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establishment all year long. This was not true last winter. Days turned into weeks that passed without a single person enter-ing through our doors. My soul grew weary and hope dimin-ished. I began to dread going into work each day.

In an attempt to make productive use of my time there, I turned to my love of painting and creating to fill my days. Desperate for the sights and sounds of early spring, I did something unusual for me as an artist.

I abandoned my typical abstract ways of working and exchanged it for more representational subject matter that seemed to lighten my own spirit.

First came a series of radiantly colored butterflies, followed by whimsical birds, frogs, turtles and trees. Somehow in the midst of one of the worst winters in our history, my heart sprung fresh hope through these new creations. A renewed purpose was birthed within me and joy had returned.

As seasons go, even that dreaded long winter passed. Eventually, people returned to the streets of Uptown. Much to my surprise, customers welcomed my new approach to art making. So much so, that my little critters were being sold much faster than my traditional abstract paintings. Today, I continue to work back and forth between using both abstract methods and more representational imagery. Perhaps something lasting and wonderful came through that dreaded winter season. In hindsight, I realize it helped to forge a new path of growth and discovery within me as an artist. For that, I am grateful.

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Natalie Wetzel , The Pod, Uptown Normal, 104 East Beaufort Street, Normal, IL 617 61 • https://www.facebook.com/ShopThePod

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