My story… I am Melissa Guimaraes and I’m a mother, wife, artist, art teacher, a graduate student and now, a small business owner! We live in Peabody, MA and are surrounded by family and friends. My husband has been my biggest supporter and when I originally, and very casually, approached him with the crazy idea of beginning my own paint party business, he didn’t think it was that crazy at all.
What I saw happening all around me at local restaurants and bars was the really cool idea of a bunch of adults getting together to make a painting. There are quite a few nationwide businesses who focus on getting a few drinks into people while they fumble with a brush and have a great time while doing it. I loved the idea of people being creative – most of them probably hadn’t made a piece of art since a high school elective forced them to. What I wished to see more of, however, was the idea of families making these paintings together. Instead of in bars, during late hours, no one was catering to the afternoons, weekends or even early evenings. Basically, the idea of anyone under the age of 18 (more like 21 most of the time) participating in these paint parties was out of the question. In mid-July I began Melissa’s Budding Artists, and we do paint parties for artists of all ages. We specialize in throwing paint parties where little kids and adults can sit and create a piece of art, side by side. We aren’t only creating masterpieces, we are making memories!
My career began… in May of 2003, when I graduated from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA. By December, 2003, I’d finished my student teaching and earned my teaching certification. In the summer of 2004, I was hired by the same high school I graduated from to become part of the visual arts department. I’ve been an art teacher at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School ever since. Teaching art is my passion, there’s really no other way to describe it. It won’t ever make me rich but it is the most rewarding job and I can’t think of another career that would fulfill me the way teaching art does.
My biggest challenge… as a mama, has been balancing my personal, career, and social life, or what’s left of it. With three children, you begin to really understand what people mean when they say “there aren’t enough hours in the day”. I’ve always thought there weren’t enough weekends in the week!
My biggest reward… is to see the respect my six year old has for me, my career and my business. It fills me with joy to hear her tell others “my mommy is a painter” or “I want to teach art like my mom”. She’s already so creative and unique, I know she’s got the natural talent to draw.
At work, I’m a role model to my students and I take that very seriously, as well. When I began teaching at 22 years old, some of my students were only a bit younger than me. After they graduated high school and went on to college, we kept in touch. Currently, I have quite a few close friends who were former students of mine. The first paint party I threw was in my own backyard and I sent out a Facebook Event Invite to all of the former students I could reach. That night, every easel I owned was propped up in front of a 20-something year old who used to sit in my classroom. That paint party was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Not only did it mark the beginning of my business venture, it also showed me that what I do makes people happy and proud.
My career must have… is creativity. It’s not always as easy as it sounds, trust me!
My family consists of… my oldest daughter, Kenna, six years old and just beginning the first grade. She’s kind, funny, smart and very sharp, also nurturing and has gorgeous hair! Kinsley is two and a half and is sometimes shy around new people, but when she’s warmed up to you she’ll be your best friend. Kinsley was the perfect baby and to this day has been a great eater, sleeper and gives the best hugs with encouraging pats on the back. Our youngest son, Boaventura, turned one in July. We call him Bo. (Boaventura means “good times” in Portuguese. It’s a family name my husband is very proud of, and I’ve always adored it, especially with such a neat meaning and cute nickname.) Bo is a sweet, smiley little baby who loves trying to keep up with his big sisters. We recently found out Bo has a peanut and egg allergy, so we’re monitoring his diet, and we have regular appointments with a highly recommended allergist on the Northshore. We also have our dog, Doby, who is like a little furry baby to me, and sister to the kids. Doby has the patience of a pre-school teacher and I admire her agility at times, especially when there are three kids on her tail.
My husband…Jose, is a plumber who took on working many extra hours to make up for my unpaid maternity leave from teaching the 2013-2014 school year. He is an amazing father, and the kids absolutely adore him. I swear, you’d think a celebrity walked into the room when he comes home from work, and he is always just as excited to see them. Jose keeps me grounded and has taught me so much about parenting. I know I’ve found the perfect man for me because I can’t think of a way it could get any better than this.
We are a bilingual family… Jose’s first language is Portuguese. He was born in Brazil and moved to America ten years ago. In our home, we speak Portuguese. My parents are from the Azores, so I grew up speaking Portuguese, mostly, with my grandmothers. When I met my husband, we hit it off right away because there wasn’t too much of a language barrier. Eventually, I learned to change my accent a bit, depending on the company. Kenna is bilingual and fluent in Portuguese. Kinsley is putting together words in both languages, also. And it’s obvious Bo can understand anything anyone says! Even the dog responds to both language swithout hesitation. Peabody is a very diverse community and we’re proud of our culture and the culture of those around us. It’s celebrated in our homes, schools and communities.
To keep organized… I rely on the calendar app on my iphone, especially for long term dates and responsibilities. For the most part, I try to take it one day at a time while having the big picture in the back of my mind, too.
Our favorite family vacation… spot is the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We stay in this little inn where they have about a dozen horses. Jose grew up with horses and has instilled his love for them in Kenna. When we visit, Kenna takes several horse back rides on her favorite pony, Tinkerbell. During the summer, we also enjoy our pool. The kids love swimming. We have plans to fly to Brazil in the very near future to visit my husband’s parents and family there.
I rely on my iPhone… in an almost unhealthy way. It contains everything I need to make it through my day and I would be lost without it. Some days, I wonder how I was capable of juggling anything before my iphone. Then I remember I had an iPhone before there was really much of anything to juggle.
Our family must have… other than the obvious answer of “love”, is laughter. My husband is always going out of his way to make the rest of us laugh and I’m a bit of a practical joker myself. We’ve been playing a family game of “who can startle who the best?” where we go out of our way to try to get each other to jump! Kenna has perfected the art of hiding plastic insects in places like under our pillows and balanced on the bathroom door knob. As Kinsley and Bo grow up, Jose and I are both a little nervous about being outnumbered in our little game as Kenna teaches them all she knows!
Me-time… is scheduled every few weeks. It isn’t ever anything too fancy, I’ve never been that kind of person. I’m happy sitting on a park bench with an ice coffee, while I doodle in a sketchbook. Sometimes, I’ll meet up with a friend for a liquid lunch, not going to lie! One of my favorite personal activities and one of the things I wish I could do more of, is painting. It must seem like between teaching high school art and owning a paint party business, I do enough painting. What I really want to paint, I never have enough time for. It’s always fun doing demonstrations for classes and creating new pieces for our gallery and calendar. Sometimes, though, I want to make art just for me. There isn’t a lot of hours left in the day to do that very often.
Inspiration… I am inspired by a lot of different things in my every day life. Sometimes it’s the pattern on a paper towel, the cover photo someone just shared on Facebook, a t-shirt a student might be wearing; anything can be inspiration because it all starts with an artist. My students inspire me every day in the classroom. And my own three children are my muses, too!
A me must have… is music. I don’t need cable or expensive purses. I need music. It pairs with art-making and it’s always on in the background at our house. My six year old daughter’s favorite band is Queen! Ice coffee is pretty essential, also.
My advice to working mamas… is to take LOTS of pictures of your little ones! And pose in lots of pictures with them, too! Moms always seem to be the one behind the camera. I think it’s important to record memories that capture you in the those special moments, also. Don’t worry about how your hair looks or if you’ve got your makeup on. Just keep clicking away! You won’t ever regret taking too many pictures!
I teach full time at a local high school and I throw between one and three paint parties every two weeks. I’m able to balance this schedule with the help of my family and friends. They’ve come through for me time and time again. My loved ones are an essential part of my success and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Please check out Melissa’s at www.facebook.com/melissasbuddingartists