I was recently challenged with a little Q&A for an interview, and once I responded, I thought it might be a decent read for my followers as well. SO here goes, if you’d like to know a little more about me and what makes me tick as an artist:
Are you from CLT? If not, how did you end up here?
I think I am one of the last living handful of natives in Charlotte. I studied Studio Art at UNC-Greensboro and Appalachian State, so even then I never strayed too far from my hometown. Although I adore travel, I’m quite the homebody by nature, although if I’m not careful, my hermit tendencies will manifest!
Have you always aspired to live as an artist? What drew you to the life initially? What other careers have you done in your life?
I have always been creative, ever since I was little, and I always said I wanted to be an artist for a profession. I grew up very poor, but it never stopped me from constantly making something out of nothing. For instance, we didn’t have the money for a real dollhouse when I was 6, so I just made an entire condo out of shoeboxes that covered the floor of my closet. I would spend hours making lamps out of marbles, buttons and toothpaste caps. And I ALWAYS painted. My mom still has a tiny canvas that I painted of violets on her mantel at her house. I think I painted it when I was 8. As I grew up, I just always had an appreciation for things that were well designed. I think even the most mundane object can and should be aesthetically pleasing…and I have carried this belief throughout the curation of my own homes over the years. After college, I felt forced to make a living in a “real” job, so I did everything from makeup artistry to retail to legal assisting to data entry, to a ten-year stint in real estate that was actually really lucrative but also very unfulfilling. I never played the corporate game vey well; I was such a square peg in a round hole. I’m a rebel at heart, and I found myself in hot water more times than one over dress codes and my lack of the ability to placate the agendas of my higher-ups. I still lack that ability to this day. After I had my daughter, I was able to take a few years off to raise her, and I also found the time to gradually begin practicing again as an artist. I started by refinishing vintage furniture and scouring flea markets and thrift stores and reselling art and decor at a few different local antique malls, dragging my then-toddler in tow with me the entire time. That’s where the name Bombshelves came from…I’m still so attached to it that I kept it for my website and social media handles, although I only occasionally redo furniture anymore. I didn’t start REALLY painting again until about 5 years ago, at the beginning of a long separation in my marriage. It was a pivotal point at a very tenuous period in my life. Finding myself simultaneously unemployed, on the brink of divorce and at a true spiritual crossroads, I devoted myself to rekindling my love of creating art. Dedicating this extensive amount of time to trial and error(lots of error!) and developing my own processes of painting virtually saved my life. It became cathartic, and for the first time in decades I began to feel alive, worthy and vulnerable again. Painting gave me a sense of purpose and gratification I hadn’t felt in years, if ever.
Why painting for you, instead of another form of art?
I actually never questioned once WHY paint, and not sculpture or photography, etc…it has always been paint. The sheer range of possibility in color, movement, pattern and texture appeals so much to me. I suppose many artists feel this way about their medium, but for me it’s the end-all-be-all in infinite possibility.
Describe your training – early on, how did you begin to learn about and practice your craft?
I adored all of my Studio Art courses in college…although some of the more technical ones frustrated me like photography(pre-digital age, I’m dating myself I think!). I was never a really good student EXCEPT for when it was a creative subject. Art, music, writing…all A’s. And then conversely, I literally had a 12 average in Accounting 101. Other than those few years, I have had no formal training, I am all self taught and practiced. I learn every day simply by trial and error, and the errors tend to be my greatest teachers. Kind of how life is, too.
How did you successfully turn your passion for art into an actual career?
During the initial separation of my marriage, one of the few blessings I had was the gift of time. I poured every ounce of energy I had into raising my daughter, healing myself and perfecting my craft. I also spent countless hours in therapy, meditation, yoga…it was a virtual midlife crisis, but somehow deep down I knew I was about to turn the page in my life and be on the other side, if I just kept going and just kept doing the actual process of getting up every day and painting. I gradually began to see the reactions of a few people close to me who were astounded when they saw my work. And then, even more gradually, I began to become astounded, too. I realized that there weren’t any other artists doing what I was doing, and then I got an idea, “what if?” What if I COULD actually make a living at this? What did I have to lose at this point? So I began seriously marketing myself, which I had never taken the time to do in the past. Social media is a godsend for self-marketers! One commission led to another, which led to one opportunity which led to another and so on, and my calendar began to fill up bit by bit to the point of where I am actually able to turn down some projects if I feel they are not a good fit for me or my work.
Describe your typical process in the creation of one of your pieces from start to finish.
I am asked this question on almost a daily basis at this point, and it is so hard to answer. When I begin a painting, I almost never have a plan. I may have a concept or perhaps a color scheme but that’s about it until I begin…and then the flow and interaction of the medium tells me where to go from there. It’s very freeing, and very meditative. There is a fine balance between what I can control in a painting and what comes out naturally as my artistic process evolves. The most difficult part to me is to know when to stop. I am challenged in that sometimes I will completely overwork a painting because I get so lost in the medium! The fluid materials I use also take some time to react with each other. What I see one moment may look completely different or even be nonexistent the next, so sitting back and watching and waiting are a huge necessity in my process. Sometimes that can be excruciating when I am really in my groove and wanting to add more and more and more, but being patient almost always produces more mesmerizing effects. Another life lesson, I suppose?
How would you describe your technique and aesthetic?
I have been told on a few occasions that experiencing my art in person imparts a trance-like effect in the viewer. Much like cloud watching or meditation, the observer’s eye sees different shapes and effects that I would like to think are brought forth from their subconscious to their conscious mind. It’s actually what happens to me while I am creating each one. Each of my paintings has layers upon transparent layers that each react with what lies underneath to create the varying depths that you see.
Who are some of your personal favorite artists? Who or what are your biggest inspirations?
I have always been attracted to more abstract or impressionistic artists. Marc Chagall was my very first artistic love as a child. My grandmother had a print of a detail of one of his paintings mounted on an old piece of wood that I still have. His dreamlike subject matter always appealed to the child in me, and still does. Gustav Klimt is another favorite because of the fine detail; you literally could look at one of his pieces for hours and not mentally absorb everything. Andy Goldsworthy’s natural sculptures are a phenomenal example to me of the interconnectedness in the universe. His artistic vision is otherworldly to me, expressed in this earthly world’s materials. Contemporary artist Bruce Riley is a current favorite…he is an absolute sorcerer of resin and pattern. Personally in my art, I am primarily inspired by the vividness and imagination of nature. The organic colors, textures, and intricate patterns that appear in even the simplest of forms speaks to the universe’s very complexity. Much of my creativity comes from observing nature…clouds and their motion and metamorphosis; mineral and rock formations; the natural geometry and symmetry of plant life; ocean waves and their nebulous ebb and flow; the texture of sand; the cosmos…all mesmerize and inspire me. They are evidence of the symbiosis and shared diversity and connection between all energetic beings. I try to imbue the same inter-connected complexity in my paintings.
What would be your advice to other artists?
Try everything yourself. Figure out what your materials want to do for YOU. Don’t attempt to imitate anyone. Every artist should be their own kind of rebel and figure out what THEIR message, technique, and style is. I could tell you all day long what ratio of medium-to-pigment I use for a particular effect, but the trial and error of finding out what resonates within your own soul is what is going to make it art. The artistic process itself is truly where your answers lie.