Dottie on Art: Interview with Grandma

Art stirs my soul in ways that are hard to put into words. As often as I can, I steal away to the gallery on my school’s campus, soak in the quietness of the tall-ceilinged room, and let the art speak to me.

Part of my love of art came from my grandmother, who, for as long as I can remember, has been creating art and inviting me to do the same alongside her. Some of my favorite memories with her have taken place in the studio above her garage as we immersed ourselves in shape and color for hours at a time.

Some of my earliest artistic endeavors.
Some of my earliest artistic endeavors.

In order to better understand the artist’s experience, I asked my grandmother a few questions about her creative process.

Inspiration isn’t hard for Grandma to come by. She finds it in dreams, nature, color, shape, form, and the work of other artists. She is part of a cooperative gallery in Omaha, Nebraska, that gives her opportunities to work and interact with artists in many media and styles. Their diverse work and her love of learning push her to new levels of experimentation.

Given the chance to experiment in a medium besides her usual watercolor, handmade paper, and mask making, Grandma says she would like to try photojournalism. Jacques Cousteau’s work with the sea has inspired her to capture the beauty of our planet’s watery landscape and the colorful fish that live there. She is especially drawn to the silence and mystery of the water.

Grandma tries to set aside time in her days to be creative because it makes her a happier person. But even the thing that brings her joy comes with frustration. When Grandma gets stuck on a piece of art, she likes to have other projects in progress so she can shift focus without getting irritated with her work. She also steps back to pray and ask for guidance on the piece. “And of course, plenty of chocolate,” she adds.

She is learning to trust herself, even when that means making mistakes. She sees the value in learning from her errors and takes every opportunity to do so. This practice shows in her art as she listens to her intuition and lets her spirit guide her as she creates.

Grandma is currently working on an abstraction of calla lilies; she says she has no clue where the painting is going but is trying to get out of the way to let the art make itself. This painting is reminiscent of some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. Grandma admires O’Keeffe and is inspired by the way she thinks outside the box to create sensual work.

To those who find art difficult to understand, Grandma recommends asking questions, seeking out answers from artists and books, and getting exposed to lots of art. She says it is a process of learning and that sometimes you just won’t get it right away.

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For you creatives out there, what or who inspires you? What do you do when a piece you are working on stumps you? What advice would you give to those who don’t understand art?

Check out my grandma’s website here!

My grandparents and me at my high school graduation.
My grandparents and me at my high school graduation.
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