Melissa Marquardt, second from right, with her family. Courtesy photo

Although Encinitas mother Melissa Marquardt has painted for nearly three decades, she said it wasn’t until 2016 that she delved deep into her artwork. She made a career change, saw her children graduate from high school and picked up her brushes to find relief. 

“During that year, I started painting on canvas to try to dampen the stress and anxiety of the job,” Marquardt said. “Painting was almost like therapy for me. I have been painting ever since and I now paint full-time.”

Marquardt is a self-taught mixed media artist who focuses on abstracted waterscapes and landscapes, influenced by the California coast and estuaries. Her work will be featured at the annual Mission Fed ArtWalk in April where tens of thousands of attendees are expected. 

Although she has participated in the popular Little Italy event for five years, she will unveil her most meaningful artwork, titled “Unearthed,” this year. 

Melissa Marquardt. Courtesy photo

“These pieces consist of many layers of mostly oil and cold wax medium,” Marquardt said. “I build up the layers with a variety of colors and textures. As I excavate back down through the history of the layers, I try to uncover interesting visual complexity that draws the viewer in.” 

Marquardt said she hopes viewers of her work feel the same calming feeling she gets when she paints.

“I hope that the ArtWalk attendees will feel that sense of tranquility that I get from producing the works,” she said. 

Inspired by Helen Frankenthaler, an American abstract expressionist painter, Marquardt said she plans to further her reach in 2023. 

“I am doing more art festivals outside of California so I can get familiar with new markets,” she said. “Earlier this year, I spent a few weeks in Arizona and this summer I hope to travel to Utah, Colorado and Idaho. It’s fun to explore new territory and find inspiration while traveling.”

In the meantime, she’s grateful for the local art community that has inspired her to continue her work.

“I have a big community of artists that I have met through workshops, classes and festivals,” Marquardt said. “These artists are wonderfully supportive, open to share processes and product tips, and offer valuable critique. I am very grateful for my growing artist community.”

Mission Fed’s ArtWalk will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 29 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 30. For more information, go to 

For more information about Melissa Marquardt, go to


San Diego Moms is published every Saturday. Have a story idea? Email and follow her on Instagram at @hoawritessd.