Thursday's Soul Food delight is artist Alisa Steady...enjoy!
Tell us about you and your art journey.
Oh, where to begin? I guess the best way to start is by confessing that I was absolutely clueless about the direction my life was taking until I turned fabulous forty, when the fog lifted and I could see clearly that I wanted to live my life as a bright creative light. My art journey started when I was a kid, playing with crayons, markers and silly putty. I was artistic all through school, and eventually landed in art school. But I didn’t truly embrace myself as an artist until I became fierce and forty!
What are some of the things that nourish your soul? How do you decide what to create? Where do your ideas come from?
It all begins with eyeballing a blank canvas. Then a color scheme will come to mind, and as I am painting the background, the subject matter makes its appearance. Lately I’ve been experimenting with abstract concepts and mixed media. I guess what I decide to create is based on how I’m feeling (not very original, but true none the less!). The idea for a painting may come from something I saw earlier in the day or even just a conversation I had.
How have the “rough spots” in life affected your art?
I battled depression for several years, and with that came lack of desire to do anything but get through the day and go to bed. When I think back on those dark days, I am so grateful to have made it through as a stronger, and more determined person who stands up for what she believes in. As a result, my work is always bright with strokes of delicious bold color. A celebration of finally embracing who I really am – an artist!
Tell us about the first piece you created that you felt really proud of.
I remember having a one or two pieces when I was kid that I felt warranted a couple fist pumps, but the piece that comes to mind that made me really proud of was a poster for Ravinia (in Highland Park, IL) I did while I was in art school for an upcoming program / outdoor concert. It was an assignment for class that was also a city-wide competition among the other art schools. I designed my poster with dreams in mind and executed it with vinyl that sign makers use. It won fourth place and I was invited to a very schwanky restaurant by the selection committee to celebrate with the other four winners. Pretty cool memory.
What are some elements that make your work “yours”?
Ever look at a painting and just know who the artist is? An artist’s work is as unique to that artist as their handwriting. In my work, the giveaway is the bright color palette and the use of contrast with light vs. dark surrounding the color. I use a lot of texture in my artwork, and I write pretty personal things into the canvas. I guess it’s what someone calls a personal style. And that style can change as the artist grows over time, but the ‘handwriting’ never changes.
What hangs on your walls? Do you collect work by other artists?
My studio has some of my paintings hanging, but I’m growing quite a collection of artists I love! I believe in being surrounded by the muse of other artists and the passion they convey on their canvas. It gives me a sense of comfort, awe, and inspiration. If you don’t collect art / prints, I highly recommend it! There is nothing more thrilling than having eye candy at your disposal.
What drives your sense of validation or legitimacy as an artist?
My sense of validation and legitimacy as an artist comes from making painting every day a priority. I fantasize about art supplies and having coffee with other artists discussing gel mediums, techniques, and favorite subjects. I eat, sleep, breath art, artists, and art supplies. It’s annoying, really. Not for me, but for anyone who’ll listen. I could talk a blue streak about art stuff if you let me (and if you do, I promise to buy the coffee).
What is the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other artists?
My advice would be don’t get caught up comparing yourself with other artists. You must realize your journey is your own, and something to nurture and be proud of. Everyone’s story is unique to their own life experiences. Commit to your passion for creating, and enjoy the process of getting to where you ultimately want to be. You will be amazed by the opportunities that come knocking on your door.
How do you define success, and what keeps you going?
I’ve learned the meaning of success is different for everyone. Once upon a time I thought success for me meant lights, camera, action – world domination and fame! But, I’ve realized that for me, that is not what success means. For me it means being able to paint every day, and push myself into being the best artist I can be. And if it means a sale on a painting, then that’s just the cherry on top of a really great sundae. Once you define what success means for yourself, it gives you the freedom to enjoy the process of achieving your dream – big or small.