Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Feature: It's Baaack, Melissa B. Tubbs

"Urban Lion" by Melissa B. Tubbs original pen and ink
Hi Everyone,

Friday Feature is back, my summer hiatus is over and I'm back with a great interview to start off this season.  I met Melissa through the Montgomery Art Guild while I lived in Alabama.  Her work is Ah-maze-ing!!!!!!  This lady can wield a pen like nobody's business.  Melissa has been published in Strokes of Genius 2: The Best of Drawing Light and Shadow by North Light Books, has her illustration as the cover of a series of Strathmore's drawing pads and has a Christmas ornament in the permanent collection of the White House, these are just a few of her many accomplishments

To see more of her incredible work check out her blog.

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?
I have been an artist all of my life (my mother has kindergarten report cards that say “Melissa finger-paints well.”

I have a degree in visual design from Auburn University and spent 25 years in magazine publishing. I first began creating pen-and-ink drawings when my sister needed a Christmas present for her father-in-law. She asked me to create a pen-and-ink drawing of his house. It was my first pen and ink and was a slower than usual process as I figured out what I was doing as I went along.

As word-of-mouth spread, I received more commissions. It finally got to the point where I needed to find more time to create the drawings or stop doing them. I chose to quit my office job and become a full-time artist. I have had opportunities that I would never have dreamed of (created a Christmas ornament for the official White House Christmas tree in 2001, created two drawings for Strathmore Artist Papers drawing pad covers in 2010-2011, having my work published in three books to name a few). I have been a full-time fine-artist for 15 ½ years and I have never looked back.
"Cloverdale Playhouse" by Melissa Tubbs original pen and inkn

Where were you born?
San Antonio, Texas. My father was in the Air Force stationed at Randolph Air Force Base.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?
Right where I am, Montgomery, AL. It is warm, just the right size and I can get anywhere from here.

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
Architecture because of the great shadows it casts and the wonderful detail of ornamentation.

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 
I begin with a contour drawing and then proceed to use layers of straight and curved lines to create the values of the subject. As few as two or three layers for light areas (sometimes leaving an area completely without lines) to many, many layers to create the darkest dark areas. It is those final dark, dark shadows that make a drawing “pop.” I prefer to work on drawing paper because I don’t like the stiffness of illustration board. I also like to use the smallest pen point size because the lines have a more refined look than the thicker lines of larger pen points.

How did you arrive at your current style?
It was a natural process from teaching myself how to use pen and ink.
"Angel and Ivy" by Melissa Tubbs original pen and ink

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I discovered a wonderful artist, John Taylor Arms, who created etchings of architecture from the about 1913until the early 1950s when he died. They are finely-detailed images of European cathedrals, the architecture of Venice and of Mexico. He felt that he had been “born to draw Gothic architecture.” He wanted those who saw his prints to have the same emotional experience he enjoyed in the presence of the great cathedrals and other imagery he represented. I feel the same way.

"Tera Cotta Faces, Goatman Sculpture" by Melissa Tubbs original pen and ink
What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?
Strathmore 400 Series drawing paper, Rotring Isograph pens, interacting with a good art community (working alone, you need some people you can be around who understand who you are and what you are doing), finding a gallery that is as excited about selling my work as I am about creating it, seeing the great big smiles on clients faces when I deliver my drawings, and remembering that God gave me the ability to do what I do.

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
When my granddaughter was little, she asked me, “Don’t you get tired of just using black?” I told her, “No, I love working with black.” Because I love working with value.
"Carnegie Hall" by Melissa Tubbs original pen and ink

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
  1. Complete my drawing project “Celebration & Preservation.”
  2. Travel to Rome, Venice and Florence, Italy
  3. Representation by a reputable gallery in the Northeast.
  4. Write, illustrate and have published two children’s books I have worked on off-and-on for years.
  5. Be the recipient of the Rome Prize and/or a Pollock/Krasner grant.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
Create the best art that you can, never stop growing as an artist and persevere—nothing happens over night, it’s a process and a journey.
"Auburn Oak" by Melissa Tubbs original pen and ink

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
Pick one thing that you like and do well and stick to it—I chose drawing architecture with pen and ink.
"Patrick Doughtery Stick Sculptures" by Melissa Tubbs original pen and ink

Chocolate or vanilla?

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat?
Both, beach in fall and winter, mountains in summer.

Book or movie?
Book, everything is more vivid in the imagination.

Favorite author?
Currently, Louise Penny. She writes wonderful mysteries.

Favorite movie?
Rear Window

Romance or comedy?
Depends on my mood.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Jamoca Almond Fudge

Night owl or morning person?
Used to be a morning person, now I’m a night owl.

Cake or Cupcakes?
Cupcakes—keeps me honest on portions.

Thank you , Melissa.


  1. Great interview Carrie.....her work is fabulous!

  2. Goodness me - These look like photographs! John Simlett Of Gatepost Pictures would love this blog I'm sure! Amazing work :0)

  3. You've featured one of my very best friends! Not only is she a wonderful artist, but she's a wonderful person to boot! Isn't she amazing!?

  4. Melissa is an amazing artist ! I'm speechless! I agree with Sandra...John Simlett would absolutely love her work!!! I will check out her blog now!!

  5. Love this feature and I love being introduced to new artists! Thanks so much.

  6. Thank you Carrie for a wonderful post, I am thrilled to be your Friday Feature today! John Simlett and I "met" through the internet earlier this year when he "found" my blog. I have enjoyed our emails and his work.

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  8. Carrie-
    Thank-you for sharing such an incredible artist. I admire her work and her sense of satisfaction.
    Happy Friday~

  9. Amazing works.. And a damn good interview. Thanks for this Carrie..