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Ed Mell is one of the most ingenious and successful artists working in the West today, but like most people, Mell’s career path wasn’t evident early on. After graduating, he moved to NYC to work as a graphic designer and within 2 years launched his own company, Sagebrush Studios.... Preferring the West, Mell returned to his hometown, Phoenix, AZ in 1973. He worked part time as an illustrator and part time developing his painting style... always with the familiar angles and edges....
Mell told Southwest Art Magazine: “I work from nature, and sometimes I push it a little further…Seeing the real thing has much more impact than a photographic representation of nature, so to duplicate nature, I like to push it a little further and bring back some of the impact that nature has in real life.”
Like the Cubists, Mell has taken natural forms—clouds, sky, rain, lighting, cliffs, buttes and canyons—and ‘analyzed’ them for reinterpretation into geometric forms. His work also resonates with elements of chaos theory and the study of approximate fractals in which patterns in nature appear identical at different scales; the repeating motifs are easily found in natural formations such as clouds, mountain ranges, lightning and river networks.
Fractals seem more evident, more repetitive in a cubist interpretation of nature. In both Wingate Cliffs and Canyon, Light and Rain the canyons and bluffs are often connected by long cylinders representing shafts of light, rain or lightning—emphasizing the interconnection of the elements.
“…there are certain moods to the landscape, and sometimes that’s the main focus, to capture the mood rather than an actual depiction of [a place]…Some kind of invention happens, almost like auto-painting, but in a calculated way. Once you have enough confidence that you’re not nervous about where it will go you can have freedom and fun with it.”