Stories : Jessica Dudley
1.) Tell us about yourself. When you aren’t painting, what do you like to do?
Well, I’m a Wife and a Mother, and when I’m not painting, I am working at C3 Fitness, helping build the vision of helping people get physically healthy through the gym and spiritually healthy through the church. This taps into other areas of creativity: inspiring clients, creating vision, building atmosphere, communicating vision. I get to use my creativity all the time! I’m also getting interested in photography, and as the weather cools, that will draw me outside a good bit, if I can ever figure out this camera.
2.) What inspired you to start painting & selling art?
Some years back there was a big shift in my life. I had time on my hands, and when I would pray, I kept hearing “paint.” Finally I just caved in and bought art supplies and then I just stared at them for a long, long time. Nothing but that blank white canvas stared back at me because I had NO idea what to paint; however, I was faithful to that still small voice. That first step is always the hardest. Now, I’m making funky fun pieces of art that will brighten up a room. The materials I use are wood, plaster, pigment, and beeswax, and this has created a uniqueness that draws people. I wanted to create a stream of income selling small, affordable pieces and just started putting it out there on social media and following up on invitations or ideas. All of this is in the early stages.
3.) Did you go to art school? If not, how did you learn that skill?
No, I didn’t go to Art School and have no formal training. I’m self-taught, yet my Mother was very artistic and had a career in Interior Design. I grew up around color swatches, her constant rearranging of the furniture in our home in order to create groupings and balance, restoring old pieces, and her sketches. Being self-taught, I’ve looked through art books, color books, taken some art lessons where I found I can’t copy very well, and then, as I stumbled into Encaustics, I’ve utilized Youtube, periodicals, and Instructional DVD’s. I’ve learned skills by assuming the position of a student. Every brush stroke with every medium teaches me something good or something bad, and I am suited for that quiet type of exploration. I’ve got a great art mentor friend of whom I ask questions. It really helps to not be afraid of failure. I’m a dive in and figure it out as I go kinda gal. I’m not afraid! I mean really, failure in my kitchen with paint all over my pajamas before the sun is even up. How bad can that be?
4.) What advice do you have for any creative who wants to step out and follow what they love and start making their craft into a business?
Keep your real job! Develop a strong, consistent work ethic that you can sustain ALONE. Develop an ability to self-motivate. Develop creative habits. Work hard at your craft. Get around others doing your craft. Know the culture you are in. I’m constantly looking at all the Encaustic Art on Etsy and Pintrest, great places to see pricing, framing, and presentation. Follow bloggers. I follow other artists on Twitter and join groups on Facebook. The internet has a wealth of information, community, and inspiration for artists.
The biggest piece of advice is be an original and make your art. I love a quote from the book Art and Fear, “In art, learning to accept yourself makes your art personal, following your own voice makes it distinctive.” And, yeah, keep the day job!
5.) What have you found to be helpful & impacting ways to market yourself?
The most helpful and impacting marketing tool I’ve found is Social Media. It was a big step for me to show my art publicly. I remember the first person who asked me to post a picture. It’s a very big day when you put it all out there. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have brought me sales on a consistent basis. I’ve just come away from my first major opportunity to show and sell my art at a conference. Because it was local and people knew me, there was a constant stream of interest; people wanting to see in person and feel the wax on my work. I heard this comment so many times, “I’ve been following your art on Facebook.” I make no apologies for sharing it. I think it is unique and distinctive, and I am very proud of my work. It’s not for everyone, but that is the nature of art. The art finds its person!
6.) How do you want to continue to challenge yourself as a creative person?
Right now, I am working really, really hard exploring wood, plaster, and wax. I love working with these organic materials. I want to move more in the direction of Encaustic painting; using encaustic paints; learning to control hot molten wax, paint with it, and then using a torch fuse it. That will be a challenge! Let’s hope I don’t burn the house down.
7.) What are you inspired by on a daily basis?
Creative moments. Learning what gets mine going and then enjoying them. I’m reading a great book called The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharpe. It’s a study of the creative habits of successful creative people and the routines that they develop. The writer who never leaves the house without a pencil; the dancer who gets up at the same time every morning and follows the same strict routine to the dance studio where an entire company awaits her choreography; the famous author who goes to his desk at 9am every morning and just starts writing; those habits matter! You go expecting things to get flowing! Seek and you will find, right?
8.) Can you share your creative habits?
Sure. I get up very early in the morning; sip coffee; check the internet; and then, in my pajamas, I walk around with my camera and take pictures of my art space. I turn on lights and take pictures of pieces I’m working on, the way the brushes are laying around, and materials I’ve not cleaned up. It’s fascinating to me. Once the sun is up, I take pictures of the light. If I’m not painting shortly thereafter, I go upload my pictures and write about something ‘I’ve found on my walkabout in the art space. Something comes to me every single day. That translates into something creative. That inspires me to get up!