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.

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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