Frequently Asked Questions…

Is ‘Maiden’ your real surname?
Yes, it is the name I have had since birth, my family name.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere! I am inspired by the beauty, forms and forces found in nature; mythology, fairy tales and old legends; and visionary experiences, for example shamanic drumming and meditations. I’m also interested in ideas such as sacred geometry, archetypes and the more mystical side of philosophy and psychology. Having studied archaeology at university I furthermore find a wealth of ideas and styles from previous eras to put into my art, particularly from prehistoric up to late medieval times.

Which other artists are you inspired by?
Illustrators Aurthur Rackham, Aubrey Beardsley, Ivan Bilibin, Alan Lee and Brian Froud; Artists Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Durer, Hieronymus Bosch, Goya, Rembrandt as well as some modern surreal, expressionist and abstract artists, such as Max Ernst and Paul Klee and artistic movements such as the Pre-Raphaelites, the Symbolists, ancient Celtic and Norse artwork, and Japanese woodblock prints.

What materials do you use?
The majority of my paintings are watercolour, often over a pencil sketch or under-drawing of dark fineliner. I also paint with acrylic, sometimes using a dry brush then wash technique onto paper, other times onto canvas. Oil paint is a medium I have used a few times and have yet to develop to its full potential. My drawn images are done in either artists pencils, traditional dip pen and ink, fineliner pens or occasionally pastels or charcoal. Many of my works are mixed media and build up layers of different materials. In the past I’ve also created more experimental work that was heavily textured, using materials such as twigs, clay and sand to create pieces that were part painting, part collage and part sculpture. Experimenting with most mediums as I come across them, recently I discovered felting and am now working on some wall hangings, following my usual dark fantasy art themes, in this technique.

Were you taught to draw or could you just do it naturally?
I taught myself. My drawing ability is the product of some natural aptitude combined with the strong will to draw well and portray things successfully. It is as the result of what could be termed much practice – when I enjoyed drawing something I drew it over and over, but I have never once felt myself to be practicing – I just loved to draw certain things and each time wanted to improve on the time before. This same process has led to success in many of the varied art materials I’ve previously utilised, although I do seem to now be able to pick up most art and craft related techniques much faster than average. I have had (some) formal art education in illustration (having to leave the course early due to ill health), though this never focused on improving drawing ability – it was always more about ideas and you had to have high drawing ability to gain entry to the course to begin with.

Why do you have such a variety of styles?
I sometimes follow an impulse to experiment and explore different themes, mediums and styles, and while what I then create may not be as polished or successful as my usual work, it can often enrich my usual work with a little extra depth and originality when I return to it, making the experimentation a worthwhile detour. After several years now of being an illustrator, I generally do know how to create work that will be popular – I just don’t always feel like I want to, that it's important or that it would be good for my future artwork. I guess there is a need to strike a balance between becoming too self-indulgent and alienating the people who like and support my work, and becoming stale and trapped in a stagnant style with a narrow range of themes.

Do you consider yourself an artist or an illustrator?
Both, although the majority of my work is illustrational, I believe I have created some works which have enough subtlety, ambiguity and lack of direct purpose that they could be considered fine art.

Can I afford one of your original pieces?
I tend to price my work in direct relation to its size and the level of detail, so therefore how much time it took me to complete. Also factors such as the general popularity of the image and how much I personally like it can come into play. Many of my most popular images are often quite large and intricate, and so have to be priced accordingly, and they are generally only available as prints until I can bear to part with them anyway! I often put up for sale sketches, smaller work, older work and ACEO’s (which are Art Cards, Editions and Originals – miniature collectible artworks – trading card size). These are much lower in price than my larger or more intricate work, so are a good way of owning a piece of original art.

- Michelle Maiden, August 2014 -

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