Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Artist Interview: The Extraordinary World of Acrylic Painter Melinda Patrick

There’s nothing ordinary about everyday life to Melinda Patrick.  People having lunch at a sidewalk café, neighborhood houses surrounded by thick bushes and palm trees, colorful restaurants on the corner, these are commonplace scenes we all pass by daily.  For most of us they barely even register, but for Melinda they are full of intrigue. 

She is fascinated by the history of the people and places around her.  It’s not the kind of history you read about in school filled with drama and wars.  It’s the history of the ordinary lives we all experience and share every day.
Melinda took an interest in art as a young girl and was mentored by her grandfather, a painter and a photographer.  She earned her B.F.A. at the San Francisco Art Institute where she focused on oil painting.  Later years spent as a graphic designer made her a convert to acrylics.  Her paintings are full of vivid color and intense light.  After you spend some time with Melinda Patrick’s paintings you will never look at familiar day to day places the same way again.
"Lunch at the Bridgeway Cafe"
Melinda Patrick
Acrylic on Canvas
24" x 30"
What’s on your easel right now? Tell me about your works in progress and how they fit in with your body of work.
On my easel is a 30" x 40" acrylic on canvas of a cafe scene in Sausalito, CA.  I almost always paint cityscapes of places I visit. This particular painting will be part of a small body of work of cafe scenes that a local gallery expressed an interest in seeing.

What artists or art movements influenced or affected you?
I like abstracted realism so I love Edward Hopper and Jack Vetrianno. Impressionists and fauvists are also a large influence.

Do you have a preferred medium or do you work in different mediums depending on the piece?
95% of the time I work in acrylic on canvas. I have also done a bit of printmaking and gouache as well as pen and ink. For most of my life I painted in oil until about 10 years ago.  I love acrylic and how it does what I want to see. When I want to create for fun, I paint in acrylic.

Where do you draw your ideas or subject matter from? Do you ever paint on location or use photographs as references?
I take a camera with me most times I go anywhere and when I take a trip I take 1000 to 2000 photos, all with the prospect of painting from the photos. I like to paint from my own photos. Some of my paintings seem to be literal but I only use the photo to a point, then I let my imagination take over and correct what I see that I don't like. I have no interest in lugging my supplies into the great outdoors then lugging them back home again.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Not like I used to. When I was a kid I took a sketchbook everywhere and sketched people in action. I got bored with that.
Melinda Patrick
Acrylic on Canvas
30" x 40"
What size/scale do you usually work in? 
Anywhere from 5" x 7" to over 3' x 4'. All canvas sizes challenge and inspire me.

How long do you spend on a typical painting?
Anywhere from 2 hours to a few days as long as I'm working in acrylic. Oil takes much longer for me.

Are there times when you can’t be creative or the paint just isn’t flowing?  How do you handle periods of “artist block?”
Rarely.  My biggest issues are choosing which image I want to paint and what size to paint them. I don't usually get artist block.  I'm always brimming with new ideas. I keep a folder of potential paintings and projects.

How do you know when a painting is finished? 
When I've made sure I've included all the parts I want and the paint solidly covers the canvas.

Is it sometimes hard for you to decide a work is complete?
Not really. I do find myself asking if it's finished at an earlier stage than I used to and telling myself I don't need to do more because I've created the image I wanted and to do more could wreck it.

What support do you like to paint on? 
In college I built my stretcher bars, stretched the canvas and primed it. No more! I love the pre-stretched, pre-primed canvases. I have a wonderful huge easel with a hand crank for large canvases. I have some tripod easels that I don't like. If the canvas is small enough, I hold it in my hands to paint.
"Six Palms"
Melinda Patrick
Acrylic on Canvas
30" x 40"
Do you use any particular painting mediums (damar, linseed oil, liquin, alkyd gel, etc.)? When I paint with oil, I use Damar or linseed oil. I rarely use mediums with acrylic.What do you think makes the difference in becoming “established” as an artist, and what advice do you have for young and emerging artists looking to develop a career?
An established artist is one who sells and/or has a recognizable style. Things are so very different now from when I was fresh out of college. The only thing that hasn't changed is that you need to get out there and be seen.  That's much easier to accomplish in 2011.

Do you feel that teaching helps an artist develop, and if so, in what ways?
It can when you observe mistakes others make or address questions students ask that you never considered before.

What’s next?  Do you have any current or upcoming exhibitions of your work?  Any special projects you’re involved in right now?
Paint, paint, and more paint. And play with scratchboard. I recently joined Adams Galleries in Naples, Florida and I'm in the process of talking to a local gallery. I'm considering applying to a huge, local art fair for the first time.

You can learn more about Melinda Patrick and view more of her paintings at or subscribe to her blog at
Search Paint Daily Texas for more artist interviews, art tips and techniques, and paintings.


  1. I loved hearing the conversation and knowing more about you and your work, Melinda. Keep up the good work!

  2. It is interesting to read your response. Love your work.