Continuing Education instructor Melodee Strong and student Betsey Hodson
Continuing Education instructor Melodee Strong and student Betsey Hodson

Instructor: Melodee Strong

Class: Painting for Illustrators Series


What do you find rewarding about teaching adult Continuing Education students?

Melodee Strong: I really enjoy making new connections with the community. I like teaching to all ages and abilities. I like having a wide range of people to teach to and the MCAD Community Education department provides that. I can teach youth all the way up to retirement age. It’s really awesome connecting with all kinds of people, especially through their art.

What is your favorite moment or experience while teaching?

Melodee: When I witness a student in their aha moment! That is really cool to see—when they get it, or they start to see how they are developing in their skill or craft, and it starts to come together. I love connecting with parents when I am teaching youth and teens. Seeing their pride and watching them encourage and support their young artist in their home is always a great thing.

“MCAD is a creative environment . . . it's a nurturing, supportive, and professional place."

Painting for Illustrators

Melodee teaching students in her Painting for Illustrators class


What is the learning environment like at MCAD?

Melodee: Awesome! I am fortunate to be an alum of the college, too. I have experienced the campus full circle. It’s a wonderful place for learning and exploration. It’s a creative environment with space and resources available to you almost 24/7. It’s a nurturing, supportive, and professional place.

If you could condense your experience and knowledge into one tip for aspiring sculptors, what would it be?

Melodee: Do your thing! Sometimes I see artists try to be something they aren't in their work. Sure, mimicking an artist you admire at first is a good place to start in your journey to self-discovery, but eventually you need to break away and do your thing! I think artists, especially illustrators, think, "I am never going to find a job doing what I like or what I do." But trends change so much that at some point what you do is popular. Just have a backup plan or something else you can do in the meantime of slow times. A lot of the successful artists out there are doing great because they hustle. They are always working on something, even if it’s personal. They are networking, making connections, traveling, observing, studying, doing whatever it takes to have an edge or to stay relevant. Bottom line through all that? Do what you love and do you!

“Everyone has a unique voice to share, so follow it, find it, and make it yours."

Painting for Illustrators

Continuing Education student Betsey


What is your day job?

Betsey Hodson: I have a “multipart” day job! Right now I am parttime web designer/parttime freelance illustrator/parttime stay-at-home mom. I love the mix of getting to be home a little with the kids, while still having time for some freelance work, and of course the always steady day job. I'd love to be “fulltime” freelance, but for now I'm happily enjoying the process!

What is the most rewarding aspect of taking classes at MCAD?

Betsey: Classes at MCAD are so fun and rewarding, it's honestly hard to pick one . . . but I'd say the most rewarding part is the instructors—they are so down-to-earth, have real life experience and feedback, and are very approachable. I think there is a misconception that art school can be intimidating and scary (I know I thought that), but everyone at MCAD Continuing Education has been so great and gracious with their advice.

What would you tell a friend about your experiences in your MCAD classes?

Betsey: I would tell my friends that it's a wonderful way to explore new topics or further your knowledge in an interest area. That it doesn't matter what skill level you are at—you can find something that will help you grow and continue learning!

What is your favorite technique/medium/subject?

Betsey: Can I say all the techniques/mediums!? Honestly, every time I learn more about something, I'm convinced it's my new jam. I just finished Melodee's watercolor class and I'm so into it. But I love the variety, and since I learned graphic design/digitally first, I love combining elements from traditional and digital art.


Student Artwork

Melodee's demo painting for her Continuing Education course


Where do you find inspiration?

Betsey: I've heard people say inspiration is all around, and I always feel like that's so cheesy, but inspiration is all around! When I started getting into painting, especially watercolor, it was like a whole new world opened up, or at least a window into a new world. I would look around and want to paint everything! I have accumulated a whole folder of photos on my phone of random stuff I see and say, “I want to paint that!”

What is one piece of advice you would give to a friend who is just learning to draw, paint, sculpt, etc.?

Betsey: The one piece of advice I would give is not to be afraid. Like I said, I think art school can feel intimidating, and it doesn't have to be. I took a great class a year or so ago on pattern design, and our teacher Lindsay Nohl emphasized that there was space for everyone—we just had to find our audience. That really stuck with me and helped give me a lot of confidence in my work. Everyone has a unique voice to share, so follow it, find it, and make it yours!

Register now for the Painting for Illustrators Series this Fall! 

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