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Artist Statement


Melissa Mendelson

Lives & works Ohio, USA


In my current work, I concentrate on two things – energy and environment. In my paintings, I have started to explore the landscape as an entrance into abstraction. I realized how freeing painting something as nonspecific and abstract as clouds was. I took enjoyment from analyzing a photo and separating it into specific blocks of color without the pressure of trying to render something specific. The paintings are primarily blue – partially because of my attraction to ice and snow and an overall cold feeling, both in the world and in my paintings. A semi-monochromatic color palette allows me to explore minute differences in hue, value, and saturation as well as create a painting that does not immediately read as a “thing.” Adding more color makes the painting recognizable a space, but the single color palette adds a different appeal and mystery.


I am absolutely fascinated with the concept of the north. Wild, undiscovered places, swooping mountain peaks, snow covered slopes, quiet forests. My interest in sled dogs and canines is wrapped up into this wanderlust; being alone with nothing but the pounding of dogs’ feet on snow, their panting, the sound of the sled crunching through snow. It's a natural way to access the last wild places of our world. To me, the two ideas are intertwined and related; I can't imagine one without the other.


I am obsessed with energetic, lively line, breathing life into the artwork I create. I cannot stand when a piece feels tight and conservative and dead. Controlled lines leech the life out of the work. I focus on energy in my artmaking – my paintings have swirls and swoops that lead the eye and create dramatic movement. Despite being painted so thick and solid, the paintings seem to move on their own. In my prints, I keep my marks quick, regardless of any mistakes I might make, to give them energy. I focus on sending a line of movement through the print, giving the viewer the sensation that I think about constantly – a wild, rushing sense of freedom.

I think about environment all the time when creating my work. Majestic, overwhelming and unexplored landscapes. The feeling of being on top of a mountain, alone but not lonely, at peace, with a dog as your companion. The sound of wind rushing through leaves and inhaling cold, clean air. My art speaks about these sorts of grand, sweeping environments - but at the same time, it is important to me to have a figure there, to make it relatable, to feel as though you can be a part of it. For me, that figure has always been sled dogs, since they speak to the same kind of wild places that I am interested in. I my work speaks to the same sort of insatiable wanderlust that I feel, the romantic places that seem unreachable, but aren't because I can reach them through my art.


Currently I am exploring these lines of thought further in all areas of my artmaking. Sometimes I feel as though I am all over the place with my work, but I strive to make all my work have that small nugget of similarity at its center – movement and energy. I possess a determined drive to keep moving forward and improving myself and my artwork. My artwork will keep changing, but I hope it does – if my work does not keep changing and evolving, then it will not keep improving.

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