I only discovered Mary and her k
What inspires you in your creativity?
It’s very hard to pin-point. When I am getting ready to paint and staring at a blank piece of whatever I am using, I usually start simply with color. I am inspired by beautiful things, it can be anything…nature, art, design, a season, a song or piece of music. Certain pitches of notes bring tears to my eyes (don’t take me to a classical concert without tissues!) so that feeling of oneness with music may form a painting. An arrangement of colors and design in a magazine may prompt an idea compositionally. But there are moments of higher and lower intensity that prompt me to make something. During periods of high intensity, I churn out the work. This is usually followed by a period of seeming inactivity where I will read (it used to be art books, but now it’s mainly metaphysical/spirituality or favorite interiors magazine, World of Interiors & Vogue Living (Australia), or any book of authentic French interiors because I relate so well to the way the French value individuality and are fearless in their self-expression), re-arrange my house or paint a room, or get hooked watching French movies. Then, when I’ve had enough, it’s back to painting.
I have always loved color, especially jewel toned colors, particularly colored glass and crystal, so it is a natural thing for me to work with color in some way. Since I was a child, I have been arranging things in ways that please me. I was constantly moving furniture around in my bedroom and rearranging the items on my dresser, etc, and I loved to cut hair! My great aunt used to let me cut her hair which gave me immense pleasure… so much so that I actually went to hairdressing school. Unfortunately, I realized that was not what I wanted to do, so I left after three months a beauty school drop out. In high school, I used to cut my friends’ hair and make them up. I loved giving manicures. They trusted me implicitly even though I did have a few less than perfect experimental moments. But it was all in the spirit of having fun and discovery. And transformation is what that was all about (which is what artists are really doing in making art—transforming materials into some sort of visual coherency).
I love music and the energy from different kinds of music really motivates me to do different things, whether it’s painting or exercising or whatever. The seasons all have their effect on me too, which is reflected in my work.
I’m really a sponge absorbing everything around me, but I know myself pretty well and just go with the cycles as they come and go, not worrying about a lack of interest in painting if I don’t have it from one day to the next because I know it will come back.
What I have discovered about myself is that I am all about trying new things. I am truly adventurous and fearless letting my drive in creating take over, so I don’t doubt myself. It has taken years of playing and trying many different things that have lead up to today. This trial and error approach to life is what makes it interesting, and it all goes into the art.
I am inspired by people who do their own thing with little concern for what others may think.
If you tried to trace back the series of events that led to you making things and opening an etsy shop where would it begin?
I have always been creative in some form, whether it was painting my house and filling it and arranging it with beautiful things. The urge to create and learn new things is a part of my blueprint.
I opened my shop in 2006 after selling on ebay which I had begun in 2004. I needed a change and tired of the routine that went into selling art on ebay… it started to feel like a job. While still selling on ebay, I discovered flickr.com and many of my contacts were etsy sellers, so I thought I’d open my own shop there. I sold a painting the first day I opened my etsy shop so that was a pretty good day, and it just continued to be an inspiring place to sell. My customers were friendly and very easy to work with. Even though I recently closed my etsy shop on January 1st, I am reconsidering opening it again and offering small works. I miss my customers!
How did you learn your art skills?
I have learned nearly everything I have ever done, with the exception of typing and playing the piano and violin, by doing it myself, my own way. I do not like being told what to do, and this goes back to even when I was really young, preferring to figure things out for myself. I’ve always been a free-spirit, and again, enjoy the trial and error approach.
I did not take art in school. It wasn’t until I was nearly 30 that I took a couple night classes in design and drawing that I realized my ability (which I was demonstrating in other ways in my domestic life). So I have had two life drawing classes and two classes in art and design concepts as part of an interest in interior design. I thought I wanted to be an interior designer, but like the hair dresser idea, that didn’t happen. Too exacting and formal an approach to creating…. But I still won’t write off interior design if it can be done my way!
Can you describe an environment—time, place and company (people or pets) where you feel most creative?
I am most creative at home in whatever room I call my studio as long as I’m left quiet solitude. Even my dog knows my nature and leaves me to do what I need to do (she gets plenty of attention throughout the day though:)
I prefer natural light, and frankly I think I am so sensitive to changing light that it’s why I move my studio area so frequently. Right now my dining room is where I work. I have never felt the need to have a studio space outside my home. I do need more space though, so I can see myself in a house where accommodations are made for me that are separate from the living space.
What do you have planned for 2009?
I am not a planner or goal-oriented person. I do what makes me happy—that is my rule. I do keep my options open and follow through on opportunities that present themselves that sound like fun. If I had a goal it would be to get my work out to people who really enjoy what they see but I won’t compromise happiness in the process. I am happy with being a source of inspiration for others in whatever way it comes across. I enjoy connecting with others through art, and bringing people together to see things made by others that they might not ordinarily see on their own. This is why I have started a few groups on flickr: World of Imagination, The Art of Line, Soul Art, Building a Painting… The Art Process.
With selling on-line, the audience is unlimited (why I like it!) so one doesn’t really have to chase down venues. Opportunities will absolutely present themselves like the gift they are. Of course recognizing opportunities takes into account one’s comfort zone and ideas about where possibilities might lead. I really just want to have fun during 2009, maintain a simple approach, not complicate by trying to over-achieve in any one area. Just go with the flow.
2008 was awesome… I met a ton of awesome, creative people through the internet, and my painting styles continued to develop and transition with one of my happiest art-related moments being contacted by Toast Gallery in Paris mainly because I’m a French-a-holic and I have always dreamed of living in France.
What advice or encouragement would you offer another creative person contemplating taking a big step to open a shop or blog in 2009?
If you have an urge or prompt inside you to do something, do it. It’s the part of yourself you can trust that is leading you down the path of your dreams. If you have questions, ask them, but trust yourself first and don’t be afraid to try your way before seeking advice outside yourself. If it feels right, than it probably is right for you—only you will know this. Truly, nobody knows what is right for you but you. If you are less than confident about anything, do some research on your own….. books are invaluable. If opening a shop, look at shops you like and see what you like about them. Ask shop owners for advice—most are happy to give it. The same with a blog; have a general idea of why you want to do a blog, then just do it! Seek the advice of successful people, not friends who are not sure of what they are doing. Don’t discuss your plans with people you believe to be less than encouraging. And always, always remember it’s about the experience (your experience), so make sure you’re happy during the process. If you’re always stressed out, the result will lead to a dead end and much unhappiness. Art reflects life… it’s all a journey and we get out of it what we put into it. So be happy and confident and your art life will be too.
I especially love that last painting. Thanks so much Mary for such an awesome inspirational interview and a wonderful start to the first week of February. No matter what the groundhog says today it is still very much winter where I live and it shows no signs of quitting any time soon.
At least the seeds of creativity can be sewn and grow any where, any place and at any time.