My brother-in-law, Jerome Lynch, texted this to me. My youngest sister, of four, Melissa, died two years ago. She was an artist with skills I seem to be able to only aspire to achieve. She could do portraits, live, a sketch in her mind a finished piece of art in anyone else’s. If a rendering can capture a soul or a spirit, she was the eye and hand and heart and mind capable of accomplishing that deed. That feat. That goal.
When I told Melissa that, with my limited time for things artistic, I could either turn out some quick drawings, or considerably fewer quality works. “Oh, go for the quality,” she said, “Definitely.” Jerome told me Melissa would go back into works he thought were perfect, editing, fussing, making subtle changes. Jerome knew his wife couldn’t be satisfied with something that didn’t live up to the vision in her mind.
He knew, as I know, as Melissa knew the fear of touching a work that you’re pretty happy with, knowing you are as apt to make a mistake that will ruin it as you are to add something that will make it… better.
Better. We always want our little stop-motion illustrations, our attempts at capturing a specific moment or mood or memory, or magic, a bit better.
“Oh,” Jerome said, “she’d put more time into piece, and then I’d have to go, ‘oh, so that’s what she was going for.'” Yes. Always.
JEROME sent me a text saying some of Melissa’s art works were part of an exhibition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Their son, Fergus, had written this note to go along with his mother’s paintings:
I CAN ONLY SPEAK FOR MY MOM’S CREATIVE JOURNEY AS I SAW IT. She had begun a new chapter and desired to diverge from the business of perfecting the craft, Of honing technical skills. She was striving to communicate, not only in a visual medium, But in a more fundamental language. She was seeking to speak in a way only truthful art can. Her struggles with mortality cleared a passageway for this expression And freed a voice within which spoke of wounds, fear, anxiety, But, also, of the glory of our imperfect lives.
In some of these works you can find tool marks, Damage control, And the tragic scars borne from deep wounds stitched together in an unsterilized environment. Melissa sought to free her expression through honesty and vulnerability. This work helped her to experience true healing; To rise out of the existential fear And into the light of peaceful acceptance And the joys of creation. Her trials have ended But the experience is human And one we all should be lucky to share.
by Fergus Lynch
TEXT-Thanks. Great words from Fergus. I try very hard to channel Melissa in my work.
TEXT- Yeah, there was some poetry in the exhibition and I thought this artist statement outdid the other work.
by way of explanation: TOP- Melissa did the drawing, one of her friends supplied the horses (I started out drawing surfing, Melissa horses). Composite: Top left- Melissa and me at Seaside; top right- Jerome and Fergus taking photos where locals don’t like photos taken (unless they’re ripping, and then not for circulation); Three portions of larger illustration (when I was showing a client some of my works, she zoned in on this drawing); Lower right- A drawing Melissa did for a short story I wrote. I told her the skeleton might be a bit of overkill. In retrospect… I have to think about it. Check out the skilled rendering of the feet and hands, the perspective, the… magic.
MEANWHILE- It’s stormy, doesn’t necessarily translate to awesome surf.
Beautiful post. Melissa is greatly missed.