Equestrian artist still beating the odds

Driving Pair, by Louise Mellon.
Driving Pair, by Louise Mellon.

Equestrian artist Louise Mellon is a survivor and has had to fight hard to triumph over injuries and illness in order to keep producing her light-hearted, brightly-colored works of art.

A private, invitation only showing of Mellon’s work is being organised by friend and collector Bruce Duchossois at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, on March 19.

Louise Mellon in her studio with Ruffles and Cricket.
Louise Mellon in her studio with Ruffles and Cricket. © Booth Malone

Browsing through Louise Mellon’s portfolio, one would never know what challenges she has conquered to bring her highly recognizable work to life. Mellon is humble and not comfortable discussing her personal bumps in the road.

“Many artists have it so much tougher than I do,” she said. “I have led a really interesting and lucky life, and I feel fortunate to still be here.”

Mellon grew up riding and driving horses in Middleburg, Virginia, and has lived in the desert of Arizona and the snowy hills of New Hampshire. On a trip to Maine in 2000, she was a passenger in a carriage driving accident at Acadia National Park. After several years of surgeries and rehabilitation, she went back to school to hone her art skills and get her confidence back. Left with the residual inconvenience of pain and a limited range of motion, the head injury also left  her with a tremor that can make painting a challenge.

“Some days are better than others,” she said. “And my hand will sometimes take an unauthorized departure off the canvas! I just scrape off the errant paint and pick up where I left off.”

Then in 2012, despite being exceptionally healthy, Mellon suffered a stroke that left her right painting arm useless. She once again dove into physical rehabilitation and, over time, succeeded in restoring the use of her arm and hand.

“You just have to see the humor in life,” Mellon said. “It is so easy for any of us to get depressed from all of our blips on the radar screen, but with laughter and encouragement from our friends and supporters, we can sometimes see the irony and accept the randomness of life’s events, and have the courage to forge on.”

Mellon prefers to represent the everyday world with high-impact images from an unexpected viewpoint. Her work is often seen on the covers and pages of equestrian publications, and is a testament to her positive and enthusiastic approach to life. Often, her paintings will elicit a smile or a chuckle.

Ever determined and positive, she continues to produce a prolific body of work. Mellon lives on an organic farm in Aiken, South Carolina. She designed and built a special two-storey studio that can accommodate animal models of all sizes and makes it easier to produce her work. She created various stations on wheels and a framing and shipping area. She had an ingenious lift created to easily move heavy objects without help from others to the top and bottom floors.

Let's Ride Diver Dogs by Louise Mellon.
Let’s Ride Diver Dogs by Louise Mellon.

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