Local artist makes herself known

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By Gina Velasquez

Local artist, Melissa Bartlett, has been juried into the Pastel Society of America as an Associate Member. The award from the national society was based on an appraisal of her work by a panel of experts. Her nomination was official in October. Her winning entry was composed of paintings of African animals, which she had observed and photographed while on a safari to Kenya and Tanzania.
“I had applied in the past and this year I stuck to one theme,” Bartlett said.
“Being a member been a goal of mine for years now. Pastel Society of America is the first and most prestigious art society for the pastel medium in America and it’s very difficult to be accepted,” Bartlett said. “It’s a real honor to know that my work has the quality and artistic merit to be acknowledged by the PSA.”
Her pastel paintings of zebras, elephants, hippos, impalas and cape buffalo showed intimate views of creatures at rest and at play, all in their natural setting. “I was amazed by the diversity of wildlife that I saw in East Africa, and also how unfazed they were by people observing them from Landcrusiers,” she said. “I really wanted to capture the feeling that I had seeing them in their native habitat. It’s nothing like animals in zoos.”
She spent time in that part of Africa in 2007, taking photos of the animals first, then painting pastel portraits from the photographs. Bartlett said it is the best way to capture the animals’ images, since “animals won’t stand still and let you paint them.”
Besides her animal artwork,  Bartlett also does landscapes, still lifes and flower paintings.  Her commissioned artwork of dogs and cats now hang in the Los Alamos Animal Shelter.
Bartlett also is available to the public who wants a portrait created of their pet.
Bartlett has always had a love of drawing and painting. She said she drew a dog at the age of three. She saw art as a hobby while pursuing other career interests.
Another opportunity for teaching is underway thanks to Karen Wray and her new art studio. Bartlett instructs a class on the basics of art. “It is a foundation class dealing with composition, color and design,” she said. “It is a great introductory class.”
The class is available from 6-8 p.m. Mondays. To sign up for the next available class, call Karen Wray Art Studio at 660-6382.
To see more of Bartlett’s artwork and information on how to purchase her work, visit melissabartlett.com and find her on Facebook.