Melissa Mary Duncan is recognized for her fantasy and folklore artistry around the world. Among her accolades, she has been Guest Artist at FanExpo Vancouver and she was named the Guest Artist of Honour at Canvention 34, which took place at VCON 39. She has been nominated for Aurora Awards for Best Body of Work and Best Cover Art for her 2013 book, FAYE ~ The Art of Melissa Mary Duncan, written by her daughter, TobyAnne Stanley.
Melissa's very first lessons in painting came from her mother. Born in Toronto, and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Melissa was an introspective child. A survivor of the crippling effects of Polio, she was captivated by the graphic works of Sulamith Wulfing, Arthur Rackham, and the Pre-Raphaelites. Having grown up with images of knights in shining armour, fair maidens, and tales of the mythic faye, it is hardly surprising that, in her late teens, Melissa became a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. It is there that she was first introduced to the notion of seriously studying Medieval and Renaissance art practice. Due to encouragement given her from members of the group, and her daughters, Melissa decided to further her schooling. To that end she studied graphic arts at Douglas College in the Fraser Valley. In 1991, she graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, BC.
Her work often celebrates strong female archetypes. She uses her knowledge of history and textiles to bring authenticity to her subjects. Melissa endeavours to imbue her illustrative paintings with a sense of story. Sometimes those narratives are familiar and other times they are tales of her own making, often inspired by the rich characters she encounters in her everyday life and her inner spirituality. Melissa works from life as often as she can, cheerfully persuading friends, acquaintances, and strangers to pose for her. She sketches on the bus, at cafés, and in hospital
waiting rooms. Character is very important to her as well as bestowing realism to the creatures and subjects she creates. Passionate about the environment, her love of nature is conveyed in her careful rendering of leaf, twig, and flower. Melissa's latest pieces have been executed primarily in watercolour and gouache but she is equally skilled in oils, acrylics, pencil, silver point, and egg tempera.
Melissa lives in the historic city of New Westminster, British Columbia with her husband, author dvsduncan. Having a playful temperament, she confesses to having a hat addiction, wearing Edwardian clothing, reading in the bath, and watching British dramas whilst drinking lemonade. A proud mother of two and grandmother of four, Melissa remains a student of Celtic, English, and Northern European history and mythology.
Melissa and TobyAnne have a fantasy artist collective New Westminster called The Wylde Wood Collective. The Wylde Wood boasts the work of over 50 talented authors, artists, and craftspeople who work in fantasy and historic themes. The collective used to have an otherworldly physical shop but unfortunately it had to close due mostly to the real world outbreak of Covid-19.
Melissa never allows the dust to settle and has two art books currently in the works, "Aelfena" (Anglo-Saxon for spirit, nymph, or fairy) and "MMDuncan's Monograph of Trolls". She has started a series of twice monthly Facebook Live Streams in which she hosts talks with special guest artists, speaks about her process, and more. It is a richly informative and interesting window into her studio life and that of fellow fantasy artists. Melissa was recently awarded a grant from the City of New Westminster to expand on her art business tech. Due to quarantine, she is also finding more time at her easel and is working on an updated website which she is really enjoying.