Inside Misha's Studio: Where Hello Kitty Meets 'Ghost in the Shell'
Artist Misha works in a home studio filled with collectibles-- shelves lined with Ghost in the Shell figures, Sanrio accessories, Gloomy Bear goodies and lots of small toys that she has accumulated over the years. Amidst the hodgepodge of cute, pop culture references, she paints adorable girls with big eyes. There are the girls with cherry blossom festivals and English high teas tangled in their hair, pieces from a series called "I Wish I Could Do More With My Hair" that will appear in a forthcoming food-themed show. There's the girl with half her face appearing as a Day of the Dead skull, something that Misha considers a recurring theme in her work. And then there are the Harajuku fashionistas, several paintings representing different styles of Tokyo street fashion, that will appear in Sweet Streets opening this September.
"I got offered it and I was about ready to die," says Misha of the group show. "When I was in Japan, Harajuku was the coolest place to be and they have a lot of different street styles and a lot of fun. I didn't even get to do a lot of the ones I wanted."
"One of the big ones, she has a mask with a heart face and she's the one who is based on my favorite designer, Takuya Angel," she adds. "I got to meet him. He's really cool."
Shannon Cottrell Misha's contributions for Sweet Streets
Misha plays audio books as she paints and the Sweet Streets pieces came about while listening to the entire Dune series.
"I think it took me two and a half, three months to listen to the whole thing," she says. "So, for most of it, I was listening to Dune, which is kind of freaky. So, some of it, I'm like, this is when Paul took the Water of Life."
Misha works with Liquitex medium viscosity. Occasionally, she paints portraits on velvet, something she began when a test painting of Walter from The Big Lebowski "turned out awesome."
Shannon Cottrell "Kei" by Misha for Sweet Streets
"It takes a different skill set," says Misha, comparing her usual work with the black velvet pieces. "This stuff is my drawings, my big eyes, whereas, that stuff is more like classic portraiture."
Misha's signature style features girls with huge eyes and, frequently, elongated necks. The look of her girls came about during local artist gatherings known as Drink and Draw.
"I bought a long skinny pad of watercolor paper because I thought, 'That's interesting, why don't I try this?'" she says. "I ended up drawing the girls to fit the paper and their necks got longer and longer. They kind of reminded me of these Japanese ghost women who have these super long, long necks...It's influenced a whole new feel for me."