The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival has officially begun. While there are a few blooms opening, most have yet to make their appearance due to a chilly spring. For many of us the festival begins at the appearance of the vibrant colorful blooms, but the festival committee has already been at work to make this 35th anniversary year another great one. Each year a committee of community volunteers selects a local artist to create the official poster, which is unique to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
Local artists submit their applications and the winner is free to choose their medium and style in a way that will interpret their vision of the festival and the tulips of Skagit Valley. In a testament to the quality of the art, several previous posters received the Gold Pinnacle award from the International Festival & Events Association. The new poster is unveiled in November each year, and this year’s artist is one of our own.
Melissa used inspiration from years of visiting the tulip fields to create her painting. She said, “It’s a wonderful experience every visit. I do quick sketches and paintings out in the fields; and take photos as well in all kinds of weather. The sunny days are great for the contrasts in light and shadow, but overcast days can’t be beat for seeing the powerful, rich color of those blooms. Then at home I combine my resource material into an idea for a painting. It starts with several sketches and composition ideas, then after deciding on a favorite I do a larger sketch and move it onto a larger canvas or panel.”
After earning a bachelor of arts in foreign language and literature from Washington State University, a Graphic Design certificate from the Art Institute of Seattle, and a Web Design certificate from Bellevue College, Melissa started her career as a graphic designer and marketing professional before seriously pursuing her art in 2001. Current art associations include Women Artists of the West, American Impressionist Society, Northwest Artists in Action and Woodinville Arts Alliance. She is currently represented by Fairweather Gallery in Seaside, OR, and Scott Milo Gallery in Anacortes, WA.
When asked how she felt about being chosen to paint the poster for the 35th anniversary she replied, “Gosh, I was so thrilled to be invited to paint the 35th anniversary poster! I have hoped to contribute to the SVTF poster in some way for many years… but it took a long time of learning skills, practice, and life experience before the time was right to pursue it further. I appreciated the opportunity to meet and work with the Tulip Festival committee and the tulip farm owners because many of us around here have been the beneficiaries of all of their hard work over the years… The tulip farms and Tulip Festival are a real treasure for us here.”
Meet the artist:
Melissa will be available to meet and sign posters and other pieces on Saturdays and Sundays in April from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.:
RoozenGaarde, 15867 Beaver Marsh Road, Mount Vernon on April 8, 14, 22, 28
Tulip Town, 15002 Bradshaw Road, Mount Vernon on April 7, 15, 21, and 29
Melissas’s original paintings, prints and the official poster will be available at Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde gift shops during the festival.
Related Art Show:
Visit Scott Milo Gallery in Anacortes, WA during the month of April to see Melissa’s work featured along with previous poster artists in a show called, “Tulip Poster Artists, Past and Present. Opening reception Friday April 6 from 6-8 p.m., 420 Commercial Ave., Anacortes, WA.