The “Ice Cream Series” was birthed in a desert sort of season in which I was struggling to climb my way out of grief after a long and tedious treatment for Lyme disease. It began in summer. it was hot. I was craving ice cream, but had been instructed by my doctor to avoid sugar. I thought that maybe painting ice cream might somehow satisfy my craving for it. I can’t say the painting did a whole lot for my cravings but it did lead me somewhere I never would have expected.
As I was painting these fun and joyful images, I began to see that there were simple parts of the paintings that I could train others to do. I was volunteering in an arts program for the homeless at the time and began to wonder if I could use the simplicity of the ice cream paintings to employ and provide work for those struggling to find employment. God began to lead me to the concept of some sort of art assembly line in Bibb City, an impoverished neighborhood in my hometown of Columbus, Ga.
At first, I was tempted to dismiss the idea as somewhat ludicrous, but then like Noah, said, “Okay Lord, I don’t have a clue how to do this, but if you give me the wood, I’ll start to build.” At the same time, God had given Dee Dee Tebeau the vision to open a nonprofit art gallery for the purpose of promoting local artists and giving back to the community. God brought the two of us together, then provided us with a building in the heart of Bibb City that would suit both of the missions God had given us. Upon completion of the remodeling, I moved in, filled it with a bunch of wooden panels on which to paint, and hired my first employee Max Mitchell, who came out of the Arts program for the homeless that I had been volunteering in. Max and I sat down to paint together, and we began to see the beginnings of a mini- assembly line come to fruition.
Max currently paints a lot of my backgrounds and sides of the paintings. He has learned to build texture and form in the cones through working on the concept of value and color mixing, and he is now attempting to master the scoops. His confidence has grown by leaps and bounds, and as a result of your purchases, he is supporting himself and is keeping a roof over his head for the first time in years. He is learning the art of worship through creativity. He has also developed his own line of cardboard art through which he is telling his story and expressing himself while also making art that is helping provide for his income. Most importantly though, Max is building relationships through art, has found a church home at Highland Community Church, and is using his gifts to build up the body of Christ! He is also teaching a cardboard art class to kids in which he is sharing his talents as they construct Noah’s Ark together.
Thank you to each of you who have purchased ice cream paintings, participated in classes and/or purchased any of the other beautiful art at HIghland Galerie. It has been an beautiful thing to watch this community come together in support of this mission.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the ice cream series, it is now available on the Helen Brooks Art website. Each painting is paired with a verse which is listed in the product description of each painting. Click on the photo below to view the whole collection and shop any that are still available. Any piece of art you purchase on the Helen Brooks Art site supports Highland Galerie and provides Max with employment. We are beginning with promoting local art and the employment of one man, but hoping the mission multiplies as you step into this story with us and get a taste of God’s faithfulness and always-pursuing love.