Melanie Janisse Barlow

december 2015

with Meaghan Strimas


HLR: How do you schedule time to create?

MJB: My mornings are for writing. I wake up and put the coffee on, and straight away I write in one of two journals, and add a paragraph to a book I am working on. Its like clockwork. From there, I get ready and head down to my studio to paint. I begin my day in the studio with a couple of hours dedicated to a project of mine. This is often the Poets Series as of late. I spend a couple of hours right away on my work. Put it first. From there, it is usually lunch time, after which I spend the rest of the day on commissions. Its a great system, as it puts creative work first and income second, but still addresses the need for each.

HLR: What obstacles (real and imagined) make it a challenge for you to find time to create, and how have you dealt with them?

MJB: Fear is often an obstacle that often needs to be worked through. I have made my painting my life, including my income, and so, when things get a bit slow, it is easy to let fear take over. I have learned over time to not sweat it too much, as something always comes in to pay the bills. Lately, I have been wishing to get the Poets Series off the ground, and the obstacle was that I was only able to fit it in between other commissions. I started my Kickstarter in order to cover some studio costs, along with framing, so that I could work on the project this winter without having to flip back and forth between the series and commission work. 

HLR: Do you find you work better when your schedule is clear, or when you are pressed to find time?

MJB: I can do either or, and enjoy the energy that comes from each way of dealing with creative practice. When there is time, there is a rhythm to my work that feels like spending leisurely time with my best friend. With deadlines, or time crunches, it is a matter of strongly stoking the fire and creating a powerful heat that can jet you through work. I am working on a show that debuts in February that has this energy. Huge canvases that demand to be completed. The Poets Series is functioning more in the slower mode, which gives me time to get to know each poet.

Melanie Janisse-Barlow is a poet and a portrait painter living in Windsor, Ontario. Melanie's current labour of love is The Poets Series: A growing archive of paintings of poets. A celebration of those in poetry. A living wall of writers. An additive painting exercise. Please check out her work at: