Melissa Middleton is a self-taught artist who works in ceramics and pastel drawing. She is the impetus behind Awakenings, through which she practices energy healing and bodywork, and provides coaching and instruction in the “people’s” meditation. Melissa enjoys exploring the interplay between art and spirituality in both her professional and personal lives.
Melissa has been teaching and facilitating group endeavors for twenty years. The intention behind all of her work is to assist healing and empower people to develop their own creative inspiration and personal practice.
Melissa can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; by phone: (906) 236-4433 ; or via Facebook: AwakeningsMarquette
Short video clip of Melissa’s work at The100DayProject exhibit at Peter White Public Library in November 2013:
My 100DayProject exploration was about assessing the extent to which a disciplined daily commitment affected my art making and other areas of my life, specifically wellness and spiritual practice. I set the intention to allow and observe how my dish making project and my teaching and practice of meditation inform and reflect each other.
My intention was to mindfully create clay dishes while contemplating the idea of offering myself and my gifts to the world without attachment to outcome – of being of service at each moment. For this reason, I call these dishes “mindful moments”.
1. Make clay dishes using the pinch pot technique each day for 108 consecutive days.
2. Work for at least five minutes, up to an hour each day.
3. Make as many clay dishes as easily possible during the 108 days.
4. Daily work must be shaping or finishing the dishes. Glazing, firing, writing, and other related activities are not included as part of the 100 day process.
5. Make dishes small enough to fit in the palm of the hand. Begin making small, shallow dishes approximately 2 inches in diameter. Allow the dishes to shift and evolve, but keep them small and low, like a cupped hand making an offering.
6. Allow the form of each dish to flow from the intention of the project. Go back to the original concept of a small, shallow, plain dish when new inspiration isn’t forth coming.
7. Mark the bottom of each dish with the year, my initials, and the sequential number of the dish.
If I could tell people ONE thing about starting a 100 day project:
“We can do art every day in the midst of life happening”.
Each artist was asked to respond to the same questions. Read what Melissa had to say:
What was it like to get started with your project?
“Getting started for me was an opportunity to clarify priorities in my life. I knew that in order to fulfill my commitment to 100 days of ceramic dish making, I needed to set myself up for success. This meant clearing some items off my schedule that were distractions. In addition I made sure my workspace was all ready to go so I could just sit down and get to work when the time came.
“With that said, on day 1 there were still some things I wished I had completed or better organized. This is one of the many lessons one can receive from a 100 day project. It’s best to plan and get organized but ultimately when the day comes, you need to move forward even if everything isn’t perfect. We can do art every day in the midst of life happening.”
What suggestion would you offer to others about starting a 100 day project?
“Think about what you need to do ahead of time to set yourself up for success. For me this meant creating the conditions so there would be no excuses to fulfilling my commitment. I actually prepared in some way for a couple months before my start date. Orienting my thinking to the project, gathering supplies, and tweaking my life and space in ways to reduce barriers to succeeding in my commitment.
“It’s important to really think about your project rules including how much time you will allocate each day, and what you will do if you need to travel or unexpected events consume some of your attention”.
What was it like sticking with your 100 day project?
“Sticking with my 100DP was wonderful. Over time I appreciated the rhythm that came about as I got into the project. I was mindful of the side effects of the project — my space taking on the energy of something special happening; the increased ease in organizing and setting priorities in other areas of my life; the interesting thread that emerged between my project, my meditation teaching, and my own meditation practice. Being mindful and appreciative of these helped me through the lulls in artistic inspiration”.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with your 100 day project?
“The biggest challenge for me was sticking with it through a couple lulls in inspiration. Checking into The100DayProject Facebook page to interact with others who were further along was very helpful.
“Another challenge was maintaining my project while traveling. I planned for this ahead of time and took a small box of supplies with me to work on my project while I was gone”.
Is there one suggestion about momentum that you can offer to others?
“The most important thing to keep momentum is to make rules that are realistic and then honor your own rules. Another idea is to keep a journal. This creates a space for gleaning the deeper layers of impact of the project”.