Volunteer Makes Meal Bags His Canvas


When retired architect Bryan Aumiller decorated two Project Angel Heart meal bags in an art class he was taking at a Colorado Springs senior center, he didn’t expect it to become part of his regular routine.

But he enjoyed doing the drawings so much that he returned his two bags and asked for eight more.

Four months and dozens of meal bags later, Bryan says designing bags has been like therapy. And his artistic skills have improved. He credits knowing the bags are providing not just a week’s worth of food, but also a bit of warmth and love to people in need. “Your abilities get better when you have that emotional connection,” he said.

Bryan Aumiller poses with his decorated meal bags, which feature sketches of an otter, sheep, and goose

Bryan’s meal bags have featured a variety of creatures, from goats and sheep to butterflies, birds, and dogs. Denver’s iconic Big Blue Bear made an appearance on one bag, as did an homage to Christina’s World, the well-known painting by artist Andrew Wyeth.

“It’s given me a lot personally,” said Bryan. “I love drawing but have never had the time to do much of it. Doing these bags has been very motivating.”

He’s also loved sharing his meal bag sketches on Instagram (@max_sketch). “I have 30 years’ worth of sketchbooks on a shelf,” said Bryan. “But you don’t share your work when it’s in a sketchbook. I like sharing these. It’s a great feeling.”

Recently, Bryan also began volunteering at a meal distribution site in Colorado Springs. He likes the sense of connection he gets by being more deeply involved. And, he occasionally gets to see one of his own meal bags, loaded with meals, and ready to go out to a client.

See more of Bryan’s bag illustrations on Instagram »

Interested in decorating bags, too? Learn more »