Belfast Telegraph

How splash of colour helped lift gloom for Michelle after father's death

By Cate McCurry

A budding artist has spoken of how the pain of her father's death has been eased after she took up painting.

Michelle Duffy channels the grief of losing her beloved dad through her artwork, spending countless hours in front of a canvas to escape the heartache.

What began as a way to deal with her father's illness blossomed into a career for the 38-year-old, as she prepares to host her first exhibition.

The Co Fermanagh woman's artwork - which usually features sunsets and water - has become increasingly popular across Northern Ireland.

While her talent was born out of pain, the mother-of-three explains that it has allowed her to reach out to others.

"When my dad was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) I used to go and visit beautiful places, and that really inspired me to go and paint.

"My sister and I looked after him, but I found it very difficult being in the house with him quite a lot as I had to watch someone I loved disappearing in front of my eyes, so I started dabbling in painting.

"I began scribbling and doodling just as a release and I didn't think about anything else.

"Then, towards the end of his illness, I started painting more to deal with the pain."

She described her dad Barber Gregg as one of her biggest fans, and how he encouraged her to pursue her talent.

"Painting got me through the rough days with my dad and sometimes I took the pad in to him to show off my work," she added.

"He was always a very big fan of my paintings. He loved to see me draw."

She explained that the inspiration behind her paintings can come from the most unusual places or scenes.

"Ideas can come from seeing anything beautiful, but I love visiting beaches for the sunsets and waves," she said.

Michelle, from Garrison, is married to Nigel and they have three sons together, Cameron (10), nine-year-old Blake and five-year-old Finlay. She shares most of her artwork on her Facebook page as a way to reach out to a wider audience.

Now, her pieces will be featured at an exhibition in Belfast next month, alongside the work of photographer John Mallon.

"When I lift the brushes and start to paint, something happens and I can sit for hours in front of a painting. It totally relaxes me and makes me feel at peace," she added.

The exhibition will take place on March 9 at PM Lighting/Paul Hampton showroom on Boucher Way.

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