We had the good fortune of connecting with Melanie Grein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melanie, how do you think about risk?
I am most definitely a risk taker. I do try to manage risks by gathering as much data as possible to maximize the chance of a positive outcome. Every choice has does have consequences, but I have found that silver linings can always be found no matter what the outcome of the risk.
Certain risks are no brainers, like adopting a sweet, curious, toothless, abused little old man in the form of a chihuahua. I’m in love with that little guy and I’ve never looked back. That risk has paid off twenty fold.
Most risks are life-changers, like marriage. I married a man who was reaching for the stars. It was my choice to support him for 14 years to pursue his goals. The marriage ultimately ended, and I started over. Time passed, and I am now stronger and more self confident than I ever would have been without the failures, challenges and ultimate successes of this period of my life. I discovered that success is sometimes much more complex and rewarding than a fairy tale happy ending.
All of my life I have been a painter. Through perseverance, I experienced increasing sales, commissions and a measure of financial success thanks to my gallery, Walker Fine Art, several art consultants, interior designers and my wonderful collectors. Eventually I decided it was time to leave my secure job to follow my own goals and pursue painting as a full time career. This was a very scary decision, but one I am glad I made.
This choice also allowed me the freedom to take additional risks. I left my comfortable home in Colorado to move to the wilds of south Alabama for 4 months during which I found representation in Lyon’s Share Gallery in Fairhope, and I spent my time painting in a treehouse, enjoying views of the bay, marveling over intermittent thunderstorms and living next to an alligator on the bayou.
A huge part of successful risk taking is learning from set backs, refusing to give up and having a support system, friends, family and possibly a good therapist.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I paint as a form of expression and self discovery. Each mixed media work is a story within itself representing a journey, memory or a mood. No matter what I’m painting, it’s always relationships. Relationships of space, line, color and texture. How everything interacts together. I get lost in the process of painting.
My use of materials and mark making set me apart from others. I am obsessed with Micaceous Iron Oxide! It feels like asphalt when dry and it catches the light with what looks to be tiny flecks of diamonds throughout. It’s in every abstract I’ve ever created! I also love to incorporate patterns with multiple circles that I hand draw with graphite. They create a midtone that pulls each element of my paintings together.
I am most proud of painting 90 original pieces for the Ritz Carlton, Vail. This was such a challenge which required both discipline and time. I was working full time and painting at night and on weekends. I didn’t have any free time or sleep for 3 months.
Being an artist is hard work. There’s more to it than people realize. Materials are expensive, and developing your own style requires time, vision, failures and persistance. There are challenges of finding galleries, or places that will sell your work. Marketing and networking are necessary. My work is sometimes large and heavy and transportation maybe an issue. Each piece has to have structural integrity and hardware. Dispite challenges, being a successful working artist is exhilarating! I love what I do!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I absolutely love Denver! I would want my friends to stay for 3 weeks just to make a dent at all there is to do here. I would take my friends to Denver Art Museum, Red Rocks, Evergreen and Pikes Peak. We would walk around Rhino and enjoy some micro breweries like Mockery and Odell’s, go to Union Station to play shuffle board and people watch, then walk across the street to the Oxford Hotel for swank art deco ambience and a delicious cocktail. Dinners would be Vesta Dipping Grill, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, Stoic and Genuine, Sushi Sasa and Work & Class.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people that have supported, loved and encouraged me! Where do I start?!
My mother, Melinda Mathews, hands down. She is my biggest supporter. She has loved and supported me every step of the way. She made sure I had a very enriched life full of travel, new experiences, education, museum and gallery visits, etc. We’ve taken multiple art workshops together which has pushed us out of our comfort zones and pushed us to experiment regularily. She’s even bid on and bought my art at charity events.
Katherine Chang Liu has been an incredible role model, mentor and friend for many years. Her excellence as a painter and instructor and her steady encouragement have had a huge impact on my life and art.
I also want to recognize Dariya Bryant. Her love, support, encouragement and friendship has been amazing! She is there for my successes and my failures. She is an amazing “gallerista.” She is the Director of K Contemporary, and has an eye for beauty. She can curate a show like no other.
Facebook: Melanie Mathews Grein
John Bosley Stephen Savage