Artist and Curbly member Melsky (which is a combination of her first and last name) describes her acrylic on paper creations as eclectic, whimsical, abstract and colorful. An aggressive use of adjectives to be sure, but they’re necessary to describe her unique and vibrant images. Here, in Curbly’s first artist profile, I pose some questions to Melsky in an effort to get to know her and her work a little bit better.
You used to be a ceramic artist, yet your online gallery and Etsy shop feature whimsical, vibrant images of acrylic on paper. When did you change mediums? Do you still work in ceramic? Do you prefer one to the other? If so, why?
For a long time I didn’t think I could be a painter because realistic drawing doesn’t come naturally to me. For example, in school we had an assignment to draw some things and the teacher accused me of doing badly on purpose to make a mockery of her! I was actually doing the best I could. But I knew I had a good sense of composition so I started making collages. Eventually I began painting borders around them, and then the borders got more complex and started turning into leaves and stars and little cats. Soon the painting part started taking over more of the collages and I realized I was good at decorative painting.
I applied for a job I saw in the paper as a production ceramic painter. They gave me a test and I did very well and got the job. I painted ceramics both for the company and I became the class assistant for a ceramics class in exchange for being able to make my own ceramics with the studio clay and equipment. But I didn’t enjoy throwing pots or hand forming, I really just liked painting. I was supposed to go through the bins and throw out all the pieces people had made and then abandoned. I started taking the plain bowls and plates people had made and painting on them.
I prefer acrylic painting to ceramics partially because I am so impatient and I love the immediacy of acrylics. I can finish a painting and scan it ten minutes later. With ceramics, it takes a long time and there’s always the danger of breakage or something bad happening in the kiln.
Do you have a ‘real’ job? Or, rather, how do you sustain yourself as an artist, momentarily and emotionally, in such a difficult world?
I’m a housewife! The money from my paintings pays for little luxuries. However I plan on getting a part time job in the new year so we can put the money towards buying a house. As far as being sustained emotionally, there are people who reallylike my paintings and tell me so and that always helps. When people buy my paintings is always a big lift too!
You identify yourself as a self-taught artist. For those of us who would love to embrace our inner Picasso, where/how do you suggest we start?
You could start by doing some decorative painting. A good project would be to make some greeting cards – buy some blank cards at a craft store, paste on a picture you like and paint some stars or lines or whatever you like. Or just paint some basic shapes in different colors and make patterns on those shapes in a contrasting color. Just start experimenting and see where it takes you.
It’s very cheap to buy acrylic craft paints, usually under a dollar a bottle. If you find that you enjoy painting and get better at it, upgrade to artist quality acrylics and better brushes. Don’t be afraid to take some classes either. You can get inexpensive painting and drawing classes at community colleges or places like the YMCA. I’m thinking about taking a figure drawing class myself.
You’re known for a certain collection of subjects, including tea cups, cats, cacti, and martini glasses and such. Occasionally, however, one might spot a UFO depicted in your paintings. May I ask why? Did you––Melsky––have a close encounter?
I never had an encounter, but I spent two years in a very isolated area of the Mojave Desert. Being on lonely desert highways late at night naturally makes you think about alien abductions! I did see bigfoot though, as a child on a camping trip.
Well, there you have it folks. Melsky: artist, painter, ceramicist and Big Foot spotter!