We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Kelley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Melissa, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
There are two habits that have helped me succeed and continue to do so. The first is setting goals for myself. I physically write my goals down on paper, rather than making a note on my phone or tablet. Old school, I know. However, I am a very visual person, so for me, writing down my goals allows me to think about them in greater detail. From there I can add more content, or even take it away, yet still being able to see what I originally wrote. The second habit is making time to practice my painting skills. I love to explore and combine different mediums, so I find the best way is to just dive in and start creating. Sometimes the best parts of a painting start out as a possible mistake. That WHOOPS moment sets in briefly. However, as I continue with blending the colors of paint, that mistake suddenly disappears and looks lovely, just as I intended. Don’t get me wrong, I make plenty of painting mistakes, but I continue practicing and learning.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I consider myself an abstract artist. Abstract art works well for me since I can’t draw. I can draw stick figures, but I don’t think that counts. I can paint palm trees and beaches, however, I prefer blending colors, shapes and lines that provoke thought. I love blending colors and creating new colors that are visually appealing. I give a lot of thought to color and how to place it on canvas or paper. I first began painting with watercolors. I took a watercolor painting class and loved it. However, once I discovered acrylic painting, I was hooked. I love acrylics. They are forgiving to work with and I need only a surface to paint, a cup of water and a paintbrush. I work with mostly acrylics and alcohol inks, as these allow for good and favorable movement, as well as fluid like composition. I continue to take classes and learn as much as I can. I love to learn and explore new painting techniques. Regarding my business, painting is the easy part. I have never been good at marketing myself and that has been my greatest challenge. I continue to take steps to improve that part of my painting career. I try to keep my website updated, as well as post on social media. Next year I plan to participate in at least two art festivals. I am always evolving and learning as I go. I believe that creativity is so important and good for our mental health. I also believe in giving back. I volunteer with a local south Florida charity, Little Smiles. Little Smiles helps kids be kids during difficult times. I am continuously honored and humbled when asked to do a painting project with a partnering children’s hospital. It is truly a gift to my soul to be part of providing a positive experience to these children.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I don’t get to Miami very often, but when I do, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens tops the list. Miami Children’s Museum is a fun place to take the kiddos. The Art Deco Historic District is very cool. I suggest a walking tour to take in all the amazing architecture. There are hundreds of buildings with this unique style and vibrant colors. I had an amazing meal at Stiltsville Fish Bar. I can’t wait to go back and have the grilled mango salad. The beaches are beautiful, as well as the beach goers.

If you are looking for places in my neck of the woods in Jupiter, Florida, I suggest taking a tour at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum. The panoramic views are breathtaking. You will receive lots of sea turtle information at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. After your tour, you can walk to the beach. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park and Blowing Rocks Preserve are also great for families with children. There is great swimming and snorkeling at any of our local beaches. Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is open to the public. No charge for admission, but donations are welcome. There are plenty of trails, wildlife and interactive exhibits.

Enjoy a half or full day out on our beautiful Loxahatchee River or ocean. Fishing charters and boat cruises from Elite Yacht Services and Captain Jacob Kelley.

Jupiter has plenty of restaurants on the water. Some of my favorites include Dive Bar Restaurant, Jetty’s Waterfront Restaurant, Guanabanas Restaurant, U-Tiki Beach Restaurant, 1000 North, Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Calaveras Cantina and Charlie & Joe’s at Love Street. Although not on the water, Koon Manee Thai Restaurant has delicious Thai food. Tell owner Mas that Melissa & Marina sent you!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am incredibly fortunate, and forever grateful, for the support I have in my personal life, as well as my creative life. I have lived in south Florida all of my life. Being subjected to the ocean, palm trees and Jimmy Buffett have had its advantages. I have a wonderful support system of family and friends who love me unconditionally. My husband bought me a small studio close to home that houses all of my creative “STUFF”. Honestly, I think he was getting tired of splattered paint on the floor and other surfaces, as well as all of my supplies here, there, and everywhere around the house and garage. I never said I was the neatest painter. My studio is my sanctuary. A little hidden treasure. It has lots of windows that bring in natural light, and that alone is the best for my creating process, especially on bright sunny days. That’s a huge bonus living in south Florida. I can take advantage of the sunshine all year! Also, I know it’s cliche to say I have the best friends on earth, but I do! My girlfriends give me positive feedback, but also the negative feedback when needed. That’s true friendship right there! This year I have been given the opportunity to create one of a kind, large pieces of art for a local design company, Bungalow Palm Beach in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The owners, Shawn and Steven are two of the kindest and talented people I have met on my art journey. They are both incredibly creative and I am so very thankful for the trust they have in me.

Website: melissakelleyart.com

Instagram: @melkelley

Facebook: Melissa Held Kelley

Other: melissakelley713@yahoo.com

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