One of my favorite artists, the ultra-talented Naomi Ernest, kicks off a new series featuring fellow art addicts, those that are living the artist's life and creating art. Get ready to get inside their head and see what what inspires them, how they overcome fear and why they do what they do.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Growing up, my parents were both artists-on-the-side. I remember happy days painting flowers with my mom when I was very small. When I was a bit older, my sisters and I would surreptitiously peek through old boxes of the slightly indecorous artwork from my dad’s teenage years. In high school I was voted class artist; my art teacher entered my work into various school competitions, and I sold my very first commissioned piece to the middle school library.
"I never stopped creating; like my parents and so many others, I have always been an artist-on-the-side. Despite a lifetime full of happy creative moments, it simply did not occur to me that I might choose art as a profession. After years of searching and sorting and patience, I have only recently begun to understand it as a deeper calling."
The unexpected art supply you can’t live without…
Toothpicks and cotton swabs. Very unglamorous, but handy for so many little details in my work!
Dream dinner party... (4-5 guests, living or dead...)
Frida Khalo- to paint and to share the beauty and volatility of human nature
Eddie Vedder- to play ukulele and sing
Mark Twain- to share laughter
Mother Teresa- to demonstrate living fully and humbly
My husband- because moments are infinitely more wonderful when you share them with those you love best of all
Favorite contemporary artist/s
My art loves are forever evolving. A few of my current crushes: Yago Hortal. Claire Desjardins. Patricia Derks. Kristi Kohut. Jose Romussi. Amy Judd. Zena Holloway.
How do you feed your head? (What inspires you?)
Like many artists, I am a very visual person. I have an everlasting habit of seeking details and separating out the world into pleasant and interesting segments. I reflexively deconstruct scenes and moments into smaller compositions of their bare elements— a certain smudge on the window, the flecks of color in someone’s eyes, the shape of a shadow creeping across the wall, the outline of trees against the sky. My habit is to notice details of color, shape, mood, texture; as long as I am mindful of it, I can constantly find inspiration.
What's inspiring you at the moment?
Color color color. I am a naturally moody person; much of my work reflects that with muted or sophisticated shades and monochromatic colors. It’s where I find my calm, and where my work feels most comfortable. But I am trying to stretch myself because I really do love interesting and unexpected color combinations. There is currently just so much vividly good and inspiring color— in art and fashion and decor; I’m trying to see where it might fit with my work.
Fear in art, how do you fight it?
I arrived in the professional art world only recently. I am not a trained artist. I am still discovering my niche. I work in several mediums. My artwork is varied, organic and intuitive. Because of all this, and aided by that personal fear within each of us, I am very aware of how easily my work can be dismissed.
But I am usually successful at keeping fear in the back of my mind, where it pushes without paralyzing. I give myself permission to try new things and to fail at those things. I often allow my creativity to rest—I read, take a walk, wash dishes, bake bread, do other things that want doing. And then I make myself keep trying even when I have no good ideas and no good work.
"I remind myself that we are all valuable souls. At its best, my work shares a bit of my own soul with the world, so I try to remain confident in the value of myself and of my work. If it is honest and true, it is always worthwhile."
I love a high-low mix. Destroyed denim and well-loved tees mixed with unexpected accessories, great shoes, and a bit of sparkle.
What you wish you had known when you were just starting out:
I discovered that if something— in art or in relationships or in life— is consistently making me unhappy or frustrated, it’s not right. I’ve learned to say no, try something new, look at things from a different angle, or at least leave it alone for a time. It’s also perfectly ok and quite necessary to let yourself rest and wander.
“The imagination needs moodling,— long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering."
I suppose it might have helped to know all along that being an artist were an option, but I don’t regret my path for a moment. My experiences are all useful. I have learned to appreciate being exactly where I am.
On the nightstand... (What are you reading?)
“Legal Guide for the Visual Artist.” Not very fun but very important.
And I always have a book of poetry and a good novel nearby; Whitman and Faulkner are usually within reach.
What’s next? Project you are currently working on…
I’ve been stocking my online shop with original work for the past few months, but I’m finally starting to feel caught up in that area. I’m working on a few personal projects combining multiple mediums. I have lofty ideas, but for now, my experimental attempts are in the totally awkward, cannot-possibly-show-to-another-living-soul stage.
I’m also beginning work for some forthcoming shows. It seems to be taking me forever because I am so very deliberate in trying to find the right fit, but I am really anxious to start showing more. It’s just a million times better to see original artwork in person.