Behind The Collection GOOD EVENING February 22, 2024
What's The Deal With Puzzling? January 17, 2024
Conversation with the artist - Melissa Hartley
Hi Melissa! First of all, thanks for taking the time to let us learn more about you and your art. It’s so nice to have your beautiful works as a part of La La Land. Speaking of your time, how long would it take you to paint an artwork such as Antony or Remington?
Oh thank you so very much it's fantastic to be part of La la land with so many amazing artists! My paintings really take as long as it takes. I know it’s a vague answer, but I get so caught up in the details that time just passes. So I don’t see it as how long it takes as to knowing when to actually stop!
And you are self taught - that’s incredible! What was the point or the particular artwork that made you realise you could be a working artist?
I've always been very creative for as long as I can remember and have been a Graphic Designer for over 18 years now. Around seven years ago I got to the point where I wanted to do something more hands-on and step away from being in front of the computer all the time so I went back to my love of painting. When I started doing it though it was purely for me and my enjoyment only. I never dreamed it would get this far, but with social media I started putting myself out there and getting some really positive feedback. I guess for me "Tempestuous" was the piece that gave me the confidence to really go for it.
Your style is very poetic, as you say. Do you come up with a concept for a painting and then begin to work on it, or does it all come together in the process of creation?
I always come up with the full concept before I begin painting. I might do a rough sketch of my idea first and then I'll do a photo shoot. A lot of it I have visually stored in my head. From the photo shoot I then use this as my reference point to start painting.
The titles of your paintings are often also very poetic, like ‘Ghost In The Shadows’ and ‘Living on Borrowed Time’, and are as open to interpretation. How important do you find the titles in initiating thought or discussion of what the viewer might draw for themselves as meaning within your work?
Well I don't like to give too much away, I prefer the viewer to come up with their own interpretation as everyone will come to a painting with their own ideas and background. I use a lot of symbols in my work that had been used in art through history, so there is a familiar language there that people should already be comfortable with. The titles are just a little hint or window into the real meaning behind them.
Your artworks have a very classic quality. Which classic artists have inspired your techniques?
I'm inspired by so many artists, but the ones that immediately come to mind are Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali and the Dutch Masters of the Golden Age, in particular Rachel Ruysch and Willem van Aelst.
Okay best time of day for creativity - early morning or late night?
What is a sure fire way for you to get a fresh burst of inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere! Nature just astonishes me. If I go into a florist that is a sure fire way of getting inspired for sure!
Any habits or rituals in creating your art that you can tell us about?
I don't really think I have any habits or rituals when it comes to creating. I like to just focus on the one painting and get engrossed in the details. I love to listen to music while I'm painting, and the music that I play is heavily dependent on my mood and the type of day it is.
Well I'm going to have to quote my six-year-old niece here for her stroke of genius. She always says when someone asks her her favourite colour, "the rainbow". I have to say I totally agree, I couldn't possibly decide on a favourite colour, there are too many!
And your favourite quote?
"Be yourself: everyone else is already taken". Oscar Wilde
What are you most proud of from your journey and work as an artist?
I'm always amazed at the lovely and beautiful comments I get from people. I feel blessed to be able to do this and be able to touch people this way.
Okay, and lastly, if you were going to give anyone in the world your ‘Cleopatra’ La La Land greeting card, who would you give it to and what would it say?
That’s quite a tricky one. I guess I would say my too adorable British Shorthair cats for their birthday. Cleopatra was apparently such a beauty I know my two boys would be totally in awe of her:)
Interview by La La Land's word wizard Michelle Edwards