A painter and illustration artist, Melissa Kircher graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from Gordon College. Her work, which is made with watercolor and ink, has been exhibited in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York City, as well as residing in private collections around the United States. We went Inside the Studio with Melissa to get a glimpse of her creative process. Read our conversation below and see all work by Melissa here.
Where are you from originally and where are you located now?
I am originally from Sykesville, Maryland, but relocated to the Northeast for college. I’ve been living in New England ever since then. Currently, my family and I live in Norwalk, Connecticut.
How would you describe your work?
Bright and bold. I’ve always been drawn to strong lines and brilliant colors; there is very little gray in my work! Nature themes permeate my paintings and illustrations as an invitation to pay attention to the messages, energy, and emotions of the natural world. I like to create pieces that grab people’s attention and summon them into a remembered feeling or sensation from their lives.
How did you get started with your current medium and subject? Why did you choose this combination of subject and medium?
Currently, I’m making illustrated paintings with watercolor and ink. These pieces have their origin in the Covid-19 pandemic. With my kids and husband suddenly home, my creative juices dried up. The energy to be an artist was all but gone until a friend of mine began making watercolors. It sparked something in me! My grandmother was a watercolor artist and it was the first medium I learned to work with when I was younger. I didn’t like watercolors though! So I thought I might try the medium again as a way to escape work and do something that didn’t need to have a professional outcome. These paintings began to emerge. And, as a kind-of relaxing mediation practice, I started drawing long, sinuous lines on them—almost like topography maps. I then proceeded to fall in love with the process and medium! It is such a joy for me to create these days, especially as we enter into a difficult winter season.
Where do you find inspiration?
Currently I’m inspired by freedom. I love how the watercolor medium lends itself to spontaneity. I pick colors that bring me joy, and get to experience the process of creation along with the paint, water, and paper. We unfold together.
What is your artistic process (i.e. walk us through how you create a piece or series)?
My work is very audio-based. I will be listening to a podcast or music and move into a flow state in which my fingers itch and I have to draw or paint something. Sometimes, I will sketch it out. Usually, I move right into making the actual piece, getting into the studio and going for it! Larger acrylic paintings take shape over weeks; illustrations and illustrated paintings are more of a 1-2 day gig. Right now, I will make about three watercolors at a time and leave them for a day; watching them as they dry and seeing what kind of landscapes emerge from the colors. Then I ink them in, while listening to another podcast or the latest Apple Music download!
What is your favorite part of that process?
I truly love sitting back and looking at a piece with the satisfaction that it is done. Nothing feels better than knowing I have made what needed to come out of the ether—and that it’s here, exactly as it should be, perfectly imperfect, wild, and beautiful.
Is there ever a particularly challenging part of the process?
During Covid-19, the hardest part is carving out time to work, and making sure I have the right energy. Getting in the proper headspace to create is challenging these days with kiddos home making lots of noise. It takes both intentionality and flexibility. Now, more than ever, I have to be willing to make friends with frustration, time constraints, and noise. It’s definitely a work-in-progress!
Are there any artists who have inspired you or your work?
I love the work of Lisa Congdon and Morgan Harper Nichols. They are bold, strong, powerful women who produce work that is tender, fierce, loving, and truly inspirational.
In 5 words or less, what is your goal as an artist?
Make the next right thing.
What do you do in your free time (aside from making more art)?
I love to read and will read everything from Quantum Physics to YA Sci-Fi to romance novels. I read the last Harry Potter novel in one day, so I’m also a very quick reader. It’s my passion! I enjoy going for hikes with my family and listening to the trees. You can find me eating or baking all things chocolate!
To see all fine art prints and gift items by Melissa Kircher, click here.