Artist Fellowship | Guest Stories

Meet Artist Fellows Agnes Blum and Melissa Groth

Even now, while we’re spending much more time at home, it can be hard to find the space to create art and get inspired. Our Artist Fellowship Program provides artists with the time, space, and permission to create and recharge.

Agnes Blum, Illustrator

Agnes Blum is an Illustrator who stayed at our Dallas Outpost. She was born into the very artist community of Ojai, California, and she describes her childhood as, “an alternative childhood being raised barefoot somewhere in the middle of seven siblings without the distractions of television, an emphasis on literature, with every day spent outside in the Los Padres National Forest.  The abundance of natural beauty and support of that artistic community definitely shaped the trajectory of my artistic career.”  

Agnes says nature is essential to her art. “When distractions fall away and I can be an active observer, that is the time I am the most open and creative.  The beauty of the outdoors allows me to really diminish my own concerns and focus on the meditation of the process.  The honor of sharing my impression of a bird, flower, or mushroom reminds me of the infinite beauty of this fragile planet we call home.”

On her Getaway, Agnes says, “Getaway brought me back to the simplicity of my youth.  It reminded me to breathe in the trees and breathe out the chaos of our hectic lives.  Looking up and seeing the stars I haven’t seen since living in the city reminded me to seek the beauty of simple things often taken for granted.”

You can find more of Agnes’ work on her website: and her Instagram account, @agnes.marcella.illustrates.

Melissa Groth, Painter

Melissa Groth is a painter living in Washington, DC. On her path as an artist, she says, “I was always a creative kid, but never quite found my niche until I was in my mid-20s. I had just moved out of my parents’ house and was living in Alexandria making friends with lots of musicians and other creative types. I was a paralegal at the time and longed for a return to my artistic days. I thought, what’s stopping me from going to the art store and picking up some supplies that make me happy? So I did. This was 2013. Soon after, I quit my paralegal job, took up some part-time gigs that gave me the freedom to keep practicing art, and went to work figuring out what exactly it was I wanted to do with my life! It’s been quite a journey. A lot of experimenting with different styles, a lot of second-guessing. But I finally settled on acrylic abstract paintings, because they are what makes my soul sing the most.”

2019 was a big year for Melissa. “I put myself out there by participating in markets and fairs and making contacts in the industry. I joined Del Ray Artisans in Alexandria and won “Best in Show” for my piece Feel Good Lost in the first exhibition I participated in. 2020 feels like a year of steady progress and I’m very excited to see where it takes me.”

She grew up in Vermont and says that she, “spent a lot of time outdoors climbing trees, hiking, searching for treasures on the beaches of Lake Champlain, gardening with my grandma, sledding, visiting maple syrup farms and tapping trees for sap, digging for fossils in nearby quarries, and running through fields of tall grass. Whenever I’m out of sorts, I know that a bike ride along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail or a paddle out of the Georgetown Marina or a hike around Theodore Roosevelt Island will put me right. I’m very much a mountains person. I attribute that to my Vermont upbringing. There is just something so magical and healing about mountains. I’ve always lived in more-or-less urban areas but it is a dream of mine to spend a year in a cabin living off the land up a mountain someday.”

“As far as nature’s influence on my art, it is ever-present. My favorite pieces are the ones that were inspired by a palette I borrowed from a scene in nature. The bright red flash of a bird’s wing in a field of green and yellow, the gray of the sky right before a rain, the diamond sunshine reflecting off the Potomac river on a cold day. Whenever the well is dry I go for a walk. My painting “Tulips and Dust” is inspired by an interesting palette I saw at a flower market in Los Angeles. Bright orange and blueish gray. I’d never considered these colors together. But now it’s one of my favorite combinations.”

During Melissa’s Getaway, it rained all day and night, but she says, “it was warm enough to have the windows open, so I was able to listen to the rain hitting the falling leaves, which is such a beautiful, peaceful sound. One thing I took notice of was any time I had an impulse to turn on Netflix or scroll Instagram. When this happened I’d pick up my yarn and work on my crocheting. I made good progress on a slouchy beanie!”

“I did end up experimenting with my art a little while away. My pieces are acrylic abstracts and I brought a few tiny canvases with me to work on, hoping that I’d be able to set up an easel outside and immerse myself in nature while painting. Unfortunately due to the rain that idea didn’t come to fruition. However, I thought- if you can’t beat it, join it! And had an idea to put my drying pieces out under the dripping trees to see what the effect of the raindrops might be on the texture of my paintings. I love how they came out! It was like collaborating with Mother Nature.”

You can find more of Melissa’s work on her website:, and her Instagram, @mgpaints.