Creativity is one of those things you are either born with or born without. When it comes to art and artwork, all artists have to have a huge injection of creativity and a creative eye that goes far beyond that of an average mortal non-creative. This interview is with Judy Mastrangelo who happens to have the gift of creativity. That creativity is now coming out in the form of a series of books—children’s books, art books and all manner of books that will bring you delight and joy. In the following interview, we discuss her art and the art she likes to create. We also find out where her inspiration comes from and how those ideas become works of art.
What themes would say are prevalent in all your art work?
In the past few years, my work tends to have mostly Fairy and other Fantasy themes. I also love to paint Animals, Flowers, and Landscapes. I tend to add these to my Fantasy art in order to enhance it and make it more interesting.
Why does Fantasy art appeal to you? What is it about this kind of art that excites you?
I find that it triggers my imagination, my love for Fairy Tales, and the love for things beyond our mundane and everyday world. When I look at my environment, I can’t help thinking that there is something “beyond all this.” To me, even an object as ordinary as a flower seems to be “other worldly.” Observing it might make me daydream of other spiritual beings, whose unseen presence inhabit this lovely creation.
That’s why I enjoy personifying Nature in my artwork, and filling my canvases with other worldly beings, such as Fairies, Elves, Gods, Goddesses, Dryads, Nomads, Wizards, Dragons and the like. It harkens back to bringing out the imagination that is still in me from my childhood. I know I will always have Fantasy in my heart and mind, and it gives me feelings of youth and happiness. I hope to impart these same feelings to others through my art.
Do you think it’s important to have a plan before you start—or just go with the flow and see what happens?
I have so many plans of paintings that I would like to do. So I just select one that I’d like to do the most at that time, and then I plan it out in my mind first. After I conceive of what I would like to do, I then gather any resources I may need, and then the fun of creation begins.
How do you begin a piece of work? Do you start with outlines? Backgrounds?
I’ve developed a method which I call “Mind Painting.” For this, I tend to daydream about what my painting will be like as a finished piece. I don’t do preliminary small sketches.
I first do outline drawings onto tracing paper of any figures which will be in the painting. I make them the actual size that they will be in the finished painting. I try to make as many corrections that I can on this paper. I then cut out the figures from the paper and tape them onto my canvas, wherever I think they should go. Then, when I’m sure I have the figures in their correct places, I transfer them, with graphite paper, onto a prepared stretched canvas.
After I paint on these figures a bit, I start indicating the background of the painting with paint.
How did you develop “Mind Painting?”
It’s curious how this first happened. As a child, I was always prone to daydreaming. One time, I was asked to pose in an art class, while the other students painted a portrait of me. As I was sitting there, I began to envision a fantasy landscape, and I enjoyed watching it in my mind’s eye, just as if I was watching a movie. From that time on, I strove to control seeing these types of visual imaginings as a tool to develop interesting ideas for my paintings. It’s a discipline I’m still in the process of developing.
What are the major problems of being an artist? Where do mistakes normally happen?
Some of my main problems that I’ve encountered in the past are:
I’ve had difficulty trying to meet a “deadline” when taking on “Artist For Hire” commissions. I don’t paint very quickly, since I often make mistakes, and I try to do the best job that I can. And so recently, I’ve not taken on commissioned work and have been self-directed to follow my muse and paint what I’m inspired to do at the time.
I try to do the best I can anatomically with my figures, and I often make mistakes there.
I often become inspired by the art of great master painters who I admire. Sometimes, there is a tendency to feel “Oh, dear, I will never become such a wonderful artist as they were!” But then, with that realization, I just content myself by being inspired by their talent, and the delight of constantly learning from their genius. It’s wonderful knowing that there is always more to learn, and that constantly improving one’s art is part of the joy of it all.
How did you become interested in art? What drove you to become an artist?
I guess it’s something that I was born with. I always loved to draw and paint, even as a young child. I enjoyed looking at illustrated books and seeing beautiful paintings in art museums, also. I always knew that I wanted to be an artist from the very beginning of my life.
How do you know when the piece of work is shaping up to your expectations?
I keep looking at my painting in various ways, to see if it is the way I want it to be. Sometimes, after working at my easel for a while, I feel it necessary to take stock of it from another view point. Here are some of the ways I do this:
I look at it in reverse through a mirror, turn it upside down, or view it from across the room. This shows me the piece from a different perspective, and I can see better this way what parts have to be developed, corrected, and changed. Even looking at it in a dimly lit room or on a computer helps in this respect.
Have you ever started a project and not finished because it wasn’t living up to expectations?
Yes, I have done this. But I’ve usually felt that I would return to my unfinished projects eventually, with a new, fresh perspective. Sometimes when seeing such a project, even after several years, I get a renewed enthusiasm and insight on how to develop it in a better way than I was doing originally. In those instances, I often continue working on it again.
What’s the most important ‘rule’ to remember when you are creating a work of art?
I feel that I have to really LOVE the painting that I’m working on. That way, I will create a piece that hopefully will turn out well. I find that I paint best the “visions” that I enjoy the most.
What does it feel like to create something from a blank canvas? How does that feel?
I try not to worry about a blank canvas staring me in the face. Painting for me is a labor of love, and I do it because I enjoy it very much. And since having fun expressing myself with my art is foremost in my mind, I put away any inferiority fears I may have that it won’t come out well. Since painting is such a joy for me, even if it doesn’t come out well in the beginning, I know it will eventually.
Which of your paintings was the hardest to create or get the vision right on and why?
I made a lot of changes in the process of creating my “FOREST SPIRIT” painting. I can’t say that it was difficult to create, but my initial idea that I started off with didn’t seem quite right to me. Originally, I conceived of the Forest Spirit being a kind of animal-like tree with ram’s horns. I kept trying to finish it with that intention in mind, but my sensitivities kept saying that the figure didn’t look right. So finally, after many days of sticking to that idea, and working very hard to paint the ram’s horns, etc., I completely repainted her head. I then made her into what she is today ~ a more feminine figure, with flowing hair, interwoven and entwined with leaves, nuts, butterflies, birds, mushrooms, moss, etc.
I’ve gotten used to the idea that, no matter how long it takes me to paint something, even though it’s in meticulous detail, I must repaint it if my gut and my heart tells me that it doesn’t work. And after I completely change these radical “mistakes,” I’m always happy that I did!
Which of your works are you most proud of and why?
I seem to be most proud of my Fantasy and Fairy paintings the most. In this type of genre, I try to portray a delightful imaginative world, which is for the young and young at heart. I intend to uplift and inspire people with my work, and when I receive positive feedback from people regarding it, I am indeed proud, since I feel I’m fulfilling my purpose.
My Fantasy art is of the more cheerful type, in contrast with the darker, more morose Gothic genre. I do enjoy the latter, but at this time of my life, I prefer not to paint like that. It makes me feel wonderful with the thought that I am uplifting, and inspiring people with my art in a joyful, spiritual, positive and delightful way. I try to create art with which people would enjoy surrounding themselves.
When do you like to work? Morning? Evening? What works best for you?
My schedule is flexible, and I enjoy working at any time of day or night. My feelings of inspiration never leave me, so I’m able to work whenever I can.
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