Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Finding her new passion

Sat., June 29, 2013

Artist, Melinda Melvin poses for a photo in her studio on Monday, at her home near Newman Lake. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Artist, Melinda Melvin poses for a photo in her studio on Monday, at her home near Newman Lake. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Restricted by illness, Melvin discovered art

At a home with acreage, surrounded by tall trees in Newman Lake, something’s brewing.

Sometimes you can smell it; some kind of chemical mixed with a hint of pine. Upon entering the home, the scent gets stronger. Follow it downstairs and there she is – Melinda Melvin in gloves and a face mask, pouring a thick substance onto a strange and wonderful surface. As the compounds collide, depth, color and otherworldly skies or landscapes emerge that are often unexpected.

“If I get attached to the outcome, I am always disappointed, but when I let go and allow the intuitive process to unfold, I am constantly amazed by the results,” she said.

Melvin grew up in Alabama. At 20, she hit the road for the Grand Canyon followed by the Everglades, the Florida Keys and then Wyoming, where she enrolled in nursing school and met her husband. They moved to the Spokane area in 1989 for the climate and abundance of nature and outdoor activities including biking, hiking and skiing. Melvin began working as a registered nurse after receiving her degree from Washington State University.

One day in 2006, after a long bike ride, she stretched out on the couch and experienced pain she had never felt before. In 2007, she was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a condition that affects the nerve that carries sensations from your face to your brain.

After her diagnosis, she traveled to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California for experimental procedures followed by more conventional treatments in Spokane. She continues to experience chronic pain, which has changed life for her and her husband.

“I had to drastically cut back on the outdoor activities that I, we, enjoyed so much,” she said.

With more time on her hands, she began finding new ways of expressing her love for life.

She started making cards with stamps and mixed media on her days off. Her creations were picked up by local galleries and she had a solo show at Tinman Too on Garland Avenue.

While searching for ways to display her cards by affixing them to panels, she discovered her current medium, which includes water and oil-based pigments and resin. To her, it’s all about experimenting and the joy of discovery.

“My art is a visual and poetic analogy of life, full of complex layers, depth and richness,” she said. “One gets an overall impression from my work but as you look closely and with quiet patience, you begin to discover surprising things within.”

Melvin is a member and co-founder of Manic Moon and More, 1007 W. Augusta Ave. Through July, she will be one of the featured artists at the Bozzi Collection, 221 N. Wall St. (skywalk level). The focal point of her display is an 8-by-2-foot mixed media painting framed in steel. Titled “Thunder,” it contains layers of movement and depth. Standing in front of it, you can almost hear a trembling sky or thundering hooves beneath the shiny surface.

“Beneath every surface, there is so much more,” she said.

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by email at

There is one comment on this story »