(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
NATURE INSPIRED: Spokane-area artist Melissa Cole featured artist for this month’s First Thursday…
Melissa Cole grew up in many locations around the globe and has had many adventures, and she’ll be displaying her art as the First Thursday Featured Artist in Chewelah.
Cole is a Spokane resident, Oregon State University graduate, scuba diver, marine photographer and an artist who creates work on a regular basis.
“My mother is a painter and there were always art materials in our home, so creating artwork was just a normal part of life,” Cole said.
While growing up, she remembers a home filled with creative materials such as clay, crayons and paints. While volunteering with the Peace Corps, she created large educational murals in schools and carved designs onto gourds.
When she moved to Spokane 20 years ago, she began reading Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and had been working on some of the creative exercises in her book when her then fiance (now husband) Brandon said “Wow! You’re good, you should keep doing that.” I
Cole started with designs for greeting cards and began showing them in cafes and restaurants. She was hired by Four Season’s Coffee to design labels for their coffee blend.
“Little by little, it became a full-time business,” Cole said. “It works well with my other ‘job’ as underwater model/camera caddy/critter finder for my photographer husband Brandon, because I can work like crazy when I am home to finish all of my commissions, work for upcoming exhibitions and other deadlines before I leave for a month in the Solomon Islands.”
Cole travels about four months a year, but when she is home, she produces work that is intricately patterned, heavily textured and richly colored mixed media acrylic on wood or canvas.
“I often add embellishments such as fused glass pieces, stones I have gathered or coins from my travels, which add a sculptural quality to my work,” Cole said. “My subject matter is inspired by nature and usually consists of flora, fauna and figures from home and abroad.”
She has art in other mediums like encaustic paintings – made of pigmented wax on wood, bronze sculptures, enameled metal and sculpted concrete with glass mosaic which she uses in her public art projects.
“Art is my ‘real’ job and fortunately I love most aspects of it,” Cole said. “The ebb and flow of living in Spokane and leaving Spokane for far- flung destinations keeps me inspired.”
Cole first started seeing Trails End Gallery’s posts on Facebook about a year ago as owner Tim Neilsen keeps a strong social media presence for Chewelah’s First Thursday Art Walk.
“I love Jacqueline Brewer’s work and she shows at Trails End Gallery,” Cole said. “So I made a trip to Chewelah and met with Tim and things fell into place.”
This month’s show will be called Natural Inclinations because the work is inspired by nature, some from the Pacific Northwest and some pieces from above and below the waves.
“I always like to reconnect people with the beauty of nature,” Cole said. “It is easy to forget about our connections with the Earth in this concrete environment. I strive to show people how beautiful the flora and fauna of their own backyard is as well as introducing them to creatures that they may never have a chance to see in life such as a Pacific Giant Octopus in ‘Kraken Snack,’ which is a painting in the show.”
The November First Thursday Art Walk will be on November 7 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in downtown Chewelah. Along with Cole’s work at Trails End, Wendy Coleman will be at Gather, Richard Taylor and an Open Mic will be featured at Fired Up Pizza, Denny Wuesthoff’s work will be at Wuesthoff Excavation, Jennifer Kerr will be at Hello Gorgeous, there will be a private art collection at Chew Vino, Jacqueline Brewer will be at Wildflower and Sporty’s, Henry Von Roessler will be featured at Jean Beans, there will be art at the United Church of Christ and also creative art at New Creator’s Workshop.
“I think that everyone should find creative things that make them feel satisfied and more alive,” Cole said. “Art comes in so many forms from gardening and woodwork to cooking and decorating.
Find the things that cause your heart to leap and makes time fly by without a single thought of anything else.”
Cole will also hold an artist’s lecture at Quartzite Brewing on Wednesday, November 6 at 6:30 p.m.. For more examples of her work, you can go to www.melissacolestudios.com.
“I get so tired of people telling me that they can’t even draw a stick figure…who cares,” Cole said. “Find what you love to do and don’t worry about the outcome, just do it for the pure pleasure of doing it.”