As masterful with her medium as she is with her own imagination, Mia Araujo inspires others to get lost in the whimsical world of expression created for a much-needed escape from everything mundane and obvious. With an incredible solo show at the famed Corey Helford Gallery behind her, Araujo proves the only way to create is by simply doing what inspires you most. I recently connected with Mia and had the opportunity to dig a little deeper into her process, influences, and motive behind her recent Los Angeles show.
LF: There is a constant struggle of happiness, serenity, and sadness in some of the works from your “Into The Woods” exhibition, is that a reflection of something a bit more personal at the present time in your life? Perhaps a personal fantasy of mystical escapism of sorts?
MA: There is always a struggle or tension in everyday life for me, and probably more than usual during the creation of my first solo show. In all my works though, I like to create fantastical worlds that we can escape to, but where darkness still resides. I want people to be able to look at death with ‘friendly eyes,’ to see it coexisting with magic and light, the way it does in nature. This makes the world more concrete and eases us back into reality.
LF: I absolutely love that! Speaking of your first solo exhibit, The Corey Helford Gallery (Culver City, CA.) is a brilliant space to show your new works, congratulations on the showcase! What sparked the collaboration and connection between you and the gallery?
MA: Thank you! I have been very fortunate to be working with CHG for 4 years now, and I ‘clicked’ with them instantly. There is nothing more wonderful than calling your business partners your friends, and even family. I feel very at home with Jan, Bruce, Sherri and the rest of the team, and the other artists that exhibit there. Jan has been my rock ever since I met her, and has believed in me and put up with a lot all these years, as I was new, still developing artistically, and making mistakes. I feel so fortunate to have her in my life.
LF: After observing numerous influences from the early – mid 1900’s in some of your sketches, does this offer a sense of time travel for you?
MA: I often feel that I was born in the wrong century, so yes, the idea of time travel has enormous appeal. I like referencing historical figures, ghost stories, and events of the past in my work, because I have an enormous passion for history, and hope I can at least spark other people’s interest in it. There’s a lot to be learned from our ancestors, and there are so many stories from 100 or even 1,000 years ago that still have relevance today. I’m just endlessly fascinated with how far we’ve come as humans, but also how little we’ve really changed.
LF: I’m incredibly excited by the change of moods in each piece shown in “Into The Woods,” what about nature inspired such a wave of emotion, conflict, and melody expressed in the show?
MA: John Muir’s writings about nature do that very thing for me as a reader – he personifies nature in its many facets. The history of the conservation movement is full of conflict, tragedy, and desperation, but it was borne out of man’s love for nature. Folktales are filled with stories between humans and trees, so there was a lot of emotional material there for me to work with. Lastly, my own love and longing for a forest of my own, and my frustration with technology and the fast pace of life definitely fueled a lot of the more serene, mystical, and magical aspects of the work. My goal with this show was to have each painting focus on a different aspect of the forest – your reaction tells me I succeeded.
LF: Indeed you did! Which leads me to my next question, do you personally know any of the women you paint?
MA: Yes! This is the first show where I worked with models on nearly every piece, and it was fantastic to meet them and get to know them in the couple hours we shared together during the shoots. I hope I captured their spirits in these pieces, because each of them was an inspiration to work with.
LF: What’s a guilty pleasure you have and are willing to admit to?
MA: I love watching my favorite scenes from films and tv shows over and over again – if it’s a good scene, I can never get sick of it. I also scroll through Tumblr too much for my own good, and feel the need to research everything and anything – my curiosity is the main culprit for my procrastination.
LF: What do you enjoy more: Storytelling or listening to a great one?
MA: Listening to a great story, especially from an older person’s lips is the greatest thing on earth to me. They’ve seen so much and are so comfortable in their own skin – it’s just mesmerizing to listen to someone like that tell their life story… I have an endless fascination with the way people move their faces when they talk – so that adds to the appeal. A couple of my closest friends are terrific storytellers too, making the most mundane occurrences an absolute joy to hear about. I wish I had that skill.
LF: What’s your favorite color? How does it make you feel?
MA: I don’t really have a favorite color… but I respond a lot to color as a whole in real life, especially when I’m driving. There’s something about sunlight, shadow, and motion, and the way they affect color, that thrills me to no end!
LF: What’s on your desk / sketching table right now?
MA: Right now, lots of studies – gestures, head drawings, animal drawings in pencil, oil sketches of Game of Thrones characters (for fun and practice!), watercolor composition studies, a drawing commission, and concepts for a couple of future pieces… all this, and I’m supposed to be on a ‘break’.
LF: Sounds about right… your fast-paced “off” time begs me to ask: How FAST do you live?
MA: I live like there’s no tomorrow, as cliché as that may sound. But I’ve always had the feeling that life is very short – there is simply not enough time for everything I hope to accomplish and see in life. So I work everyday, try to learn and absorb as much as I can, love the people in my life, and enjoy every minute I get to spend with them.