While at the 2011 L.A. Art Show, my attention was riveted by a collection of unique paintings featuring Americana icons such as an airstream trailer, 1960s swimming pools and lifeguard stations. The palette reminded me of artist Wayne Thiebaud. I mentioned this to the gallery rep who confirmed the artist had been mentored by Wayne Thiebaud! Score! The gallery rep saw I was spellbound by Melissa Chandon’s artwork and graciously gave me a small catalog to take with me, but it was not enough. I had to learn more about this artist.
Thanks to Facebook, I was delighted to be able to contact Melissa Chandon and found her to be warm and approachable. I mentioned that my art students enjoy viewing her catalog but none had heard of her. When I asked if she would consider an interview for the school’s blog, she graciously accepted the invitation. I hope you enjoy learning more about this contemporary artist and her vibrant work that reflects our time and time gone by.
Q. What is your style of painting referred to? For my art students, would you please describe what this style means or represents?
A. I call my work abstract realism. My work is representational, and I work from photographs, some that I have taken and others I have gotten from the public domain.
Q. Much of your recent work features cars and architecture. What is the story or inspiration behind your choice of subject matter?
A. Road trips across the US were a passion for my family as I was growing up. My parents saw traveling and experiencing roadside vernacular as a way to educate their five children. I consider my work autobiographical and look my experiences as a way of shifting between the present and the recent past.
Q. My students are interested in the latest tools of the trade. May I please inquire your product preferences? Is your work on canvas or hard board? What brands and types of paints work best for you? Do you ever make your own paint or have custom pigments made to order for any of your projects? Do you finish with a varnish or leave as is? Do you have a favorite brush filament and brand?
A. I mostly use Golden acrylic paint. I use a double primary palette and mix all of my own colors. I prefer cheap brushes as I go thru them very quickly. I varnish my works when they are completed.
Q. At what age did you realize you were an art spirit?
A. I was an art major in college and have recently completed my MFA. From the time I was very young, I had a passion for art, especially painting.
Q. Did anyone try to talk you out of fulfilling your dream as an artist? If so, how did you handle it?
A. My father wanted me to be a dental hygienist. He handled my decision pretty well, considering. To this day, I know he would he very happy with my progress as a painter.
Q. What gallery(s) currently represent your work? How did the gallery(s) and you become acquainted? Did you seek them out or did they find you?
A. My work is currently represented by the Campton Gallery in New York and the Caldwell Snyder Gallery in San Francisco and St Helena. I have been represented by numerous galleries across the United States. My work has been shown internationally. I have collectors the entire world. I was introduced to my current gallery based upon my work.
Q. What tasks do these galleries handle on your behalf?
A. They pick up my work and take it to domestic and international art fairs. I have several shows per year both solo and groups shows.