You describe yourself as an abstract painter and surface designer. What is a surface designer? Where do your designs end up?
In college, I studied Surface Design - which is the creation of patterns that can be applied to anything from fabric to paper. Like my paintings, most of my pattern work is expressive and colorful and has been used on anything from gift wrap to stationary.
Where would you most like to see your work?
I imagine my small painting hanging in a secret corner of someone's home - just waiting to be discovered. I like small nooks and spaces that allow moments for quiet conversation and discovery. I loved making forts as a child and decorated them with cardboard paintings that no one would ever see. There is a sense of freedom in creating when you think no one is looking. When I travel I often bring a travel kit of art supplies and create small pieces on paper each day that I hang or leave in unexpected place, like alley ways and coffee shops to be discovered by strangers. Over all, I like seeing my work in the quiet places you wouldn't expect to see a painting.
Tell us about this series.
For the most part, this series is a visual diary of places, marks and things I've seen and collected along the way. Think of it as an abstract recording of my everyday findings. When I work on paper I feel a sense of unedited freedom as nothing seems too precious or permanent so it is my most authentic and expressive work.
How do you go about pursuing new projects and ideas?
Sometimes I find them and sometimes they find me. It might be an idea that has been swirling in my head for a while. Other times they just falls into my lap. Because of the way I approach my work, I'm always looking for interesting combinations of color where ever I am. It's a bit of an obsession. I have a sketchbook dedicated to color that I am always painting, coloring and taping things into. It is a go to source for a lot of what I create. For the most part, just keeping and open eye and a sense of curiosity has been my best source for new projects and ideas. My process usually starts out with sketches and color swatches and moves into creating several pieces at a time - often working on paper and wood panels simultaneously.
What surprises you in your art practice?
The days I go into the studio not really knowing what I am going to do are often the days some of my best work happens. I think sticking to an art practice, even on the days you just don't want to, has really helped me grow as an artist. This really clicked for me after reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. Her ideas around rituals and habits were a game changer for me.
The landscape of abstract art can seem so vast and open. What inspires you?
I always start with color. My process is about having conversations with color. Whether it's finding a quiet space for an awkward shade of orange to just be itself, or creating a place for a shy pair of blues to mingle together, I'm always listening to what the colors need to find their place in my work. As I said earlier, color has always been an obsession of mine and my work is inspired by how colors speak to me.
by Melissa Donoho
- Graphite and acrylic on paper.
- 7 inches x 5 inches
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