I was in grade eleven attending the Summerscapes program at Red Deer College when I first knew that unequivocally, I wanted to be an artist. I was in a painting class and we were given the task of painting a citrus; I had chosen a lemon. As I laid down the initial strokes of paint on the canvas, thick and heavy with a palette knife, I experience a deep thrill. I knew in my heart that my life must include this. I didn’t yet know in what shape or form, but I was determined to pursue art.
“The View From The Tree” by Melissa Baron – Private Collection
Who are the artists that have had the greatest influence on you and why?
Several artists have been very generous with their teaching. Local artists Jeff Collins and Tessa Nunn have both been very encouraging to me. I had my first solo show in a full gallery space at Collins Studio Gallery this October. I also studied from Frank Giacco in Sydney, Australia at Julian Ashton Art School, Nick Dobson at the University of Alberta, and Felicia Forte privately. In terms of inspiration, there are so many! Andrew Salgado is one of my favourite painters alive today. His paintings are skillfully done, push creative boundaries, and have significance to them.
I am deeply inspired by winter sunrises. Winter is the coldest, darkest time of the year (and in Canada, the longest time of the year). But during winter, we have these glorious sunrises that drench the sky with colour. These sunrises last for hours, with the last pastel notes fading away between 9 and 10 am. I find a lot of meaning in the fact that the season which can demand the greatest resilience from us also offers this phenomenal beauty. The darkness doesn’t just end, it ends with beauty. This connection to winter sunrises has led me to painting skies and clouds through all seasons as my main subject for the past year.
“Summer Skies” 24×30, 2018, Melissa Baron, Available for Purchase
What is distinctive about your art that sets it apart from others?
I create art with the goal of sharing what is unique to me but universal to us all, to express my own experience and so that another person can feel connected through viewing the art. When we feel resonance inside of ourselves in response to the creation of another human being, I think that is profound. It is pretty incredible when you think about it. I can feel this deep communion with another person, that they understand my most private emotions – fear, anxiety, love – from looking at what they created with their mind and their hands. It is a form of empathy. I create art not just to make a pretty picture but specifically in the hope of contributing to this important human tradition.
“Sky Exploration” 30×24, 2019, Melissa Baron, Available for Purchase
Visually my art is unique in that I create my expressive paintings through layering motifs from daily life underneath expressive skies and clouds. While I openly share a great deal of the process, I generally keep those motifs private. The idea is to explore what you see and what you don’t see, both in terms of experience and relationships. One client told me that on viewing my painting, her son remarked, “But Mom, I just want to see what’s behind the clouds!” That’s kind of the whole idea right there: that our knowledge of another person or an experience will always be incomplete.
“Creative Sky Exploration 2” 20×16, 2019, Melissa Baron, Available for Purchase
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Create as much art as you can, and have an open mind as to what a life as an artist can be. Read about how to be an artist and how to market your art. Our world is changing and there is a great deal of opportunity to be had through online markets and licensing. I don’t think the paradigm of a starving artist is a helpful one. Artists are entrepreneurs. Study and have a growth mindset. Every artist has something to offer you that you can learn. Observe your world. Pay attention to what makes your heart sing. Work hard. And work towards making art that does justice to what you are capable of, because you are very likely capable of creating some very strong work, but you’ll never get there without hard work (luckily it’s fun and gratifying hard work!)
“Farm Clouds” 20×16, 2019, Melissa Baron, Available for purchase
Describe the environment or your studio in which you create. Do you have any artmaking rituals?
My house has a large spare room which my husband and I use as a study. He is an entomologist, so half the room is actually dedicated to his microscope and specimens! We never work at the same time though; I guess we need different energy in the room. My half has a couple of easels, a large drafting table, and canvases stacked throughout. When I’m working on many canvases simultaneously I commandeer the garage for weeks at a time.
I don’t have many rituals but I do have music that I only listen to while working on my art. Tash Sultana, Rhye, certain Coldplay, Radiohead, and Mumford and Sons albums, and of course the Tragically Hip all get the creative juices flowing for me. However listening to them in other contexts drains away the magic.
“The View Down The Hall” 30×20, 2019, Melissa Baron, Available for Purchase
What destination around the world most inspires your work?
I’ve had the opportunity to draw and paint in Europe, the US, and Australia, but frankly there’s no place like home. Alberta has these big giant skies that are constantly changing, and I find them deeply inspiring, particularly in southern Alberta. The Rocky Mountains are always stunning as well.
“The View From The Edge of My Bed” 40×30, 2019, Melissa Baron, Available for Purchase
Did you go to art school or are you self-taught? What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
I went to school at the University of Alberta, and I also studied at Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, Australia. I’ve also worked with many artists in different capacities – I’ve even taken art lessons via Skype. I think you never stop learning as an artist and that the value of an art community cannot be underestimated. One important lesson I’ve learned is the importance of having an open mind: every artist you meet has something they can teach you.
“The View From The Window” 30×24, 2019, Melissa Baron, Available for Purchase
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
If I could have a superpower, I think I would choose healing.
Where can people find you online or in person (gallery, upcoming show, etc.)?
I will have work at the Spruce Grove Art Gallery from January 13-31 as their Feature Artist, and I will be taking part in Edmonton’s SkirtsAfire festival in February as well. My work will also be at the Garneau Theatre this March and the Glenrose Hospital from April through to July. My website is melissabaron.ca and my Instagram is @mbaron17
“Untitled (Red Clouds)” 20×16, 2019, Melissa Baron, Available for Purchase
An exhibition without right angles. “Outside-the-Frame” shows circular, triangular, and other shapes of 2-D and 3-D art. The artists in this exhibit literally think outside the box to create work that titillates our imaginations with their unconventionally created and presented art.
Apply by Monday, March 16, 2020.
Acceptance confirmation by Monday, March 30, 2020.
Deliver artwork on Saturday, April 18, 2020.
Exhibition dates: Wednesday, April 22 to Wednesday, June 10, 2020.
Opening reception on Saturday, April 25, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.
Art of the moving image, the manipulated video file, the creation of a film-based art piece, and artistic presentations through video. This exhibition will challenge our perceptions on what constitutes art, how we view and consume media, and how we can engage with film in whole new ways.
Apply by Monday, June 8, 2020.
Acceptance confirmation by Monday, June 22, 2020.
Deliver artwork on Saturday, July 18, 2020.
Exhibition dates: July 22 to September 9
Opening reception on Thursday, July 23, at 6:00 to 8:00 pm.