Portraitist Melissa Greco on Music and Meditation

Melissa Greco is “a mom of 3 and wife of a soldier stationed here at Fort Bragg. I’m from California, but this is our second time here in North Carolina so it feels like home. I don’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t enthralled by art and have been drawing my surroundings for as long as I can remember. I remember asking my parents for a kiln for Christmas when I was 10. Over the years I have experimented with every medium I could get my hands on. These days I typically favor watercolor or chalk pastels. Portraits are my favorite, because I love the challenge of bringing a person to life. My decision to sell my art was fairly recent after family and friends begging me to do so for years.” Venmo @Melissa-Greco-11

Favorite Local Third Place: I’m a homebody so I don’t get out very often, especially since the spread of covid-19, but I do love visiting Rude Awakening for some coffee whenever I am downtown.

3 Things you can’t live without: I cannot live without coffee, my pastel pencils, and music. I often put my headphones on and get lost in a painting for hours. My playlist ranges from punk rock to classical music, depending on what I am working on.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Linda Draper of Apex is an amazing oil painter who specializes in pet portraits. As a dog lover myself, I enjoy seeing her capture the character of each pet.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I have started taking some time to myself every day to meditate since quarantine and I look forward to it so much that I plan to continue for as long as I see a benefit.

“Veronica” by Melissa Greco

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently working on a multimedia commission that consists of a monochrome abstract portrait incorporated into a movie poster. I am having a ton of fun with it.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? My sister and my husband have always been supportive and encouraging when it comes to my art.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? My advice is to get out there and make art. Don’t wait until you’re “good enough to be a professional.” There is no such thing. Don’t compare your art to the art of others. We are all constantly learning on our own journey.

McCune International Art Gallery

From Legendary to Local, this gallery shows it all for Fayetteville

The David McCune International Art Gallery brings a continental ambience to Fayetteville, which fits nicely with all the visitors here from around the world doing a station at Fort Bragg. Access to the world-renowned visual art exhibits that travel to the McCune Gallery are helping modernize and glamourize the city.

The gallery “connects art and people while encouraging educational, creative experiences and human interactions,” writes Executive Director Silvana Foti. Exhibits since 2010 have included work by luminaries such as Chagall, Picasso, Rodin, and Warhol. Other exhibits feature artists with ties to Fayetteville or North Carolina, such as Lisa Stroud, Mison Kim, Victoria Pinney, Chris Hondros, and namesake artist David McCune.

Fayetteville artist “McCune is a nationally recognized metal wall art and sculpture artist with works displayed in homes, businesses, government facilities, colleges and universities across the country, and over twenty galleries. While he is well known for his metal sculpture, he also works in watercolors, acrylic, metal wall art, jewelry, and custom furniture.”

The gallery is housed within the William F. Bethune Center for Visual Arts and exists in the same vicinity as Huff Concert Hall, where the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra regularly performs. This corner of Methodist University is quite the highbrow art enclave within the great breadth of art available in the city.

Thanks to generous donors and the support of the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, the exhibits are free for public viewing. Currently, free tickets for a timed entry must be acquired due to public health concerns.

It’s wonderful to have this art in our town, as well as easy access to other world-class museums like the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, Gregg Museum of Art & Design in Raleigh, the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, and the NC Museum of Art.

Fantastical Figures by Lauren Falls

Lauren Falls is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer specializing in realized portraits with fantastical motifs and elements. Lauren seeks to create abstract emotion as visualized experiences for viewers, using broad color schemes. If you would like to take a look at her work, visit her website laurenroseillustrations.com. You can buy prints of her work at etsy.com/shop/theartshingle. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @laurenroseillustrations.

Favorite Local Third Place: Lake Rim Park

3 Things you can’t live without: my sketchbook, a pencil, and my phone. I love to take photos for reference for  future illustrations while I am out and about.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I am still really new to the area but I enjoy listening to Lisette.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Figure drawing. I have always enjoyed figure drawing and realized I have not been practicing as much as I used to.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Exploring more with my ink work. I have always enjoyed using ink alongside painting with watercolor in my illustrations.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My friends have always encouraged me to push myself outside of my own box.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Always keep practicing, set reasonable goals, and surround yourself with people who will encourage you to reach those goals.

Editor’s Note Oct 2020: On Celebrations

New beginnings in every season

Fall is the traditional start of celebration season with so many holidays happening in September, October, November, and December. Many of these celebrations serve to mark cycles: harvests, calendars, return of light, death and rebirth.

So it’s fair to take a moment at this change of seasons and mark what you’ve done artistically throughout the past season or so far this year. Celebratory parties may be smaller this year, but we can still celebrate our small and large accomplishments. Think back over the time since we started staying home. Write a list of what all you have done, that you’re proud of. Could be big things, could be small things.

My list (in addition to many things baby related) includes writing 12 articles for this blog, going for 3 mile-long walks each week, and reading 19 books, including 4 on race/social justice/history of fighting white supremacy.

Once you’ve written your list, feel that pride throughout your body! You did all that! Way to go you!

And remember, there’s still 3 more months left in this Gregorian calendar year! What have you learned from your accomplishments that you can apply to a goal for the remaining quarter that will help you end 2020 strong?

For me, my goals include writing 12 more articles for Color of Fayetteville (that’s 12 more artists or arts events or arts organizations to celebrate!), read another 8-12 books (including 3 more on fighting white supremacy), and finding small ways to reconnect with artists in person. And voting.

I’d love to hear one each of your accomplishments and Q4 goals! Share below so we can cheer you on.

Minda Rella on This Comic Life (& Death)

The Multiplicity Bio: You might think Minda is actually more than one person, based on all she does each week. By day, you might find her tending cadavers in the morgue at Fay Tech. Or using her vocal talents as an on-air personality for Beasley Media Group. By night, you’ll find her producing and hosting comedy shows for #910Comedy, the stand-up comedy organization she runs with Dashawn Byron, or tapping into the local pin-up/burlesque subculture for fundraisers at Dirtbag Ales. Oh, and there’s podcasts, too: Dead Girls Talking and That’s Just My Face. Add to that parenting her kids and hitting the road for serious social distancing in her Scamp tiny trailer, when Minda says “don’t get stuck on one path,” she speaks from deep life experience.

Don’t get stuck on one path. There’s always a different way to get something accomplished if the original plan isn’t working. 

Minda Rella

Favorite Local Third Place: I’m very fond of being on the Hope Mills Lake in my kayak 

3 Things you can’t live without: my kids, my kayak, and my phone 

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Val Humphrey. Her art is amazing. 

Minda and DB prep for a #910Comedy show

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Working (slightly) less

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Putting together a talk show 

On air with former co-host Elic

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? I’m very blessed that I have many people pushing me along. Amber Stevens and Tim Dippel are the loudest cheerleaders. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Don’t get stuck in one path. There’s always a different way to get something accomplished if the original plan isn’t working. We have many outlets and a podcast network. 

You Have to Get Creative to Be Creative as an Artist-Parent

This one took to visual art early. And she sometimes still draws on herself, now a teen.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to be a practicing artist and mother of young kids in the most expansive of times. But throw a global pandemic on us that keeps our little ones at home or away from regular childcare and tosses our creative processes and rituals out the window… well, life could get messy fast. Or leave artists without practicing their skills for months on end, feeling adrift without production.

I speak first hand! Having a baby at home and wanting to reboot this website with regular weekly content has been harder than I anticipated! I figured I wasn’t the only one who was both struggling with their creative work AND could use a little inspiration. Here are five different get-art-done tactics and some wisdom from other local Fayetteville artist-mamas.

1. Constantly Be Planning
Jason Feifer, dad and editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, recently posted a great series about how he likes to spend a lot of time pulling topics together, considering questions and options, letting ideas simmer as he takes care of his kids or home tasks, and then planning his work before sitting down to write. After all this mental cogitation, the actual writing is fast and focused. I love this process for creating original work. I often find myself ruminating while rocking the baby to sleep or picking up ideas while we’re out riding around.

Muralist and mama of four (9, 7, 3, and a new baby!), Lacey Crime has become masterful at planning: “Since the pandemic I have become more motivated and driven. I have actually landed more commissions during this time than any other. I am realizing the importance of being consistent with my work and trying to set goals that take me out of my comfort zone. Mainly by getting word out there that people could use a custom mural they just don’t realize it yet.”

2. Play Over Perfect
Incorporate playtime with the kids into your creative process. Kids want to do what you’re doing! Why fight it. Instead, use their natural curiosity to increase your own playtime and output.

Mixed media Artist & Mama of three (13, 9, 8), Jen Hancock found inspiration this way. “My creation process became a little tricky to manage during the onset of the pandemic. Routine and my normal means of gathering inspiration were thrown out the window, and my focus shifted to managing online crisis-schooling and keeping everyone from losing their mind. Honestly, it was so overwhelming at first I fell into a complete creative funk. There was so much going on, I had a tough time focusing, and my creation space had turned into a classroom. So I did what I love to do and got creative! I stopped thinking about developing my business and dug back in to why I love to create. My youngest is my art buddy, so I snatched her up and we started working on small projects together, and drew inspiration from everything going on in the world. We created art together as a family to stand up against racism, and to ease our minds and escape from the reality of being stuck at home. Slowly, but surely we’re finding our way back into a routine, and I’ve become truly inspired by stepping back and refocusing.”

3. Change Your Goals
We all had different goals, both personal and professional, for 2020 at the start of the year. But with the novel coronavirus acting like an 8 month old tossing all her toys around the room with our lives, resetting goals is probably something we’ve all done at least once this year.

That reset could be shifting into smaller chunks. In Off The Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, Laura Vanderkam writes about doing the smallest possible step that will allow your brain to recognize forward momentum. Maybe that’s writing one hundred words or doing a single sketch or putting together a single staff of notes or dance moves.

Or you could go the other direction, and work towards one large outcome or project rather than several you may have identified back in January (aka another lifetime).

Graphic Designer and mama of two (6, 8), Betsy McElwee has learned a lot about the work goals she wants for the future. “I’m focusing on bigger picture projects that require more thought process and less fast paced turnaround on small jobs. I’m fortunate in that I haven’t seen a huge decrease in work, as I have steady client base and agency work at a local company. But these strange times have definitely provided insight to the type of work that I want to be doing, and find fulfilling and worthwhile.

4. Nurture Rituals
Find your best work time (if you can). In the book The Artistic Mother: A Practical Guide for Fitting Creativity into Your Life, Shona Cole writes: “Are you a morning or evening person? If morning, consider getting up a little earlier to complete a specific item on your art to-do list. If evening, get your evening chores out of the way and stay up an extra thirty minutes.”

Also, have a dedicated space (no matter how small). Again from The Artistic Mother: “It is important to have an art table, desk, or craft room. It does not need to be huge or fabulous at the start, but it needs to be functional.”

Visual Artist & Mama of two adorable girls (5, 7) Katlin McFadden is grateful for this time and space: “I have a studio in my apartment where I work on my art daily. Sometimes I get up at 5 am to paint until my kids get up for school and I also paint in the evening hours when they’re watching a movie or in bed. My output has improved because I spend a lot more time at home in my studio producing work. I wasn’t really sure how I would be impacted but this time of focus has been a wonderful growing period for me and artist and I’ve produced some of my best work.

5. Find Accountability
Partner up! Have weekly creative sessions with another artist parent. Use deadlines to your advantage (preferably imposed by someone else, real or fake) to get moving on making. And don’t be ashamed to ask for help! From your parenting partner or other quaren-team adult, if you need help with the kids in order to have creative time, or help from your fellow creatives in getting motivated or finishing your work.

Graphic Designer & Mama of three littles (1, 5, 7), Chanai “Genie” Winborn has a great accountability team at the creative co-working space she runs with her husband! “I connect with creative supporters both new and old everyday on social media, mainly Facebook and those that are members at Creative Space Station and people that may come by the station looking for creative help.”

If you’re an artist-parent, how has your own creative process changed in 2020? Drop a comment and let me know!

Honorable Poetry: Law Bullock II

A native of Fayetteville, Lawrence “Law” Bullock II is a motivational speaker, spoken word artist, the founder of M.U.G. Photography, a published author, member of Bronco Toastmasters, and a member of Let’s Make It Happen Together, a nonprofit providing positive alternatives for at-risk / high risk youth and families in our communities. His poetry projects have been in a print anthology, online magazine, and his own book. Law acknowledges that art can connect people from different walks of life. No matter your belief system, art knows how to build bridges.

Favorite Local Third Place: The Sweet Palette and Coffee Scene tie

3 Things you can’t live without: God, family and poetry

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Neil Ray

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I picked back up drawing and sketching since it all began

What is one of your current artistic experiments?  Structuring poems into a storyline that continues over several pieces

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My Aunt

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Stay true to yourself. Never sacrifice who you are just to fit in with the crowd. There will only be one you that brings what you bring to the art form.


Editor’s Note Sept ’20: On Being More Radical

Green sprouts coming up from soil with visible roots

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the word “radical.” We are six months into safer-at-home mandates and miniscule groups of people (can you really call 3 people “a group”?). The performing arts world is shu/attered; other kinds of arts are reeling, too, because of lack of money/time/resources/audiences.

The term “radical”, it turns out, has many definitions, but two distinct connotations. The first is Root or Foundation. The second is Extreme or Revolutionary.

In this time and space of Not Like It Was, how can we as artists or arts supporters be more radical?

Perhaps you want to approach radical from the first meaning. That could be deepening the basic skills of your art practice: starting a morning pages routine, sketching faces over and over, or reading a lot of plays by playwrights you don’t normally experience.

You could also learn some of the fundamentals of the business side of arts. Reading a marketing book, getting a separate bookkeeping organization set up for your art, or networking online with other artists in your field would all yield positive returns After.

Or there’s the simple-not-easy idea of just making A LOT of your art. We all know the story of pottery students who made a ton of pots wound up making better art than the students who instead tries to make One Best Pot. Maybe you commit to making a new “thing” (poem, song, jewelry, papercraft, monologue) every day.* What might you discover about your art with that kind of bulk? You might become more efficient. Or wind up with a new style, or incorporating new materials.

The more common connotation of radical these days is Revolutionary. Maybe that resonates more for you. How could you reform your own practice?

You could use this time to learn a new art. Or find a new audience for your work. Maybe you think about what radical transparency looks like: in how you work, in how you price your work for sale, in how you ask for donations/patronage. Maybe it’s working with people practicing a different art, or in a different field altogether, to produce something completely new.

While I like all of the questions in our Q&A series, my favorite is current experiments. I love learning about how these artists are expanding their own knowledge and practice.

How are you being radical these days? Share your ideas below and inspire someone else!

*Let me know if you need an accountability partner for this! If there are enough of us, we’ll start a small group!