SOUTHBURY — Eileen Melvin was encouraged in her artistic endeavors by a mother who drew wildflowers “so real, you could almost pick them.”
She began by drawing horses, then turned her attention to the lush surroundings of her native Hudson River Valley.
Long summer days spent sailing with her father inspired her further.
As a young woman, she was influenced by the American Impressionist painters Gifford and Reynolds Beal, who were close family friends.
She married a man with an artistic legacy of his own, a direct descendent of the de Braekeleers, Flemish masters whose paintings hang in museums throughout Europe.
Eileen’s husband encouraged her work, and she in turn encouraged her own children to express themselves through art. One became a professional artist and another has taken up painting in retirement.
Now “close to 100,” Eileen Melvin will show a retrospective of her works in a joint show with her daughter, Patricia Melvin of New York City, and her son, John Melvin of San Francisco, through October 28 in the Gloria Cachion Gallery at the Southbury Public Library, 100 Poverty Rd.
Eileen Melvin, a resident of Pomperaug Woods, grew up in Irvington in New York’s Hudson River Valley, an area she told Voices was “full of artists.”
After her uncle married into the celebrated Beal family, she spent much time in her 20s at their home in Rockport, Mass., submerged in the world of painting — and of boats.
“I really love to paint water and boats,” she said. “My father was a fabulous sailor.
“We sailed a lot out of Greenwich. We raced every Saturday afternoon for years. He always won.”
She continued to paint following her marriage.
“Dad encouraged her so much,” said Eileen’s daughter, Patricia. “He grew up surrounded by artists. He loved everything she painted.”
When her children were grown, Eileen studied plein air painting with realist artist Ozni Brown.
She also did macrame, chair caning, decoupage and fabric painting.
After she and her husband retired to Heritage Village, she joined the Brush and Pencil Club and studied with Ed Anderson, who encouraged her to blend imagination and memory to paint scenes from her childhood.
The library exhibit includes 19 of Eileen’s paintings, mostly landscapes of Hudson River scenes and Long Island.
Water is a common theme in Eileen’s work, and also the work of her son, John Melvin.
John does figurative work in landscape, working from photographs.
His five paintings in the show are large, vibrant works portraying people enjoying the water in various ways.
Now living in San Francisco, John began painting after a long career as an investment banker in New York City.
“I paint scenes of people enjoying their lives in this beautiful city,” he said in a press release about the show.
He has been focusing on sports — particularly where he finds a clear demonstration of skill, coordination and grace — but also admits a love for abstraction, noting that he enjoys “crossing the fine line between representational and abstract painting.”
In contrast, eight paintings by Eileen’s daughter, Patricia Melvin, are all cityscapes of Manhattan.
Primarily a New York City plein air artist, Patricia seeks to capture the light on old weathered buildings and the feeling of nature in the city.
“Patricia paints beautifully,” said her mother. “She finds beauty in New York City in old tenements.”
“I love painting old things,” said Patricia. “The quality of light on old stuff is really thrilling to me.”
Asked what lessons she learned from her mother, Patricia recalled a suggestion to put more feeling into her work and not worry so much about detail.
“She always encouraged me,” said Patricia. “Now it’s what I do for a living. A lot of parents wouldn’t encourage that.”
Patricia’s work can be found in the permanent collection of the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, Mass., the Noble Maritime Collection in Staten Island, N.Y., and in private collections all over the U.S. and Europe.
Her work is represented in a traveling exhibition, “A Feeling of Humanity: The Western Art Collection of Ken Ratner,” set to open in October at the Rockwell Museum of American Art in Corning, N.Y.
John’s paintings can be found in public and private collections.
Concurrent to the library show, Eileen will be represented by a marine painting in The Art of Experience, the annual senior juried art show at Pomperaug Woods.
This is the first time the three artists have mounted a show together.
The Melvin Family Art Show is on view through October 28 during regular library hours.