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Maria Esperanza Larrazabal - Drawing up Inspirations

"August is the border between summer and autumn; it is the most beautiful month I know."

Here's a beautiful quote we love, from Finnish female artist Tove Jansson; and it's just a perfect start for this month's Art Mama Spotlight, as we welcome Mama Maria Larrazabal, a self-taught figurative illustrator, and mother of 2 and a fur baby. Read on for her story:

'I Designed Clothes for Myself as a Kid'

Ever since I was a child, I always found myself drawing human faces and figures, and my interest in fashion drew me to these kinds of illustrations. Growing up, I remember designing clothes for myself and my imaginary models. Eventually this interest led me to taking up Clothing Technology as a Degree in university.

In one of the courses there I learned how to paint on my figure drawings using water colour. That was my first dip into the wonderful world of painting. It was something I enjoyed but somehow, I never found myself diving into it as the medium was something I struggled with. As time passed by, I found myself moving towards the business side of the fashion industry and ended up pursuing that as a career instead of fashion design and the artistic side of the industry.

Maria's artwork - a human portrait

Traveling around the World Opened My Eyes to Art

Art was always something that I enjoyed looking at. The travels during my youth opened up the world to me about the beauty of art and design.

Growing up in a small town, art was really more just in books and prints. There was not much learning to do back then and it was not very tangible in my experience. I suppose this was the reason I was drawn to fashion as the visuals about clothes were the easiest available to me back then.

Having access to museums during my travels and living in Singapore piqued my interest in art. Whenever I visited museums, galleries or art exhibitions, I would try to recreate it in my mind and envision how I would create certain paintings in my own perspective. There was always that belief that I could make things and felt like I just needed to actually do it to make it happen.

Maria's artwork - A Peranakan woman and a macaque

The Biggest Drive behind Chasing My Dream

When I had my kids, I decided to focus my time into raising them instead. Raising my kids has been fun and fulfilling to say the least. It is something I do not regret and for sure something I know I will look back to in the future, with a smile knowing that I was there for my kids and raised them with my full attention and time.

As the kids grew, I found myself having more time to refocus back again on my dreams. The innate drive in me to create was ever more growing. As with my past inclinations, I started dabbling on figurative art where I would make portraits of people in cartoon like style. I started that way as it felt less daunting as compared to doing them more life like. I was self-aware that my skills definitely needed more honing.

My Favourite Model

My kids were always my favourite subjects to create for until eventually I started making some for friends and family. That led me to gradually doing more figurative illustrations, dabbling on watercolour then to acrylic and then finally oil as a medium where I find myself finally at a moment where I was happy to be doing more of my work.

Maria's artwork - A child's portrait

Lastly, I enjoy being creative and doing art that I love and yet, still have the time and freedom to be completely involved with my kiddos. Their exposure to the art that I do has also encouraged them to appreciate art and dabbling in their own form of self-expression.

And this is something I will never regret doing for myself, and them.

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