Racing For a Purpose, One Brushstroke at a Time

Photo courtesy Melody Lea lamb

Melody’s fans can’t tell where one gift ends and another begins. All they know is that the combination has led to some pretty interesting life circumstances, from teaching art in a chicken coop to composing watercolors on horseback, which may also be why Melody’s renderings of fairies and forest vistas seem as alive as her portraits of horses and cats.

All creatures great or small, real or imaginary, inspire Melody’s brush. Having spent time at art school and the gallery scene, with a successful series of commissions along the way, Melody now paints miniature masterpieces in the Berkshire Mountains while tending to a menagerie that includes a horse, a husband, three cats, two kids and a dog, all of whom have modeled for her at one point or another.

Melody grew up in southern California and went to college at Sonoma State University.
When she was 20 years old, she moved to the East Coast and, after a bit of struggle, continued her art training at Portland School of Art. She spent about six years as a graphic designer at an advertising firm and in a large company where she digitized art for embroidered work clothes. Later she opened an art gallery where she sold her paintings and taught classes in watercolor. Marriage and children followed, so Melody took a 10-year “baby sabbatical,” where she focused her energy on raising her two beautiful children, who are now incredible teenagers.

Photo courtesy Melody Lea Lamb

About seven years ago, as Melody was contemplating how to find her way back into the art market, she discovered art card, editions and originals (ACEOs). She has been painting and selling ACEOs ever since. She actually built a whole business which includes seven different selling venues, 10 different sites, a children’s book, and more than 6,000 art items, all based on her ACEOs!

ACEOs are an art form the same size as a baseball trading card: three and a half inches by two and a half inches. The original ACEO group decided to adopt this uniform standard size, which was widely recognized by collectors. Any sizes larger or smaller would NOT qualify as ACEOs and would be listed under other categories. There are no other rules. Artists have complete freedom in making creative decisions, such as the subject of the ACEO or the materials used in its creation.

Melody has been making art since she was about seven years old. She began seriously considering herself an artist and selling her work when she was 13, so she has known most of her life that she would find a way to earn a living as an artist.

Right now, Melody sells 100 percent of her art online through more than a dozen different selling venues!

Photo courtesy Melody Lea Lamb

She developed the technique that she’s now using as a result of the small format that represents ACEO. The surface Melody uses is heavy 10-ply cotton illustration board. Once she has the composition for her miniature painting worked out, she gently draws out her idea on the illustration board in pencil. She then carefully inks in the painting. Melody considers her ink drawing the “bones” of a painting. The ink is permanent and will show through all her consequent layers of colored pencil, which are translucent. The next step in her painting process is laying in washes of color. She uses watercolor, or diluted ink, or sometimes a combination of media. The bulk of the little painting is layer after layer of translucent colored pencil until the pencil becomes more like paint that Melody can push around and blend. Melody’s final touches include scratching through the many layers of pencil and sometimes adding small brush strokes of white acrylic.

Melody’s favorite part about being an artist is the actual process of creating art. Sometimes she’s delighted and slightly surprised when she completes a really successful painting. It’s like she gets totally lost in the process, fully intent and concentrating deeply on her subject, then when she comes up for air and steps away from the piece, it’s a thrill to see it come to life!

Nature, animals and fantasy inspire Melody’s artwork. She loves the notion of pretending to be very small, like a few inches tall and seeing the world of nature from that perspective. Kahil Gibran once said, “In the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

Photo courtesy Melody Lea Lamb

Melody is very organized and has to have all the  “I’s dotted and T’s crossed.” She thinks quality has allowed her to be a good business person. She also discovered that she has a great desire to learn everything there is to know about online marketing and sales. One of the joys (especially for artists) about online sales is that even a rather shy person can self promote comfortably from behind a screen!

Melody began to sell her ACEOs six years ago for less than $20 each. Then when she started really selling well, they often sold at auctions for more than $200 and once sold as high as $320. Now she feels the little paintings should not sell for less than $125.

She personally donated 10 percent of the proceeds from almost all her original paintings in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010! She also donates 15 percent of all her art sold on Etsy.

The Run For Critters

The inspiration for Melody’s first Run For The Critters was born from a sense of gratitude. When her mother passed away in February 2010 after a long, slow “dwindling away,” she worked out her feelings of grief and loss by running  on their country roads.

Photo courtesy Melody Lea Lamb

As Melody was out running one morning, a month or so after her mom passed away, she was suddenly bowled over by a strong sense of gratitude! She was grateful that she could still run at age 51 and that she could run in such beautiful countryside. Melody felt grateful for many things. She wanted to give back somehow. Then an idea just hit her: She’d run for the critters! She could set a goal of running a six-mile race while raising money for animal charity! That is exactly what Melody did. In September 2010, Melody raced in the George Cooper Memorial Road Race Run in Adams, Mass. Melody won second place in her class, but really feels she won before she started the race because she raised $1,500 for animal charity!

Melody was so thrilled, inspired and empowered by the success of her Race For The Critters that she did it again!! She ran the Memorial Day Lenox 10K on May 29, 2011, and raised $500 for the critters!

She has her sights on a third Run For The Critters in September 2011. Help her help them!

 “The Affordable Art Of Miniature Masterpieces”

About Melody Lea Lamb

Photo courtesy Melody Lea Lamb

Melody Lea Lamb is an artist, illustrator and stay-at-home working mom. She paints miniatures (ACEOs) of woodland animals and fantasy beings like mermaids and fairies, and illustrates children’s books.

Melody’s newest work is available throughout the internet with originals for sale on Etsy

Become a fan of Melody’s on Facebook

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Visit Melody’s website and blog

 Melody’s other blogs

Beaded Art



Photo courtesy Melody Lea Lamb

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2 thoughts on “Racing For a Purpose, One Brushstroke at a Time

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