Scranton native Melanie DePietro is an art instructor at Eclectic City Studio in Scranton. Eclectic City Studio, owned by designer Jeff D’Angelo, features four artists, including DePietro, each of whom teach workshops in their niche. She found a home to display and teach art there after D’Angelo discovered her artwork online. DiPietro teaches glass painting and also is the designer, artist and founder of Painted Wine Glasses by Melanie. She lives in Scranton with her husband, Scott; children, Nicholas, 20; Colette, 16; Maximilian, 9; and Scotty, 7; and their dog, Jolie.
Meet Melanie DePietro…
Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
A: I am 43 years old. I’m a mom of four, sometimes six. My husband and I have six kids, two his, two mine and two ours. We have a big family. The youngest is 7, and the oldest is 20. I was born and raised in Scranton. I graduated from West Scranton High School. I went to the University of Scranton for a few years and eventually graduated from Wilkes University. My bachelor’s degree is in psychology; however, I have a minor and focus in studio art and art history.
Q: How did you end up doing art after studying psychology?
A: I’ve liked art my whole life. I’ve been painting and drawing since I was a little girl. I went into the psychology field because my oldest son was diagnosed with autism. I got interested in that field and started researching that. I was a stay-at-home mom for about seven years. I can’t just stay at home; I always have to do things. It was during that time that I went back to school and finished my degree at Wilkes. I just finished my degree in 2016. I started doing art and creating again. A good friend of mine, she and I wanted to do a fundaraiser. She said painting on glass was really big. I just got really into it and became obsessed. I posted a few pictures on my Facebook page, and it just took off from there. Jeff D’Angelo saw my page and said he needed some people to paint in his studio. He paints and stencils giant props. Working with him has enabled me to network a lot and meet a lot of new people. I’ve been able to get into the Eclectic City Studio and work with other great artists.
Q: What types of designs do you paint on glasses?
A: I do a range of things. Dog portraits, cat portraits. I’ve recently done a llama and a goat. Some people want something commemorative. I can do lettering by hand. Some people like glitter. Sometimes people will give me a picture and tell me what they want.
Q: What message do you hope to spread by doing art?
A: A lot of people will ask me to paint their dog that just passed away. Anybody can get a picture and have it printed on a glass. When you get an artist to paint your pet, it’s coming from them, it’s unique, and it’s their perspective of what the animal looks like. People really go for that.
Q: What types of art classes do you teach?
A: I’ve been teaching art workshops for about two years. We do paint and sip, usually BYOB or BYOW. Classes are anywhere between 10 to 60 people. A lot of the paint nights are fundraisers. It’s a nice, fun way to get people together and do creative things. A lot of times, people will get intimidated. I’ll show them the glass, and they say, “I can’t paint that.” I break it down step-by-step and show them how.
Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?
A: I feel like I am putting on a performance when I teach, but I’m sharing my talent and breaking it down. I love when people come in and feel challenged. They are intimidated about it at first. They walk out with a big smile and say, “Look what you helped me do.” Everyone’s piece will be similar but different in its own way, and you want it like that because it’s your own. Being able to create, share and teach something I love has made me feel like I’ve finally achieved my dream.
Q: What artists are you inspired by?
A: I am inspired by the classics. I don’t know if it inspires my style of the way I paint, but I have a deep respect for Monet, Michelangelo, da Vinci. I just love the classic style.
Q: Can you describe your lifestyle outside of art?
A: My kids are in soccer. My one son plays guitar. There is always someone playing music in the house. My daughter plays basketball. It is crazy and chaotic. Sometimes it’s difficult to fit my part-time art in there, but I prioritize it and make time for it. Doing art is my time, and I love to do it.
Q: What other hobbies and interests do you have?
A: We have a boat at the lake, so we like to do boating. I love the beach; we try to go every year. We try to do family things.
Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I have a lucky apron that I wear to teach my art classes. I found it at a yard sale. It has a picture of Michelangelo’s “David” on it. I kind of use it as an ice breaker at the beginning of classes. I censored it with a little leaf. Another thing is that one of my weird talents is I can look at colors and I know right off the bat what to mix to recreate the color with paint. I absolutely love the artist Prince. I’ve loved him since the fourth grade. I was about 9 years old when my Prince obsession started. I often listen to his music while I paint.
Q: Have you had a moment or time in your life that helped shape you into who you are today?
A: When I was a single mom for a while, it was very difficult. It was challenging. I always wanted to do something that was for me to try and (get) a little extra spending money. I was proud to be able to develop something that came from me. It didn’t come from anybody else. I was able to show my children that if there is something that you like to do, just do it.
Photos by Emma Black