IN THE WATER I AM INSPIRED TO…   search for color. I find inspiration for my work in the water. I am greatly influenced by the many exotic travels I have been blessed to experience, beautiful scenery and cultures and various bodies of water.  The infinite nature of the water, its ebb and flow, its abundance of life, is the direct inspiration for my work as an artist. It is my personal adventure in the ongoing search for “the color of water.”

My aim is to create paintings that are hopeful, contemplative and evocative. The organic quality of my textured marks creates an ephemeral feeling, implying fluidity.  This “unfinished” surface represents an unfolding of possibility.  We are all evolving and I hope that my work reminds people of their own creativity and transformation.   
MY SWIM STYLE IS…   simplicity. My lifestyle is relaxed and simple; costal and chic. Cali Dreaming Swim Wear is amazing. Their suits are my style. They are local gals from Venice with an incredible line of swimwear.  I also never leave home, especially while heading to the beach, without Tom Ford Sun Glasses- a must!  When I get out of the water one of my go to pieces I throw on is a beautiful kaftan designed by MAH, Mad About Hue A beach essential I found while traveling in Singapore last fall.

I think my personal style is similar to my painting style – eclectic and original.  I dress how I feel. A little beachy and bohemian but also classic and modern. Love Heals necklaces are a prefect accessory to my  daily attire at the beach or going out for drinks with friends.

I love garments that elongate the figure, loose silhouettes, classic designs that still acknowledge the femininity. I like my clothing to feel like my travels – sometimes peaceful and simple, but other times – a total adventure! This is life. 
I CHANNEL MY NOMAD SELF DURING A SWIM BY…    jumping in! Making the first mark on a canvas, is the same feeling. Scary at first, then you know you can swim, like any creative endeavor.

MY FAVORITE LOCAL-ish SWIM DESTINATION…   Venice, California. I am so grateful and fortunate to live right by the water, which inspires me daily.  But Venice is also a neighborhood full of vibrance, beautiful sunlight and artists from all walks of life.  The creativity, diversity and being nestled so close to the ocean is so important to my work. I moved to Venice a little over 10 years from Atlanta, Georgia to go to grad school at Otis College of Art and Design. I can not imagine living and working anywhere else in Los Angeles other than Venice.

THE BEST SWIM EXPERIENCE I’VE EVER HAD…    Italy! Le Sirenuse Hotel, Positano.  
Le Sirenuse is perched on a cliffside enclave overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Legend has it this is where the Gods of the Olympus were going to in order to hear mermaids sing. After a late night of dancing at a wedding, I woke early in the morning and swore I heard the song of mermaids.

MY FAVORITE SEA SOUVENIR IS…  sand. I collect sand whenever I travel. I have jars and jars of sand from around the world in my studio. Colors vary from shades of white to dark charcoal.  My jars are as unique as the sand. From vintage family heirlooms- to canning jars from my pantry. 

IF I COULD LIVE ANYWHERE BY THE SEA IT WOULD IT BE…   the Aeolian Island of Salina. 
I fell in love with the colors of a sunrise on the horizon overlooking the sea. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. I was staying at a small hotel off the beaten path, in village of Malfa, it had lovely wild gardens and a truly inspiring view of the sea. The Aeolian Islands are simply beautiful. Salina, is the largest and greenest of the seven islands and Hotel Signum is half-hidden among citrus groves and blue village doors on this island.  From my balcony, in the distance I could see Stromboli and its occasional eruption lighting up the sky with orange flashes and down over to indigo seas.

MY DREAM SWIM EXPERIENCE WOULD BE…  Without a question my dream is to swim with the humpback whales in Tonga. The waters around Vava’u are a favorite nursery for the migrating Humpback Whales.  I can not wait to go one day! 

HOW DOES THE NOMAD SPIRIT MANIFEST IN YOUR WORK?   The Nomad Spirit to me is all about freedom. Color and texture inspire me as an artist, but freedom and  wander inspires my soul.  The Nomad Spirit of adventure epitomized my residency at the Cill Rialaig Projects in the village of Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, Ireland. This experience later became the inspiration for my newest exhibition “Ireland” at Chicago Art Source Gallery with nearly 26 new abstract paintings on view through November 12, 2017.  The color palette of this series was limited to only the colors I could see outside my workspace, inspired by the varying shades of the Irish Sea and sky, from deep azure blue to a pale aquamarine. Waking in the early mornings in my pre-famine stone cottage studio, I would collect peat for the fire.  As I would look out past the sheep and over the steep wind blown cliffs, my eyes would meet the fierce and beautiful Irish Sea.  It was a sight I will never forget.

There is an unmistakable sense of my relationship to this particular environment and its complexity; the expansiveness of ocean and sky in contrast to the isolation of this remote setting as well as a sense of the mystery and magic of the landscape and its timeworn stone structures. “The sea roaring against the rocks. The remoteness and unique setting. Light filled stone houses and standing stones. Expansive views.  All join to create new horizons unbounded, a luminous place at the edge of the sea.” 
I believe artists inevitably take inspiration from the world around them. I have participated in multiple artist-in-residence programs all around the world. These experiences allow me to work as I am discovering a new culture and or places.  Traveling, whether alone or working,  has become part of my creative process as an artist. When I travel I try to spend time in unexpected places and be open to magical moments. I try to be present and absorb the beauty around me and I often find beauty in unlikely things.  The effects of a place or experience takes time to evolve and become a visual reference in my work which tends to inform a larger narrative of my practice as an artist.
“The cure for anything is saltwater, sweat, tears or the sea.” -  Isak Dinesen 
Her words inspire me. Years ago, while traveling through East Africa I went to her home which is now the Karen Blixen Museum. Her farm sits at “at the foot of the Ngong Hills,” outside of Nairobi. You could feel her presence, a true nomad spirit.

~Melissa Herrington