Wallpaper Wednesdays 5 | Mini Grandi Artist

Photo credit: Pip Leigh Photography

This week, we're excited to feature a new artist from the beautiful Wanaka, New Zealand! Sophie has a very inspiring story - one that I connect with in my personal journey. A graphic artist by trade for 12 years, Sophie decided that it was time to return to her first love - painting and become a full time artist after being inspired by her surrounding Wanaka. 

Wallpaper Wednesdays 5 | Mini Grandi Artist

As you may imagine, her artwork is also inspired by the surrounding mountains, forests, lakes, and beaches of Wanaka. Perhaps one of the interesting things to me about Sophie is the inspiration behind her name - Mini Grandi Artist, which means little grown up artist.

Picasso said ‘Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain one when we grow up.’ Co-incidentally this was on the back on my graphic design business card for years and when I clicked that my name had always been with me, it was like the whole world got a little bit brighter.' - Sophie
Wallpaper Wednesdays 5 | Mini Grandi Artist

You can read more in her Lookbook, where she shares about her journey toward becoming wholly creative again and how slow living has been her pathway to becoming truly inspired, living in the moment, and feeling complete.

Ena and I really connected with her story, but even more, her artwork! I love the simplicity, yet complexity of her work and how each piece conveys a landscape in itself. It's interesting how her art career is just starting to unfold, yet there is so much depth in her work. It just goes to show: once an artist, always an artist. No matter what path we take in life, we will always be led back to our "first love" - our passion and what sets us free inside. 

We asked Sophie to answer a few questions for us - take a read and be inspired! Stay around 'til the end to download her beautiful wallpapers.

1. DID YOU ALWAYS HAVE A PASSION FOR ART AND WHEN DID YOU START PURSUING IT? 

Oh most definitely, I lived in the art room at school then went onto study a degree in Fine Arts specialising in Painting from Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, New Zealand but after years of travelling and chasing snow, meeting my husband and then finally settling in Wanaka I became a graphic designer instead of returning to art. But last year I found a totally new lifestyle and embarked on a new pathway after endless winter sickness, being riddled with self doubt and just being miserable. Now I'm the happiest, calmest and most creative I have ever been thanks to being introduced to meditation and finding balance in my life through the mind/body connection, yoga and whole foods. I feel that the art I create now is an extension of the freedom I have found in letting go of my life to gain control over it. My secret to my return to creativity lies with meditation and it's ability to ground me and it's only me that can do that.  The power you have inside from the stillness within fascinates me. 

It has been one of my consistently renewed goals for years to become a full time artist once both my children were at school but I'd never put any steps in place to achieve it as self doubt stopped me from ever committing to painting again. I’ve met that goal 2 years ahead of schedule and am so grateful that my lifestyle changed in order to let me become an artist. Everything happens for a reason I believe and I obviously wasn't meant to make the art I do today until now.

2. WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? 

My artwork and textures are inspired by the mountains, forests, lakes and beaches surrounding Wanaka. I often find my best works are creations of impulse and experimenting in my studio. I try to see the beauty in everything and seek to interpret this with creating landscapes of tranquility, familiarity and simplicity.

3. WHAT MEDIUMS DO YOU USE? 

I am currently working with black watercolour on paper but am planning some large scale works on canvas for a solo show early next year. I am somewhat an unconventional watercolorist - I often drench my paper in water leaving it in pools and swirls of colour to absorb and dry. I also like to use a mixture of brushes, not necessarily watercolour brushes - just whatever I have and sometimes my best brush is my old shedding pastry brush that obviously was no good for pastry but works great as my clean water brush for the initial paper soak.  My favourite brush is a long piece of dried grass collected from the fields close to my home and where I go running with my dog most mornings. The other favourite is a dried wildflower weed that grows abundantly in the same fields. I love the varied appearance these tools give and that I have very limited control over the end result - this excites me like nothing else!  I also love to not look at the paper when creating abstract loose shapes, if I look while I have a brush in hand I ruin it! 

4. IN THREE WORDS, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF ART? 

Abstract.  Still.  Linear.

5.  DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE CREATING ART? IF SO, WHAT’S ON YOUR PLAYLIST?

As much as I love quiet and the stillness within I need loud music to create and absorb myself in my work - Broods and the XX never fail to disappoint. In contrast to this I always meditate before starting painting!

6. DESCRIBE YOUR MOST TREASURED ART PIECE TO DATE - ONE THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF. 

Um, I just sold it last week! Gasp! It is called 'Another Storm at the Beach' - an original watercolour work on paper. (it is also my most popular selling print on my website). I initially didn't want to sell it but it was to a friend returning to Germany and I could tell he just loved it. I felt if he loved it as much as I did that it would be best in his home, I could always have other favourites.

7. NAME ONE ARTIST YOU ADMIRE. 

This year I discovered the beautiful work of Agneta Ekholm a Finish artist living in Melbourne http://www.agnetaekholm.com  She creates ethereal abstract flowing works with multiple layers of apparent simplicity but really the technique she uses is anything but. I recently connected with her to tell her I had been in to admire her works several times at a local Wanaka gallery - Gallery33 and she encouraged me to keep producing art that was just mine and to develop my craft by simply working away at it.

8.  WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EMERGING ARTISTS?

It seems odd to be giving advice so early into my career but I guess the biggest fundamental thing I have learnt this year is to produce work that is uniquely me. I feel like I discovered my current style by chance and can only hope my transition to my next style comes to me when I least expect it too.  Figuring out what works for your style takes time but the only way you can find it is by continuing to keep challenging and pushing your art.  Oh and don't spend too much time on social media!  I feel like I should have a degree in Instagram I've spent so much time on there!

9.  WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS?

In the middle of completing a Masters in Fine Art and maybe with a third child in tow……., hah!

10. IF YOU COULD BE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, WHERE WOULD YOU WANT TO BE?

I am so incredibly happy in my home with my little family and husband right now, I love living in Wanaka and am grateful everyday to be able to live here.  I am such a home body but while I do still have aspirations for travel, I think realistically that will happen once my children are grown up. (They're 5 and 3.5).  My husband also travels overseas a lot for work so he loves nothing more than to come home and while I used to be, 'right, lets go away!' I have come to realise home is best for him AND me right now……

Wallpaper Wednesdays 5 | Mini Grandi Artist
Wallpaper Wednesdays 5 | Mini Grandi Artist
Wallpaper Wednesdays 5 | Mini Grandi Artist
Wallpaper Wednesdays 5 | Mini Grandi Artist

download |

Wallpaper Wednesdays 5 | Mini Grandi Artist

I hope you snagged one - if not all - of her beautiful wallpapers! We would love you forever if you could stop by and show some love over at Sophie's shop, blog, or Instagram for us.

For updates, sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar or simply follow @cheekybillo and @hellolovelyliving on Instagram and search #cheekyliving where we will be posting when new designs are up. 

The lovely, Ena Chahal can be stalked ; ) over here:  Blog | Etsy | Society 6

What designs would you like to see next? Share with me in the comments! 

Disclosure: All designs are original and for personal use. Artists retain rights to all designs and they may not be copied or reproduced in any form or likeness. We love when you share, but please link back to the original post. Enjoy!