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Melissa Lakey is an artist and illustrator based in Joshua Tree, California, where the windows of her art studio look out onto the Mojave Desert. Her colorful mixed media paintings explore the magic of the American Southwest, as well as night, summertime, road trips, solitude, and friendship. She creates work based on both real memories and imaginary places she’d like to visit — swimming, dreaming, in the sunshine and under the moonlight.
Show title: Songs we heard in dreams
Artist statement: These paintings were inspired by the magical possibility of night — of moonrises, night swims, flowers that bloom in the dark, and the songs we sing when no one else is around. I like to imagine my paintings are moments in stories I wish I knew, folktales half-remembered but that never existed at all.
I work in mixed media, combining watercolor, ink, gouache, oil pastel, and colored pencil. I paint quickly, usually without a plan, leaving room in each painting for surprises and experiments. This playful approach keeps art exciting for me.
I’ve always been drawn to night scenes, and have been exploring them in my artwork for a few years now. There’s something extra special about night here in the desert where I live. Sometimes I can hear a pack of coyotes yipping and playing in the hills outside my studio or the hoot of an owl in the distance. There’s space for dreams and for solitude. Music and musicians are another theme I keep returning to. What are the melodies of the stars, the moon, the wildflowers? What is the music of dreams?