I wrote about meeting Miska for the first time a couple of weeks ago. She extended a very warm hospitality to me. I really enjoyed talking with her and getting to know the artist behind the beautiful artwork I have admired for so long now. When she told me she was teaching a painting class, I signed up and yesterday was the second lesson. Painting is definitely not my strength, but I am enjoying learning from her. She was gracious enough to respond to my invitation to be one of my featured sacred artists. So here is some wisdom from Miska:
What is your faith tradition?
I am a good little Catholic girl! I was raised Catholic, although I did not attend Parochial school but went through the Catechism system in the day. I have recieved all the Sacraments except Holy Orders and Annointing of the Sick although I have witnessed the later first hand. I have taught Sunday School at my Parish, Mary Queen of Peace in Sammamish Washington for 5 years with my 7 year daughter always in my class. I have also had great exposure to the traditions and celebrations of Russian Greek Orthodox faith.
What is your primary art medium?
I am a painter with a preference for acrylics on canvas.
How do you experience the connection between spirituality and creativity?
I think my painting is a gift from God. A precious gift that provides both a yoga like experience and income. It brings interesting people into my life and endless opportunities for spiritual growth as I strive to bring more symbolism and history into my paintings. Don't look for alot of that now, my Icons are mostly feeling and emotions at this point, and my aim has been to make them modern and somewhat abstract.
What role does spiritual practice have in your art-making?
The more I practice my faith, atttend Mass, interact with people more wise than I in the present and past knowledge of my Church and other faiths, and teach children and learn from them, the more inspiration I recieve from God.
What sparked your spiritual journey?
My spiritual journey began at my conception, my mother had a good connection with God, praying for a healthy child with good hair. She couldn't have prayed for good legs?! God was called upon on a daily basis during my childhood, to help get the house cleaned for company or get someone home safely. Having grown up with these causal conversations with God I am able to do the same myself. I see the ability in my 7 year old daughter as well, which I am quite pleased about.
What sparked your artistic journey?
I grew up with alot of positive reinforcement from my Mother who had a great love and relationship with the Virgin Mary. She always said I had artistic talent, so I guess I believed it and constantly explored the world of creativity. It was mostly drawing with pencil and pottery until I became a young adult and started painting on canvas so I would have something to hang in my home. I began by painting copies of my favorite artists, the first being Angel Botello, a Spanish painter who retired to Puerto Rico, and I at the time was living next door in St. Thomas, US Virgin Island, which also happened to be the home of Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Do you have a particular process you use when entering into your creative work?
I usually enter my world of painting after my morning coffee and try to sneak in a hour before the day begins with all it's duities and obligations. I might sneak in a couple strokes as I pass by my studio while cleaning house, or when everyone else is otherwise occupied. Things like cooking dinner and helping with homework take up alot of my time these days but I look forward to being an old lady and painting from dawn to dusk some day. If I am working on a big collection with a looming deadline I might wake up in the middle of the night and paint for 2-3 hours.
How does your art-making shape your image of God?
I think it is the other way around.
Additionally I think my art making is a gift from God. I include Icons in my work as a way to thank God for allowing my to have a life where I might indulge in painting. Icons allow me to do what I feel is my Christian duty and spread the word of God. I have wanted to bring religous art back into the home by creating Modern somewhat Abstract Icons.
I like how Miska turned my question around about how her image of God impacts her art-making. I am going to have to reflect on that a bit more myself! I appreciate that Miska is able to maintain her artist career while also being a single mother to her lovely daughter (also called Miska). An enthusiastic thank you to Miska for sharing her wisdom with my readers! Make sure to visit her website to see some of her works and email her if you are interested in purchasing any pieces. She has lots more available than what is on her website.
** Make sure to visit this week's Poetry Party, scroll down to read the update about Pam from her daughter Micaela (the surgery was successful!), and Micaela's beautiful poem **
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts