Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Melissa Barbieri

In the charming seaside town of Southport, Connecticut hangs the most magical collection of ocean-inspired paintings by artist, Melissa Barbieri.  As a long time fan of Melissa's, I was thrilled to meet with her last week at Southport Galleries to see her latest collection of nautical charts and seascapes. We had such a lovely morning at the gallery and it was so interesting to learn about the processes and inspiration behind her work. I was completely blown away by every single piece and wanted to take them all off the walls right then and there and into the homes of my clients' beach houses. 

I've never seen art under the "nautical/beach/ocean/sea" category so appealing, as aged-looking and classic as Melissa's, and that to me makes her the best in her class. 

I've always loved nautical charts, but these?! Melissa paints these charts in fresco secco, which dates back to the Renaissance. Working in this medium gives the paintings a beautiful tactile quality where you can see the organic components in the fresco mirroring flecks of mica and skeletal debris of marine organisms. Melissa: "I like that it gives an softly aged look which is very much in tune with my style of painting and the way I want these charts to look. I  work from composites of maps and charts both contemporary and vintage and add my own detailing to create a painting that's original."

Recently, Melissa created a 6' long custom piece for a family of sailors of the New England coast so the could chart their journeys. She included their home in Stonington on the map which really gives it a personal touch. 

I fell in love with these metallic creatures which are fresco seccos with silver leaf - how different from anything I've ever seen before. 

The painting below titled Uncharted Waters, an oil on linen, is an absolute stunner: 

The sheer size of it will blow you away and the detail is incredible. 

just gorgeous.

Melissa: "I love to do a really big piece like this that I can just get lost in. I used layers and layers of glazes to give it depth and that patina so no one could be sure what time period it was painted in. My inspiration  came from wandering the back alley canals of Venice and the Mediterranean Coast where I remembered seeing worn mosaics and frescoes from centuries ago with sea themes."

me with Melissa

Side Story: {Upon arriving at the gallery, I had a nice surprise greeting from a favorite Art History professor of mine, Phillip Eliasoph, who is very influential at the gallery. We had such a nice time catching up and it was so great to see him again. He had a major impact on my experience at Fairfield University and it was taking his class in my sophomore year, Renaissance Art, that made me become an AH major.}

Melissa lives in Essex, Connecticut and has her studio in Greenwich which is open Tuesday-Friday and Saturday mornings by appointment.  Her show at the Southport Galleries will run through Tuesday, May 29th.

"I love to work in different mediums with changing themes, but I'll never give up painting all things related to the sea. For me it has a never-ending range of possibilities for subjects and inspiration , from saltwater to sea weed to handsome sailors. What could be better?"


  1. This is a nice piece my friend Liz Joy did on my show at Southport Galleries.
    Thanks Liz!

  2. These pieces are stunning! Thanks for sharing Liz!

  3. Love those silver leaf underwater creatures! The light coming off of them is a great contrast to the secco fresco ground.
    Must. Have.

  4. Wow- so beautiful! I especially love those maps! Gorgeous post! xo

  5. She is the best, such talent, love her to bits!

  6. beautiful art works and photos!

  7. We are so proud of Melissa!! She has a great talent and as you can see, her painting speak for themselves. Our Love to Melissa

  8. From a very young, age, my beautiful cousin has been able to interpret the beauty of our world from the tip of a paintbrush. I am so proud that all can enjoy a piece of her talent - the maps are exquisite!

  9. What wonderful pieces... thanks for telling me. Now a scolding - you were in my back yard and didn't tell me??!!!