Melissa Forman and Paul Richmond displaying different levels of enthusiasm at a Dolly Parton cd signing in Manhattan
P: So, Melissa...(imagine me as Barbara Walters giving you a smug little grin), tell me about what you’re working on right now.
P: Meticulous attention to detail has always been your trademark, even back in our mural painting days. I may have gently teased you about it once or twice as I recall, but honestly I’m in total awe. How do you do it?
M: Well, I think if I were telling the story I might not use the term "gentle teasing." I remember a few silent drives home from our mural painting sites because you were completely frustrated with how long I spent painting one figure. :)
P: Tell me a little about your process for developing the imagery in your work. Once a hauntingly gorgeous scenario pops into your head, where do you go from there?
P: We loved traveling to Portland for your opening at Compound a few years ago. I was so proud of my Melissa that night! Since you’ve always been a pretty private person, I was wondering if it’s weird for you to see rooms full of strangers admiring your very personal artwork.
P: Ok, I have to ask: How soon will you be wanting to go back to Dollywood after our ill-fated “work trip?”
M: Oh, the Dollywood trip...what a disaster...I mean...adventure. ;) Ha ha, anyway, I think one trip in a lifetime is more than enough of Dollywood for me. ...not that I didn't love the idea of painting a mural in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in the Smoky Mountains in the middle of winter on a 300 foot long concrete wall...
P: Our friendship means the world to me, and we’ve seen each other through a lot of highs, lows, and insane adventures. Do you have a favorite Pauly and Melissa story?
M: Well, as far as Pauly and Melissa stories go, I would have to say that the best, and all around most impressive, would have to be the Tammy Faye Memorial Party story, although that story didn't just include you and me, but our unsuspecting significant others as well...
M: We spent years trying to get on the Oprah show. For some reason we never got a call from her. What's up with that Oprah? But if she finally comes around and asks you to be on the show what would you talk about and what would be the title of the show?
M: Your artwork deals with a lot of personal experiences and emotions. Are there things that you won't ever talk about in your paintings or do you consider your life an open book for people to read through your visual work?
P: Getting personal with my work has definitely been an evolution. You may remember my college days where I pretty much just tried to mimic what other people around me painted. Somehow, my attempts at dreary landscapes didn’t seem all that genuine, even to me. When I graduated, I had no idea who I was as an artist, or even as an individual. After the purple house incident, all that changed. Coming out of the closet affected every aspect of my life, especially my artwork (though it took me a while to get comfortable with that development).
M: You've always been a person with a lot of goals and aspirations and you never cease to amaze me with how you make those dreams realities. What are your current goals regarding your paintings and what would be your perfect job/career/life?
P: My main goal for my paintings is to keep developing as a storyteller. As you know, I had a fabulous mentor named Linda Regula when I was a kid, and she taught me that the story was what mattered most -- over technique or style or any of the other things that seemed to be more of the focus in art school. Of course I want to develop in those ways too, exploring new approaches to the craft of painting. Currently, when I work on a piece of art, I feel that same sense of excitement and possibility that glued my ass to the chair at the dining room table twenty-six years ago, making pictures of myself as a Disney princess. Sure there are time’s it’s stressful, or even infuriating when something looks like crap (not that you would know what that experience feels like!), but it’s also the most incredibly fulfilling “work” I could ever imagine.
M: You've always been someone who closely follows celebrities that you admire and idolize. Who's the new diva in your life and why? How does she inspire your artwork?
M: You've recently achieved a lot of success with your etsy store. Now that the Batmobama print has made quite a splash what's next on the agenda?
M: You've always been a great storyteller. What story from our adventures is still your favorite to tell?
P: Wow, there are so many to choose from – like the time we auditioned for a movie and I had to pretend to be a gangster courting your affection, or the night we stayed up until morning hanging tiny, mirrored craft-circles on my ceiling only to decide that it was hideous. Or how about our attempt at being radio djs, or maybe the Halloween we dressed up as Sonny and Cher (you looked so cute with that moustache, by the way!).
Artwork (top to bottom):
Nocturnal Bloom, 16” x 20” oil on panel by Melissa Forman
The Crown of Nightfall, 14” x 16” oil on panel by Melissa Forman
The Mask of Twilight, 14” x 16” oil on panel by Melissa Forman
The Cher Within, 24” x 36” oil on canvas by Paul Richmond
The Dollypop Guild, 36” x 48” oil, acrylic, sequins, rhinestones, and glitter on canvas by Paul Richmond
Batmobama and Robiden, 24” x 36” oil on canvas by Paul Richmond