Melissa Hornung is a Jill-of-all-trades. She’s been an international model, is an equestrian sportswoman, a published freelance writer and, as any reader of this paper is well aware, a talented and successful fine artist. “The Commitment,” after all, is not her first painting to grace a Dan’s Papers cover.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
It was for Stacey Werner. She’s an avid equestrian jumper who has shown almost every year in the Hampton Classic, and she wanted a special gift for her husband for their wedding anniversary. We chose this image of her that was taken just before she met him, under a driftwood pergola covered with sheer white tooling and hydrangeas, to say their vows.
Your last Dan’s Papers cover, which featured Joe Farrell relaxing on the beach, was just over a year ago. What have you been up to, artistically, since then?
I’ve been busy with personal portrait work as well as some design. I’m working on another bride, also a double portrait of siblings and, at the same time, I’m completing an equestrian collage of eight paintings for a client that will be featured in the parlor of his 19th century farmhouse, which is currently being remodeled and decorated in a classic Ralph Lauren style.
Where are some places you find inspiration on the East End?
First I check to see if Lavain Bakery is open and hope that they have some of those giant chocolate peanut butter chip cookies fresh from the oven, then I head straight to the beach or wander around Main Street. I always find most of my inspiration in the outdoors, watching people passing by with children or dogs, the flower boxes outside of the shops or peering inside various gallery windows. There’s beauty everywhere if you focus on the details. It’s not hard to find in any location in or around the Hamptons.
What are you most looking forward to this summer on the East End?
Everything. Dinner at Pierre’s, hunting for treasures in Sag Harbor and Southampton, the farmers market filled with local produce and flowers galore, the Hampton Classic, meeting up with friends on Sunset Beach for a yacht tie-up and those quiet moments on the beach to watch one of the many beautiful sunsets or to run the dogs.
Where’s the most memorable or important place your work has appeared?
Well, the most important place is always Dan’s Papers, of course (a little flattery never hurts). The most memorable was for a charity Kelly Ripa sponsored for the ASPCA, an event to raise money for horse rescue, a cause that’s dear to me. I created a painting from the image they had on the invitation, which depicted a tight crop of a horses face, focusing on his soulful eye and forelock. It came out beautifully. I donated it and it was sold in the auction, collecting a handsome purse for the charity.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Definitely Claude Monet. I connect with his style the most as he painted so many reverse images including portraits, landscapes, people dining, shopping, living. His use of color and depiction of light is extraordinary. I would hang on his every word of inspiration. A day with Claude Monet—what a treasure that would be.
How does your commission process work?
I can be contacted directly. I have a website, monamelissa.com, but the best way is by phone at 859-693-5888. Some people prefer texting or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All I need from any potential client is a photo or series of photos for portraits or an idea of what they want in an image and I can create it for them. I’m a classically trained realist and have mastered portraits, so I can paint anything from real life or from photos.
See more of Hornung’s work at monamelissa.com.