Mimi Matsuda Art – I’m a wildlife, whimsical and landscape artist from Bozeman, via Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park, and Portland Oregon. I’ve drawn animals as long as I can remember and love the outdoors. I draw and paint in a variety of mediums: soft pastels, ink, pencil, watercolor, acrylics, and oils. I enjoy depicting animals and the places they live with bold color. I sell my art as originals, reproductions on canvas, note cards, matted prints, and magnets.
WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO?
I am a full-time artist living in Bozeman, Montana. I grew up with a love of animals and had pet chickens, rats, birds and fish as a kid and studied biology in school. I enjoyed exploring for salamanders, fishing for trout and watching birds and mammals in the evergreen forests of Oregon. After graduating from college with a degree in biology, I worked my dream job in the National Parks, as a National Park Ranger Naturalist for Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks. I used my artwork in my work as a naturalist to illustrate some of the principles on my guided hikes. This led to a new career as a full-time artist. Today I paint to encourage people to emotionally connect with nature, sometimes through sheer beauty, sometimes through humor. I am a new mom to identical twins and love to paint imagery that young to old and families/parents can enjoy. I hope the connections to the art will lead to preservation and protection of wildlands and animals.
HOW DO YOU WORK AND MAKE THE GREAT THINGS YOU MAKE?
Ideas come to me when I’m out and about on a run or ride. I love the challenge of my whimsical art where I strive to get the animals to convey emotion and speak to the audience. With twin toddlers, somedays I can barely get any artwork done, other days I work while they nap and many days I work after they go to sleep in the evening. I’m much more of a night-owl artist. I work at my house, in a room off the kitchen, so the worktable is always there looking at me :). I really enjoy the variety of mediums; each one has its merits for each project I tackle. I love soft pastels on sanded pastelboard (the tooth is awesome for holding the pastels and you can layer color.) There’s nothing like the freshness of watercolor on crisp white paper. Acrylics and oils on canvas or pine are spectacular for detail work and going big.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
My mom was an art teacher and her granddad was a commercial artist. I grew up exposed to art and animals so I think it was destiny. Also, there were many encouraging people in my life who said, “You can do it.”
WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
Like so many of us who are living in this beautiful state, I draw daily inspiration from Montana and the West. We are truly lucky to live here and to be able to see wildlife on a nearly daily basis.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF AS AN ARTIST AND BUSINESS PERSON?
I’m proud that my art speaks to all ages and many cultures. After my years in the national parks teaching with my art and while at my art shows, I’ve watched children on up to grandparents react to my art. They pull each other over and talk about the paintings and that makes me so happy. I’m also proud of my endurance, resiliency and the fact that I have a supportive family. They say, “It takes a village” and it does for any successful endeavor. I’ve been a professional artist for over two decades and there are ups and downs, but you have to stay true to your passion and you will fly.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS OR SUGGESTIONS FOR
YOUR FELLOW ARTISANS AND MAKERS?
My best advice: Stay true to your inner voice and do your own art/craft. Only you can do it. Ask for advice, reach out and connect and learn from others. Don’t be afraid to try new mediums out. Practice as much as you can and make when you can. Then, mentor.
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