Melissa K. Smith – Artist, Dreamer, Adventurist

Artist, Dreamer, Adventurist

A Glympse From The Everywhere: Being Art


Melissa found art as a form of personal, creative self-expression and a link to the everywhere at an early age.  Her first doodles and airy sketches were formative, showing a quality to detail and perspective even at the level of caricature. Nurtured by her parents, who not only supported her but provided her with opportunities to explore with a variety of tools and media, these early years reflect a considerable freedom in her ideas that kept subject matter fanciful and lighthearted, though clearly she had something to say even when she was uncertain as to how best articulate it.

Given this opportunity to experiment and the freedom to explore with different mediums, she made connections with a variety of artists from different areas as a base point for closer examination – from the widely popular commercial art of Charles M. Schulz and Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), to Edvard Munch and Edward Gorey – though Munch and Gorey’s influence wouldn’t fully present itself until later, after she decided to explore dream imagery and metaphysical symbolism.  Melissa’s first serious work to be acknowledged, a portraiture of Jim Davis‘ “Garfield” character, was praised by the artist himself for the exactness of the character and the expressiveness of her line work.  This gave her the confidence to continue trying new forms, eventually moving to water-color and charcoal – though she considers the biggest accomplishment at this time was the abandoning of her well-worn, tattered 64 pack of Jumbo Crayola Crayons for a shiny tin of Medium-soft, Faber-Castell pastels.


Melissa’s imagery and landscapes reveal an exacting attention to the nether-spaces in color and form where layered, complex spatial formalities meet the intangible, often illusory places between destinations.  These structured juxtapositions of space and imagined space tell us that the subjects of her worlds must first begin with the space around them, then, how the subject interacts with that space before it is allowed to exist entirely on its own; this examination of spaces would inevitably lead her to two consecutive undergraduate degrees before advanced graduate work at JFK University in Berkeley where she studied transformative arts and consciousness.  After additional studio work, then teaching technique and form in the Bay Area, she spent the summer traveling to Italy where she taught Italian students in Lucca during the day and venturing to Rome and Florence at night.  These travels culminated in a Master’s Degree with special interest in acrylic painting and conceptualized “found object” formulations.

Mastering perspective and then the ability to magnify and reduce images to near perfect scale and proportion, Melissa uses a mixed-media approach that crosses boundaries in color and form, testing the quality of wet inks and dry, man-made materials – like wood fibers and coffee.  She uses charcoal and conte crayon interchangeably or as a measure of opposites – what better way to express light and dark than with wet and dry, smooth and translucent?  These competing conventions breathe life into her water colors – her paintings are soft, gentle ideas of varying intensities where naturalistic landscapes blur fantastical, dreamy characters, animals, and creations.  Inspired by her dreams, Melissa is found incorporating impossible, at times impractical imagery across mediums, especially acrylic ones pushed into bound sketchbooks, serving both the binding agent for the fiber and the canvas for ink, pencil, coffee or tea – depending on the place, as much as the spaces, from the everywhere.


Melissa finds ideas like fairy tale wings. She draws on a lifetime of artful pursuits – painting, pen & ink, charcoal, Conte, photography, illustrations, comic books, printing, film & video.  With a long list of private and public shows, gallery showings, intimate cafes, lounges, funky studios – her work can be found throughout the West Coast, Canada, Italy and New York.  She is also an active member of Never Cry Wolf Rescue & Adoptions based in Roseville, California where she conducts outreach and education through out Northern California.  In addition, she shoots video and photographs for their online website along with promotions and publicity.  Her painting “Dreaming Of The Wild” was selected by the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, a non-profit organization based in Flagstaff, Arizona to be in their gallery show to promote positive wolf awareness.

“I am interested in the collaborative and the individual focuses of light, dark, and the undetectable.  Visions are exciting.  They’re goals to be made, shared, undone and imagined.”

About rorydean

Rory Dean is a multi-medium artist, writer and new media strategist with a background as a creative consultant and technology liaison in the San Francisco Bay Area. His broad experiences and specialties include print-to-web publicity, promotions and design marketing using traditional and social media networks. As a motion pictures and television professional, his short films, productions and commercials have screened to domestic and international audiences. His connections to a diverse client base include artists, entertainers, corporations, non-profits and everyday people.. Dean is co-owner and founder of Dissave Pictures, a boutique production company focusing on audio, video, photography and multi-media designs. Dean's personal and professional background includes dreaming and avid notebook journaling, creative and copy writing, promotions and marketing, audio/video production, photography, videography, editing, web design and new media. He’s also a fan of collaboration and knows when to turn the reigns over, offer feedback, lead the team and step aside. His portfolio includes print, online, film, video, photography, graphic design and promotions. He’ll show you. He has a book and everything. "When not juggling various online worlds, I do a pretty good mime – but that’s another story."
This entry was posted in Essays on art, Online and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Melissa K. Smith – Artist, Dreamer, Adventurist

  1. Pingback: Melissa K. Smith: Honey Hunter | Above the Line

  2. Pingback: Warner Bros. Blu-ray Elite Team Member Wrap Up | Above the Line

  3. Pingback: Art as Liminal Space exhibition: Nov 5 – Dec 13, 2012 « From the Everywhere

  4. Pingback: Melissa K. Smith’s New Gallery Show: Threshold of Transformation | Above the Line

  5. Emiel says:

    I only recently moved to California from Washington after many years. I wanted to say thank you for your art and for making the world a better place for it.

    • rorydean says:

      Hi Emiel, Thanks for visiting and for leaving a comment. Melissa writes here at Above The Line, among many other things in her painterly world, and I will make sure she sees this and can respond personally. Welcome to California and again, thanks for visiting!

    • rorydean says:

      Thanks again Emiel for stopping in and sharing your thoughts and appreciations!

  6. Pingback: Blow Salon ‘Spring Art Show’ features Melissa K. Smith | Above the Line

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s