Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Melinda Tracy Boyce. I am from Portland, OR, lived two years in Austin, TX (where I fell in love with cacti and started seriously painting), and I now live in Los Angeles with myboyfriend and our two pet rats. I paint detailed vibrant illustrations inspired by nature using gouache and ink.
How did you get started doing what you do?
I’ve made art my entire life. While I sat on the sidelines of my brother and sister’s soccer and basketball games, I never stopped drawing. I drew through all of my classes as a kid, and thankfully I have really understanding parents who stood behind me and when my 3rd grade teacher was concerned about it, my parents said “that’s how Melinda learns”.
In college I really got into comics. “Exit wounds” by Rutu Modan blew me away. My senior show was a series of painted comics. After college I was unemployed for a loooong while, and I did a painted daily diary comic, which I felt really helped my art improve. The constant deadline and the constant work.
In Austin I was still doing comics, but I casually started a time intensive cactus painting that my friend Glade Hensel saw. She had just opened up her shop “Paper Party” and wanted me to have the first art opening there. I never considered myself a painter before, but having that opportunity and that show really broke down my artist’s block. I started painting and never looked back.
What’s your inspiration?
Cacti, creatures, sunsets, flowers, the night sky…I’m just a nature girl at heart.
How do you keep motivated?
I run… for me it’s as much a meditation as an exercise. It’s time for me to sort out my thoughts, get my head on straight and just observe the world around me. I definitely give myself internal pep talks on those runs.
I try to constantly work… some paintings I finish and say “yuck” and they never see the light of day, but at least I’ve learned something from it. It also helps to have a boyfriend that’s an artist. We know all about the artist’s “gloom mood” you can fall into, but we help pull each other out of it.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
It may be corny, but I recently had a customer tell me that my art made her smile. I think that’s what I’d like to accomplish.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
I would say “just keep working”. Do some kind of art every single day… it keeps you alive, it makes you improve, bring a sketchbook everywhere you go and practice drawing anything in front of you or inside your head. You’ll be surprised where your best ideas can come from.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Find a day job that doesn’t suck the life out of you, and truly treat it like a day job. Spend your free time wisely… work and play hard. Take trips, explore, and find things that inspire you. There’s always going to be negative people out there… don’t give them a second thought. Be yourself and just do you.
What are your thoughts on art school?
I didn’t go to art school, but I did go to University of Puget Sound and majored in art. I felt it was important to be around people that were interested in different things. The four years I had to practice were so invaluable to me… and not just in my art classes. I would drag my massive sketchbook around and draw all my classmates during geology lectures (that I probably would have slept through otherwise), I drew posters for our campus’s radio station, and I would draw comics about my drunken escapades the day after.
Use your time wisely and really take advantage of your resources while you’re there. Go overboard! I spent so many all nighters in the print lab, doing 20 color run silkscreens when the requirement was 5, just because I loved the process so much.
And don’t do this… at the time, since I felt like a 2d artist, I only did the bare minimum in ceramics because I didn’t feel passionate about it. Now I’d kill to have the space and the resources to do ceramics or sculpture! Maybe someday…
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I would love to paint a mural and do any kind of textile design (I love making hand painted patterns SO much).
What’s your dream project?
I’d love to have my patterns on a line of clothes.
What art supplies do you use?
I use turner gouache, india ink and Fabre-castelle Pitt pens.