Rhiannon Thomas is the lovely artist who is illustrating Mindful Millie. We did this little interview for the blog so that you can get to know her better- and I’m sure you will see why I asked her to help me with the book! She is so fun, kind and down to earth.
Hello Rhiannon, I thought it would be nice to have a little interview so that we can get to know you better! What inspired you to be an artist?
Oh I’ve always wanted to be an artist! I spent my childhood days sketching and painting and doodling on anything and everything. After I went to art college I realised that art was probably too difficult a career to get into and better suited as a hobby – so I trained as an archaeologist instead. Fortunately, the bug didn’t leave me and I worked as an archaeological illustrator before realising that I had to submerge myself entirely in a colourful paint-filled world. I’ve worked as a full time artist from my home studio ever since, mixing both illustration and fine art as and when the need calls for it.
What drew you to this Mindful Millie project?
My closest mate is a fantastic CBT therapist and we’ve worked on a project before to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. The concept of educating children in Mindfulness techniques to equip them for the future is something that’s just brilliant! It just needs to be enrolled nationally now and Millie is one step towards getting that realised!
What kind of style and paints do you like to use?
My style is undoubtedly a bit zany and weird. Quirky I think is the term often used! It’s always bright and colourful – I LOVE working with anything vibrant. Bringing a bit of sunshine into a drab day is what it’s all about. I have no interest in depicting things a photographer can show you, I’d rather paint or illustrate the ‘feel’ I get from a place. I’ve often had people tell me ‘I wish I could spend a day in your head!’ Haha. I think it may be a little Alice in wonderland in there! For these fine art pieces I work in either watercolour or acrylics for the most part. It depends on the commission or whatever takes my fancy. For illustration, it’s always unusual characters with inky lines and a wash of watercolour. I love the idea that children will look at my work and realise that you don’t have to paint ‘in the lines’ for it to be right. It’s a little bit of rebellion that I hope teaches kids subconsciously that they don’t have to be constrained by what society usually dictates as ‘perfect’. Millie is a super chance for me to depict something a little sweeter – she’s a real cutie and a pleasure to draw!
What is your favourite art piece you’ve done to date?
Ooh that’s such a hard question! They tend to change depending on the season! I think my favourite pieces have been the large Tenby ones I’ve painted. It’s a place I love to visit and only about 50mins from my door. The large scale paintings let me really express myself too. I have to bow out of that question and honestly say I couldn’t pick one! Heehee!
If you could be an animal what animal would you be?
Oooh again another great question. Wouldn’t it be lovely to fly across mountains or to swim the seas with the ability to breath under water? I think that the choice of animal id pick compared to the animal my husband thinks I’d be would be hugely different! If I could pick, probably a red kite – I love those birds and you don’t have to go through the process of killing anything either because they’re carrion birds! But if my husband was going to match me to an animal it would probably be a Tasmanian devil! Haha. He’s told me that before because (and I quote), ‘they’re small, aggressive (I think that’s said in a nice way!), fiercely protective and they have a temper!’ I’m not that bad honest! Heehee, I think it’s just the way my passion comes out
What is your biggest inspiration?
Cliche as it sounds my biggest inspiration is everything outside my window. Sometimes even inside! The sun has a massive impact on me. It gives me so much energy and I really try to absorb that feeling and let it show in my work. I absolutely adore the sound of seagulls overhead, the smell of seaweed in the sun and the clinking of masts in a harbour. I love blues, duck eggs, greys and whites and often incorporate that into my surroundings – even though they rarely make it alone in my work. If I see shells or sea glass on the beach, I’ll pick them up and hang them around my work bench to inspire me. But that said, storms, silvery grey skies and frosty evenings are just as much fun. I think the real art is being able to see inspiration in anything because that’s hugely important if you work as an artist full time. You have to be inspired by a variety of things and to let them affect you differently. Another huge factor is my son, when you’re not really feeling the long hours, one look at him and you quickly remember why you do it all. He’s so full of life and zest that it’s impossible not to have that rub off on you.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
There’s the usual places like Italy, Cornwall etc but if I’m absolutely honest I’d have to say Orkney. The Orkney isles are so full of rugged beauty and the islands are steeped in history and archaeology. You can see why I love it so much! There’s a real sense of space and freedom. I can’t explain it but it’s like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been up a few times now and the place never gets boring. Sat on the beach in full sunlight at 11pm at night really let’s you feel like you can be totally alone in the world – or at least away from the grind. It’s a magical place and somewhere that I think I’d definitely be able to live! It’s my spiritual home. Just give me a little Croft and a rowing boat for the lochs and I’m away! My family love it there too, but I’m not sure they’re quite as infatuated as I am about the place!
Where can we find out more about your work?
You can follow my daily antics on Facebook if you look for me: Rhiannon Thomas – Moogledoo or follow me on twitter: @moogledoo. Alternatively, you can check out my work at www.moogledoo.com.