Melissa McKinnon: Artist

Melissa McKinnon is a Contemporary Canadian Landscape Artist living and painting in Calgary, AB.


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Honoured To Be An Inspiration: My Tree Paintings Interpreted By 8-9 Year Old Students Half-way Around the World In Canterbury, England

This morning I received the most beautiful letter that made my heart soar!

I’ve had classes research my work and use my paintings as inspiration for various projects in the past but I just had to share this one! The sheer volume of work, attention to detail and the depth of exploration and experimentation with materials is phenomenal – AND these artists are only 8 and 9 years old!!!

Aren’t these kids amazing!?!

I also want to acknowledge and thank Miss Apps for choosing my work as an inspiration. (It’s not every day that I get chosen over Monet and Picasso!) Her students are very lucky to have such a dedicated teacher who is passionate about the arts and who encourages her students to express themselves creatively. That is the greatest gift! Cheers to you, Miss Apps!

A mixed media piece.

A mixed media piece.

A letter from Miss Apps:

“My name is Roxanne Apps and I am a primary school teacher in Canterbury, Kent (England) and I teach a class of 30 8-9 year olds. For the last 2 weeks we have had what we call ‘Arts Week’ in our school, where each class is required to pick an artist and base all of their work around that one artist for 2 weeks. 

Most classes pick a classic artist such as Monet or Picasso but this year I decided to choose a contemporary artist for a change. I browsed the internet with my class for a creative contemporary artist with a set ‘theme’ that could inspire our work. We stumbled upon your website and instantly fell in love with your paintings (in fact I have become a bit obsessed!). We immediately decided to choose you as our inspiration.

We quickly set about gathering ideas for how we could recreate and interpret your work in our own individual ways. We made oil pastel pictures with black backgrounds and chalk birch trees, we made finger painted leaves with newspaper trees and we also wrote poems about how the colours of the trees make us feel or what they remind us of. There were many other things but it is too much to list! Our favourite piece of all was our joint class canvas. We used thick paints and glue sticks to create the leaves and used masking tape to create the outline of the trees before we scraped card dipped in black paint across to create the effect of the bark on the birch trees. Each child had a go at adding on the layers of leaves and we think you will agree that the finished result looks pretty amazing! 

At the end of the 2 weeks all the children and teachers worked hard to display our work in an exhibition in the school hall. Parents and members of the public were welcomed to come and peruse our artwork and also to buy some of it. The exhibition is still going and all of the money raised will go to a local charity that supports young adults with Downs Syndrome. 

Hundreds of people have turned up over the last few days to look at our beautiful exhibition and many commented on how lovely the work turned out. People were especially intrigued to hear about your work and commented on how stunning your paintings were! It was a nice change from all of the classic artists which surrounded us in the school exhibition. My class’ work sold like hot cakes and I believe this is because they were so passionate about your work that this was reflected in their beautiful pictures. 

I hope you are pleased to know that you have inspired little people who live thousands of miles away (and their teacher!) with your absolutely gorgeous paintings! The class are aware that I am writing to you and would love to hear a comment back from you if you have the time. 

I have copied and pasted some pictures of our hard work and also of the exhibition to show you what you have inspired us to create! 

I hope you enjoy looking through them!

Yours,

Roxanne Apps (Miss Apps)
Teacher and English Coordinator
Wincheap Primary School
Canterbury, Kent”

Aspen and birch tree paintings by 8 & 9 year old students in Canterbury, Kent, England

Aspen and birch tree paintings by 8 & 9 year old students in Canterbury, Kent, England

My Response Letter To the Class:

Dear Miss Apps and the very creative and hard working students of Wincheap Primary School,

Thank you so much for choosing my paintings to inspire you during Art Week.

I am SO proud of all you!

The paintings you created are so beautiful and creative. I love how you used different materials to create variations of your tree paintings, each one is unique and in your own style. I especially loved reading the poems that you wrote to accompany your paintings, beautifully done.

You must have worked very hard to create all of those works of art and I commend you for it! Above all, I hope that you had fun while doing it!

Making art is not about being born with talent, it is about being happy while you create. It’s about being dedicated and passionate about what you create. It’s about making art even if others (or yourself!) tell you it’s not worth it or it’s not good enough. Not everyone has to like what you create. Do what makes you happy and share it with the world, you never know who might see what you create and be inspired by it! 😉 (Like a class full of young artists from halfway around the world!)

Whatever you do, don’t stop creating!

I heard that your art exhibition was a huge success, congratulations! If you have any paintings left for sale, I would love to purchase one for my studio.

I also love that you are donating all of the proceeds to charity. I am a big believer in giving back to your community and I donate artwork to various charity fundraisers throughout the year. It’s a wonderful way to use your passion for art to help others.

Thank you again for sharing your beautiful artwork and poetry with me. I can’t tell you how happy it made me.

I wish all the best and please keep in touch. I’d love to see what you create next!

Creatively yours,

Melissa McKinnon

Aspen and birch tree paintings by 8 & 9 year old students in Canterbury, Kent, England inspired by Melissa McKinnon

Aspen and birch tree paintings by 8 & 9 year old students in Canterbury, Kent, England inspired by Melissa McKinnon

Poetry inspired by their tree paintings.

Poetry inspired by their tree paintings.

The inspiration…

The inspiration…

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ART COLLECTOR SNEAK PEAK: A behind the scenes look into the process of commissioning “Spring Glimmer” an Original Acrylic Birch and Aspen Tree Painting by Contemporary Canadian Landscape Artist Melissa McKinnon

 Art Collector Sneak Peak: Rob & Sarah, Frodsham, England

A behind the scenes look into the process of commissioning “Spring Glimmer” an Original Acrylic Aspen and Birch Tree Painting by Contemporary Canadian Landscape Artist Melissa McKinnon

“Spring Glimmer” 18″x14″ Acrylic on Canvas

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“Spring Glimmer” 17″x13” Acrylic Painting on Canvas

This lovely little painting of aspen and birch trees was a custom work of art commissioned by new collectors, Rob and Sarah, from Frodsham, England, UK. They recently sent me this letter and shared their heartfelt gratitude and enjoyment of the commission process:

“Dear Melissa,

We love our painting. It is fantastic that we get to wake up to it every morning. Perfectly timed to hit the clocks going forward to ‘summer-time’ here in the UK, so it really does feel like spring!

It was a lovely experience working with you and getting to see the updates of the picture. We really feel that we were part of the process and appreciate how responsive you’ve been especially whilst you’ve had so many exhibitions going on and been creating other impressive paintings (not quite as nice as ours of course… :)).

Thank you again for our painting!

Best wishes,

Rob and Sarah

P.S. we also loved that you included the cards and the hook and nail – it meant that we did not have to wait another second to put it up and is a really thoughtful little touch.”

If you have ever thought about commissioning an original painting and were curious about what to expect, here is a look into the process of commissioning a custom work of art with me.

THE INSPIRATION

Rob and Sarah wanted a painting that showcases the vibrant colours of spring with lots of green, turquoise, aqua, and yellow.

They had fallen in love with the colours and texture of one of my previous birch tree paintings “Little Seeds”. However, that painting had already been sold and was too large for the space they had in mind to display the work of art. We used “Little Seeds” as our colour inspiration to create a smaller painting, custom made for Rob and Sarah’s home.

THE SKETCH

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The winning sketch for commissioned painting “Spring Glimmer”

I sent Rob and Sarah this sketch along with a note:

“After several drawings which experimented with the composition for your painting, I enjoy this one the most! I feel that the number, size and placement of the trees suits the size and proportion of an 18″x14″ canvas. It also allows for a lot of depth to be built into the painting as well as room for the viewers eye to flow throughout. Have a look and let me know if we are on the right track. I welcome any feedback that you may have.” ~Melissa

Their response was enthusiastic:

We think that it looks fantastic! Very happy to go ahead and would love to see it in different stages as it progresses. It makes it even more exciting.

THE PROCESS

With that, I started the painting process, adding layers and layers…and layers of brightly coloured leaves! I added gold mica pigment to the paint which brought out a subtle ‘glimmer’ in some of the leaves, as if they were glistening in the spring sunlight.

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“Spring Glimmer” 17″x13” Acrylic Painting on Canvas

It takes about 4-6 weeks to create a custom painting. Throughout that time my paintings go through many stages and drastic changes.

My artistic process when creating an aspen and birch tree painting is lengthy. I build up layers and layers of colour and texture to create depth and visual interest throughout the painting. I start by applying the darkest colours first and work my way through the colour spectrum to the lightest and brightest colours.

I send weekly photos to my collectors of their painting in progress so that they become involved in my artistic journey. I love that even though my collectors might be in a different country, in this case England, they still feel like they are in the studio creating with me.

Here is “Spring Glimmer” in the very early stages of creation.

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The early stages of creating commissioned painting “Spring Glimmer”

Not so pretty! But that soon changes and the painting begins to develop further…

Here is “Spring Glimmer” in it’s final stages of completion.

“We are absolutely delighted, and with the last few lighter colours I think it’ll look exactly like we had hoped.” ~Rob

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Almost finished!
The final stages of Commissioned painting “Spring Glimmer”

THE FINISHED PAINTING

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“Spring Glimmer” 18″x14” Acrylic Painting on Canvas

Click on any image to view it larger:

“Hi Melissa,

The picture has arrived in perfect condition and is now in place. Really, really delighted with it – just how we had hoped and the colours are amazing!

Thank you so much for making it for us, you’ve been a pleasure to work with and we absolutely love the end result.

Rob & Sarah”

To learn more about how you can commission a painting with me, CLICK HERE or send me an EMAIL.

***

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