Tag Archives: Pastel Paintings

Closure On A Missing Hiker’s Journey, Healing Through Art


Into the Light, Elise Okrend, pastel, 24×20

Closure On A Missing Hiker’s Journey, Healing Through Art

Sometimes there is a divine intervention that leads us to find what we need in that moment. Here is a story about how Elise’s art and the book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth brought a sense of healing and peace to one family that recently gathered in Asheville to grieve and celebrate the life of  a woman, Geraldine Largay.  Geraldine had been missing for over 2 years after embarking on a hike along the Appalachian Trail.  She was feared dead, and after  extensive searches, her body was finally located along with her journal in the Maine woods in October, 2015.

In mid May 2016, Geraldine’s sister and close friends gathered in Asheville to remember and celebrate her life.  Just before leaving to return home, they stopped into the River Arts District and visited the Wedge Building. They came into Elise’s studio, and the sister was immediately struck by one of Elise’s giclee prints, “Into the Light”.  The art reminded her of her sister’s journey and she immediately felt a connection to her sister through the art.  While Elise was speaking with the sister, her friends were looking and reading passages from the book, Messages to the Heart.  The book and its healing passages spoke to them.  One friend purchased books for each of their group to take home. Geraldine’s sister purchased the “Into The Light” print. Geraldine’s sister told Elise that she was now part of this story and that her art brought peace and closure to this emotional journey.

Geraldine’s Story In National Media

A few days after Geraldine’s sister and freinds unexpectedly came into Elise’s studio, articles appeared in the New York Times, CNN and other National Media about Geraldine’s journey on the Appalchian Trail.

AUGUSTA, Me. — She was afraid of being alone and prone to anxiety, a diminutive 66-year-old woman with a poor sense of direction, hiking the Appalachian Trail by herself, who wandered into terrain so wild, it is used for military training. She waited nearly a month in the Maine woods for help that never came.

Geraldine A. Largay chronicled her journey in a black-covered notebook that summer of 2013, and she kept writing after she lost her way, even as her food supply dwindled along with her hopes of being found. Her last entry reflected a strikingly graceful acceptance of what was coming.  Read The Full Article.

What is striking also is that Geraldine’s last journal entry was August 18, 2013. August 18th is Phil’s birthday.  A coincidence? a sign?  What we are taking from this is that there truly is a divine light that shines, that heals, that comforts. We are humbled and grateful that this art, that these words are serving a higher purpose to help others.

Elise and Phil Okrend,
May 27, 2016

Asheville’s River Arts District Studio Stroll

Asheville’s River Arts District Studio Stroll


I have been working in my studio all week preparing for Asheville’s River Arts District Studio Stroll.  Stop by on Saturday, June 14th,  12-5pm and Sunday, June 15th, 12-5pm to view my working space and new paintings.  If you are curious about how I create, I will also be doing a pastel demonstration!  Many of the paintings on display in my studio are part of Messages to the Heart, the wonderful coffee book that my partner and husband Phil and I have collaborated on and published. The book will also be available at my studio.

So thrilled to be part of the unique event. The River Arts District running along the French Broad River is home to more than 170 artists with working studios located in 22 former industrial buildings. You will find an amazing range of art— from cutting edge sculpture and paintings to traditional raku fired pottery, and everything in-between.It is a creative mecca

whiteSPACE Gallery

If you plan to come to the River Arts District Studio Stroll next weekend, you will find me at the whiteSpace Gallery, located on the 2nd Floor of The Wedge Building, 129 Roberts Avenue in the River Arts District. To preview my work visit, www.eliseokrend.com


In closing, here is a beautiful quote from the late Maya Angelou, who has been an inspiration to myself and the creative community. It appears on my website to honor her spirit.

“A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”
– Maya Angelou

Blessings, Elise