March is not just the time for winter’s final curtain call. It is also the time of year when independent artists and fine artisans usually re-introduce themselves to audiences. This is courtesy of Joanne Hawker and her #marchmeetthemaker initiative. I am posting some content over on instagram following Joanne’s daily prompts, but mostly in random order as my current activity fits them.
One of those prompts is “portrait”. A good time as any to share a photo from my archives and re-introduce myself as an artist to new and not so new followers in here alike too.
Hello, I am Mafalda, an ink wash painting (水墨画) artist, developer of slow, hand-made editions and all-around Japanophile, among other things. I am based in Zurich, Switzerland and born by the sea in Porto, Portugal.
The portrait above says a lot about me, in a subtle, detailed way. A lot like my art, actually.
Walking through Japan’s trails and heritage
One, I am always looking exceedingly happy when walking through Japan’s nature trails or heritage. It has been that way since the first time I landed in Japan. And that smile remains no matter how often I return. This is a portrait from 2018, when I was getting ready to walk the Nakasendo trail, from Narai in the Japanese Autumn season.
A history and literature fan, ever ready to sketch
Two, I am very fond of its art history and literature. Which is why even though what I am holding in my hands contains a map of the trail, I am fairly sure I was reading about the history of the place. On that backpack is a sketchbook, and a pencil case loaded with brush pens for the times when inspiration strikes. Also a small postcard from a local artist. Usually inspiration doesn’t strike on a cold trail. I’m all for waiting until I reach the comfort of a specialty tea house or a kissaten. There are lots of those in Japan. I am so very much planning to hoard a table for hours again when we are out of this pandemic. I will entertain anyone willing to put up with it with all the details of the stories and places that I paint.
Spotting my favorite painting subjects
Third, my absolute favorite subjects are birds, which is why sitting under tall trees is a common activity. It takes time and silence to hear and spot different bird species. This is why finding a good place to slow down is key. Even in a city like Zurich, if you just stop and listen, you will be able to spot something between 10 to 20 species within a mere 10 minutes. I have painted 100 different Japanese bird species last year. This year I am painting Zurich birds as I spot them through the seasons of the year. No fixed number goal this time, I will let the birding encounters decide.
What about you? What inspires you, as an artist and person?