It has been a while since I featured another artist or designer in a different field on my blog (long time readers may remember my “Craft Chat” series – the last time I did one was in 2016). I am delighted to introduce you to an artist with an absolutely beautiful and whimsical style who I have connected with locally. I first came upon Nena of Nenaland design when we were attending the Animethon last year. I was immediately drawn to her booth as it was filled with her adorable illustrations, pastel colours, and kawaii pins. I purchased her “Purrmaid” enamel pin right away for my Knit Enamel Pin Display Bag (who can resist a sweet kitty with a mermaid tail?!?) and soon after purchased her “Ice Cream Cat Girl” and “Unicorn Selfie” enamel pins. We connected through Instagram and stayed in touch as we have much in common. We are both mamas to young girls and are pursuing our artistic endeavors while staying at home with our little ones! Nena is originally from Mexico and moved to Edmonton, Alberta where she resides with her family.
We have been trying to add some handmade ornaments to our Christmas tree every year, and recently we purchased this sweet Penguin and Reindeer ornaments that were hand painted by Nena! They are so adorable, and the backs also have text (one says “Joy” and the other says “Merry Christmas). Nena still has some of these ornaments left on her website, and they are currently on sale for $10 CAD/$7.50 USD HERE.
How sweet do Nena’s handpainted ornaments look among our other handmade ornaments on our tree? We have my crocheted Koala & Bunny Ornaments, and this lovely felt Marie gifted to us by Vivienne of Bloomingpops (she makes the most beautiful Ears Headbands – check out her site too)!
In addition to enamel pins, stickers, ornaments and prints, Nena offers something very unique in her Etsy shop and website: custom family illustrations and portraits. I absolutely ADORE Nena’s style and how she draws people. Look at those heart cheeks and lashes! I love how you can include pets which are dear members of the family too!
Here is the process if you want to get a custom illustration made of your family:
- Select the number of family members (pets count as family members too).
- Select the background colour you want for your illustration: blue, red or beige.
- E-mail Nena reference photos (can be a family photo or individual photos of each person), the family name for the card, or the wording you would like on your Christmas card.
- Nena will send you a proof of your illustration and once approved, she will send you a high resolution digital file (5 x 7 inch) and a print release template so that you can print the graphic at your local print shop!
Nena now offers personalized watercolour portraits, and I was absolutely elated when she asked if we could collaborate together so that she could do a custom watercolour portrait of our family! We took this family picture below and sent it along to Nena and could not wait for her to work her magic!
Nena sent us a proof and once we approved it, she began painting away! She took these beautiful work-in-progress pictures to show the process.
When she was finished, we met at a coffee shop and she gave us our stunning family illustration! I LOVE how this portrait captures what we look like at this stage in our life: the girls are so sweet and we are enjoying this phase so much right now. We will cherish this beautiful artwork and cannot wait to frame it in our home!
I adore the colour palette and how the girls and I are wearing soft pinks while Ryan is wearing beautiful blues. She nailed Ryan’s hair, and my pleated skirt is so pretty! How cute is Brielle’s messy bun and Myla’s braids? This is such a special way to capture a moment in time and stage in life!
I asked Nena some questions so that we could get to know her more! Here are her answers:
When did your love of art first begin?
Ever since I was little, I enjoyed making crafts for my parents, friends and family. I still keep some cards I made for my Mom when I was young. My grandfather was a very talented artist, art teacher and sculptor so I think art comes in my veins someway.
When did you create Nenaland? Can you share a little bit about your journey?
Nenaland was born after having my first baby in 2015, when my husband and I decided to be with the baby during the first 5 years. I started sharing my drawings, paintings and graphics online, and followers started to grow. One Christmas I thought, “Why not start selling my art?”, and that’s how it began.
I have always had an inclination for art, so I went to University for a Graphic Design degree. After years working on Graphic Design I started a hobby for illustrations and watercolour art. Nenaland was always a dream and started in my heart after a prayer.
What inspires your artwork?
This is hard to explain. I think inspiration is everywhere but I can tell like Elizabeth Gilbert in her book “The Big Magic” ideas are real, like floating in this world and are waiting for someone to make them live (these are not the exact words she said, but something like that). It’s hard to explain but it is like something inside my soul needs to come to life, sometimes I don’t have any idea what I will make and suddenly it comes out to add beauty to my life.
What is your favourite medium to work with?
I think I like a few but what I really love is watercolour. It has the reputation of being difficult but I find the process beautiful and fun. I love the transparency and how layer by layer creates contrast. I feel that I’m still new on this medium, so there is lots to explore.
Besides illustrations, what other crafts do you like to do?
Other than pancakes for my daughter? 😉 Christmas wood ornaments, peg dolls, sewing, etc.
What are some of your favourite anime movies and shows?
Totoro it’s my favourite, I enjoy Ghibli movies.
Nena’s custom illustrations are so beautiful, and they are such a wonderful option for Christmas cards, or gift ideas for special occasions like Mother’s Day. Her whimsical style and skillful artistry will turn any family picture into an adorable and unique piece of art!
I am thrilled because Nena and I are partnering together for an amazing GIVEAWAY! One reader will win a CUSTOM DIGITAL PORTRAIT (valued at over $65 CAD/$50 USD) of their family (including 4 members – additional members will be an extra cost)! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below stating your favourite Christmas tradition! This giveaway will close on Friday, December 6 at 7 PM MST and is open WORLDWIDE. Please check out Nena’s website HERE and her Etsy store HERE and take a look around and keep her art in mind when you are looking for unique gifts! Below is the custom digital portrait that Nena designed for us for Christmas, and I’m excited that one of you will win this opportunity as well!
Note: Nena gifted us a custom watercolour illustration and digital portrait of our family for this blog post. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.