Meet the Others: Melissa Herrington
The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic emerging talent showcasing their work at The Other Art Fair.
Melissa Herrington‘s paintings are representative of her path, which is inspired by adventure and independence, and her love of color and texture.
For her travel is a major catalyst for her evolving themes and artistic practice. In all of her works color and shape are both organic, intuitive and feminine.
Q&A with the Artist
Tell us about who you are and what you do. What is your background?
I am a contemporary abstract artist currently living and working in Los Angeles, California. I moved to Southern California in 2005 to pursue a MFA from Otis College of Art and Design and have called SoCal home since. Prior to that, I spent most of my early career in Atlanta, Georgia and received a BFA from Florida State University.
My work is large-scale, gestural painting that is built up through layers of paint on canvas overlaid with mark-making using graphite, charcoal and pigments. Recent paintings explore the complexities of transformation. Each work functions as both an individual entity and as a part of a larger theme. I explore spontaneous marks and subtle forms through abstraction. Recurring figural motifs repeat throughout the paintings, acting as a sort of visual vocabulary. Layers are fundamental to my imagery and process.
What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
I create mixed media paintings that oscillate between the representational and the abstract. At the heart of my artistic practice is an unmistakable relationship between distilled color and form.
As an artist, my work is an extension of my feelings and state of mind. I create paintings that are meant to be evocative and contemplative. For me, travel is a major catalyst for my evolving themes and artistic practice. In all my works color and shape are both organic, intuitive and feminine.
Where do you source inspiration for your work?
My experiences of artist in residency programs have all directly influenced my art practice. I find inspiration in these experiences.
One of my favorite residencies was in Ireland, at the Cill Rialaig Project @cillrialaigarts, in a remote Gaeltacht village in County Kerry.
Located in a restored pre-famine village in Ballinskelligs. The residency’s eight stone cottages sit perched above a sheer cliff. The setting is dramatic, with spectacular views of swirling ocean on one side and expansive, wind-swept hills on the other. I was inspired from the expansiveness of this environment.
My project for this residency was to limit my palette to only the colors seen outside my studio. Varying shades of the Irish sea and sky, from deep blue to pale teal. There is an unmistakable sense of inspiration to this particular environment and its complexity; the expansiveness of ocean and sky – contrast to the isolation of this remote setting. Mystery and magic of the landscape and timeworn stone structures.
Sometimes it takes time for me to resonate and reflect upon these experiences, to allow the colors and forms to inform a larger narrative of my practice. Until you are truly able to access the real story and then you can see it come to life in a painting. I am always amazed, I will be drawing or experimenting with color and it hits me, “oh this is from that..”
How has your style and practice changed over the years?
I do think my work has changed a lot over the years, but so much has remained the same at it’s core. Visually it may look different but the lines and mark making have remained the same.
Things that are in formation, the process of evolving, this is how I think of my latest body of work, a distilled color. Colors and forms are evolving. I am interested in the way that color can be read in an abstract painting. I am also intrigued how certain colors evoke associations and memories.
Can you tell us about your process? Are you always working on new pieces?
I work on multiple pieces at one time. I work both flat on a large surface and directly on the wall. For me standing back and taking that moment to look from a different perspective is key.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to get back in the studio after a break or multiple shows back to back. Balancing life and making time for creativity is hard when everything else seems to try and get in the way. I think this is even more true as we are living in isolation right now.
I know this is true for myself, I struggle with finding a balance and sacrificing time away from the studio. We have to know it is acceptable to be selfish for our art, but we also need to make time for the quiet moments as well.
I love this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Est’es and think it perfectly sums up my thoughts:
“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
What series or projects are you working on next?
I am very excited to share that I will be having my first museum solo exhibition in September 2020 at Coral Springs Museum of Art in South Florida! The exhibition will include 30 new works!
What is the best advice given to you as an artist?
A few things: 1) Becoming an artist, you are essentially becoming an entrepreneur, and you need to have a business plan. 2) “Mix the color of the life you want.” and 3) Begin. Make. Trust your gut. 80 percent of success is just showing up. Set clear goals. Present yourself professionally. Trust your ideas. Work.
Shop artwork by Melissa and other trailblazing artists at The Other Art Fair’s Online Studios.
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