Melissa Rigney - Oil

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By Melissa Rigney

Melissa was born in California in the early eighties and after just 5 days her parents took her to Mexico and then moved to the wild Big Island of Hawaii. She grew up in a hula skirt between the lava tubes and the ocean waves. The bright vivid colors of Hawaii were her home and Hawaiian colors influenced her art tremendously. She was living in a breathing color wheel.

Melissa started drawing recognizable people when she was just a baby, animated by the outdoors- the people, the bugs, cuddly animals and palm trees swaying in the tropical wind. She was fun and fancy free running around barefoot in her purple bikini and grass skirt with her colors.. always coloring and smiling.

After early childhood she abandoned her colors for a while and picked up a pencil. Her technique developed here. Still captivated by people, she focused on realistic portraits of iconic individuals-influential in her life and also drawing expressives of girls – capturing the moment before the tears. The emotions Melissa identified within herself she would put on the paper. When she discovered oil paints at Maui’s Baldwin High School, her passion was enflamed & she fell in love with painting for life.

At the age of 17 she left home and by age 19 she was traveling alone backpacking around Europe, the first of many solo explorations around Europe and the globe.

Her home and heart – Maui has healed, inspired, and uplifted her. Because of this, almost 100% of her oil paintings were created here. Music is another great love of Melissa’s and to follow her soul, she lived in magical New Orleans to celebrate life and do art. The dancing colors of NOLA are visible in her art to this day.

Melissa has had a thrilling life built on amazing places, incredible people, struggles to overcome, music, beauty, food, the open road & love. She experienced life moving around, seeing the planet through the windows of the car, the plane, the train; growing while watching the world outside and feeling the world inside of her. Because of this, she has spent a lot of time reflecting & her art is intensely impacted by this introspection.

The last five years, still drawn to the Old World – she took extended time in France and in particular, Italy. She walked around alone all over and created many of her pastel paintings while in these countries. Deeply transformed and charged by Italian art and architecture, she stayed months in Venice; studying the culture, the food, the language.

Melissa currently lives on the North Shore of Maui, and travels at least twice a year. She has had her studio at home & the Treehouse Gallery in Haiku.



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