Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Season's Greetings~A Focal Point With Spirit

Season’s Greetings, oil painting by Melody Phaneuf
Private Collection

“I want to inspire the spirit of Christmas year round.”

This was the declaration by the patron who was to purchase the painting, Season’s Greetings. Having just finished a substantial home addition, she was looking for a focal point for the new family room; something to blend with her beautiful furniture, yet make a statement in her new interior.

Season’s Greetings was painted with a child’s heart, a sense of awe from magically appearing gifts, of dreams come true. The expression is supported by an intermediate major key, which mesmerizes us with light emerging from darkness. The dazzling white rocking horse provides the light, reflected in the bell and gift-wrap. Contrasting color —warm reds and cool blue green—causes pupils to expand and contract, entrancing us with wonder. The key allows colors to be rich without harshness.

The theme of the painting, the dramatic lighting and captivating color were well suited to be the focal point of the new family room. The neutralized yellow wall color is in harmony with the tone of the bell and golden gift. The room’s large windows, perpendicular to the wall where the art is hung flood the room with illumination, without directly hitting the painting. Season’s Greetings hangs above an antique bookcase. The ensemble is a remarkable focal point in the room. I am honored that this painting was chosen to enhance such exquisite surroundings.

~Wishing you the spirit of Christmas. May it last year round.~

Open Edition Prints and Note Cards of Season's Greetings are available at

Melody Phaneuf is an award-winning artist known for her evocative still life allegories. Phaneuf's paintings have been exhibited at Galerie Herouet in Paris, The National Arts Club in New York City, and were included in a traveling exposition in Japan. She is a regular exhibitor at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street, Boston, MA.

Further Reading~

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Heart ~ Creating A Mood Of Serenity


Swaddled in blankets, I am immobile but warm. Snowflakes shattering on my nose linger on the tips of my eyelashes. I am hypnotized with the serene activity of watching interweaving movement. The world is quiet, gentle, pristine.

I am a winter baby, born into a world of snow. First impressions persist. Childhood feelings echo from the painting, Village In Snow.

Feeling is the heart of aesthetic living. It is useful to understand the relationship between what we see and how we feel. In Village In Snow, the intervals between light and dark, called value, are narrow because of the diffused light of a cloudy sky. The color is neutralized, just a hint of chroma in silvery grays. The subtlety of tight intervals of value and color quiets us. We become attentive, much like we do to hear someone whispering in a noisy room.

The mood evoked by Village In Snow is one of attentive serenity. This painting is ideal in expression for an office, conference room, library, or sitting room. The savvy decorator knows how to design tranquility by choosing cool, neutral colors and subtle accents. The artist understands the mechanics of mood.

Melody Phaneuf is a fine artist who believes that everyone deserves to live aesthetically. Her winter paintings of Gloucester, MA can be seen at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St, Boston. Melody welcomes studio visits are welcome at Fenway Studios in Boston.

Village In Snow, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf, 30 x 25

Open Edition Prints and Note Cards of Village In Snow are available at Free Shipping until December 31st.

More reading:

Mood Lighting
HGTV- Create A Mood With Color
Psychology of Color
Symbolism of Snow

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Radiant Vessel ~ Experiences of Beauty and God

Your Light will come Jerusalem; The Lord will dawn on you in Radiant Beauty. Liturgy of the Hours

A recent conversation with a chaplain friend about his “experience of Jesus” led us into a comparative discussion of his recalled sensation and my experiences of beauty.

I remembered one time that I was driving while listening to a symphony of Henryk Gorecki. Completely overcome in the shear perfection of song, the expression of yearning and resurrection, that I found myself weeping at the side of the road. It fathomed something deep, resolved it, and like my friend, returned me, wholly changed.

We agreed that these moments awe us, moving us toward generosity, in gratitude for the experience. It is in connection with the Divine that our senses are opened to beauty. And conversely, beauty can open us to God. We are but vessels, accepting and radiating the Light.

Melody Phaneuf is a Boston Artist, known for her evocative still life allegories. Her paintings can be viewed at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St, Boston, MA. Studio visits are welcomed.

Radiant Vessel by Melody Phaneuf
Oil Painting, 24 x 34
Private Collection

Open Edition prints , cards and holiday gift ornament of Radiant Vessel at

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Art And Children~ Outside The Box

When Susan Conti visited Open Studios, she hadn’t expected to purchase a work of art. Her newborn son was safe with his Grandfather; she and a friend decided to browse Fenway Studios’ annual event. It was here that she came upon Outside The Box and was halted by an idea.

"I had been reading about toys that develop fine motor skills, planning which toys I would choose for my son. He is still too young for such things, but maybe a picture is to an infant what these toys are to a toddler," she surmised.

Susan bought Outside The Box with the idea that becoming familiar with the image might encourage her child’s curiosity to reach and grasp at toys earlier, giving him advanced motor skills and strength.

As the Artist, I hadn’t considered this when I composed the painting. I just loved the joyful quality of this hand-made toy. It is a delight to create something useful; it validates my belief that Art is an integral part of life.

Outside The Box is available in Open Edition Prints, Bookmarks, and Notecards at

Melody Phaneuf is a Boston Fine Artist working at historic Fenway Studios. Her paintings can be viewed at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St, Boston. Visits to her studio are welcome.

Further Reading:

Fine Motor Activities For Preschoolers

The Promotion of Gross and Fine Motor Development for Infants and Toddlers: Developmentally Appropriate Activities for Parents and Teachers

Bilateral Coordination

Gifts to Develop Fine-Motor and PerceptualSkills

Friday, November 28, 2008

Light of Thanksgiving

Wind-chimes dance. The last leaves cartwheel by. There is a distinctive light in November, rays squeezed through blustery clouds, all tinged with grey caveat of tempest. It is the light I am most grateful for, and the perception of the beneficence from which it emanates.

Traditions honoring the light evolved through generations, from solstice and candles to shining star in the east, to savior and twinkling lights at Christmas. Stories evolve, conflicts rise, and wars ensue. But we are still creatures dominated by the light.

As an artist, I am Light’s faithful follower. Light reveals color, creates endless patterns, and caresses forms. It creates symphonies across the skies and urges life to move forward. Light bestows tirelessly and asks nothing in return.

Peaceful Harbor by Melody Phaneuf, 16 x 20 oil

Peaceful Harbor honors a moment in the vast repertoire of light. An early morning walk in Gloucester unveils the harbor’s waking.

Melody Phaneuf’s paintings of Gloucester can be seen at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St, Boston. Studio visits are welcome at her Fenway studio.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tondo~Expression of Abundance and Harmony

Round. Golden. Textural. Resonant. These qualities combined in Tondo to emanate a sense of harmony and abundance. Sweeping arcs dominate the movement upward; each line and shape plays its part in the perpetual volley of motion. Variations of golden color provide warmth and a hint of harvest time.

The objects chosen relate to hearth and home. This painting was designed to nourish many levels: visual, emotional, spiritual. Tondo is tribute to well-being and gratitude.

Melody Phaneuf is a Boston artist working at historic Fenway Studios. Her paintings can be viewed at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St.

Tondo, 20 x 16 oil, private collection

Tondo is available in Open Edition Prints and Note Cards at

A perfect Hostess gift.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Magical Brittany. The forests of Haute Bretagne are mysterious doors to a rhapsodic world of emotion. For the artist seeking evidence of the Divine in nature, it is here that brushes in hand, one can embrace the Creator.

The misty morning light penetrates; erases dark pillars and interweaves a carpet of shadowed geometry. The boundary between woodland and meadow evaporates in the lemony mist and resonates of a half-remembered Paradise.

I love these thresholds. Evocative of entering, leaving and passage, Brittany Forest is a blissful transition to the light.

Brittany Forest by Melody Phaneuf, Boston
20 x 16 Oil Painting

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes We Can~Con Spirito

With the election behind us there appears a new sense of hope. Our president elect, Barack Obama, brings with him an inspiration that is contagious. There is no doubt that we will have to do our part but there is a unity of purpose that I believe will transcend our difficulties.

A similar sentiment of unity is expressed in Con Spirito, a tribute to the mysterious force that animates us and calls us to create order from chaos, beauty from the mundane. Inspiration, symbolized by the illuminated candle, is the cause of both the arrangement of notes in the music and placement of objects in the visual design. Instruments radiate out from the light, reflecting it. Patterning of light and dark “spots” and chosen angles create a rhythm and give a sense of animation to the whole. There was an intention here, a unity of purpose, which answered the myriad of decisions for this painting.

So, I’m with you, Mr. Obama. If we can organize a design, create music from the noise that surrounds us, we should be able to develop a society based on the good of the whole rather than a collection of its parts. And with Spirit, yes, we can.

Con Spirito by Melody Phaneuf
Oil Painting, 34 x 36

Con Spirito is on view at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St, Boston during the month of November.

Open Edition Prints, Tiles and Note Cards make wonderful gifts and are available at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spirit Of The Season

How do you capture the spirit of a season? The color contrast in Season of Light shows the warmness of the orange sunlight against cool, crisp atmosphere of a manganese sky. Naked trees stretch and yawn, ready for a long nap. Jagged cast shadows lead us into the scene, where rooftops continue the angular movement and create an upbeat rhythm, much like the Autumn of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Season of Light is a typical New England coastal scene, with its stonewalls and white houses, ideal backdrop for all that is autumn. Soon, the red chimneys will swirl smoke and stand out vibrantly against the white New England snows.

Season of Light by Melody Phaneuf
Oil Painting, 30 x 25

Open Edition Prints, Tiles, and Note Cards make great gifts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Golden Days: Explore Boston's Fenway Studios Oct 25-26

Crisp days, glittery light —autumn in Boston is an extraordinary season. October is a favorite time to taste the cosmopolitan flavor of the city and bask in the 19th century’s architectural splendor. Ravishing gardens, premier galleries, elegant boutiques, and historic allure combine magnificently in golden more

Golden Days by Melody Phaneuf
20 x 16 Oil Painting of Boston Garden

Golden Days Open Edition Prints and cards at

Open Studios events and times at

Technorati Profile

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Still Life With Oranges

Orange, green, violet. A secondary triad has more subtlety ....more

Still Life With Oranges, by Melody Phaneuf
30 x 25 oil painting

Open Edition prints are available at

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Everything Matters

Young artists often ask me questions about their artwork that are prefaced with “does it matter if…” My first response is “everything matters.” But that is the abbreviated version.

I ascribe to an idea very like the “Broken Windows Theory,” discussed by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point. An epidemic theory of crime, Broken Windows suggests that the impulse to engage in certain behavior initiates in the environment rather than the person and that the festering epidemic can be reversed by tweaking environmental cues.

The link between environment and culture makes perfect sense when you think about the Greece of Plato and Aristotle, the significance of beauty, and the accomplishments of Greek culture. Beauty was the ideal that was studied and applied in every aspect of life. Each proportion was measured. It all mattered. Then ponder the great scientific advances of the Italian Renaissance, born in surroundings of the Medici aesthetic. Beauty mattered.

Our Boston building, Fenway Studios, hosts an annual Open Studios event. Visitors come to see Art and the artists who create it. I love to chat with people who are interested in what we do. One sentiment that was consistently expressed by many who loved the paintings was the wish that they could afford to buy. I thought about the reality of this—that often, living with art is limited to a certain income level, but shouldn’t be.

Believing that everyone deserves to live with beauty, I partnered with color reproduction expert, Martha DiMeo, to begin producing a small line of affordable prints and note cards. Seven years later, we have launched an online store, expanded the number of images available for prints, cards, and bookmarks, and have created a line of botticino marble tile murals and coaster gift sets.

Living surrounded with aesthetic pleasure may seem like a little thing that doesn’t matter. I would argue that it makes your personal world a better, kinder place and you contribute the same to the whole. That matters. We are doing our part to make beauty a component of everyone’s life. Everyone deserves a pleasing environment.

Shown above: Sunflowers of Dordogne Fine Art Coasters
Melody The Artist Home offerings at

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Harbor Sunset, Visual Banquet


2 Parts Yellow
1 Part Orange
2 Parts Violet
3 Dashes Viridian
Pinch of Rose

Gently whisk the orange into the yellow. Cover the top third of a rectangular canvas and set aside the remaining mixture. Apply 2/3 of the violet to the middle third and lower right corner, cut in viridian and allow to set. Use the remaining yellow-orange to cover the raw canvas; swirl on violet. Sprinkle entire mixture with a pinch of rose. Arrange shapes so that there is a contrast of direction. Be sure that dark and light pattern in the upper third creates a rhythmic, cradling movement leading to the shapes below. Hold the key in the middle range, but spice with a major interval of twilight. Allow the surface to rise and form a firm, interwoven texture. Serve immediately.

Have you ever noticed how a delicious banquet awakens each taste bud, delighting and satisfying emerging desires for salty, spicy, sweet, sour or bitter? And texturally speaking, imagine the dullness of dining on soup, squash, applesauce and Jell-O? Bereft of mastication for any length of time, you might even consider wrestling the dog for his chew toy.

A painting should have the same considerations, variety to delight the eye and charm the spirit. Light, dark, warm, cool, round, rectangular, soft, firm, transparent, opaque, curvy, angular… There are an infinite number of condiments in Nature’s buffet. Artist and chef alike are fluent in the language of their dominant sense’s expression. They are mavens of discernment, selecting which proportion of this-to-that delectation will attract then gratify.

A delicious painting, like a favorite meal is remembered and desired again because it satiates a longing that only that particular taste titillation can fulfill. When that hunger is of the body, food fulfills; when of the soul, art nourishes.

Bon Appetite!

Harbor Sunset by Melody Phaneuf, is available in Open Edition Print and Note Cards.

Harbor Sunset, by Melody Phaneuf, Boston, MA
Oil Painting, 28 x 22
Studio Visits (617) 236 4322

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Eggs and Shells, A Study in Low Major

I love a low major key. Light emerging from darkness evokes a primal awe and lends dignity to vibrant color arrangements.

Eggs & Shells is a quiet celebration of yellow and blue. Eggs and milk carafe, combined with the eye-opening contrast of color and light make it ideal for the kitchen, a perfect “breakfast’ painting. A lively rhythm emerges from the broken-color technique despite the restraint of key.

I use this painting as a moment of contemplation in the morning. It gives me contented energy to start my day.

Eggs and Shells, Open Edition Print, Note Cards, and Custom Tile Murals at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Bridge, Connection to Paradise

Nowhere else can we find the delight that beauty brings. A life bereft of aesthetic pleasure is unmerciful and dulls the senses. Often surprising and elusive, an encounter with beauty elevates and inspires a gracious attitude.

Imagine my joy when, during a customary walk at Gloucester's Good Harbor Beach, dreamy light revealed such beauty of pattern. The radiant effect of blue sky delicately woven with lemon sun mirrored from the water suggested a timeless threshold. I was struck by the eternal quality of the light, the metaphor of moving water as life’s passage, and the bridge as connection to a paradisiacal world. This epiphany was inspiration for painting The Bridge, Good Harbor.

A lovely tribute to the iconic quality of the image is its popularity. Tile coasters, open edition prints, and cards are sold in Cape Ann gift stores and the Gloucester Museum, as well as our online store. It is a great pleasure to share my experience of beauty with others.


Artist Melody Phaneuf lives and paints in Gloucester, MA and at Fenway Studios, Boston. Phaneuf is well known for her evocative landscape and still life paintings and has achieved significant acclaim for portraiture. She has exhibited at Galerie Herouet in Paris, The National Arts Club in New York City, and with Art du Monde, a traveling exposition in Japan. Phaneuf’s paintings are regularly displayed at Northshore Arts in Gloucester and The Guild of Boston Artists, Boston, MA.

Melody The Artist Home
, founded with photographer and color specialist, Martha DiMeo showcases the artist’s original paintings on tumbled marble tile murals and coasters, fine art prints, and handmade note cards. Online ordering at

The Bridge, Good Harbor, 28 x 20 oil painting by Melody Phaneuf is available in fine art prints and tile coasters.

follow Melody on twitter
become a facebook fan
visit Melody’s studio

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fortune’s Wheel, In Memory of September 11

It is August of 1997 and I am returning from an exhibition of my paintings in Paris. It is the fulfillment of a dream and I am heady, making great plans the way one does when still young and unscathed. I couldn’t have painted this at that particular moment because I was brimming with joy.

I call it Fortune’s Wheel. It is about sudden and violent change, the kind of event where one is irrevocably transformed. It is a self-portrait in symbols; a cathartic detachment from what immediately becomes the past. The jester hangs upside down by one foot, echoing the Hanged man of the Tarot. Like breadcrumbs leading out of the woods, three cards, the Tower, Devil, and Three of Swords leave a trail of clues. An ominous black veil obscures the exhibition poster yoking the jester to the wheel where once fresh roses ascend. Flameless candle, well-worn and treasured map of France, postcard, and coins are strewn. The hourglass sand is running out, the duality of light bewilders, disorder rules.

Fast forward to 2001. It is a crisp and beautifully sunny morning in September, emblem of early autumn in New England. I am working with a handful of students studying anatomy, looking out the window, thinking we really should be out landscape painting. It is shortly before 9:00. The first plane is flying into the towers.

We are changed। We were still young and unscathed. We were heady, brimming with joy, and could not have imagined in advance of that particular moment, this altered world.

Fortune’s Wheel by Melody Phaneuf, 40 x 48 Oil Painting

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Love and Folly

In the wake of the speech by Republican candidate Sarah Palin, I feel compelled to report that I liked her. Such confidence and feisty glint of eye! I love that she, mere woman, is fearless to take on the powerful, lipstick being the only factor differentiating her from pit-bull.

The admiring glances and blazing cheers from women in the convention center left no doubt that Sarah Palin is winning hearts. I believe that she is earnest. I believe that she is zealous in her intention. But I don’t believe in the mantra, “Drill, Baby, Drill” or that the answer is to cleave to religion and guns.

Love And Folly, manikins act out a scene in which the infatuated one is unabashedly kicked to the curb. The “fool,” characterized by the jester’s hat is dazed, completely unprepared for such rejection. Above the fool’s head, a lock symbolizes the perceived bond of the two but the torn Lovers card and the second sprung lock reveal the truth. A hand from above holds the card of betrayal.

I could don my jester’s hat and follow the woman who may become vice-president because I love that she is a woman, and feisty, and unafraid. But the charm would be broken when I woke up to find that I had denied something that was there all along; that I had elected a leader with whom I morally cannot agree.

L’Amour Et La Folie, Melody Phaneuf
Oil Painting, 24 x 28

Monday, September 1, 2008


I came to Gloucester to paint for a summer twenty years ago. Joyfully, I heard the Siren’s song, and remained. There is so much here for aesthetic pleasure, I am spellbound by what Thomas Moore calls the “genius loci.”

The objects in Voyagers—shells, floats, castaway bottle—are treasures that one finds exhaled by the sea. Glimmering and crusty seashells, vehicles of mysterious creatures living under water, dazzle me. And the patina of glass, etched by the ocean’s kneading over time!

Such marvels become objects of contemplation. In my mind’s eye they are heroes aboard the Argo while Jason hunts Golden Fleece, or survivors of the Hesperus, sunk by the reef off Norman's Woe. I wonder where these alluring voyagers come from and can only imagine their journey.

Voyagers, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Crossroads, Brittany

The Brittany region of France echoes with something familiar to me. The forests and pasturelands are wild, moody, haunting. A magical combination of Celtic and French ancestry speaks to my spirit. I am sure that Merlin and Parsifal treaded here.

I find this painting relevant at the moment. We are at a crossroads in many ways. The environment and our relationship to others in the world are of paramount significance. I’m not sure if we need a magician or a knight in search of the grail to lead us in the right direction.

A curiosity of this land with Pagan roots is that a traveler will often come across a statue of a saint in the middle of what could be judged as nowhere. I love that here, Jesus; symbol of altruism is positioned at the crossroads. The lighting on that temperamental day cast long shadows and animated the ivy-covered manse to appear as if it were looking on in awe.

Crossroads, Brittany, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Humor, Angles and Mirth

I just received an email from a friend in our Wednesday Club:

“Almost every time I get an email from you I burst out laughing. With you around no one needs anti-depressants.”

A nice compliment for me, and no co-pay for her.

I am drawn to people by how easily they laugh and I am charmed by angular patterns for the same reason. They inspire mirth. It is no accident that jesters are often adorned in diamond-patterned costumes. Watch how your eyes follow zig-zags then see if the corners of your mouth are turning up.

Surround yourself with patterns that make you happy. And don’t forget to laugh today. ^ ^

Humoresque , Featured Painting at

Friday, August 15, 2008

Once Upon A Time

Why do we tell stories? A message enshrined in allegory stirs wonder, motivates, warns, or heals us. Great stories inspire us and move our soul.

Farewell, Persephone pays homage to a myth of transformation, grief, and resurrection.
The arrangement is altar-esque, the after effect of tragedy, abduction of a child.

Persephone, collecting the blossoms of spring with her maiden friends has strayed too far. And Hades, forever lying in wait, opened the earth and whisked her away in his black chariot. We are left with clues: a wreath of flowers, a virginal white veil, a sickle and wheat, all illuminated by the firelight of the underworld below.

And how her mother grieved. And wandered, and searched. What of the kindly man, this gardener to Hades, who took pity upon Demeter and whispered her daughter’s position? How could he know that for evermore his utterances would be those of an owl and that he would give up his life while the child’s fate was cast as she nibbled on the seeds of a pomegranate?

As Demeter’s grief turned to rage the earth scorched, starved and died. The only reprieve was the child’s return but rebirth is impermanent, and the world without end.

Persephone’s bags are packed and return she does. Our eyes circle through the painting, wheat leads to white flowers and obscures the death card. At this moment, our gaze is drawn to the wreath of wildflowers reminding us of spring and rebirth, and of eternal hope.


Melody Phaneuf is a Boston Artist, working at Fenway Studios. Phaneuf is well known for her evocative still life and landscape paintings and has achieved significant acclaim for portraiture. She has exhibited at Galerie Herouet in Paris, The National Arts Club in New York City, and with Art du Monde, a traveling exposition in Japan. Phaneuf’s paintings are regularly displayed at the Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street, Boston, MA.

Melody The Artist Home
, founded with photographer and color specialist, Martha DiMeo showcases the artist’s original paintings on tumbled marble tile murals and coasters, fine art prints, and handmade note cards. Online ordering at

Farewell, Persephone, 42 x 48 oil painting by Melody Phaneuf

Follow Melody on twitter
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Visit Melody’s studio
Commission a painting by Melody

Related Links~

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Certain Slant of Light

Have you noticed the subtle shift in the summer light? As an artist and plein-air painter, I am a sensitive observer of light and especially the sky. Yesterday, breath-taking formations of clouds led me home from the studio. And the air that night was just a little crisper. I am conscious that I am increasingly charmed by warmer tones, glimpses of gold and orange. And I might not paint the living room blue after all.

What I am doing is rearranging paintings and prints in my surroundings to herald the change. Color and light are transformative. Patterns formed by the interlocking light and shadow shapes evoke mood—sometimes serene, sometimes dramatic, but always captivating. As much as I will miss the summer sun, I am lured by the lengthening shadows to come.

End of Day, Gloucester, Limited Edition and Fine Art Tiles