In Becoming, professional artist Kelly Mellos shares her quest to become more artistically “awakened” through 47 full-page abstract oil painting reproductions, based on images that came to her during periods of creative visualization early in her career.
The book is divided into four sections: “Awakening,” “Underworld,” “Rising,” and “New World.” Mellos notes in an Afterword that as the paintings appeared to her, with the help of meditation and other techniques, “I was amazed at how colorful, vivid and textural they were and that they contained so much meaning…”
The story’s focal point is a young (mostly featureless) girl, representing Mellos in various settings. Full-page depictions are accompanied by short prose pieces on facing pages telling of the girl’s inner transformation, with added commentary. For example, next to an image of the girl with a chorus of birds, Mellos writes about how the girl learned to hear the birds’ individual harmonies. The commentary notes: “There is a collective power in bringing our voices and songs together.” Alongside a painting of the girl riding a unicycle, the commentary reminds readers: “You are ahead, not alone.” With a picture of a snow globe, it says: “You will miss the beauty if you keep striving to see what is beyond it.”
In rich, largely muted colors with vivid pops of red and gold, the artist renders recurring themes at once childlike and mature: butterflies, crowns, balloons, fish and dandelions symbolizing both death and opportunity. The book concludes with copies of actual pages from the artist’s sketchbook, showing her creative process.
This is a life-affirming journey, filled with pleasing art and simple affirmations. While it reads smoothly most of the time, the text could use a closer edit for consistency: Generally, words in italics tell the story, while words in regular font offer commentary; but this isn’t always the case, causing confusion.
Nonetheless, this is a quietly soothing book— one that may help readers with their own personal growth struggles.