Melissa is a white settler who grew up on unceded Anishinaabe and Algonquin territory along the Muskoka River in Bracebridge, Ontario. Her grandmother moved to Canada from Australia in 1953 after she boarded a cargo ship that travelled across the Atlantic with her papa who was a captain for Canada Steamships in the Merchant Navy. Melissa is impacted by the history of artistic work along her family line that descends from Britain. Her great grandmother was an artist who painted fine china in England. It’s said Melissa gets her creative talent from her great grandmother. At a young age, Melissa noticed that she was given this creative gift and her Mother, who was also a gifted artist, nurtured her creativity over the years. For every family event Melissa created handmade cards for each family member and received so many compliments that she decided to share this talent with the world and impact the people around her. This led up to the creation of her new business.
Growing up on the river, Melissa has always been immersed within nature and her artwork is impacted by her childhood. This is why many of her pieces depict animals using colourful and complex pallets to illustrate the magic of each animal spirit.
Melissa is constantly in search of new ways to use color, and she expresses this passion through her artwork. In recent years, Melissa has made it her goal to bring her education (Master’s Degree) in Gender Studies into her work. This led to her experimentation with mixed media works that incorporate news articles, poetry, and symbolic metaphors alluding to larger philosophies that help to expand the understanding, knowledge, and passion of the viewer. Melissa has a drive to create more than just art to hang on a wall but to hold deeper meanings to remind the audience of important teachings these paintings represent. Therefore, Melissa takes a different approach to painting, moving from basic visual art to visual teaching. Combined with her use of colourful pallets she was recently dubbed “Mother of colors” for her creative understanding of color composition that captures the eyes of the viewer.
Her most recent series focuses on the importance of women’s work, especially when it comes to artwork. “Essence” is a series of paintings that focus specifically on doilies and the beauty, patterns, and patience it has taken the makers to create such works of art. Often seen as labour of love, these delicate creations are incorporated into each oil painting and the patterns are emphasized by the warm colors of the sunset creating shadows on women’s faces. Some think the effect makes the woman depicted look more-than-human creating a mermaid-esque aesthetic that brings the audience back to the water. A larger philosophy exists beyond the surface of the canvas where all of our destinies are interconnected. Each shape and design is intelligently crafted into harmonious circles within the doilies depicted. To the artist these circles represent the interconnectedness of all living things. Interconnectedness is not only a worldview but relates personally to Melissa’s identity. Interconnectedness relates to her childhood, spending most of her time in the forest, her complex family histories and connections across continents (England, Australia and Canada) and the Anishinaabe peoples and their philosophies that have impacted her because of the land on which she grew up. Melissa remembers her Mother always crocheting doilies as a young girl and these paintings are a way to integrate these memories and teachings that the doily symbolizes.