‘Angel Lady’ finds full-time calling in art world

Jacob Fuller
Melanie Morris' art is featured at Sawyer Art Gallery on Harbor Blvd. Owner Don Sawyer has been a mentor the Hoover, Ala. native as she has become a full-time artist.

Melanie Morris wasn't happy in her advertising sales job. She loved to paint, but couldn't see how she would be able to pay her bills as a full-time artist.

She moved from Hoover, Ala., to Destin in 2005, and continued trying to make a living in the business world. It wasn't until she met fellow painter Don Sawyer at the Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival in Niceville that Morris decided to attempt to make art her permanent profession.

"I told him I painted," Morris told The Log. "He said, 'Why aren't you painting all the time?' He and I connected because of that."

Morris tried for about a year to become a full-time artist, but she said she regressed several times back into believing she couldn't make it work. Every time those doubts rose up, she seemed to run into Sawyer.

"He was adamant about me starting it up," Morris said. "Finally, I said, 'I've got to just do it. I can feel it. I should go for my goal, go for my dream.' "

Now a full-time artist, Morris said she's happier than she ever was in the sales business. Sawyer has continued to be a mentor to Morris throughout the process, and is currently featuring her art in the Sawyer Art Gallery. He said he recommended Morris devote herself to her work, because art demands the artist's full attention.

"I'm more interested in the artist than the art," Sawyer said. "You can learn how to do it if you have the desire. What you're lacking in talent, you can make up for in desire. I saw that in Melanie. I saw somebody that really wanted to become an artist."

Morris and Sawyer share similarities in their art. Both use only primary and secondary colors to create eclectic expressionist works of art. Morris likes to go beyond the paint brush, and uses mixed media for all her creations.

Some have begun to know Morris as "the Angel Lady," for her paintings of angels. One of the most noticeable aspects of her angels is that she doesn't give them faces.

"I believe everyone has an idea of who there angel is," Morris said. "If I was going to paint a little face on every angel, that would be me going, 'OK, here's what an angel looks like.' I just want to give the idea or the memory of person that is an angel. And I make them female, because females are prettier."