From Melinda's DPW Gallery Page:
"I saw. I liked. I painted. That about sums it up. That's how and why I paint."
Melinda Patrick began developing her art when she was a very young child. Her paintings are her vision of the places she loves, the colorful cityscapes and ordinary people that catch her eye. Melinda received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. While in public school, she attended the scholarship class at the Houston Museum of Fine Art. In addition to painting, Melinda is an illustrator and has worked most of her life as a graphic and web designer for small studios and Fortune 500 companies. She lives in a pine forest near her native Houston.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.
My grandfather was an artist and put a brush in my hand by the time I was five. He gave me tempera and newsprint and had me paint things I saw. When I was in third grade, the teacher had us each draw the State of Texas and my drawing really looked like it. I didn’t realize how well I drew it till that teacher gushed over my drawing. That gave me the confidence and desire to create more art.
My art teachers in public school gave me a lot of attention and promoted my art in my schools and art competitions. I started to believe that I should have an art career.
Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?
Yes. When my kids came along it was too hard for me to be a mom and a painter. They took front and center in my life. When I divorced, I had to get a “real” job to support us. Then, while I was working as a graphic designer in Product Marketing at Compaq Computer Corp., I made friends with one of the Marketing Managers who not only worked a high pressure job, had kids but he managed to carve out time to paint. I told myself that if he can do all that, I can surely do it all too. So I did. I got a table top easel, small canvases and paints and painted every night on my dining table. And I’m still painting.
(click to view)
Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Melinda's interview.
What mediums and genres have you experimented with?
As I mentioned, my grandfather started me in tempera and later introduced me to chalk and oil pastels. I set up a studio area in my parents’ garage and drew with the pastels every night, mostly portraits of famous people. My junior high school art teacher saw my portraits and arranged for a P.E. student to come to the art room for me to create a portrait in chalk pastels. Then she put me in a booth at the annual school celebration (Roundup, it was called) and we sold portraits on the fly for $1 each. She also taught us how to make batiks. Loved that but not enough to keep it up.
My grandfather also provided me with canvas and oils and I loved them. I gave acrylics a try (it was the 60’s and Liquitex was the only available brand back then) and I hated them. I used oils all the way through college till I started to paint again. At that point I switched to acrylic only because I didn’t want the smell of oils in my cramped space.
After college I got very interested in printmaking. I created some etchings in college but continuing was out of the question since I had no access to the equipment needed after college. I did some screen printing and block printing instead and loved it.
Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?
Acrylic has changed a lot and is now in my blood. I enjoy other media but acrylics on canvas are my go-to passion. I’ve done a little block printing in the last few years along with painting with gouache on paper and look forward to working with that media more. I’ve done a lot of pen and ink drawings. I love to do those but they seem to always take a back seat with me.
|Side by Side|
(click to view)
Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?
I’ve had a bunch of scratchboard in a drawer for a few years and one of these days I’m going to pull it out and see what I can do with it. I want to do more in gouache, ink and block printing but I always seem to get tangled back into the acrylic web. My secret desire is to work with colored pencils. No secret anymore.
Who or what inspires you most?
I’m inspired by art by other artists such as Edward Hopper, William Buffet and Jack Vettriano. And I’m inspired by things I see around me. When I travel I take thousands of photos of things I want to paint. I review those photos over and over and over again, deciding if the image would work well for painting and if so, should I change the imagery up or paint it just as I see it. When I’m painting something I think I will love, I’m inspired to get it finished so I can see the finished painting. I’m impatient to see it.
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What does procrastination look like for you?
If I feel the need to procrastinate, I push the art aside and do other things I need/want to do. Housework, web design, vector design (I create an original design for my annual Christmas card in Adobe Illustrator), knitting. The longer I avoid painting, the more the creative juices build up and I get to a point where I am very ready to paint again.
What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?
I used to schedule studio time every day. I spent the first two to three hours alone in the studio. Then I did the other things I needed to do and usually went back into the studio. Now I spend afternoons in the studio and often evenings as well. I always keep a space for a home studio so I can paint any time I want.
|Bright Blue and a Boat|
(click to view)
How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?
I constantly go through my photos and photos I find from other sources to decide what I want to paint. It’s a running process that never stops. I look at art from artists that I admire. I have favorite genres of subject matter and I tend to rotate them: cityscapes, beach scenes, vintage boats, neon signs, pelicans. I accept commissions and they get easier to do every time I do one.
How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?
I paint what I want to paint as a rule. And when I feel like my work isn’t fresh or interesting, I take a step back. I stay out of the studio and clear my mind till I go back in with a new attitude.
Your work will always be good if you paint from your heart and if I don’t feel it in my heart, I don’t paint it. Unless it’s a commission. But people who want a commission piece always come to me because my work speaks to what they want in their painting.
(click to view)
What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?
I recently downsized my home. My studio went from 144 square feet to 40 square feet. I learned that space doesn’t really matter if you really want to create. I went to San Francisco Art Institute and one of the most important things I learned there is that you can create art anywhere with anything. Art comes from the heart and that will always make great art.
What makes you happiest about your art?
Finishing a new painting. I can’t wait to see the finished product.
I like to paint what I would like to hang on my walls. When I started to paint again while working at Compaq, I had just designed a house and we were building it. I wanted my art all over the walls so I painted art to hang in my house. My kids would come over and say “Mom I want that.” So they took what they wanted and I painted more. Now I’m an art-lending-library for them.
I hung some of the paintings on my office wall at work and people would come by to see what’s new and I enjoyed hearing what they had to say. I participated in art shows and loved the interaction with people looking at the art. People that see my art always want to talk about it and that’s always fun.
Short answer to the question: I love the interaction with people that it spurs. And I like to look at it.
Friedrich Nietzsche said “We have art so that we shall not die of reality.”
© 2020 Sophie Marine