Melissa Hood: 100 Shore Scenes in 100 Days
By Brian Laurito
Melissa Hood is a member of Monmouth Arts and the latest subject of our Studio Spotlight series. The series started in 2019, featuring studio visits with member artists of all mediums. During the quarantine period caused by COVID-19, we're continuing to visit artists' studios remotely to check in on how local artists are coping and creating.
Melissa Hood is a painter, art teacher, and mother. She earned a bachelor's degree in Art and Secondary Education with a Special Education Endorsement while at Georgian Court University, before going on to receive her Master's in Studio Art from New York University. Today, she lives in Point Pleasant where she teaches art full time for Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools and takes care of her two young sons. Outside of the classroom she is a prolific painter who employs techniques such as paint pouring and drawing with acrylic markers to create vibrant and whimsical works. Her art has been featured in galleries across the tri-state area and sold worldwide.
So tell us, why do you make art?
Maybe this is cliche, but I really feel that making art is one of the most naturally human things to do. Our creativity is a huge part of what makes us human and allows us to connect to each other. For me, making things almost seems like eating lunch or having coffee every day. It’s just what I do. And then I want to share that happiness that it brings to me. I make art to make people happy. I figure if I can share a little bit of sunshine with my art, it’s a way of connecting with other people in a light carefree way.
How do you think your medium affects the art you make?
I use paint makers to make my art. They allow me to work quickly and do very little clean up, which is perfect because I can spend more time painting! I also love the simplicity of the bright bold colors that they come in. No mixing, no prepping, just waking up and getting to it!
Can you tell us about any projects you've been working on?
I've recently started a project I'm calling "100 Shore Things." I've set a challenge for myself where I'll be attempting to paint one Jersey Shore themed painting a day for 100 days. I've been really looking forward to starting this project because I wanted to have some time to myself each day. I’m a full-time teacher and a mom of two preschoolers. I was feeling burnt out and needed to reconnect with my community and my creativity. This project is allowing me to celebrate and reflect on so much that I love.
That sounds really interesting! Where have you been looking for inspiration?
When I first got the idea for the project, I immediately turned to my friend Kate. She's a photographer and I love the work she does. I asked her if I could paint one of her photos for my project. When she said yes, I decided to try reaching out to others. As of today, I have 92 photos chosen--all from different local photographers and people who I have met by talking about the project. Their generosity has been a huge inspiration. I also plan to get outside and paint in the community as much as possible when the weather warms up!
Tell us a little bit more about your process. When you're in the studio, do you like to have music on or would you rather work in silence?
I appreciate peace and quiet, but occasionally I will put on some beachy tunes. A lot of the time I end up painting next to my kids while they play with Legos, so the sound of snapping plastic is my most popular soundtrack!
What's your quirkiest studio habit?
I love this question! I like to occasionally make sound effects for my painting motions. Recently, I've been going "ssssshhhhhwwwwwwwooooooosh" when painting nice long lines.
What three words would you use to describe your studio and why?
I'd have to say "coffee," "chaotic," and "lit." I have a very serious coffee addiction, and there is no painting without it! Also, I’m a slob. There are paintings and art supplies on every surface of my studio, dining room table, desk at work, on top of the TV. You name it, there's a marker or a paintbrush on it! And lastly, "lit" -- my husband is an electrical contractor and he recently put in new lights for me. I’m pretty sure you can see my art room from space!
Has anything about your process changed during COVID-19?
The pandemic has really changed how social I'm allowed to be. For me, art is about sharing happiness with others, so not being able to meet people and see their reactions has been difficult. It's actually part of what inspired me to start "100 Shore Things." I've been meaning to take on this project for a long time but never knew how to get started. With everything going online, beginning this challenge gave me a new opportunity to meet people. Now, I have all these micro-relationships with people from social media. There are people I interact with almost every day who I've never even met in real life, but because of the project we have something in common. It’s been wild!
Can you tell everyone where they can go to see some of your art?
The 100 paintings will be posted daily on social media. My Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are all @melissahoodart. My website is www.melissaspaintings.com. Also, I'll be showing the art at several outdoor events and in two gallery shows. The Point Beach Arts Committee will be hosting an event following the completion of the project in July. For a full list of events, you can check my Instagram or website!
Interested in becoming a member like Melissa? Become a member of Monmouth Arts today!