As Nike Says…

June 27th, 2019

Garden Party ShowJust do it.

My imagination leads me to see what I want to create, but how to make it happen can be be a different matter.

I pictured this mosaic with ceramic flowers, titled Ring of Posies for over a year, knowing I wanted to make it for the Garden Party Show.

It came together, but not without a few mishaps, but in the end I was pleased with the finished work.
Will I make more? You bet. Will I not wait to finish it until a week before an exhibition? Definitely.

What is a garden party to you?

June 4th, 2019

The Lander Art Center has asked the four artists to give their Artist Statement for the Garden Party Exhibition.

The question was asked to us, “What is a garden party to you?”

Keeper of the Garden, Oil on Aluminum, 30"x 30"

Melissa Strickler – Artist Statement

Grandmother’s red Cana Lilies growing through her rickety fence, with lightening bugs dancing all around,… this is my image of a Garden Party.

Grandpa’s multi-color Zinnias, thick and waist high lining the outside of his gas station, and customers picking some flowers to take home with them,…this is my image of a Garden Party.

Mother’s bright orange Poppies waving gently in the wind, and the purple Iris releasing their spicy scent in the air as the evening sun sets on a sky of coral,…this is my image of a Garden Party.

Dad’s determined spirit to grow roses in soil that was un-forgiving, and always taking time to push his kids, and then grandkids in the well-worn wheelbarrow,…this is my image of a Garden Party.

Along with my husband, I watch as our honeybees methodically extract nectar from the flowers, and retrieve pollen, then back to the hives they go.

They don’t mind us, and we are intrigued by them. This is my image of a Garden Party.

The colors, scent, and sounds of gardens and gardeners I have known inspired my work for this exhibition.

Take a moment and close your eyes, and visit a long forgotten garden.

The Higher the Hair the Closer to God, Well Then……

March 19th, 2019

Okay, I like that saying, especially when it is attached to an image of Dolly Parton, because we all love Dolly.

Lately I have been working on a big piece of art, and it has been so much fun. It is one of my mixed media pieces, collage along with oil paint.
It has been a little bit like playing Twister as I have worked on it.
On more than one occasion my one-foot balancing has not gone well, and I have found my foot in paint. Humbled, I then hop off the canvas.
Oh well, just another paint and glue mess to clean.

I love working on detailed work,… basically working until yours eyes can’t focus on anything more than 2 feet in front of you (iconographer’s will understand this). BUT, I also love working on big, and even bigger art, where tiny details don’t matter, but instead I have to challenge myself to see the big picture, literally.

So, if The Higher the Hair, the Closer to God, well then the bigger I work, the closer to heaven. That’s what it feels like to me.

The Garden Party Exhibition, coming June 7 – July 20, 2019

A lesson we should all live by

March 8th, 2019

A lesson we should all live by.

A few weeks back I was asked by the pastor of the church I attend to help with the children’s sermon. He asked if I would color some pictures, this of course was right up my alley.

The first image we showed the kiddos was the untouched one, letting them ponder how they would color it. The second image was how the pastor imagined he would color it, trying to be good at staying in the lines, and using the “correct” colors.

Then he told the kids he had a friend that it was difficult for her to stay in the lines, and thought outside the box. Then we showed them the last coloring page, bright, busy, colorful and definitely more interesting. The kids as if on cue said ” Cool!”

You could easily see which one caught their eye.The Pastor went on to say, Yes, it’s okay to color in the lines and be safe with the things you choose, such as the colors, but isn’t it more interesting, exciting, and just plain fun to color outside the lines. Just as your life will be richer and colorful, and more fulfilling if you live outside your lines.

A lesson we should all live by.

Dream Team Master’s Painting,…hmm?

March 8th, 2019

Dream Team Masters Painting

Several months ago I had the opportunity to work with four other artists on a painting,…well kind of.

We were at an art and music festival in Lander called Riverfest, put on by the Lander Art Center.
Myself along with the other four artists,…Nick Thornburg, Rosie Ratigan, Sally Watt, and JC Dye, were approached about painting 1 1/2 hours on the piece of art, one after the other.

We did not discuss or even visit for a moment about a plan, we wanted to keep it unexpected. The combination of art flowed together, well like oil and water.

Okay, I don’t think it is a masterpiece, but it was fun and enjoyable, and it was a great day working with artists I truly respect.

Art in the HeArt of Wyoming

March 8th, 2019

Art in the HeArt of Wyoming
This past winter I had the awesome experience of hanging with the 2nd and 3rd grade art students and their groovy talented teachers at Gannett Peak Elementary in Lander Wyoming.

My love of collage is what I shared with the kids, and it was great to see them dive in and embrace the tearing and pasting of paper. These young students are gifted by an extraordinary art program at their school.

Art is something Fremont County doesn’t shy away from, and the results are evident as the students advance to the upper grades and learn more advanced techniques.

PALS (Promoting Art in Lander Schools) is an organization in Lander which brings artists of all genres
in to the schools to educate the kids. PALS is a program I have participated in for several years, and am hopeful that more programs like this can be planted and grow budding artists, as in our very fortunate community.

Boiler Room Barn Ministry

December 12th, 2018

Boiler Room Barn Ministry

Recently I heard from an old friend, who was catching me up with what’s new in his life. It seems like a lot actually, as he shared about a new ministry in an old barn, yep, a barn.
The other news was Jesus was there at the barn. Jesus, the one I am writing about is a collage I created about 13 years ago, for a Good Friday Church Service. This piece of art was
raw and real, and it was powerful as I worked on it.

Jesus wound up in Bill’s office, and then after time Bill ( along with Jesus) moved from Texas to California, and then to New Hampshire, where the art is now displayed at the Boiler Room Barn Ministry.

After all the time on the road Jesus has a few new creases, less crown of thorns, etc… but hopefully still has the spirit I tried to apply as I glued each scrap of paper, each image, each prayer.

It is nice when you set your work free, you never know where it might wind up,…it could surprise you.

If you ever pass through a small town called Epping, New Hampshire look for the Boiler Room Barn Ministry, I know you will be blessed by stepping inside. Jesus will be waiting, creased and broken.

Boiler Room Barn Ministry
Epping, New Hampshire

Artist Studio Tour

November 6th, 2018

Artist Studio Tour, August 5 2018

Recently some of the ALCHEMY Artists invited the public for a studio tour.

It was a great afternoon where the artists opened up our personal studio spaces so those interested could come see where and how we work.

The turn out of folks which visited our studios was awesome, and all of the Alchemy members that participated enjoyed it, and we felt like all those who attended had a good time too.

Eclipse Chasers,…Really?

August 30th, 2017

Eclipse Chasers,...Really?
We were more than a little fortunate to be in the Path of Totality in Lander for the Great American Eclipse 2017.

The preparation was a group effort in all the communities throughout the country to pull off the 10s of 1000s of people that flooded in to small cities, and even smaller towns. I must admit it was work, and we wondered if the hype of a total solar eclipse was really all it was cut out to be. I have seen a partial eclipse, and I am sure I thought it was interesting, but was it memorable? To be honest I can’t remember.

We heard about Eclipse Chasers, even met some. Folks that just have to see one more total solar eclipse, and then another. Really?
Isn’t one enough? I was just excited I would get to experience one in my life time, and glad I wasn’t going to need to travel to see it.

As people flooded in to our small town, for the most part they were giddy with anticipation. Everyone was in a celebratory state, and all of us who live here was ready for the event to come to fruition, with only a few hazy clouds forecast.

The morning of the Eclipse we were prepared,…snacks, drinks, and perched on a hilltop with a perfect view.
Sporting our bedazzled eclipse glasses, we waited and watched. The partial was interesting, and worth watching no doubt, but then it all changed. When totality happened and we took off our glasses, whatever my small group thought it would be like, we were all wrong, It was so much more.

I am not going to go in to any detail of the full-on experience, because there are no words I could muster that could even start to express how we felt. I will say it was bonding. We shared something in that moment that made you feel so very small, but also part of something very, very big.

Before the sun was shining fully we were discussing Eclipse Chasers. Actually we were discussing about becoming one. Eclipse Chasers,…Really!!!

…and then there was darkness

July 14th, 2017

Get ready for the eclipse with Lander Art Center!

Great American Eclipse 2017
Exhibition Opening Friday, July 14 6-8pm at Lander Art Center

artwork by Luke Anderson, Laramie, WY

Join Lander Art Center for the opening of our newest exhibition! View the work of 23 artists from around the state and see how each interprets the upcoming solar eclipse through their chosen medium. Enjoy wine and appetizers and find out which pieces judges Jerry Antolik, Suki Smaglik, and Melissa Strickler voted Best in Show, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place! Great American Eclipse 2017 will run from July 14th through August 26th.

As always we would greatly appreciate donations of food for the opening.

We hope to see you there!

A Cooperative, It’s Not a Job, It’s an Adventure

November 30th, 2016

ALCHEMY the artists’ cooperative that I am part of has survived our first year, and it has been good.

There has been a big learning curve, which has been okay, because it has taught us a lot about ourselves, our art, and our community. The community in which I live is diverse for a small town in Wyoming. Lander supports the arts, and they have supported ALCHEMY: an artists’ cooperative. The tourists that come through Lander and our gallery have been from all over the world, and they have been a pleasure to visit. But it is always our home town folks that keep it real. They show up to see our new work, and partake in our goofy gatherings.

Some of our original artists have had to leave us (life gets in the way), and new artists will come and fill the shelves and walls with their goods. Through it all ALCHEMY hopefully will still be here next year,..sharing art in small town America.

Studio Visitors

November 30th, 2016


I am fortunate to live where wildlife is abundant. More than not I can glance out my studio window and see wildlife somewhere in the distance. But on occasion I will have a shadow cast upon my artwork. When I turn to look I find I have a visitor peering inside my studio. Inspiration can be right out my window,…hopefully the same for you.

A Smooth Beginning

October 5th, 2016

There is always something about the process of art which feeds me.

I just really love preparing icon boards. The mixing of the rabbit skin glue with the marble dust, and applying layer after layer of the gesso is just plain fun.

I know I can buy already prepared boards, and believe me I do from time to time, but I always like the ones I have prepared the best.
Now the hand sanding has been always time consuming, and let me know that I was a long way from perfection in this skill set.

Recently my husband ordered me a great electric sander, which brought me into this century
I will admit it is truly better to be covered in a white dusting for three hours, instead of for three days, and well, ..the results are awesome.

“The Bridge” Exhibition

October 4th, 2016

“The Bridge” Exhibition which started in Paris France well over a year ago, is winding down in Wyoming. This show has traveled around the world and the U.S. and Lander was one of the fortunate locations on the roster.

The meaning of this art exhibition touches me personally as I have in my travels and a few years spent in the Middle East found a love for mixed cultures and beliefs. We do all have a lot more in common than we have differences. The Bridge is just that,..a bridging of the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish faiths.

Lander will have had 5 events in honor of this exhibition by mid October, and it was a pleasure to assist on the evening of the Art Crawl, and an honor to have my icons displayed at one of the locations.

One event was a showing of “Blue Like Me”, a movie about artist Siona Benjamin and her life as a Jewish Indian. Check out this film. Siona was one of the artists that traveled to Wyoming.

Here I am wrapped in one of Siona’s beautiful shawls.
Hopefully the message depicted in the art from this exhibition will linger,…a message of Peace to All.

Check out:


April 13th, 2015

Cook Naked, It Is..., 40"x 60" - SoldThe CLICK! Conference will be held in Cody, Wyoming this weekend. I will be attending and I am looking forward to the entire weekend. There will be guest speakers, hands on sessions, gallery walk, a tour of Harry Jackson’s studio,…and more. I know I will be inspired by the folks presenting, but I’ll also be inspired by the other attendees.

I will be one of the 20:20 presenters. 20 pieces of my art on a powerpoint presentation, with 20 seconds to talk about each piece. I’ve never even seen a 20:20 presentation, so this will be a challenge.

Storytellers @ The Lander Art Center

August 27th, 2014

Thank you to the Lander Art Center for the photos

The Lander Art Center will host the artist invitational “Storytellers: Spencer Bohren, Melissa Strickler and Do Palma”. The opening will be September 26th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM. A concert by Spencer Bohren will follow the art opening. Storytellers will run through September 26th – November 1st, 2014. For info on the other artists I highly recommend you check out their work at: and I am honored my art will be displayed with their work at the Lander Art Center, 224 Main Street, Lander, Wyoming. Come join us on September 26th for a great evening. For more about this show or other opportunities at LAC you may contact them at: 3073325772 or go to

Peace Pole

January 20th, 2014

DSC_0014 (343x515)DSC_0015 (515x343)Earlier this winter I was making a run for the studio when the Peace Pole caught my eye. I hadn’t noticed it for a while ( I hate to admit this), but on this particular day it jumped out at me.

It seemed so stark with the white background of winter, reminding me to shout out a prayer for peace. “Peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.” immediately crossed my mind.

A few years ago a friend of mine told me about the Peace Pole Project, and showed me his. I loved the idea of having this on our property, so this kind person made me one in his woodworking shop.

I chose the languages I wanted on the four sides. This shouldn’t have been stressful, but it was for some reason. Picking places that represent people I am particularly drawn to was difficult, since I lived in the Middle East at one time, plus love to travel and explore different cultures, there just seemed to not be enough “sides” on the pole to suit me. Oh, well.

What is a Peace Pole?  A Peace Pole is a handcrafted monument that displays the message and prayer “May Peace Prevail On Earth”. There are tens of thousands of Peace Poles in 180 countries. They are reminders for us to visualize and pray for world peace. Oh, what a wonderful world it would be.

Check out:

peace my friends, Melissa


Van Gogh in the Heartland

October 23rd, 2013

DSC_0220DSC_0221“Not All Who Wander Are Lost”  I have a T-shirt with those words printed on it, and for me they summerize accurately how I like to travel.

I have been away for several weeks, and recently made the trip back home to Wyoming.  I like driving, and prefer driving on the roads less traveled.

The out-of-the-way roads and highways seem to usually win over the busier interstate. There is a re-connectiveness to America as I pass through the countrysides, and towns, and I always seem to glean some artistic inspiration along the way.

The news programs are full of negativity about our nation,…..bickering politicians blaming the apposing side for failed this, and failed that in our country.

My recent road trip was like a breath of fresh air, and a good reminder to me that whatever mess is on Capitol Hill, it does not represent the rest of us.

I found America to be well and thriving. The farmers were in full-on harvest mode, the children were waving from the school buses, the main streets were lined

with pumpkins and scarecrows, the football teams were on the practice fields, and it seemed every community had it’s unique calling card,…which brings me to Goodland, Kansas.

Goodland is a place I would have expected sunflowers, but not Van Gogh’s sunflowers, but there they were,… let’s just say bigger than life.

I hope sometime soon you will have a day to wander, and may the sights you see give you inspiration.

Bee Goddess buzz

August 14th, 2013

lavenderbeeA Farmer’s Market is always a great part of summer and fall, and this year is no exception. I’ve had Bee Goddess products at our local Farmer’s Market recently. It is a delight to be there with the other vendors. There is everything from gourmet popcicles (favorite flavors of mine are lavender-blueberry-lemonade, and toasted coconut-strawberry), bouquets of fresh flowers, apple pies, four-berry jam, hot wheat bread, pepper jelly, ground bison ( it is Wyoming, you know!), and of course scores and scores of wonderful, good-for-you-produce.  It is great experience to have my Honey-Kissed Lipbalm, Sea Salt Scrub, and all over body Balm purchased from the local folks. I hope they all benefit from the great moisturizing and healing properties of the products.

Some other great news is Global Arts, located downtown Lander, also has Bee Goddess products available year round. So when the weather turns cool, and fall and winter weather takes a toll on your skin, make sure to check out Bee Goddess products at the Global and visit with the new owner, Emily.

The photograph is one of my honey bees checking out our lavender.

Hoping you make time to stop by a Farmer’s Market this summer, is good for your soul.

Finished, or is it?

June 29th, 2013

DSC_0040_0 DSC_0037_0 DSC_0025_2Once finished, an icon should then be blessed.  It is a sacred moment to see your icon, which you have worked on so heartfelt and carefully,  be anointed and prayed over.  There is a sense of peace that is felt.  The icon with it’s human made imperfections mysteriously expresses the perfect world of the kingdom of heaven. The icons created by the students, and  communal icon created by myself and my teaching partner/ friend, seem to have a melding of God’s strength, peace, and protection shining through Saint Michael.

At the end of the last day we had our icons blessed at a lovely outdoor sanctuary. The pastor who presided over the service was inspired with the words spoken, as he anointed each icon .  This was my favorite part of the workshop,…seeing each individual come together not just with their labor of love, but with each other during such a precious moment in time. There was a stillness and peace on each face at the service.

Is an icon finished at this point? Well in a physical way,..yes. But in a spiritual way,…it has just started. Over the years ( centuries would be nice), it will have many a person gaze at it, ponder in front of it, and lift prayers to God before it.  Peace be with you this day.