How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I worked for over a decade in the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where I met my husband, Cody. When we found out we were having a baby, I left that career (because babies and oil fields don’t mix). I found myself finally able to decide what I really wanted to be when I grew up. So I revisited my life-long love of painting. Initially, I was painting for my daughter, Nevi—I wanted her world to be full of color and uplifting art. As I began honing my skills and my personal style, my little sister encouraged me to begin selling on Etsy, which I then did for about seven years. Eventually, my paintings began to filter out into galleries and I launched my website and began selling directly from my site.
Did you study art formally in school?
Nope. I’m self-taught.
Where do you currently reside?
Bigfork, Montana. My home overlooks Flathead Lake. The towering Mission Mountains are to the east, Glacier Park is a 30-minute drive away, and the village of Bigfork is an artistic little hamlet tucked beside the Swan River and behind a marina that spills out into the lake. I can’t figure out why everyone on the planet isn’t living here. It’s a dreamy place with a slow and peaceful pace.
Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
Wake up before the kids, sip Mainline coffee while I reply to customer emails, and formulate my “to-do” list (so I’ll have something to laugh at later in the day). Wake the kids for school, make a bagel with cream cheese for one, slightly “burny” toast with thin pats of cold butter for the other, tend to all special requests for lunches, pack ‘em, dress ‘em, hug ‘em, and put them on the bus. Breathe. Spend every possible moment creating without interruption. I go into a bit of a trance when I paint—texts are ignored, usually phone calls are as well, and time passes so quickly; I’m almost always surprised by the roar of the bus coming up the hill. Then, I get to hear all about kindergarten and first grade from the two sweetest little kiddos and start the evening routine. After I put the kids to bed, I try to reflect on the day and take time to catch up on all of the correspondence I missed while creating.
What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
I try not to put too many restrictions on how I work. It seems that the more flexible I am with my process, the more genuine my paintings are. However, since my studio is in my living room, I do try to paint when I have that space to myself. I’m not very good at starting and stopping; when I’m in my creative zone, I like to stay there!
What objects have been most significant to you lately?
I never would have thought that I’d ever say this: flowers and botanicals. I’ve always meandered between abstract works and landscapes. Creating my latest abstract florals has been such a unique and organic journey. I’m also pretty obsessed with geometric shapes right now.
Please describe your last month in a word.
Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
Yes! In the spring, I plan to team up with children’s clothing company, Couture Flower, to release a line of children’s swing dresses created with fabric from my original art.
What are you serious about?
Teaching my kids to be kind and honest. Being punctual. Following through with commitments.
What things will you never take seriously?
Anti-aging serums, Web MD, shabby chic, people who tell me their kids love broccoli, salmon, and kale.
What are some keys to balancing work and life?
It’s all such a big jumble of chaotic fabulousness that’s it’s difficult to even separate the two. An artist’s eye rarely rests so when I’m out and about enjoying the day with family, I’m the one stopping to investigate the leaves on a fern or photographing a cluster of clouds. When I’m in the studio, I love to involve my family and it’s not unheard of for all of us, my very creative husband included, to sit down for an art session together. When your job is to be creative and innovative, I think life and work naturally blend into one another.
Click through for more from Minted artist Mya Bessette…
How did you first hear about Minted?
My little sister brought Minted to my attention and encouraged me to enter a design contest. I joined in 2015, won an award, and I’ve been in love with the community and process ever since.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
I love that this community celebrates original thought and unique, contemporary artistic vision. Minted has created a platform where artists can receive honest, critical, and encouraging feedback from fellow artists in real time. Being part of a community of independent artists, in support of one another, is so precious to me.
What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
Minted has provided a platform that allows independent artists like me, painting in rural Montana, for example, to create and have their work seen by thousands. Rather than to rely simply on gallery exposure and print media, we artists now have the ability to spread our wings a bit and test our creations in an unbiased, crowd-sourced environment. If you had told me, a few years back, that my work would be sold at Pottery Barn Teen and West Elm, and that one of my paintings would appear on HGTV, I would have called you crazy. And yet Minted facilitated a platform that made these partnerships possible. Minted has truly catapulted my art career into a new realm.
What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
Acrylics and watercolors
When did you begin painting and drawing?
Professionally? In 2009
How do you approach your art?
Creating is such an automatic response to my environment and the emotions and vibes swirling about on any particular day. I try not to over think my pieces but I may have a general color palette in mind when I approach a blank canvas. The two hemispheres of my brain are pretty equally balanced so my primary goal before any studio session is to shut off that logical, critical side of my brain, I’ll need it later when I stand back and evaluate a piece but when I hit the studio, I want my creative instincts to flow, unencumbered.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Optimistic, joyful, uplifting
What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
If my creativity is feeling at all stifled, I need to get out of the studio, go for a walk, collect odds and ends from nature, listen to music, and just sort of drift without the pressure of doing for a bit. It’s also not uncommon to find me at the hardware store collecting paint chips and playing with unique color combos. The people at my local hardware store probably think I’m a total paint chip hoarder.
What are you working on now?
I’m completing a collection of watercolors and mixed media pieces which I just released last month. Those were my first works on paper and I’m so excited to share these babies with the world! Don’t worry, I haven’t abandoned acrylics and mixed media on canvas, I just felt compelled to explore watercolors for a bit; this launch will include some new acrylic pieces as well.
What techniques have you been working with lately?
Wet to dry watercolor, watercolor resist, and a bit of play using calligraphy pens and ink for some really fine lines and intriguing drips.
What are some responses you’ve received to your work?
I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from interior designers, many of whom I met this summer at various festivals. I’ve also had numerous suggestions that I look into contacting galleries in coastal locations; so much of my work is inspired by the ocean.
What advice would you give other artists?
Create every single day. Nurture that innate need for visual expression. There have been days when I can’t fit in a studio session because I’m working or mom-ing but I carry my journal with me everywhere I go and at the very least, I create a sketch or a color study. When I forget my journal, I’m scribbling on sticky notes. In the past, when I haven’t made a conscious effort to create daily, I end up feeling out of practice and really have to scrape the barrel to draw inspiration. It seems that the more accustomed we are to allowing creative thought to flow from our minds to our hands, the more quickly that well of inspiration is replenished.
Mya’s Favorite Things
We asked Mya to share her current favorite personal, cultural, and art inspirations.
Who inspires you: So much of my inspiration comes from my kids—their attention spans are so short because they are soaking in every moment and constantly cataloging images and experiences in those beautiful little brains. They help me see the tiny things, the really precious, low-to-the-ground-gotta-slow-down-to-notice-them-things.
Favorite recent discovery: Watercolors and gouache
Favorite place in the world: Any beach on Flathead Lake but also Napili Bay, Maui
Favorite charity: Every Mother Counts
Favorite colors: Chartreuse…always chartreuse. And aqua. And also shades of peach. And navy. Ok, I have color-commitment issues…
Daily website read(s): The Jealous Curator, A Cup of Jo, Emily Henderson
Song in your head: New Slang by the Shins
Favorite Instagrammer: @winkwinkstudio—so creative and hilarious!
Favorite pieces of art in your home: My Matt Shurtleff original watercolor.
Pets: Our golden retriever/lab mix named Zuma (aka Giant Fluff Ball of Love)
Favorite flowers: Dahlias, peonies, and bells of Ireland
Favorite gadgets: My six-at-a-time cherry pitter. Bam!
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: My kitchen when my hubby is cooking filet migon. There is no comparison.
Favorite drink: The GFC (which stands for something I probably can’t say here) at Plonk in Bozeman, MT. It’s a secret recipe but I’m fairly certain there is ginger vodka involved.
Favorite works of art: I just love Elaine Burge’s cows and Karen O’Neil’s lemons. I’m also crazy about a piece called “Restless” by Claire Desjardins
Favorite art supply store: Dick Blick
Favorite paints: Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic paints, Winsor & Newton watercolors, Golden acrylic gels and pastes
Photos: Courtesy of Mya BessetteComments Off on Meet a Minted Artist: Mya Bessette