Artist Bio and Statement



 Since childhood, I have drawn but never thought of myself as an artist until I became 32 years old.  About this time I was reading a number of self-help books, one of which recommended watercolor painting as good therapy for self-esteem.  Well, I thought since I could draw, maybe I should try it: what could I lose?   So I bought a watercolor book and the necessary supplies and began teaching myself to paint.  I kept at it, improving slowly.  
     Gloria Steinham, the author of that self-help book, would be proud to know that learning to watercolor did help me: in fact I found myself. I would have loved to drop everything and enroll in an art school, but I had to continue teaching since my family seemed to enjoy the necessities of life.
     Since 1992, I have read, observed, enrolled in  a few classes, and painted whenever time permitted.  In 2001, someone suggested that I try my hand at oil painting, so I did, and I've been painting in oils pretty much exclusively ever since.  
    In 2009, I retired from teaching and became a full time artist. It's strange being "fifty something" and starting again when society views people my age as "long in tooth" and "passed one's prime".  Placing the watercolor brush into the well of paint in 1992 however, was the beginning of me as an artist.  So I consider my artist self to be a mere "twenty something"!  
     I have exhibited in juried shows in Georgia, Charleston, SC, and Chicago, IL  and have had several individual shows locally. In 2012, my painting, Ms. Walker, was a winner in the Georgia Museum of Arts' 2012 Kress Project and was printed in the book The Kress Project, published by The Georgia Museum of Art.  Two paintings have been the covers of two publications: in 2013, Thought Notebook Literary and Visual Art Journal published Young Love and in 2016,  Exit 271 Georgia Writer's Resouce printed Madame Gautreau Takes a Break in the 21st Century.



     I am an emerging artist who captures people, places and things with oil paints onto canvas.   Unlike the lens of a camera that objectively documents a moment in time and space, my lens subjectively celebrates and commemorates a subject.  My portrait, conceptual, and genre paintings examine the status quo and social norms of modern life.  I paint untraditional realistic narratives that invite viewers to observe and consider the psychological, sociological, or emotional complexities of race, gender, age, and culture.  

     A painting begins with someone I have seen whose appearance, character, situation, or personality interests me and then slowly transforms into a narrative.  My portraits become "illuminations". Using newspaper and magazine print, I include poetry excerpts to accomplish two goals: first, to enhance the overall image and second, to introduce the viewer to the person in the portrait.  The various colors, sizes, and fonts of each letter add to the visual dynamics of the overall painting. The poetry illuminates the portrait:  adding meaning to the image, which provides the viewer a way to connect emotionally and/or intellectually to the individual in the painting. 

     I attribute my works subject matter and style to the hundreds of young children I have been associated with for the last 30 years in my former profession as a teacher.  The daily interactions with the children and most importantly, the moment-by- moment immersion into their concrete thinking rests on my canvases. My canvases embrace everyday people and objects and celebrate them via simplistic lines, shapes, values, and textures in bright colors. 

     Painting reality in this somewhat impressionistic style breaks down life’s many complexities and forces me to live in the moment.  Time does not exist as I reach inside myself and connect with the subject before me.  The elements of the subject (color, shape, line, value, texture) and the feelings or thoughts that the subject may evoke in me envelope me like the threads of a cocoon.  And as the cocoon provides the caterpillar a safe place to transform, the painting process allows me time to evolve emotionally and intellectually.  Painting centers me just as breathing centers a Zen Buddhist. 

      I aspire for each of my paintings to be a portal to momentary rest and renewal for those who choose to stop and look.  May my work move viewers toward a more childlike appreciation of our complex world.


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© Melody Croft