Friday words for thought: Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.
In Australia, the bachelor of Fine Arts does not focus on skills, it's more intellectual and abstract, so it was not a good fit for me. I learnt a lot, it exposed me to a lot of different art, I met some interesting people, but being told over and over that you can't draw, realism is pointless, and you'll unlikely make it above the poverty line kind of killed the creative flame. Maybe it was meant to cut the chaff from the wheat, but it was not the kind of environment I could thrive in. I came away feeling very dispirited.
|Rose Unicorn by Nicole Cadet|
I put away my easel, and started writing again. As I wrote, I began to illustrate the characters and scenes from my writing. I painted the things that made me happy. I'd only really used watercolours for sketching, though the fact I got better feedback for the sketches should have told me to stick with them :). About that time I became obsessed with the internet, Epilogue (http://www.epilogue.net) became my new master as I was determined to get my art in there amongst artists I admired. The writing fell away, the art remained.
|Swords Call, Ebook by Nicole Cadet|
What inspires you to create?
I think storytelling and wonder is at the heart of all my creative endeavours. Myths and legends, reading articles on history or scientific breakthroughs, novels, movies, gaming - anything that allows me to imagine myself somewhere else.
|Stone Singer by Nicole Cadet|
I’m also inspired by other artists, particularly concept artists. I love flicking through my collection of art books or trawling through online galleries.
Beginning artists may be interested to know that you have many tutorials on your website. Besides encouraging them to try the tutorials, what other advice could you give them?
Keep practising and stay true to yourself. Paint things you enjoy, things that you can connect with, but also paint things that will challenge you. Learn from as many sources as you can, but don’t get caught up trying to copy other artists slavishly. Be proud of your uniqueness.
|Smell The Flowers by Nicole Cadet|
And learn to take critique. You don’t have to act on it then and there, but you should be able to hear it and not take it as a personal attack. The more you’re able to see what needs work, the better you’ll become.
You create both with watercolors and digitally. Which do you prefer? What would make you work in one medium over another when starting a new piece?
Both have good and bad features, so I don’t prefer one over the other in general.
Digital is more natural to me for commission work as it’s so easy to adjust. I’ll gravitate to digital for anything that I want the look of an oil or acrylic painting with strong, deep colours, or where I want a very controlled end result. Digital painting allows for a great range of experimentation, is easy to set up and pick up, and doesn't give me dermatitis like oil & acrylic paints do.
|Elthas by Nicole Cadet|
I tend to use watercolours more for softer subjects such as fairies, medieval and Celtic inspired pieces, paintings where I want the light to shine through. There’s an immediacy and speed that I love – you learn to control the paint to a degree, but you have to constantly adapt to the paint.
|Silver Mage by Nicole Cadet|
I am entranced by the clothing and accessories your characters wear in your paintings. Where do you get the ideas for the beautiful costumes/fashions they wear?
Mostly I'm inspired by historical costuming, though I’ll take my influences from anywhere I find them. We have thousands of years of recorded costumes, hundreds of folk costumes, they are wild and whacky and beautiful. Elizabethan portraits, Byzantine icons, Japanese silk paintings, medieval manuscripts, even photos from museums like the Victoria & Albert, any of them can spark the beginnings of a costume design. I also like later artists such as the Pre-Raphaelites, and early 20th century illustrators like Dulac and Rackham.
|Sewn Together With Spiderwebs by Nicole Cadet|
Which artists do you think have had the most influence on you?
There are so many, but there are a few key artists who shaped the way I paint. Michael Whelan has always been my biggest influence- he made me appreciate realism and symbolism and how every element of a painting should be there for a reason. Rowena Morrill was the first contemporary female illustrator in fantasy art that I discovered – I think I was about 13, reading Secret of the Unicorn Queen. I loved the covers, the fact that it was painted by a woman was something that my teenage brain latched onto. Later, Stephanie Puimum Law showed me that watercolours were not purely for sketching, that they could become epic paintings themselves. I also love Dan Dos Santos, Chris McGrath and Donato Giancola. Of course I have a number of artist friends who inspire me as well.
|On The Wind by Nicole Cadet|
What do you enjoy doing when you are not painting?
I am pretty much a through and through geek. I am mildly obsessed with all things fantasy and sci-fi - books, movies, games, comics. In my day job I'm a software developer/ security specialist so I enjoy anything technology related. I’m involved in medieval recreation (SCA) which allows me to make costumes and indulge in a variety of medieval arts and sciences. I also game a lot (badly :P ).
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