Peaceful pieces


Carmel artists talks about the ‘magical moments’ that fuel her art

By Renee Larr

Any artist will tell you they need to feel inspired to create their best works. Sights, sounds and experiences all play a role in a well-developed piece of art. For Monica Zunino-Mel, a Carmel resident and artist, inspiration is often found in a calming, relaxing environment. She has a very specific tradition she practices before beginning her work.

“I walk into my studio, I light a candle up, I thank that magical moment because to me it’s really special and then turn my music on and I begin painting with peace and joy,” said Zunino-Mel.

Her foray into art began when she decided to leave her job as a speech therapist. She began to explore with different forms of art and found her niche in painting. The medium she uses is acrylic on canvas. On average, one painting takes her four days to complete.

Zunino-Mel’s method is relaxed and carefree. She begins her artwork with the canvas lying on the floor. She utilizes tools such as spray bottles with water, brushes and paint daubers. She layers colors on the canvas and builds upon them.

“My method is through play, experimentation and observation. I experiment with colorful layering and different forms that I discover as the brush flows on the canvas. Even though I always begin with a main idea it changes as the painting evolves and develops,” said Zunino-Mel.

While there are two re-occurring themes in her artwork – nature and the female silhouette, there are no rules when it comes to her creative process.

“I don’t look at my paintings from the perspective of the color theory. I look for what makes me happy and if it’s like me. I try to create colorful, unique and expressive paintings that combine the basic painting principles with my personal expression. I want my compositions to feel natural so once in a while I break the compositional rules,” said Zunino-Mel said.

Creating a work of inspired art isn’t always easy and the ideas don’t always jump off the canvas.

“I believe creativity and intuition are intimately connected. I rely on my intuition above all when fear or frustrations arise. I try to stay positive. My intuition will tell me when my painting is done,” she said.

When the creative well runs dry, Zunino-Mel steps out of her studio to gather her thoughts and feelings. She often mediates outside, walks her dog, Rocco, or works out in order to clear her mind. She then returns to her studio and finds her creative drive again.

Zunino-Mel’s artwork has been featured at several different art fairs throughout Indianapolis. She participated in the Broad Ripple Art Fair and has been invited to participate in the Penrod Arts Fair in September. She has sold several pieces with prices ranging from $1,000-$1,800.

“I think my most important experience was my first art fair because I found the acceptance by the people expressed in different ways. That was very satisfying and encouraging to me. I am very grateful for the people’s acceptance,” she said.

Zunino-Mel has lived in Carmel for the last four years, but she is originally from Argentina. Her husband, Adrien Mel, works for Dow Agro Sciences and was transferred to Indiana. The couple has two daughters. Matilda is 15 and attends Carmel High School and Carmela is 12 and goes to Creekside Middle School. Zunino-Mel loves living in Carmel but admits the winter weather has been challenging.

As her daughters get older and are more immersed in school and social activities, Zunino-Mel finds herself delving further into what makes her happy … her art.

“I have dedicated my time as a mother all these years not missing a thing, but now I have really realized that because they do not need me as much as they used to I can now put all my energy into my paintings,” she said.

Zunino-Mel said she paints to express and share her inner world. The two most important ingredients to her art are passion and creativity.

“To me, essential in my artwork is the passion because without it nothing is possible in an artist’s world and the creativity because it’s a balance between spontaneity and forethought,” she said.

For more information on Zunino-Mel’s artwork visit

About Monica

Family: Husband, Adrian Mel, daughters Matilda (15) and Carmela (12)

Favorite thing about living in Carmel? Safe, clean and organized city. Excellent public schools. Easy to back and forth. “Overall great place to live,” Zunino-Mel said.

Favorite activity to do in spare time? Biking, running, shopping, going to restaurants and enjoying programs at the Palladium.

Favorite local restaurant? Sunday brunch: Patachou. Dinner: Divvy. For pizza: Pizzology

Something interesting that no one would know about you? Worked out during both pregnancies until eight months pregnant.

Favorite vacation spot? Brazilian beaches and the Caribbean


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