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BMCC’s Painting Classes Are ‘Sweet’

BMCC’s Painting Classes Are ‘Sweet’

Interview with Professor Lisa Mellinger.

Student enrolled in Intro to Painting get to make a colorful mess in the classroom by painting compositions, mixing colors, and for one project, sketching and painting a picture of their favorite sweet treats.

Lisa Mellingers students explore the techniques of painting; analyzing the intellectual, cultural and physical components of the visual arts. They attain a working knowledge of art terminology specifically related to painting. And, along the way, they have a whole lot of fun.

Project pineapple
Mellingers students are at different artistic levels. Some have painted before, and some are new to this type of art. On this particular day, the students are drawing and painting a pineapple that Mellinger placed in front of the classroom.In my class, I like to start off with drawing the object. From there, well learn about color values —lights and darks, says Mellinger. I like having the students paint a pineapple because a pineapple is a universal symbol that means different things, such as happiness and good luck.

Along a back wall of the classroom are realistic paintings of the candy and sweets from the previous project. The artwork is so impressive that its hard to believe most of Mellingers students have never enrolled in an art class before.

Mellinger is a painter, professor, and chef
After graduating from college, Mellinger, who hails from Washington state, painted restaurants, worked for interior designers, and sold some of her earlier paintings to supplement her travels from Washington, to Texas, to Mexico.

Although Mellinger was fortunate enough to have her artwork featured at shows in Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles, I always wanted to live in New York City, she says. Ever since I saw Auntie Mame.

After spending some time in Mexico, she relocated to New York, where she says she painted and worked in a kitchen for nine dollars an hour before coming to teach at BMCC in 2003.

Mellinger previously taught 3D design, drawing, mixed-media and even cooking classes at various schools in Texas, New Jersey and New York, while always painting on the side.

I painted Sandra Cisneros house, says Mellinger. She wrote the novel, House on Mango Street. And you can see some of my murals in San Antonio, and at a restaurant in Austin.

In 2006, Mellingers work was featured in a group show at Cinders Gallery in Brooklyn, and shes currently working towards another show, she says. But I dont know when that will be, she admits with a laugh.

Confidence in the classroom
You dont have to be a superstar artist to take this class, says Mellinger. Im a nurturer, and I find the one thing each student is good at and I bring it out.

Although Mellingers students learn a variety of art terms, its evident that Into to Painting is an enjoyable course—and Mellinger is an enthusiastic professor who keeps her class motivated by blasting pop music and cracking jokes as she walks around the room, providing feedback on each students artistic progress.

After the pineapple project comes the final project. Each student picks three objects that tell me about who they are—such as a favorite book or a jewelry box, says Mellinger. I dont want a cell phone or an iPod—theyre too generic and dont say anything about the individual.

The students then use their three personal objects to paint a composition, incorporating everything they learned about shadow, depth, lights and darks.

I love to see students gain self-confidence through the art-making process; to see the growth they have through my class, says Mellinger, who highly encourages class participation. I like when my students learn from each other. This is more than just an art class. I feel like we bond and help each other.

View Mellinger’s artistic Web site here.

Duration : 0:8:11

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