Telling A Second Story

Article by Brianna Melanson

Photography by Lisa Linn Manley

Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle

Out of tragedy and heartache, Mattie Wolf was given the gift of paint. After struggling with infertility and losing their last chance of having a natural birth, Mattie asked her husband to bring home paints and a canvas, whatever he could find, while she stayed home with their two
napping daughters. They had just moved into a new house in Franklin and she couldn’t find anything she liked to fill the empty walls. So she decided she would do it herself. In the comfort of their second floor bedroom, a canvas over a beach towel propped against her dresser, she
blasted worship music while she created her first painting. She remembers how it may not have been like the beautiful pieces she paints today, but the experience was incredibly therapeutic.

From then on, she researched and experimented until she found her own style. Her contemporary abstract and fluid paintings reflect the beauty of Tennessee, Lake Michigan where she spent her summers growing up, and her faith and patriotism. A couple years passed and she finally mustered the courage to sell her paintings. “Second Story Art” seemed like the only logical business name. In the literal aspect, she began painting on the second story of her home, but more importantly, painting has given her a second chance at hope. Mattie says, “I
was so heartbroken that we weren’t going to be able to have any more kids that I think God literally put paint in front of me and said ‘I’m not giving you that gift, but I am giving you this gift. This is what I want you to do; this is your story and use this to bless people.’” And so she has.

Now settled in Thompson Station, her husband has built her own studio for her in the garage, an improvement from when their bedroom and living room were once makeshift art studios. It means the world to Mattie that her husband and daughters are her biggest fans. She laughs,
“They think I’m a celebrity and it’s the sweetest thing.” Mattie has inspired her daughters to paint as well and is excited that it’s something they can all do together. Mattie shares, “My younger one is a total free spirit and loves abstract. She’s brave and takes a lot of risks with her paint.
My older daughter is super Type A so she wants to paint realistically. It’s fun to see their different personalities come out.” All of their artwork is proudly displayed in their home. Mattie’s husband may not paint, but he helps with art shows and makes custom frames. Second Story
Art has strengthened their family bond in unexpected ways.

The pandemic did not slow her business down, even though art shows were cancelled, because of the increased interest in interior decorating from being stuck at home. Mattie successfully sells through Instagram and shops throughout Franklin and Nashville. She also offers
commissioned pieces. Mattie’s looking forward to presenting her work in person at art shows again this year. In the past she has been in shows such as Lipscomb’s Art Event and the Franklin Art Crawl set up in Sage Sleep. She loves meeting people and seeing them connect
with her paintings spiritually and emotionally.

Mattie’s patriotic paintings are particularly important to her, especially since she’s a former high school history teacher and was raised by a family of veterans. Mattie says, “I love our country and creating art that honors our veterans.” She recently had the opportunity to paint a trio of American flags with sketches of soldiers and a Huey helicopter in the background. The set “Gone but Not Forgotten” was commissioned by a highly decorated veteran and one of the three was given to a Medal of Honor recipient. Mattie was thrilled she was chosen for this project and
is looking forward to making more tributes to our troops.

Though the story behind Second Story Art may have been born out of tragedy, Mattie Wolf’s beautiful original paintings emit hope and encompass quality and meaning in every detail.

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