|Art and artists
Patricia Melvin is a painter based
in York City.
What is it about New York that inspires you?
I was born here and raised nearby and so I have
memories of New York City from my early childhood
and to me it was always a magical place. Anything
is possible here and everything seems to happen
here. As my aunt once said to me, she said, 'People
who live in New York, even if they've only been
here for one year, they feel like they own the
place,' and I think that it's because New York
is almost more of an event than a place, where
everything's changing and becoming something new
all the time, and I think that's why it draws
creative people and it's very inspiring.
Do you always paint in situ or
do you sometimes use photos?
I always paint in situ, almost always. I use sketches
and I work a little from memory and from sketches.
I touch things up a little in the studio sometimes
or finish things. But I like to be in the location
because it's always changing and I take pieces
of the scene, things that happen at different
times, a bird flying by might be very beautiful
or a person walking in the street and assuming
a certain gesture or pose that's perfect for the
composition. Things like that happen over the
course of a painting and they can be just perfect.
But a photo is very static and kind of ?at and
it doesn't interest me to work from that.
Does that mean you have to work
Actually I do, I have learnt to work very fast
because there are so many things that change on
the street including being blocked by trucks and
I do often work very fast, the seasons are constantly
changing. People think of the four seasons but
really nature changes almost every day, or every
day so if I started painting at one point, it's
hard to finish it later in a different season
or later on in the same season.
What techniques do you use?
I use traditional technique. I use oil paint and
brushes and canvas.
How long does it normally take
you to finish a painting from start to finish?
Oh, there, every painting is different, they can
take a few hours or a few years. I've worked on
some paintings for years and years and sometimes
I'll come back to a painting the following year
when the season and the different light is right
for that painting.
As well as the city pictures,
you also paint outside New York in the countryside.
What similarities and differences are there in
painting the city and painting the countryside?
The city is very geometric and
I love, I happen to love geometry, I love angles
criss-crossing on the composition and different
shapes, geometric shapes but the countryside,
when I first started painting it was very difficult
for me for that reason, because you don't have
the perspective of the streets and the angles
of the roofs and so on to lead your eye through
the painting. It's, it was wonderful experience
to learn how to make your eye move across a grassy
field as opposed to down a street where it is
so clear and easy kind of to figure out.
So what are the advantages and
disadvantages of painting in the country and the
The countryside is a wonderful place for me to
paint. I love it because I'm usually alone, pretty
much alone there and I'm not distracted by passers-by.
In New York City there are just so many distractions
with people coming up to me and they're usually
well-meaning but it's just an interruption, it's
a distraction from my work. And the countryside
is so beautiful that I love painting there.
Do you ever paint portraits?
I do occasionally. I love painting portraits,
but it's very rare to find someone who will sit
for a few hours, for a couple of sessions, and
I don't like to do portraits from photos. I've
tried it and I don't like the results.