DENTON — Foundry artist Melody Prairie is fluid with her painting technique. She was just announced as the Caroline County Council of the Arts artist of the month.
“Fluid acrylic art is basically you take any type of acrylic or enamel paint and add some things to it and create your self a rainbow of potential. So, the idea is to pour as much paint on the canvas as you can, and there are lots of different ways of achieving that. For example, these are what are called dirty pours. You put multiple colors of paint into a cup. Then you take a stick, like a popsicle stick, and you give it a swirl. You put in silicon drops and it gives them what are called cells where little drops of color can pop on up,” said Prairie.
The cells are like bubbles of color in a moving stream.
Prairie is as interested in the process as she is the finished product. She said the pieces reveal themselves to her as they are being created. She talked about being inside a piece when she is fully immersed.
“I think I started with too much silicon in this one for the effect I was looking for, but the effect I got was gorgeous,” she said, pointing out a particular painting.
She said creativity is inside of everybody. Evan a CPA could be very creative. That spark is in everyone.
“With a dirty pour, I pour it right in the middle of the canvas. Very slowly. And then you tilt and you tilt and you tilt until the canvas is covered everywhere. And then it takes 48 hours to dry. So, it takes 20 minutes to create and then 48 hours to be ready to hang,” she said.
She said she likes Jackson Pollock. He was famous in the post war era for action painting where he would drip or pour house paint onto canvases on the floor. He never used brushes to achieve his energetic style. Prairie usually pours paint on a canvas. Her canvases are 16x20 so she can pick them up to manipulate the direction of the paint by tilting the plane of the stretched canvas.
She said she thinks she has been an artist since the day she was born. When Prairie was 10 she decided that she wanted to be a hairdresser. She considers this another art form.
“There was a lady across the street from me who did hair in her kitchen every other weekend. I would go play with her daughter and smell perm solution and get excited. By 14 I realized I could make a living as an artist by being a hairdresser,” she said.
She moved into Dr. (John) Sloan’s old dentist office at 405 Market Street because she wanted a place where she could create her own atmosphere. She figured the only way to do this was to own her own salon.
“I could do (a painting) every morning if I had more room to dry them. It takes me about 20 minutes to plan what I am going to do. Choosing colors, choosing tools. I love the colors in this one. It’s got a little metallic and some glitter. And of course purple is the best color that God ever made. It’s reminiscent of Jackson Pollock because it is wild and is going to become what it is going to become,” she said.
Prairie is unabashed in her love of glitter. And she doesn’t care if it gets all over the house.
She has fantastical titles for her canvases — “Dragon Fire,” “Princess Dreams” and “Color Shift.”
“This one would be perfect for a little girl’s room or a woman who is not afraid to express herself freely in her office,” she said.
Her tool kit includes gravity, popsicle sticks, half blown up balloons, rubber spatulas, old credit cards and a blow dryer. She is really having fun exploring. Instead of a cup of mixed colors for a dirty pour, she can also separate the colors into different cups for a pure pour of one color at a time.
She sells her 16x20 pieces for $75. “Each piece is unique. I couldn’t recreate one if I tried, because the paint is going to do what the paint is going to do. They are intentionally unframed. Because people want the frame that they want. I don’t do it for money. At 14 I realized it was behind the chair in the salon that I will get paid as an artist. So I don’t attempt to monetize this. This is for joy. The only reason to charge anything at all is to fund my painting habit,” she said.
She is enthusiastic about creativity as a mode of living. She says it lives inside of everyone. You don’t have to be an artist. She doesn’t believe it when people tell her they are not creative. She has an infectious joy that is bubbling out of her. Tacitly she gives permission for everyone to be creative around her. She seems to have vanquished all that doubt about whether a piece is good. She just keeps making painting after painting and hones her craft.
“The Council of the Arts is fantastic. They work with artists in Caroline County. And they do things with children to encourage the arts. Creativity is in every person and the more we can encourage it, the more innovative people are going to be. I feel like the council does a really good job of instilling and encouraging creativity and art in all generations. There is all kinds of art in there. There are sculptures, fiber art, wall hangings, there are oil paintings,” she said.
Prairie also is the featured Second Saturday artist this month. She will demonstrated her poured painting techniques in a Facebook video at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9. Register on the Caroline County Council of the Arts Facebook page.