Byron-based artist Mia Taninaka radiates positive energy. From her laid-back attitude to her optimistic approach, Mia is unapologetically real - and well, we loved getting to know her. Mia creates dreamlike paintings, playfully filled with colour and mysticism. A Veda meditation enthusiast and mother to three boys, we sat down with Mia to chat art & inspiration, spirituality, and the beautiful chaos of motherhood.
1. Let us first say, we love your art - each piece is so colourful and whimsical. How did your journey as an artist begin?
In amongst all the things I’ve done and the lives I've lived, painting has always been there. It’s been a very constant friend, sometimes very dominant in my life and other times just hanging in the background. I started when I was a child and never really stopped. When I was in my early 20s I started painting professionally, then took a pretty long break when all the babies started arriving. It’s only been in the past year that I feel like I’ve kicked back into gear.
2. What inspires you most when you are creating?
Sounds around me, light casting shadows across the bed, a sentence I read in a book, a feeling of lightness, the weight of darkness. Inspiration can be such a funny thing. She comes at you when you’re driving or at the shops, but rarely when you really want her there. So now, when I’m feeling especially uninspired, I call her in quite literally. I sit down in my studio and say out-loud "I’m here, I have time and space. We have work to do. Let’s make some magic together.” Sometimes it works, sometimes she frolics away.
3. Your paintings seem to draw on mythology and spirituality, tell us a bit more about this.
I went to Japan recently and one of the things that hit me was the depth of spirituality and tradition there. It’s not a ‘hippy’ thing - it’s literally everyone, every day. From the temple monks to the busy business people, everyone is practising some level of spirituality, reverence and acknowledgement of something greater. I believe in the soul and spirit of people and places, and choose to see/feel these things in my every day - so naturally, it’s what comes out in my paintings.
4. A mum of three beautiful boys as well, how do you juggle it all?
It’s a constant whirlwind of mess, noise, chaos, tears and a whole lotta fun. Some days are smooth, and some days are very bumpy but being flexible with our schedules helps, and so does having family around. Although now we have added homeschooling to our hatrack, it will be interesting to see how this year goes!
5. At Auguste, we love the idea that our life is full of chapters. What chapters (if any) closed when you started your new chapter of motherhood?
Yes, I love this idea too. I often think of it as living different lifetimes within our bigger life, and with the change of each chapter, a death/rebirth occurs. Life before babies was doing what I wanted at all times, zero responsibility, milking every moment, spending every dollar, moving house/country on a whim. It was very selfish in the best way possible, I wouldn’t change any of it. Once I became a mother, it all changed. There was no part of me that longed for my previous life, other than maybe a bit more sleep. I was so ready to step into this new chapter and I embraced all the newness wholeheartedly. As my youngest turns 4, I feel like a new chapter is beginning for me.
6. You also create beautiful mindfulness cards, is this something you practice? How has that practice changed your life or helped you grow?
I loved working on the mindfulness cards. The cards are a lovely, innocent way to invoke feelings that commonly arise in everyday moments. Children are naturally so mindful and attentive to their inner and outer world, even if they don't understand it all. Some things that I like to practise are: Slowing down, taking in your immediate surroundings, pausing for a minute before you start the car, closing your eyes for a few moments, breathing in & breathing out, being kinder to yourself and others.
7. We loved seeing you in Auguste, it is always cool to see people make their pieces their own. What was your favourite style?
I loved being in the studio with the blue silky Isadora Mini Dress - something about wearing slippery, silky fabric and doing something messy feels a bit rebellious in a fun way. Silky fabrics on the skin always feel good too, and it’s nice to feel extra feminine when trying to tap into your creative power.