In this series on The Southern C, meet some great Southern creative minds - the artists, designers, makers and doers - that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity. Go behind the scenes to see where they work, what they are working on, the path that led them to this moment and just what made them "take the leap" from idea to doing.
The subjects may vary but most share many of the paradoxical traits of creative individuals - they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions. We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region. According to Einstein, "Creativity is contagious" and this is one thing we are happy to spread!
Describe your business or brand:
I’m a full time painter! I sell mainly large florals and landscapes on EFG Art. I also do an occasional figure painting or portrait. I sell in galleries around the southeast and do commissioned pieces. Prints of my work are now being sold on One Kings Lane. For years I painted in oil, but currently I’m working in acrylic. I’m preferring the immediacy and ease of the medium.
Describe a typical day in your work space or studio:
I ADORE my job. ADORE it!! Every day is fun. Once my children are dropped at school (or with our sweet babysitter in the summer) I head downstairs to my studio in our basement. Plenty of space and windows, so a great place to work. I turn Pandora on and drink one more coffee to get me going! I usually have about 8 or more pieces going at the same time. Everything from portraits to abstracted landscapes. So, I decide on what mood I’m in that day and pick a piece to work on. Some days I may work on one piece for 6 hrs straight and other days I may bounce around and work on 5 or more.
How has your background influenced your work?
Well, as a small child, I knew this was what I planned on being when I grew up. I never wanted to be anything else. I loved drawing! Doodled all day at school. Loved every art teacher I ever had. I took art in the summers and after school some. So, it was a no-brainer when I got to college that my major would be painting. A special professor I had at Auburn told me not to do graphic design because I was meant to be a painter. I’ve always been so grateful for that one little comment. Also, my parents never tried to talk me out of being an artist. They encouraged me every step of the way. However, they had no plans to support me financially post-college, so they quickly advised me to find a way to make a living as an artist. I took work to The Lyon’s Share, a gallery in Fairhope, AL a few weeks after I graduated and having been selling with them (and many other galleries) since then.
Where do you find your inspiration... any favorite blogs or websites?
Well, I really try not to spend too much time online because it cuts into my painting time, but I have to say I am obsessed with Pinterest! I love getting painting and color inspiration from décor, clothing, and art pins. It’s so visually inspiring.
What was the catalyst to “take the leap” from idea to doing?
I think I was so determined not to have to get a “real” job, so I’ve worked pretty much non-stop since 2001 to be able to do this. I didn’t even take a maternity leave after both of my daughter’s births. It doesn’t feel like work, though, when you’re doing what you love!
There is no worst part! The best part is being creative with my daughters. They’re little creative lefties like me, so every day is an adventure! I love watching them turn a cardboard box into a store or a doll house. My oldest loves designing and creating!! My youngest loves reading and pretending. So precious!
Speed Round - Five Favorites
Deceased - Edouard Vuillard, Edward Hopper, and John Singer Sargent.
Living - Kim English and Peggi Kroll Roberts.
Hmm…. I love to read, but can’t pick just one favorite. I’ve always loved Pat Conroy’s Beach Music and just finished The Language of Flowers and Gone Girl.
I have LOTS of these... reading, sitting by the pool, brie, prosecco, pedicures, movies, going to the beach, my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies and online shopping.
Traveling is my other favorite thing in life. We’re heading to Spain in a few months to visit my cousin in Madrid. Can’t wait!!
“If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint” –Edward Hopper
To read about more Southern creatives "In the Studio" click these links:
Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and contributing editor for Southern Living, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors. This series - "In the Studio With" - offers her the perfect opportunity to do so!