***Flygirl Fridays***

I had the opportunity to take a course called "Flying Lessons" given by a very talented artist - Kelly Rae Roberts. It was an excellent course that covered such topics as letting go of yours fears, going after your true passion, and many other things. One of the best things about the course was, I got meet and learn about a lot of talented artists, all in on different paths, but all working towards making their dreams come true and learning to take flight. Flygirl Fridays is all about these wonderfully talented people and a little bit about them, so you can get to know them as well!

Please join me in welcoming
Melanie Douthit!

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hi. Thank you so much for asking me to be your guest. I’m so thrilled. My name is Melanie Douthit and I live in West Monroe, Louisiana. I operate a creative business from my home-studio. I’ve been an artist as far back as I can remember. My earliest artwork my mother saved goes back to age five. I started painting in my late teens and started selling my art soon after. Around 2000, eBay was a great place to sell art, and I quickly had collectors in all fifty states and also abroad. Being from Louisiana, I love New Orleans, so many of my creations have a New Orleans flair. My Mardi Gras Dachshund paintings were commissioned by a national chain restaurant - Mimi’s Café - and there are over 30 paintings in various locations across the US. Around 2003 I got involved in the paper craft industry designing cards and scrapbook pages for magazines and manufacturers. It didn’t take long for me to merge my two loves together. It’s not uncommon for me to use “paper craft” products in my paintings now. I’m a member of the oldest and largest co-op artist run gallery in Louisiana, the Ouachita River Art Gallery, and I also have work in The Great Artists Collective gallery on Royal Street in New Orleans.

What is something that you really love, and why?
Gosh, I can think of so many things that I love, but I’ll just go with cooking. I love trying new recipes and experimenting with ingredients. Not that I’m a chef or anything, but I think it’s just another creative outlet for me. I love cooking for dinner parties or gatherings. I like decorating the table with pretty dinnerware and serving pieces. The highlight is seeing it all come together when family and friends enjoy the food and fellowship. It really makes me happy. I recently hosted a murder mystery dinner with a Mardi Gras theme and am already mentally planning the food for the next themed dinner.

What would your dream project be?
Since my late 20’s, I’ve had the “dream” of illustrating a children’s book. That dream isn’t too far off. I have a story that I’ve written and it’s on my “to do” list to bring it to life this year!

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
Wow - there’s so many things going through my head for this question, but here’s one I’d like to share with other artists: Never put all your eggs in one basket. How I apply that to my creative business is to not limit your art exposure to just “one” place. Put your creations on etsy, your blog, and your website. Explore new ways for internet exposure. And for the local scene, try galleries, gift shops and local art shows or gallery crawls. You never know where your next collector will come from. Your art is as unique as you are, so what works for one person, may not work for the next.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I love visual inspiration. Color combinations and current trends trigger my creativity. I usually jot down ideas or drawings in a notebook so I don’t forget them. Lately, I’ve been inspired by music. Sometimes a phrase or a lyric will stick in my head and I will transform that into something fun and funky. I most always have music going when I’m creating.

What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back?
The biggest thing holding me back? Myself! I can go as far as I dare myself to go. Overcoming fears and doubts is a big hurdle that some days is easier to jump over than other days. When you run a creative business, you have to motivate yourself, even when you “don’t feel creative”. People with non-creative jobs go to work when they “don’t really feel like it”, but sometimes it’s harder for creative people to “work” when there seems to be no inspiration. The trick is to do it anyway. My motto is to dream big and shoot high. If you shoot high, you won’t be disappointed if you miss the mark.

What change do you think would most help your business grow?
I’ve actually been growing at a manageable rate for the past year, so at this moment, I’m happy to comfortably be able to keep up with things. I have a few ideas for the future, but I don’t want to get overwhelmed. I’ve been told that when the demand for your art goes up, it’s time to increase prices. I’ve been trying to hold off doing that, but it might be the next change in upcoming months.

What’s the biggest thing that you took with you from Flying Lessons?
Aside from the new friendships, which are priceless, the biggest impact Flying Lessons had on me was to be fearless! I was recently approached to participate in a rather large event (more on that on my blog later) and in the past I would have shied away from it, mainly from fear. But thanks to my new found “bravery”, my response to the request was “absolutely”. We are still working on the details, but I’m so excited and, of course, will be extremely busy.

I hope I’ve inspired some of you out there reading this. Go for your dreams and enjoy the journey!