Melody Elwell Romancito aka Melwell Romancito believes that making art is as important as food and breathing.
Even though Romancito has been painting all her life, she has rarely had the luxury to focus on it long enough to gain representation beyond showing in gift shops and giving her work away as gifts to friends and family. Late in life, she has been given the opportunity to return to painting after a career of involvement in journalism, marketing, and technology.
When she was a child her grandmother used to save cardboard that came with laundered men’s shirts and Melwell filled these cardboard sheets with watercolor paintings from a very early age. Her first private art lessons, also supplied by her grandmother, were key in helping her understand the basics of oil painting, composition and color mixing.
Throughout high school, she prepared for entering a fine arts degree program. The high school she attended in Ohio had lots of resources which were funneled into arts and humanities. She won awards and ribbons for her work within the Scholastic Art Awards systems, even winning a couple of national competitions. She credits a significant high school teacher, Dale Tener, with her approach to making art.
Discouraged by not gaining the full art scholarship she had sought, she settled down to working on a Fine Arts major and an Art History minor at the University of Akron in Akron Ohio. Two years into putting herself through night school and working during the day, she changed majors to English Composition and in 1978, eventually moved west to Phoenix, Arizona, after a failed personal relationship. She dropped out of college just a few course hours from completion of her degree and lived a little on the fringes in the alternative universe of hippies in the American Southwest.
During this time, she worked briefly as a commercial artist composing logos and advertising for the Yellow Pages. In 1979 she moved to Eugene, Oregon, working as a short-order cook and was able to secure occasional art-related work like making architectural renderings for a local architect and building simple black-and-white ads. She also maintained a shared studio in an art collective and painted in acrylics, ink, and watercolor.
Romancito worked in the tech industry in the mid-1980s as a user-interface designer and tech writer and moved to Taos, New Mexico in 1986. In 1988 she became the arts and entertainment editor for the local paper and though she resigned after two years she has, over the years, written hundreds of artist profiles and articles for the local paper and also national and regional publications. She worked as a news director for a local radio station and also as a webmaster and designer until she retired in 2018.
Now she paints as often as she can, though her time is divided between her love of making visual art, writing and singing. She is a member of the Western Swing band Swing Dusters and has performed solo and with combos in the Taos area for decades.
Returning to painting and making visual art again, and on a regular basis, makes me giddy for so many reasons.
I have just a few rules I hope to adhere to when making art. They are:
- Be generous with whatever it is you are doing. Don’t hold back.
- Be gentle with others about their art and be tough with yourself about your own art. I will always remember the words of my mentor and art teacher, Dale Tener. “What can you do to make this better?”
- If art’s job was to replicate what was before us visually, it would have been supplanted by photography, but it wasn’t. Art absorbed photography and art’s job continues to be a delivery system for feelings. Deliver feelings first.