Local artist, Melissa C Romanaux, knows how to add a sparkle to everything she does. Her work, which can be found in local restaurants and wineries around the region, offers the viewer a unique display of color, spunk, and shine, especially when she adds her Swarovski crystals to each piece. Romaneaux lives in Gulfport, Fl with her wife, Tori, and their three dogs. Romaneaux sat down with OUTCOAST to share the story and technique behind her work and how she managed to turn a part-time passion into a full-time career.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the suburbs of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Can you share with us a favorite childhood memory?
When I lived in Michigan as a child, I would run down the large sand dunes at Lake Michigan with my Winnie the Pooh beach towel.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to college in Vermont at Castleton State and studied television production. It was fun, even though I didn’t like college much.
How long have you lived in this area and what brought you here?
I moved to Florida in January of 2016. I lived in the midwest and east coast all of my life and was ready for a change…and a warmer climate. My mom lives in Florida, near Ocala, so I wanted to be closer to her. Have I mentioned the warmer climate? Well over 35 years ago, my mom lived in St Pete and I would visit every spring break and summer. So, when I made the decision to move out of Connecticut, I chose Florida and the St Pete area.
What is your first memory of creating art?
Im not sure how young I was. I think I was in the second grade. For a costume party at school, I dressed up like a french artist. And as far as actually creating art, I remember in either 4th or 5th grade, finding whatever paints and paper I had and throwing paint on the paper, similar to Jackson Pollock. Or, I would let paint drip onto the paper from a tall ladder. I would then use a straw to blow the paint around. I wish I still had some of these works. I remember using bright colors, too.
What is your favorite medium/materials to use?
I like working with acrylic. I have done two oil paintings, but oil paint is harder to work with. My paintings are mostly acrylic and I add embellishments to my works, such as small tile pieces. And of course, almost all of my paintings have Swarovski crystals added to them! Just a touch to catch the eye. Although my my martini glass piece has 364 Swarovski crystals.
How do you decide what to work on at any given time? What inspires your work?
I go into my studio and pick a canvas, then look for colors I like. I may be inspired by my dogs, my love for riding my motorcycle, or colors in general. On of my pieces, Alternate Universe, was inspired by my love for the TV show, Ancient Aliens. Sometimes I have ideas in my head that I can clearly visualize, but can’t always get onto the canvas. In these moments, I just go into my studio and try to create. Sometimes I will create a painting and show my wife, then a little while later she will ask me how is that painting coming along? Every now and then, I’ll tell her that I painted over because I wasnt feeling the piece. I will know when the painting is done. I also do commission pieces and paint what I’m asked to paint. I have a client that wants me to create sommething with the Eiffle Tower. So, that is my next project!
Do you have a part/full time job outside of art, or is art your full time career?
My wife and I own a home improvement company, but as of 2018, art has become my full time career. I still help her out here and there, but not as much as I used to. She runs the business and I create art! I have the best wife ever. She is allowing me to follow my passion.
How many hours a day/week do you work on your projects?
Wow, I’m not sure. Sometimes I go into the studio, sit down at a canvas, and nothing happens. Other times I can create a piece in an hour. I am working on a Boston Terrier piece right now that has taken about seven hours of my time and it is still not done.
Do you work on multiple projects at a time, or one at a time?
Multiple for sure. I will work on a piece and either have to let it dry until I can continue, or I am not sure how to finish it. So, then I will have another idea in my head and start a new piece. I have about 4 unfinished pieces currently.
It is wonderful to see such strong LGBT couples in our community. How do you inspire and support each other in all that you do?
My wife wants me to follow my dream and works hard with our business and staff so I can do just that. If she needs me to help on a particular project, I will. And I always share my works in progress with her to get her opinion. She goes to shows where my art is hanging, or helps me hang my art in restaurants, wineries, and galleries – anywhere I’m featured. I also support her and our home improvement company by doing some of the paperwork. Since I work out of my home studio, I try to take care of the house and dogs so when she gets home she doesnt have to worry about that stuff. I have the best wife and we support each other 100%.
If you could describe your dream lifestyle/career, what would it looks like?
I would love to support my family, my wife, and our three fur babies through my art. I want M C Romanaux (that is how I sign my pieces) to become well known. I am confident that my pieces will one day sell for thousands of dollars. I also may want to teach a class called “Pour, Paint, and Wine,” so people can have fun creating their own pieces. Pour is a technique I use to paint.
I love this new silhouette style you are using. Can you describe your technique?
The background is a dirty pour technique. I then find my subject, such as a Border Collie and draw the outline. I paint the silhouette black over the background. I resin the canvas to a high gloss shine and add Swarovski crystals in specific areas to make it come alive. For example, in the Border Collie piece, I added crystals to the dog’s eye. There is a another dog piece I plan to do in which I will put Swarovski crystals on the color and eyes.
Where can supporters see and purchase your work?
The best place to reach me is through Facebook. Here you can see works in progress or pieces for sale. My website is currently being redesigned and is not as up to date as my facebook at the moment. People can also contact me directly through my website or email to request a commision piece or to purchase any of my pieces.
Any upcoming shows?
For the month of February, my paintings will be hanging at Wine Madonna in downtown St Pete. I am also doing a weekend festival on March 3rd and 4th called “Awakening into the Sun Spring Festival,” which will be located in Straub Park, North Downtown Waterfront Park, St Petersburg.
Anything else you’d like to share about who you are and/or how we can support your work?
I am a self taught artist. If anyone has a business where I can hang my art or can introduce me to a gallery owner, that would be a wonderful way to support my work. Obviously, purchases support what I do. Finally, don’t forget to like, follow first, and visit my Facebook page.