Our September artist of the month is none other than Matthew Gonzalez, an up-and-coming mix-media artist and Lake Nona native. Gonzalez’s signature style is dark and alluring, showcased beautifully in works like “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Daydream” and “Fade.” Ever inspired by many arts, Gonzalez has also reimagined films that hit very close to home, like Interstellar, the Harry Potter series, and Moana. Get to know him more in the interview below.
Nonahood News: Tell us a little about your artistic background. What drove you to become an artist?
Matthew Gonzalez: It actually all started when I was a child. I would try to create color-accurate drawings in coloring books, which eventually led me drawing in sketchbooks and recreating artist’s artworks. Most of the artworks I created weren’t originals; I would just copy different styles for practice or for fun. I mainly worked with dry media up until freshman/sophomore year of high school, when my best friend at the time sent me a video of an artist painting. I was mesmerized by how the paint was mixed to create an image with the use of a paintbrush on canvas. I immediately became inspired and went to Michaels to buy art supplies, spending about $70 on paint, a sketchbook and paintbrushes. I tried coming up with my own ideas, and though they weren’t good, it was the start of something that would change my life forever. I made the decision to become an artist (careerwise) back in junior year of high school. Throughout the 5-6 years of my painting journey, I developed an overwhelming amount of love for creating things that didn’t exist before and manipulating color to create an image and a feeling that didn’t exist before.
NHN: When did you realize creating art was your passion? Do you have any other passions besides art?
MG: I realized art was my passion when I started doing it every day and wanted to do it every day. It made me feel so relaxed, inspired and confident in myself. Seeing something that you created with your own hand sitting in front of you is a feeling I can’t really describe, but let’s just say it’s magical. Throughout my art journey, people always thought my artworks were beautiful or that they wanted to be like me, and I never fully understood why and I still don’t, but the fact that I inspire them makes everything worth it.
I do have other passions, such as working out, decorating, designing, sewing/sculpting, film, traveling, visiting theme parks, and music. Working out allows me to push my limits physically and gives me a boost of confidence. As with everything else, they expand my knowledge in what is possible within the arts. Film, music, traveling, the theme park industry, and music all allow me to witness how people can express themselves and their ideas in multiple mediums and styles and yet still have a huge impact on humanity. They just in general make me happy.
NHN: How often do you find yourself creating art?
MG: I create art every week, multiple times a week whether it’s through sketching, painting, building, sculpting, decorating or planning. It is my passion and hobby and usually what I do in my free time. Most of the projects I create are self-given projects; I honestly don’t get too many commissions. For instance, this company I am working on right now was an entirely self-driven thing. Nobody told me I needed to do it; I just wanted to do it. Same goes for a vast majority of my artworks, and most of the time, I’m learning multiple things at once.
NHN: How long did it take you to discover your artistic style? Which mediums do you use in your work?
MG: It took me around three years to find my artistic style, which was back in senior year of high school. I experimented with collage and using multiple mediums and images to create a cohesive look and idea, and it quickly developed into my style today.
When it comes to painting surfaces, watercolor paper is my go-to. With my art, I incorporate multiple layers, and watercolor paper allows more flexibility than canvas. I get to rip, cut, stain and paint anything on watercolor paper, and I can stack multiple layers on top of each other as well so that I can create dynamic imagery and flow. My go-to medium is acrylic paint, but I almost always incorporate ink, gouache and colored pencils with acrylic paint so that I can get smooth gradients and accurate colors. I also use liquid gold leaf, tape, leaves, twigs and other types of paper, yet this depends on the composition and color scheme of the piece.
My main themes are usually states of mind, a topic that I’ve been passionate about since senior year of high school. I love working with darker colors and darker themes, still trying to make it beautiful at the same time. A lot of my imagery incorporates surrealism or some type of imaginary element, such as the melted butterflies in my “Dark Side of the Moon” piece, or the daydream portion of my “Daydream” piece. I also love the simplicity of landscapes, whether it be a seascape, clouds, forest or some flowers.
NHN: Which of your projects were the most challenging and why?
MG: I remember back in senior year of high school, I created a piece titled “Daydream,” and honestly, it was the most complicated out of all my AP art paintings. I spent two weeks trying to come up with the actual daydream portion, something that everyone could understand or relate to somehow. Yet, I had a realization: Daydreams can’t really be understood completely, can they? It’s abstract; everyone has different interpretations and viewpoints, so I opted for an abstract version of a daydream rather than something specific. It was a mixture of other drawings and things I put together at random, a happy accident basically.
A few months later, I finished a 30”x40” Interstellar movie poster replication for our movie room. The original movie poster had tons of smooth blending along with circular shapes and organic shapes. The daunting thing was that acrylic paint isn’t the easiest to manipulate, and yet somehow I had to figure out how to replicate it accurately. Honestly speaking, if an artist were to look at the original movie poster and think, “What medium could I use to replicate this onto a canvas?” most would choose oil paint. The thing is … I don’t like using oil paint, so throughout the couple months of painting, I had to learn how to manipulate the acrylic so that the colors blended smoothly as if it was created out of oil paint. I used glazes, washes and lots and lots and lots of layers. I had to incorporate mathematics into the painting as well. Overall, the piece took about 3-4 months to complete.
NHN: Which of your projects were your favorite to create?
MG: Some of my favorite projects were revamping my room (building shelves, doing DIYs, decorating, etc.), my Harry Potter bookmarks, my “Dark Side of the Moon” painting, Daydream piece, Moana painting, Interstellar recreation, and my mural. All of them took a lot out of me, whether it was trying out new painting surfaces (my mural is the largest painting I’ve done), learning product design, or just developing new skills and techniques. I always look at those works and think to myself, “Wow, I really did that.”
NHN: Which artists have inspired you on your artistic journey? What inspires you on a day-to-day basis?
MG: Fine artists such as Kelogsloops, Leigh Ellexon, Christopher Lovell, Knock Thrice, Lone Fox Home, Madeyewlook, Ross Draws, Guweiz, Sam Yang, and Jamie Jo Art have inspired me greatly throughout my art journey (Jamie Jo Art actually got me into painting). They all create such stunning paintings and home decor that I can’t help but fall in love with everything they do.
As with film, Christopher Nolan is my favorite director. (Interstellar is my favorite movie. The Dark Knight is also one of my favorites.) However, my favorite genre is horror. There’s something about it that gives me a thrill and actually expands my creativity in terms of visuals and colors.
Though the world as a whole inspires me, I am mainly a self-driven person, and I love to teach myself new skills and information. I just have this feeling inside of me telling me to always create and to do it well. I take heavy inspiration from my family and friends, too. Their love and support mean everything to me, and I thank them for giving me confidence throughout my journey.
NHN: Future goals/plans?
MG: In the future, I want to own an eco-friendly business that provides entertainment, art and experiences to everyone, inspiring them and allowing them to enter their own world of fantasy and imagination. I want to help the world as much as possible and to make people become happier, inspired, and tap into their creative side while also being an ally to mother nature. The Earth is struggling due to climate change and pollution, and hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to provide for both humanity and Earth. I’m planning on opening my business in mid-September.
To keep up with Matthew Gonzalez’s journey, follow him on Instagram @machutheartist or visit his website at https://matthewgonzalez.myportfolio.com/. To shop Gonzalez’s art, visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtbyMachu.