Artist of the month: Mizuki Nagae

<i>Luck and Mischief</i> by Mizuki Nagae. This digital piece features both storytelling and cultural elements that are characteristic of Nagae’s art style. Photo courtesy of Mizuki Nagae.

Luck and Mischief by Mizuki Nagae. This digital piece features both storytelling and cultural elements that are characteristic of Nagae’s art style. Photo courtesy of Mizuki Nagae.

Adrienne Deslongchamps, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Meet Mizuki Nagae, a senior at Loretto Academy and one of the most brilliant artistic minds that this school has to offer.

She has been a member of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) since her junior year, and a student at Loretto since her freshman year.

Nagae is also one of the few students enrolled in AP Art this year, a class in which she develops a portfolio of her artwork to be submitted at the end of the semester to potentially earn college credit.

Ms. Jensen, Loretto’s art and graphics teacher, said, “Mizuki is everything that encompasses a modern day designer; all of the skills that make a contemporary artist today — animation and illustration — she has those abilities.

“She’s like a born designer; she’s a good visual composer and she uses the picture plane very well.”

Nagae’s primary artistic media are graphics and Photoshop, although she does know how to use different traditional media such as watercolor, colored pencils, and acrylic.

Nagae said, “I started making stick figure masterpieces on the walls of my home when I was three and began a collection of notebooks as the years went on. 

“The time that I would consider I began to actually make art was when I was 12 or 13, because not only was it a time that I realized my art was not the best, I realized that I can only improve by understanding my mistakes.”

Ms. Jensen said, “She draws most of her images from her Japanese culture, and there’s an ownership to her images that is very strong.

“She has this awesome narrative feel to her work —  it feels like she’s telling a story with her work.”

One of the pieces from Nagae’s developing AP Art portfolio, entitled Luck and Mischief, displays these cultural influences and narrative aspects of her art.

Nagae said about Luck and Mischief, “The process of making this piece was a bit difficult; the starting concept was about a fox and something mysterious behind it, and the best way I could capture this was to create a foggy forest environment which suggested something unknown.

“The archway in the background is a torii, which signifies a sacred place.

“When creating the fox, I first had to look up the anatomy; while I still wanted to make it stylized, I needed to have a better understanding of canine skeletal and muscular structures.”

Ms. Jensen said, “Mizuki blends traditional and modern in her art; she takes a traditional Japanese style with a lot of her images, but then you also see little flairs of something else happening, something her own style.”

From the Ocean’s Darkness by Mizuki Nagae. Images of monsters and other creatures are a common thread between most of her art pieces. Photo courtesy of Mizuki Nagae.

Many of Nagae’s pieces, such as Luck and Mischief and From the Ocean’s Darkness, feature images of animals and monsters.

Ms. Jensen said, “The animalistic traits that she has in her work are very powerful; she brings in human traits to them, and you can feel that she’s talking about something that’s on her mind by bringing in these animal symbols.”

Nagae’s theme of animal imagery was also apparent in the piece she submitted for the art show that the NAHS hosted at Loretto last year; the piece featured an image of a traditional Japanese dragon.

Nagae said, “I’m here for a good time, and art allows me to have a good time; art is ambiguous, because it can be both fun and frustrating, or easy and difficult. 

“Despite my struggles, art is something that I enjoy, and I will continue doing it for as long as I can.” 

Nagae continues to share her artistic talent with the Loretto community through her membership in NAHS and her enrollment in AP Art classes this year.

Congratulations on being selected for artist of the month, Nagae!