Recently, we published this article on a wonderful book Plan Canada created that was inspired by young Pakistani activist and journalist Malala Yusafzai. The Every Day is Malala Day launch featured some amazing Canadian artists, both young and old, female and male.
One of them that stood out to me was Malinda Prud’homme, a talented young painter currently residing in Toronto. Malinda’s work is delightfully dynamic and strikingly beautiful. Bordering on photorealism at times, the paintings she creates evoke a soothing beauty that seems to radiate from the very souls of the figures she depicts. I was inspired by what I saw and simply had to find out more about this talented artists and her budding professional career. Fortunately, Malinda could fit me in to her busy work schedule to chat with me about her art, life and what passions of hers lurk behind the dreamy stares that she creates so well.
Hello Malinda! Congratulations on being involved with the awesome Every Day is Malala Day launch. How was it to create work with Malala Yusafzai as your inspiration?
It was an incredible experience! As an artist that focuses on portraying the beauty of women, encompassing their strength, wisdom, allure, and so on, it was a perfect match that I take part in this wonderful event. Malala is such an inspiration to me and to so many women and girls around the world. With my piece “She Connects And Strengthens Us” I hoped to portray the connection Malala has created amongst all women. Those who know of her are immediately connected by all that Malala inspires; courage, strength, passion, knowledge, a sense of self, and a sense of belonging. To encompass all of that in one piece was thrilling.
“She Connects and Strengthens Us” – Inspired by Malala Yousafzai
When did you move to Toronto?
I moved to Toronto in September 2010. I had always wanted to live in Toronto – a big city filled with a variety of people, cultures, food, and hullabaloo – but it was better financially that I stay in Sudbury until I had completed University. Having lived here for almost 4 years I can honestly say it is everything I thought it would be. I absolutely love Toronto!
How have you found the art community here so far?
The art community in Toronto is really fabulous. All of the shows I’ve participated in have been well planned, organized, and have generally been well attended. It’s great to see that our city has a real appreciation for the arts. On top of great events, the artists I’ve met have been extremely talented and very friendly. I’ve experienced some artistic snobbery in the past where artists are overly competitive and refuse to help or advise other artists, but in Toronto everyone is a part of the same family. It’s so nice to belong.
You refer to your work as ‘beauty art.’ Could you tell me a bit more about what portraying beauty means to you as a woman in a society obsessed with a singular beauty ideal?
When I create my original artwork inspired by natural female beauty I try to express that my subject’s true beauty is seen through her unique features as well as her inner self shining through her expression. It is my hope that as I continue my work, the variety of women I portray will express that all women are unique and therefore all women are beautiful. It doesn’t matter whether they are thin, voluptuous, Caucasian, African, Indian, or any other race, have big lips, small bum, big eyes, freckles, you name it, whatever they have they should embrace it and love it and see that they are beautiful. As I continue my career I hope to meet more woman who wish to model for my work so that I can build a larger portfolio of natural beauties. Should anyone be interested feel free to e-mail me at Info@MalindaPrudhomme.com. I am always looking for muses.
You sometimes use femme-fatale imagery: cat-eye make-up, voluptuous figures and icons like Scarlett Johansson and Marilyn Monroe. What is it that captivates you about these beauty tropes, aside from their obvious classic visual allure?
At this point in my career I enjoy balancing my female beauty artwork with women I’ve encountered personally and well known women (actresses, models, etc.). When I choose popular women I always consider those that have inspired me in some way either with a character they’ve played, their talent, or some aspect of their personality. Marilyn Monroe is a constant influence in my work for many reasons. Yes, she is an iconic beauty but she is more complicated than that. She empowered women with bits of wisdom and yet suffered with insecurity. I can relate to that. I think many women can relate to that in some way. It makes her human and in her humanity I find her very beautiful. Scarlett Johansson has also inspired me since I was a young woman. She is a talented actress and a wonderful singer. It is easy to be inspired by such an individual. On occasion I am ridiculed by an observer for depicting popular women but I don’t let it bother me. Many actresses and models are worthy of admiration and are therefore worthy of being depicted in a beautiful way.
“Seeing Into the Soul”
You have a Bachelor of Education and an Arts Teaching Qualification. Have you taught in the past or are you currently teaching?
I am focusing on my artistic career full time so I am not currently teaching however I have taught a variety of subjects in the past including History, English, Geography, and Math.
How has your experience with teaching affected your art practice?
Teaching adolescent women ages 10 to 20 has had a huge effect on my art practice. I have taught so many girls who are beautiful inside and out. But did they think they were beautiful? Almost never. These young women constantly feel they need to be thinner and more attractive, and though they may be confident in other aspects of their life, that was always something they struggled with. It broke my heart. I’m hoping society will shift and start portraying a wider variety of women in the media like I wish to do with my artwork.
You seem to be quiet business minded with multiple outlets set up for the sale of your work. Is that a more recent development or have you always had that kind of access to your work?
The moment I decided I was going to be a professional artist I set up every free online source I could think of to promote my work. When I first started my online presence in 2010 I had an Etsy shop, a blog, and a Facebook group. Four years later and the list has grown tremendously. I now update and monitor my Etsy shop, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Fine Art America print shop, DeviantArt, and a website. It is a lot of work but from my experience it is worth it.
“A Mark of Beauty”
Do you have any advice regarding that for other emerging artists who maybe aren’t sure how to get themselves out there?
My advice is, get your work out there! Social media sites are free and Etsy and Fine Art America are very reasonably priced. Dedicate the time and passion necessary to make each site look appealing. Also, it’s important to be professional while still being you.
Do you have any upcoming shows or series you are working on you could tell me a little about?
A collection of my work is currently being exhibited at Tattoo Sound and Music in Toronto and I’ve received word that I will be exhibiting my work during the Riverdale Art Walk, the Big On Bloor festival, and Art Walk North this summer. I’m looking forward to getting out there and meeting some lovely people.
My work has largely been commission-based since last summer. The couple of new works I’ve created this year have been contest prizes given away as a Facebook Page incentive. I have so many ideas for new original work but at the end of the day paid work is necessary and highly rewarding. I love creating custom artwork for my patrons who I know will cherish their piece for years to come.
What do you hope to achieve with your work in the coming year?
I currently have a large scale commission (5ft x 7ft) in the works which will depict a beautiful Indian bride. I am very excited to work on this piece not only because it falls within my artistic passion but also because it will be the largest piece I have ever created. I love a challenge. Once this, as well as some other commissions, are complete I look forward to creating more artwork featuring women of different shapes and sizes showing that the female form is beautiful whether it fits into the societal standard or not.
For more of Malinda and her work, you can find her at:
Facebook Page: www.Facebook.com/MalindaPrudhomme
Etsy Shop: www.MalindaPrudhomme.Etsy.com
Print Shop: malinda-prudhomme.artistwebsites.com