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Duncan, Melissa Mary
Melissa's very first lessons in painting came from her mother. Born in Toronto, and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Melissa was an introspective child. A survivor of the crippling effects of Polio, she was captivated by the graphic works of Sulamith Wulfing, Arthur Rackham, and the Pre-Raphaelites. Having grown up with images of knights in shining armour, fair maidens, and tales of the mythic faye, it is hardly surprising that, in her late teens, Melissa became a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. It is there that she was first introduced to the notion of seriously studying Medieval and Renaissance art practice. Due to encouragement given her from members of the group, and her daughters, Melissa decided to further her schooling. To that end she studied graphic arts at Douglas College in the Fraser Valley. In 1991, she graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, BC.
Her work often celebrates strong female archetypes. She uses her knowledge of history and textiles to bring some authenticity to her subjects. Melissa endeavours to imbue her illustrative paintings with a sense of story. Sometimes those narratives are familiar and other times they are tales of her own making, often inspired by the rich characters she encounters in her everyday life and her inner spirituality. Melissa works from life as often as she can, cheerfully persuading friends, acquaintances and strangers to pose for her. She sketches on the bus, at cafés, and in hospital waiting rooms. Character is very important to her as well as bestowing realism to the creatures and subjects she creates. Passionate about the environment, her love of nature is obvious in her careful rendering of leaf, twig and flower. Melissa's latest pieces have been executed primarily in watercolour and gouache but she is equally skilled in oils, acrylics, pencil, silver point and egg tempera.
Melissa lives in the historic city of New Westminster, British Columbia with her husband, author dvsduncan. Having a playful inner landscape, she confesses to having a hat addiction, wearing Edwardian clothing, reading in the bath, and watching British dramas whilst drinking lemonade. A proud mother of two and grandmother of three, Melissa remains a student of Celtic, English and Northern European history and mythology.
"My inspiration comes from only one source. When I draw or paint the subject may be sparked from a Celtic legend, a tale from the Brother's Grimm, the lyric from an ancient ballad or the melody of a carol but the finished painting and whatever the viewer finds in it comes from the heart."~ Melissa Mary Duncan, 2014