Corner Gallery’s young August/September artist loves color, children and helping people. Melanie Muniz, 19, says she’s not an art-driven person, but it was her work at the Ukiah Farmer’s Market that inspired gallery member and photographer Elliot Little to notice her and to invite him to exhibit his art in the gallery.

Melanie is currently attending Mendocino College, with plans to transfer to Sonoma State University to earn her bachelor’s degree in child development and teaching…a far cry from an artistic career. However, she explains, “Art was something I enjoyed doing from an early age. As a baby, I found things to draw on and loved creating things from scribbles to intricate designs and objects as I got older. Being creative is a trait that I think has been part of my personality for quite some time. At home and at the daycare I attended and later worked in, arts and crafts were my favorite pastime. I think that’s how I improved my skills because I never took art classes until my senior year of high school.

Melanie’s love for children, as well as her years of working in daycare and kindergarten, have definitely had an impact on her art. When asked what influences her as an artist, she replies: “I like to be inspired by the things I see around me. When working with children, I tend to see a lot of color and creativity that my pieces represent, as they all have an abundance of color. Before working with children, I used the internet for inspiration, such as YouTube or Pinterest, where I learned how to make paper flowers, clay figurines and jewelry. When I’m in a creative rut, I sometimes go back to the internet for ideas.

Creativity is an attribute that Melanie doesn’t often seem to lack. She continues: “I realized that in the five years that I worked in child care, I never had a dissatisfied day. I love taking care of kids and teaching them new things that they can bring with them into their future lives. It’s a passion, just like art, and I continue to find ways to incorporate my creative abilities into my teaching.

Melanie’s creative abilities are reflected in her ability to use a wide variety of mediums.

She explains: “I don’t really have a favorite medium. I just use things that look like what I visualized. Before painting, I mostly sketched and created objects with things like string, wood, tissue paper, and whatever else I could find around the house. About two years ago, my grandmother let me borrow a huge bag full of acrylic paint that I’ve been using for all my paintings ever since. I’m still a little new to painting, so I’d like to experiment with things like gouache, oil paint, and spray paint.

This young artist also has a passion for creating joy and sharing it. In his words, “Whatever field I choose, I know I want to pursue a career where I can help people and make a difference in some way. Through this, I’ve found ways to turn my hobbies into something I can share, whether it’s teaching kids or creating something for a friend. I hope others will find ways to do the same.

Yet despite her positivity, Melanie experiences doubts…which contribute to introspection and soul-searching. She admits, “I think a lot of artists will tell you they don’t like any of their work and I’m no exception. Even though I love painting and others seem to love my art, I’m never completely satisfied with the end result. I think using a lot of colors is a way for me to enjoy my paintings because I like vibrancy. I can’t say I have a favorite piece on my show, but each one comes from the heart, and I’m glad I took the time to bring my ideas to life so someone else can benefit.

The first Friday opening celebration of Melanie’s show will be held August 5 from 5-8 p.m. at the Corner Gallery (201 S. State St.) in Ukiah. Live music will be performed by Steve Winkle.

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