It wasn’t until 2013 that artist Melissa Proudlock actually thought about painting with wine. After years of practice through trial and error, Melissa is now producing paintings ranging from wildlife to the world of comics and geek culture. Recently, we had the chance to talk to Melissa about what it is like painting with wine and where she wants to take this interesting art form.
Did you always have an interest in art or was that something that an interest that evolved over time?
Melissa: No, it’s something I’ve always done, I’ve sketched since I was a little one. I would say over time I’ve become more focused on it but it was always there, always in the background.
So when you decided you wanted to do this for a living, how hard was it to get started?
Melissa: The painting itself was a hobby on the side. During the day I do graphic design for a winery, graphic and web design, and then I would kind of paint or sketch at night. It kind of grew when I was at the winery, obviously the wine was right at my fingertips and that’s kind of how it evolved. It was kind of one of those things where I thought hey, I wonder if I can paint with this so I started to Google it and see how many other people did this stuff and I found out there wasn’t especially here in Canada, so I thought oh gosh, I have to see about doing this.
When you made that connection between the wine and painting, was there a lot of trial and error involved?
Melissa: There was a lot of trial and error and it took quite some time. My first couple of pieces were just straight lines, I mean there was color there but not much and so when they were testing the grapes at the winery here there was leftover sediment, they call it lees, at the bottom of the tanks. Not really so much pressing but they were removing it from the tank, so I was talking with the cellar crew and they were like, would this work, to add that extra depth to your paintings? So I said let’s try it and that’s when I realized using that with the wine could give me more depth in my pictures, it wasn’t just like adding layers of wine out of the glass sort of thing. But saying that, it was probably a good year and a half of trial and error, it really took a while. They would actually just throw the lees out so I keep margarine containers in my office and now when a wine looks like it’s going to be a good color I run down and get some.
Besides doing commissions, do you have a process in how you determine what the subject of your painting is going to be?
Melissa: Lately it’s all been by request. That’s kind of how the slasher tribute painting came about. A co-worker said hey, have you ever thought about doing some Halloween characters and I said I hadn’t but I would enjoy that tremendously. Then a person who had purchased one of them said hey, have you ever thought about doing rock bands and it’s kind of just graduated from there. Most of the time it’s by request but if it’s something I’m in the mood to paint, I just end up painting it so I don’t really have a specific subject matter, I just move from one thing to another.
Melissa: This past year, 2016, is when I really started to focus on it so I had to become very disciplined. A typical work week is I work Monday to Friday, a regular nine to five job but I have two kids so after that it’s the dinner, homework, get them to bed and then usually between eight and eleven I try and put in two or three hours every night. If I miss a day I feel like it’s a missed opportunity so I really try and paint as much as I can in that sort of time frame. I am also very addicted to the wonderful feeling you get when a painting is finished, so that really helps when I need that extra bit of incentive.
I see some of your work has entered the geek culture, such as the horror icons, the Batman/Catwoman piece, etc. Do you find these topics more interesting or are you inspired simply by painting in general?
Melissa: I do find them more interesting but I guess that’s because I can relate with them, although most of the scenery ones I do I’ve taken the picture myself so they obviously hold some kind of significance for me when I’m painting them. I also enjoy the feedback and I seem to get more feedback from people who are following my work when I’m doing those ones, the Batman and horror icons, because they can relate to that work or specific piece. Personally, I loved Michael Keaton as Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman so I almost had to do that one. Also, they are great pieces to get attention and word of mouth about my work because as you said, they are part of a culture that has a huge following, a large fan base, so that can be very helpful for me.
Do you have any free time these days to just paint for yourself?
Melissa: Yes, as a matter of fact, I’m working on an owl painting right now. I love birds, I was painting eagles and other birds before, so I throw in some random ones when I can. Usually it’s animals, I love that and I guess I use it to sort of reset myself before going into another project. The next painting I’m doing involves The Game of Thrones, I’m a huge fan, so doing this owl painting right now gives me time to mock up a sketch for this next project.
At what point did you realize that this could be more than just a hobby, that people were actually interested in buying your paintings?
Melissa: It was last year, I did my first showing of my work at a festival last year, that’s where my name slowly started to get out to people. Before that, it was simply a handful of people that would look at my work and go oh, that’s nice and I’d say yeah, it’s just something I do on the side. However, now that I’ve noticed people getting interested in it, asking questions about it, I realized hey, this is beginning to take off.
What is the best way for someone to contact you, not just to shop but maybe inquire about commission work as well?
Melissa: Usually through any of my social media outlets, Facebook, Instagram, where they can send me a message. I know there’s quite a few people who’ve been asking about doing portraits with they’re favorite wine, I’ve done some horses and dogs as well, and they’ve been just directly messaging me, either through those two social media sites or through my website as well. I’ll be able to give them a quote and time frame, depending on the size and detail of what it is they want me to do. For example, the Batman/Catwoman piece took around twenty-four hours to do, which is roughly the time frame for that size, an eleven by fourteen size painting.
I want to thank Melissa for taking the time to talk with us.
For more information about Melissa and her work, please check out the links below: