I place importance on the way my body moves and the integrity and intention of each mark in my work. This attention to movement and rhythm compels me to think about my work in musical terms. Recently I have come to realize that I'm also influenced in how I paint by the actual sound that my brushes and drawing materials make during the creation of work, so I have been painting with contact microphones on the backs of my canvas so that I can amplify these sounds and react to them while I paint. I use both wet and dry mediums while I create these pieces in order to create a certain amount of textural instability to make openings for the unexpected to happen. Because I use varied media as a catalyst to find the composition and meaning of a painting, I consider the material used to create my art as part of the subject of my paintings.
My most recent body of work, Layered Sounds, is an attempt to use the spontaneity of the use of material and gesture to capture fleeting moments. The resulting paintings of these soundscapes are records of sonic moments in time layered upon each other. In addition to the work created in the studio, I have been creating work live during collaborative performances with Chicago composer Ryan Ingebritsen during which Ryan live manipulates the sound created by my brushstrokes to create a improvised visual/sonic conversation.
Melanie P. Brown is an exhibiting painter and teaching artist living and working in Chicago, IL. by way of Colrain, Mass. and Tulsa, OK. Melanie has performed live painting during collaborations with Ryan Ingebritsen, Jeff Yang, and the Ursa Ensemble. A long time teacher and former program director at Lillstreet Art Center, Melanie has been painting and teaching for 17 years in Chicago alongside children and adults of all ages. Melanie holds a BA from Knox College in Galesburg, IL and an MFA in Painting from The American University in Washington, DC.
When she had children of her own in 2007 and 2013, she immediately brought them into her studio practice. First she painted while wearing a sleeping infant, and then, when they could hold a brush, painted side by side and collaborated with her sons. This influence of playfulness, as well as the demand that she be flexible in the studio, has brought the element of improvisation in her work and practice to the forefront.