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<<April 2017>>
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Viewing Blog: Beautifique, Most Recent at Top
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26. Animal Chin Lives Here

Last month the good people at the Montana Skatepark Association invited me to create work on a skate deck for their annual fundraising gallery show called ON DECK 7.

The money raised will go towards construction and maintenance of  Missoula’s MOBASH skatepark. The art decks will be displayed on May 4th, at the Brink Gallery in Missoula, MT where they will also begin the silent/online auction. So lookout for that come May! Visit the MSA website for more information.

Anything that keeps us active and off the streets is A-OK with me! 

I was super psyched to be given the opportunity to create work on a skate deck since I’ve never worked on a surface like this before. Prior to receiving the skate deck I had a few ideas in mind but nothing sounded as fun as creating a tree house and possibly a place where Animal Chin lives! (Special thanks to the BF, for telling me the Legend of Animal Chin.)

Here’s the fun process of finding Animal Chins House:


Step 1:  I started out with a quick sketch of the tree and a faint mapping of where I’d like to see the leaves.

Step 2:  I painted a thin layer of gesso on top of the sketch.
Step 3:  Laid out some color for the grass and painted layer of green as an underpainting for the tree.

Step 4:  Started to lay in some actual color for the tree trunk..There goes my boss…micromanaging.

Step 5: 
 Once I got the trunk texture down, I worked on the house, and added a thin layer of gesso on the stairs for later.

Step 6: 
 I started to work on the stairs, and the little look out point on the middle left making sure to use a slightly different wood tones for the stairs so the tree and wood wouldn’t blend.

Step 7:  I was really planning to keep the natural wood exposed for the finish but it was looking too brown and very monochromatic. (Boo.) So I placed some contact paper on the tree hou

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27. The Dreaded Kill Fee

It’s definitely more appropriate to share your accomplishments, but what about rejection? This topic hasn’t really been as openly discussed as much as it should be. I’m going to wear my heart on my sleeve here and hope by sharing this experience it eases the pain a little for other creatives who’s gone through similar situations.

As a freelancer, trying to establish yourself can be quite draining.There are a few words and situations that can be traumatizing enough to threaten the livelihood of ones career. “Send me your KILL FEE” has been by far my worst and biggest fear come true.

A couple of years ago I was approached by a widely known establishment to illustrate something to go with a copy they were planning on releasing. I really wasnt clear on why I was chosen to do this commission since they wanted me to illustrate something loose and abstract. I wasn’t sure I would be able to meet their vision but I had to try. After all, this client was on top of the list of companies I’d always wanted to work with.

I spent a few days trying to create something engaging and abstract. When I sent in my inital sketches for the said artwork I got feedback to REWORK, EXPLORE, REVISE. So i did as I was suggested, days later I sent in my revisions and got the most devestating reply I had ever read:

“This isn’t working. Send me your kill fee” 

(For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a “kill fee” is otherwise known as a cancellation fee. It’s a percentage of the originally agreed upon payment that the client is required to pay should the project be terminated.)

My heart sank to my stomach. I read the message over and over again trying to wrap my brain around this horrifc sentence. I wanted to reply, no, call them to give me another chance. But I knew that pleading wouldn’t be the most professional thing to do. So I took a deep breath, ignored my quivering fingers and replied with an invoice graciously.

The days that followed were pretty bad. It felt like a really bad break up. I went through the first four stages of grief within the following weeks. At
first I denied the whole thing ever happened by deleting any evidence of correspondence. I even deleted the invoice and contract out of my records.

Afterwards I completely broke down. I cried. I cried for days (my eyes hadn’t been this puffy since they cancelled Punky Brewster) and I drowned myself in massive amounts of self pitty. After a couple of weeks, I learned to accept the loss but I wasn’t completely over the whole scenario. I took a one month break from everything. I closed the door to my studio and replaced productivity with a full days worth of sitcoms and reality shows. Fun.

If it weren’t for my family and friends, getting out of this funk would’ve been ten times harder. Having a support system helps. It

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28. We Live Beneath The Waves

There’s no way FLUID would get into this super duper high tech waterproof submarine!

I wasn’t planning on putting anything up for this weeks IF, but this seemed to fit the theme. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do! The line work of this super awesome submarine was done by my nephew, Ralph Allen.

3 or so weeks ago, I came home to find this envelope in our kitchen table. Inside this thick envelope were awesome drawings of dinosaurs and other doodles from my 7 yr old nephew.

Tucked inside all these crazy dino sketches was this amazing looking contraption that I couldn’t keep my eyes off of.

His line work was so great and detailed and I thought how great would this be colored!? So I traced Ralph Allens line work, added some details and a background… It came out great!
This idea was inspired by Dave Devries‘s Monster Engine.

 It is such a rewarding feeling knowing I’ve made an impact in his creative explorations. I wasn’t going to let his work go unnoticed as this definitely deserved more than a simple “Thank You“. This was a perfect way to thank him for sharing his work with me! :)

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29. Stars on Canvas

Got a special package from the UK over the weekend! I’m honored to be taking part in contributing artwork for The Willow Foundation‘s “Stars on Canvas” charity event taking place some time this winter of 2012. Stars on Canvas is an online auction that raises money to support and provide psychological and emotional support for the seriously ill from age 16 to 40 years of age.

I don’t think I can tell you how much pleasure I get out of knowing that I’m able to contribute to causes like these, I really do feel grateful that I’m able to help out others the best possible way I know how! I can’t wait to get started.

This blank canvas is pretty intimidating. Not only is it smaller than how I usually work, it also takes me out of my digital comfort zone! There also seems to be no theme which I find quite challenging. Totally excited!! Hopefully I’ll come up with an idea soon! Will post updates.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in participating in this years Stars on Canvas do contact Hannah Doogan at Hannah{DOT}Doogan{AT}willowfoundation.org.uk. She’d be happy to provide you more information on this great cause!

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30. Give Love

An oldie but still one of my faves.



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31. One Happy Family

Last month, I was given the opportunity to create a family portrait for an expecting mommy and her expanding family. This was one of the most enjoyable commissions I’ve received thus far. She was such a joy to work with and this is just about the most laid back family I’ve ever met.

The thing(s) I enjoy most about private commissions, is that there’s a bit more freedom in terms of what I add to each piece, whether it be playing around with new textures or brushes or a new technique etc. Private commissions allow me to grow which is just about the most rewarding experiences one can receive as an artist.

Yayers. Hope the family enjoys this as much as I do!

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32. mmm p’sgetti

preparing a meal for two of his toughest critics is definitely nerve wrecking.

One of my most favorite works so far this year. This was a lot of fun to work on. Preping up for the upcoming conference which is in two weeks has me working like that chef right now. Hopefully I’ll be finished on time and have a lot more work in my arsenal. Updates soon.

in the meantime HAPPY FRIDAY!

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33. Highlight

The highlight of their trip to the city wasn’t the city. It was Balloons!

A work in progress. I feel like its not quite there yet, but I can’t figure out what’s missing. Somethings off, somethings missing, but what? Any suggestions?


and hope everyone has a very safe and


See you all in 2012.

It’s going to be a great year.

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34. Separate but Together

It’s fun to separate a gang of pigeons and watch them fly off to different corners..

as long as they don’t poop on you on their way up.

Busy month and year ahead. Doing a series of these two kids and their adventure around New York City. Where will they end up next? Your guess is as good as mine. Preparing for next years SCBWI Winter Conference (which is less than 2 months away). Working on new art to show my agent, new promo pieces, new art for the portfolio showcase…busy busy busy. I’ve a slightly different style than what I started out with this year and a slightly different method of (digital) painting. I like it! Hope everyone does too.

I haven’t done a time-lapse video in a while…maybe I should for the next one. In the meantime, I’ve been posting work in progress captures on the Facebook page!


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35. The Toy Brigade (Plus One)


The Queen of Toy Land and her purple court jester!
He doesn’t look like he likes this game much. 


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36. Calista and Chloe

A private commission from a good friend. A gift for his wife and daughter for Calista’s 1st birthday! (so sweet.) This kid unbelievably cute. Apparently this is exactly the kind of love that Calista and Chloe have for one another. It’s interesting how their cat doesn’t claw her, if I tried to do that to my cat I’d hear grumbling followed by an intense need to squirm and claw her way out of my grip…I tried this last week..

The final image was 15×16″ so it needed to be custom framed. Had a hard time trying to find a custom frame shop that would be able to finish the frame on time for her 1st birthday. But luckily we found someone who got it done 3 days after the Thanksgiving weekend.  They did a lovely job at that. I hope they love it as much as I do.

 Tabitha got a little jealous during the unwrapping.



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37. STFD.

As always, Thanksgiving, was a time for being grateful for all the wonderful blessings that’ve been presented to us this year and all the years before…to get together with family and friends…followed by a slight feeling of regret that I may have ate a little too much. But nonetheless it was a great weekend. Our turkey?

A success!

Rave reviews about our very first turkey! So awesome. Thank goodness for the internet and showing us the perfect way to brine this massive bird. It was deeeelicious, we’ll definitely be sticking with this recipe for the future. Even my niece Chloe grabbed a second helping and her mom said she didn’t like turkey. As of yesterday, we are officially out of leftovers.  YAY!

Hope everyone had a great start to the holidays as well! 


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38. Save Me Some Turkey

Earl and his pet “dog” Lurkey, Wish you a Happy Turkey Day!

I sure do have a lot to be thankful for this year! But its all gone by so fast. I wish I could hold on to it just a little bit longer…

Oh well.

Thanksgiving lunch at my house. This year I’m going to go at it in cooking my very first turkey. Let’s hope it’s edible! Will post the outcome…


Gooble Gobble!! Happy Thanksgiving folks!

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39. Influence

One day, this will influence her to fly airplanes….or maybe it’ll just influence her to draw her playing airplanes.

When I was a kid and my dad worked overseas, he would fly back on holidays and vacations always with a bag full of gifts in his hands. One time he came back with a toy airplane that would levitate itself a few inches off the ground. When my dad left I sat on it hard thinking it would fly me to my dad….

…it levitated no more.

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40. Summer Hi-atus Update

Summers been so good to me. Been really busy. Caught up with old friends. Working on new illustrations (although not enough). Seen a lot of the sea side this summer. So grateful for that. Wish I brought my sketch book in all occasions but it’s nice to just get away from the pencil, tablet, and paper every once in awhile. Will update soon! With visuals. Until then hope everyone is having a great summer. Looking forward to fall!


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41. The Beginner

To think it all began with small pieces of chalk and a blank canvas. Actually, it all started with mom’s lipstick, a teddy bear, the carpet, the sofa…..you get the point.

Still in the process of tightening this one but I haven’t posted and in a while and thought it was really due time.
Be Back Soon!


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42. RLMN Winner!

Totally can’t wait to work on the winning idea! Thank you again for everyone who participated the ideas were so awesome!!! Special thanks to Yileen for posting this contest on her amazing blog!

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43. Lil’ Mother Nature Revisited (Contest)

Hey yall!

I’ve been racking my brain recently about trying to create another scene/situation for this little diva and sadly I have come up empty. So I thought I would ask you for some help… (help!)

While we’re at it I thought it would be fun to create a contest out of it to make things a little more interesting. Submit your best idea or scenario for our little character above. The winning idea will receive a $50 American Express Gift Card and a print of the image above as well as a printed copy of the winning idea/suggestion! Fun!


- Please post a comment on this post and/or post a wall comment on the Beautifique Facebook Page by March 31st 2011 for your idea to be considered.

- Keep in mind the theme here is “Raising Lil’ Mother Nature”, so I’m looking for different scenarios that Mother Nature could’ve gotten herself into as a child. The character needs to imbue authority, innocence, playfulness and a whole lot of energy and curiosity.

- Please keep the ideas kid friendly.

- Winner will be announced on The Beautifique Facebook page and the blog on Monday April 4th !

Good luck yall!

I’m excited to read you’re ideas!

Oh and feel free to spread the word around. The more ideas the better!

Thank you!!

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44. SCBWI Conference 2011

What a busy month this’s been! A lot of projects on the plate and…

Such an amazing weekend attending the SCBWI Winter Conference here in NYC. Full of inspiring keynote speakers like Jules Feiffer, R.L Stein, Dan Yaccarino, Sara Zarr…the list goes on but I won’t.

The whole weekend was filled with such an amazing rush of energy! I’ve never felt so much comfort and support from such an overwhelming amount of people (over 1100 attendees!). I can’t wait until the L.A Conference this summer! I’m totally hooked.

Managed to take some pictures and videos along the way, I’ll try and post some of my fave videos later this week!

More updates later. Happy Monday for now!!

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45. OH sNO!

Dear Dearest Snow,

———– You win. I snowrender. Now go away.

Love Always (preferably once a year),

Nina Mata

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46. Come and Ride the Cannabis Train!

With all the things going on lately like preparing for the SCBWI art showcase, Art Blocks for Ghana, and my new position as a 2D concept artist (uhm fun!), it’s been a real challenge trying to balance time and keeping up with other freelance projects. (But I do soooo love being busy!!!)

Thank goodness everything’s slowly settling down (not really) and I’m (kinda) getting the hang of organizing my time (not really!) a little better than the past few weeks.

Finally got around to completing the first color comp for a project I started earlier last month for a medicinal cannabis company over on the west coast. Thankfully my client already had a specific vision of what he wanted and all I had to do was produce it as closely as possible to what he described.

Loved playing around with the pattern of the clouds. I decided not to put as much detail on the front of the train, which is usually a main focal point so that the focus would remain on the shape and direction of the clouds and the cart. I seriously had fun with this one!

Until next time! Happy Friday!

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47. Art Blocks at Culture Fix

Last week was the opening of the pre-preview gallery of the art work for Art Blocks for Ghana at Culture Fix, where they displayed 50 of the 200+ contributed artwork from local NY artist, and Blue Sky Studio employees. The turn out was great!!! Had an amazing time meeting and greeting with some of the contributors and the amazing people who put this all together. All the artwork looks amazing!  I seriously can’t wait till the 26th of February to see ALL of the work displayed at the New Art Center! It’s going to be spectacular!

I wish I thought to take more pictures, but i was too busy enjoying the ambiance. Ah well. Next time!

If you happen to be in NYC or would like to take part in the festivities on Saturday Feb 26th would totally love to see you there! The event is going to held at the New Art Center and is sponsored by AOL and Digital Domain. It promises to be a fun night of great company, food, drinks, a little music and plenty of eye candy! Click here to purchase your tickets. Hope to see you there!!!

Have a great week YALL!!

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48. Love Chops! MM!

Last year my boyfriend and I started an excellent tradition. We both decided that staying in and cooking together is a much better way to spend Valentines day than going out. We both love cooking, experimenting with different types of ingredients and most importantly we LOVE cooking together. It really is therapeutic, at least for us anyway.

If you’ve been following the good old blog since last year, then you probably remember how successful our Lobsters and Paella dinner was!

This year we decided to experiment with an ingredient in which we’ve never played with before. Lamb chops!

Which I thought was going to be a little hard to find but thankfully as we were driving around we just happened to pass by a Halal Supermarket (yah I know right? What’re the chances!?).

When we got home he prepped up the lamb, with his own special seasoning rub, and prepared the bbq grill (yes, in the dead of winter!) while I prepped up the salad and table (and drank all the wine..).


I can’t wait till next year!


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49. Meowsuit

Cats can knit themselves into a sweater if they play hard enough.

Something super quick for this week.  I’d like to be able to say that my cat gets herself into these adorable predicaments, but unfortunately she’s much too smart and snooty to play with a ball of yarn…I’ve tried many a times..although she did get her head stuck on a plastic bag handle one time in which we learned that our cat can fly from one end of the room to another in 2 seconds flat!

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50. Swarm

Poor kid. Didn’t we all have moments like this growing up? I know I did! When petty insecurities would take over and the swarming of whispering voices would echo so loudly in ones mind.
Bet this kid grows up to be a personal trainer and make his billions selling exercise tapes..!

Wanted to participate in this week’s topic. A previous editorial illo for LA Kids Mag last year. Haven’t had time to work on anything lately (BOO). I will soon though! Promise.

Happy Tuesday Kids!

Oh and P.S.: Some pics from the ABFG are up on the Facebook page!

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