Hiromi Watanabe

Poet and painter, Hiromi Watanabe creates work that is about healing and fantasy. Recently, in 2023, Hiromi has discovered joy in sketching the performances and daily live broadcasts of musicians she has met through exhibiting her paintings at live houses.

A Rose Tree's Story - Watercolor 333 x 242 mm NFS

Hiromi Watanabe creates work that is about healing and fantasy. From Tokyo, Japan, Hiromi is a contemporary artist and graduate of the KWANSEI GAKUIN University. She has received the 6th Star Birth Grand Prix for "Hiro Yamagata Process" and was a Finalist in the 2021 CFA Contest for Exhibition at Spectrum Art Fair, Brooklyn with World Wide Art.  In 2021, Hiromi also received a Finalist Award at the 47th International Artavita online Art Contest. She has shown work internationally, including fourteen solo shows and four shows overseas. 

Also a published poet, Hiromi is the author of the poetry collection "Songs spelled out in feelings for that person" including the poem "Thank you for being born," available at ePhoenix.co.  In 2022, her art book titled "Watercolor Croquis Draw with Free Colors," was published by NextPublishing Authors Press. 

A recurring theme in her paintings is the "smile," which, for her, represents painful experiences of the past.  The artist has suffered from Myasthenia Gravis (MG) and has faced death. It also has to do with the bitter memories of school days when she was not allowed to express her feelings. It was a very painful experience and she seems to have been desperate to live in the future. 

After treatment and rehabilitation, Hiromi has been able to think positively and create art that provides healing: "If it helps someone who has a hard time like me."

In 2023, Hiromi illustrated a third picture book, "A Rose Tree's Story" (written by Makomo Eyama, published by Nicomo). In addition to publishing three picture books with illustrations, Hiromi is involved in a total of 15 books featuring illustrations and poems.

live stream sketch_ Syoma Furugohri & Taisuke Kanda - Watercolor 297 x 210 mm $1000
live stream sketch_ Saika Yoshida - Watercolor 297 x 210 mm $1000
live stream sketch_ Saika Yoshida & Syoma Furugohri - Watercolor 297 x 210 mm $1000
Welcome home - Watercolor 267 x 201 mm $200
Angel - Digital media 2269 x 2000 px
The END of Love - Ranunculus - You are full of charm - Watercolor 410 x 318 mm
Beloved - Watercolor 410 x 318 mm
Watercolor Croquis - JAZZ MAN 2 - Watercolor 380 x 270 mm
Bodhisttva - Watercolor 410 x 318 mm
Elegy of Love - Watercolor 333 x 242 mm
Peaceful Prayer Angel - Watercolor 267 x 193 mm
Joy of Live - Watercolor 410 x 318 mm
Forgiveness - Watercolor 728 x 515 mm
Bodhisttva 2 - Watercolor 728 x 515 mm

This review was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist


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Marissa Madonna

Born in: 1990, United States
Lives in: Wilmington, North Carolina, United States
Describe your art in three words: Representational, Detailed, Sentimental
Education: BFA in Illustration from Hartford Art School
See More Work:  www.marissamadonna.com

Ballerina in Blue - Acrylic and Colored Pencil on Hot Press Watercolor Board, 15 x 12 in.

"My artwork is inspired by visual storytelling and capturing my subject’s likeness. A mixed media approach combines the freedom of laying bold washes with the tight control of drawing. As the piece is built up in many thin layers, I can carefully explore all the details. Quilting these details together as a visual story is where I find my greatest artistic passion."

What themes does your work involve?
Themes in my work are story and sentiment. My work brings together inspirations from all throughout my life – from my childhood memories to the relationships and roads travelled into adulthood. Each part has brought growth that I love to capture in art.
Describe your creative process.
I begin each project by gathering reference materials, most often photographing live models. While there may be an idea in mind beforehand, sometimes working with the model will inspire an idea for a painting. One of my favorite parts of the process is composing my ideas into a preliminary sketch. The sketch is then transferred onto the final artwork surface – either hot press watercolor board or toned paper. A mixed media approach combines acrylic ink with colored pencil, and finally opaque white acrylic for highlights. The piece is built up in many thin layers, focusing on each detail while also seeing the picture as a whole to create balance in the composition. I think of the value structure and each element of the painting as instruments of an orchestra playing together in concert.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am constantly inspired by the people in my life and the experiences along the way. My inspiration is an eclectic collection of memories and stories – sometimes even expanding upon real life in my artwork. My greatest artistic influences of all are my mentors from Hartford Art School. The techniques used in my work were handed down from them directly, and over time expanded upon in my own way. Always embracing my foundation in traditional drawing and painting techniques, I have been dedicated to carrying on the legacy of my mentors. They helped me grow not only as an artist, but as a person. I am truly grateful for their incredible support and influence in my life.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
I think that good art tells a story in some way, evoking significant meaning for the viewer (or artist!) When these elements come together in a visually beautiful way is what truly makes art great to me. I believe every artist has their own unique voice and that there is something beautiful to be found in every piece of art. Each viewer brings their own experiences and influences with them when looking at art, making each viewing experience unique. In this sense, I believe that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
What is the role of the artist today?
One of the most important roles of the artist is to tell stories, documenting the events and memories of today in a lasting and meaningful way through art. I see an artist’s greatest purpose as being able to inspire others, passing the torch to the next generations the way my mentors passed it on to me.
Timeless Collection - Acrylic and Colored Pencil on Hot Press Watercolor Board, 11.75 x 11 in.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Michael Potts / MYQ

Born in: 1977, USA
Lives in: Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Describe your art in three words: Spiritual, Reflective, Mind-expanding
Education: BA - English, Minor in Chemistry - Bucknell University
See More Work:  https://myq-art.com | IG:MRP_Visionaries

Reflection -
Archival Epson Digital Photography Print - $500 - 11x14 image on 13x19 paper

"In my underwater work I seek moments of sublime peace (that fine line where the conscious and subconscious meet) and the creative chaotic (where energy is released that fine line is broken and the potential becomes kinetic). I see the water as a metaphor for a dream medium and I try to meet my subjects on that boundary and hope that we are able to take the viewer from tranquil peace."

What themes does your work involve?
My work the last few years has focused on rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings using water and bright light sources to express these themes.
Describe your creative process.
Most of my work is discovered in that I rarely plan it out ahead of time. There have been a few successful pieces that I conceived and created, but most are in the moment and found in the making.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I love high contrast black and white with water and bright light that is either peaceful or contains an element or flavor of the abstract. However I think being able to work with people I like is the best part of it and I want to create with those people because then the image means more to me, and if I love it there's a greater chance the viewer will feel that.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
There's the rub. There are different ways to answer that. You could say any piece that gets made is good because someone took the time and energy to create it. We could say that art needs that je ne sais quoi element that elevates it to meaning. Maybe it just needs to connect to someone, and I suppose we could say that the more people it connects to the "better" it is, but mass also breeds mediocrity. Ultimately it should speak to the human condition and a truth about our being and existence.
What is the role of the artist today?
I think art should first be for art's sake, but if an artist is able to see outside of the box of daily life and question "why are we doing what we're doing?" then the role is to provoke the question and perhaps offer a possible solution.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Bryce August LeFort

Born in: 1984, Philadelphia,PA, USA
Lives in: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Describe your art in three words: Fluid Intentional Respectful
Education: University of Pennsylvania – BA
International Yacht Restoration School
California College of the Arts – MFA
See More Work:  www.theaugustmade.com

Let's Meet Back Here - Laminated Poplar ; 5' x 8' x 5' ; $11800

"My work is an intersection of organic design and craftsmanship. My sculpture originates from the traditional, yet contemporary, art form of boatbuilding. It evolves from the developing of techniques and processes, to create pieces that are immersed with fluidity and movement. With a tireless pursuit of excellence, my work is immersive and inspirational as both art and craft."

What themes does your work involve?
In my work, I hope the process and production stand equal in content as their result. I create pieces built on the techniques and craftsmanship of generations of makers that honors their history. The time and dedication allow me to reflect what I see and want to see in the world around me. In my art, I capture fluid movement and passage of time in the moment.
Describe your creative process.
Each of my works is arrived at differently. Some pieces are fully conceived, and it becomes a process of how to create the work. Other pieces are born from a material or technique that I think needs to be explored further to realize the possibilities. Almost all my work is a combination of the two creative processes. My practice is a journey that is constantly evolving as I work.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Everything influences my art. How objects around us are made, the materials, shapes, color, and our interactions with each. Nature and specifically the ocean I feel a deep connection. The fluid movement of water and my background as a boatbuilder resonate throughout my practice. I hope my work can inspire others to look for the potential in materials and process, not to replace what exists but to evolve and expand.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
The best part of art is it can be great in different ways to everyone. For me being able to make art is a gift, that I try to pass along to the viewer. Great art draws in the viewer, it can shift our perspective of what is possible, it can completely capture a feeling or a moment, it can transport us to a place we have never been, or we are eager to return. Great art is made with respect for the materials, process, and the viewer.
What is the role of the artist today?
I believe an artist is responsible for listening as well as communicating. While the individual artist can only create from their own perspective, it is experienced by many. An artist can look beyond oneself to give the viewer the opportunity to participate with the work. An artist is a vessel for creation, that does not conclude upon completion, it continues with the viewer in their thoughts and memories. It is an honor.
Paper Rings - Laminated Douglas Fir and Copper Foil ; 36" x 32" x 16" ; $1750
The Way I Am (2022) - Laminated Douglas Fir ; 7' x 5' x 5' ; $12500
Ain't No Mountain High Enough, 2022 - Laminated Douglas Fir ; 48" x 54" x 28" ; $4200
Call My Name, 2023 - Laminated Mahogany ; 68" x 38" x 10"


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Heather Allison

Born in: 1982, United States
Lives in: Santa Cruz, California, United States
Describe your art in three words: Dramatic, Contemplative, Emotional
Education: M.F.A. Fine Art Photography, Academy of Art, projected graduation Spring 2023
B.F.A. Art History, Academy of Art
A.A. Photojournalism, Brooks Institute of Photography
Master degree Diploma
See More Work:  http://www.heatherallisonphotography.com

Copia - Photography, 32"x22", $2000

"Preoccupied with mortality most of my life, the unexpected loss of my father inspired my fine art work with focused on grief, memory, and death. I embrace the long-standing tradition of vanitas tableaux in an effort to acknowledge death and the beauty of living."

What themes does your work involve?
My work embodies concepts of grief, mortality, mourning, and death. While this may sound morbid, it is instead about inspiring life through an acknowledgment of our mortality. Grief is complex and never really goes away, but it does change with you as you change. I document my own experience of grief in my still life work and look to connect with the dead and living. I play with color theory to evoke emotion and use light to communicate feeling.
Describe your creative process.
My process begins with an inspiration or concept for an image. I then go about collecting all the props needed to realize the vision. I use antique objects, period correct when I able, I use fresh flowers and sometimes bone to fill my compositions. I spend a lot of time at antique shops searching for the perfect item for a work and tracking things down through antique dealers. I also work closely with my local florist to ensure I am able to find the flowers I want to include. Additionally, a few years ago, I started growing flowers in my own garden so there is always something blooming to photograph. I can spend anywhere from four to twelve hours on a composition, moving the objects and making adjustments so everything is just right before I click the shutter.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I find influences everywhere, and often in unexpected places. That said, the focus of my work shifted following the death of my father. I found myself lost in grief and felt so alone. I became obsessed with the mourning and death rituals of all cultures and how these have changed over time to become what they are today. I began to indulge this fixation through my still life work. I am extremely inspired and informed by the 17th century Dutch Masters, their lighting, the light of Caravaggio, and art history in general. I make art to connect with others, my experience, and the world around me.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
This is such a loaded question! For me, connection and emotion is what makes art great. While the Northern Renaissance painters will always have a huge place in my heart, I love experiencing art across all mediums. Some of my most emotional experiences have been with abstract expressionist works. What makes a piece of art great for me is that deep communication that can happen between artist and viewer. If something makes me smile, makes me cry, makes me feel what the artist who created the work was feeling, if it reminds me of something in my own experience, if I carry that work with me after seeing it, it is a great piece of art.
What is the role of the artist today?
The role of the artist today is complex, but also simple. I chose art because it is a way for me to create beauty, to celebrate all aspects of life, and to explore the human experience. I think art should be accessible to all and should be a conduit for open communication and expression. I hope that art and the artist are able to inspire uncomfortable conversation, provide refuge, understanding, and joy. In my work, I aim to create a safe space for anyone and everyone to connect and find themselves and their experiences in the imagery.
Brevis - Photography, 18" x 22", $1200
Hām - Photography, 18" x 23", $860
Cyclus - Photography, 19" x 24", $900
Hāēlan - Photography, 19" x 24", $900
Lifian - Photography, 22" x 14", $60
Fallen - Photography, 23" x 18", $860
Sāwan - Photography, 22" x 14", $600
Vanus - Photography, 24" x 19", $960
Memorie - Photography, 22" x 14", $600


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist