What does mixed media mean to you?
I work in a mixed-media approach simply because I just can’t resist it! To me, working with a combination of mediums, gives me the freedom to explore and experiment. I’m able to search for ways to make the invisible visible and to make the commonplace awe-inspiring.
Mixed-media helps to strengthen and support my intuition and personal aesthetic by giving me the reigns of control to be as expressive as I desire to be. Through this method, I can create art that witnesses and speaks of my concerns of renewal, affirmation, and cultural connections.
How long have you been a mixed media artist?
I decided to go full-time as a professional, mixed-media artist in 2009. After graduating from college with my Bachelor of Arts degree in 2011, I established myself as an Illustrator and Designer in Missouri. Most of my work celebrates fashion, urban culture and wildlife.
My foundation for art was laid out at a very young age. I was surrounded by a plethora of close family and friends who were musicians, painters, seamstresses, photographers, engineers, sculptors, interior designers, herbalists…the whole gamut! I’m grateful that my mother exposed me and my brother to so many choices.
How has art impacted or enhanced your life?
Art has impacted me in unbelievable ways! I count it a blessing and an honor to express myself- raw emotions and all- creatively. If words escape me, I can always reach deep into my being to pull out something that had been cultivating and humbly ‘gift’ it to the world.
Art has helped me connect, more personally, to God. I’ve had many encounters with people who have seen my art for the first time and said that it had such a profound impact on them. I’ve learned that art is a universal language that speaks to many hurting, broken, and depressed people to bring comfort, joy, deliverance, and salvation.
When you stop following trends and the ‘most popular’ artist(s) on the net, and be true to your own self, that’s how you begin to become authentic in what you do.
Working as an artist has placed me in front of celebrities and very prominent people in my community. I’m proud to have a loyal fan base- Hey everybody!! I’ve been given opportunities to demonstrate my process, frequently exhibit my art, and even teach private lessons.
Art really has enhanced every area of my life. It has never left me. It’s something constant and reliable.
What are a few of the mixed media supplies you find yourself turning to the most?
Ha! I think you mean what supplies ‘don’t’ I use? 😉 Watercolors and acrylic paint have stayed at the top of my list. I love how I can paint delicately and go wild with a more bold, expressive approach. I’m always grabbing for a water-soluble pencil, colored tissue papers, and modeling paste. Anything that’ll give me some texture! It just love versatility!
I’m known for improvising…I like to make my own mark-making tools and hand-cut stencils out of cardboard cereal boxes, phone book paper (yeah, remember those?!), the list goes on…
fabrics- vintage brocades, silks, embroidered handkerchiefs and scarves,
Matte Spray varnish
Every once in a while, I like to update a list of my favorite or current supplies on my blog.
Back in November 2013, I hosted my own 30 day illustration challenge, for the first time. (sounds deceptively simple, right?) I experimented with oil pastels on poplar wooden panels. I was fascinated with how the two interacted; the wood grain remained, even after adding and scraping off several layers of oil pastel and pencil. Point is, daily challenges will push you out of your comfort zone and force you to engage with other types and styles you may not have otherwise thought of…Wood has now been added to my list of favorite supplies!
Who are some of your favorite mixed media artists?
I have a looong list but if you want to finish reading this interview ‘today’, I guess I’ll have to narrow it down to a few! I’ll start with these people:
Stina Persson — Stina effortlessly harnesses control and allows watercolors to do its thing.
Elisabeth Spillman Nord — I admire her intuitive and bold approach. I love her saying ‘Go big or go home!’ Elisabeth is a powerhouse when it comes to geometric forms infused with explosive color combinations. Her intentional, mark-making techniques are to be studied!
Currently, my creative spirit has been fueled by the genius of Art historian and scholar Dr. David C. Driskell, whom I had the honorable privilege of meeting in February 2014 at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
Robert Rauschenberg — So inventive and innovative, to say the least!
Henri Matisse — Partly because my name sounds like his! His overly saturated colors, reverence of nature, and those Tahiti girls are what pulls me into his paintings.
Tell us about your creative process.
Before any project is undertaken, I meditate and ask for God’s blessing over my hands. I ask to have clear, visual guidance. Next, I allow myself to experiment by performing a technique I developed called “Free-Fall”. It’s simply, doing or creating whatever comes to mind, with no inhibitions. This helps clear out mental distractions and clutter. In no time, I’m free to start the project!
I seem to always start the same way. Very simple, believe it or not!
First, I research the concept by pulling inspiration from various sources (most often it’s from nature, organic shapes from textiles and indigenous tribal patterns.)
Next, I begin a graphite drawing on a 90 or 140 lb. watercolor paper, with medium ‘tooth’, or texture. Colors are added with watercolors, acrylics, spray paints, any other medium that will complement the overall drawing.
I love touching things! It’s this need for tactility that drives me to begin in the more traditional method. (Other techniques I enjoy are calligraphy, stenciling, image transfer, hand-cut paper collages, and machine stitching or hand embroidery.)
Next step is to scan the entire illustration and any other collaged elements into Photoshop.
Finally, digital colors and my own, custom-made textures and/or photography are incorporated and collaged to make the final illustration.
What makes your mixed-media art unique?
Typography, inspirational words/phrases, and affirmations are blended into each piece. Sometimes it’s obvious, other times, it’s embedded into layers of paint and texture- much like a seed- into the background. I like to look at it as my “seeds of faith”.
The figures in my illustrations exude confidence and there is a powerful expression of body language. There’s a sense of pride and self-awareness that manifests and encourages any viewer to do the same.
My approach to art allows me to constantly reinvent myself by asking ‘Where do I fit in?’, or ‘How can I make my experiences relatable to someone else?’. This fusion of elements is what makes my art unique.
Where can we find you?
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