After living and painting in the city of London, England for 22 years, Melanie Essex moved back to the US in 2016, settling in Cushing Maine where she spent most of her childhood summers. With a permanent studio now in Maine, she explains her approach to painting, “all of my work begins with looking at, then responding to, the natural world. Context is an important influence. Since coming to rural Maine, my subject matter has become more elemental than it was when I painted the London cityscape. Even though I’m now focussed on nature, the influence of the constructed world – culture, politics, community – has proven inescapable.”
Writer and critic, Katherine Bucknell, wrote of Essex’s work, “Her color resonances are subtle, intoxicating and profound. They can change the weather inside your head.” In his review of her recent 2019 exhibition at Caldbeck, artist and critic , Alan Crichton wrote “These are paintings of extreme moments – turbulent dawns, sunsets, and the quiet blue-grays just after. Beautiful, loose and brushy strokes over deeply imagined rich colors build back and forth from foreground to distance. Like Dodd’s, they cut their won clear path between abstraction and representation.”
Essex studied painting at the New York Studio School (1990-94). She received a BA from Harvard University (1981) and spent a post-graduate year at the Institute National Superior des Arts in Bruxelles Belgium. She has exhibited in London and New York as well as in Maine and is in collections on both sides of the Atlantic.