GALLERY ARTIST INTERVIEW: MELISSA WHITE

How old are you?
32

What is the primary medium you work in?
Watercolor

What is your favorite medium to work in?
Gouache

What is one medium that you would love to learn?
Oil

What is your favorite subject matter?
I love painting “ugly” and under-appreciated animals, not just the cute ones!

What art tools do you use, and do you have any tools or brands that you recommend?
Canson Cold Press Watercolor paper, Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolors, and any tiny brushes I can find (taklon is always preferable, in my humble opinion)

If you were stranded on a desert island, what are the three art supply items that you would have with you?
A nice big watercolor sketchbook, a super-pigmented watercolor set that would last me forever, and a giant bucket of white gouache

What sources would you recommend for artists that are interested in pursuing your art medium?
Youtube and Skillshare have incredible tutorials available, and so many to binge! I would definitely recommend simply searching for art you love and researching the artists, since so many these days either have tutorials or film videos of their painting process, and just consuming anything that comes your way for inspiration and how-to!

How and when did you start creating artwork?
I’ve been painting since I was a very little girl and talked myself out of going to art school at the last minute, which I have always regretted. I began selling my work in 2014, but my mediums and canvases change constantly! I’ve painted shoes with fabric paints, wood panels with acrylic paints, and now back to basics with watercolor on paper.

Who or what are your biggest artistic influences?
Mary Blair and Eyvind Earle as Disney artists were my earliest inspirations, and made me want to be an artist when I grew up. My favorite classical painters were Van Gogh and Monet, I loved their use of color and gestures.

What piece of art do you most closely identify with?
Eyvind Earle’s concept art pieces for Sleeping Beauty are like my soul’s happy place!

If you could time travel to experience any art movement firsthand, what would it be and why?
Absolutely impressionism and post-impressionism, hands-down!

If you could give any advice to your past-artist-self, what would it be?
STOP THINKING THAT USING REFERENCES IS CHEATING – and that you won’t get any closer to making something you’re happy with until you start making garbage first.

What is your absolute dream project? If you could create anything in the world, what would you create?
If I could work on a Disney animated film I would probably die happy

What is your ultimate goal as an artist? Has this changed over your art career?
I definitely used to think I had to get a “real job” as an artist, or there was no point to making art at all. It has taken me a very VERY long time to be okay with painting just for me, and that making any money came secondary to my personal enjoyment of what I was doing.

What would you do if you were only two inches tall? 
I would probably be really happy about saving so much money on groceries, and I would definitely make it my life’s mission to ride a cat.

If you could shrink any piece of art to carry around in your pocket with you, what would it be and why?
It actually wouldn’t be a painting, I just think a mini Nike of Samothrace would be really fun to have!

Can you tell us about the pieces you created for this gallery? 
I have been painting tiny animals over the last few years, and they still bring me so much joy! I like to focus my attentions on the “ugly” animals out there that many people would never consider cute, or animals that have a particular stigma. I think all animals are beautiful, and as a series, I thought I would focus on animals that feature as witches familiars! And so we have a raven perched on a skull overtaken by nature and springtime, a rat offering you a flower bigger than he is, a funny little toad squatting on a toadstool, and a sweet albino snake wrapped around a crystal.

Are there any messages that you’re aiming to convey with the art you created for this gallery? 
Not only do I hope that people can see that even the creepy crawly animals are cute sometimes, but that there really is beauty anywhere you look, as long as you’re willing to look in the first place. Sometimes they might be a little gloomy, or a little dark, but there’s always something beautiful to enjoy somewhere.

Would you like to share any stories/experiences/special memories that revolve around the theme of this gallery? 
I absolutely loved having rats as a kid, and was always so saddened when people said “ew!” when I told them how sweet and cuddly they were! And while I have never had the personal privilege, my mother loved having her little garden snake when she was younger, and had the same unfortunate experiences with people not understanding how she could love such a “gross” animal. Ravens are definitely one of my favorite animals of all-time – did you know they really can talk? It’s not just something Edgar Allen Poe made up! They remember people’s faces, and you can even become best friends by offering them shiny gifts!

Would you rather have the ability to shrink very small or become a giant? 
I’m already 5’0″ tall (short) in real life, I feel like I may as well just get smaller. I don’t know if I could handle being a giant after this long!

Is this the smallest piece of artwork that you’ve ever created? 
NO! I once painted faux embroidery on a pair of baby shoes!

Have you participated in the Artist Lodge Gallery before? 
No

Anything else you’d like to add?
I hope you enjoy my tiny creepy-cute little creatures, and that they bring you as much joy as they do me!


YOU CAN FIND MORE FROM MELISSA HERE:
Instagram

*Please note that all artwork is reposted with permission from the artists. Please do not use, alter, or repost the artwork without direct permission from the artists. Each artist may have a different Creative Commons license on their work/images and you will need to contact them directly in order to obtain permission for your uses.

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