Mel McCuddin


Six decades ago, in pursuit of a hobby, McCuddin picked up a paintbrush and extra house paint gifted to him by a friend and began his journey as a practicing artist.  For the first forty years, he worked as a truck driver to support his family and with his wife’s encouragement would retreat to his studio each evening to explore and perfect his craft.  Without pressure to please buyers, he reveled in the freedom to develop his personal uninhibited style, using texture and unusual color combinations to his advantage. Those familiar with McCuddin’s work are well aware of his exceptionally unconventional animal and human subjects.  According to the artist, most relate to politics, human actions, and relationships.  “In general, my subjects are inspired by human experience, both good and bad, as it offers an endless source of material.”

At a youthful 81, McCuddin continues to paint subject matter that both delights and intrigues viewers. Active in the regional art scene since the 1960’s, the established artist has continued to show high value work at The Art Spirit Gallery since 1997, the year the doors first opened. 

Although McCuddin’s work has evolved over the years, the artist has remained faithful to his approach.  Without a predetermined subject in mind, he lines up four freshly stretched canvases and spontaneously applies paint with a thick brush, rag, palette knife, or fingers, completely covering each canvas. Decisions regarding color, light, and space are largely intuitive.   “I’m just flying by the seat of my pants,” admits the artist.  Later, once this random underpainting is dry, McCuddin sits in the quiet solitude of his studio to observe, waiting for an image to emerge. Perhaps a shape will suggest a mug of coffee as seen in “Cup of Joe,” or a pattern of light areas might inspire a broken pot as seen in “Oops.” Each piece starts with something exciting, a unique idea develops, and the narrative begins. 

After sixty years of painting what brings this artist joy?  Knowing he contributes one-of-a-kind thought-provoking art to the world keeps him returning to his studio day after day, even at the youthful age of 81. 


The Art Spirit Gallery is proud to exhibit 45 new abstract expressionistic paintings by one of its most celebrated artists, Mel McCuddin. Please join us for the opening reception on Friday, September 12 in conjunction with the 2nd Friday Downtown ArtWalk. Gather with friends and community members for a festive and cultural evening in downtown Coeur d’Alene. This exhibit also includes 5 early abstract works from the ‘60s, unearthed from the artist’s studio.

This show is sponsored by Idaho Cuisine Magazine. We thank them for their community service and continued support of the arts. 

McCuddin will give an informational demonstration from 1-4 on Saturday, September 13. The events is free and open to all. 

Summer hours through September are every day from 11:00 until 6:00.