A Butt-load of Paintings: Fall 2013 – Spring 2014

Q: Oh my gosh, Melodie, you’ve been updating so much this week.
A: Mostly to avoid working on my current projects…
Q: What’s this one about?
A: This post is a compilation of paintings I made during two semesters’ worth of advanced painting classes. And with short blurbs explaining the assignments and my process. There’ll be more detailed posts for a couple of them soon. I don’t know when but soon, which, all things considered, probably means next year.

I already posted about three other projects made during the same year: here, here, and here.

Q: Okay. So about this Q&A format…
A: God, you people don’t appreciate anything.

– – –

FALL 2013

Taught by Hung Liu. Her website: http://www.kelliu.com/
TA: David Mohr (who also assisted the Spring 2014 class)

A Model, 2013, acrylic paint.

A Model, 2013, acrylic paint.

Two Models, 2013, acrylic paint.

Two Models, 2013, acrylic paint.

We had three nude models come into class for us to paint after. I’ve always liked using bright, unnatural colors for figure painting; it’s much more interesting to me that way. My humans almost never have actual skin tone colors haha.

Larded with Sweet Flowers, 2013, acrylic paint.

Larded with Sweet Flowers, 2013, acrylic paint.

My most favorite painting so far. There’s a more in-depth story to this that I’ll try to get to another time. Basically, the assignment asked us to paint our interpretation of an old well-known painting. I chose Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia and, after doing a little research into Hamlet, swallowed my Ophelia with all the flowers mentioned in the poem: “rosemary, pansies, fennel, columbine and rue.”

In contrast to Millais’ Ophelia’s serene, almost sexual expression, my Ophelia is basically dead. The pale and blue-tinged signs of decay were placed in sharp contrast with the colorful blooming flowers growing over and even from her still, lifeless body. Her dark hair are rendered to look a lot like gnarling tree branches, her pale, delicate hands like flower petals curling into themselves.

I still consider this a work in progress and will someday return to finish it.

One Girl at the Club (working title), triptych, 2013, acrylic paint.

One Girl at the Club (working title), triptych, 2013, acrylic paint.



I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t remember the specifics of this assignment but I think it might be mixed media?

Anyway, I was watching G-Dragon’s music video for his song CROOKED and was blown away by the aesthetics, facial expressions, and street fashion. So I took screenshots from the video to paint after and was focused on the idea of “one girl at the club.”

Taking away the neon lights and darkness that shrouded G-Dragon, I made the background a cloudy white and gray like she’s dancing in a fog. I also added in contemporary jewelry like body chains and cross earrings.


Taught by Michael Hall. His website: http://michaelhallstudio.net/

Carved Face, 2014, acrylic paint, 12" x 12".

Carved Face, 2014, acrylic paint, 12″ x 12″.

bye felicia, 2014, acrylic paint, 12" by 12".

bye felicia, 2014, acrylic paint, 12″ by 12″.

Two of the mini-projects we did in between the main ones. I think the first one was working with texture (I don’t remember!) and the second one was incorporating text.

For Carved Face, I first painted the face of a woman and then took an X-ACTO knife to cut away piece by piece until all was left was some interpretation of a woman.

For bye felicia, I used the popular slang phrase “bye felicia” that I kept seeing on Twitter. Reddit has an explanation for it. I surrounded it with flowers (this is becoming my signature theme) like sunflowers, bleeding hearts, and lavender; a pretense of sweetness for a phrase that actually means something really mean.

I distinctly remember while painting on the cursive words, my professor asked me “Who’s Felicia?” (lawl) I know quite a few people really liked this one and suggested I expand more on it but I’m not going to. After giving it a lot of thought, I feel like I would be appropriating an AAVE term so commonly used by the online Black community for my own benefit. It’s a cool concept but I won’t go there.

Social Media Girl (working title), 2014, acrylic paint, 30" by 40".

Social Media Girl (working title), 2014, acrylic paint, 30″ by 40″.

This was a very ambitious project that at first had me at odds with my professor who didn’t really understand where I was going with it — for a while, neither did I. I changed concepts halfway through and white gesso’d it over after springing out of bed with the new idea of a young woman taking a mirror selfie.

I have many photos detailing the excruciating step-by-step process it took to create the whole thing that I’ll share another time. I used the Instagram of a popular, curvaceous Bay Area glamor model for the pose and changed the hand position. Then I added in a ton of emoji characters from the texting app WeChat into the background as well as my own. I used acrylic pens to draw the outline, painted everything in color, outlined it again, added in red and cyan lines for a 3-D effect, then outlined it once more.

In total, I spent more than 14 hours in the studio that one weekend before displaying it to the class.

Text Bubbles, 2014, gesso and acrylic paint on wood panels. Thanks to Umit Yalcinalp for the photo!

Text Bubbles, 2014, gesso and acrylic paint on wood panels. Thanks to Umit Yalcinalp for the photo!



For the final project, I had the idea of creating text bubbles out of cardboard with funny messages on them. But as ever, my professor pushed me to cut the text bubbles out of wood panels because they would hold up better. Since I was very uncomfortable using the table saw, he helped me cut out all of them as well as the cleats (thank you!) which I sanded down and glued together. I painted them in various colors to emulate the colorful text bubbles you’d normally find on texting apps.

I tried, I did, to paint the messages in but ended up hating it. After emailing my professor a picture of the panels, he suggested I experiment with texture which I totally rolled with. That weekend I poured gobs of thick acrylic and gesso paint over the panels. With different sized brushes, I created swirls and bumps. It took about three days for them to dry (the big white one was a monster) and I had to repaint some of them when flies got themselves stuck to the wet spots.

With the promise of free coffee, my friend Emily Mibach helped me drill all the cleats onto the studio wall and we both hung them up before class.

Set-up of advanced painting showcase, before the tables were cleared away.

Set-up of advanced painting showcase, before the tables were cleared away.

Photographed by Umit Yalcinalp.

Photographed by Umit Yalcinalp.

These are photos of the advanced painting showcase my class threw for the Mills community. It meant a lot of me that this event happened because due to weird circumstances, I sadly couldn’t be a part of the annual senior art show so this was my only chance to display my artworks at school. My little corner was social media-themed; I even hung up my slightly modified Instagram as Art piece.

Many thanks to everyone who attended! It made me so happy and grateful when people showed up to surprise me all because I posted a small notice about it on Facebook. ❤


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