Many sincere thanks to guest blogger and superb marketing strategist Debbie Smith of Intuit Marketing for Interviewing Melissa for this post!

Five local artists were selected to paint five separate components of a mural highlighting Canandaigua’s rich history and iconic imagery. The culmination of this project will produce one mural, which will soon beautify a wall on Coach Street in Downtown Canandaigua.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will spotlight each of these talented artists and provide you with an inside perspective of their experience and creative process. If you haven't already, please read Amy's Overview blog post to gain perspective on the whole project. Our first spotlight is artist Melissa Newcomb, who is painting Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion, and "Dinky", the electric street car on Main St.

What inspired you to apply to be a contributing artist for this project?

Melissa: A couple friends shared the opportunity on my Facebook page encouraging me to apply {submit an application to the Call for Artists that went out prior to the start of the project} and I felt it was a great opportunity to work with other artists. Considering I grew up in the area and absolutely love Canandaigua and its history, I only felt it be appropriate to apply as a local artist and resident.

Have you ever worked on a project of this size/scope with a team of artists before this?

Melissa: No, but now I can say I have… My largest project before this one was 6 x 8 feet. I never imagined doing a section that would total 18 feet in width. It’s been absolutely incredible.

What helps to set the tone for your best work?

Melissa: Painting is a form of meditation and/or therapy for me. I would set up Pandora, and select the station based on my mood for the day which could range any where from Lindsey Sterling, Piano Guys, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Rhianna to Zeppelin, Bob Seger, or even Springstein, so yea quite a variety…haha. I found myself listening more to the classics.

What unique style did you bring to this project?

Melissa: I’ve always considered my work to sway towards realism. Considering I have a love for painting but also photography and the historical process, I’m highly attracted to detail especially the element of line. I’m also attracted to not just black and white/sepia photographs, drawings and/or paintings, but rich colors which are quite evident in the lush greens through out the foreground of the Mansion.

In what ways did you vary from the original?

Melissa: I intensified some of the colors, added more details, and over a conversation with {the project's artistic director} Amy Colburn it was decided to do Main Street with the Trolley in black and white (grayscale) with some warm browns.

Did the finished project come out like you imagined?

Melissa: The finished project came out even better than I imagined.

Did you consider this project to be a stretch or challenge for you? How so?

Melissa: I feel with any project there are challenges, but that’s what makes each project exciting, and rewarding. I encourage my students to go outside their comfort zones since I know through experience it’s good to be challenged in order to grow as an artist(s).

What have you learned?

Melissa: I’ve learned anything is possible through persistence, dedication and focus.

Describe what it was like seeing the pieces of the mural come together?

Melissa: Truly inspirational seeing everyone’s work come together. It was like a gigantic puzzle, each section displayed a uniquely strong style yet fit so well together as a whole.

Melissa Newcomb is a resident of Canandaigua, an artist, and assistant professor of art at Keuka College, and coordinator of the Art & Design program along with the Lightner Art Gallery. She holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA) from R.I.T., a Master of Arts Degree (M.A.) from the State University of Oswego, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (B.F.A) from the State University of Oswego, and an Associate's Degree in Fine Art from Finger Lakes Community College. Melissa has recently completed two commissions for Thompson Hospital. Her primary focus is in painting and photography.