Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NICOLETTE LEIGH CARTER YATES






What is your name?

 Nicolette Leigh Carter Yates of Nicolette Leigh Arts






 Where are you from?

 I spent my childhood in Stokesdale and Kernersville, North Carolina.

Where do you live? 

I now live in Asheville, N.C with my husband and child, 2 cats and a garden.





When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist? 

I realized I had artistic skill when I was about 15 thanks to a couple different collaborative projects with friends. At that time I think it picked me. Its a vital practice that sort of hones my senses like a kind of moving meditation. 




Who influenced you as an artist? 

My first influence was my mother, Wendy Ours, who is very skilled in realism.  She does tromp l'oeil murals and some very meticulous textures and details in illustrations and paintings. She taught me how to look at a thing, how to look and see. As a newly single mother of two kids she earned a degree in graphic design. And she regularly had dance parties in the living room with my brother and I. 





What is your favorite medium?

It changes from time to time. Currently Id say charcoal and graphite which I mix with watercolor and acrylic. 






Do you have a studio? Where is it? 

My studio is strewn all over the house. Mostly it is in the living area, spare room, and the garage. Organization is a constant battle.





When did you become a mother?

When I  found out I was expecting in the summer of 2010, right after college graduation. 






What are your challenges as a mother artist? 

Finding time to wear all of the hats I feel I need to in order to simultaneously be a good mother and fulfill my creative visions.





What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

I kind of feel like with motherhood came a certain confidence or willful determination to tackle my responsibilities without sacrificing my personal goals. Its tough, but its also necessary to help me feel grounded.




When do you spend time making art?

I make things while my daughter is sleeping usually. Sometimes I'm able to work on things like sketching, varnishing, or adding hangers while she is involved in some activity.  I have a few hours in the afternoon(though I think shes quickly growing out of her afternoon naps) and then the hours after 9pm, if I'm not exhausted. Thankfully I also have a partner to help with this parenting thing. He works late but he often sacrifices sleep so that I can work during the morning hours.




How many children do you have?
Do you want more?

 I have one child. Sometimes I want more, sometimes not.





Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

 I have thoughts about it the "what ifs" about whether I'm being irresponsible by not going after some big job that seems more secure. If I decided to go that route I may end up miserable and depressed. I could not be the best mother in that state. So I think its best for my family that I pursue what feels right for me personally. I think it would be impossible to truly give it up. If you remain an artist into adulthood then it has chosen you.  



Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

 Yes. Everyone is supportive. Some may not understand but they still encourage me. A couple (my husband, and my friend Regina) go above and beyond in their support of my work. I'm pretty lucky to have such supportive family and friends.













 Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?

 I do have supporters and patrons and Ive received an award from the Asheville Arts Council recently, so I do feel somewhat connected, or taken seriously, with my work.  But I have a hard time finding the right gallery or show opportunities and I think if I advertise the fact that I'm a mother it could be even more difficult.  But its not something I try to hide either. I am what I am.




Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

 Yes. Ive had to slim down my process and think more clearly about the next step.  I cant waste any time.  Ive also put aside oils and large-scale sculpture until I have a studio more suitable for that kind of work. My daughter constantly tells me  “oh that's so beautiful”when looking at my work. That just melts my heart.



Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society? 

I don't think women artists are taken seriously in general. There's so many lists of women artists that are thrown together like an addendum to art history which has largely ignored women. But I'm also interested in how fatherhood has shaped the careers of male artists.








What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

I have never been asked that without the person also asking what I do. And if they wonder how I can be an artist and support my family I might tell them that I'm working several odd jobs as a caregiver, house cleaner, gardener and landscaper until my art can fill in that gap.  But really I don't think you have to explain anything to anyone if it makes you uncomfortable.



What is your story?

 I lived until the age of ten in a rural setting in an old farm house surrounded by tobacco fields. I remember the fields often laid fallow. Our landlord and neighbor farmed the land, he was on up in years. I often went off on my own into the woods surrounding the fields, following the hunting trails my dad used when out looking for deer. I found these excursions into the woods to be magical experiences. I would also often choreograph dance performances in my backyard and imagine the fields as my audience. My childhood often inspires my current artwork. When my parents divorced I dealt with a lot of pain and guilt. My confidence waned and I turned to food for comfort which led to body issues. I eventually conquered most of those problems related to my food addiction but the lack of confidence remained. I was very reserved throughout my high school years. I had some close friends but whenever I met someone new they usually ended up asking me “why are you so quiet?” This became my challenge throughout my teens and into my twenties. I wanted so badly to say something, yet I was terrified to speak up.  My heart would pound. Art was and still is my voice. I went to Australia for about three months in 2000 after high school. I had quit graphic design school to save up money for the trip. I did a lot of writing there. When I came back I started painting in a more serious way and began a relationship with my future husband Matthew who was a friend in high school. In 2002, I was accepted into Naropa University. An incredible, yet short-lived journey. Unfortunately it was very expensive and I only attended for two semesters but that time was very transformative. I participated in open mics, found a love for dance and was asked to be in two performances. Matthew had moved out to Colorado after my first semester there and he found a job he liked so we stayed for two more years then decided to move back closer to family. We needed mountains and I wanted to go back to school so I looked into the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I started as a major in geology but after a few semesters I needed a more consistent art practice (plus my new found love of roller derby was getting in the way of physics studies), so I decided to follow my passion and switched majors to art with sculpture emphasis. I graduated in 2010 and had the honor of the university purchasing my sculptural installation. It still hangs in the lobby of New Hall on the UNCA campus. I had my daughter in 2011. Three years later I feel I'm just now finding a rhythm to my art practice. Its quite staccato, however. With needing to work odd jobs and be there for my daughter, my art has to wait sometimes. It leads to some frustrations but I'm learning patience in that regard.




What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions? 

It takes a lot of energy, focus, willpower, and determination. When I feel frustrations I ask myself “what is the smallest step I can take to get past this hurdle right now?” And that always helps me get unstuck. 





What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

If it feels impossible, just take some small steps towards your big goal. Then take another one tomorrow. You will get there eventually. Write it all down. Envision it.





What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?


I want to be a prolific artist. I want to make people smile and wonder. Whenever I go to the beach I make these sun-bathing venus-like ladies in the sand. Then I go sit under my umbrella and watch people react to and interact with the creation. Its the simple things like that about creating that bring me so much fulfillment. I want to explore many mediums. I have a love of painting, sculpture, dance and writing. I hope to be remembered in some way for all of these things. 


To learn more please visit:

http://www.nicoletteleigharts.com

https://www.facebook.com/NicoletteLeighArts


* All photos were submitted and belong to the artist. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

DEBBY LUCILLE BIRD



What is your name?

Debby Bird

Where are you from?

I grew up in Pippa Passes, KY a city with an official population of 532 (2012), Yes it was that small!!





Where do you live? 

I now live in Northern VA, near Washington DC

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist? 

I have always loved art but did not consider it seriously as a career. I studied Architecture in college and worked as an Architect for 6 years, but when my children were born I did not want to continue working in an office setting with an inflexible schedule. I took up painting as a hobby but quickly knew that I wanted to make it into a career. I am very thankful that for now my husband’s job is allowing me to stay home with the kids and work to build my career. I have only been focusing on my art for about two years 


Who influenced you as an artist? 

I have been very influenced by several wonderful teachers, Tricia Ratliff and Jonathan Linton. But probably most influential was my mother who dabbled in art and was extremely talented but did not focus on it; she instead put her time and energy into raising four children. She taught me to love art from a very early age.




"What is your story?"

My sister discovered she had breast cancer when she was 32 years old and still nursing her youngest child. She battled it for 6 years before she went to meet her maker. She fought with grace, love and determination to be there for her children as long as possible. Her life and death remind me that we never know how long we have here on Earth and give me the determination to seize every day.
I want to pour as much love and energy into my children and into my art as I can. Many ask me how I manage to make time for Art with three young children or encourage me to focus on my art later when there will be more time for it.

There may never be more time.

I know that loving my children and creating beautiful art can make an enduring change in the world that no temporarily clean house or folded laundry ever could.
Those things manage to make their way into my days but my attention has been focused and narrowed by first hand experience with the richness and shortness of the time we have.
My story is one that continues to grow every day. I hope it involves helping to provide for my family with my art but it will certainly include art.





What is your favorite medium?

Oil




Do you have a studio? Where is it?

My studio is a spare bedroom in our house, right next to kid’s room, they like to pop in and check on my painting when they are supposed to be in bed.



When did you become a mother? 

I became a mother 5 and half years ago and now have three children. 5,4, and almost 2. 







What are your challenges as a mother artist? 

It can be hard to schedule some art opportunities when I am also the full time childcare provider. It is also hard to afford classes and show entry fees because we live off of one income and painting is not a money maker for me yet. Also housework and meal planning get less attention than my art so they are constantly behind. But I get more satisfaction out of working on a painting and having a final project than I do out of cleaning the house and finding it messy again moments later. I do mostly paint after they are all in bed so that can also be exhausting.




What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

My children are a huge priority and I want be an Artist both because I love it and because it would afford a more flexible schedule to be there for them.

   



  When do you spend time making art?
    
  I do mostly paint after they are all in bed, usually from 7 or 8 at night until midnight.

  

  
 How many children do you have?  

  I have three children who are 5, 4, and 2 Do you want more? I may want another child and am open to that possibility but for now I am happy for a break. 





Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

No, I do not think there is any need to give it up. I can always find some moments to fit it in. Even if it is only a few minutes at a time there should always be something I can do to practice and grow as an artist.




Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art? 

I have support from most of my family. But it is hard when I am not making money yet from it to justify it as a career choice to some.
     

Do you feel like you are taken
seriously as a mother artist?
    
I am not sure, I think 
people’s immediate reaction 
is to look at me as just a 
mom but when they see my 
work maybe that changes?
    








Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

I am not sure I would have had the opportunity to consider art seriously without the break from office work that having children provided. They also inspire my work and are so encouraging.


    
Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

I think that there are some disadvantages to being a mother with primary childcare responsibilities that make being taken seriously more difficult. But in general I think mother artists are taken seriously.



What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

I just tell them what he does; it is usually said with a good nature. I really appreciate his willingness to support us while I build my career into being profitable.




What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

I have learned that mostly they can combine to create a beautiful whole, some things get set aside for now but I try to get the most important things done.



What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

Make time for what you love in whatever moments you have.





What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?


I want to be remembered for making beautiful paintings of family life and relationships.






To learn more please visit:

https://www.facebook.com/debbybirdartist

And follow her blog at : 

http://debbybird.blogspot.com/2014/08/eddy-2-hr-study.


* All photos were submitted and belong to the artist.