How would you describe your artistic style?
That's a hard one. I really don't fit into any category that has existed previously. If I had to pick one, I'd have to say "contemporary-impressionist". I like to think of my work as "Impressionism with a twist!" Though I paint with a lot more color and a bit more attention to detail. My extreme texture is what makes my paintings unique. I sculpt it on with a palette knife only in certain places on the canvas. Places that would have texture in life, I like to give texture to in my painting. The sky and water, for example, would remain smooth, while the trunks of trees or fields of flowers would be highly textured. I call this technique, “Textures of Life™.” My Paintings are truly three-dimensional.
How did you become an artist?
I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t love to draw or paint. Being the oldest girl of 8 sisters, hosting drawing competitions was a part of everyday life! I was drawing long before I could write. I remember thinking I was a real artist when I won "First Place" for best drawing on a bookmark in the first grade. Even then I had drawn a picture of a colorful flower under a bright blue sky with white clouds, and a happy sun!
What was it like growing up with a twin sister?
It was like growing up with your best friend. We were pretty opposite in a lot of things, but were always very compatible. In High School we ran together for student body Pres and Vice and won the election! For our speeches we sang the “Sisters” song from the old classic, “White Christmas.” Later we went to college together. She studied Law, and I studied Art. She was always the more 'logical' left brained-one, and I of course, was the artsy free spirited one with a very active right brain! Together, we liked to say, we were genius! :) We always said we’d live near each other when we grew up. Two years ago this became a reality. We both ended up moving back to our roots in Southern Oregon. She and her husband (and 5 kids) live just five minutes away!
Do you have any other hobbies besides doing Art?
Yes! I work hard, but I play hard too. I love to water ski and snow ski; play soccer; go camping. I also love music. Growing up with all girls, our house was a very musical one. We all sing and play the piano. I also play the flute. I like to read too. Though I don't have much time these days to curl up and read a good book, I download audible books on my ipod that I listen to while I paint. I figure this way I get at least 7-9 hours of good listening time a day. The longer the book, the better for me! :)
How did you decide to major in art in college?
That’s an interesting question. I’d actually been planning on majoring in English like my Dad, but my High School Art Teacher, Mr. Coelho helped change my mind. Surprisingly I didn’t take any art classes in High School until my Senior year. Mr. Coelho was my Homeroom teacher, and noticed me doodling one day. I guess he liked what he saw. He convinced me to take his drawing 1 class the following semester. I did, and I really loved it! My confidence as an artist really grew that semester. Mr. Coelho was extremely positive about my artistic ability and would often use my projects as examples for the class to follow. I think the class must have hated me! I was without doubt the teacher’s pet. But it was because of Mr. Coelho that I decided to major in art in College the following year.
Did you keep in touch with Mr. Coelho? Did he ever learn about your success?
I did. Every time I had a Gallery Show, I’d send him a postcard. But you know, it wasn’t until 14 years later that we were reunited! I did a solo show for a local Gallery in 2006, and I invited Mr. Coelho to attend the reception. It was great seeing him again. I finally had the opportunity to tell him how much of an inspiration he’d been for me. I don’t think he ever really knew. He did ask me, though, if I would come speak to one of his Art classes. So I taught a 2-day class to his students in his last year teaching. I was a student in his first class of his first year teaching, so this was pretty special helping him teach in his final year!
What was the art program like at a conservative college like Brigham Young University?
Well, for one thing we never painted from nude models! You had to go to the next town over for that! :) All the models at BYU would wear skin-colored bikini for the figure painting classes. We'd have to make due with that. And really why would we need any more than that? But as far as the art program went, I thought it was a very good one. The classes followed a more traditional approach; emphasizing good 'technique' and core fundamentals of art--which I think even abstract painters should know. An art major doesn't just take painting classes. Besides all the general classes, I took sculpture and ceramic classes; metal working where I used a flame torch! I took intaglio and lithography printmaking; watercolor. But it was the oil painting classes that I loved most. I never thought of specializing in anything else.
Were you always a landscape painter?
No. Actually, I was first a portrait painter. All through college I painted portraits to earn money. It was only after I graduated that I decided to try a landscape. My first landscape paintings was of a giant poppy field. There was no turning back after that! I felt so liberated with my big brushes and palette knives. I knew that I had found my medium.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere, really. I always have my camera with me ready to snap a shot if I happen to see something interesting. I have files of photos that I draw upon when making a composition. Files of clouds, mountains, fields, white houses. I love to travel, so many of my paintings come from Italy and France. I especially love the poppy fields of Italy in spring, and the lavender fields of France in late summer.
How do you possibly find time to paint with 4 young kids?
That is a good question! Life is pretty busy with 3 growing boys and a little girl. I've heard it said that “busy people get the most things done!” I paint quicker when I know the kids are going to wake up from their naps soon. Every second has to count! I paint mostly when the kids are asleep, and late at night is my best time to work. This is when I know I won’t be disturbed. I’m a night owl, so it works. I rarely go to bed before midnight.
Who’s your favorite living artist?
My favorite artist is one most people haven’t heard of. He was a huge inspiration to me when I was in college. His name is Doug Fryer. I love the way he uses color and layers of paint. He’s a realistic painter with a contemporary edginess.
Who’s your favorite dead artist?
Well, I can’t pick just one! The Impressionists and Post Impressionists have really inspired me. I love their use of color and texture! I’d say my top favorites are: Degas, Monet, Van Gogh (of course) and Gauguin. My favorite Museum in the whole world is the Musee d’ Orsay in Paris, right across from the Louvre. It’s the Impressionist’s Museum. I must admit, I spent more time in Musee d’ Orsay than I did in the Louvre!
What's your favorite book you've read in the last year?
"The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century" by Thomas L. Friedman
How does your husband feel about you taking up all the lime light?
Honestly, I think he’s fine with that. Our business really couldn’t run without him. He doesn’t care if anyone else knows that or not. He’s the left brain in the operation. He keeps up the website, talks to the Galleries and clients, packages and ships the paintings. All I really have to do is hide in the studio and paint! We’re a really good team. And we’re living our dream of having a family business that’s flexible enough for us to spend a lot of time together with our kids.
So, why you? Why are you a successful artist, when there are so many starving ones out there?
I get that question a lot. I think it's a lot of things. It really does help to have a tech-savvy husband who knows how to work the internet, and keep up with the website. He stays on top of the newest technological trends, and is quick to implement them into our art business. The art world is changing rapidly in the way business is run. Most artists think that all you need to do to make money is get into a few Galleries. While brick and mortar Galleries are an important part of the business, there is a lot more to it than that. Good marketing is important. Branding yourself. Having a style and subject matter that appeal to the majority of people is important too. I'm just lucky that what I love to paint and the way I paint happens to coincide with what the public wants.