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In the Studio

Melody and Michael

Posted on September 1, 2011

I sat down with CE artist Melody Lima and long-time CE volunteer Michael Lownie to discuss their working relationship, artistic collaborations, and life in general. Melody has been a studio artist at CE for over 20 years while Michael has volunteered at CE’s 16th Street studio for over six years.

Michael met Melody during one of his early visits, and the two have worked together almost every single Wednesday since! Besides becoming good friends, Melody and Michael have collaborated on many art projects over the years. Below is a bit more about ML and ML, including a description of a few of Melody’s artworks which Michael provided some inspiration and assistance.

A bit about Melody….
Profession: Artist
Number of years at CE: 28 years (with a break in between)
Favorite animal: Lemur
Favorite art media: Colored pencils
Favorite colors: Green and burgundy
Biggest challenge to making art: Coming up with an idea to start.  Then you need to decide what media to use. Inspiration is the toughest part to get to your starting point.
Favorite thing about CE: I love seeing the people and love talking to the people who visit.  I love watching my art disappear.

A bit about Michael…
Profession: Artist - with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting
Number of years at CE: Six
Favorite animal: Cats – I have two at home
Favorite art media: Acrylic paint on canvas, but now use mixed media (globes with dioramas inside)
Favorite thing about CE: I find it very inspiring to see so many artists just loving what they’re doing.  That inspires me.  There are so many wonderful personalities. I just thoroughly enjoy it and I look forward to my Wednesdays at CE.

Why do you work so well together?
Melody: I like him.
Michael: I like Melody.

Has working together influenced each other’s work?
Melody had seen a few of Michael’s mixed media globes artworks which gave Melody the idea to work on round surface.  Gallery Manager Amy Auerbach learned of Melody’s desire to work on a globe and brought one in so Melody and Michael could work on it together.

Melody: This is one of the reasons me and Michael work well together is that he helps me expand on the idea.
Michael:  We inspire each other. For example, when we work together, I am often inspired by little elements in the project, like collage, and then later I’ll remember working with Melody and introduce some similar elements in my own work. I did a series of birdhouses and Melody was inspired to create one too.  Melody then donated her birdhouse to the auction at the South Fork Breast Health Coalition that a friend of mine organizes each year.

Describe some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on together over the years.
Melody and Michael were scanning the Internet for inspiration and came across some great images of the Sutro Heights Tower. After some thought, both Michael and Melody realized that this might be relevant to the Structure exhibit, on view in the CE Gallery. Melody’s version (pictured below) includes one of the nearby houses, and a heavy focus on the fog!

Melody: Every time I wake up, everything is foggy. We see it all the way across town. This painting took a while to figure out how to draw, but Michael suggested I begin with some light lines to start.
Michael: I gave Melody certain points of reference to work from.
Melody: I titled it “The Tower in the Fog”

Three years ago, Melody and Michael worked on another exhibition-inspired focused on magazine covers, Melody and Michael took a lot of time planning, including thinking about themes that the magazine might cover.

Michael: We had a general idea to focus on popular magazines but give them a unique “Melody” twist.  For example, for “Fortune Magazine”, Melody decided to personalize it by changing the title to “Fortune Cookie Magazine.” Melody always has a great sense of humor which is one thing I really like about her.

 Melody: I also made up the Golden Gate Park magazine cover because I love Golden Gate Park. I wanted to challenge myself to figure out to draw the Conservatory of Flowers building.
Michael: She created her own design inspired by how they plant the gardens. I really like its graphic quality.  Melody even added the copyright symbol!
Melody: The title is “Golden Gate Parkazine.”


Submitted by Ann Kappes

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