About Melanie and Blue Thistle Arts
I have loved Mother Nature since I was a young girl riding my horse through light-dappled forests. My parents planted acres of flower gardens that I helped tend, and my mom, Mary Lee, turned wilting house plants into virtual jungles. The ferns she hung on the porch touched the floor by summer’s end. My father photographed flowers - thousands of them - and built bluebird houses everywhere.
The beauty of nature rubbed off on me. Sitting in a field or garden is where I feel most at home and most alive. It is only fitting that I should paint, sitting outside with an easel. And while I love en plein air painting, honestly, it is not my usual technique.
Actuallly, I paint more often inside my studio, almost entirely from my imagination. Mother Nature is so ensconced in my being that I dream about her regularly. Vibrant images just plant themselves in my head - wildly bright flowers, striped tree trunks, tropical flora with petals the size of a platter. The images are not realistic and neither are my paintings. But they both are inspired by nature and her wild, verdant abundance.
My path to art was a winding one. I studied English Lit, then journalism, went abroad and then landed in the field of Historic Preservation. I had a successful career as a writer, publishing articles and books on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. My husband, Brian, and I lived in a historic Chicago row house then, and I took night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, learning how to draw. Art was always in the back of my mind.
We enjoyed the city, but after our three children were born (surprise, twins!), our tiny row house was literally overflowing. So, Brian resigned from his high-pressure consulting job, and we left Chicago for Santa Fe, New Mexico, with the promise of a more relaxed, creative lifestyle. In our old adobe house, my love for the outdoors was rekindled; our windows faced meadows of Indian Paintbrush, bright purple cactus, Aspen-yellow mountains and fiery sunsets. How could we be so lucky?
Inspired by the Southwest, I could no longer resist the urge to paint. I studied with several Santa Fe artists before settling into my own style and palette. Now, 14 years later, I am expanding my art career to include textile and product design. But my inspiration has remained the same. Mother Nature is still the star of my dreams and my waking life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share her beauty with others and play a small role in her conservation.
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“She was sitting in a garden more beautiful than even her rampaging imagination could have conjured up, and she was being serenaded by trees.” Lynn Kurland