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Meet Melanie M Brannan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie M Brannan.

Melanie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I remember someone gave me a small set of oil paints when I was in grade school. The set didn’t come with a brush, so I painted with a toothpick on a piece of scrap wood. It turned out pretty well, a bit lumpy actually impasto like, I didn’t know that term at the time. But I did know with the discovery of those tiny tubes of paint and a toothpick that I had found my place; I was going to be an artist. Today, I am a contemporary abstract landscape painter who loves working in impasto with palette knives as well as traditional fluid paints.

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design and advertising from Louisiana Tech University. After spending several years at the big agencies here in Dallas, I opened my own firm, Brannan Design. It was a very small boutique firm with some impressive accounts including Neiman Marcus, D/FW International Airport, and Mary Kay Cosmetics. My firm was known for quality work and the highest level of customer service. My projects were delivered on time and on budget.

The graphic design business was very fulfilling and profitable. With great clients, I was able to work with the best photographers, writers and printers in Dallas. With the arrival of the 2008 economy, everything changed. Clients and projects I had for decades either took all the work in-house or canceled. Many of my printers, photographers and writers also struggled. After that, I decided to return to my first love painting.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The transition from the corporate world to fine art was not easy. I started to paint and supported my passion to paint with teaching. Learning to navigate a new business has major challenges. What I had not expected was how much I love to teach. There are so many life lessons to be learned during the process of creating, and I love showing my students how the similarities of painting and life. Many students get nervous when they look at a blank canvas. Being nervous is not a bad thing. When we are nervous, we grow. Some don’t understand that every brushstroke will not be perfect, but painting is a process and just like life. If you don’t like what’s happening on your canvas, change what’s on your brush. Perfectionism and painting usually don’t go together. You have to learn to see. You have to learn to let go and relax. There is no such thing as erasing in my classes. The paint is the eraser. Mistakes are welcome and usually become the best part of the painting. The paintings are not beautiful all the way through; they often go through some rather ugly stages before being finished, much like the junior high years.

Please tell us about your work.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I can’t pinpoint one moment as the proudest because there have been many. On the Fine Art side, I’m thrilled that viewers can see and feel the emotion in the paintings. At first, my solo exhibition at the Eisemann Center, I was contacted by a woman interested in a painting. She mentioned that she had been through a difficult time, but when she saw my painting, she could breathe for the first time in two years. I delivered the painting, she sat on the floor and cried at the peace it brought her. Another client purchased a painting that reminded her of the beauty and spirit of her dad, who recently passed away. I have one client in Highland Park whom I’ve worked with for several years and they now have 26 of my paintings in their home. I painted another large scale painting for a fellow who wanted to surprise his bride. It was installed while they were on their honeymoon, so she would be surprised when they returned. She was!

On the teaching side, there have been so many moments. A family contacted me about painting with their mother again. She had attended one of my classes and enjoyed it very much. I was the last item on her bucket list. They said it had to be very quick as she had gone into hospice. I taught a class that week in her hospice room with her daughters and granddaughters present. She passed the next day. I think that was the most impactful class I’ve ever lead. I have had many people paint with me after family members have passed. They have said my classes have brought peace to them while painting with me. I’ve taught a young boy at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas while recovering from life-threatening illness’. I’ve also taught a group of women rescued from the sex trade. Another group I teach regularly is orphaned teenage girls. I believe teaching painting classes is my spiritual gift. It’s such a great feeling to show students that anyone can create, from young children to adults with the proper instruction and encouragement.

I can say one of my great accomplishments was becoming one of only 200 Certified Educators for Golden Artist Colors. Golden is the premium line in acrylic paint, pastes and gels. It is a great honor to be part of that elite international group of artists.

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