Maddie Gordon is one of our favorite people, and an incredibly gifted and inspired artist. She lives on a houseboat, pickles kelp, and rides her bike rather than driving a car, but those are just a few of the things that make Maddie interesting. The 24 year-old artist is funny and down-to-earth, and wise well beyond her years. We interviewed her to find out more:
Women’s Heritage Skillshare: How long have you been creating art?
Maddie Gordon: Growing up, art was always my favorite passtime. My mum is a wonderful artist and would take me to her art courses with her. I remember meeting her friends and seeing the weird sculptures, abstract paintings, piles of thrifted fabric and life drawings that they created. It was an alien world to me, but so intriguing. I majored in Art and Design throughout most of education, and ended up focusing on Graphic Design as a platform to carry my illustration. I now do both, combing them.
WHS: What inspires you?
MG:Most of my inspiration comes from trips that my husband and I take. We live on a sailboat and journey across the channel often. The Channel Islands are a never ending source of inspiration for me, with their abundant marine life and flora. When we’re not sailing, we’re heading out on the road. Our trips North always inspire me. Those dark, damp forests that blanket much of the northern coastlines are so special, with their fairytale fungi and wild edibles, fresh water creeks and trees as old as the land.
WHS: What are your favorite subjects to paint?
MG: I love to painting small moments, vignettes of times that I yearn or experiences that I fondly remember. I love to paint people swimming in rivers and alpine lakes, or diving into the saline waters of the Channel. I love to paint people naked, dancing under white moonlight, or collecting edible flora from the hedgerows. My childhood spent in the countryside in England has inspired me a lot too, with its knee-high soft grasses and papery wildflowers, and its layers of violet bluebells and wild garlic that give vibrance to the forest floor. All of these things emerge in my artwork, it’s often a struggle to focus on just the one moment that I am trying to capture.
WHS: What’s it like living on a boat?
MG: I adore my floating home. It’s comfortable, cozy and has allowed me to shed all of the things that I don’t need and don’t love. It’s been incredibly therapeutic, I feel purging our ‘stuff’ has enabled us to have more clarity, a sort of spring cleaning of our minds. We joke that if we moved into a house, we’d perhaps be able to fill a small study or guest room with our belonging, but that’s it.
WHS: When you are not painting, what do you like to do?
MG: When i’m not painting, I love to cook. I eat a mostly vegan, plant-based diet which I supplement with fresh, local fish, that we often catch ourselves. I like to experiment with fermentation and sprouted foods! I’m always trying to learn more about healing foods and herbs, as well as foraging. There is just SO MUCH to learn and so many amazing, inspiring people to teach it. For that, social media has been an indispensable tool to connect like-minded people.
WHS: What are three interesting things about you not many people know?
MG: I am now a permanent resident of the USA!
My childhood was spent vacationing to a nudist camp in England with our motorcycle and side-car towing a 1960’s caravan.
I would love to have written and illustrated a children’s book by age 40.
WHS: Tell us about The Tiny Mess?
MG: The Tiny Mess is book project that my friend Mary Gonzalez, my husband Trevor and I are working on. It’s a cook/photo book focusing on tiny kitchens and the people that use them. We’re traveling the West Coast meeting interesting people with wild, alternative homes and documenting how they use their space. We’ve met some truly inspiring people! We will be launching our Kickstarter campaign in July where the book can be pre-ordered!
WHS: Thanks Maddie! You’re the best!