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November 5, 2013 > Local artist on a mission to spread peace

Local artist on a mission to spread peace

By Jessica No‘l Flohr

To Valerie Manning, few things are sadder than a bare wall. ÒI see a naked wall and I feel sorry for the people,Ó she says, ÒI would like to put art in as many houses as I can.Ó At 65, Manning has faced her share of challenges: cancer, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. Creating beautiful works of art brings her a sense of peace, which she hopes to share with the rest of the world.

After majoring in business management in college, Manning spent her career days in an office. She worked faithfully for the federal government for 30 years before she received her first diagnosisÑcancer. The news was devastating and the treatment draining, physically and emotionally. She sunk into a deep depression. ÒI really thought my life was ending,Ó says Manning.

It was her faith in God that turned things around. She sought spiritual guidance to help work through the difficulties brought on by living with cancer. The additional hardships of diabetes and congestive heart failure made it impossible to maintain her career. Manning says, ÒI asked, ÔWhat do I have to do to get rid of this cancer?ÕÓ It was then that she became inspired to try her hand at painting.

The first obstacle Manning faced was in learning how to draw. She found a local teacher, Dmitry Grudsky, and signed up for a class at JanÕs Art Studio in Fremont. After being given an initial project of drawing a bust and finding herself at a loss as to how to start, Manning asked Grudsky to show her, line for line, how to draw the figure. ÒYou draw a line and IÕll draw a line,Ó she said. She picked it up fairly quickly and moved from pastels and charcoal to oil paints. She was amazed to discover the depth of her talent.

Manning has since taken many art classes in a variety of mediums. She has amassed a collection of 100 or more paintings and won several awards. Her family and her faith community are very supportive of her artwork.

Manning continues to paint regularly and considers it a Òtherapeutic hobby.Ó Her artwork brings her a great sense of peace, which helps her face the hard times. The feeling of peace is what keeps Manning going through recurring bouts of cancer. She is now on her third round with cancer. This time, it has moved to her lower spine. In spite of this, her only complaint is that a recent biopsy has not healed well and the pain makes it hard to paint at times. She is hopeful that it will be treated and she will continue in her creative endeavors.

For the month of November, ManningÕs work will be on display at Mission Coffee Roasting Company on Washington Boulevard in Fremont. This is her second show at the cafˇ. She calls her collection, ÒCreations by Valerie Manning.Ó The paintings are warm, rich, colorful, and peaceful. ManningÕs work consists primarily of landscapes. Many are creations from her imagination, but some are scenes from her travels.

For aspiring artists of all ages, Manning offers this advice, ÒYou can learn it. You donÕt have to inherit it. It will change your state of mind.Ó This has been true for Manning, who did not come from an artistic background. She says, ÒYou can do it. Someone who couldnÕt draw could do it; you can do it.Ó Come by the cafˇ and sit with Valerie Manning. View some of her artwork and take some home. Share in her mission to spread peace through walls filled with creativity.

Creations by Valerie Manning
Friday, Nov 1 - Saturday, Nov 30
Monday - Friday: 5 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday: 6 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Mission Coffee Roasting Company
151 Washington Blvd., Fremont
(510) 796-9635

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