Melanie Macilwain’s bright and bold abstract works exude joy through their exploration of movement and the combination of colours and textures.
Melanie works from her home studio in Geelong. ‘I have a studio in my house, although depending on the light, the size of my work or if I’d like my dog for company, I’ll move to create a new space for the day.’ Music and podcasts are things that Melanie describes as essential for helping her create, along with taking breaks away from her artwork and walking her dog in order to ‘keep the motor running.’
Melanie was surrounded by creativity from a young age. Her grandparents came from overseas and she spent a lot of time with them, witnessing their talents in woodwork and cooking. ‘A big dinner for everyone was also an extension of their creativity and I just loved the conversation their food started. It was intrinsically rewarding but I was still unsure how I could build something the same. I have created artworks since.’ 
Melanie is a self-taught artist. ‘I had wonderful experiences with art including brilliant teachers, and my Mum is a big advocate of my creative ability. Because I am curious by nature, I have always gone out to find answers or gain advice, and I always collect information visually. My curiosity has pushed me to grow and learn but I’ve got so much further to go. It’s exciting to think that my skills will continue to improve.’
Melanie explores colour and the challenge of making relationships work within a piece. She often reworks layers and viscosity to bring rhythm and harmony to the colours used. She predominantly works with acrylic paint on canvas and occasionally board, enjoying the texture that can be developed with the paint. ‘I love how, when you place paint on a board, it feels like shaping butter icing onto a cake.’
Inspired by various sources when it comes to her work, Melanie is particularly interested in different colour and textural combinations. As a trained school teacher, she enjoys watching young children explore colours without hesitation. ‘They are genius. They don’t overthink the choice, and choose colours based on what makes them feel right. The amount of arguments I’ve resolved between 5-year-olds based on coloured crayons is uncountable. It is obvious that everyone has a colour that is important to them, but as we get older it’s in the form of shoes, cars or furnishings.’ Although a prep student’s work with paint, crayon or texta is often not technical, it is the risk taking and trust in a colour that Melanie finds inspiring.
Melanie is also inspired by the landscapes around Maryborough in Victoria, where she has family. ‘Travelling on these roads is relaxing and I could stare at the hills and paddocks all day long. There is nothing quite like the simplicity of the land or walking the dogs in the bush together.’
Melanie is a fan of many artists (Craig Waddell, Rhys Lee, Ann Thompson and Sonia Delaunay to mention a few!) but Ken Done’s works are particularly exciting for her. ‘I’ll never forget meeting Ken and asking him what his favourite colour was, and then him asking about mine. He drew me a flower and I ran off shaking! Embarrassing, but totally worth it. One of my sold works, ‘Summer Fields with the Top Down’, is inspired by this very experience.’
When asked about a career highlight so far, Melanie describes meeting Forman’s Nick and Kara. ‘They supported me from the start and continue to do so. They knew that I could make mistakes, but they trusted bringing me into their business. I’m grateful for their kindness and guidance – and the great short black coffees Nick has made me over the ride!’
Melanie aims to create works that she would hang in her own home. 'If I know I could happily hang the work in my dining room for a dinner party with family and friends, then I know it is finished and ready. The artworks are here to brighten your day and home. If I can do that for people, then I know I am doing the right job.’
Check out our range of joyous Melanie Macilwain works here!