Trained as a graphic designer but always an artist at heart, Melanie was first inspired to paint the landscape after working three seasons as a wildland firefighter. Never having spent much time outdoors, she worked weeks at a time with her crew digging fireline, monitoring fire behavior, hiking, and sleeping under the stars. Melanie was deeply moved by the stunning vistas and by the fierce beauty of nature. In each painting she uses her training as a designer to intuitively construct simple yet powerful designs reflecting the pure wonder she feels when outdoors.
The most important practice in Melanie's development as an artist has been extensively painting on location, or en plein air. Through direct observation she capture the effects of light that often are lost in photographs and use the studies to create a more beautiful and compelling work in the studio. Melanie states, "In my mind a painting is not complete, whether created in the studio or on location, until it conveys both the appearance of a place and the feel of a specific moment: the smell of dust, the hot sun, or the cooling shade of a passing cloud."