Lesson 5: Interviews From Expert Artists on their Muses

Learn From The Experts!

I’ve rounded up four artists who came to my mind immediately when I began thinking about this season to share with you today. I thought ‘who has a clear muse?’ and each of these artists fit that bill exactly. They each explore their muse with fervor and passion – but in such radically different ways. Take some time to take a look at their work and get a better understanding of their process through these videos and written interviews.

Amy Maricle: Muse Paper Cutting Shapes From Nature

Your mentor this season

Amy Maricle is an artist, board-certified art therapist, and founder of Mindful Art Studio, an online art studio that works to empower the artist in all of us. As a teacher and coach, Amy brings a gentle, “anyone can do it” approach. Her writing and art have been featured in The New York Times.com, The Washington Post.com, Psych Central.com, Spirituality & Health Online, and Art Journaling Magazine. You’ll find her at mindfulartstudio.com

Links + Gifts from Amy! 
Learn all about gathering inspiration and paper cutting
How to develop your artistic style
Free paper cutting for beginners class
Amy’s paper cutting course: Layers of Light

Gabrielle Dearman: Muse Dsytopian Societies 

What are you obsessed with that keeps coming up in your art and why?

The subjects that most compel me to create are centered around dystopian imagery. Rough textured mountains, tattered teepees, and distorted cityscapes surrounded by a rubble of rocks and debris have filled many a canvas and page in my library of artworks. Primary colors and abundant wandering lines are my favorite elements of art to work with. I love exploring structures and forms that come about from events of destruction and reconstruction.

How did you find this topic / what initially interested you?

When I was a teenager, I began to notice that I was drawn to stories of transformation. Rags to riches, Ugly duckling to beautiful swan, death to life, brokenness to restoration, hopelessness to joy. And, thanks to my dad, I was exposed to numerous science-fiction movies through my entire childhood. Combined together along with a significant amount of leftover teenage angst, melodramatic rumination, and the trend of dystopian post-apocalyptic stories in mainstream culture, my creative obsession was born.

Can you describe the process of learning more about it?

I voraciously consume movies and tv shows in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic, futuristic sci-fi genre. I watch with intention, noting the aesthetics, concepts, textures, and emotions within the stories that resonate with me. I observe my surroundings and notice textures, colors, forms that I find interesting and exciting. I enjoy doing a little research on elements of dystopian themes to further my knowledge and expand my creative vocabulary. I have dozens of Pinterest boards dedicated to storing images and ideas for inspiration and reference.

How does it influence your work?

The movies I watch, the elements I find in my world accumulate and overflow in my creative expression. Living in West North Carolina and observing so many beautiful mountain landscapes inspire me to sketch and paint what I see. Scenes of desolation, the spirit of redemption and desire to find hope and meaning in a broken world provide the material for my art.

How do you continue to make changes and iterations as you continue to create from this same topic?

I approach topics and elements from various angles. I may explore a landscape from a place of sadness and work my way to hope. I may start off drawing a similar landscape but choose to come from a quiet spirit of peace. I sketch teepees, mountains, and cityscapes in vastly different configurations. I play with linework and texture. Each page of my sketchbook, each canvas, paper surface is my creative playground to experiment and voice my ideas. I experiment with different surfaces and art supplies. I watch new shows from directors and writers that inspire me. I create in different states of mind and locations. I try out new creative techniques. Basically, it is an ongoing developmental process of observation, experimenting and expression from your authentic creative voice into a variety of artistic compositions.


Any tips for people who are looking to find, dig into and create based on something that interests them?

Buy a sketchbook! Just a simple blank-page sketchbook and a pencil or pen can be helpful in beginning to discover patterns of subjects and creative expressions that are unique to your process. Even just freely doodling or sketching abstractly on a page can transfer those elements tangibly on paper so you are aware of what those internal gears in your brain are working through. Many of my sketches and doodles later become more complete works of art. As I go back through the pages of my sketchbook, I mark pages with small sticky tabs to note that I may want to further explore those ideas that have strong visual impact and a sense of authenticity of what I want to visually say in my art.
Another wonderful skill is beginning to be mindful about what fires you up and gives you creative energy. What kinds of themes or genres of movies, books, and shows stir-up emotion for you? Don’t be afraid to creatively explore both positive and negative elements of those themes. I tried drawing and painting exclusively with positive subjects and a million bright happy colors for a long period of time, and I found myself feeling dissatisfied and inauthentic. I was creating what I thought people wanted me to make, rather than what I really needed to explore for myself.

Your mentor this season

Gabrielle has been actively artistic from early childhood. She participated in both community, public school, and college-level art courses and art clubs through her early years into adulthood. In 2009, Gabrielle moved from the metro-Atlanta, Georgia area to Asheville, North Carolina where she currently resides with her two cuddly cats: Starla Ruby, and Meladori June. She relocated to be in an environment better suited to her creative goals, and to be close to the beautiful natural surroundings that Asheville offers.

In addition to being an artist, Gabrielle has also worked with young children in various capacities since 2002. She currently works as a professional nanny for a 4 year-old girl, and 8 month-old baby boy. The parents are a creative and fun family in the restaurant business who appreciate the art and craft skills Gabrielle can share and develop with the children. Gabrielle attributes her playful style of vibrant color and movement in her creative works in large part as a result from her work with children.

Connect with Gabrielle:

Moriah Costa: Muse Mushrooms

Your mentor this season

Moriah Costa is a financial journalist and artist living in Madrid, Spain. An American by birth, she fell in love with an Irish-Frenchman, packed up her bags, and moved to Europe. Her work is inspired by modern twists of vintage items and by traveling. 

Riet Poch: Muse Fairy Tales

What are you obsessed with that keeps coming up in your art and why? 

80% of my art comes from my own dreams, fairy/folk tales and mythology. As you can see, I’m obsessed with stories- the ones I create and the ones others did. Stories open up a new world in which I can immerge myself, details and elements leave my head spinning with new ideas and I love to incorporate things with meaning in my art. 

How did you find this topic/what initially interested you in? 

I guess it’s always been this way since someone read a book to me for the first time. Since then my love for stories never ceased. I was obsessed with Greek mythology because I loved how every little detail was important; everything had its place and meaning. The stories always came into full circle and nothing was irrelevant. My own love for writing followed.

Can you describe the process of learning more about it? 

The most obvious one is reading. I constantly look for fairy tale books in thrift stores and flea markets, and always look out for tales from different countries and cultures. But also the internet is a great place to do researches.

How does it influence your work? 

What I love about folktales/fairy tales is that they are short in comparison to novels but they are so full of meaning, they are timeless and everything has its place. I love that a simple object like a mirror or an animal can have so many layered and deep meanings. It’s something I’m constantly learning from and trying to incorporate in my own work. I love when things aren’t what they appear to be at first sight.

How do you continue to make changes and iterations as you continue to create from this same topic? 

I create meaning by always looking where elements from a fairy tale play a role in my own life. I connect the dots from a fairy tale to my own story. Where are the similarities? Where and when did I experience something similar? What can I even learn from it? What do the stories, characters or objects evoke in me? Are there different layers and viewpoints that I didn’t consider? As I grow older and wiser or find myself in a different period of my life, my view on the story itself changes. Suddenly some parts of a story seem more important than others and different elements speak to me, that’s why it’s always great to revisit some stories and pick up new aspects.

Any tips for people who are looking to find, dig into and create based on something that interests them?

The things that interest you, interest you for a reason. Try to find out why you feel so inclined with them, why that sparks something in you. Often there lies a memory or story from your own life behind it. Take notes, research more information and then pick up 1-2 elements and make art from it.

Your mentor this season

Riet Poch lives in North Germany, near the coast, in a picturesque city that inspires and fuels her imagination.  When she isn’t painting or illustrating, she loves to take photographs, enjoy nature or eat all the cakes. She believes in the power of art and words.


Action Steps


Watch the interviews + soak up our experts knowledge and make any notes on how you can apply their processes to yours.