March 2019 Artist of the Month

You’ve heard the adage, “It’s never too late to follow your dream.” Melanie Morris, an accomplished acrylic artist from Alabama, is living proof of that statement.

Melanie graduated from college with a Master’s Degree in Communications and spent years working in the pharmaceutical advertising industry. After encouragement from her husband, Melanie decided to take an oil painting class, immediately fell in love with the medium and set off in pursuit of a new career in art.

As with many things in life, we make plans but sometimes a curve ball is thrown our way. Upon taking up oil painting, Melanie discovered the paint agitated an asthma condition she wasn’t aware she had. Heartbroken but determined to continue creating art, Melanie switched to acrylics. Initially she found acrylic paint to be too thin but after a wise teacher advised her to add gel medium to make it behave more like oil, she went full steam ahead!

Melanie’s favorite subjects to paint are landscapes or floral arrangements. She takes pride in hand selecting flowers from local farmer’s markets in the summer (or Trader Joe’s in the winter). “My painting really starts when I’m arranging the flowers back at my studio. I’m thinking about how to move the viewer through the painting with color or shapes then I select a background color. I keep all sorts of colored paper to use as backdrops for my still lifes. I experiment with the colors and the arrangement of the flowers and then I add a strong spotlight. I set a timer for 45 minutes and paint a 6” x 6” panel to work out my composition and color palette. Even though I time my small paintings to keep them fresh, I really get lost in the painting. After I finish the small panel, I paint the arrangement again but this time on a larger panel. I prefer to paint on gallery wrapped panels and love the architectural look.” Melanie says her favorite flowers to paint are zinnias and ranunculus.

When asked what her greatest accomplishment has been as an artist, Melanie said, “There are several things I’m happy about such as being commissioned by Hilton Hotels last summer to complete my biggest painting to date, being featured in Cottage Living several years ago and having an online shop. However, I’d have to say that I consider my greatest accomplishment to be that I make a living as an artist. At one time that seemed like an unrealistic goal.”

For the past 5 years, Melanie has been using Silver Brush Limited’s Bristlon® series of brushes for her artwork. “I love the Bristlon® bright shape brushes. I used to be a palette knife painter so I like a stiff brush. Bristlon® offered me the stiffness I like without being so stiff that the brush lifts paint off of my panel. I am also confident that the brushes won’t shed in my painting and they hold their shape well.”

If you’d like to see Melanie’s work on display, you can visit Bennett Galleries in Nashville, The Grand Bohemian Gallery in Birmingham in her studio in Homewood, Alabama or online at www.melaniemorrisart.com

Follow Melanie on social media!
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Brush Shapes: Flat VS Bright

A variety of brights and flats from our Silverstone®, Ruby Satin® and Silver Silk 88™ series of brushes

Every artist has a preference when it comes to the shape of the brush they reach for the most. For example, portrait artists lean towards filberts while watercolorists enjoy the versatility of a nice pointed round. When it comes to brights and flats, however, some artists wonder, “What’s the difference?” Let us break it down for you!

Flat brushes have a filament length that is more than twice as long as its width which means:

  1. Flats hold quite a lot of color
    • Artists who like to lay down a generous amount of color all at once or would rather not reload frequently can rely on flats to carry color for quite a few strokes
  2. Flats offer a looser stroke
    • The longer length of the filament means you have less control
  3. Flats generate a longer stroke
    • The longer length lends itself to more expressive strokes
  4. Flats have more flexibility
    • This shape allows you to apply plenty of pressure when you really want to push the paint into your canvas
Silverstone® white hog bristle bright and flat brushes in sizes 4, 6 and 8

Bright brushes have a filament length that is nearly equal to its width which means:

  1. Brights hold a modest amount of color
    • For artists that don’t want to add too much color all at once, a bright brush is the perfect shape
  2. Brights provide excellent controllability
    • You will have more control over your stroke, which can be a really good thing for new artists
  3. Short, quick strokes are much easier to achieve
    • When compared to a flat, the bright shape makes a small stroke simple
  4. Scumble away!
    • Brights are excellent scrubbing or scumbling brushes because the short filament keeps them stiff and allows you to get rough

Here are some paintings from artists who prefer one shape over the other:

Painting by Edward Sprafkin who uses Bristlon® flats for his sweeping landscapes
Painting by Melanie Morris who uses Bristlon® brights for her floral pieces