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Biography - Melissa Stuart

I am classically trained to paint Ala Prima ("wet-on-wet”) with live models, a technique that invites immediacy, intuition, and spontaneity. My connection with the models is essential to the process; I am continually inspired by being in their presence for hours at a time. As I paint, I feel every brush stroke as if it were caressing the miraculous form of the body. I often find myself in a reverie, entranced by the body’s sensual contours and curves, by skin tones, bone structure, the flow of hair... I love the feeling of being drawn into a passionate dance with the unknown until, at some point, the painting takes over... and I no longer exist. I actually lose my words when I paint; sometimes the words don’t come back for hours.

I graduated from the University of Denver with a BA in social sciences and a minor in art. I continued to study art, taking painting classes at the University of Nebraska and the University of Northern New Mexico. Ten years after graduation, I went back to school and received a Masters in Expressive Art Therapy from Southwestern College of New Mexico. In 1995, once my four children were grown, I moved to Boulder and made painting my priority in life. I studied classical figure and portrait painting for five years with Elvie Davis, who carries on the lineage of John Singer Sargent (whose work has been a major influence on my paintings). I also studied with Hollis Willilford, Burt Silverman, Don Sahli, Ralph Olberg, Joan Anderson, Robert Spellman, Amy Clay, Frank Ettenberg, Carol Mothner, Quong Ho, and Kevin Wechbach.