Amanda Makepeace is a JordanCon favorite who has quietly built a following here for her beautiful, evocative work. In 2015, she was awarded the Judge's Choice Award by Artist Guest of Honor Todd Lockwood and the Art Show directors for her painting "Renascentia." Amanda is an Artist, Changeling, Wanderer, Bird Whisperer and part-time Owl Queen. When she is not in the studio, she is usually reconnecting with nature and the woods that inspired her as a child (and which continue to inspire her work today). If you are coming to JordanCon this year, be sure to check out her work and say hello.
What's the one thing you most enjoy about attending conventions?
I've been attending conventions as a fan longer than I have been as an artist, and I'm always amazed by the limitless creative passion. The creativity of the cosplayers, the story-makers, and the artists of all types is something I look forward to each year. And because there's no way I can can choose just one thing, I also love how willing attendees are to share they knowledge and skills with others. Even if I'm attending an event as an artist in the show, you'll often find me sitting in on panels.
How did you first discover art, or that you wanted to create art yourself?
I grew up in the sphere of a creative mother with a passion for the humanities. She kept a book of Georgia O'Keeffe art on our coffee table, featuring one of her iconic skull paintings. Copies of National Geographic were always available to flip through and I soon developed a love of world cultures, their art and customs. It also didn't hurt we lived in a suburb of Washington D.C. All of my school field trips centered around the museums. I'm sure all of these things played a role, but that moment when I felt a spark came from watching my mother draw.
I often hear artists say talent is a myth, but I think a person can be born with an innate gift. If that gift is nurtured with practice and hard work, then you have an artist. My mother never studied art, but it's clear she has that innate gift. One of my most vivid memories is watching her draw my toy dinosaurs. I would often ask her to draw things. I loved watching what seemed like magic happen on the paper. I wanted to create my own magic. From around the age of eight, I began drawing—a lot—and I never stopped.
What was the subject and title of the first piece of art you ever sold?
When I moved to London, U.K., in 2004, I began actively selling my art. The art I was creating then focused on nature. I hadn't yet begun exploring fantasy and myth themes. The Forest of Wic, while not the first painting I sold, was the first for which I received an artist's pay. The acrylic painting featured oak leaves. It was commissioned by a friend for the cover of his book, Developing Java Software 3rd Edition, published by Wiley & Sons. My friend commissioned the art, but the paycheck came from Wiley & Sons. I'll never forget holding that check in my hand, nor seeing my art on the cover of a book for the first time.
Though I wasn't painting fantastical art, the title of the painting hints at my underlying passion for fantasy. There is no Forest of Wic, it's an imaginary place I envisioned while creating the painting. Forests have always been magical places to me. I couldn't resist giving this one a mysterious name.
Which artist do you find most inspirational? Why?
There are numerous artists who have inspired me over the years. Georgia O'Keeffe, Mark Rothko, the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and Michael Parkes are a few. When I think about inspirational artists, my mind wanders to the Impressionists, a group of artists who were ridiculed and whose name was used as an insult. Their paintings were rejected again and again, seen as radical and unworthy to be exhibited.
However, with all the walls placed in front of them, they never gave up and they never compromised on their vision. They took what was meant as an insult and embraced it as the name of their movement. They were revolutionary. Their passion and determination should be a lesson to all artists, whether working in fine art or illustration.