Growing up on the spectacular East Coast of Tasmania, Mel developed a fascination for all forms of wildlife, and early on, an obsessive interest in birds.
A childhood roaming the hills and coast around Orford, progressed into extended bushwalks which nurtured a deep love of the Tasmanian landscape with its' exquisite light qualities and intriguing denizens.
When Mel was fifteen a summer school in Watercolour directed by Nigel Lazenby and mentored by Lloyd Rees started her love affair with that media and afterwards she couldn't stop painting.
Maintaining her interest in wildlife, Mel studied Zoology at the University of Tasmania, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Wildlife and Scientific Illustration from the University of Newcastle.
The study of taxonomy, and the wonderful details that can be found when you look closely at many everyday objects continue to inform and inspire her work.
Mel specialises in wildlife art, scientific illustration and watercolour landscapes. Murals are also a sideline. Her favourite tools are her sketchbook, camera, binoculars/scope and her microscope. (Although the microscope is a little less portable.)
A need to explore, discover and understand led Mel to link studies in both art and science. She says “For me there is no boundary between the two disciplines; both require observation, analysis and experimentation. They’re very complimentary.”
I’m just a kid who likes to say “hey, look at how cool THIS is” all the time. ”
The Creation Process:
“Each image comes together differently. Some are achieved on the spot, when I have a close encounter with a creature that captures my attention. My landscapes are increasingly influenced by the plein-air sketching I love to do," explains Mel.
"Generally, each artwork is the result of a creative process that can take a considerable amount of time - weeks, months, years - of planning, research and observation, depending on the topic and the temperament of the critters involved.
"There is usually a lot of field sketching, where I gather information about habits and behaviours. I also take lots of photos and use museum specimens to ensure details are correct. Once I have all the information, the finished image is roughed out and then built up in successive layers in order to get the complexity, depth and detail required," says Mel.
Current & Future Projects:
"Over the past few years I have been collating a handmade book of orchid illustrations - for my own education. I hope to finalise that project within the next year or two. It will be nice to see how it grows," explains Mel.
"I'm also working on material for several up-coming exhibitions and a new print run for my latest range of cards, prints and designs for later in 2015."
"Tasmania is just so full of inspiration, it is almost overwhelming, but I’d love to explore other landscapes more fully. It would be fun to do an Antarctic study, or study an island such as Macquarie, or Maatsuyker – in all weathers, with all their occupants. Exploring the Desert and the Kimberley are also ideas that have been growing in my mind for some years. Don't get me started on my wish list for Borneo, the Solomons and PNG...There's so much to do and so little time!".