Be Flexible Like Renee Melia’s Quirky, Rosy-cheeked Characters!
Feeling dull and uninspired? These carefree ladies in bold pattern outfits and striking poses will lift your spirits right away! Renee Melia, also known to her 96K Instagram followers as Whistleburg, is the creative brains behind an eye-catching collection of diversified female portraits. The range of motion of these joyful characters is so limitless that it seems like nothing to them is impossible to achieve. We’re not sure if the Perth-based illustrator can master those bendy poses herself, but there’s no doubt that she is a flexible thinker whose creativity knows no bounds. Want to know who inspired Renee to throw the typical human form out the window, and where these stunning pieces were made? Make sure you read till the end to find out!
AWW: What do you want to explore and bring to people through your work?
Renee Melia: I’m pretty much always exploring the female form. I love drawing close-up portraits as well as ladies in interesting poses. I’m playing with slightly moodier palettes at the moment, like mustards, greens and deep blues. I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with slightly exaggerated proportions — the “bendy” series throws the usual limb proportions and typical poses out the window and gives me so much more freedom to create something really fun and a bit different. I’m just hoping to create something that brings a smile to whoever is looking at it!
AWW: How did you find your passion for illustration and develop your current style?
Renee: I've always loved being creative, but I really only found my passion for illustration about a year after having my son. Drawing for me fills a couple of roles, it's a joy, a therapy, and also something just for "me" which became important after becoming a mum. This was when I started focusing on drawing women too, after previously drawing mainly animals. I gradually found my style as I went. Some parts of my early style are still there but it's been refined a bit over the years.
AWW: Can you walk us through your creative process?
Renee: My process changes up a lot. Sometimes I have very specific ideas and will draw that, other times I have something a bit vague and make up the rest as I go; then there are times when I have no idea at all and will just start drawing and see what happens — I've actually had some of my favourite drawings come from doing this. But regardless of all that, it usually starts as a very rough sketch and then I add in colours and details as I go along, in a pretty chaotic fashion most times — I experiment a lot!
AWW: How do you stay motivated?
Renee: It may change at some point but staying motivated isn't something I have to really work at. Drawing isn't really a discipline as such because it's my favourite hobby and I love doing it. My problem is more around finding free time to draw. My dream day is getting the day to myself just to draw for hours on end! That happens on a rare occasion but generally other life responsibilities get in the way. If I do have a day where I don't feel like drawing for whatever reason, I just give myself a break rather than forcing it.
AWW: Can you show us your studio or work desk? What are the 3 things that have inspired you most recently?
Renee: I did have a studio once upon a time when I used to make little illustrated brooches and things but it has since given way to a playroom, so my current studio is my couch. I mostly draw on my iPad and I love my lounge room space, so it suits me fine! On the occasions that I paint, that's done from my coffee table — I have a great tabletop easel with storage and it's perfect for if you don't have the space for a full set up. I usually pack up my print orders on the coffee table too.
My inspirations include: firstly, the change in seasons, which has inspired my latest palettes. Secondly, a Skillshare class called “NOT boring characters” by Ukrainian artist Anastacia Sholik. It encouraged me to throw away the rule book when it comes to the human form. Lastly, it’s a bit broad-brush but I’m honestly inspired daily by the amazing illustrator community on Instagram — there’re so many wonderful artists creating wonderful things out there!
To find out more about Renee Melia, please visit the artist’s IG account | @whistleburg
All images provided by Renee Melia.