Asian brush art exhibit at MACC starting in early August

Simple Elegance, Asian Brush paintings by Barbara Rizza Mellin of Winston-Salem, NC will be on display and for sale at the Mebane Arts & Community Center in Mebane, August 2 through September 29.  They may be viewed Monday through Friday, 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. The exhibit features a collection of blossom and branch paintings created in a modern interpretation of the ancient art of Asian Brush Painting. 

Simple Elegance, Asian Brush paintings by Barbara Rizza Mellin of Winston-Salem, NC will be on display and for sale at the Mebane Arts & Community Center in Mebane, August 2 through September 29.  They may be viewed Monday through Friday, 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.

The exhibit features a collection of blossom and branch paintings created in a modern interpretation of the ancient art of Asian Brush Painting. 

 Historically, this style painting was limited to four floral images (plum, orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum) that carried symbolic references known to the viewers. However, while using traditional techniques, Mellin has included a wider variety of flowers and leaves (her personal favorites) to appeal to contemporary audiences.

The works were created on natural hand-made papers.  The thick, 100% cotton, acid-free handmade Nujabi paper absorbs color beautifully, giving a soft, delicate, natural look to the artwork with decal edging and a unique quality caused by the unavoidable imperfections of this paper.  

The use traditional Chinese bamboo brushes that allow Mellin to create the thinnest lines and broadest areas of color with just one brush. The black and several additional colors are derived from Chinese or Sumi ink sticks that she grinds with water onto an ink stone, producing various viscosities of ink. Other colors come from Chinese watercolor paints that are richer in tone and more opaque than “regular” watercolor paints, but not as thick as gouache.  

“What I love about Asian Brush Painting is the simple elegance of the natural subjects, plus the real and apparent spontaneity of the process. Less is more. A few strokes can capture the beauty of a blossom or the fragility of a falling leaf.  There is a meditation quality to the process. I create each image at one sitting, with no preliminary drawing and very little overpainting or modification. The idea is to capture the natural essence of the image rather than a detailed botanical copy.   These works combine elements of watercolor paintings and calligraphic line drawings, and, yet, have their own unique look and style.  As an art historian, I love preserving and reinterpreting classic techniques for contemporary audiences.” says Mellin.

Barbara Rizza Mellin is an award-winning artist and writer, having relocated 10 years ago to Winston Salem, NC from the Boston area, where she had taught art classes for more than 25 years. Her current interests are in Asian Brush painting and printmaking.  Mellin holds a graduate degree in Art History from Harvard and teaches college courses in Humanities and Asian Art; writes frequently about the arts and culture for international, national and local publications; and teaches workshops and lectures on art, writing and travel.

Her artwork has been featured in juried exhibits throughout the U.S. and in one-woman exhibitions at Duke University (Durham), Alamance Arts (Graham), the Hiddenite Arts and Heritage Center, Chapel Hill Library, and at Artworks and Red Dog Galleries in Winston Salem, NC.  One of her Asian Brush paintings received the Art Council’s ArtPop award, showcasing her art on a highway billboard during 2017. Her art is also on display at Piedmont Triad international (PTI) Airport/ Main Terminal in Greensboro, NC. 

Having visited 47 US states and 24 countries on 5 continents, she finds inspiration in the world’s diverse cultures. It is important, Mellin believes, to know our world—our whole world—and the people in it. “By experiencing other places and customs, we put our life into context and gain a deeper appreciation for all lives,” she says. “Travel makes history and art real. It helps us to see the beauty and exotic in everyday life.”