For today’s Studio Visit, I talked to Maria Fernanda Arévalo (affectionally known as Mafe to her friends), an illustrator based in Barcelona, Spain. I first found her on Instagram when she posted up her beautiful studio as well as her working process, and I can’t wait to share them with you here on the blog! (Think I’m missing out on featuring your studio/process? Well let’s remedy that – tag me on Instagram (@pikaland)!)
Hi Mafe! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi Amy! Thanks for your kind invitation. My Name is María Fernanda but my friends know me as Mafe. I was born in Colombia and now I live near Barcelona, in the middle of an amazing Nature park and I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. My life changed when I came to Spain. Although life in the city is exciting, I started living for the first time in the middle of nature and this was an indescribable and inspirational experience for me. I discovered the many pleasures of taking in the sounds, smells, colours and other treasures that nature gives.
With that change in my life came a noticeable shift in my style of creating and painting. I feel that the work is truer to me in terms of my character and my outlook on life in general. I like to see the beauty and magic of nature and the little things of life.
I enjoy walking with Panchito (a pug) and Mimi (a teckel) – my best friends! – as we go up the mountains. They are cute and funny, and they are always together.
I’m active and curious. I often feel the need to make new things, and I love to explore techniques, colours and different medias.
What are you working on right now?
I’m very happy now because I’m working on two exciting projects: The first one is a personal project – I’m writing a book about emotions and dreams and the second one is my creative work, actually I explore mixed media and paint to express my love of nature. Both projects are special to me. My life is going through a lot of changes right now, and this is the first time that I’m writing about life and dreams. It´s a fulfilling experience.
I’m exploring and experimenting the possibilities of mixed media. I see the environment, its colours and its forms. I’m exploring with gouache and mixed media, and this is very exciting for me. I love working with paper, crayolas, gouache, pencil colors, markers – all of which makes it a very hands-on experience. In both projects I feel free and happy.
I love your studio! Can you tell us a little bit more about your spatial arrangement?
Once in a while, I like to renovate my studio. I think this is a inspirational way to create, having pictures, objects, and things where you can find surround yourself with inspiration. Last year, my studio looked like a child’s room. I enjoyed this decoration because it was inspirational for the happy mail project and other illustration projects that I was involved with. This year, I made some changes in my studio because I needed more space and I added a big table so that I could paint and draw in different formats. I sold part of my furniture to create this new space! I enjoy changes, because it always brings good things into my life.
What are your favourite tools?
I think that everything I come across is a great tool to create with! I work with seasons, and sometimes I enjoy working only with Adobe Illustrator and my Wacom tablet. Sometimes the craft girl in me comes out and I enjoy exploring with stamps, washi tapes and various cute tools. But for now, I’m using more traditional medias like pencil colours, brushes, gouache, crayolas, markers, acrilic, paper, pastels, and ecolines. After that, I use a camera to take pictures of my work and then work on it further with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. I also use the camera on my mobile phone a lot to take a snapshot of any inspiration that I encounter.
What or who inspires you and your work?
The best inspiration, I think, comes from the observation of nature. I like to contemplate by looking at the amazing landscape near my home. The river, the pound, the leaves… the sky, the colours of the sunset.
The great masters of painting always are inspirational. I enjoy seeing the paints of Matisse, Klimt, Miro, Monet they do amazing wonders for my heart and soul!
The internet too is an amazing tool to discover lovely people with great ideas! I find a lot of inspiration on Pinterest.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you work? What’s your process?
My process begins when i walk around the mountains. I open my eyes and take in everything around me… I see colours and forms; I close my eyes and feel my emotions. I then take some pictures with my mobile phone. After compiling a number of images I select one or more to do up a quick sketch. These sketches are about quick observation of shapes and colours; but before I begin, I like to think about the title for each art work.
When I arrive home, I take my sketch book and I begin to select the colours that I want to incorporate for my new project. When I have the colours all picked out, I then start to think about which tools I could use. After the colour selection, I clean my table and prepare my tools and materials. I like to prepare everything so that I don´t disturb my creative process.
When I do all the above, I feel that this is my moment, and for me it´s very special. I like to work while listening to music, sometimes classic, and sometimes I get in some bossanova or jazz.
I like to let the art flow, each line, each drop, each colour. I work in gouache and mix media, so I enjoy the process of working directly on the surface. It`’s my moment, my space, and my time. When I finish each artwork I usually spend my time appreciating it. Each work has plenty of colours and is intuitive to me.
The next day I take pictures of it, and then make additional amendments through Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator if needed. And when it’s done, I upload this image on to Society6 where it gets to be on various different items!
Thank you so much Mafe!
(Images courtesy of Mafe & also from her Instagram account)
Do you have a project that you’re working on right now that you’d like to share? Or what if you’d like to finally reveal your secret studio in all its glorious messiness once and for all (hey, it’s a place where you create – let’s keep it real!)? I’d love to share your process (nothing’s too messy for us!) with our readers, so do contact us if you’d like to be featured! Also, if you’re on Instagram, tag me (@pikaland) in your photos so that I can scoot on over to take a look!