Artists in their own words: Frankie DeMelo
Who: Frankie DeMelo
Q: If you could make a documentary about anyone or anything, what would you choose?
FD: I would love to do a film on Pope John Paul or Pollack, but when it comes down to it, I would make a documentary about my dad.
He is basically a mixture between Pope John Paul and Pollack anyway. He is incredibly interesting, he’s so smart, and he’s always thinking about things and topics that make you question and think deeply. Everything about him is this interesting mixture because he has this strong artistic side and he is also really into sports. Because of that, he can talk to anyone.
Q: What do you feel like is the most unique aspect to your creative process?
FD: I pray before I paint, and I always invite the holy spirit to work through me. I know other people do this, yet it always feels very personal to me. I also offer up my painting time as a prayer for people.
I usually have an individual in mind for the prayer, and I often dedicate the painting to that person. Sometimes I get very specific, such as, ‘This is a painting for the family that lost their mother, and this painting is given up as a prayer for them.’ I may write their name on the painting somewhere, so it gets very specific.
Although, sometimes my whole process is out of body. It’s insane. I will think only 10 minutes have gone by, but it will be hours. Then I go back into my house to parent after I’ve been painting in the studio, and my kids know that I’m in a strange fog for at least an hour after I finish working.
I have to come out of that state of being, which is really exhausting because I don’t stop and I don’t eat. It feels like I just ran a marathon. Luckily, my kids bring me food and remind me that I need to eat.
Q: Do you find more freedom when you are self-sufficient or when you are part of a group?
FD: When I’m self-sufficient. What’s interesting is that if you asked other people that question about me, I think they might tell you that I find my personal freedom in a group because I am such an extroverted person.
There’s a side of myself that I can expose through my art, and I get to tap into that when I’m painting alone. I do wedding paintings, and I paint at fundraisers, so I don’t have problems painting when there are others around me. I absolutely love talking to people and socializing while I’m working, and the feel of those group paintings are so different from my individual paintings.
Whether it’s White Linen night or a family wedding, the paintings I do in that groups setting have the feel of the environment in the painting. But it’s a different process from when I’m working rawly by myself.
When I’m by myself, I can tap into who I am, I can have conversations with God, and I can really get into what I’m thinking and feeling.
Q: What is one cleaning product you can’t live without?
FD: I really love the non-toxic cleaning line that you buy at Target. It’s the all-purpose cleaning product. When I was growing up, my mom used Windex on everything. Now that we are smarter and know that we shouldn’t be spraying those chemicals on every surface, I’m so happy to have the non-toxic option.
There is also an oil I love from melaleuca. It’s a company that does all-natural cleaning products, make-up, and other things. The melaleuca is an oil from a tree that is all-natural, and I love it.
Q: How do you think time affects your artistic skills?
FD: There have been times in my career that I have thought about this so deeply. My dad loves philosophy and theology, so I will take questions like this to him, and we will talk about them really deeply.
I can’t remember who coined the term ‘abstract realism,’ but that is what I feel like I’m doing. The main pieces that I sell are landscapes. They have traditional landscapes that refer to the masters, who were able to capture serenity in their work. I use the master’s color template as well, but I do all of this on top of gold and silver leaf, which is very contemporary.
I really like the abstraction of that, and I like when the unpredictability of the medium I’m using under the traditional painting interacts together and brings out something I never expected. So I see this collage of old-world style with more contemporary elements, and that makes me think so much about how time is coming together.
Of course, when I first did this, I thought I was the first person to ever discover this. It was the same as when I made up pumpkin cheesecake [laughing]. I think I have discovered something no one ever has before, and then I go online and find 5,000 recipes for pumpkin cheesecake.
I am sure a scholar is looking at my concept of ‘abstract realism,’ and thinking, ‘yeah, that has been discovered before.’ Thinking about those time elements, though, makes my mind go in circles, and I love that.
You can view Frankie DeMelo’s paintings at Columbia Coworking LLC Gallery (215 N. Columbia Street). She will also be participating in Three Rivers Festival (November 11-12) as well as Fall for Art (October 21, 2017). You can learn more about Frankie DeMelo on her website as well as through Facebook and Instagram.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.