We had the good fortune of connecting with Melvin Toledo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melvin, why did you pursue a creative career?
I never made a conscious decision or plan to be an artist. I realized as a teenager that drawing was something that came easily to me and it soon became an obsession, I spent many hours drawing the characters from favorite tv shows. I grew up in a small village in northern Nicaragua where most people are farmers. Even if you are able to afford college, there are few jobs available. One of my uncles owned a home decorations business in Honduras and he encouraged me to learn to paint so that I could work for him. I apprenticed under a still life painter in Honduras and as I immersed my self in the world of painting, it became my passion. I worked for my uncle for about seven years before I moved to the United States 13 years ago. After I moved, I had a few odd jobs, but I really began pursing fine art.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I saw this a long time ago: “Do the best work you possibly can and the rest will follow.” So that has been my goal, to learn to paint the best way I can and to always be willing to try something new.
I fell in love with still life painting from the very beginning. I started by creating paintings from my imagination and then moved to taking photographs and painting from photos. After that, I started painting from life. I experienced a lot of growth when I started painting from direct observation without the aid of photography. My work improved and that pushed me to take on more challenging and complex subjects.
The confidence I gained as an artist in the last few years has led me to start working on a project I have been thinking about for awhile, a series of portraits of immigrants living in the United States. With this project, I am aiming to celebrate our lives, our jobs, our skin color and everything we do. The United States benefits from people who come from all corners of the world, with diverse stories, experiences, and ideas. We are the backbone of this country and are lucky to be part of it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love walking the Atlanta Beltline and finishing out at one of the coffee shops around Ponce City Market. If it’s the right time of year, we’d go hiking at Arabia Mountain or along the Chattahoochee and catch a Braves game. For food, Buford Highway never disappoints. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are many people that have played a key role on where I am today, family members, friends, and gallery owners who have believed in my work. This time I want to say thanks to my wife, for her love and support. She never suggested I try another career, despite the difficulties of pursuing art. She is my rock.
Facebook: Oil paintings by Melvin Toledo