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Meet Melissa Payne Baker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Payne Baker.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Growing up, I was always creating art but never thought of it as a career choice until my 30’s. Even with my first job as a design assistant when I was only 15 years old. My first boss opened my eyes to the interior design world and I fell in love with every detail. From advice from my uncle I received a marketing degree but I never left my first love. I bet I repainted and designed my bedroom ten times before leaving for college, sorry Mom and Dad. After college I jumped right into an interior design career in Atlanta and learned everything I could over the next ten years. In my 20’s dabbling with painting at my weekly “art night” with girlfriends, my friend Michelle always encouraged me to sell my work but I had no idea how to get started. After Michelle passed away suddenly, I was full force at my interior design job when a representative from a private school art auction asked for a donation. My soul perked up and I asked if I could donate. That night I painted my first angel painting. That painting sold in a bidding war and the next day I received two commissions. Within six months I had my first gallery representation. 15 years later as a professional artist I still feel like it has been a dream. Being from generations of artists my career has been ingrained in me from the beginning but fate took over at just the right time. No matter the job, from 15 years old to now 41, I have always put my all into it. I believe with hard work and staying true to yourself, you and your passion will find each other.

Please tell us about your art.
My first painting sold was an abstract with hidden angels. My angel paintings are still popular 15 years later but my art has evolved which I believe every artists work should. The biggest compliment, to me as an artist, is for someone to recognize my art, from ten years ago or my new art. Lately, I have concentrated on abstracts but I also love to paint abstract angels, landscapes, cityscapes and florals just depending on my mood or current commissions. Commissions are fun to me because it bends my mind so that I don’t get stuck in an artist block.

My work is painted on canvas with brushes and palette knives. The palette knives create texture and I can soften edges with brushes. I create texture by layering on color and mute it with whites. I love white space but I love pops of color too! It’s a process and the most important part of the process is to know when to stop.

I love fine art but 8 years ago I added a hand painted line of glassware because I wanted to create something in a price point for everyone. Plus, I love wine so why not combine my two loves! These little treasures are sold throughout the Southeast and in Atlanta Neiman Marcus holiday pop up. Now through networking and meeting new artists and business women, we have created some fabulous collaborations. Fine art mirrors with artist Stacy Milburn, a hand painted bag line with mb greene bags, printed sarongs with Zags and acrylic hand painted glasses in the summer Suthingirl box have been amazing extensions to my work. Needless to say, these collaborations have created many friendships and respect for other creative business women out there.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
In my case, I kept working my full-time job and painting at night, sometimes until 3-4 am. I worked until I felt comfortable to pursue it on my own. My best advice for artists just starting out is to be creative with your supplies, not all art supplies come from an art store. Being an artist at this level has a business side, be smart and do your research. Consult other artists that you respect, consult an attorney and an accountant. I do it all myself but I am constantly learning the business.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work can be seen and purchased in galleries and fine interior showrooms across the Southeast. You can view a complete list of destinations on my website at www.melissapaynebaker.com. In Atlanta, my work is represented by Huff Harrington Fine Art and Huff Harrington Home store.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Matt Jenkins at Eighty Deuce Productions, Swatchpop, Zags

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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