Artist Biography - Melissa Kreisa
Melissa was born and raised around Washington, D.C. Her love of drawing and painting as a young girl led her to a Bachelor of Fine Art degree. During this period, she was chosen for an internship at Georgetown University assisting acclaimed medical illustrator Peter Stone. Later education and career choices moved her through graduate school and ten years in the corporate world ...managing an award winning team of graphic designers, computer artists & animators.
After spending a few years living in Australia and France, she settled with her husband and three children in the San Francisco Bay area of California. During this time she became an advocate providing hospitality and support to newly arrived refugees. The emotional challenges of this work was significant. To find balance, Melissa returned to her roots as a painter. Her time working with refugees inspired the ‘Seeker Series’. In these paintings, she explores themes of strength and resilience through spirituality, contemplation, harmony and stillness. Her process involves layering, scraping, building up, washing off – exposing.
For a long period, Melissa felt vulnerable, and feared being judged by others on something she poured her soul into, therefore she never referred to herself as a professional artist. It wasn’t until she was wandering around The Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland that her son mentioned that Melissa was an avid painter and she was motivated to submit a painting for a group exhibition. Nervous about the judgment that came from exhibiting her work, Melissa learnt it was fine that some people would deeply connect with her paintings whereas others would not.
“I knew I had lived and loved and breathed through each painting and did not need outside validation … I felt like I had developed my style to a point where I was excited about it but knew I needed to work hard if I was to continue to refine it and commit to creating and developing a body of work.”
Melissa's influences include the art of Mark Rothko, Agnes Martin and Gerhardt Richter. She is also influenced by literature, such as Robert Henri’s book “Art Spirit” and Kandinsky’s “Concerning the Spiritual in Art,”. Melissa states that in her work she tries to “capture the essence, or spirit of the time or place” and is influenced by the sights, smells, colours and culture of the places she has lived and visited. She often relates her practice to Tonalism and abstraction. Although Tonalism usually relates to landscape painting, Melissa paints in similar terms, as they are paintings of simplified subjects rendered in a gauzy, indistinct way with a lack of detail and limited palette.
Melissa paints using acrylics, gel mediums and metallic pigments to create her innovative canvases. Drawn to muted tonal palettes —warm hues of blue, soft greens, gauzy yellows and shadowy greys - the artist relishes in the way a little bit of metallic or iridescent medium can capture light to illuminate a mat surface. She relishes in how a shimmering effect might make visually create a sense of a passage of time.
Melissa has been exhibiting through galleries in the US since 2009 and has recently moved to England and set up her studio in Surrey. In addition to creating her own art, the artist is passionate about aiding creativity in community and has worked with a collective of galleries & arts organizations helping to coordinate, host and curate exhibitions. These include The Art Agency in England and Fibre Arts Design Gallery, Gallery 85, JCO's Place and Anne & Mark's Art Party in California.