Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Pastel Artwork: Song of the Yellow Bird


My latest artwork, a pastel painting of a Yellow Bird Dancer playing a traditional flute in Apache Junction, Arizona.

"Song of the Yellow Bird" ©2022 Melissa Enderle

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Friday, September 10, 2021

Pastel Artwork: Snuggles and Simple Pleasures

 My latest pastel portrait, "Snuggles and Simple Pleasures." ©2021 Melissa Enderle

After finishing Sunday morning chores and creating a fresh kolam in front of my humble home, I sit down to enjoy a cup of hot filter coffee.  Our alley is filled with the squeals of laughter from young neighborhood children playing together. As the coffee warms my insides, the sun's early rays warm my thin skin. Soft fur brushes against my legs. It's my favorite kitten, coming for a visit. As I snuggle with him, I see what looks like a smile emerging from this contented creature. In this poor Chennai neighborhood, we might not have much, but it's these simple pleasures that keep me happy.

See more of my artwork on my website

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pastel Painting: Leading the Sheep Through Dobroselica

 My newest pastel painting, "Leading the Sheep Through Dobroselica."

Dobroselica, Serbia

©2021 Melissa Enderle

It's a glorious early spring day. The last of the snow has finally melted and the grass has begun to green up, much to the delight of my sheep. I'm even seeing a few buds on the plum trees. I hope we'll have a good harvest this year, as I sure love to drink rakija. My sheep and I make our way towards the grazing land just past the wooden church. We'll be there for several hours, so my wife has packed me a lunch including her homemade bread, ajvar, and some cheese. The sheep begin to munch on the grass alongside the weathered road as soon as I pause to chat with a neighbor. They're content and I'm in no rush. The simple life in rural Serbia.

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Saturday, May 22, 2021

Artwork: Bharatanatyam Dancer-in-Training

 My latest artwork, a pastel portrait of a young girl performing the Bharatanatyam Dance which originates in Tamil Nadu, India. ©2021 Melissa Enderle

It's the dead of winter in Madison, WI. Along with other teens of South Indian origin, I am performing at the Olbrich Botanical Conservancy. Although the weather is vastly different than that of Tamil Nadu where our ancient dance form of Bharatanatyam originates, this is a great opportunity to showcase a bit of South Indian culture. I take great care to form a complex mudra with my fingers, mindful of its spiritual symbolism. Deep in concentration, I imagine myself performing in a Hindu temple far away in India.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Artwork: Naxi Erhuang Musician

 My latest artwork: Naxi Erhuang Musician

Lijiang, Yunnan province, China

©2021 Melissa Enderle

It's another humid summer evening in this ancient town of Lijiang. In the air-conditioned of the Naxi Ancient Music performance hall, I sit amongst my fellow musicians all clad in purple embroidered silk robes. Although I am the oldest member, a few of the wizened beards belong to those in their 80's. Next to me is a young disciple of mine who has been most eager to learn how to play the Erhuang. Behind me is a young Pipa player, already confident with the ancient solemn tunes of Dongjing music. Most of the audience members have come to this UNESCO World Heritage town from other parts of our motherland, China. It is reassuring to see that they, like the young members of our band, are expressing interest in the traditional music of my Naxi people. Hopefully, they will help keep this most ancient of music alive, much like I helped ensure it survived during the tumultuous Cultural Revolution. We have just begun a slow, fluid, pentatonic melody. As my eyes begin to close, I am transported to the days of yesteryear when I performed beside my revered father.

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Saturday, April 03, 2021

Artwork: Young Hoop Dancer

 My latest artwork, "Young Hoop Dancer." Polychromos color pencils. Apache Junction, Arizona ©Melissa Enderle

Although I've been a part of my family's Yellow Bird Dance group since I was a toddler, performing in front of audiences with the hoop dance is something I've only done in the last few years. It takes a lot of coordination and practice to get those hoops into the different formations such as a butterfly or eagle while at the same time doing fancy footwork, accented by the jingle of bells attached to my sheepskin leggings. Everything– the formations, facial expression, movement, and the homemade costume– has symbolism. My ancestors created the hoop dance to be part of a healing ceremony, but for the past 30 years, our dance group has used a form of the hoop dance to share a bit of our culture with others. I can't grasp as many hoops as my older brother, papa, or uncle, but I'm feeling much more confident with my form. In a couple of weeks, we'll be heading to the Heard Museum for the annual World Championship of Hoop Dancing. Native American groups from all over the country will be competing. My papa, who has used 40 hoops in one dance, is a five-time world champion. Last year I got 2nd place in my age division. After today's performance, I think I can get first place. Wish me luck!

See more of my artwork on my website, on Flickr, or my Artwork Facebook Page.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Manipuri Dancer: My latest artwork


Manipuri Dancer

Pastels on PastelMat paper
Chennai, India
©2020 Melissa Enderle

The full moon is out tonight. I am playing the role of Lord Krishna as we perform at the Kalakeshetra Fair in Chennai, India. The crowd always loves seeing the love between Lord Krishna and Radha being reenacted. Just like the Bharatanatyam dancers of Tamil Nadu, much emphasis is placed on the hand and upper body gestures I make. We don't wear anklet bells or perform such forceful footwork though. The tube-skirted Radha and I dance gracefully, accompanied by kartal cymbals, a barrel Pung drum, and singers chanting beautiful Sanskrit poetry. As I move about in our courtship dance, the feathers from my headdress and tassels affixed to my arms sway in the humid air. Did our Lord Krishna have as much fun when he courted Radha? I wonder.