Interior designer turned painter Melissa Payne Baker finds inspiration in her past and present professions.
By Hannah Jones
You could say that painting is in artist Melissa Payne Baker’s genes. Her mother was a painter, as were her paternal grandparents, so it wasn’t a surprise when Melissa picked up the brush herself. “I would sit in on art classes with my grandfather at the University of Memphis when I was about 8 or 9 years old,” she recalls. “A love of painting comes from both sides of my family.”
Though painting was always a passion, it hasn’t been this artist’s sole profession. After majoring in marketing and a short stint as a business owner in college—she hung wallcoverings at the University of Mississippi—Melissa worked as an interior designer and manager at Glyn Weakley Interiors for nearly two decades. Her friends and family saw the potential for her to make a living from her art, but it wasn’t until she donated a piece to a fine art auction in Atlanta, Georgia, that she realized her passion could be a profession. “That piece got into a bidding war, and the next day, I received my first commission,” she says. “Within six months, I was in my first gallery.”