Melody Burton, a local artist and retired teacher, has spent the last almost 15 years enjoying a lifelong passion. After a 28 year education career, Burton took a few lessons with local artist Shelly Tate Garner and began experimenting with oil pastels, acrylics and mixed media.

The painter will be sharing her post retirement works at an exhibit open from April 17 through May 11 at Mary Karam Gallery in Denison. An artist reception will be held from 2-4 p.m. May 4 at the gallery.

Though she graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in elementary education, Burton took basic drawing, oil painting, color theory, disciplined based art and art education.

“I create paintings out of my love for Texas, Lake Texoma, beaches, history, pets, and folk art,” a news release by Burton said. “My subjects originate from photos I take on my travels, and my imagination. My style is contemporary, whimsical, and somewhat primitive. Above all, I try to create something unique, fascinating, and something that brings joy. I am grateful to all the people in my life who support my artistic path. I hope my paintings bring pleasure to those who collect them.”

Burton answered a few questions about her relationship with art.

Q. When did you start doing art and when did you realize that you enjoyed doing it?

A. I began doodling when I was a young girl. My favorite subjects were horses!

Q. It is important to love what you do whether you have natural talent or learned talent. Can you tell me the story about the piece that made you want to do art?

A. I realized that I loved art in the 4th grade with Mrs. McCall. I was very shy and art let me express myself without fear of rejection. Today I am inspired by comical situations in life, and places I have visited. My friends often ask me to paint their vacation spots, or their pets.

Q. How an individual connects with something can turn just about anything into art. What is your definition of art?

A. I’ve been told that anything that makes the viewer “feel” emotion, (love, hate, etc.) the object is art. I hate dark and violent paintings but I guess that is art, too. Art should be something that one would want to see all the time. What is your specialty? The title of my business is ARTScenes. My specialty is colorful, acrylic and ink painting on canvas. Although not my specialty, I do black and white still life drawings on recycled paper, and soap paintings, too.

Q. How has being creative helped you? Can you describe the feeling that you get when you are thinking about your next piece as well as the feeling that you get when you are working on a piece?

A. My profession was in the education field as a teacher/elementary principal for 28 years, while my husband and I were raising two children. I had no time to paint. If I had a stressful day at school, I would visit the classrooms where teachers and children were creating. Upon retirement, I finally had an opportunity to pick up a brush again. On the days I paint, I am able to block out all my concerns and obligations and just “live in the moment.” At some point I realize that hours have passed without interruptions from the outside world. I am already thinking about my next piece. Subjects are unlimited. If I see something that makes me smile, I want to paint it.

Q. For individuals that have not yet found their artistic outlet, how would you encourage them to learn what makes them happy?

A. I believe everyone wishes they could do something they have always wanted to do. If they give it a valid try, and find out that it doesn’t bring them joy, it’s OK. Try something else. Parents, teachers and friends must never force their own artistic outlet on another person. Always give them positive feedback and encouragement during the trial period.

Q. You should never stop learning. Can you tell me what you recently learned either about technique and style or about your artistry that you think will help you in the future?

A. In college, I had an art teacher that made me question my artistic ability by insisting that I paint the way she wanted me to do. My fear of rejection came back from my childhood. I still struggle with my creativity under the critical eye of an art instructor. I also hate working under a “time constraint.” I am much better learning how another artist creates a piece, and then experiment on my own. I might practice for days before I master a new technique.

Q. Where can people see your work this area?

A. My work is displayed in Pamela Moore’s Dentist office in Pottsboro; Bayless Hall Insurance; Family Promise of Grayson County’s Play Room; Pottsboro Area Library; Mary Karam’s Gallery, PVES Community Room, and several private homes. I’ve had 3 shows at Mary Karam’s Gallery; a private show sponsored by ERA Realty; one at the Pottsboro Library Fall Show, and several Non-Profit Organizations.

Q. Describe your style in one word.

A. Whimsical

Q. Tell me about your process. Do you begin with the end in mind? Do you have a detailed plan? Or, do you let the piece go where it needs to go? How do you know when you are done?

A. If I am painting a landscape or still life object, I look at photos. If I am painting for myself, the ideas come from my experiences and imagination. I start with a basic sketch on paper the size of the canvas that I will use. When I start painting, I let the piece go where it needs to go. When the painting is nearing the end, I may add details to make it more interesting or funny. If I don’t smile or laugh, I’m not finished.

Q. What would you like for people to know about art and its accessibility?

A. Take away all the pretensions of the art world — big names, big canvases, big money — and humbly offer creative pieces to people.