We wanted to start off this series by spotlighting someone who is so very kind and just so happens to do amazing work. We are very honored to bring you this expose on Maria from MSJ Alters.
1) How long have you been an artist and what drew you to it?
I was always drawing as a kid. When I was around 15, I picked up painting with watercolours and acrylics. Taught myself calligraphy from a book a couple of years later. Then I went away from painting for some years to do other crafts like jewellery and did that for about 2 years. One night in 2014 my husband, who has always played MTG, told me about altering cards and asked me to try one. I have been painting cards since then. Last year I picked up oil painting and going back to some more canvas pieces in between as well.
I think it just runs in the family. My grandparents were very creative for as long as I can remember. My mom does paper crafts and used to sew clothes and my dad builds and paints models.
2) What is your main focus for your art right now? (subject; MTG, landscapes, etc.)
For the last couple of years, I have mainly been a commission artist, but when I do original artwork it’s almost always landscape art. It’s my favourite thing to paint because it has endless possibilities and you really can’t go wrong with it. I have a couple of canvas pieces and some playmat art commissioned right now as well.
3) What is your favorite medium?
For right now it must be acrylic paints, I find the drying times for oil kinda tricky still. I prefer pencils for drawing.
4) Are you mainly a physical medium artist, or do you do any digital art as well?
I am a traditional art kinda person, I like having the brush and paint in my hand. I would however like to learn to do digital art, but I don’t really have the time for branching out right now. So, when I do playmats, I make a physical painting on acrylic paint paper and have it scanned to digital print.
5) What is your favourite MTG card and/or MTG artist?
Hmmm that is a tough one, don’t think I can pick a card. But I tend to favour green and white cards. For MTG artist I will go with Howard Lyon, I absolutely love his paintings. Close second would be Jesper Ejsing, think he does some amazingly detailed fantasy art.
6) What is your favourite alter that you’ve done to date?
I often get this question and I find it very difficult so let me counter that with a top 3.
Lim-Dûl's Vault is a piece of original art from a couple of years ago and it makes the list for personal reasons. The Brago is painted after Frank Frazetta’s Silver Warrior, I was really proud of it and it was the first card I ever sold for $100. The Ayula I just really like because it came out so good and there are some details in the front water that are just perfect. Honourable mention would be my original art Cyclonic Rift because the colours just pops so well on it.
7) What materials do you use for your art? (paint, brushes, etc.)
For paints I use Citadel paints and Golden fluid acrylics, I also have some Golden high flow for airbrushing or linework. I find the brands mix quite well and have favourite colors in each.
For brushes I use a 0 round synthetic for acrylics, I quite like the ones from the hobby store around here, Panduro. The 0 round is the main brush. But then a size 2 flat is also quite handy for priming and large areas. For high detail I use a nail art liner (something similar to a 3/0) brush I found on Wish, they are difficult to order now but I have been very happy with them because they can hold a lot of paint. When I run out of my current stock I will need to find a good replacement. I also use my dry brushes a lot, I have 2-3 different sizes that I use. My oldest dry brush is around 20 years old and keep falling apart but I haven’t found the perfect replacement yet. Honourable mention for me would be Winsor & Newton series 7 but they are quite expensive.
8) Are you currently open for commissions?
I am currently fully booked and have a bit of a backlog to get through so it will be a while before new commissions are a possibility.
9) Best way for someone to reach you?
On my business accounts on social media. Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/msjalters/) would be preferred, but I try to stay on top of messages on any platform. Instagram and Twitter is @msjalters.
I recently won a Noble Hierarch alter painted by Maria, here's her timelapse video of the piece:
Understandably, Maria is currently fully booked for alters, but if you're interested in commissioning an alter, follow her on one of the following platforms so you know when commissions re-open:
Let us know what you think of MSJ Alters' work below, or if you have someone in mind that you'd like to see us spotlight in this series, let us know that as well!