A Love Like Johnny & June

Rings of fire burning with you, I wanna walk the line, talk the line, until the end of time. I wanna love, love you that much.

Inspiration hit hard this past weekend. If I wasn’t creating art, I was thinking about it!

I found inspiration in the form of love. A bond between two people so strong it overcomes all obstacles.

Johnny & June are the perfect love story. He absolutely loved and adored her. This drawing of a letter he sent her on her birthday represents that in the most beautiful way.

If You’re Gonna Post A “Selfie”

This isn’t my favorite painting. Not even my second ;)…..it’s a self portrait from 2012. Created in place of a night I couldn’t sleep. Not unusual but, that night was especially rough. I decided to focus my energy. I had a mirror that was eye level and thought it would be challenging to do a self portrait as a live oil painting. Adding a whole other level of difficulty I painted it on a piece of glass. I spent 6 hours painting as I looked in the mirror. This is much MUCH more difficult than I thought it would be!!

First off, oil painting is a skill that is only honed by practice….LOTS of practice. Second, looking at myself for six hours from night to morning is a whole other depth I wasn’t prepared for and I’m yet to do it since.

You force yourself to look inward. Do you like what you see? Can you focus and portray that to others? Are you beautiful? Do you love yourself?…Do you see your weaknesses?….as an artist and as a person????…..All questions I asked myself when painting this…along with a massive train of other thoughts.

I don’t “like” this painting but I do love it. I love what it means to me. I LOVE that I don’t have a photo to reference. I love that it was in the moment.

I really love that I can look at this painting and know I did my best at that point in time.

I’ve had other artist tell me they hate it. “The detail in the hair just isn’t there”…”your eyes make me uncomfortable.” “Why does your forehead look that way?”….blah..blah..bluhbadi, blah..

To be honest, I don’t care if anyone likes it. I have learned to judge my art on my own level. If I feel it has value I don’t care if others see it. Or even like it.

It means something to me. That’s all that matters.

These Moments

This is a watercolor painting of my daughter in a moment we shared one week into parenthood. The illumination is a perfect representation of the new parent high I was running on. And, of course includes that baby smell. 😉 I swear it’s like catnip for women!

How could I not be inspired by her beauty? As I slowly layered the colors I could feel incredible warmth coming from it. I knew I had accomplished exactly what I intended.

In these moments of creative clarity adrenaline fuels me. When I look at this painting I can imagine that memory perfectly. I feel her in my arms and can remember how the golden sun made its way across us.

That moment is perfection. Creating artwork that draws me in and keeps me intrigued is what makes it important for me. I love these moments. They are priceless.

Explorin’ Fiction

When people find out I’m an artist I get asked to do all sorts of different creative things. I have taken on a lot of new work and explored a variety of styles and mediums by doing this. Pushing the limits of what “kind of art” I do makes me a better artist.

On this particular piece I needed to create a concept for a fictional character in a game. A game I didn’t even know existed before this point. Although this genre of art isn’t something I’ve been into it still intrigued me enough to give it a shot!

I’ve been working on this for the last few months. Taking my time to land on something I was happy with and fulfilling the image in the clients mind was my goal. I worked through 6 sketches before decided on a pose and style. I reached out for resources from another artist more versed in creating characters of this sort as well. He was a very crucial aspect in the sucess of this project. 😉 thank you❤

I choose to use graphite, color pencils, pen, with a mix of paint for the final image. Mixed media fit perfectly for the design I had in my mind. On final completion I am pleased with the outcome! My art is usually a non-fictional subject matter that I can scrutinize and perfect.

This piece of art was the opposite. Using different ways of thinking to reach a final product that I love opens my mind to possiblities that I may not have come to! Glad I took on a project that I didn’t know I could successfully accomplish and did so with results I’m proud of!

Being outside my comfort zone made me think in a different way and learn from that. I thrive in this type of environment! I had lots of fun!

Now that this is completed I have jumped into a collaboration with an artist resulting in me eating yummy things! Art & Food…win win for me!!! 😉 I will be telling y’all about it very soon!

The Nature of Art

In the past year I’ve had extreme mixed reactions from others about art that I have created and shared. As this does cause a rise in me I enjoy the back and forth. I have received negativity to a specific subject matter and even been asked to destroy and take down art that I have shared. In this kind of response, so strongly against what I have created, I find myself wanting to share it more. I don’t know if it’s because I can’t stand someone telling me what to do with MY art or simply that I arise such strong emotion within them. Creating art that makes someone so repulsed by it they wish to never see it again.

I find it incredibly disrespectful and quite bold to demand an artist to not show or even destroy something they have created. I realize that in sharing it I take on that risk.

Is this not what we want as artists? You share it despite if others like it. Inevitably, even the most mundane and boring art will have critics. Someone tearing it apart just to show how pointless it is. But, in that act of hatred for a simple piece of art the artist still made someone feel something. Despite what emotion they feel it is so significant. How powerful of an idea it is that such great emotion can arise by simply viewing a piece of artwork.

I honestly never thought anyone would find my art offensive. When I share it I never think oh, I’m really going to piss people off with this one. I realize it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Things look different from opposing perspectives.

Not everyone will see things the way I do. A few years ago, back to college days actually..so quite a few years ago, this thought became almost an ephifany to me. I was having a conversation with family about a piece of artwork I had finished. She loved the piece and told me that when she views something I have created she is just in awe. She said “I can tell that you view the world differently and see things in a way that I never could. Your perspective is beautiful and I’m glad that you share it”. It made me feel as though I truly do have a gift.

This conversation caused me to look back even futher into a discussion I had with a teacher in grade school. The teacher was confused and a bit taken back by my interpretation and rendering of a project in art class. She pulled me aside and said that my art didn’t match hers or anyone else in the class. It didn’t look the way she thought it should and asked me to do it again. In a the way she intended the project to be completed. I hadn’t done this out of rebellion. I never thought I was doing it wrong. I just saw things differently. I did things my own way even back in grade school without knowing. Of all the people, an art teacher should not look down on such an act but, cherish and nurture it. something I wish she would have done. It would have progressed my love of art much sooner. Anyway, enough rambling about grade school….

I now view my world and the way I interpret it as a gift. A gift I proudly share. A gift I love about myself. There is no greater joy than when people love my art. I love being able to make others so happy they are overcome with emotion and tears well up in their eyes. I also love when I evoke a different emotion. I find it interesting and it makes me see my art with new eyes. It creates a conversation about what causes this opposing emotion to come forth. I find nothing wrong with people hating my artwork. I also do not find this as a reason to destroy or feel bad about it. I’ve never been one to back down, especially when it comes to my art.

Art is my religion. My saving grace. It created drive and purpose in my life. It protects and loves me in a way that nothing else can. It’s in my bones and within my heart. It saved me. It pours out my finger tips and from a place within I can’t explain. It heals and is part of my soul. I will never apologize for what I have created and I will not shy away from any negativity that comes from it. Bring on the critics. Help me better understand different perspectives. I love learning more about others and their way of thinking. Plus, I strongly believe getting more people conversing about art is definitely a good thing! 😉

Bentonville + ART + Waltons = Change

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“You don’t need to go to New York or Europe to see great art! I’ve tried to tell my friends for ages that Bentonville, Arkansas is where a serious art movement is happening! And your art is crazy inspiring!” As I heard this over last weekend I couldn’t help but have the biggest goofy smile plastered on my face! Being considered “inspiring” is the best thing an artist hears! It roots my love for art and is my fuel to continue.

I had the honor of participating in the 2018 Art Market in Downtown Bentonville on June 2nd. It was such an amazing experience! What a great event for our community to host. Letting local artists shine!

I must start by saying, there aren’t many people who love this beautiful little town as much as I do. I am born and raised in the perfect little bubble of NWA. I spent my childhood growing up in downtown Bentonville. Even now, as an adult, I work downtown and love seeing how much things have evolved and grown! What I especially love seeing is the growth of the art community! The increasing interest in our area brings more than 1000 people moving to Northwest Arkansas every month! I couldn’t imagine a better place to call home, along with loads of other people! They must see what I see. 😉

Obviously, you can’t talk about how great Bentonville is without giving credit to the Walton Family! The opportunities the Walton’s have given our community has increased our quality of life 10 fold. For me personally, the greatest impact has been in the introduction to fine art. I remember being 11 years old going to the Bentonville Public Library and seeing a model of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I was in complete awe! I just starting to draw and it was such an inspiration. I thought to myself if Bentonville gets an amazing art museum I must become good enough to have my art there! Always Dreaming Big!!!

It was the beginning of my love for art. It fueled my drive to pursue it and always be striving for more. I watched as the museum slowly inserted itself into the stunning landscape of the Ozark Mountains, wrapped in a winding spring feed creek, hidden within the forest of Bentonville. During its construction, I took note of the meticulous care and preservation of the natural surroundings. They showcase all the beauty the Natural State has to offer in the softest and most inviting way.

Now 20 years later, Crystal Bridges is one of my happiest places! I go often for new exhibits, to view the permanent collections, attend special events, and just walk the beautiful trails. I’ve photographed many people within the grounds of the Museum, I never get tired of seeing this beautiful place. I take my kids quite often (giving my daughter Abby, especially, a growing fondness for fine art). When we visit I tell her that one day she will see mommy’s art there! She tried giving a greeter my business card! 😉 I don’t have any art hanging there…….yet! 😉 …. but, it will most likely be at the efforts of Abby Rain, who has all the confidence in her momma.

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So, my acceptance to take part in the Downtown Bentonville Art Market this year got me super excited! Bentonville + ART = all the love! Being part of both at such an exciting time for art and our community is an honor! I brought various examples of my work, set them up, and I was absolutely amazed at the reactions from people! Like, honestly blown away! The kind words and the look in people’s eyes as they viewed my art was truly heartwarming! Touching people’s hearts and making them feel something, that’s what art is all about. evoking emotion, whether good or bad or indifferent..it still says something about the person viewing it and less about the art. Art is all in the eye of the beholder. Each person has their own experience with it that is unique to them. I enjoyed watching people as they view it and conversing about their thoughts. It gives me insight to what it is that draws people in. What emotions does my art evoke? Is it what I intended? What does my art say about me?

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Recently, being inspired by the Walton family I am drawing a portrait of Sam Walton. I felt that I should honor such a great man who has influenced our community and lives in such a massive way. With this portrait, I wanted to evoke a warm friendliness that I knew he had. Let his kind heart and love for people shine through in my drawing. You can see it in his eyes and that is what I want this drawing to say. I never met Sam Walton. I was 5 when he passed but, I do know people who knew him, meet him, spent time with him and his family, worked for him, and I have never…not even once heard a bad word spoken about him.

I know that there is a divide when it comes to support for Wal-Mart. You either love it or you absolutely hate it!! I thought about this when I started the drawing and it made me want to do it more!! I knew that I would get a lot of support from locals! We have so much love for Sam!!!! We know of his philanthropy and kindness. His drive and charisma. We live it every day. We see and feel the efforts the Walton Family have given our community in such positive ways. I am grateful for having grown up here and to raise my children here. That being said though, not everyone across the world gets to see that side of the Walton family, or choose to see – I guess is more correct. The Walton Family is so much more than a WAL-MART SUPERCENTER.

If just in the small scheme of things, my love for art is forever growing because of the efforts of the Walton Family Foundation. Inspiring a young country girl to dream big! Any goal is reachable and Sam Walton proved just that. I LOVE being inspired by the local life and sharing it with people across the world is a blessing. I love Bentonville. I love creating art. I love Sam Walton. I love what he represents for our community and that it’s something that has changed the world forever. I felt compelled to draw his portrait and am proud to call NWA home.

Northwest Arkansas and the world for that matter would not be what it is without the Walton Family. Still today, even 26 years after Sam’s passing, people maintain their loyalty. Locals especially have a fondness for Sam Walton and what he stood for. What an impact to have!!! what a legacy to leave! What an honor it is being part of something bigger!!! I love being part of this culture that is continuously evolving. In the words of Sam Walton himself “You can’t just keep doing what works one time, everything around you is changing. To succeed, stay out in front of change.”

ROOTS

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I am very much someone who snaps as many photos as the device I am using allows, sometimes to the point that it begs me to STOP! My cameras SD card cannot process the images fast enough or the app on my phone just completely shuts down….at which point I curse the ‘faulty’ equipment and decide I need a faster, more capable device that can keep up!!……Of course, I realize I just need to chill…(something I tell myself way too often).

I was a freshman at the University of Arkansas when my interest in photography sparked. I started with nature photography. Being here in the south, specially in the natural state, it’s quite easy to understand why I was most drawn to it! This was before cell phones had state-of-the-art cameras and digital photography was not something I was able to afford. I wanted to take photographs to stop time, preserve a moment, an emotional connection that I could create within an image. Studying classical art as my major, photography allowed me to be creative and expressive in a more direct way.

I had a class in black and white film photography that required me to buy a 35mm film camera. I needed to understand the basics, be at the heart of where photography originated. I wanted to develop the film and understand every aspect of it. Every step must be executed perfectly or you ruin it…and I did many, many times. I learned to love the process and how important the details are in creating a beautiful photograph. It’s such a beautiful art form from start to finish.

Landscapes, architecture, and things that would not change in the blink of an eye were my initial interests. I focused on stillness, lighting conditions, and composition. I was not confident enough to photograph people. I was either too shy or too worried that they wouldn’t like it.  I have since gained the confidence to photograph people and learned that the photos I am most drawn are when the subject is most natural and candid. Capturing real moments and expressions in people’s lives, that is what I really love.

Now, nearly every person has access to a device that can immediately create gorgeous images and print them without a thought to how it works. Even with my love for film photography I take full advantage of this technology. I love that I can take as many photos of my children as I want and capture them perfectly, instantly sharing it! I don’t have to wait to finish a roll of film, go to the dark room, and spend hours developing the photos to see if what I captured was beautiful or not.

That being said, I know I would not be as good if I hadn’t started on that old 35mm. I do appreciate the history of photography and the process a great deal but, I also really REALLY love what it has become! I am a self-proclaimed photo hoarder! I always have a camera on me ready to snap a photo at any second. I take photos every day. I document most of my life. I love photographing my children. I love watching them grow. I love sharing. I love sunsets…sunrise…street photography. I love photographing beautiful food….mainly just to show the people who take blurry washed-out photos of their over-cooked dinner every night what a real photo of beautifully cooked food looks like! Lol! I love constantly becoming a better photographer and growing as an artist.

What got me thinking and made me want to share the why behind my love for photography is a photo contest I recently entered. All the photos must be taken on a mobile device and there are 3 categories. This contest comes with the chance to win a newer, more ‘capable’ phone, further continuing my obsession!! (as she says with an evil grin).

For me, having my camera out capturing what I find beautiful enhances my experience. It doesn’t take away from my ‘moments’ or distracts me from enjoying it. I love being able to share the beauty I see.  I can’t imagine it not being part of my everyday life. Being creative grounds me and lets me express myself.

As I began to look through all the photos I have stored on my phone I realized I have over 10,000 images…remembering that I’ve only had this phone for about a year, I panicked a little and though “Never-mind, maybe I don’t really want a new phone after all!”

Luckily, I have a folder of only the best photos coming to a grand total of 2307 images. A number that is a bit easier to manage scanning through than a staggering 10,000. I decided to delete the rest! I should only keep the best ones anyway, right!? Why keep the others…but, I must say it was hard!! When you have endless storage and countless memories it’s real damn hard! But, if I’m not even willing to go through them it’s a sign I never will and don’t need them. Remembering that editing down is good and you don’t have to keep every image. A lesson I am constantly reminding myself. In a world of excess I want to only keep the best – the rest can go! As for the massive amount of photos stored on my computer……one mountain at a time!!! 😉

I love how photography has grown by leaps and bounds and I can’t wait to see where it goes next! I can’t wait to discover new ways of expressing myself and sharing the beauty of my southern world with others!