Painting Crystals with Melissa Huang

(photography by Emma Rowlands of Emma Louise Photography & Design)

Meet local artist, Melissa Huang. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she received her BFA in Fine Arts Studio from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is a figurative oil painter currently working on a series of faceless, crystalline portraits. Melissa won Best in Show in the 2015 Women Artists of the Finger Lakes exhibition, and shown in group exhibitions at Dacia Gallery, Zeitgeist Gallery, and Main Street Arts. Melissa interned with the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the American Art Museum, and currently works as a gallery assistant at Main Street Arts in the Rochester, NY area. She also assists a local art appraiser and is pursuing a career in fine art appraisal. Melissa’s paintings were included in Fresh Paint Magazine and Art House Press.

More from Melissa:

“I’ve been an artist my entire life with oil paints being my medium of choice ever since I first used them. I love the beautiful, vibrant colors and incredible textures you can achieve through glazing and other oil painting effects. It’s the perfect medium for my work, especially for my recent series of paintings of crystalline portraits and landscapes.”

“My crystal portraits are surreal versions of friends and family, with each person becoming a human geode. I like the idea of looking past someone’s face (one of the most important markers of a person’s identity) and seeing inside of them to an entire crystal world. It’s also very satisfying to contrast the softness of a person’s body against the hard, sharp shape of most crystals. I start by photographing my model and selecting an appropriate crystal, either from my collection or using a reference image found online. I do a mock-up in Photoshop to see what the overall portrait will look like and to use as a general reference to paint from. I deviate from this reference image as I paint and the final painting often looks very different from the Photoshopped version.”

“I’ve collected crystals and fossils my entire life. I like to say that I have magpie tendencies and am drawn to gathering shiny, sparkly things! I incorporate many of the crystals in my collection into my paintings and enjoy having them around me while I work. Every crystal is unique, and I’m trying to explore different textures and crystalline shapes in my new paintings.”