Clark Living friend and client, Melanie Florio, is exactly the woman you’d expect to meet were you to comb over her extensive portfolio before meeting her. She’s a prolific painter and illustrator, which makes sense given her boundless energy and enthusiasm. Florio, who received her MFA from the Laguna College of Art and Design and now teaches at Mt San Antonio College and Rio Hondo College, began her formal training in oil paint as a teenager. Among her many influences she cites Norman Rockwell, Gil Elvgren, and Rene Magritte; each influence is apparent in her work, as she seamlessly channels Rockwell’s attention to emotion, Elvgren’s luminous palette, and Magritte’s wit.
In her own words, Florio creates work that, “celebrates modern life through a nostalgic lens that offers an open-ended and subtle narrative.” As far as inspiration goes, she gathers it up whenever and wherever it presents itself. Her current series, Chicken Scratch, sprung from an inebriated comment made by a shy friend and would-be model. He told Florio the only way he’d model for one of her paintings was if he could hide inside a chicken suit, and the gears started churning. That comment ultimately became the fodder for Home to Roost, pictured below.
Once on that chicken path, Florio began thinking about all the different bird cliches and idioms we use and how she might incorporate those themes into her work. The way in which bird lingo figures into her scenes ranges from frank and direct (Pigeon Toed) to subtle and tongue-in-cheek (Sunny Side Up, The Good Egg.)
Florio has a way with figures and with people. Perhaps her charming and ebullient nature instills in her models a specific sense of ease and trust. Perhaps her skill as a painter is what inspires confidence in her models. Whatever the reason, she easily coaxes from them an energy that is both current and timeless.
Florio currently has work on exhibit and for sale at the Pasadena Deasy/Penner & Partners office. You can view more of work on her website, www.melanieflorio.com, and follow her progress through her website’s blog.