Melissa is a Canadian artist who resides in a rural farmhouse surrounded by landscapes that inspire her art. There she forages for flora to make her own botanical inks and works with acrylics. She uses our Natural Varnish to finish her paintings and hopes to incorporate Natural Acrylik Paints into her work soon.
Thank you, Melissa, for taking the time to speak to us about your art!
Where did you grow up and how did this place impact your interest in art?
I grew up on a lake in a rural Ontario community on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. The landscape is dotted by many beautiful bodies of water and is the mineral capital of Canada. My parents valued creativity and collected landscape paintings that reflected our natural surroundings. We spent a lot of time as a family outdoors appreciating the wilderness and this greatly impacted my interest in artistically reflecting the natural world.
Why do you choose landscapes as your primary subject?
Painting landscapes seems to be less of a conscious choice, and more of a natural response to my surroundings. I have always been intrinsically drawn to bodies of water and in more recent years, the fields and trees surrounding my home studio have engaged my soul so much that I don’t remember sitting down and choosing to transpose them onto paper.
How did you first learn about creating your own botanical inks and what inspired you to begin using natural materials?
I first learned about avocado ink from a fellow artist, and then around the same time, the book Make Ink by Toronto artist Jason Logan of the Toronto Ink Company was published. Part of my daily routine was walking our dog in the fields and forests surrounding our home, and I began to see the plants surrounding me as a source of potential ink. I began experimenting with all sorts of flora, taking notes, and sharing my investigations on social media. At the time, there were limited resources for ink making so I borrowed ideas from botanical dyers and adapted them into my own recipes.
During the pandemic, I sold my natural ink collections and shared the recipes with my customers so that they could recreate the ink themselves. I also created blog posts with recipes that could be made with common ingredients from a home kitchen so that people wouldn’t have to leave their houses.
You have a beautiful collection of mini paintings on pendants, how did you first become inspired to create these tiny paintings?
I originally created these landscape art pendants as Christmas tree decorations but my customers began purchasing the pendants to wear as fashion pieces, to hang in their homes, and to give as wine bottle charms as a hostess gift.
What is your process of creating your miniature paintings? How do you select the ‘right’ landscape to add to the pendants?
To begin with, I don a magnifying glasses headset to help ease the strain on my eyes and shoulders when painting miniature landscapes. I begin by painting an underpainting layer that helps to add a pop of colour and dimension to my final piece. Next, I tend to work on either the sky or the land and then see where my brush takes me next. I find that the process of creating tiny paintings is so invigorating because a simple mark can send a painting in an entirely new and serendipitous direction. Choosing a landscape painting for each pendant is a thoroughly intuitive process.
Why do you choose to use our Natural Varnish when finishing your paintings?
Painting with sustainability in mind has been important to me since I began painting with natural inks so your Natural Varnish was an obvious choice for me. I appreciate how quickly the varnish dries, how easy it is to apply to my paintings, and most importantly how there are no toxic fumes, as I am highly sensitive to smells.
Why is it important to you to use natural products in your art?
It is important to me to use natural products in my art as my way to say thank you to the natural world for providing me with the inspiration that fuels my creativity.
When I decided to expand from solely working with natural inks and delve into working with acrylics in February of 2023, my goal was to use up all the acrylic paint in my studio and then purchase your Natural Acrylik Paint. I hope to purchase a set as a Christmas gift for myself this year!
Where can our audience see more of your work?
I share my artistic journey on Instagram at @melissamaryjenkinsart
I sell my paintings on my Etsy shop https://melissamaryjenkins.etsy.com, in various retail locations in Canada and the US and at local, in-person markets.
My website is www.melissamaryjenkinsart.ca