Aug 31, 2020
Artist Melissa Belanger's desire to be contrary is rooted in her childhood. Her mother was supportive but didn't like candy, Halloween, and dolls, which Melissa adores. Melissa created all of her costumes. One of her most memorable was cardboard butterfly wings paired with a snowsuit. Halloweens were often cold in her Wisconsin hometown.
Melissa loved her time as a middle school art teacher. She pushed her students to explore as many mediums as possible and to focus on process over outcome. She was amazed by the skill of her students and how open their minds were. Before going full-time in art, she also worked in a bookstore and an art gallery.
Melissa is passionate about travel. She enjoys checking out places she's seen in movies or heard about in songs. In Ostend, Belgium, she checked out the resort from the 1971 European vampire classic, Daughters of Darkness. Watching tourists on the boardwalk reminded her of Edward Gorey's paintings. She's a fan of artist James Ensor (1860-1949), who painted carnivals, puppets, and masks. While in Belgium, she visited his apartment and his mother's curiosity shop. It was there she spotted her first Fiji mermaid.
Her parents bestowed upon her a love of history and literature. Both find their way into her paintings. The twisted stories of Elizabeth Bathory, Fox Sisters, witch hunts, and the Donner Party inspire her to create.
Melissa admits it is tricky to describe her paintings. They are so cute she almost wants to dislike them. Her paintings have playful colors and textures. Melissa enjoys playing around with different themes and eras and mashing them all together. Her characters often hint that they are about to do something naughty. An outfit, movie, or song will help her focus on a theme for an art show.
Melissa loves cocktails and to entertain. She intentionally sets up her art show booths as lounges to encourage people to hang out. One of her favorite drinks is a Corpse Reviver. Her husband, Joe, is a great booth assistant. He'll even wear short lederhosen to get into character.
Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Crafts magazine has included Melissa's work in multiple issues. On episode 20 of HGTV's Crafters Coast to Coast, she shared how to make a black cat bobblehead and a pumpkin pillow. Melissa shared the secret that several dolls played the part of the black cat. You can see the show at: https://watch.hgtv.com/tv-shows/crafters-coast-to-coast/full-episodes/bobbleheads-zombie-dolls-faux-tombstones-pumpkin-pillow.
Melissa wrapped up the interview with two of her favorite quotes:
"Remember, never take no cut-offs and hurry along as fast as you can" - Anna Khomina (Donner-Reed Party and the Winter of 1846)
"No matter what, expect the unexpected. And whenever possible BE the unexpected" - author Lynda Barry.
Visit Melissa’s website: http://www.melissabelanger.com