Joanna Maeyens : mythical artist

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Behind “ La Griesche” we find Joanna Maeyens. She lives near Locronan in Brittany. She creates illustrations inspired by nature, mythology and fairy tales. In life, her passions are numerous : painting, writing, music (folk and black metal), horse riding, archery, nature walks and swimming in the sea.

OJL: Hello Joanna
Joanna : Good morning !

OJL: Four quick questions before getting to the heart of the matter.
As you live near Locronan, can you tell us what your favorite café is there ? And what do you like to eat there ?
Joanna : When I’m not in my house being renovated in the Côtes d’Armor, I actually live near Locronan. My favorite café is a tea room : “Chez Odette”. Where I like to go for a snack. I order there a lemon meringue tart and a fruit water in summer or a floral tea in winter. There, the mood is warm and refined. The slightly old-fashioned decoration is reminiscent of the “Belle Époque” (smile).

OJL: And what is your favorite park or place ?
Joanna: I would like to name three.
_ The Bois du Nevet which overlooks the bay of Douarnenez, where the trees are twisted and mossy.
_The banks of the Königsee in Germany.
_La Voie Sarde, at Les Échelles, in Savoie.

OJL: Next, what was the last book you read? And the last song you listened to ?
Joanna: _About the book : “The country where we never arrive” by André Dhôtel . It is a very poetic and touching novel , an ode to melancholy wanderings, youthful hopes and friendship.
_About the song : “Exode” by the neofolk project “ Avel ”. It’s a very poignant piece. The singer, a male , interprets the poem  « Sonnet Morne » by Jean Richepin. “Avel” means wind in Breton.

OJL: Finally, do you have a quote and/or proverb that you like ?
Joanna: “It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins ? Perhaps because I am afraid and he gives me courage” from Gandalf to Galadriel in the book « The Hobbit » by J.R.R. Tolkien.

OJL: Let’s talk a little about you now. How could you introduce yourself ?
Joanna: I live in Brittany with my partner and our daughter. I professionalized in 2019 as an illustrator. I work on children’s books where dreaminess is tinged with mystery. Wild animals and landscapes play a key role there. As a painter, I create album covers, inspired by the music of the patrons. And of course, I also work on personal subjects. My drawings find their inspirations in some distant tales and forgotten legends where the humans are swallowed up by the nature. In parallel with painting, I participate in several black metal projects as a singer and lyricist (Cercle du Chêne, Grylle and two other projects which will release their first albums in 2024, to follow on my networks).

OJL: This is all very interesting. Who are the professionals who shaped you? Who struck you down? In a few names and why.
Joanna: As a child, I spent hours traveling through illustrated books, most of them inherited from my grandparents. Two particularly struck me:
_“Grimm’s Tales” by Anton Pieck.
_“ De Kabouter ” (Gnomes) by Rien Poortvliet and Will Huygen (text). %91&keywords=De+Kabouter&s=books&sr=1-1
One painted the city, the other the countryside. They are today my favorite illustrators alongside Bilibine , Arthur Rackman and Edmund Dulac.

OJL: How did you choose your pseudonym ?
Joanna: I sign my paintings and I publish my books under my surname but in the musical sphere, I am credited as “La Griesche ”. This is in reference to Rutebeuf’s poem “ The Winter Shrike”. And the shrike, is a pretty surprising sparrow …

OJL: Let’s talk a little about your work now. What are you creating ?
Joanna: Paintings on canvas. I offer prints on my site, editions in postcards and bookmarks. I also illustrate children’s books, two are currently available on my site. One published two years ago and the other arriving this fall. My work is also available on the platform “Mytho-Poetic” in art prints and luxury quality.  

OJL: How can you define your style ?
Joanna: I will define it in three words: atmospheric, gothic and figurative. I always try to give finesse to my line. And a dreamlike and mysterious character to the elements of a painting.

OJL: What techniques do you use ?
Joanna: I am very attached to physical mediums, to traditional art rather than digital. So I use traditional techniques. Acrylic, gouache or oil, watercolors and pen drawing in different formats. Sometimes I mix them up because I like to explore. The notion of experimentation is important in my creative process.

OJL: Can we place you a personalized order ?
Joanna: Yes, you can contact me via my email address: . I work from A5 to A3. It takes between one and three months depending on the format.

OJL: What are your plans for the coming months ?
My second illustrated book for general audiences is coming out this fall. “The Journey of Sir Jolibond ”. It’s the story of a curious and poetic deer who decides to set off in search of the horizon… So I’m going to devote myself to its release. At the same time, personalized orders. It will be available very soon on my site:

OJL: Can we subscribe to your newsletter? Because social networks are a bit saturated…
It’s just being implemented, it’s one of the new features on my site this year.

OJL: Do you have a story about creating one of your products ? Or one of your sales ?
Joanna: It’s not really an anecdote but rather a comment I received at the Normannia salon. I like to remember the words that a lady accompanied by her husband said to me « It’s beautiful, it makes me want to cry ». She had bought one of my paintings representing a child sitting next to a wolf, in a snow-covered forest of large black fir trees .

OJL: Moving indeed. Last question. You definitely have friends who are doing amazing things ! If you want to promote them a little, now is the time !
Joanna: I would like to cite three of them :
_Atelier Guichard : cutler blacksmith:
_La Palette de la Merlette : watercolorist and watercolor manufacturer: 
_Mytho-poetic : art platform:

OJL: Bravo for what you do. May Our Lady protects you.
Joanna: Thank you! May Our Lady also protects you !

Marion du Faouët