Melissa McKinnon: Artist

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

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A Personal Look Into My Creative Process and Inspiration for Two New Aspen and Birch Tree Paintings – From Contemporary Landscape Artist Melissa McKinnon

New Paintings and a Personal Look Into My Creative Process and Inspiration

I don’t normally share much about the inspiration behind each of my paintings; I want the viewer to have their own personal connection with my art, allowing the paintings to speak for themselves.

That being said, these paintings have become very special to me and symbolic of how I want to live my life and the impact I wish for my art to have on others. To give you a glimpse into my thoughts, and the process that I go through in my studio when I’m not painting, I’ve taken an excerpt from my sketchbook writing and I’ve expanded upon it below. Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts with me, I’d love hear your response. As always, I hope my art brings you happiness and joy!

If you’d like to skip the chatter below, feel free to dive deep into the paintings right away.

PAINTING GALLERY

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Paintings in progress – “With Wild Abandon” and “Love Is Love”

June was a busy month, full of year end school activities with my daughters and finishing my studio works in progress in preparation for our new summer schedule.

June was also a time of unrest in many parts of the world. War, terror attacks, mass shootings, the list goes on. In a time of uncertainty, divisiveness, and constant change in the world, it’s more important than ever to seek moments of peace and positivity in our lives. As humans sharing this great big planet we call home, we are all connected, regardless of age, race, gender or religion. When others are suffering, we are all affected.

I was in the studio painting when I first heard about the mass shooting at Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida. It stopped me cold in my tracks.  I was overcome with sadness, worry and a deep feeling of helplessness. Another mass shooting…another horrific senseless tragedy…more precious lives lost. It’s challenging, to say the least, to keep moving forward and to stay positive and optimistic in the wake of such tragedy.

For me, creating art is my way of making sense of the world. In times of darkness or sadness, I can go into the studio and lose myself in the paint. The sheer act of creating brings me joy. Often it’s less about the end product and more about the the journey of the creative process to find that source of joy and uplifting positive energy.

I’ve learned that looking at art and experiencing it first hand has the ability to change ones emotional state in the same way it does while creating it. I’ve witnessed people brought to tears while standing in front of a painting, myself included. Art has the ability to connect people and to change people.

My aim is to create works of art that connect with people. Paintings that are full of life and positive energy, that uplift and inspire. The greatest compliment I could ever receive as an artist is that one of my paintings made someone happy just by looking at it. How powerful is that?! I think we could all use more positive experiences like this in our lives.

“Melissa, we received our painting today and it’s gorgeous, even more beautiful than we saw online. The colours are so bright and cheerful, it makes me happy every time I look at it. Your painting has brought such joy to our home. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” A+G

That brings me to latest creations and how they’ve become a metaphor for life…

Originally started over a year ago, these particular canvases were soon left behind only half finished, as my attention was devoted to commissioned pieces and managing the deadlines of a busy studio.

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“Love Is Love” Painting in progress – the ‘before’.

Fast forward to June 2016, when I rediscovered the paintings.  They were dark, dull and lifeless. I no longer felt a connection to them and that wasn’t the message I wanted to send out into the world.

Hearing the news of yet another mass attack on innocent people was heartbreaking. Like many others, I felt overwhelmed and full of sadness for the world. The ray of light that day was the incredible amount of love and support that was shown from people all over the world standing in solidarity with the victims and their families. People not afraid to voice their opinion and stand up for those they love. Because love is love. The one thing we all need more of in this world, is love.

With that as my inspiration and driving force I completed the paintings, giving them new life. I put everything I had that day into these pieces.They have been completely transformed, from dull and dark to gloriously brilliant and full of unabashed colour. You can still see bits and pieces of the dark underneath but they now stand tall and proud, offering a bright beacon of light where once there was only only darkness.

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Love is in the air!

So, I have to share this with you…! This is a close up detail of one of the paint strokes in “With Wild Abandon”. In this process, I use a palette knife loaded with a selection of various colours and as I ‘pull the stroke’ the colours blend and create the varied blends and texture. The result is spontaneous, always different and could never be duplicated. It’s one of the things I love most about this series – each and every stroke is unique and beautiful in it’s own way. 

Do you see the heart?

It was completely a serendipitous ‘happy accident’ but once I saw it I had to leave it! It’s become a symbol of everything these paintings and my work as a whole, stands for.

With that, I’m pleased to present the two newest paintings in my aspen and birch tree collection, “Wild With Abandon” and “Love is Love”. May they fill your heart with happiness and joy.

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“With Wild Abandon” 48″x36″ Acrylic Painting on Canvas $3450

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“Love Is Love” 36”x48″ Acrylic Painting on Canvas $3450

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“With Wild Abandon” {Detail} 48″x36″ Acrylic Painting on Canvas

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“With Wild Abandon” {Detail} 48″x36″ Acrylic Painting on Canvas

Inspired by this painting?

To purchase “With Wild Abandon” or “Love Is Love” please contact me here.

Worldwide shipping is available.

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Name Game – The Inspiration Behind the Painting “Learn From the Fall” and How I Choose the Titles For My Artwork

A collector recently wrote to me and asked about the inspiration behind the painting “Learn From the Fall” and the meaning behind the title.

 
“Learn From the Fall” 48″x36” Acrylic Painting on Canvas
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“Learn From the Fall” 48″x36” Acrylic Painting on Canvas

The title of the painting, “Learn From the Fall” is from a song that I adore.

I am often inspired by literature and music lyrics. When I read or hear a phrase that speaks to me, I will make a note of it for future reference (occasionally on the wall of my studio, like how it happened with this one!).

Sometimes the phrase will inspire a new painting and sometimes the title is chosen after the painting is complete as a way to describe the emotion or life experience that I was inspired by while creating. In this case the title came to me in the beginning stages of the painting. I love the title and everything that it represents to me.

“Learn From the Fall” inspires me to learn from challenging life experiences and to persevere. 

As in life, love and art – we fall.

Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we had hoped. The best thing we can do is embrace those experiences and learn from them.

Visually, in the painting you can see the green leaves falling on the left hand side and sweeping up through the middle of the painting and turning a brighter shade of yellow as they rise. The painting has a cyclical feel to the composition – as leaves fall down towards the earth in death, they are just as soon lifted up as if carried by a gust of wind for a second chance.

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Close-up detail photo of the colourful leaves and thick painted texture of the tree trunks.

It reminds me of falling head over heels in love with reckless abandon… and then… inevitably learning from that experience, yet still choosing to do it all over again the next time. 😉 It’s a beautiful thing.

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Close-up detail photo of the colourful leaves and thick painted texture of the tree trunks.

***

My unique painting technique focuses on combining bright colours, thick layered texture, and intricate patterns throughout each painting.

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Here is the song that started it all…

“Learn From the Fall” by Noah Guthrie – Only1Noah

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“My Dream For You” Original Abstract Acrylic Aspen / Birch Tree Painting by Canadian Artist Melissa McKinnon

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“My Dream For You” 36×48 Original Abstract Acrylic Aspen / Birch Tree Painting on Canvas by Canadian Artist Melissa McKinnon

My Dream For You

This is the most abstract and conceptual painting in my Aspen / Birch Tree Series. My husband doesn’t “get” it, but I love it. I am absolutely in love with it. This painting is very personal for me not only because of the process that I went through to create it but also because it represents everything wonderful that I could ever dream and wish for my girls.

~

My Dearest, Isabella and Valentina,

As your parent, I want the very best life experience for you. So much so that it hurts when I think about the possibility of any hardships that you might encounter.

This is my dream for you:

I want you to know love. To love and be loved. Deeply. To love yourself and all those who are lucky enough to share their lives with you.

I want you to dream BIG. I have always believed that anything you want for your life is possible, work hard to make your dreams come true and they will. I want you to believe in yourselves, to have the confidence to take chances, on life, on love, on yourselves.

I want you to love what you do, to discover and cultivate your passion. Never give up on your dreams. You deserve to be happy.

This painting is for you. It represents my dream for you – that one day all of your dreams will come true. When you look at it I want you to see a bright and welcoming world with endless possibilities.

I want you to live in a world where forests are painted with colors that inspire you,

a world where trees become leaves

and leaves become birds

and those birds are you,

free to fly wherever your heart takes you.

I love you.

Love always and forever,

Your Mom

~

Trying to express all of my hopes and dreams for my children visually in a painting has been my biggest challenge yet as an artist. There were many times when I felt frustrated, I felt the painting wasn’t working – I wanted to walk away.

I wanted this painting to be beautiful.

Magical.

Inspirational.

And if it couldn’t be those things, I didn’t want to do it. The entire process of creating this piece was a challenge. In the end, I released my insatiable desire for perfection and allowed my heart to lead, instead of my mind.

This is the outcome and I love it. It represents all of the qualities that I want to instill in my girls… as well as myself.

When something is challenging, don’t give up. Persevere and eventually you will achieve your goals.

If you are passionate about something, don’t sacrifice it for anything.

In life, do what makes you happy.

I hope you enjoy this painting as much as I do.

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The 3 Stages of My Love Affair with Painting

I have a love / hate relationship with each and every one of my paintings. It’s a vicious circle and this is what it looks like:

LUST

Like all new relationships, my love affair with a blank canvas begins with excitement, butterflies in my stomach and limitless fantasies of how wonderful our future will be. The lust stage. It’s the feeling that nothing this special or profound has ever existed before. This love (the new painting) will be unlike all the others that have come before it.

This lasts until I get to the point where I absolutely hate the piece that I am working on and I convince myself that I have ruined it beyond all hope. This happens every time.

This is when my painting and I take a break. Sometimes our break-up lasts overnight and sometimes for several weeks.

But like a moth to a flame we always reunite.

LOVE

Inspired and excited once again, we join in passion and creativity. There are always challenges, but we persevere and learn to work through them. This is the trust building, love stage.

COMMITMENT

Nonetheless, there comes a point when the painting is almost finished and I find myself holding back, hesitant to put paint to canvas. This is the commitment (or fear of commitment) stage. The point when you have to make a decision; flake out and give-up or to plunge in headfirst and just go for it. It’s always scary at first, but once I commit, it’s incredible, and it’s like the painting completes itself. From that moment on I am forever in love with that painting.

I am currently working on 5 new paintings for the new year and I am in a different stage of love with each one…and I’m loving every minute!

“I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.” – Jackson Pollock
"Tonight I Dream In Color" (Close-up detail of texture) 48 x 60 Acrylic on Canvas

“Tonight I Dream In Color” (Close-up detail of texture) 48 x 60 Acrylic on Canvas

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