsburg, Virginia for almost 16 years with my family and will have been married 35 years in August. My husband is retired from the U.S. Air Force and NASA, Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Previous to that we lived in Decatur, Alabama for 14 years, while he was at NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. Before that it was Tennessee and before that Michigan. Dick is from Michigan and I was born in Savannah, Georgia, although I moved around a lot over the years – 18 times or so – it is all a blur.
|Round postcard swap 4/8/13|
Our daughter, Anna, was born in Decatur. I was an older first pregnancy maternity patient, as my OB-GYN referred to me. I felt like a bloated freaky experiment most of the time, but it was well worth it – probably more than you wanted to know! My daughter will soon be 25 years old and is a private pilot and aviation mechanic with her own business, RAB Aviation Services. She is hoping to build a hangar for her business in West Point, Virginia this year. Presently, she is sharing space in a hangar at Dinwiddie County Airport in Petersburg, Virginia. She is studying for her instrument and commercial ratings. Anna and her Dad do aerial photography and Dick has a collection of over 7000 aircraft photos. Anna and a friend are planning to go into an aviation flight school and charter business soon. It is complicated, but I am sure it will all work out. She is amazing and the best thing that has ever happened to me. She also scares the sense out of me regularly with her flying antics. A recent trip to Galesburg, Illinois in an open cockpit Stearman with another friend is an example. It was a 13 hour trip one way with moving commentary, “here I am flying over the Ohio River. You can see it way down there!” Oh well, I told her to go for her dream...
|Purple postcard swap 8/26/13|
I am sure that you are wondering why I am giving you all this information, but it all plays into making me the person I am, so bear with me a little longer.
I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte so many years ago with a psychology/sociology major and a handy dandy certification in education. I tried teaching (my grandmother’s dream) for awhile and although I loved the kids, it just did not fit. Since then, I have worked and volunteered in a lot of different career fields – jack of all trades, master of none. I am in fact, still wondering what I will be when I grow up. My favorite job was writing an activity and creating column for a local parenting magazine in Alabama for about 10 years. When my daughter entered middle school, I started working as a pagination designer at The Virginia Gazette, the oldest printed newspaper in the original 13 colonies. I resigned in 2011, after another 10 years, to take care of some family issues out of state. By the time I returned, downsizing and the downward spiraling of newspapers had eliminated my previous job. I am now working with my daughter in her aviation business as a bill collector, negotiator, correspondent and a weird type of surgical assistant, locating tools during airplane repairs. I know a lot more about airplanes and tools than I ever have in my life, so another career field has appeared. I never envisioned myself being a grease monkey assistant, but you never know what life is going to throw your way. My main concern is not walking into the props, but I do love flying. “Resistance was futile, I was assimilated.”
|Fall postcard swap 9/22/12|
I have been an avid reader all my life, particularly mysteries. I also write poetry (I started writing haikus as a meditation technique and I love it) and my favorite, “writing my way through life” journals. Most get shredded, because, let’s face it, friends and family do not always get along and I do not want to leave the journals behind, in case I get hit by a meteorite! My greatest loss was leaving one of my journals in the airport in Amsterdam several years ago. A big chunk of my life was in that journal and I am still grieving.
|Trees postcard swap 9/9/13|
We have two cats and they are very special, because they "rescued" us, when we visited our local animal shelter six years ago. Piper is 9 and an orange tabby and Pippin is 12 and a ragdoll Siamese, the “P” boys! Pippin was raised with a dog, before we adopted him, so he barks when the doorbell rings – freaky! They make me laugh and we have a lot of "awww" moments. It is like looking into the soul of a big cat, but in a domestic, gallon sized version – miniature mountain lions. There was a special, “two cats for the price of one" deal on the day they adopted us, so we could not resist. We had just lost our elderly Siamese and I was just going to visit and came home with two cats. That was a great day. And then, there is also, Charley, our 16 year old cockatiel, who was also a rescue. She is very sweet, can tell time and loves to hang upside down from her perches and scream.
|Black and white postcard swap - 9/29/12|
Art has always been my “craziness” therapy, getting me through a lot of stuff, ever since my mom sent me to painting classes when I was eight to help me express myself, when I found out we were moving for the umpteenth time. My dad worked for the government - ATF and as soon as the bookshelves were installed, we were moving again. I did not like my painting teacher. She reminded me of my first grade teacher who kept yelling at me to not color outside the lines. In addition to the painting, I have made baskets out of pine needles, reed, cotton cording and fabric, knitted, done embroidery, made rugs out of fabric and painted canvas, needlepoint, floral arrangements (my mom enrolled me in a class), quilting, sewing, tatting, collage, photography, stained glass, candle making, soap making and well, you get the picture. My problem has always been that you can only display so much of your art, then you start gifting it (neighbors, teachers, family and friends) and finally, it ends up at yard sales or donated to the thrift store. When my mother-in-law sold a rug and placemats that I had worked on “forever”, at a yard sale, I decided I was done with random art creation and gifting. Too much heart and soul was sold that day.
|Postal themed ATC swap - 8/5/13|
Speaking of yard sales, we started downsizing several years ago, because of the desire to move to a smaller house, with one level because of my husband’s 5 back surgeries and my hatred of housework, particularly dusting. I am also trying to embrace the minimalist movement, so we sold the house of many stairs and moved to smaller accommodations. Unfortunately, I did not downsize enough, so I am still donating. Presently, I am going through the many boxes of holiday“stuff”. How I ended up with 6 nativity scenes is beyond me and 5 tree toppers for one tree! But I digress – frequently!
|Non-paper postcard swap 6/17/13|
Several years ago I returned to art by altering playing cards, because I could “make art” in a day and it took my mind off my daughter moving out of state (she is back now). I read about it online and it was something I could do just for myself. Then I found Postcrossing and starting sending postcards around the world. I am often reminded how small our world really is and I have met so many interesting people and learned about a lot of fascinating places. I have also run across a few “cranks”, but such is life – recent response to a postcard I had sent – did not like it, did not like paintings, did not like the artist and I should have looked at his site to see the cards he likes – sooo sorry. Along the way, I found MMSA, when I participated in The Sketchbook Project. They had a link to the lost art of letter writing and they lead me to Mail Me Some Art. I started making mail art, which I find very challenging and a lot of fun and the rest is history. It forces me to work outside the lines and has introduced me to a lot of awesome techniques and interesting artists. I am in awe of the other art I see and receive in my mail box. Sometimes my insecurities come out and I think I will stop until I get better, but if I stop, I will never get better, so on I go – some amazing and some not so amazing. I am a work in progress. I am so appreciative of the encouragement I have received on this journey. I love the art I get in my mailbox and I have a rotating art display to admire. I have participated in some other swaps and I am always glad to see familiar names – it is really a small world we spin in. I am so glad to be part of this wonderful group and I will see you at the swaps!
|Blue postcard swap 1/21/13|
Thank you for sharing your story, Ellen, and for being such an active part of this community.
It's so lovely to know more about you. - Karen
Want to share your story? (please?)
Click here for the details on how to do it.
Click here for the very convincing list of reasons you should share your story with us.
Click here for the list of other brave artists we've featured.