Mae Chevrette, a self proclaimed painter, photographer, wandering road-tripper and all around lover of life, is our newest inspiration. Without any traditional art training, she has created quite a name for herself in the art world, and was also interviewed for Oprah’s “Women Who Make Beautiful Things” article Oprah’s O Magazine. Her work features beautiful multimedia collages that are inspired by her travels. Mae will be leading the art portion of our upcoming Art Workshop in Belize in February 2016!
We are so proud to be working with Mae that we wanted to learn more about her art and travel adventures and share them with you. Enjoy this talented woman’s words and consider spending eight days adventuring with her in Belize!
How do you prefer to travel? Luxury hotels, bed and breakfasts, friend’s couches, youth hostels, camping, etc…. How do you travel and why?
The world is filled with infinitely beautiful places, interesting people and countless adventures waiting to be had, and I believe we owe it to ourselves to travel, get out of our comfort zone and truly experience everything we can in a genuine way. I’ve stayed everywhere from five star hotels in Miami and Los Angeles, to a sleeping bag on the roof of my SUV in New Mexico… as long as I’m going somewhere new, I’m really not picky! My favorite way to travel is road tripping and camping because I love being outdoors and stargazing.
Where have you traveled to recently?
Most recently, I returned from a five week, 10,000+ mile road trip. Traveling by myself across the United States, starting in Boston traveling across to San Francisco, then north to Seattle, down through the Southwest and back to Boston. I camped or bunked in hostels for most of the trip, just wandering and exploring incredible areas including the Rocky Mountains, southwestern monuments, the Big Sur coastline, rugged Pacific Northwest forests and the beautiful expansive Nevada desert. I am currently working on paintings depicting the incredible experiences and things that I saw on the road; from wild mustangs running across the grasslands, herds of elk grazing on the cliffs above the Pacific and the sunrise over the desert were some of the most inspiring. Make sure to stop on over to my blog go into the world where I will be sharing my most recent works from my travels.
Which travel destinations have influenced your work the most? How do you express cultural stimuli in your work?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite! Every place has its own way of deeply influencing my work; I always return home with hundreds of photos to use in my work and even more memories and sparks of inspiration. If I had to pick just one, I would say that a cross-country road trip home after my freshman year of college had the most profound effect upon me… I told my mother I’d be home in two weeks and ended up spending three months on the road! It opened my eyes to my fascination with new places, unknown highway exits and solo travel. I try to collect bits of paper and memorabilia from everywhere I go to infuse the soul of those places into my artwork.
Can you share any tips for us on staying creative while on the road?
For me, it’s all about taking photos! I try to take as many as possible. Looking at them weeks or months later helps me to viewing them with new eyes and create artwork from both perspectives. During long road trips, I also keep a notepad handy to write down thoughts and inspiration when they pop up… when you’re driving alone, there are sure to be a few epiphanies along the way! A short poem I scribbled on a post-it note during my very first road trip out east turned into the inspiration for one of my best-selling paintings.
Your pieces have so many layers to them. Can you briefly describe your processes and how you translate feelings to canvas? Do you begin with ideas and collage…. Or do you begin with quotes and words and work everything else around them?
There isn’t any set recipe for my work. Some paintings begin as meticulously sketched designs with the end result in mind, while others start as just layers of paper and paint and evolve as shapes and colors spark my imagination. However, every piece begins with glued book pages to stiffen the canvas and create a sense of geometry, and I always sift through my stash of old papers and photos to find the perfect material that is relevant to the feeling I want to convey… nautical maps for ocean paintings, road maps for travel art, etc. Using relevant paper material means there are always hidden details that add to the overall feel of the painting.
You have never had any traditional art instruction, how do you think your untraditional training has influenced your work?
Being a self-taught artist has challenged me to learn by trial and error, experiment with different mediums and evolve my own very unique collage and painting techniques. I don’t think I’d have quite the same qualities to my work if I had learned these techniques from others.
Which artists inspire your work? Who do you consider your mentors?
Geninne Zlatkis, Flora Bowley, Emily Filler, and the late Dan Eldon are artists that have inspired me greatly. I haven’t been mentored by anyone in particular, but I consider Dan Eldon to be a personal art hero; he was a photojournalist in eastern Africa who led cross-continent road trips and created incredible, intense art journals that were published by his family to inspire others. His book opened up the world of adventure journaling for me and I look to it often.
What are your dreams for yourself and your art? Which directions do you see yourself heading in?
My goal as an artist has always been simply to tell my story — the places I discover, the beauty of wanderlust, the way the world looks through my eyes — and hope that it resonates visually and emotionally with those who see it. Currently I am enjoying working on very large canvases in my new studio, and in the future I’d love to publish a sketchbook or travel journal of my own.
Why are you partnered with Arts & Cultural Travel? How do you feel your collective visions mesh together?
Upon speaking with Sharon from Arts & Cultural Travel for the first time, I knew I had met a kindred spirit! The opportunity to visit unique locations, immerse ourselves in the local culture and create artwork along the way is a dream come true for me. A&CT’s commitment to creating genuine, immersive travel was what stuck out to me. Together I know we’ll build some once-in-a-lifetime experiences for adventurous and artistic travelers.
What are you looking forward to most about your upcoming travels to Belize?
I’m looking forward to creating art inspired by all of the sights and experiences Belize has to offer, being as an ocean lover I am most excited about snorkeling and exploring the reefs off of South Water Caye! Being underwater and experiencing otherwise hidden wildlife, colors and sights is very special and will lead to some amazing artwork inspiration for all of us!