Something Old

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.

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FALL 2013

Taught by Hung Liu. Her website:
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:

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. ❤

Drawings and sketches from the Basic Composition class I took in my first year of college.

Shell drawing.

Blind contour of my hands and feet.

Sketching drapery.

Drapery Project. Still incomplete.

Gave it some shadow.

The start of the Shell Drawing Project.

Experimented with ink wash. Reminded me of a rose.

Put in more darker colors, gave it a realistic feel and pop.

Starting on the Old Masterpiece Project.

I’m sad to say I do not remember the old artist whose art I was copying.

Finished with ink wash. If you didn’t already know, this image is my Twitter background!

For my final project, I drew self portraits of myself wearing headphones with a play on my name and the word “melody.”

My favorite one and my class’s too. Charcoal and ink wash.

Please don’t use any of my images without permission.

I published three comic strips during my time as an editor on The Campanil. I drew them out on printer paper with a ruler, scanned them in then added font and brushed everything up on Photoshop.

I didn’t have anything written beforehand and just drew it out while reciting lines to myself.

I drew the first strip after Mike, who was not my boyfriend at the time, emailed me saying he liked my article about the K-Town Reality Show that he was producing (It’s actually how we first met). So outside of that sphere, I was completely bewildered by the fact that anyone involved in Hollywood admired something I had written.

I had to capture the many complex emotions running through me at that time in the only way I knew best.

(Click to see the full images)

I have had bad skin for the longest time and wanted to get all my thoughts and frustrations about it out in illustrative form.

There’s a joke about the “Mills College bubble” at my school that is all too true. This was a small feminist comic strip that resonated with quite a few classmates.

Please don’t use any of these illustrations without my permission.

An ancient promotional poster for a podcast club we wanted to start. Hippos is misspelled.

Halloween poster for the library where I spent all four years of high school volunteering at. Inspired by two very unique-looking classmates.

A logo for a math teacher for an all-faculty club.

An old flier for the Gay Straight Alliance (where I was an ally of) calling for new members.

A flier for the P-Odyssey contest held at my high school library. Collect tickets to be part of the raffle and get an iPod Shuffle!

An old poster for the WebZine club calling for submissions. I've noticed a lot of spelling mistakes in my drawings, like the word "creativity."

My English class wrote and compiled our best poetry into a class book. I had the honor of designing the cover with the faces of all my classmates.

The next year, I drew a cover for both 1st and 5th period English (combined due to lack of budget). Credit goes to Sophia M. for completing the rest of the drawing when I couldn't finish on time.

I'm very proud of how iconic this GSA poster turned out. Even after I've graduated, it still hangs in front of the high school library today.

A holiday themed fliers to get kids to read during the winter break. His expression was partially inspired by Panic! At The Disco.

A colored version of the Holiday Elf. Pastels by Stephanie K.

This is a colored version of the poster advertisement for the First Annual GSA Marriage Booth, where students get "hitched" on Valentine's Day.

More images of books. The high school librarian frequently gave me projects to do, like designing fliers to bring in students and promote literacy.

Not for any specific school event or promo, but I did like this drawing.

St. Patrick's Day theme for the library. The librarian said he looked too happy, not as creepy as the others I've drawn he was so used to seeing.

I’m in the sharing mood so here are some photos of old sculpture projects I did back in college. You can tell it was my favorite class.

Please don’t use any of these photos without my permission.

We worked with clay to make conceptual objects that would look interesting on all sides. No tools.

We twisted chicken wire into an armature before the plaster was put on.

With plaster on. My professor liked how severe the arch was.

I Scotch taped a bunch of cardboard triangles together for the project using planes in order to create a sense of movement.

Before a classmate lent me her digital camera, I was using my iPhone camera and it created this incredible lighting. Looks like a watercolor painting, doesn't it?

These are pieces for the theme of "time" project. I cut and twisted chicken wire together to make blobs which I then Scotch taped and molded white-and-black colored clay all over. I let them dry overnight, then cut through three layers while it was still wet. The drying made some awesome cracks.

A really talented classmate told me she was surprised someone as shy as me could create pieces like these.

My professor was often worried about my progress because I struggled to interpret my ideas to her. She gave me the most pitying eyes when she saw me randomly hot-glueing sticks together. I honestly didn't know what I was doing when I started.

After a few hours of adding sticks to my module, it started to look better. This form was already good to go but I wanted to make it even bigger.

It became my biggest, most ambitious project in the class. It was a tumbleweed chaos made with the simplest materials.

Just a nice photo combo is all.

Please don’t use any of these photos without my permission.