A metro woman is using a lifetime of art experience and her passion for peace to make a difference through an international peace group, and her creativity is bringing big money to help those in need.
Nell Hillsley has sold hundreds of paintings for anywhere between $35 and a couple grand, but she gives 100 percent of the proceeds away to support and raise awareness of the importance of nonviolent peace-keeping around the world.
"It's mostly in the hundreds and even less," Hillsley said of her pieces.
She's been painting every day for decades, but each piece of artwork sold comes with an additional perk. Just last weekend, Hillsley sold hundreds of her paintings to benefit a Belgium-based organization called Nonviolent Peaceforce, which has an office in Minneapolis.
"Fortunately for us, because Nell has this huge following, people follow her and they love what she loves," Pamela Huff, with Nonviolent Peaceforce, explained. "This week, we made $12,800."
The organization works to protect civilians in war-torn nations around the globe without using weapons. The group has been particularly focused on south Sudan and Myanmar, and bringing attention to that effort has become a full-time calling for Hillsley.
"Any person can give something of themselves," she said. "It may be in your own neighborhood it may be a program going around the world, but it can give you a deep joy."
In total, Hillsley has now given away more than $100,000 in paintings since she started supporting the organization 4 years ago, and her second husband, Van Lawrence, is also on board with the cause.
"She didn't tell me at first she gave all these paintings away," he quipped.
Fox 9 News got a sneak peak at some of the art Hillsley has yet to sell, but her generous spirit may be her true masterpiece. Anyone who wishes to learn more about Hillsley's art or her efforts with Nonviolent Peaceforce can learn more here: http://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/