Melissa Mahoney

Legacy for the love of art — I always remember being an artist. I grew up in a family of artists, drawing and painting from the day that I could hold a crayon and paintbrush.

My Mom is an artist. She works primarily in pen and ink. My Mom’s parents were also artists, working in pencil, watercolor and woodblock. My Mom and grandparents all studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. I remember sitting next to my Mom and sketching at a young age. It was a great way to bond with her, and a way for her to keep a small child entertained. I loved it.

Formal training and the early years after college — I went on to formal art training, earning a BFA from the University of Georgia, majoring in graphic design and minoring in fine art. I also studied art in Tuscany, Italy, in their graduate program. I studied hand-lettering and calligraphy. Some of the brushwork skills that I learned then have worked their way into my abstract painting.

For many years, I drew and painted representational art where the subject was recognizable. Sometimes stylized but many times photorealistic work. I created most of this artwork for myself as a creative outlet. I liked to keep my eyes and hands trained. I could tell when I was in a good stride and the artwork seemed to create itself.

Transitioning to abstraction — As time went on, I worked larger and looser. I loved the energy of these larger, more abstract paintings. They seemed to come to life in a different way.

I experimented making a painting of an overhead view of a koi pond. After I painted the koi, I applied swirls of blue color on top of the fish, obscuring most of the subject matter. I titled this painting Hidden Koi.

I continued working in this way for another year, creating paintings of a certain subject and then obscuring it with abstract circular or linear shapes. I found myself moving further and further from the subject and working with only color, shape, form and texture. This is when the Vortices series was born, my art transitioning to abstract painting completely.

Vortices draw all that surround them into their powerful currents. I’m interested in these masses of energy and how they can contain and then transfer their energy. Each piece is intended to convey a sense of motion and an energy that captures, and then transcends, the particular subject matter. Translating these energies in raw form, I feed the canvas with paint, dyes, metal leaf, enamel and modeling paste, utilizing color with shades of dark and light. In turn, the completed work expresses this dynamic force, inviting the viewer to receive the energy if they choose to.

Pacific Rising painting — Pacific Ocean Inspired – Vortices series

The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest ocean. It covers about 46% of the Earth’s water surface and about one-third of its total surface area, making it larger than all of the Earth’s land area combined. The Pacific Ocean’s name was coined by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during his circumnavigation of the world in 1521. As he encountered favorable winds on reaching the ocean, he called these waters Mar Pacifico, which is Portuguese for “peaceful sea.” (Excerpt from Wikipedia)

“I find the Pacific Ocean both calming and turbulent; I’m drawn to all of its energies. It displays a range of colors: from indigo and dark teal at its depth to bright turquoise and blue when the waves are cresting. Its colors and force of nature and are captivating to me.” — Melissa Mahoney