MELANIE NORRIS

Thursday 4/21/16 time 8:39 AM - interviewed by Hanna Peräkylä


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melanienorrispainter.com

How did you end up choosing your media? Best/worst sides of it?

I do watercolor portraits; that’s the only media that I’ve stayed interested in pursuing over the years.  Other forms of art I burn out on pretty quickly, but never portraiture.  Faces are infinitely interesting to me; I never see the same thing twice and they’re always relevant.

What do you find as the best and worst sides of being an artist?

The best side is the worst side: being your own boss.  You get to dictate what you do and how you do it.  There is no one else guiding or directing you; you follow your inner voice and create your own checks and balances.  See how many “you’s” are in this response?  It’s all on you.  It’s excellent and terrifying, but that’s what drives creativity.

Is this your first time in Finland? What kind of expectations did you have about Finland/ Joutsa?

Yes.  I didn’t set up many expectations; I focused more on goals that I wanted to meet while working here.  It’s a great place to work; there are really no distractions, being such a small town. 

How's your average day in Joutsa?

I wake up early, make coffee, listen to NPR and work while the sun still feels early.  This jogs my brain; I find my ideas to be very sensitive to light.  It’s very difficult for me to work at night, so I do as much as I can as early as I can.  Then I walk to the store, make lunch, take a walk around the town or forest, come back for a second studio session and work til early evening.

What are the best sides / opportunities in having an art residency? 

Getting to live and talk with other international artists.  Even if we don’t talk each day, I’m very much enjoying soaking in their unique presence and learning a bit about their culture.  There’s a very relaxed and creative spirit here; it’s really special.

How does Haihatus meet your expectations? 

To me, it feels a bit like an artist’s psychological bootcamp.  There’s nothing to hide behind here.  At home, I can get caught up in the busy life and push aside any deep or critical feelings about my work.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting a painting complete; treating it like a job.  Here, there’s nothing to distract me from the series at hand.  I’ve had to finally buckle down and address some big questions and issues in my work that I’ve been avoiding.  It’s a distillation of the creative process and can feel overwhelming at times, but I think will yield great and honest results.

What are your plans after Haihatus?

Complete a new series of paintings based off the work I’ve done here!


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