Washington State, United States
Mediums: Acrylic, Photography, Graphite, Charcoal
Style: I paint in a wide range of styles, from realism, to impressionism, to abstract surrealism, it all depends on my mood and what is going on inside me at the time.
Green Eyed Tiger – © Vicki J. Maheu
I love tigers, and I gave this one bright green eyes. I feel that orange and green set each other off nicely, each bringing out the beauty of the next.
I really enjoyed art of all kinds as a child and young adult, but as adult pressures from life and other people resulted in me laying aside art for years. I still dabbled a little here and there doing crafts, but not really what I would call art. I felt something missing all those years, like a nagging emptiness, a longing for something, a dissatisfaction I couldn't put my finger on. I didn't realize what was missing until I finally started creating art once again, and rediscovered the joy and release it gave me. My art in earlier years had been mostly drawings, with some work in oil pastels and colored pencil. This time though, I picked up paints... and I fell in love.
Can you remember your first experience creating art?
My first experience? I was probably too young to remember. I do remember that when I was a child I really enjoyed drawing dinosaurs, then as a teen I got into doing surreal pictures, and tried my hand at portraits as a teen and young adult. What stands out to me most though as my first “fall in love with art” experience is when I took part in an blog contest requiring me to do something artistic or creative on an index card each day for 30 days. It was over those 30 days of July 2012 that I first started picking up acrylic paints, and the first painting I did that I would have considered “art” was a purple pansy I did for my oldest daughter.
How long have you thought of yourself as an artist?
Well, part of me would have been okay with that title years ago, but I would have still had some discomfort calling myself that. I don't think I started to get comfortable describing myself as an artist until sometime in Fall of 2012, before that I would only have described myself as artistic, but not as an artist.
What message are you trying to convey to others through your art?
The beauty of God's creation. The love of God. The wonder that surrounds us all, but that few of us notice. From the tiny world we see in the microscope to the vast cosmos, and even to the imagined worlds inside our minds... there is so much wonder, so much beauty, so much to be amazed with in this life, and I believe so much to look ahead to when our time on earth is done. I just hope to provide at least a dim reflection of a small part of all that.
Cerebral Cessation – © Vicki J. Maheu
The title literally means, “Brain Stop”, and it certainly fits this painting which was completed during a time in my life when I was dealing with some personal issues that had my mind going in constant circles... I felt as if I'd go mad if I didn't find a way to get my brain to stop spinning its wheels... so for several days I stood or sat in front of the canvas for 8-10 hours at a stretch, focusing on nothing but color, composition, form, light. I even forgot to eat while I was doing this, which is very unusual for me! It effectively let me get some peace from the constant thinking, and when I was done, I was able to tackle the problem and deal with it.
Please summarize your creative process
It does depend a bit. My creative process for my abstract and surreal work is very different from my more realistic, representational work.
With my abstract and surreal work it usually starts off as a feeling, an emotion, often one that I cannot or will not express with words. This emotion will keep bubbling and surging inside me until I start feeling like I am going to either explode or go mad. At that point I pick up a pencil and sketch, or pick up a paint brush and start painting. My mind or at least all the conflicting thoughts in it just shut off, and the only thoughts that come through are about form, color, space... and I have peace as I paint. Usually when the piece is finished, I am able to rationally deal with the emotion or the situation that sparked it, if not a second piece will usually follow until I reach the point where I can stand back and deal with the situation.
With my more representational, realistic art, I usually get an idea. An idea for something I'd like to paint, usually because it something that I find beautiful, though occasionally it might be because someone else requested that I do a painting of that subject matter. From there I start looking at samples in the form of photographs or real life examples of whatever it is. I might do several sketch studies. I'll decide just how realistic I want to be, am I looking for near photo-realism, or an impressionistic interpretation of the subject, or something in between? Once I decide that, I do a very careful sketch on canvas, and start painting.
With both kinds of paintings I usually like to have music playing. Sometimes it will be classic Rock, sometimes it will be country or easy listening, and sometimes the soundtrack from my favorite musical, “Les Miserables”.
Can you name some things that inspire you?
Emotions: Love, joy, sadness, anger, pain...
Beauty: nature, people, children.
Personal things like my faith, my family, my past, my hopes.
Global things like justice or the lack of it, poverty, environmental destruction, need, suffering of humans and animals.
Have you exhibited your art?
So far none. I hope to have one soon. So far all of my work has been shown mainly online, on my own website or Facebook page. I will be participating in a local art walk in April, and my work will be shown there. I also plan to enter some of my work in local art shows, but so far its only been shown online.
Have you sold any paintings?
I've sold one painting. Plus, people have expressed interest in three other paintings, but haven't actually purchased them yet. The one I sold was through my Etsy shop, and ironically was not what I would have called one of my best works. I also completed one commissioned piece, but it wasn't for money, it was done as a gift for a family facing a crisis.
What do you do to promote art on the internet?
I post on Twitter, Facebook, I blog. I have an art website.
I absolutely love the work of Van Gogh. When I was in Elementary School I remember seeing a picture of “Starry Night” in a book. I stared at the picture open mouthed. At the time I lacked the ability to articulate what so awed me about that painting. Now I think I understand it more. Van Gogh didn't just paint the sky. Van Gogh painted the feeling that one would have looking up at that sky. He successfully depicted the feeling of smallness and wonder, and awe that one gets when when looking up into a sky lit up with millions of stars, planets, galaxies. As I've learned about more of Van Gogh's work I've come to realize that that is what I like about all of his paintings and drawings. In each one, Van Gogh manages to paint the emotion behind the scene so effectively that the viewer feels it too.
Other famous influences would be Picasso, Braque, Monet, Georgia O' Keefe, Salvador Dali, the list could go on and on really. I think whenever we look at good art, especially art that moves us personally, it changes us a little bit, and those changes will effect our own art.
As for lesser known influences, when I was a child my dad had a good friend named Mark. I don't know his last name or if he ever seriously pursued a career in art, but he liked to draw amazing surreal artwork. That had a huge impact on my own interest in surrealism.
Wisdom – © Vicki J. Maheu
A detailed, realistic owl with striking eyes stands before an abstracted night-time sky surrounded by an aura-like glow. I wanted to capture the almost mystic quality of the owl, and I felt this was best expressed through his orange glowing eyes, and accentuated with the glowing effect of the aura.
Are there other admired artists you would like to tell us about?
There are so many. I browse sites that sell art prints and participate in online art groups... it is really hard to narrow it down and tell you about just one artist. I really like the work of Eric Marette, who posts his work on an artist Facebook group I belong to. I don't know much about him other than he is from Vernon, Eure, in France, and that his art is amazing.
Do you have anything interesting in your life you would like to mention?
I guess I would consider my life as a homeschooling mom to be a fairly interesting aspect of my life. Homeschooling both presents a challenge when it comes to art and also opens many possibilities that might otherwise be difficult to manage.
What is the most annoying comment someone has said about your art?
“Keep learning, you'll get it eventually”, when I showed them a piece that was completely satisfied with. A piece that I felt accomplished exactly what I wanted. It was not meant to be photo-realistic, but I felt it captured the spirit and emotion of the subject. The comment sort of made me feel like whacking the person on the head with the canvas, but I just said, “Yeah, I'm always striving to improve.”
Do you have regrets in your artistic journey?
My biggest regret is all the years I let my art be taken away from me. Pressures from other people convinced me that pursuing my art was a waste of time and money. I let my art go for more than 20 years before starting it up again. I think I will always regret those lost years when I could have been learning, improving, but mostly enjoying the process of creation.
What are your plans for the future?
Oh, my plans are to keep plugging away at it. To keep creating art. I hope that someday I'll sell more. Of course I'd like to successful professionally and financially, but I'll keep creating art even if I never sell another piece. I'll do it for myself. For the satisfaction it gives me. I'll do because I'm an artist. In the near future I hope to just get my work represented in a local gallery. I also plan to keep on trying to improve, perhaps take some college art classes eventually.
Advice for Artists
Don't stop. Keep creating, keep learning, keep looking at good art. Do all you can to improve your drawing skills, as this skill will spill over into your other mediums. Most of all, don't ever quit, don't let anyone convince you to abandon your art.
Vicki Maheu - Ardently Reflecting the Beauty of Creation through Art
Washington State, United States
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