By Susan Shinn
SPENCER ó Best friends Meredith Abramson and Emily Brinskelle often finish one another’s sentences.
They have a lot in common.
They’re both married with children.
They’re both teachers. Meredith teaches English and creative writing at East Rowan High School, while Emily teaches art next door at Erwin Middle.
But the thing that bonds them the most is art.
The duo are owners of Whimziggy Style. They create original artwork for nurseries and younger children’s rooms.
Over the last couple of years, Meredith’s primary interest was photography before she met Emily.
“Luckily,” Meredith says, “my parents gave me the creative genes, so I like to piddle in all kind of things. Emily has inspired me to get my paintbrushes back out.”
The two met at a baby shower for a mutual friend.
“I went home and said, I could be friends with that girl Emily,” Meredith says. “Then she started teaching at Erwin, and she was accessible to me.”
Before long, the two were walking back and forth between the two schools during lunchtime. Then they joined a local group of Rowan County artists.
As part of the group, members work on art collaboratively.
Emily and Meredith loved the process.
“We really created some neat things,” Meredith says. “We took that concept and began to work together. So that’s been cool for us.”
The two settled on painting children’s art.
But it’s a bit more versatile than that, too, says Sara Gettys, owner of the The Art Station in Spencer, where the artwork is on display.
She holds up one of Meredith’s paintings of paisley prints and flowers. “That could go anywhere in anybody’s house. This stuff is adorable. It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s whimsical.”
OK, Sara, so the emphasis is for children’s rooms.
“We both have young kids so we see this stuff all the time,” Emily says.
Meredith and Andy have daughters Macy, 5a, and Miles, 2a. Emily and Ed have daughter Izzy, 3, and son Cole, 11 months.
Together, Meredith and Emily have created paintings with frogs, monkeys, birds, butterflies and more in soft colors of pink, blue, yellow, green, purple and orange.
The women work primarily in acrylic, although Emily has done some solo pieces in watercolor.
The pieces range in size from 6 inches by 6 inches all the way up to 24 inches by 36 inches. They’re priced from $45 to $220.
Emily’s friend Julie Joslin, an assistant principal at Erwin, urged her to take her art to The Art Station in Spencer.
“She said, ‘You’ve got to go to Sara’s at the Art Station. Take your stuff over there right now. Don’t even call.’ ”
Emily did call.
“She immediately put my stuff in the window and made me feel like a rock star,” Emily says.
But the visit, she admits, was a “scary moment.”
“I’ve always been doing art, but I didn’t want to sell art,” she says. “It’s too scary to put yourself out there.”
In this case, it worked out fine.
Emily’s “Froggy Moon” went in the window Feb. 29 ó Leap Day, no less ó and sold the next day. It worked out for Meredith, too.
“I met Sara and she threw me in the window, too,” Meredith says.
“I’m very honored,” Sara says. “I love their enthusiasm.”
Meredith’s first official sale was to fellow teacher Vickie Holtz, who purchased three pieces from the women for her granddaughter’s nursery.
“Oh, I’m excited!” Vickie says.
Her daughter, Savannah, is expecting a daughter on May 5. She’ll be named Elizabeth Grace Anne.
“Savannah wanted something whimsical,” Vickie explains, “and this is just perfect.”
All of the artwork is trimmed with ribbon, and it can be personalized if a parent so chooses. They’ve painted several nameplates for kids’ rooms.
The women typically paint where their kids go to bed for an hour or two in the evenings. Sometimes they get together and sometimes they work separately.
If they’re not together, they send pictures of work in progress back and forth on their cell phones.
They’ve been known to get up as early as 5 a.m. to paint, while their houses are quiet.
“Emily has this really cool basement studio,” Meredith says, “and I paint on my fancy dining room table. So if spaghetti’s boiling and the kids are in the bath supervised by the husband, my paints are there and I can paint a little. Yeah, it’s messy, but it’s a beautiful mess.”
Sara is displaying the women’s artwork in the window, at the front door and on the walls.
“And at the pace they’re going, we just might have the whole gallery full!” she says.
The Art Station, 514 S. Salisbury Ave., Spencer, is hosting a reception for Meredith and Emily at 6 p.m. Friday, May 2. The event is free and the public is invited.
“Refreshments will be served and we’ll have these lovely ladies and their fabulous artwork,” Sara says. “It’ll just be a fun event.”
Their shared interest in artwork, Emily says, “has been something that has enriched my friendship with Meredith. It’s something we can do together. It has been fun for us to get together as friends to do this.
“Very rarely do you see us hanging out together when we’re not swapping paintings.”
Emily adds, “Our husbands says we cannot quit our day jobs …
“But if we could, we would,” Meredith whispers.
For more information about Whimziggy Style, call the Art Station at 704-633-6410 or visit www.whimziggystyle.com.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or email@example.com.