I'll Know I'm an Artist When...

3 Jul 2014

Self-portrait in Red by Melvin Toledo, oil on canvas, 20 x 20.
Self-portrait in Red by Melvin Toledo, oil on canvas, 20 x 20.
Artist Daily Member Spotlight: Melvin Toledo

When I can see the "art" in the everyday, that's when I know I'll be working and thinking at my fullest potential. I'm still making my way on that road, but Melvin Toledo, a fellow member of Artist Daily, does just that.

Toledo has brought the tradition of the Spanish Old Master bodegón painting into the contemporary world, giving it a little more vibrancy, but still staying true to the still life genre in a noteworthy, satisfying way. I wanted to take the opportunity to share what I learned from him.

Artist Daily: What subject matters do you favor and why?
Melvin Toledo: The subjects I chose to paint are things that I've known my whole life, or that have some special meaning to me. In Self Portrait in Red I used a gourd that I received as a gift from a friend. Most rural homes in Nicaragua, including my childhood home, have a gourd like this in the kitchen storing tortillas. I like finding the beauty in simple, everyday objects that represent common aspects of my life and culture.

AD: Many of your portraits are of children. How is it working with kids as models?
MT: Working with kids is fun-they're always excited. All of the portraits I've painted of children have been based on photographs. For the painting Getting Ready for Next Season I asked my nephew to pose in different positions as I took over 50 pictures. I only used two of them for the painting. To capture a fresh or natural look, I think it is important to let children "do their own thing" and not give them too many directions during the photos shoot. When you see something you like, ask them to hold the pose while you take the shot.

AD: Have you been in any recent shows or exhibitions? Are there any do's and don'ts when it comes to this?
MT: Recently, I had a piece in the Decatur Juried Fine Arts Exhibition in Decatur, GA. I think it's a good idea to use a simple frame that does not overwhelm the painting. Make the artwork look great. During the exhibition, don't lose any opportunity to talk about your art and talk to other artists about their work. I'm pretty shy so I make it my goal to talk to at least one person at each show. It's also always good to have business cards on hand that have your website and contact information in case people want to see more of your work.

AD: How and where do you sell your work?
A major goal of mine has been to create a website so I could increase my visibility. Facebook is also a valuable tool to connect with potential buyers. Recently, I've been using eBay to sell my smaller, less expensive works. It's my hope that people who find my art on Ebay will be curious about my other works and will visit my website as well. Currently, I am setting up direct purchasing capabilities on my website.

AD: How did you find Artist Daily?
MT: When I was living in Nicaragua, local art galleries specialized in abstract work. I always felt like representational work was out of fashion. A few years ago when I moved to the United States, I was in Barnes & Noble and found American Artist magazine. It felt like a revelation to open it and see all these great works of representational art.

Getting Ready for Next Season by Melvin Toledo oil on canvas, 30 x 24.
Getting Ready for Next Season, oil on canvas, 30 x 24.
I visited Artist Daily and found all these artists sharing their work and giving advice to one another and immediately I wanted to be part of that. I also enjoy the step-by-step demonstrations and downloadable e-books. It's been great to share my work with so many artists and to see how other artists' work has progressed with time.


Toledo is passionate about the work he does, but he also continually strives to improve, which I can totally identify with. And we both agree that the best way we've been able to do that is with professional instruction, which means taking advantage of what is right in front of us. The "library" of instruction at our fingertips includes video workshops with top artists, drawing manuals, painting magazines and more. Be sure to check out all of the offerings and resources we have ready to help you take your work to the next level. All of them have really helped me, and I hope it is the same for you. Enjoy!

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on 4 Jul 2014 12:11 PM

when I see a painting like displayed today and want to delve into learning just how that was produced.. As a newie, I am inspired and appreciate the  information that is given on this site...  Thank you so much