Mellie Test, a unicorn of the Rockies |

Mellie Test, a unicorn of the Rockies

Rachel Candace Cossman
For The Aspen Times
Mellie Test and son Auryn take a moment while mountain biking.
Courtesy photo

You may have seen Mellie Test coaching at Cycelbar in Aspen or modeling or dancing for the Carbondale Arts Fashion Show or with the CoMotion Dance Company downvalley.

You cannot miss her colorful body ink, voluminous auburn hair, and dazzling smile. Living with her son, Auryn, in Carbondale, the self-taught graphic designer and artist works in many mediums — from tech-oriented web development to watercolors, ink, photography, and gouache.

Recently, she has been most prolific with her pet portraits. These illustrative yet realistic watercolor and ink works channel the expressions and light of the animals. They are “memorable, meaningful, high-quality, and handcrafted works of art” in memoriam or honor of our beloved furry family members, and the emotive images in 5×7 or 9×12 dimensions make cherished gifts for their owners.

Mellie Test says, “How can you not smile when you see a unicorn?”
Courtesy photo

Test’s intuitive approach to her art aims to evoke the silently expressed sentiments of pets — the soulful gaze of their eyes or the curious perk or tilt of their ears. The work seeks to capture the texture and dimension of their coats and unique markings.

Much like the distinct markings of mountain and floral-scaped tattoos she dons on her strong and lithe physique, pets have their own organic patterns and colors telling a story of their ancestry or pedigree, whether by birth or life adventure.

In addition to her custom pet portraits, she has also recently been and experimenting with Polaroid emulsion lift art. Part of the process of this craft is the delicate technique of lifting the image from the film by means of soaking the print in hot water until the emulsion layer floats off the backing and can be carefully transferred to another surface for mounting.

The process alters the images to become more tactile, imperfect, haunting, ethereal, and even breathing. Test applies this method of “re-development,” evoking emotion from the image. She’s massaging the image and weather landscape or still-life, redirects these moments in time through a baptism or myofascial release.

Mellie Test works her art in many mediums and forms.
Courtesy photo

The result of this transference is uncontrived, real time, and beauty arises by chance or a “happy accident,” as she puts it.

Like many artists, Test may be, without realizing it, specializing in her own abstract form of self-portraiture. She has an affinity for unicorns and has prints, stamps, stickers, paintings, and murals she has produced for her own pleasure, as well as for purchase.

She has recaptured her Nebraskan native roots, when she rode bareback growing up. Her horses just now have alicorns and wings, which she creates in mystical large-scale images.

“How can you not smile when you see a unicorn?” she asked. “They exemplify innocence, lightness and fantasy.”

For more, visit: or email her at

Rachel Candace Cossman is a real estate advisor/licensed broker with Engels & Volkers Aspen, as well as a blogger. She can be reached at

Recently, artist Mellie Test has been most prolific with her pet portraits.
Courtesy photo


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