Some call them guardian angels.
Wearing pastel robes and halos of silver and gold, they have wings that look ready to enfold as well as fly.
They grace the canvases of Batson Children's Hospital nurse Miriam Shufelt. A 2013 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Nursing, Shufelt, now a registered nurse, cares for patients on the same floor she learned from in an externship, 4C, general pediatrics. She's also studying at UMMC to be a nurse practitioner.
“Nursing has always been my plan, in my heart,” she said. “I have felt called to be a nurse, and I knew I wanted to work with children.”
Her off hours, though, have her picking up a palette to create paintings that can be as soothing to her as to the viewers.
Though she also enjoys painting abstracts, Miriam Shufelt includes floral still lifes in her collection of works.
“It helps me de-stress,” she said. The summer she became an RN, Shufelt was also marrying Mississippi College physician assistant student Josh Shufelt. She has a painting of their reception, held at the Cotton Market in Richland, hanging in their living room. The painted bride and groom are sharing a kiss beneath the strings of lights adorning the venue's barn.
That summer, she worked from one of their wedding photos to recreate the moment on canvas. “Since then, I've had people send me pictures of houses, weddings,” all to be preserved in paint. Iconic scenes of college campuses are also favorite subjects.
Her works also share faith, the canvases of angels to be joined by scenes of the nativity, and love, with heart images abounding. There are abstracts that suggest everything from calla lilies to shorelines, always in soothing neutral tones and pastels.
“Once in a while, I'll have a pop of color,” she said, “but I like calming colors.”
Batson Children's Hospital nurse Miriam Shufelt shares angel paintings with patient Sha'Diamond Wells of Summit.
On those off days, away from work and the classroom, Shufelt, a Jackson native and Jackson Prep alumna, will spend her time creating and recharging.
“I spend a lot of time blending colors and creating texture.” Both she does with her trusty palette knife, working with her “secret recipe” of acrylic paint and texture base until it's the Goldilocks consistency of “just right.”
“Sometimes I have an artist's block, where I'm nearly finished with a painting but I'm not happy with how it looks. I work until I have a breakthrough,” she said. “I love that feeling I get when a painting is done and I'm excited about how it looks.”
Her work, shown online at miriamshufeltart.com, is featured at LD Linens and Décor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Her work goes with almost any decor,” said Paula Papajohn, sales representative at the gallery. “It's very beautiful and serene.”
Shufelt has shared her work with patients and their families, offering them another form of healing.
LaTonya Washington's daughter Sha'Diamond Wells, 13, was in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) this summer after suffering a stroke.
“I had thought about getting a painting of an angel for her,” she said, “and then I heard that Miriam paints, so I asked her if she'd paint angels for Sha'Diamond.”
The pair of angel canvases, one in pink and the other in blue against a taupe background, sit watch over Sha'Diamond's bed, which is now out of the PICU. At Batson since Aug. 25, Sha'Diamond is expected to get to come home in time for Christmas.
The pair of cherubs will always be keepsakes, Washington said. “They're her guardian angels.”