When Inspiration Gives Way to Passion.
Interview with Artist
M Matic Art

"The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration." Frida Kahlo

1/06/2015- Lily Steele

Lily: so tell me about yourself, what inspired you to become an artist, and did you know that is what you always wanted to do for a living?

Milena: I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Now residing in Vancouver Washington. What inspired me to be an artist was watching my cousin Valdo paint.  He was an incredible oil painter.  When I was about five years old all the kids in my neighborhood would go outside to play and I would sit and watch my cousin paint all day.  He got so used to me hanging around, so he always had a stool ready for me next to his canvas. He would prop me up on the stool and I would hand him brushes and he would tell me that I should be outside playing with the neighborhood kids. But, I never listened. I would watch him paint these beautiful paintings by mind. I used to tell him that when I grew up I wanted to be a painter just like him. He would tell me that anyone could paint, but it has to come from the soul.  Many years had passed and I lost touch with him. My parents went to visit him years ago and the first thing he asked them was "is Milena painting?"  My parents told him that I was painting and selling my art and that he was the one that inspired me to do so.  He was definitely my inspiration.  I work a full time job currently, however any chance I get I paint.

Lily: What is the most personally gratifying project that you have gotten to be part of as an artist? Why?

Milena:  I would say my most gratifying project that I have been a part of are painting for charities and currently a collaboration that I am working on with an  fellow artist and great friend Caroline Green. Mostly, I enjoy giving my art to charitable auctions., anything to help those in need is pretty much my motto.

Lily: What is your favorite piece of work that you have created? Did it sell or do you still have it?

Milena: A while back I watched the movie "Frida" with Salma Hayek.  After watching the film, I wanted to know more about Frida Kahlo as an artist.  The moment the film ended I started painting Frida.  I sold that art piece the next day to a wonderful couple that loved Frida Kahlo as much as I did.  They knew so much about Frida and her history.   I am happy to say that my Frida Kahlo painting will be hanging in there home in Mazatl├ín and it is in good hands and that makes me happy.

Lily: What are some of your goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Milena: I will be painting until the day I leave this planet. Painting and Art mellows me it takes me to places in my mind that I didn’t know existed...etc., there is no limit to art and where it can take you. 

Lily: I noticed that you helped write a Children’s book with Carrie Green called “Chonzy The travelling Cat Explores Portland.” What inspired this collaboration and would you make more Chonzy books in the future?

Milena: YES!  I had this idea for years.  A cat that travels the world!  I came up with this idea years ago and just sat on it. I wasn’t a good writer but I knew what Chonzy would look like and how to illustrate his character. I wanted to make a children’s book that was a fun adventurous journey of exploration and knowledge.  I met Artist, Caroline Green at an art show in Portland Oregon a few years back and I loved her work. We  became friends and one day I ran my idea by her.  So we decided to do a collaboration.  I gave her the background of my idea for the book so she wrote and I did the  illustrations  Chonzy travels across the country exploring new cities while learning fun facts along the way.  I’m proud to say that we have finished our first book and have already started on the second book of the series. 

Lily: Where is Chonzy headed to next?

Milena: Chonzys heading to Seattle for the second book. Our Coloring book will be out around thanksgiving/Christmas. I have a plan to contact and work with Dorn Becker's Children's Hospital to make a bunch of Chonzy coloring books for the kids and hand them out at Christmas. It’s not set in stone yet until I get an ok from the hospital. Also I want to add that the Chonzy Portland book is officially a coloring storybook as of a week ago. We will start marketing that book on FB & twitter soon.

Lily: Where is the one place you have always wanted have your work shown?

Milena:  I would have to say the "big apple". New York.

Lily: Who are some of your favorite artists that you are inspired by?

Milena:  Frida Kahlo, Picasso, VanGogh, Ivan Albright

Lily: What are you the most grateful for in life?

Milena:  My parents and my brothers who taught me to never give up.

Lily: What is your greatest achievement so far? Why?

Milena: R.A.W, awards The 2012 Indie Art  Awards. Portland Oregon Visual Artist of the Year. - One of the five semi-finalists. 

Lily: Do you have any new projects in the works?

Milena: I will continue to work with charitable auctions and will be working on a Children's Coloring Book soon. Other than that paint, paint, paint.

Lily: What Charities have you helped support with donated works?

Milena: Angels in the Outfield auction for abused; neglected children is a recent charity I donated art to.
Fish First is another "restoring world and native fish runs fishfirst.org
Also donated a Nikki Sixx painting to Kerri at Kasem's Kasem Cares Foundation kasemcares.com
I donated a few art pieces for auction for a women’s shelter in Portland.

Lily: Tell me about Chloe McCarty..

Milena: Chloe McCarty, is a girl with Trichotillomania. I saw her viral video on YouTube a few years back and it got to me. So I contacted her parents and we collaborated on the painting for her.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hlKHHunpg

I have pictures of her receiving the painting. The painting was called “Haters Are My Motivators.”

I pick random people every so often on my Facebook page and I contact them and tell them that I will be painting something for them .

Lily: That is phenomenal! I bet it totally made her feel special?

Milena: She loved it!

Lily: what are some of your hobbies other than painting?

Milena:  Mountain Biking, and I love to read - Edgar Allan Poe, Hemingway, Oscar Wilde - The Classics.

Lily: what artist supply material can you not live without? Why

Milena: My brushes, I have them everywhere!

Lily: If you could live anywhere in the world and create art where would it be? Why?

Milena: Croatia is such a beautiful country.  I have never been there .. my parents immigrated from Croatia and came to the U.S. years ago.  I would love to meet the artists of Croatia, the serenity of culture lures me.

Lily: What are your top 5 favorite songs that are on your playlist now?

Milena: Sleeter- Kinney "Bury our Friends", Seether "words as weapons", Lana Del Rey "once upon a dream", Bob Schneider "Swimming in the Sea", Bob Schneider "Let the Light In".

Lily: How do you get your artwork noticed online?

Milena: I look on twitter or fb to find pages that are asking for art work such as Art for Alma.

Lily: I noticed that your Orange is the new black painting is trending on Twitter recently how did that happen?

Milena: I watch the show I think it’s hilarious. One night I just decided to paint a few of the characters’ I  have also painted a few free painting for a couple of local bands such as Kid Pistol; Devin James. And A few professional boxers Paul Smith Jr, and Tommy Rainone; Comedian Tracy Locke.

Lily: Tell me one thing that you want people to know about your work?

Milena: It is Vibrant and it will catch the eye of the art lover

Lily: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists that you would like to share?

Milena:  Support each other. Don’t let ego take the reins. There are a lot of talented artists out there and they all deserve the chance to shine.
Lily: Where can we find your work online?

Milena:  I am working on a website as we speak.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1320083161/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_awdm_tWwSub12T3Q06

The Law of Attraction is a huge passion of mine. It’s amazing how we grow up believing that you can’t just make things happen. That’s make believe they say…But if you look at almost every form of religion you will find that they all say the same thing. That if you have faith and trust in a higher power you will be rewarded with wealth and their prayers being answered. What they don’t say is that it all comes from your vibrations that we put out to the universe. Faith backed by a burning desire, and daily visualization and focusing on the feeling of your goal as if its already a reality is what manifests it. If we send out negativity we get that back and vice versa. What you think about you bring about essentially. I find that if I practice being grateful for what I already have, it allows more opportunities to come into my realm of possibilities to be grateful for. Life always seems to send you the most lovely things when you least expect it that way. As a good friend of mine says “You must be like the river and flow”…As I delve deeper into learning how to tap into a higher consciousness, I have decided to enact pay it forward Mondays to start the week off with a smile and improving someone’s day along the way. This world certainly has enough negativity, what’s wrong with spreading a little positivity and love?
Allow me to share a story that a friend told me years ago.
Two mice are hanging out in this room and every day they are brought new cheese. Then one day, the cheese stops coming. The cheese they have had for so long was gone. They were starting to starve. Then one of the mouse noticed another door that was open that wasn’t there before, and he wanted to go see what was on the other side of that door. So he tells the other mouse about the door, and the other mouse says no I am not going anywhere! They will feed me soon they always do. So the first mouse says that he doesn't want to stay and die he’s leaving and going to the next room. Sure enough when he gets into the next room there is a big plate of cheese and a fresh bottle of water. Moral of the story is that you can stay stuck in your head and suffer. Or chose to step outside ourselves and face the fear head on and grow.

Lily Steele
Creative Director

NW Artist Connection
Where Artists and Communities United (425)212-7397