At 13, Chapel Hill High School freshman Eli Melet joined the Orange County Artists Guild as the youngest member. Now at 14, he is preparing for his first art tour, the 23rd Annual Open Studio Tour, alongside his Spanish homework and volunteering.
Eli’s unique art features a creative use of eggshells, which he receives as a donation from Elmo’s Diner. Eli uses partial pieces of eggshells ranging in size painted in eye-catching colors to create a unique visual and define his style. “I was watching a tutorial on different ways to create texture and saw a kind of eggshell mosaic, but the eggshells were flat. That gave me the idea to use eggshells, which evolved into this,” he says.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve liked painting and art. My grandfather is also an artist, which I don’t know if that inspired me but I’ve always had this interest,” Eli says. As his art has taken a bigger role in his life, Eli now has his own dedicated workspace in his home for prepping the eggshells and painting them.
To become a member of the guild, artists are required to display a competence in their medium, confidence in their creation and commitment to their work. Although Eli also paints landscapes, he submitted only his eggshell paintings to demonstrate an established style.
Creating art has also opened the door to new interests for Eli, including photography and videography. “My photographing of my art turned into my interest in photography and then drone cinematography,” he says. As a member of the Guild, Eli also creates promotional videos of other artists’ work and his own using drone photography and video.
Although most everyone in the Guild knows Eli thanks to his age, he recognizes the importance of the Guild and tour as a way to break into the art world. “It’s a good way to get your name out there and sell your work, and I think it will be a good opportunity to see what it is really like to be an artist,” Eli says.
Accepted into the Guild before the start of summer, Eli managed to get ahead of the process over the summer by creating many of the paintings needed for the tour. “To balance it now with school, I mostly work on the weekends,” he says. Now so close to the start of the tour, Eli is working on the finer details, such as preparing his home for visitors and labelling his art for viewing.
Eli hasn’t been alone in his preparations for the tour, which takes place November 4-5 and 11-12, his mom Michele Melet helps in cleaning the eggs, readying the house and completing administrative tasks for the Guild.
As for the future of Eli’s art, he may explore his interests in new mediums. “I could see myself doing both photography and painting, which seems like a good balance of two similar things,” he says.
Eli encourages anyone interested in trying out art to stick with it. “Just keep on going, and be accepting of change. I started with little acrylic paintings, and progressed through phases and found different things that I liked and I just kept on going and changing my style until I found something that I really liked doing,” he says.
Eli’s art and the art of 87 other members of the Orange County Artists Guild will be on display November 4 and 5 & 11 and 12; Saturdays from 10am – 5pm and Sundays from noon – 5pm. For more information, visit the Orange County Artists Guild website.