Interview questions by Elaine Xiao, a grade 7 student in Calgary.
1. What is your artistic approach, and how do you generate fitting themes for your work that represent your personal values?
It's difficult in a way to define my approach/style because I like to try a lot of different things. I love abstract expressionism, colour, lack of colour, texture & deconstructed landscapes. I am inspired by the nature of change, & the environment around us. I think my style fits in with my personal values because I believe in trying new things even if you don't feel confident. Some of my best work has come from what I thought was a mistake, and wouldn't have happened if I had not just tried anyway. Having courage to try is very important to me in my work.
(more of my thoughts on Confidence http://www.dotemagazine.com/confidence/)
2. What was your motivation and inspiration that propelled you into the idea of mixing both environments and concepts regarding the “big emotions” within art?
No matter what style I feel like painting, my emotions play a large part in the work. Painting makes me happy & I use my time creating to work through some of the things in life that are sad or hard to verbalize or express in other ways. I often include lyrics on the back of my work from songs that speak to me or that I am listening to while I paint.
3. Is there a background or story to the formats/ways you choose to display your work in?
I am lucky to have to opportunity to display my work at various shops throughout the city (Adorn Boutique, Ollia Macarons & Tea, Pretty Sweet Bakery, Kala & Lime and Outside the Shape). I like to show my work in places like these, rather than pursue galleries, because it makes me happy to make original affordable artwork more accessible in everyday environments. It's also pretty awesome to be a part of a creative community of local business owners!
4. Was there any impact from others to the provoking of your artistic awakening?
I was feeling anxious & having some trouble sleeping. I was given advice to find a healthy distraction, so I tried painting for my own enjoyment (I have an undergrad in art & art history, but at the time it was not my passion). I realized quickly that it was exactly what I needed to do for myself.
5. Where do the emotions linked to your art come from? Have your experiences/warring changes and emotions directly impacted your artistic style?
Making art helps me process all of my emotions, especially ones as I mentioned before that are difficult for me to express otherwise. Life can be heartbreaking sometimes, and I want to create things that help us see the beauty of the world in different ways. Making art helps me recognize the sacred spaces, the glimpses of wonder in between daily life, when it is easy and when it is hard. This quote is one of my faves and kind of explains why I hope to make art that encourages the viewer to appreciate the beautiful and wonderful things of the world as if seeing them for the first time, again.
"The more often we see the things around us, even the beautiful and wonderful things...the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds, even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less." - Joseph B. Wirthlin
6. On your website, you mention how art creates an outlet for you to glimpse “something deeper” from a Universe that celebrates freedom of expression. How does this personal belief link yourself to artistic creation and align with your own personal artistic style?
I believe we are all creative in one way or another and that expressing ourselves through whatever it is that makes us buzz with excitement and passion is necessary for our souls to thrive & make life a little lighter. Making art has such a calming effect on me as I become fully immersed in the act of creating. It feels like a sacred space, a meditation, a form of therapy...and I feel joyful and alive. I hope this belief is evident in my work & why some people are drawn to it.
7. How did you discover the stress-relieving aspect within art? Has artistic expression changed your being and view of the world?
Stress-relief was the reason I started to paint and I realized immediately that it was so good and so right for me. My view of the world is more positive I think because I feel more aware of the beauty around me. I am inspired to capture it in my own way in my artwork.
8. As a former Elementary school teacher and a mother to three, how has your environment and surroundings changed the themes of your artwork?
I have to work fast and sometimes with 'helpers'. Using acrylic is great for me because it dries quickly. I do not have a studio...I paint on the kitchen floor surrounded by lego and cheerios. I think where/how you create does not matter, as long as you make the time/space in your life to do it. Art can be made anywhere, with whatever tools/materials you have around you. And if you don't like it, you can paint over it, again and again. That's the beauty of it to me...it is not a static thing. There is always a chance it could still be changed. Nothing is every really finished, even if it is.
9. As someone who has faced multiple changes and applies inspiration from outside events into their work, what advice would you give to others experiencing/that have experienced similar situations?
My advice would be to just get the passion inside you out there into the world, in whatever way feels best for you. Your unique contribution is important! And if you don't know what that passion is, just keep trying until you do! We are always 'works in progress', always changing, growing and learning...so allow yourself to jump in & try something new, even if it feels uncertain. What's the worst that could happen? At the least you'll get to know yourself a little better...and if you know yourself, you live better too.
10. What is the message that you hope others take from your art, and what are your goals/aspirations for the future?
My hope is that people see my work and it makes them feel happy, or maybe it reminds them of something that makes them smile, even if they can't place a finger on it. I hope they take the time to explore why they feel the way they do.
My goals/aspirations for the future are to just continue to explore & learn, keeping an openness to try new things with my artwork.