• Michelle Carlos

Mission Accomplished

Updated: Jul 25

On returning to Germany, my European romance, accomplishing my goals and setting out for the next adventure.


"Ice Queen" | Watercolor and digital collage | 2021

Coming Home

In my past life I was a novelist from Western Europe in search of marvelous exploits in the Far East and traveled on trade caravans along the silk road to China, where I discovered the ancient art of calligraphy and tradition of drinking tea. A devastating conflict drove me further South East and there I was reborn as my present self always in search of poetry, love, adventure and my way back to Europe.

Or maybe I was a butterfly.


In Limbo

After five years of living abroad as expats, we have now returned to Germany. A year ago we were still stuck in forced quarantine like everyone else in Johannesburg. The difference was that we were in limbo for our visas have run out and there was no clarity in our expat status there. We then decided to move to Dubai, an open city and much more accessible in my case as a Filipino. Seven months later we were packing our bags again to finally come home, except that we don’t really have a permanent home yet. Regardless, we have returned and I have accomplished some things I did not even wish for nor planned.


"Monster in My Belly" | Watercolor | 2016

If you have read my story right from the beginning of my artistic renaissance, you would know that I did not want to become an artist, nor did I want to acknowledge that I am one. You would also know that I had no idea what to do with my life in another foreign country where I was not allowed to work. There I was a woman at 35 with all the potential and talent but without a clear purpose not even as a wife. I was recovering from cancer of the uterus. While the move to Johannesburg was a career opportunity for my husband, for me it was a retreat. I was lost and drifting.


Nevertheless I took each day one at a time. Some nights were sleepless as I was figuring out how I would utilize four years in this circumstance until one peculiar night when I began painting again.


I Am an Artist

I decided to honor my gift in the arts and just be creative once more. I never really enjoyed my former profession as a colorist even though it had its perks and quirks. It was mainly technical, deceitful and I was only enhancing someone else’s creation. While working as a media conservationist gave me a genuine purpose in saving something with value, it was academic, technical and likewise deceitful for I always felt I needed to prove myself in front of more experienced experts. I knew I was a creative by heart and I had the talent. I just needed to improve my skills and find a direction.

Original website landing page | Gouache and watercolor | 2017

Make Art

The Universe was probably listening, or was it Facebook bots that introduced me to Make Art That Sells e-courses? Prior to joining that wonderful community, I already spent my first year in South Africa getting back in that creative groove. I colored and drew daily to build my portfolio and launch my website. I signed up for social media coaching sessions with Sandra Apperloo of Artistic Moods and now Pottery Parade to learn how to show up in Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest as an artist in this Internet age. I began writing again through this blog and told my story as I progressed in my creative journey. I also opened up an online store for my art via Society6 and later Spoonflower.


Four years I gave myself to get back into making art. It will be like going to university only that I stayed at home. The first year was to relearn painting. Year two was to present myself to the world as an emerging artist. Junior year was to learn the business of commercial art. The final year was meant to develop my style. Slowly I ticked off the boxes in my mental list and I matured.


Art created for "Bob" by Zoë Tucker | Watercolor | 2020

The bulk of the steps I took was through the revolutionary online courses by art agent Lilla Rogers. I dove into the lessons commencing with a portfolio review course in 2018 and signed up for a year of art courses the following year and continued for another two. I devoured every bit of information and eye candy artwork created by artists I admired. I wanted to make art just like theirs. When I realized I was done experimenting and imitating I began carving my own pathway. A style uniquely my own was emerging and people began noticing—especially those that mattered in the business of commercial art. Astound Illustration Agency, an international artist agency, snapped me up and now I just signed my first children’s book contract.


"Making Matcha" | Watercolor | 2019

When I Am Not Making Art

On the side, I baked, sewed my own clothes, and likewise learned about tea and how to perform gong fu cha as well as the Japanese tea ceremony. I wrote stories again and dreamt of getting them published. I kept myself fit through proper nutrition and constant yoga practice. Now I could easily do my inversions and keep my weight in order. More importantly, the cancer is gone. I was broken but now I am healed.


In addition, I expanded my cultural knowledge and enriched my life experience through the places I have seen and the numerous people I have met and became friends with. I have become a global citizen. All of these reflect in my art and my writing.



A Mission

Ikigai is an age-old Japanese concept about finding one's purpose and having a sense of fulfillment by acting on it. Artists are just a few of the people in the world who innately understand ikigai— their reason for living. It is simple really. If you are an artist, making art brings you joy. Companies need your art and people buy your joy, as our art teacher, Lilla Rogers would always remind us.

Five years ago, I have set out into the unknown without a clue nor direction but now I have returned to my second home with a clearer purpose and mission—not to become an artist for I am already one but to make art appreciated by anyone, especially the little ones.


I still don't have financial freedom nor my own ISBN. But all of that will come because I am ready.


"Wanderlust" | Watercolor and digital collage | 2020

The unknown beckons those who dare.