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A Studio in Pont Aven…

By December 21, 2021September 27th, 20225 Comments

In 2005, Pont Aven was introduced to me.  I had just finished my BFA at Massachusetts College of Art, gone through some major life changes, divorce, moving, new jobs, etc, and was seized by the sense that in France I could do anything.  The warmth with which artists are met with here is beyond comparison.  Here, when one introduces themselves as an artist, a sparkle gleams in the listener’s eye.

I always knew I’d come back.  In 2018, I got my first artist visa from the French government in which I promised I’d make an artist studio in Pont Aven, but then other international art projects, like working on plastic pollution in the Maldives, kept me from making it real.  On my renewal of the artist visa, I made a promise that it would happen.  Covid happened and the world changed.

John & Claire, our house lit up for winter holidays with John’s studio on the right with the green door.

My partner Claire and I live in Centre Ville, close enough to walk, but far enough to be private.  The house has an attached two-story, stone slate roofed shed, that formerly housed boilers and fuel tanks for heating a large home.

John K. Melvin, Studio Pre Renovation

We took it all out and I started to rebuild the floor joists (there had been a fire at some point), cleaned out a lot of strange things from the house being vacant for 15 years prior to Claire buying it, drylining the upstairs with rails, insulation and drywall, and building work tables.  My plan, for the artist studio was that the ground floor would be dirty work, and the upstairs would be archive storage and clean work.

John K. Melvin, Pont Aven Artist Studio Clean up

Like all projects, I was doing this while we were renovating the rest of the house, and other projects.

After a year from when I started cleaning it out, to now, its all done.  Finally.  When my artist gallery closed at the end of Summer 2021, I raced to finish the last bits of mud and tape, and I moved about 15 years of art work into the space.

John K. Melvin, upcycling renovation scraps for artist’s studio

John K. Melvin, upcycling renovation scraps for artist’s studio

I am really looking forward to a lot of projects.  I am committed to being an international Eco-Artist, and am very seriously concerned with how we as artists make art in a post climate crisis context.  What are our materials and methods, and how is what we are doing sustainable and why are we doing what we are doing anyways?  I’ve written more about this here.

I may need to ponder the view more than once.  Ha ha ha.

John K. Melvin, Studio view, Pont Aven

I am truly thankful for all the support that got me to this view.  I could not have done it without the help of so many people, a heartfelt thanks goes out to all who helped me, to my partner Claire who is absolutely amazing, CACTUS in Quimper is truly an association worth supporting, the arts community of Pont Aven, and my friends and family of course all around the world.  I lost my mother in 2020, and with each day her passing feels a bit further away, but I wish she could be here to see it all, and I am ever so thankful for the time and love we shared.

My French artist visa is renewed until 2025, and  not only do I have a multi year contract with the city of Quimper to make a large scale art project, but I also have some smaller projects that will be started in the new year.  I’m deeply keen to experiment with recycling fabric from my art installations into useable things, bus shelters, kayaks, etc.  I’ll also be researching into the viability of new materials, mycelium packaging, orange peel OSB, and plastic made from Seaweed.  I’m also looking forward to revisiting shelved projects and finishing off some sculptures that suffered from my art nomad career pre COVID.

I’ll keep you posted as to how things develop.  Thanks again for all the support.  Here’s some pictures of how things are for now, probably about as clean as it will get.


John K. Melvin, Pont Aven Artist Studio, 2021

John K. Melvin, Pont Aven Artist Studio, 2021

John K. Melvin, Pont Aven Artist Studio, 2021



Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned for more updates, be safe out there.

John K. Melvin, Pont Aven Artist Studio, 2021


  • John Melvin says:

    And here’s some news from the mayor of Pont Aven himself on some exciting things happening soon.

  • Valerie says:

    John, I just love it that you are out there doing sustainable art with found materials. What a wonderful example to the world. Let’s hope it takes hold in France. The US is more wedded to consuming stuff.

    Stay safe where you are. The art world needs what you are teaching them. We all do.

    Best Wishes,


  • Hello John Melvin – a big congrats on your new studio – such a reat feeling I am build ing one now – it will be a wild year – I LOVED my teaching times in Pont Aven – and really hope to visit again someday – PLEASE give my regards to all there – specially Caroline. Happy New Year Holly Hughes.

    • Hello Holly! So wonderful to hear from you! Glad to hear your news about the studio, it’s always a good thing! We see Caroline quite often, I will for sure pass along the greetings. All my very best to you and thanks so much!! Pont Aven isn’t so far as it used to be!! Hugs.

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