ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Life changes bring a different way of creating to Montevideo artist

M E Fueller, of Montevideo, has always had a passion for art. But it wasn't until some major life changes occurred in the last eight years that she has really been able to focus on her writing and painting. Now, she is the author of two published books and is working on a major art exhibit for next year.

Artist M E Fuller paints in her Montevideo studio on Thursday, August 4, 2022. Fuller has recently found a burst of success within both her writing and artistic works.
Artist M E Fuller paints in her Montevideo studio on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Fuller has recently found a burst of success within both her writing and artistic works.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

Editor's note: Story updated to correctly identify the writing workshop Fuller took as held by Sheila O'Connor, and that Fuller's exhibit at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, Minnesota, will run May 12 through Aug. 26, 2023.

MONTEVIDEO — Times of upheaval can often bring about new opportunities, even ones you might never have thought to look for. That is what has happened to M E Fuller, a Montevideo-based author and artist who has taken those unexpected chances and turned them into successes.

"It's okay that I am 70 years old and just hitting my stride," Fuller said. "There are doors opening for me now."

Words on a page

The first open door came about eight years ago, when Fuller lost her job working for Crow Wing County as an administrative assistant.

Instead of looking for a new full-time job, Fuller decided it was time to finally focus on her art and writing and to do what she wanted, not what a client or employer required. While she still had to work to make a living, at least this time it would be on her terms.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I'm going to go after what I'm good at," Fuller said. "This was my opportunity to jump back in and really start to learn and study."

ME Fuller works on her most recent novel in her Montevideo home on Thursday, August 4, 2022.
M E Fuller works on her most recent novel in her Montevideo home on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

She received a grant from the Five Wings Art Council to basically learn how to write a novel, which helped her create the first draft of her first book, "Saving the Ghosts." She then received a second artist project grant from Five Wings that helped her complete the publishing process for that book. She also took part in a writing workshop with Minnesota author Sheila O'Connor.

"It turned me on my head about how to really approach the book," Fuller said. "It is what it is today because that really opened my eyes to something that made sense to me about how to process your story and how to deliver it."

ME Fuller's novels, "Saving The Ghost" and "Filthy Dirty Garden Gloves" sit in her studio in Montevideo on Thursday, August 4, 2022.
M E Fuller's novels "Saving The Ghost" and "Blood on the Bridal Wreath" sit in her studio in Montevideo on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

"Saving the Ghosts" is an intense fictional story about a woman having to come to deal with abuse she suffered as a child. Because of the tense subject matter of that first novel, for her second book, Fuller wanted to do something less heavy.

She decided to create a cozy mysteries series, titled "Filthy, Dirty Gardening Gloves." The first book, "Blood on the Bridal Wreath" was released in 2021.

"It's a little saucier than a normal cozy mystery," but still not graphic, Fuller said. "It is meant to be silly and funny. It isn't going to break your sleep."

With two books under her belt, Fuller has started giving author talks and holding writing workshops across the region. Fuller doesn't consider herself a writing teacher, but rather a coach. Just as authors helped her when she first started writing novels, Fuller is giving back by assisting new writers get started.

"Readers like to hear from authors about how they wrote things," Fuller said. "And I like to talk about it."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post-it notes outlining the plot for her most recent novel in progress sit on a cork board above ME Fuller's writing station in her Montevideo home on Thursday, August 4, 2022.
Post-it notes outlining the plot for her most recent novel in progress sit on a cork board above M E Fuller's writing station in her Montevideo home on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Writing has taken a bit of backseat recently, since Fuller's painting started to take precedence this past year. Despite that, she plans to get back to her keyboard, working on the second book of her mystery series this fall, along with scheduling author talks and book signings across the region.

"I want to get back to my writing practice," Fuller said.

Paint on a canvas

For most of her life, Fuller has dabbled in traditional ways of painting and drawing. That all started to change last June when she took an online class she thought would help her with her watercolors.

Instead, it opened her eyes to entirely new way of seeing and painting art— abstract expressionism. The course, taught by Pat Dews, focused on painting nature in the abstract. At first, Fuller wasn't sure about it.

"I couldn't connect with what she was doing, but I was fascinated by it," Fuller said.

Intrigued, Fuller started watching YouTube videos and took another online course, this time with artist Louise Fletcher. It was during that class that everything connected.

Artist ME Fuller works on her most recent painting in her Montevideo studio on Thursday, August 4, 2022.
Artist M E Fuller works on her most recent painting in her Montevideo studio on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

"They take layers and layers of texturing and paint and mark making to find what is there," Fuller said.

In Fuller's opinion, abstract painting isn't just about seeing the picture. It allows the painter and the viewer to actually experience what is being presented on the canvas, whether it is feeling a breeze off Lake Superior or hearing the crunch as you walk through a snow-covered field. Abstract work also allows the viewer to see something in the painting that the artist doesn't.

ADVERTISEMENT

"This abstract work is the most exhilarating creative experience I have ever had," Fuller said. "It is just different."

Fuller's venture in abstract expressionism has attracted new attention to her work from other artists, buyers and galleries. Since she started her new paintings, she has booked several regional gallery exhibits, such as at the K.K. Berge Gallery in Granite Falls, and even did a live painting show with well-known Minnesota artist David Austin.

A solo exhibit of Fuller's abstract work will go on display from May 12 through August 26, 2023 at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji.

ME Fuller holds one of her recent paintings in her Montevideo home on Thursday, August 4, 2022. Fuller's art falls under the category of abstract expressionism.
M E Fuller holds one of her recent paintings in her Montevideo home on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Fuller's art falls under the category of abstract expressionism.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

"It is just stunning, I can't quite take it in," Fuller said.

Grabbing opportunities

Fuller said she doesn't believe in regrets and, for the most part, she doesn't have any.

The fact that it took until she retired for her art and writing career to really take off isn't a negative in her book. Instead, it is an example of not turning away when life offers you an opportunity. Losing her job pushed her to start up her book-writing business.

Then the coronavirus pandemic arrived. While she wouldn't wish a global pandemic, or illness, on anyone, Fuller admits she was one who yielded some surprise benefits, especially regarding her art.

"It left me with all the time I needed, all the space I needed to work on whatever ideas I had," Fuller said.

ME Fuller stands outside her Montevideo home on Thursday, August 4, 2022. Fuller has found a new passion for writing and artistic expression late in life as is making the most of it.
M E Fuller stands outside her Montevideo home on Thursday, Auh. 4, 2022. Fuller has found a new passion for writing and artistic expression late in life, and is making the most of it.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Without that time, Fuller might never had discovered her love and talent for abstract art and been able to share it with others.

Despite the challenges those life events caused, Fuller made the decision to take a chance, to see where those opportunities might lead you. You never know what might happen.

"Take advantage of the situations that come, show up for things," Fuller said. "Find out, don't guess."

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


What To Read Next
Community and high school art events will be printed each Wednesday in this calendar up to two weeks in advance. The deadline is noon Friday. Items may be emailed to news@wctrib.com with “arts calendar item” in the subject line.
Exhibits on display in the next month
Original programs scheduled for broadcast on Pioneer Public TV
Fine arts and student performances at area colleges