An oil painting titled “Mount Baker, Bellingham, WA” is among artwork by J. Melanie Cloutier to be featured in May in River City Art Association’s Artist of the Month gallery space at the Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute. Her drawings and paintings can be viewed May 31.
Melanie’s artist’s statement:
I have been so fortunate to always have art as a big part of me. Many of my earliest memories have had to do with drawing and expressing myself in some arty sort of way.
I have always been delighted and inspired by the beauty of nature and much of my work reflects that theme. I suppose that doesn’t make it very edgy but it is relaxing and makes me feel good. While most of my work is realistic, often with an illustrative quality to it, usually there are also areas of abstraction or impressionism in application of paint and use of color.
I like using watercolor for florals, pastel for people and pet portraits, and oil and acrylics for landscapes. I love the discipline of figure drawing and pen and ink for quick sketches. Recently, I’ve been stitching like I paint, doing extremely detailed full surface embroidery of people and pets, where the eye blends the stitches of thread. It is similar to a painting using pointillism. I only use my own photos for references, never kits. The patience and skill that it requires is really quite challenging. Although I spend a lot of time and effort on layout and composition before I start applying media no piece is so precious that it keeps me from adapting and making changes as I go. I always challenge myself to create each project better than the one before, and I am often thinking of my next painting while working on the current one.
Painting for me is meditative. At the end of the process I have something positive and physical to show for my efforts. I rely heavily on my intuition and believe the only difference between the success or failure of most work is the amount of passion you put into it. I am frequently artistically inspired by my dreams both in subject matter and problem solving. Magic occurs during the motivation and execution of ideas. Sometimes happy accidents result from the shear manipulation of media and materials. I think it is important to take the time to really “see” then understand how that makes me “feel”. Capturing that feeling is the real art.
I am infinitely curious and amused how people chose to express themselves. Creativity is not unique to just a few – many of us have the potential to express ourselves in unusual and wondrous ways. Creating art is work, but it also must be fun! If it is not fun then I don’t want to do it. I don’t necessarily set out to create art— I just do my work and if it is true, I feel it will become art. Although I have acquired a great deal of professional knowledge over the years, I will remain a student eager to learn — just as I feel we are all teachers, full of awareness and personal experiences that should be shared with others.