Missy H. Dunaway

Welcome! I'm an American painter currently working in Istanbul, Turkey. I paint many things, but this blog largely features my "Book of Paintings."


This is my last day in Istanbul!  I just took four feather paintings off the walls of Holy Coffee Cafe in Çukurcuma.  Thank you to all of my friends at Holy Coffee for showing my art through the whole year, which has been one of the best of my life. 

When I arrive in the United States the first thing I’m going to do is unpack my carefully wrapped inks, brushes, and paper.  Thank you to all of my Tumblr friends and followers for your patience during July’s “summer rerun” posts.  New art is just around the corner!

I spent the past week in the UK, which explains the sparse posts. Apologies! I visited a few artist friends in the city, delivered a painting, and took a night bus to Scotland for a tour of the Glasgow School of Art, as I am considering pursuing an MFA.

The very talented artists pictured above are Shaun Stamp and Jonny Briggs waving hello from Shoreditch, and Sophie Aston at work in her Hampton Court home. 

And I am very proud to announce that one of my favorite carpet paintings was acquired by the newly appointed Director of the London Film School, Jane Roscoe. Ms. Roscoe and I toured the beautiful and diverse art collection of the House of St. Barnabas, which was the perfect ending to my UK adventure.

Thank you to all of my friends for making my UK visit worthwhile. You were worth every flight, layover, and night bus!

Summer reruns: favorite feathers.

Summer reruns: Postal Project envelopes

A few weeks ago I sent out three pieces of mail art for my postal project, which I started over three years ago. Sadly, I am no longer accepting new addresses, but for those of you who have patiently waited over a year for your envelope painting, your wait might finally be over!

Summer reruns: an old page, circa 2008.
Summer rerun: “I’ll press you in a book.”

Anonymous said: Missy, I've been following your blog for a while now - I just adore your paintings and have loved following your travels in turkey and beyond. I am generally just a lurker, but your moth paintings!!! they are exquisite! thank you for putting your work in the world for us to enjoy. Your talent is immense and adds a magical quality to my day. Cheers, Naomi

Hi Naomi, what a sweet message to wake up to this morning, thank you so much! It’s not always easy to put myself out there, but hearing feedback like yours makes it all worthwhile. 

Next month I will launch an Etsy store with affordable prints of my artwork, including the moth paintings, so people can enjoy my art in their homes and not just from their computer screens. I hope this is something my friends and followers on Tumblr will be interested in! 


A trio of moth paintings.

Top: Mirror Madagascar Moths, 19x21 inches, archival ink on paper

Bottom: Leopard Moths 1 & 2, 11x15 inches, archival ink on paper

While I spend July out of the studio, here’s a rerun of a favorite page.

Today I returned from a four day voyage in the Mediterranean along Turkey’s southern coast. I saw sea turtles, cliffs and caves, and the Milky Way. In other words, I’ve returned with many new paintings in mind. Stay tuned.

While in Cappadocia I was introduced to Chez Galip, a top ceramicist in Turkey. I had the opportunity to tour his large pottery atelier in Avanos and afterward he gave me three clay pots to paint. Here’s what I came up with. The red, white and blue vase with lure motif is for Galip Bey’s permanent collection and is on display in the atelier’s pottery gallery. 

Tomorrow I board a sailboat to see Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline from a different perspective. I will be at sea, probably without internet, for four or five days. Travel photos to follow!

I think it’s time to finally come out from behind the curtain and share a few photos of myself in studio. Here I am finishing the final page of “Cities of Silhouettes" and painting a vase. 

See "Cities of Silhouettes: An Artist’s Journey from New York to Istanbul" in full, on my website here!

RIP Brooklyn's Kentile Floors

I’m in a state of disbelief today because my painting of Kentile Floors has been included in a Wall Street Journal article about the demolition of the iconic sign. Sending out a big thank you to Alassandra Malito for including my art in the piece. RIP Kentile Floors.


This week’s guest post is from my friend, Missy Dunaway, an artist who has spent the past year in İstanbul as a Fulbright scholar. My first introduction to her work was through her incredible paintings of Anatolian carpets, both in color and, especially strikingly, in black and white, as well as her gorgeous renderings of feathers. I’m also completely entranced by her illustrated journals, which she shares on her blog.
Missy has recently started painting fly fishing lures, and I asked about what attracts her as a painter to such detailed subjects, and also whether the flies as such functional objects influence the way she thinks about or approaches them as subjects. Missy very generously and articulately shared some images (definitely do click to enlarge!) and thoughts about her process:

I’ll start by explaining where it all started. I spent this past Christmas in Devon, England with a close friend and her family. Her father fly fishes and shared his collection of lures after seeing my series of feather paintings. He carefully explaining how each lure was made, which feathers were used, and why a particular combination of feathers attracts its corresponding fish species. I was amazed by the specificity and minute detail of the flies, probably more on an aesthetic level at first, because they are so beautiful and colorful. Now that I am painting flies and observing them in close detail, I can see that each type of fly reveals something about the fish species it is designed to attract. I think you can learn quite a bit about fish by observing lures.

I think this project is quite predictable for me, actually. I’m initially attracted to a new subject matter by its aesthetics. I love things with vibrant color, pattern, and detail— qualities that feathers, carpets, and flies all share. This attraction usually spring boards into a research project because I like to inform myself on my subject’s form, function, and cultural significance (when applicable). Painting feathers lead to learning about bird ecology, painting carpets lead to learning about visual culture in the Middle East, and painting fishing flies is leading me to learn more about fish and fly fishing. If this project progresses well, I will definitely seek out opportunities to learn a bit of fly fishing myself!

Wonderful. Thank you so much, Missy, for giving us a peak at these new pieces and what went into them. Do be sure to check out Missy’s website and blog for more images and updates!

My friend Jenna Shaw just wrote a really nice post about my fishing lure paintings on her blog, Via Fish. Jenna writes about fish and fishing in Istanbul. Her blog is a real gem— check it out and follow her!

aivley said: Hi Missy, sorry if you've already been asked this a thousand times but could you tell me how you get your paper to not buckle? is this just a quality of the moleskine you use? or because acrylic ink is heavier than ink? or do you somehow smooth them out post paint session? anyway, your work is beautiful but while scrolling through your tumblr i kept getting distracted by how the pages weren't buckled even with lots of paint on them.... :)

Hi Aivley, you guessed right on all accounts!

1. The quality of Moleskine paper is excellent. Moleskine carries a sketchbook specifically for watercolor painting, but I prefer their general sketchbook because the paper is so versatile and can accomodate both drawing and painting materials. The pages have a medium thickness and are glossy to the touch. The paper is surprisingly strong and will not soften and tear with heavy liquid application.

2. Acrylic inks act like a gesso. Natural inks stain the paper with color, and acrylic inks will lay right on top. I usually lay down 1 - 3 foundational layers of acrylic ink to thicken a page.

3. I employ a few smoothing techniques. Sometimes heavily painted pages will curl as they dry. If this happens, I wait until the pages are completely dry, then I close the book and let it rest under a weight. After a day, the pages are flat again. 

Thank you for your questions!