VERNON - Pat Burnip, a retired Vernon social worker, is extremely humble about the lovely, hand-painted Christmas ornaments she’s been hanging in local parks. She always did it anonymously and never wanted any attention. But the ornaments, which are painted on pine discs or “rounds” as Burnip calls them, have taken on a life of their own as those who find them take to social media to spread community spirit and positivity.
“I’m actually embarrassed,” Burnip admits. “I’m happy that so many people are enjoying it, but I feel very awkward. I am blown away.”
She’s painted about 40 ornaments so far, and placed them on trees at Polson Park and the BX Ranch dog park. Facebook exploded with comments over the past few days after a local photographer posted a series of photos showing the enchanting ornaments along the walking trail at BX park.
Burnip says it all started about a year ago when she began painting rocks with positive affirmations on them and leaving them around town. (She’s since joined a local group called ‘Vernon Rocks’ that does the same thing.)
“When the snow came I couldn’t do any more rock leaving,” she says. “I thought maybe I can paint (wooden rounds) and hang them on the trees anonymously.”
She says the idea was for people to take them home if they wanted, or leave them for others to enjoy.
“When I walk by somewhere that I’ve left a rock or a little ornament and it’s gone, I just love that idea that somebody looked at it and said ‘I really like that, I’m going to take that home,” she says.
Burnip first turned to art while working as a social worker in Vernon.
“I’d had a really tough week, I didn’t think I’d made that much of a difference, and I thought, ‘I’m just going to paint something pretty. So I painted the door to my potting shed,” she says.
She still gets that feeling of joy and satisfaction from painting, and says it’s even better when she gets to share it with others.
“I don’t want to come across as silly or conceited that I can make a difference… but I just know that lives for people are busy, there’s a lot of negativity in this world, and if I can make it a little more positive with somebody smiling, I’m happy,” she says.
Each ornament takes her between 30-to-60 minutes and even though people have offered to pay her for the pieces, she says she won’t accept any money.
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