Les Artistes

photo by Alexis Thompson

On Tuesday I gave a power point presentation on my life as an artist for the “Les Artistes” lecture series in the Center for Lifetime Study. What a delightful group of people! This was my first experience giving a lecture and presentation of this sort, and I had a great time. Of course it’s always thought-provoking and enjoyable for me to look back over my growth as an artist, and I was hoping that by talking about my relatively slow start in the arts, I would be able to encourage the members of the audience to give painting a try, if they hadn’t already or if they were struggling with artists’ block. To that end, I focused especially on the process of art more than the product.

I find that many people, perhaps professional artists even more than most, often end up being so goal or product oriented that we lose the joy of the process. That seems a real shame, since painting or drawing can be so meditative and calming, so I spoke about sketching, about doing “parking lot art,” and about being playful with color. I illustrated my points with examples from my sketchbooks and my finished paintings.

People had fabulous questions and comments that, in some cases, clarified for me why I compose my paintings or choose my subjects as I do or got me thinking along new lines. It’s always wonderful when feedback after an event contributes to the ongoing growth process. It was a privilege to be asked to present my work and a delight to do so! Thank you to the class organizers and to the Center for Lifetime Study!

Here are a few pieces that I included in my presentation:

My first elephant painting, when I was sure I couldn’t paint an elephant

A more colorful elephant piece after I relaxed and became playful with color

Horse Chestnuts (Conkers) painted just for fun with an online watercolor group

Some examples of “parking lot art” painted in local parking lots or highway rest areas

And two older paintings of mine that have a story:

Pen & ink with watercolor Barn Swallow for Stephen, who hates mosquitoes and loves swallows. He used to always watch and tell me about the swallows swooping in the fields across from work, so I painted this for him.

Veedor the Andean Condor, a wedding gift for my brother and his wife, who were excited to see one of these birds flying in the mountains of Venezuela on their honeymoon. Andean Condors live about 60 years and mate for life, so I thought this was an appropriate wedding gift. I met and photographed and sketched Veedor, who flew around, then crash landed against my legs and tore my jeans. I don’t normally like having torn jeans, but having jeans that had been torn by a free-flying Andean Condor was pretty special!

4 Replies to “Les Artistes”

  1. What a wonderful opportunity Melissa, glad it went smoothly for you. Your work has evolved quite substantially over the years. The playful feel with colour is representative of confidence. Well done!