Common knowledge dictates that if there is any other profession in which one can be reasonably happy and successful, one should NOT be an artist. Melissa Hefferlin took the artistic plunge at seventeen years of age, and remains a professional artist three decades later. Preparations for this career include the Art Department of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Otis Parsons Art Institute and an apprenticeship with California artist Michael Newberry. The most formative portion of training occurred at the Russian Academy of Fine Art in St. Petersburg, Russia, also known as the Repin Institute, where she was the only American to study during the Soviet period and the second ever, preceded by James Whistler.
Primarily an oil painter, Hefferlin is also passionate about pastels and block printing. Hefferlin draws inspiration from dividing her years between Andalusian Spain and the American South, as well as the creative interchange with the artists, architects, and artisans in her family and community. Hefferlin’s husband and son are artists, Daud Akhriev and Timur Akhriev.