Melody Stacey is a fine art and mixed media artist based in Brighton, UK. She recently created an illustration for one of the bookmarks that came as a paper extra in our Dutch special, Flow Books & Reading. Here, Melody tells us more about her work and her love for books.
“When creating the bookmark illustration, I drew inspiration from renaissance portraits,” says Melody. “I find the detail that they went into when painting clothing in those days fascinating. I wanted to create a piece were the garment was as important as the face. I painted flowers and leaves that gradually change color along the dress, as if they are cascading down. I kept the background as dark as possible to make the dress stand out even more. The woman is fictional, but I imagine her as a strong independent person with a good dress sense! I used gouache to paint it, which is a fairly new medium to me, but it’s become my favorite way to paint.”
How did you develop your style?
“By drawing a lot. I’ve filled a lot of sketchbooks in recent years—they’re so important to progress as an artist I think. I’ve always wanted to tell stories with my work and my drawings have always had an illustrative quality to them. I trained in Fine art, specializing in painting, but nowadays I like to do a mixture of disciplines, such as embroidery, tapestries and clay work alongside my illustrations. It’s taken a while for me to find ‘my style’—my textile work has been a good influence on my paintings and has helped loosen up my style.”
How does your average workday look like?
“As a working mother, a lot of what I do has to fit around my kids, but on a good day I spend my mornings doing admin—I like to get that part out of the way! After lunch, I throw myself into either finishing a painting or a commission, working on new ideas or sketching. If I’m lucky I also get the chance to work on my picture book, which is a private project that I have been doing for some time now. I try not to work after 6 p.m. as I need to have time to unwind, but it’s pretty normal for me to spend the evening sketching something or other.”
Do you like to read and do you use bookmarks yourself?
“I love reading, though it’s hard to find the time to read as much as I would like. I tend to use old sketches as my bookmarks. Which is quite lovely in a way because sometimes when I’m re-reading a book (which I like to do quite often), I find them inside the pages, sometimes from years ago. Tove Jansson is one of my favorite authors, along with Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and Alan Bennett. I pretty much like all genres, but I prefer crime stories as well as folk and fairy tales—and the latter two are a huge influence on my work.”
- You can find out more about Melody and her work on her website.