Do you work from a figure or from your imagination?
I do a little bit of both. I like to create personas. People are probably the main thing I enjoy doing. A good example is if I can get my friends together I like to dress them up and it‘ll be totally opposite of their personality. It‘s just fun for me to play. So I could paint the same person and they could look totally different. I‘ve painted my friend Colleen a couple of times and in one painting she‘s very edgy looking and in the next she‘s very formal. I just like to, I don‘t know, dress people up, if that makes sense. I do a lot of patterns so a lot of that comes from my imagination. I do look at photo references. I try to lay out the composition the way I want it and it‘s definitely a combination of both.
When you work are you a morning person? When are you inspired? Do you approach it in routine way?
I do. Typically mid-day is when I‘m most inspired. I‘m awake by then –laughs- I‘m not a morning person so I do try to have a schedule just because there‘s things to get done. Because I‘m at home, I‘m a bit domestic, if that makes sense. So I try to get all my chores and stuff done in the morning and then I‘ll take time in the middle of the day when I‘m feeling inspired naturally to work on my art.
I ask everybody is if there are any common, underlying themes to your work and I see that it‘s the portrait. You approach the portrait and then I read about what you said on your website, that you‘re most inspired by the time of the late 1880s up to 1960. But is there anything else that you want to showcase about the themes you explore in your art?
Yes, actually, recently, pop culture has been a huge influence. I was baptized Catholic. My grandmother was a practicing Catholic so I went to church with her. So religious art and pop culture has been something that has been really inspiring to me and I‘ve actually started to blend the two.
Yes! People look at celebrities, now I feel like they kind of worship them in a sense. So I‘m actually working on a celebrity sainthood series. I just finished a couple of months ago Saint Marilyn Monroe and that actually sold in the first show I‘ve ever shown it in, which was really exciting. I‘m working on an Elvis right now. I plan on doing a whole series of celebrities with these really elaborate backgrounds. Very inspired by prayer cards or religious cards.
I was raised Catholic too, but yeah, those little saint cards. You‘d get them on different religious holidays.
That‘s what I‘m kind of exploring right now. I also have a celebrity pop star/last supper thing in the works. I did a small one in college and I wanted to do a large one with all of the disciples and all female celebrities to totally spin it. That‘s what I‘m working on recently.
You‘ll have to post that on your art gallery when you‘re done!
So obviously you kind of like to poke a little fun.
So is there any particular artist that has inspired your work or influenced you?
Oh, there are so many artists. I had a minor in art history as well, so I love a lot from different artists. I‘d say Egon Schiele. It‘s funny because his work is figurative, but it‘s very expressive compared to mine. Mine is a little more traditional. But I love just the way his work feels. He‘s definitely a big influence. I lot of Mucha‘s paintings, I just love all the details.
Every time we talk to an artist, I learn about all these artists that people are inspired by that I‘ve never even heard of before. And I think I know my stuff and I don‘t. You know what I mean?
We‘re always learning something. I‘m just always looking at art in general. If it‘s really good, it inspires me. It could be someone anonymous and if it‘s done really well and you can tell there‘s a lot of heart put into it, it makes me feel like creating.
Have you met Leslie Adams here in town?
I have not.
She is a local portrait artist. She had her own show at the Toledo Art Museum a year or two ago and she‘s a fine realist and works very large—oils. Being in town, you‘ll come across her work. So how do you keep a fresh perspective on your work?
Honestly, I don‘t really have a lack of ideas. I‘m the type of person whose brain probably works on overload. Fortunately, that‘s not usually too big of a problem with me. More of what holds me back is everyday life. You let little things get in the way of creating. I try to tell myself “Okay, get your stuff done and out of the way so you can focus on what you love.” So I guess just trying to be conscious of it is how I keep myself in check.
Interesting, because that‘s where the routine becomes important. And I know that‘s antithetical to how people think an artist should work. I have a friend who is militant about her studio time. She will not schedule any lunches on certain days, she will not schedule doctor‘s appointments, no. She‘s like “Nope, can‘t do that. I‘m scheduled in my studio 12-8 that day.” So she‘s just really draws hard boundaries.
It is really important because I notice weeks where I kind of lose my schedule and I‘m terrible and I don‘t work on anything. And I‘m like “That was just a waste of time.”
Right, right! And with your fiancé, is he gone during the day so at least you have that private time?
He is, which works great. If he‘s here he‘s just moseying around and he wants to know what I‘m doing and he is very distracting. It‘s great that I have time where he is at his job so I can do mine.
Right. When you‘re working on a piece, how do you decide when it‘s finished?
For me it‘s kind of a gut feeling. I look at it and I try to give myself a couple of days. I used to work where I can‘t start something unless I finish this. And that was really detrimental. I felt like I started getting to the point where I‘d overwork something and destroy a perfectly good painting. So now I try to work on a couple different pieces and give a couple days rest on the one that I was working on so I can come back with a fresh perspective. I can really see then what is working and what isn‘t. So that is kind of how I handle that.
That‘s smart. I‘ve seen a lot of artists go through that same dilemma.
I think most artists are kind of perfectionists so you need that time to decompress otherwise you‘re going to be knit-picking it to death.
Do you ever ask for anyone else‘s opinion?
I do. I‘m still in contact with several people that I went to school with and typically if I‘m having a hard time I‘ll just shoot them a message and say “Hey, can you look at this as a fresh pair of eyes?” I mean, I‘ll even ask my mom sometimes. She has no artistic training so it‘s kind of nice. Sometimes she‘ll point out something like “Oh I think the proportion is off on that,” and I‘m like “Oh my gosh, why didn‘t I see that. That‘s exactly right.” If I‘m having troubles I usually ask. If I feel good about it, then I usually don‘t because I‘m like “I don‘t want to hear…”
That‘s exactly right! It‘s like you don‘t want anyone to cloud your vision. Absolutely! I guess we already kind of talked about the next one, about a typical day in your life. Do you like to travel? Do you ever travel for inspiration?
I do. I‘d like to travel a lot more. Recently though, my fiancé does travel a lot for his job, and there have been a couple of times when I was able to go with him. We were in D.C. and I‘ve been there a couple of times but I just love going to a city because we live in a relatively rural area other than Toledo. It‘s nice to see a city that you aren‘t super familiar with. Architecture and things like that get me pretty inspired. I remember even in high school when I went to Europe, that totally changed how I looked at art.
Where did you go in Europe?
We went to Paris, Venice and Rome. I got to see the Vatican and I remember that definitely changing how I look at things.
Oh definitely! I went to the Vatican right after college, so I was like 22.
I would love to go back. I feel like now that I‘ve had all the art history classes, I appreciate things so much more.
Could you imagine just going there with your sketch pad and you could just sit and draw for months. You‘re young and still kind of exploring and trying a bunch of things. At this point what do you feel your biggest accomplishment in your field is so far?
That‘s a tough one. I feel like at this point, any sort of recognition big or small is significant to me. I‘m trying to build my experience and make a name for myself. In Columbus, I had a pretty regular dog portrait commission group. I was contacted pretty regularly to paint people‘s dogs. So that was pretty cool. And then we moved here and it‘s kind of a different market. I‘ve been really fortunate that everyone‘s so welcoming. I‘ve got several shows in Port Clinton, I‘ve been involved with PRIZM, Artomatic was just amazing to be a part of. So I don‘t know if it‘s any one thing. I think just being welcomed to Toledo is just a big accomplishment for me.