Artistic in the District: Part Eight, A Portrait Artist of a Different Kind

Portrait Artist Melissa Marie Haney has a special gift for capturing the spirit of her subjects. The evidence is in the eyes, because after all “the eye is the window of the soul,” Hiram Powers, American sculptor (1805 – 1873) 

“Art was an outlet for all the feelings that I could not express vocally,” Melissa says. “As I have aged, so has my Art. I am self-taught, so I tend to just go with my instincts and ‘eye’ (about) what I think looks good and what works. Hopefully, others will like what I do and get some enjoyment from it.”

 

Shepard by Melissa Haney https://www.facebook.com/pages/ART-by-Melissa-Haney/116396881805816

It is easy to see how Melissa’s subjects capture her interest and her heart.

When I went looking for artists to interview, I did not need to look further than my circle of friends. I have known Melissa since our school days but only discovered her artistic talents when we became Facebook friends.

Melissa began drawing when she was a child. A shy, young girl, Melissa recalls, “animals were my refuge. Ponies, dogs, cats, just about any animal was my friend. I still have pictures I drew as a child. I have always had animals of some kind. Animals touch everyone at some level.”

By Melissa Haney https://www.facebook.com/pages/ART-by-Melissa-Haney/116396881805816

Using a range of mediums,”acrylics, oils, watercolors, and mixed medium are all options,” she says, “it all depends on the subject and what (fascinates me) at the time. I tend to just go with my feelings on which medium will work with the subject.”

Annie by Melissa Haney https://www.facebook.com/pages/ART-by-Melissa-Haney/116396881805816

“Painting is a cathartic ritual for me. It is a stress relief, and a quiet peace from all the chaos. When I am painting, I tune everything else out, and (am) in my own little world for a time.” ─Melissa Haney

Alaskan Dall Ram by Melissa Haney https://www.facebook.com/pages/ART-by-Melissa-Haney/116396881805816

Although Melissa occasionally sells her painting at fairs and markets in the Mid-West, most of her clients come via word of mouth. If you would like more information on her commissioned portraits, please follow the link to her Facebook page. Melissa’s Facebook Artist Page

Thank you for reading!

Artistic in the District: Part Five, Gallery Hunting

Things to do in DC this summer: Get art smart!

Currently planning my summer entertainment, learning and adventuring with a ten and a twelve-year-old in tow, I set out to research Contemporary Art Galleries and museums in Washington, DC that we might like to wander through.

After years of field trips and family jaunts, we have seen all the ‘hot spots’ and major DC sites multiple times and could likely take turns as docents, particularly of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. My goal this summer is to see what we haven’t and to introduce my two young summer students to more of the expansive world of art.

Washington DC "The Mall"

When we left DC to live in Europe for three years, I thought: “Wait! We didn’t get to see all that we needed to see!”

But then we were fortunate  to spend many afternoons walking miles around Italian cities like Naples, Rome, Florence, and Assisi. We were blessed to trot around Munich, Dublin, Edinburgh, London and Paris and saw some of the most famous paintings and sculptures in the world.

Roaming in Rome!

Now that we have been back for two years, I’m ashamed to admit we have seen far less of our capitol city. What I found through my research could easily take a lifetime of summers to cover so we have some catching up to do.

Better to take this project on one museum or gallery at a time.

Fourteenth street seemed like a good place to begin. A cluster of galleries appear on the map search like grapes on the vine. What I found was fourteenth street is a lively rue of galleries, wine bars, coffee houses and shopping all in one neat place. A spot to travel in the evening with an adult companion, like my husband, not with my two young art enthusiasts.

Numerous searches brought me round again and again to the Corcoran Gallery of Art on 500 Seventeenth Street NW. I am encouraged to see that they offer camp activities for the young ones as well as adult classes. Who knows, maybe there is an artist in me yet. This museum has shot to the top of my to do list. http://www.corcoran.org/youth-family and right now is featuring “emerging” artists. What fun!

Another for my short list is The Hirshhorn Museum on the National Mall http://www.hirshhorn.si.edu/collection/home/#collection=home. The website alone brought out the curious kid in me with glimpses of the sculpture garden and the tease of moving image art.

Well gang that’s as far out as I can plan for now. I will let you know what we discover. Good night, pleasant dreams and may they always be in color, unless your prefer black and white!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Artistic in the District: Part Two

The focus for part two of Artistic in the District is the blending of two art forms, writing and photography.

Self Portrait, Arc de Triophe, Paris
Self Portrait, Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Some of my favorite blogs are those featuring poetry or a story combined with an artistic photo or photos. In a sense, almost all bloggers strive to accomplish some form of this. These seem to allow a peek inside the mind of the writer. Perhaps, the poem or story itself begins as inspired the photo. Either way it is a wonderful combination. Here are some I follow and some just recently discovered. If you know of any other artistic blogs you like, please feel free to recommend them.

Hortus ClosusFriendly Fairy TalesSource of InspirationPoesy plus PolemicsBroken LightThe Neophyte PhotographerMr. Modigliani’s Private StudioRadiating BlossomsThe Mirror Obscuramaxada mandalaBjorn Rudbergs writingsthe Book of Pain, and Il mio giornale di bordo

Contemporary art is an evolving art form. In a similar way, the art of blogging evolves. I have seen more and more of these blogs spring up due to the popularity of this form. Perhaps because we readers are all so busy, we seek the quick fix a photograph provides. An excellent photograph will move us to some feeling, sensation, or memory. Adding on verse only makes the photo more appealing in that it gives voice and offers words for contemplation.

I enjoy taking pictures but I am not a photographer. Taken by my husband, the photo I selected above is of me descending the staircase of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris . I love the idea of ordinary things becoming extraordinary because I am looking at them from a different angle. Art is about vision. The beauty is that we all have a unique experience. We all have a story or two to tell.

Looking at this photo, I noticed for the first time, there is someone else on the staircase below me. Who was that person? Where was she going after she finished her sight-seeing tour? Maybe she went to meet a friend in a local café. Maybe for a rendezvous with a lover? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Happy writing all and thanks for reading.

Artistic in the District, Part One

Contemporary Visual Artists and Fiction Writers Sharing a Common Muse

Mural, Annapolis, MD
Mural in Annapolis, Maryland

As a lifelong lover of art, I find Contemporary Art, the many forms it takes, and the unique spin each artist brings to their medium, intriguing. It differs from Modern Art as the latter, Contemporary, emerged from the former, Modern. The Modern Art movement began earlier, dating back to the late 1800’s with the work of the Impressionists and including movements such as Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Contemporary Art has fewer movements and less lofty ‘isms’. It includes but is not limited to Post-Modernism, Toyism, Bitterism, Stuckism, Thinkism and Funism.

Art movements, be they ever-changing, simply put, the distinguishing factor between Contemporary Art from Modern Art is timing. Contemporary Art falls under the large umbrella of the art of our current lifetime. Does that mean 1950’s, 1960’s or 1970’s? Perhaps it depends on your age.

As a writer, I feel captivated by the term ‘movement’ as it defines an artist’s style, technique or philosophy. Furthermore, how does the era and history of one’s lifetime influence their art? How does the artist’s personal circumstances influence their art? Similarly, how do these same structural guidelines apply to writers?

People often refer to writers as artists. I am not sure I totally agree. It would depend on what the writer produces. A non-fiction writer can learn to polish the craft of writing and become competent enough to entertain or persuade others through his or her writing and may even earn a living as a writer. Does entertainment or persuasion alone equal art? What other factors define it?

A fiction writer or poet is a closer cousin of the visual artist in that he or she invents people, places and events and then weaves them into a credible tale to entertain, persuade and/or generate an emotional reaction in their reader. Defined by what they write about, and which genre best defines their writing, are fiction writers not similar beings to our artistic cousins in that we often share a common muse? We create our own vision of the world, or life as we see it.

This calls to mind a favorite quote by a very famous artist: “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Artists and writers share a common bond in that we both face the blank page with the same measure of optimism. We create something from nothing, draw out what lies within the emptiness of a blank page, a blank canvas or an empty space. Tackling this problem is the challenging puzzle for both the artist and the writer. But do we owe even more consideration to the viewers and readers for what they take away from our creations and how it this is tempered by their own history, experience and imagination?