MY LIFE IN FLOWERS
Painter Mizuki Nishiyama lets us into her creative sanctuary to explore her expressive paintings as we chat to her about family influences, florals and how she creates the right studio ambience.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a painter. I explore aspects of our humanity through painting to make a better sense of the world we live in.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Everyday is quite different. I like to call it organized chaos! Currently, I bounce between studio, family, meeting, teaching, and personal time.
How did your journey as an artist begin?
I would like to assume the journey started when my senses were first able to comprehend the world. It was simply allowing time to pass, and figuring out how to piece the puzzles along the way. However, I do recall my mother giving me my first set of art supplies when I was around 2.
What themes feature most prominently in your work?
Human fragility, vulnerability, femininity, sexuality, multiculturalism, death, life, traditional and contemporary Japanese society, east vs west, trauma, and the list goes on.
What are your favourite mediums to work in?
A mixture of oil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas or on wood.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process from idea generation to creating your paintings?
I don’t have a straight answer regarding my creative process because it is truly so fluid. It is living, researching, picking up loose ends, sketching, talking, but also consists of more regulated habits like setting a time frame to produce certain images. That is why each piece feels like my own child! They are an extension of myself, and represent a specific time period.
“I like to pay homage to this connection I have with the natural world through my expressionist way of creating.”
How do you weave nature and flowers into your artwork and process?
My grandmother is a Nihonga painter. In Japan, every morning after her walk, she would bring home a variety of plants and floras onto her sketching table. She would scrutinise every leaf, every vein, and spend hours mixing and kneading pigments with deer skin glue to achieve an angelic painted reality of those handpicked organisms. She and my grandfather love the outdoors, he can name every single plant, tree, and flower we would walk by while hiking. I bring this up is because so much of my creativity is based on memory. Nature not only has its own beautiful characteristics, I also associate it with family. I like to pay homage to this connection I have with the natural world through my expressionist way of creating.
“I like the human form because it is so familiar yet so strange to me. The physicality is overwhelming, yet reassuring because I share a fundamental similarity to what I am depicting”
What intrigues you most about the human form and creating figurative work?
I was initially subjected to a very technical approach to art. I spent hours in front of life drawings, making them as realistic as possible. I absolutely dreaded it. I found myself recreating the same images later at home, but breaking all the “art rules”, to make them feel like they were mine. Nevertheless, technicality is also important. I am very fascinated, for example by Italian Renaissance drawings. I think it’s important to have the ability to recognise and produce those effects, as they can act as tools to elevate visual stimulation and the ability to connect. I find myself experimenting and exploring the fine lines between rules and expectations. I am always learning, and finding out how the craft makes me think and feel at certain moments. I like the human form because it is so familiar yet so strange to me. The physicality is overwhelming, yet reassuring because I share a fundamental similarity to what I am depicting. Perhaps, I am simply exploring deeper realities through the versatile human form.
When working from your studio, how do you create an inspiring workspace?
It’s all about creating the right ambience! Stimulating all the senses – coffee, incense, blankets, slippers, sunlight, and always music.
How would you describe your personal interior style?
I love antiques and vintage. A clean palette to begin with, and adding bold statements that resonate with my cultures, beings etc, as well as using pops of colours and textures.