Field Trip

Monday, March 18th, 2024

On a mid-December day, the last 6 icons traveled on a field trip from Lander WY to Scottsbluff Nebraska. I was met there by the Parish Priest and two parishioners from Auburn NE. We transferred the icons from one vehicle to the other in a non-ceremonial way. Off they went down the highway to their forever home. After farewell embraces, both cars heading home trying to avoid the snow storm which was in the forecast.
It was a really good day.

Gratitude

Monday, March 18th, 2024


In December 2023 fruition came after working on a long-term project. I was commissioned to write 10 icons for the altar area of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Auburn NE.

I did not take this opportunity lightly, as I know the icons will be in place for generations to come.

As I spent time writing the icons, my prayers were focused on the parishioners now and the parishioners of the future.

I had two icons that were very interesting to me. One icon was Mary punching the devil, or as the priest and I named it, Mother Mary, Protector of Souls.

The other icon image that was new to me, and possibly a figure rarely created, was Joseph’s Unnamed Mother. A figure whom we know existed, but little is known. For this reason, I partially hid her face under a thin veil of woven fabric, as to represent the mystery that surrounds this figure.

Over the few years I was working on the icons for St. Joseph’s I was having difficulty with my vision. I needed to have eye surgery more than once and also continued to have injections in one eye. At times I wondered if I would be able to finish this work entrusted to me, but with their patience and my perseverance, we reached our end goal.

Thank you to those past, present, and future of St. Joseph’s Parish for inviting this iconographer to do what she truly loves.

When winter white starts to look more like a blank canvas, there is only one thing to do,… paint the canvas.

Monday, November 27th, 2023

Thomas the Apostle Retreat Center

Friday, November 17th, 2023

Thomas the Apostle Retreat Center (TAC) is on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming. This special location is where I led an Iconography Workshop in mid-August 2023. The intensive week-long workshop focused on writing the icon, Lamb of God.

The students were all incredibly dedicated to the process, and at the end of the week, their icons revealed a Lamb of God, which was fully theirs, and reflected their beautiful individuality, and their connection to the Divine.

When the week was over, I felt like I had been reset. I hope my students felt the same.

‘Sunflowers for Solidarity’ on display at the Lander Bake Shop

Saturday, April 9th, 2022


Amanda Fehring

(Lander, WY) – Local artists of all ages came together for the “Sunflowers for Solidarity” exhibit on display at the Lander Bake Shop, which is up now through the end of April.

Sales from the show will go toward vetted relief efforts in Ukraine.

Behind the scenes is artist Melissa Strickler who shared how tickled she was with how quickly everything came together, and how supportive Bake Shop owner Angie Flint has been.

In about a week to a week and a half, we filled this place, she explained.

Read on

The First Annual John Roberts Feast Day

Monday, February 28th, 2022


The First Annual John Roberts Feast Day was held at St.David’s Episcopal Church on the Wind River Reservation. It was a glorious day celebrating the life of John Roberts who devoted 66 years of ministry to the Shoshone and Arapaho people.

The speakers for the event were: Rev. Roxanne Friday, Bishop Paul-Gordon Chandler, and Willie Le Clair, an elder of the Shoshone Tribe.

Native American drum circle, and flutist played music that filled not just the church, but filled our souls.

Bishop Chandler commissioned me to write an icon of Rev.Roberts which would be blessed on the feast day. it was beautiful to hear the blessing, and watch members of the church cedar the icon.

The afternoon ended with a traditional feast.

I am already looking forward to the 2nd John Roberts Festival.

Psalm141:2

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022

Psalm141:2It felt good the other day when I went in to one of the local financial offices and saw my art “Psalm141:2” hanging on the wall.

It was actually like running in to an old friend when I saw it.

It was a reminder to thank all who have promoted my work, or purchased my art for display either privately or publicly.

Sincerely, Thank You.

Transformed

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Christ of the Frontier, 24"x 30", Contemporary Icon Mixed Media with 23 Kt GoldImmense and majestic, sacred and transforming, that was my prayer when I was creating Christ of the Frontier.

I see Christ in those four descriptive words, and also feel they represent the spirit of Wyoming.

Our beloved state is rugged and weather can be harsh. I’ve had friends and family over the years wonder why we chose to live here, until they came for a visit. They step out of the car looking up at a clear sky and breathe in the fresh air, and breathe out all the busyness of a life spent elsewhere. Suddenly the barren wide open spaces and the wind that tried to blow their car off the road, seem almost charming. They have been transformed.

The Rt.Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler commissioned me to create artwork for his Ordination and Consecration to be held on February 13, 2021. The Bishop -Elect asked for the art to represent Christ on the frontier. We discussed what needed to be included to represent Wyoming, and I then started sketching an image, fusing the holy with the wilderness.

Christ is the heart of the artwork, with God’s ever-changing Western Sky in the background. Included is the Grand Tetons, Bison in the grasslands, Sage with Indian Paint Brush, Eagle feathers –symbolic of connection with the Creator. Also Wyoming’s natural resources are represented by the mining symbol in Christ’s nimbus. There’s a map of Wyoming in the foreground with the buttes, valleys, mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, roads, cities, and towns. As I collaged the map on the wood I imagine traveling those roads, visiting the towns and chatting with its locals. Lastly in the lower left of the painting is what looks like a building that has seen better days, but this rustic landmark is significant to the Episcopal Church in Wyoming. The building is the Mission House, the oldest standing Episcopal Church in Wyoming. The stories the Mission House could tell if only the walls could talk. I encourage all who travel through the Wind River Indian Reservation to take time to visit this holy ground.

Christ of the Frontier is mixed media, a fusion of oil paint, 23kt gold, wood, paper, and prayers. Just as the Mission House still stands to tell a story of Christ on the frontier, I hope this Contemporary Icon tells a story of Christ with us here in Wyoming, transformed.

God’s Peace, Melissa Strickler

Radiation Mask – Transformed

Monday, November 9th, 2020

A young man, who I have basically known from the day he was born asked me to paint his mask,… his radiation mask that he wore during his radiation treatments to attack and destroy a cancer I can’t even pronounce.

This strange sterile looking object arrived in the mail, and I didn’t know where to start. Like so many who have had treatments during this time of the pandemic, it has adds an extra layer of difficulty, and the days of someone being there, and holding your hand is out the window.

I had to imagine where my own mind would need to go, while being anchored to a table for several minutes day after day, after day.

Personally I would want to envision color, light, a garden, words of encouragement, and so on.

That is what inspired “The Place the Mind Must Go”.
Healing and Peace for Joe.

A Toast to Esther!

Monday, April 6th, 2020

It was an honor to be awarded Best of Show at the Women’s Suffrage Exhibition.
But I think the best moment was when we were at the opening and all the women were wearing white, raising and waving our hands in a moment of solidarity.

Esther Hobart Morris is one of many strong women who we owe a toast, a thought-filled thank you,…but even more we need to follow their footsteps.
There is a cause which leads to equality that I am sure tugs on your heartstrings.
The road can be long, tedious, and at times feel futile, even worse some changes we might not see in our life time,
but what if those determined, gutsy women would not have pursued their dream for true equality, where would we be today? I don’t want to go there.
Here’s to you Esther!

Heading Home

Monday, April 6th, 2020

Heading Home Melissa Strickler

The Four Gospel Icons have headed to their home,….a Catholic Church in Nebraska.
Writing these icons were a labor of love, and they are filled with prayers for the parishioners.
May they bring peace and hope to those who see them, especially in this difficult time in our country.

Plein Air in Plain Site

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019


I am challenging myself to more plein air painting this coming year. I hope to tell you, and show you by this time next year that I stuck to this challenge.

I am surrounded by natural beauty in warm, cold, bitter-cold, and windy weather. There is no reason I don’t do more painting on site,..I own a coat!

The paintings might need the finishing touches on them once I am back indoors, but I am going for it. Wish me luck.

Art on The Green

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Mid-August I had the privilege to participate in an art competition/exhibit in Green River, Wyoming.
It was the 15th Annual Art on the Green, a 24 hour competition.

In the 24 hours you have to work you must complete the artwork, and have it ready to exhibit,… framed, etc…
The level of talent at the show was amazing, and I was so pleased to be in this large room surrounded by such talent.

Shawna Pickinpaugh, one of my fellow Alchemy Artists Cooperative members was along side me working on her incredible
Qwink artwork ( check her work out ). Green River is Shawna’s old stomping ground, where she taught at one time, and several of her past students, now successful artists were also competing.

This was not just 2D work, but also 3D, so the sculptors were hard at it. It was hard not to watch others painting or sculpting.

I was tearing and gluing at a quick speed needed to finish my work in the allotted time, but I did it, with a little time to spare. It was really challenging and fun.
Once you were finished, your art was ready for a silent auction.

The Green River Arts Council hosted a lovely banquet afterward, where the the 3 judges were introduced.
I was pleased to receive 3rd Place in Artists Choice, and also 3rd place in Judges Choice in the 2D category.

I don’t know what next year hold for me in August, but if I am available I would love to be back in Green River, at Art on The Green.

As Nike Says…

Thursday, 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?

Tuesday, 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……

Tuesday, 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

Friday, 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?

Friday, 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

Friday, 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

Wednesday, 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
818-642-0305