Mel Remmers’ life story could be a blockbuster movie. After finding out she was pregnant unexpectedly with twins in her early 20s, she dabbled in various creative roles while raising her young family all over the west coast.
In Seattle she discovered she had cancer and everything changed. While enduring a long recovery process and depression, she explored painting at home with simple store bought supplies as a last ditch healing method.
During this time she not only found her spirit again but that she had an incredible hidden talent as an artist. Only a mere three years later, Mel’s work flanks the Dallas Museum of Art to walls of famous interior designers and fashion editors.
Here are a few snippets from this riveting and inspiring interviews. To listen to her incredible tale of rebirth, resilience and persistence — all after turning 40 — in full, click the link below.
People must listen to your podcast for your full story. But let’s get to your incredible talent. When did you start to paint?
After I got sick, I decided one day that I thought, you know what, I’ve always been such a creative person and I, maybe a creative outlet is what I need. I had been on Instagram, I was new to it. I had been watching an illustrator that I thought she did such beautiful work… I’ve always wondered if I could paint or do something like that. So my husband and I were in the store and I got those little kid paints with the pods with the tiny little brush and the papers. I came home and I just instagrammed it. Everyone thought I’d done this before, but no, I had never done it before. I could not wait to go back to my table where I had everything all set up and start again and again. And that’s how it started and I just became obsessed, every day after that.
What was the “ah-ha” moment that made you feel like you were on to something?
I think I was four weeks into painting and someone I didn’t know on Instagram asked to buy something. I almost wanted to just give it away. I was like, you love it, you can have it! But I thought, no I can’t do that. So I charged a very small amount for it. I was stressed out the entire time, but she loved it.
When did it kind of become a business?
I’ve been going at my own pace. It created a healing and that’s really how I valued it and I still do today. I cherish every single moment I get to be in the studio; the fact that other people like it is just a bonus.
How did you start to value yourself and put a price behind your work?
That’s been the hardest obstacle. Watching somebody’s face and how they talk about my art and how it makes them feel, it’s just an otherworldly experience. I’ve had to finally say, no, it’s good, it’s not an accident. You’re doing this and value myself and time.
Talk about the beauty of reinvention and how it’s not too late for people to follow their dreams.
I had no idea that I could do this. I knew I was creative so that wasn’t a shocker, but this is different than, you know, the other things that I had done. And so it makes me think that all of us could tap into something that we had never tapped in before if we were given the right direction or the opportunity. A lot of people always ask why I paint so fast and I think that at the beginning I was trying to make up for lost time. I finally realized that this was the right time and to enjoy the ride.
What’s your best business advice to others?
I think the biggest business tip is to just be a kind person. There’s always going to be a negative somewhere, but the positives far outweigh it when you’re a really kind person and honest and generous.
Who would be your dream commission?
Dream vacation destination?
Dream dinner guest?
What’s your bedtime?
Around 11 p.m..
When do you wake up?
What’s your coffee order?
Pike’s Place Starbucks off my Keurig with half and half.
Last meal on earth be?
Don’t miss Mel’s entire podcast. It’s so good! Check it out along with other Fridays with Flea Style episodes on iTunes here.