epsisode_8_graphicIn this episode we’re talking with Melissa Townsend about her life as a successful full time artist and just kind of figure out her life and how much art means to her and how she chooses to paint and what she paints and how she lives her life.


  1. Melissa and her Art [00:01:41]

  2. How does she do it? [00:03:28]

  3. Why being creative is a necessity [00:10:28]

  4. A typical day for a full time artist [00:12:55]

  5. A glimpse into her studio [00:18:52]

  6. Commissioned work and live painting at events [00:22:35]

  7. Advice for someone in hamster wheel [00:32:37]

  8. Where can people find Melissa [00:38:55]

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FIKA PODCAST EPISODE 008: Art and Life with Melissa Townsend

Erica Eriksdotter: Hi lovelies!  It’s time for FIKA!  The Swedish word that means bonding and connecting with friends over coffee or tea. This is the place to be for real talks and discussions about everything from healing, fine arts, motherhood and entrepreneurship to health and fitness. The focus is connecting the dots through consciousness and elevating how consciousness is directed through each guest’s career and life path. My name is Erica Eriksdotter, fine arts painter and owner of Studio Eriksdotter, certified Intra-Dimensional Healer and PR and Social Media Strategist. I’m a modern woman, connected to Self who brings meaning to life through an earth centered truth.

Erica Eriksdotter: Today, we’re having fika with Melissa Townsend, to talk about life as a successful full time artist and just kind of figure out her life and how much art means to her and how she chooses to paint and what she paints and how she lives her life. Hi Melissa!

Melissa Townsend Hello!

Erica Eriksdotter: Hey!! All the way from Halifax, Canada.

Melissa Townsend: Yep, totally Northern, no East Coast Canada.

[00:01:41] Melissa and her Art

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] So, um, I actually, you already know how much I love your art.  I actually feel when I view your art, my heart kind of aches a little bit and I haven’t had the pleasure of viewing it in person.  I can only imagine how floored people must be when they see it. You have this way of producing such delicate and interesting and whimsical pieces with such heart and soul in them.  You do pieces of animals, for example, which I love of course.  Like, an owl or fox and it’s just the face, they kind of have like photo bombed your canvas in a way.  It seems like you just caught them in the moment and they don’t know that you’re painting them.  Now you started adding flowers as well in their hair which is just adorable.  You do tiny pieces to super large statement pieces and you’ve actually done, I think, I’m putting words in your mouth, but you’ve done tiny houses and abstract and flowers as well.  But, before I’m going to let you describe your art, let me share your background for our listeners today.

Melissa Townsend: Okay.

Erica Eriksdotter: Melissa Townsend is a Canadian artist who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with her husband and their son, which I believe you can hear in the background. [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter:  She graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from NSCAD University.

Melissa Townsend: NSCAD

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh, NSCAD in 2005 and her art can be seen in private collections of respected actors, musicians, writers and art appreciators all over the world.  She has successfully exhibited at a couple of galleries in the art and most recently at the Argyle Fine Art in Halifax this past November and that is 2015 if you’re listening to this episode later on.  So, Melissa, how would you describe your own art?

[00:03:28] How does she do it?

Melissa Townsend: Basically, it’s just, my art is just full of promise and hope and I really want to engage the viewer both emotionally and physically.  I want them to leave feeling like they can go on and take on whatever they have in their heart to take on.  I want them to feel encouraged and truly like they have, like they know what their destiny is in a sense.  You know what I mean?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, totally.  I mean, that’s really nice.  I mean, I like that having that broader message supporting your art.  How would you describe actually the technical aspect of your painting?  When people actually view your pieces, they’re going to see like thicker brush strokes.  How do you do those things?  Like, how do you start the first layer?  If we talk in technical stuff?

Melissa Townsend: Right, yeah.  So, I just draw it out first.  I didn’t used to, but I start to draw out my paintings ahead now and I think a little bit more down the road, is this painting going to work?  Where as in the past when I first started, I was just like, alright, let’s just do this and I would just plow.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: And, I would paint really thick strokes.  But, I really like sort of having more time on each canvas and more sort of thought into it in the last couple years.  But, just really thick paint.  I really love thick paint.  I feel like I can connect with that, with the depth of like, you know, how life is full of depth and honesty.  I just like exploring that kind of subject matter.  But, basically, thick, impasto

Erica Eriksdotter: Impasto, is that oil paint?

Melissa Townsend: It’s a style.

Erica Eriksdotter: Ohh!!

Melissa Townsend: Don’t make go research this.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] Well, here’s the thing.  Because, you know, I am pretty much self-taught painter. I’m the 3rd generation painter in my family, so I have actually, I don’t have a degree in Fine Art, it just comes naturally.

Melissa Townsend: Ohh, I didn’t know that!

Erica Eriksdotter: So, sometimes I don’t know the fancy words that describe certain things.

Melissa Townsend: So, it’s impasto.  It’s a technique. Let me think. It’s very thick. Yeah, like, it can be like any kind of stroke if your using the thick paint, it’s just impasto. Yeah. Impasto [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] Alright

Melissa Townsend: It provides texture and it just appears to be coming off the canvas more.  I can’t think of any other artist right now, maybe Wayne Thiebaud would be an impasto kind of artist.

Erica Eriksdotter: I think there’s a fantastic artist up in Washington State that I also follow and have a couple of pieces from that does, it sounds familiar.  I’ll put her name in the show notes as well.

Melissa Townsend: Okay.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, I remember seeing a painting of yours in the beginning stages and it was like flowers and the background was light blue but then, when it was finished, you had totally and guess that’s the technique.  You had totally removed the or added more layers and the color changed and you kind of removing white space, but then adding…I can’t describe it.

Melissa Townsend: Mm, hmm.  Yeah, I guess I never know what something… Some people, when they are doing their art, I think they just really see a final image in their mind and they’re like, yeah, that’s what I’m doing.  I never really have.  Unfortunately, I wish I could see the finished product ahead, but normally I get a sense of it more than like an image of it.

Erica Eriksdotter: Uh, huh.

Melissa Townsend: So, um, yeah, it does change.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, when you’re starting the piece, your sketching it out and you know that you’re going to for example, draw a bunny.

Melissa Townsend: Mm. Hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: That’s all that you know.

Melissa Townsend:  Yeah, sometimes.  Or like a bunny with, like something, which is now happening more and more.  Like a bunny with, well I guess I could use the last show I did with floral pieces.  Like a bunny with a flower or a bunny with a bow tie or a bunny this color certain color maybe because I have a sense of the person or whatever and I really want to kind of honor them, so I put that color in.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm. Hmm.

Melissa Townsend: So, I put that color in.  You know what I mean?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yep.  I love that.  It’s structured, yet, leave a lot of room for…it’s almost like your living moment to moment with the story line.

Melissa Townsend: Oh nice.  Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: And like each brushstroke tells the story, but then you are learning the story as you are putting the brush strokes down.

Melissa Townsend: That’s awesome.

Erica Eriksdotter: It’s very romantic.  [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: That’s totally how it is. Yeah, and difficult.  It’s very stressful sometimes walking every, it’s like a step.  Every stroke is like a step into a dark place.  Like, I don’t know all the time.  It can be really challenging.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, if you then put a stroke down and your like, ‘I’m not feeling this.’

Melissa Townsend: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: So you’re going by feeling how and then you just kind of correct it?  Or kind of work your way in figuring out what the right strokes are?  Is that correct?

Melissa Townsend: Hmmm.  Yeah, I think a couple years ago had you asked me this question, I would have said I just work with it.  I just go with it.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: But, now, I don’t know why, but I want to, honestly, either I’m becoming a more mature or just more picky or I…Yeah, something’s going on but I don’t want to just go with it all the time now.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: I actually want it to be,  Like, if I’m not happy with how something just happened, I’m like, yeah, I’ve got to, no.  I have to rework this or I have to make it different.  I am taking it off or yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: It sounds like your just fine tuning your art process.

Melissa Townsend: [laughing] Yeah. Maybe that’s what it is.  I mean, I want this plane to fly, so!

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: [laughing] I’ve got to build it right.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, you know, I paint with feeling as well.  My stuff is very structured, but I paint with feeling as well.  So, I completely understand that, like, sometimes you just can’t articulate when you’re painting with feeling how you’re actually making that happen.

Melissa Townsend: [laughing] Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: It is quite interesting process.  But, I think you did a very good job explaining it to be honest.

Melissa Townsend: Oh, thank you.

[00:10:28] Why being creative is a necessity

Erica Eriksdotter: So, why is painting important to you and could you actually live without painting?

Melissa Townsend: No. There’s two things I can’t really, well, there’s a couple things you can’t live without.  But, I think music and painting.  They’re very important to me.  I feel like if I didn’t, if I couldn’t do them, I’d almost wouldn’t be able to express sort of this language that is really the only language that I’m good at.  Speaking, obviously I can speak, but I don’t always speak very well.  I kind of hesitate awkwardly, it’s awkward sometimes to talk for me.  I prefer to just smile and listen to you. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: So, I am glad that there’s music and that there is art and painting.  Because, I really, that’s more of my language.

Erica Eriksdotter: I think that’s very honorable for you to say.  Because, I think many people who are listening to this can probably relate in that.  I think of also those people who wish they had more languages to speak in terms of music or art and just are not there yet.

Melissa Townsend: Hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, you know, I just, you know I hope you find your way if you are that person.  Art might be that way so hopefully Melissa is inspiring to pick up a paintbrush here.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Melissa, actually, your husband is a musician, right!  Didn’t you do a song at a wedding recently?

Melissa Townsend:  Well, you know that was just a silly little song.  But, I’ll tell we do sing together more now than we ever have.  It’s really great.  He and I, yeah, we get to kind of share this music and this language together.  Mm. He’s a filmmaker, so he’s all creative and I didn’t even know when we were married that he was like that creative.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh, really?

Melissa Townsend: Yes, he’s really blooming.  Yes, it’s quite beautiful.

Erica Eriksdotter: You’re contagious.  I love it.

Melissa Townsend: I would love that.  I love that.

[00:12:55] A typical day for a full time artist

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] So, since you’re a full time artist can you describe to me, and I know I’m asking the impossible, because there is no typical day for a full time artist.  But, could you describe to me and our listeners what a typical day is or a typical week would look like for you?  Are you structured in how you work?  Do you actually put in, ‘Oh, I have to work five hours today’?  Or, do you just kind of pick up a brush when at 4:00 am in the morning and your like, ‘I want to paint now.’

Melissa Townsend: Yes.  So, I think when I had no, when I didn’t have a son, when I didn’t have a child, I was reckless and abandoned to whatever feelings and inspiration whatever time it was. I’d be like, Yeah, what’s the big deal?  I can paint.  Where, I didn’t have to go to any commitments, I would just paint whenever I wanted.  But, now that I have a son, yes, it’s harder to find time to work.  And, if I am inspired, that’s very painful actually, because I’m like, ‘Oh no! I’m inspired! That’s not good!’  Because I have to feed my son dinner and I have to bathe him. So, basically, to answer this, if I have childcare, which I don’t always have, because my family hasn’t been around. but they came up recently just to watch my son so I could work.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh wow!

Melissa Townsend:  Yeah, they’re awesome.  They came from Alberta which is like Central West Canada to be with me here, live in our house for like two months, so I could just get ready for my show.  My husband’s family lives closer, but they can’t take my son all the time, so I’m so thankful that my parents came to watch my son.  I just haven’t found the right childcare.  I know there’s probably somebody that I can send him to. Anyway, when they were here, my mom is so amazing.  She would cook me, like make me breakfast.  Make sure I was eating.  Because, sometimes artists don’t eat.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] Yep!

Melissa Townsend: They forget too and then their grumpy and they are like, ‘Why am I grumpy?’ Why do I feel sick? Oh, I’m starving.  Oh, Okay.’

Erica Eriksdotter: Why is this painting not happening?

Melissa Townsend: Yeah! What is going on, why am I dizzy? So, my mom would get up and watch my son and take care of him and they would just let me work in my studio. She would bring me food and drink and like, I was not going to die, it was wonderful.  I literally would paint all day.  Now that this time of the year the light gets a little bit bad so I would stop painting around 4:00.  I’d paint from like 9 to 4 every day and I was getting a lot done.  It was wonderful.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, you don’t…

Melissa Townsend: If I’m not inspired, I need to take a break.  I need to go to HomeSense or I need to go for a walk or like do some shopping, you know what I mean?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: I don’t know, like, I must be funny.  I can’t do something if my hearts not in it.

Erica Eriksdotter: No, I understand that. I mean, I think I have trained myself to be very structured because I do have a day job.  And, then I paint in the evenings or on the weekends and I just kind of, I love being with my art and in the studio, but I just kind of figured out ok, this is what needs to happen, you know?

Melissa Townsend: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: No, I hear you.  When I was a full time artist, I was a little bit hard on myself.  I was like, ‘You need to be in the studio from 8 o’clock to 10 o’clock at night.’ [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: Wow!

Erica Eriksdotter: I wish I was a little bit more flexible but we all learn, right?  Sometimes the hard way.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: But, I think that’s wonderful.  So, if your family, if you’re not preparing for an art show, which is completely different from because you probably had what, 15 – 20 pieces that you were doing or more?

Melissa Townsend: I only could do 15 for this one.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.

Melissa Townsend: But, I’ve done more in the past.  But, my son had like, that, because my parent’s still lived here, they recently moved away.  Yep.

Erica Eriksdotter: But 15 is a good number though for a show.

Melissa Townsend: I think so.

Erica Eriksdotter: That’s not at all bad.

Melissa Townsend: And they’re large.

Erica Eriksdotter: I think most of the times is like 10. So, you had mentioned something interesting. You said because of the sunlight, you only painted until 4.

Melissa Townsend: Mm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: Of course, that is when the sun is going down in Halifax.  So, you don’t have any daylight lamp?

Melissa Townsend: We don’t have any power.  We don’t have power up in this part of Canada.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: I know that sometimes people do wonder about those Canadians. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: Did you hear that? So, anyways, I’m making jokes.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, you’re just making fire in your studio.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah, we’re just making fire and I can’t see.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: I don’t like the lights that I have.  I don’t like the lights that are available.  I just like the sun.  The sun is really the best for me.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: I know I probably have to be a little more flexible with winter coming.  In the past, I just would work in the day, but we’ll see.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: I can probably find a better light.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.  I bought this daylight and it replicates what daylight should be.  It’s a $200 lamp and you know, I’ve used it for a long time now.  It works, but I agree completely that it’s just not the same as working with the sun and having the daylight and hearing the birds.  That is a completely different atmosphere in the studio when that happens.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah, yep.

[00:18:52] A glimpse into her studio

Erica Eriksdotter: So, can you actually, now that we’re talking about your studio, could you give me and the listeners a little bit of a description on for better use of a word, paint the picture, ha ha of what your studio looks like so we can kind of envision you in your studio and where you’re making this beautiful art happen. Do you need anything special?

Melissa Townsend: Um, special?  I only need to be able to have me a drink if I want it and all of my colors right close to me.  And, something to wipe my brushes with, like a cloth.  My really cheap brushes, I use really cheap brushes actually because I like that they’re scratchy and show that texture.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: Mind you, there’s a couple smaller brushes that I’ve been starting to use just as I grow and their more expensive. I just really have a messy little studio and it actually, this very minute, is dismantled because we are renovating and I stand… We’re in renovation right now.  I stand and I see it and walk back and I look and I go close and I listen to music and I really don’t like always want to have anyone over around the studio when I’m working.  Which is funny, because I live paint sometimes, but that’s different. Anyways, yes it’s a messy studio.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, my studio is also very messy.  I completely understand.

Melissa Townsend: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: It is interesting how you can paint in any kind of situation.  But, it’s that…

Melissa Townsend: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: But, as long as it’s like nobody’s watching you when you’re painting.  Like, that’s the difference I think.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Um, well, sometimes I have students in here in my studio and we paint together.  Because, they are doing a student apprenticeship.  That’s kind of a different because that’s what your assignment is.  But, it is funny how, I have a picture somewhere that whole room is just completely packed with things and I’m sitting in the middle of it and that’s the only space available and I have this huge canvas that I’m working on. It’s just, you just make it work.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah, no, it’s true.  It’s just whatever and sometimes the set-up is a little neater and it’s like , ‘Oh, look how neat I am today.’  But other days, you’ve barely even got your canvas.  Sometimes, I just work on the floor, it depends on where I got perched. You know what I mean?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yep.

Melissa Townsend: All of a sudden, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh! There’s something I need to fix’, and it’s like noop, noop and then I’m just painting for two hours, on the floor, on my knees.  I’m like, Oh, that was bad for my back.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] Yeah.  I find myself, I usually sit down on chair and sometimes I have it, if I have to sketch it out real, a lot, like details for my portraits, it’s like math for my brain because it all has to measure up.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: I just kind of want to have closer to the canvas, I sit and lean against the desk and my neck and you know you’re looking down and after 3 hours, your like AHHHH, that wasn’t good, but it was what I needed to do. It’s funny. [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: [laughing] But it was so worth it!

Erica Eriksdotter: It was so worth it!!  Hi chiropractor. Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah. [laughing]

[00:22:35] Commissioned work and live painting at events

Erica Eriksdotter: So, speaking of pet portraits, I actually, I know that you also accept commissions and I recently your adorable pet portraits.  Because, I don’t know if…have you ever done pet portraits before or is this completely new for you?  Because they were, Oh My god! Amazing.

Melissa Townsend: [laughing] Oh, thank you. I just think that people started to transfer their pets in front of the owls and wildlife.  They were like, I think she can probably do a pet.  So, that’s what happened.  People are like I really want my cat and I was like, Okay.  Oh, now I’m doing pet portraits.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: [laughing] It wasn’t really, it’s not really the direction that I was wanting to go, but it is really sweet and I totally love it. It’s really cute.  I know that you had mentioned the black lab.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yes!!

Melissa Townsend: With the tennis ball.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh my gosh, that’s so cute.

Melissa Townsend: Like, that was just so sweet.  But, I can actually tell you that story, it’s really cute.  The fellow asked me through the gallery to do a piece and I didn’t have a chance to meet him, so I was a little nervous.  I like to meet people when I’m doing a commission or talk to them or something so I have a connection.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mm, hmm.

Melissa Townsend: And, when I finally finished this dog with the tennis ball and actually did a horse at the same time because this fellow has a horse too.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh, yes!  I did see the horse too.

Melissa Townsend: Right, yeah.  So, I’m like doing, I’m thinking to myself, I have two pets to do for this gentleman and I don’t know what his voice sounds like, I don’t know anything about him.  I haven’t seen him, I don’t get to hear him, this is really hard.  And, so I let my gallery know that it was really challenging and so she understood and stuff.  Anyway, I came to drop off [?] I bring in the paintings and he loves them and I’m thankful that he likes them because you don’t want to ever have a client that’s unhappy with a commission piece like this.  This is something they want to hang up on their wall forever.  You really want to make sure you hit the nail on the head.

Erica Eriksdotter: No kidding.

Melissa Townsend: So, I’m meeting him and we’re hugging and you know, it’s cute.  He was like, ‘You know, it’s really interesting. The dog…’ I can’t remember the name but, his pet’s name, but he’s like, ‘The dog that you painted always, like, in real life has a tennis ball in his mouth all the time.’ And, yet, he has two labs but I only painted one of them.  And he’s like, ‘And the other one has no interest in the ball at all!’

Erica Eriksdotter: AHhhhh!

Melissa Townsend: ‘So, you really captured my dog perfectly.’

Erica Eriksdotter: That’s amazing.

Melissa Townsend: And, you didn’t even know.  That’s what I like to connect with.  That’s what I’m all about.  Like, so that’s why it was hard.  It’s hard, because you want to make sure you’re doing it right.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I totally relate.  What a beautiful story and what a validation that the gift that you have as an artist and I hope you get to do so many more pet portraits because I happen to love them as well.

Melissa Townsend: Awesome.

Erica Eriksdotter: I’ve done so many pet portraits already and across the world.  I don’t feel the need to see the person, to meet the person who commissions the piece.

Melissa Townsend: Mm, hmmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: I do in other circumstances.  So, if it’s not the pet that I’m painting, but I’m doing another commission for them, if they want to have something else, then I do want to meet with them.  This is their stuff.  But, for their pet, I actually, not putting words in your mouth here Melissa, but for me, I actually tap into the pet when I’m working with them and I can describe their characteristics and their energy.  You know sometimes I’ll pick a, I have the luxury of picking the colors, the background colors for the person who’s commissioned it.

Melissa Townsend: Oh yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: And their like, Oh my god, this is like, you’re nailing it all.  It just a wonderful validation when you get that free range or that you’ve managed to capture it and there are many, many happy tears at the end of that.  What a beautiful gift to be able to give that to the people that we work with.

Melissa Townsend: Awww.  Definitely, yeah, it’s so nice.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, you have actually done commissions where they’re like, paint whatever you want. Yes, you can tap into what they want just like you tapped into the dog with tennis ball.  That just feels like a little bit more pressure. [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: To be in.  How do you work that out and what’s the process and how do you not freak out?

Melissa Townsend: Right! Yeah, well, I really like those. I like that extra pressure.  That’s really where I kind of feel like I have more interest actually, those commissions.  I feel like I get to kind of paint over their life in a sense.  Where I get to, that’s where I get to do the encouragement.  That’s where I get to do the go after your dream and the you know what like you know that’s where I get to connect and kind of journey in my own [space] life and my own heart journey, with paint, with creating.

Erica Eriksdotter: You did, more recently, I think, you did an amazing piece where it’s seems like a village and it reminds me of another piece that you’ve done.  You’ve also done a couple of them where it’s like a village whether it’s a view from the side, or a view from the top.

Melissa Townsend: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: Those are amazing. What do you call those? Village?

Melissa Townsend: What do I call those?  Like, houses? Like, buildings?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, I guess they’re houses and buildings.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah, that’s all they are.  They’re umm, again, they’re just like kind of what I get to see.  I get sort of a picture in my head.

Erica Eriksdotter: Uh-huh.

Melissa Townsend: And, I’ll just start to let that unravel. I just pray into my work and that’s what happens.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, you always paint from your head? You never have any photos laying around or inspirational..?

Melissa Townsend: Oh no!  I will go and find whatever I need to have my inspirational.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] OKAY

Melissa Townsend: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: Your normal.  Okay, good.  I was like oh my!!

Melissa Townsend: No, I mean, I don’t need any references! [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] Oh golly! Okay, yeah.

Melissa Townsend: [laughing] Imagine. I think that having references is really powerful, beautiful way to be able to work.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Melissa Townsend: Mm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, you mentioned earlier that you lived painted.  Can you describe what live painting means?  You did it a wedding ceremony and how it works.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: The value it adds to the wedding.  How you can paint with people around? How do you make that work? How can other people have that at their wedding?

Melissa Townsend: Right, I think it’s a really neat idea.  It’s just like music.  It’s just like having a music group come in like a violin quartet, like a quartet, you know!  I didn’t study my music terminology before I got on with you…

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: You know, you have a band come and play with you.  Well, this is like hiring an artist to come and paint the atmosphere.  Paint sort of what is happening in the art language, I guess.  So, I loved it.  It was really exciting and fun.  I was able to meet the couple ahead of time and they asked me if I would be able to do this for them at their wedding ceremony. So, I just set up and I was able to prepare ahead. Because I take a little bit more time, I’m not like one of those really fast painters.  I’m a slower painter, I need more time.  So, I was able to prepare and when I got to the wedding and the ceremony, I was already mid-painting.  So, it was kind of like the ceremony.  You know this wedding is happening, nothing’s final, it’s just the beginning of the journey.  It’s sort of the painting was like that too.  This is just part of the process of life. I’m celebrating your wedding day with art, with painting.  So, when I finally finished the painting and I gave it to them when I titled it and everything it was beautiful.  It was like they, I actually had a song go with it too.  There was song that a local artist here had had released just the same time essentially that I had finished the painting.  It was perfect.  It was so perfect.  It was so beautiful, the wedding.  The bride and the groom were so happy.  It was really encouraging to me as well because then I know that I’m on track with my heart.

Erica Eriksdotter: I can’t even imagine how much that must have meant to the couple.  I mean, I’ve seen the photos.  I think I saw them on your blog.  They’re just, you’re standing there painting and capturing the moment and I mean to me it’s the most romantic thing.  I do bridal bouquets. You know, I paint the bouquet as keepsake.

Melissa Townsend: It’s amazing.

[00:32:37] Advice for someone in hamster wheel

Erica Eriksdotter: This is just so romantic of having a live painter added to as an extra romantic level to the wedding.  What advice would you give somebody who is in the corporate world?  You know, we’ve talked about the need to be creative, to have that extra language. We’ve talked about how you just make room, you just sit on the floor and you’re creative.  There’s no excuses to not be creative. If you’re not inspired, your, okay, I need to do x, y, and z to be inspired. And, not everyone wants to be a full-time artist.  Not everyone wants to have exhibits at galleries or you know at art shows.

Melissa Townsend: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: But, what advice would you give to somebody who is in the corporate world? In the hamster wheel…

Melissa Townsend: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: Who are looking for that extra language that might be a creative process. Or for that next step in their life.  Do you have anything that?

Melissa Townsend: Yeah. Well, normally if I have somebody um, who’s seems or is asking me straight out like…I’ve had a couple corporate people come and ask me, what can I do?  What do you think I can do?  I actually just process with them.  I just kind of, their usually my friends, the ones that really ask that question.  People like to ask that question.  Not a lot of people ask that question, you know. That’s sort of a sensitive place because, I don’t know, the hamster wheel I mean, I’ve been there before too. It’s hard, it’s a hard place to be.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah,

Melissa Townsend: It can be painful.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, and I think it’s sometimes, I’m sorry for interrupting you Melissa…

Melissa Townsend: That’s fine.

Erica Eriksdotter:  It feels like also, it’s so easy to grow numb in the hamster wheel.

Melissa Townsend: Wow, yeah!

Erica Eriksdotter: By just discussing it or listening to the podcast might inspire somebody who is numb to be, you know, taking that first little step out. So, just, you know, I think it’s if you’re not awake or if your numb and you don’t even know that your numb.

Melissa Townsend: Yeah. So, basically it’s, sorry, now I interrupted you. [laughing]  I had the, you know, it’s always just sort of are you awake?  I use that word awake.  My last show was called, ‘Come Awake my Love’ and it was about people being awakened to life.  Are you really alive in your life?  Are you, what are you doing? And, that’s why I brought in the flowers and all that bloom because flowers come from like nothing.  It can come from the ground and nothing and dirt and it’s like so do we.  We just come from nothing almost, but we’re life and we’re meant to create life.  I have this picture in my head. Years and years ago I was half-asleep.  There was this desert land and it was really dry and cracked, like desert, like dying, like nothing lived. This oil started to come up from the earth and underneath and flow out of these cracks.  The earth started to glow and these flowers like in time lapse, you know, where they wiggle and they come alive really quickly.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yep.

Melissa Townsend: This time lapse started to happen and these flowers were like alive and they were like dancing in the sunlight in the desert.  It was so weird. Such a weird sort of profound moment and I was like; I’m going to live my life like that.  I’m just going to go that direction.  I’m going to make sure that I’m always part of life and I want to speak that message of life.  Anytime I see somebody that might be in a number place or hamster wheel, I’m always wanting to encourage them whether it’s my art or a sentence or a hug.  I’m like, listen, you don’t have to do it this way.  You can do it a different way.  You can do life in a different way if you’re not happy, not satisfied.  Because, I’m sure that your purposed for something else if you’re not feeling it, you know?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, I think that’s beautiful, Melissa.  I really do. It’s about a shift, right? It’s not a day to night complete overhaul. It’s about adding that…

Melissa Townsend: Oh no!

Erica Eriksdotter: Just adding that color to your life and that flower to your life.  Just trying to figure out what makes you happy.  It could be, you’ve mentioned to me in the past how people react so profoundly to your art. They really do wake up a little bit in themselves when they view your art. It could be a piece that maybe a listener would like to have and that kind of wakes them up a little bit and it could be a slow process. It’s the process that needs to be the process for you.

Melissa Townsend: Oh, yeah.  It’s always going to be an unexpected…I think it is the most beautiful when it’s unexpected and it’s like, you know, I didn’t even know that was in me.  I didn’t even know that I could be part of something like this. That really grips me, it’s always gripped me.  That’s my focus and I will not leave that. I am so determined that every single person in this world has a purpose for joy in their life, happiness and to spread that.  Be contagious.  If you’re going to be alive, be contagious.  Be life giving.

Erica Eriksdotter: I love that!  [laughing] That’s perfect!

Melissa Townsend: Right. [laughing] I believe that!

[00:38:55] Where can people find Melissa

Erica Eriksdotter: I know you do.  Where can people find you, Melissa?  So, website, galleries, social channels, etcetera?

Melissa Townsend: Yeah, so I’m here in Halifax, in Canada.  Really far away from all of you.  [laughing] Sorry, another bad joke. Bad Comedienne joke.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Melissa Townsend: I’m at melissatownsendart.com and I’m on Instagram as melissatownsendart. I’m on Facebook too with Melissatownsendart. I have two local galleries that I’m currently part of and they’re wonderful. I don’t know how people produce work for the whole world but I’m busy with two galleries.  It’s awesome, I love it.

Erica Eriksdotter: Good for you.

Melissa Townsend: Here in Eastern Canada.

Erica Eriksdotter: You deserve the success.  So, that is Argyle Fine Arts in Halifax and then there is another gallery…

Melissa Townsend: Yes, the other gallery is Harvest Gallery in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, if you are local to there, please check out Melissa’s art.  So, alright, that’s it for this episode.  Thanks for joining me, Melissa.

Melissa Townsend: Thank you so much!

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, the next episode will feature another guest, but if you have any questions you’d like to ask Melissa be sure to use the hashtage #Fikapodcast on Twitter or use the link in the show notes.  I’ll include all of where you can find Melissa in the show notes.  You can use the show description in your app or visit my blog at StudioEriksdotter.com for this episode.  You can find me, as I said, at erica@studioeriksdotter.com and please join my email list if you want to stay up to date.  You can access it at the bottom of my website. While you are at it, leave the Fika podcast and iTunes Review if you please want to do that favor.  Don’t forget to subscribe to an iTunes so you don’t miss an episode.  Thanks for listening and thanks again, Melissa!