A couple of months ago I stumbled across the beautiful work of Maria Montiel (aka Cayena Blanca) in this post on the Pattern Observer blog.
Maria is originally from Venezuela and now lives in Madrid, Spain. She recently launched an online store, where she sells tea towels, iPhone cases, art prints, etc.
What I really love about her work is the way she combines traditional art media and digital media to create stunning surface patterns that feel artful and emotionally expressive.
When I contacted her to tell her how much I adore style, she kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions about her process:
Watercolor is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult media to work in. Can you share your process and tell us about the materials you use to get such vivid colors?
I've been working with watercolors since I was in college (2001 - 2006) in Venezuela. My work has always been surreal, colorful and very organic. It is a very personal interpretation of what I see. After I came to Spain in 2007 I started working with liquid watercolors such as Ecoline and with ink such as Winsor & Newton. The inks produce more saturated colors and I love mixing them with the Ecoline. I recently discovered the Aero Color inks from Schmincke and I am also working with these at the moment.
Why is watercolor your medium of choice?
What I love about working with these materials is that they give me a lot of freedom when I am mixing everything in my illustrations. The colors are amazing and dry very quickly.
Can you describe your painting process step-by-step?
I first do my sketch with pencil then I trace the black outline and after that I do the color. I do not always use the black outline, but I usually do. It has become a signature in my work. When painting, I just let go, I don't follow the rules of watercolor painting. What I love is creating new textures and a depth in the piece. In order to do that I paint, dry, then paint again, then dry, etc. etc. After the piece is finished I do a lot of Photoshop retouching. I also use bleach to create lighter spots on the watercolors.
How do you use Photoshop to edit your original paintings?
When I am creating for example a commissioned original painting that is going to be hang on a wall I do deliver an original with no Photoshop retouching. In Photoshop I usually change some colours, clone something that I don't like and create repeats for textiles and others.
Any advice for people like me who have tried and failed to produce beautiful results like these with watercolor?
At first working with watercolors can be very messy and difficult, so it takes a while to get your style figured out. But once you have it, it's great!
Thanks Maria for sharing your work, your process and your encouraging advice!