While reconnecting with art in adult years, Dawna was advised to make art every day for one year, and in doing so, she would learn as much as many artists learn in 10 years. In other words, practice your art every day. She valued that advice so much, that she lived it...and, it shows. I am so grateful to have her as a friend, and share her work with you.
What does Creativity mean to you?
Creativity to me is the space/time/energy we all enter into where what is in us must be expressed.
How do you expand yourself creatively?
I expand myself creatively by staying humble and always seeking more knowledge about my craft. I remind myself all the time that there is more in there and I am always skimming the surface and I don’t ever let myself think “I’m done.”
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
Being creative was a necessity for me as a kid. My dad walked out us (my mom and five siblings - I am the youngest of six) when I was 2 years old and my mother was a waitress raising 6 kids in the 60’s and 70’s - needless to say, we were very poor. If we wanted anything we had to make it. I was especially inspired by my sister, Nikki Kinne, who is an amazing watercolor artist. When I was just 10 years old and she was 15, she sat with me for several hours teaching me how to draw and explaining how every line had a relationship to the next. That stuck and I drew Snoopy for all my classmates that year. My other sister, Denice Moody, was an incredible seamstress and she taught me how to sew. They read to me and basically were more maternal figures to me than my mother who was always working. Though my mother had a dream of being a writer, and when she wasn’t too tired at the end of the day she would write and read aloud to us from her “great American novel.”
What inspires you most?
I find inspiration everywhere. I don’t know that I can say there is a “most” - it can be the flight of a bird in our back yard, the colors of nature, laughter, stormy skies, bright colors in a fabric, other artists amazing works.
What turns you on creatively?
A stroll through an art supply store or galleries, listening to instrumental music, reading and studying master artists.
Do you have any gratefulness practices?
Yes. Most definitely. I start everyday with meditations of gratitude. I believe very strongly in keeping good thoughts in my head and that thoughts become things, so I really work at keeping good thoughts floating around in my space.
Do you daydream often? If so, does it inform your work?
I daydream all the time. I joke with my husband about the fact that while he’s talking to me I have a million images rolling through my head of things I want to create, but I wear a look of total interest in what he is saying. Scary to admit there are times I drive from home to my studio, and I don’t remember the drive at all, for all the things I am dreaming of creating when I arrive there.
How does a relationship and/or children affect your creativity?
At this point my husband and children are all very supportive of my work, and I work on art now about 14 hours a day on the average. I was a single mom for 14 years and my children came first, so my art was done in the stolen hours between working and caring for them. But I always made time for it when possible.
Is there a Creative, past or present, that you would give just about anything to work with? Who, and why?
There are many, I would have loved to spend time with Frida Kahlo, Edward Hopper and Henri Mattise just to name a few past, and present: Richard Schmidt, Katie O’Hagan, Jesse Reno, Elena Kallistova.
How do you care for yourself to ensure you’re available when ideas present themselves?
I try to take care of my well being. I am only 54, and I plan to be making art until the mirror under my nose no longer steams. I see myself like Grandma Moses, making art when I am 100+.
How do you balance life and art effectively? Or, do you?
For me they are one and the same. Life is art and art is my life. I may be sitting and visiting with friends, but my eyes are paying to attention to colors in their hair, the line of their nose, the patterns on the fabric they wear, how the light is coming and effecting the space. I can’t turn it off and I don’t want to.
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
I make art. Then I make more art. Sometimes I don’t like the end result of a piece, but I use that as information to take to the next piece. If I am feeling uninspired I go to places that inspire me, I look at reference books, visit websites, look through old photos, but I try to make some kind of art every day.
How do you deal with change, especially when it comes to creative mediums and passion?
I embrace it. I think change is just the universes way of helping you make a necessary shift in your work.
How does criticism affect you?
I value criticism from people I respect as artists as I am always willing to learn and look at things from a different angle. I also know my art is not for everyone and that is okay. Folks who comment who I don’t feel have the experience, I just acknowledge and move on. 500 viewers looking at my work are going to have 500 opinions.
Has your work ever been copied? If so, how did you deal with it?
Every artist is copying some other artist in one form or another, art is all an evolution and we are all part of the process and on our way to our own voices. I remember having some of my comedy material stolen many years ago and was fairly upset about it, then I was reading Jay Leno’s book “Leading with my Chin” and his response to this dilemma was “just write more material” - I carry that with me still only now I say to myself “just make more art.”
How important is self compassion to your creative process?
For me it is important, for other artists, self loathing helps them make better art all the time because they hate everything they did before. I tend to be gentle with myself and remind myself that I am not going to love everything that comes out. I also spend more time working on the kind of work I like more now. By that I mean, I used to try to make art that I thought the public would want, even though it was not necessarily what cranked me up as an artist. But I have found in the last couple years, my work that is selling to serious collectors is the stuff I make in my “pure bliss” mode.
Do you have any other mediums you use to express yourself creatively?
I love to sing. Not that many would love to hear it, but singing is a wonderful joyful expression. I also love photography, though I don’t promote myself as a photographer, I have taken some really awesome shots that I use for reference. I also love and am learning clay and handbuilding, and you can expect to see more of that type of material in some of my assemblage and mixed media works.
Do you enjoy collaborating, or prefer to work alone?
I have some projects I would love to collaborate with artists on, but haven’t found any yet who are willing to do that or that have the time to commit. I don’t mind having other artists bring work to work on in my studio while I work sometimes. But generally, when I am really wanting to hunker down on some big work, I just like me and my music in the room.
Do you work in a studio/space designed specifically for your creativity, or on the spur of the moment/anywhere inspiration strikes?
I am fortunate that I have several creative spaces, I have my studio at The Art Barn, which is where the bulk of my work is done, but I also have a fabric/sewing room at my home, and I keep multiple sketch materials and books in pretty ready reach, and there are time where I like to do plein air work.
Is it important for you to have a creative, inspiring environment?
Having a space to work is a real blessing that I am grateful for now, but I tell young artists all the time, don’t let not having that space be an excuse not to create. Take over the table top, find a corner or work on your bed. Don’t let the lack of a “studio” stop you from finding your Creative voice. For many years, my dining room table was my studio. I would pull supplies from numerous closets, or I would occupy a small corner of my living room.
Do you plan thoroughly for projects, or go with the flow?
Depends on the project. Some I mill around in my head and do sketches, and others I just toss crap out of my way because I have to make it right now. That is how my “Frida’s Night Garden” piece happened. I was sifting through wallpaper sample books and kept seeing these big flowers and birds, and saw the piece in my head and stopped what I was doing and had to make it. It was kind of like that great sex scene in “Bull Durham” where Kevin Costner swipes everything off the kitchen table and throws Susan Surrandon on top of it. I swept everything off my work table and started cutting paper and painted Frida’s face in watercolor. It just had to happen then.
Do you have a preferred way of cataloguing ideas?
I write them down sometimes just a few words to jog my memory, sometimes very loose sketches. I have several art journals.
Do you utilize social media? If so, how?
Absolutely. Facebook mostly. I have had several sales as result of posting and I have been contacted by people for commissions I would not otherwise know.
What is your typical day like?
I spend the morning in quiet - coffee and meditation. I wake up before anyone else in the house usually and sit in silence. Then I get dressed and load up my pooches (Einstein and Hercules) and head to the barn. I like to either listen to Dr. Wayne Dyer or Classical music on the way there. Once there, I either know exactly what I am going to start working on or I spend time in my journals or reviewing references or notes. I try to avoid the computer because it is so easy to get stuck in a mire of emails and messages. I save that for my later afternoon breaks and I time myself on the computer.
Do you have any rituals that help to set your creative time and/or space?
I walk into the barn and say out loud: “Hello Barn, I am going to make some awesome art today!” I then usually clean up whatever mess I made the day before before I start a new mess. If it’s a layover project, I just get to work. When I start a new project, I try to pull together all the supplies I need for that piece before I start and position them where I can reach them.
Does spirituality and/or culture play a role in your creativity?
Definitely it does. I have several works coming up that I feel speak to some cultural issues that I want to address. I am a very spiritual person. I am metaphysical in my indoctrination, and having the right mindset and energy surrounding me is very important to my creative process.
Do you believe art can change the world? If so, how?
Yes. Moreover, I believe art is a reflection of our current world. I think when we see something we find meaning in we are moved. But art is so subjective to a person’s taste or viewpoint or the viewers feelings looking at it.
Do you believe that connecting with your creativity, or helping others to do so, can positively affect the world? If so, how?
When I teach art, and I see my students begin to have confidence in their own creativity, it is an awesome experience. Probably my greatest joy is that sharing. I think if we can get more people to acknowledge we are all creative beings and to allow themselves to express that more, people in general will be happier. I hear over and over again: “I used to love to make art but life got in the way.” I think you should make being creative as necessary to your life as a good breakfast or exercise. I believe it heals whatever needs healing in our souls.
Are you active in your local art community? If so, how do you help and support each other?
I am. I would love to see more people consider us a “community” and work on projects that support all of us. I paint with a group of women I adore, and I co-sponsor events for artists to participate in such as the Folk’n Art Festival at Mayday Brewery, and used to consign artists in The Art Barn when it was a retail space. I would love to see how we can develop an art crawl event and would love there to be more galleries opening in and around the square for just that reason. I also curate local art for Mayday Brewery.
Do you surround yourself on a daily basis with creative, inspiring people?
Absolutely. I get inspired by my art students, and I have other artists friends, and I love seeing their work and watching them grow artistically. I have several artists I look up to that I love talking “art” with and being in the spaces they create artistically. I recently attended a dinner party with nothing but creative people in the room and it was magical.
What effect do you want your art to have on the world?
I want to tell good stories or build platforms for people to have their own stories in my work.
What music, if any, plays while you work? What are you listening to at this very moment?
My music is very eclectic - from Indie folk, to bluegrass, to Celtic and classical. When I did Frida Kahlo pieces I listened to old Spanish ballads, and when I did my Queens I was listening to Vivaldi and Celtic. But when I worked on my Hank Williams Sr piece, of course I listened to Hank and other old country classics. I love French Cafe Music and Tangos to Adele and Brandi Carlile. Right now I don’t have any music on, sometimes I like silence.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
I have had lots of great advice, but my favorite is more of a mantra that is a quote by Henry David Thoreau “If you advance confidently in the direction of your own dreams, and endeavor to live the life you have imagined, you will meet with a success unexpected in these common hours.”
Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives?
Do the thing that brings you the most bliss and listen to your heart, do not measure your art journey by anyone else’s but always be a student with an open mind. “Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.” Rumi.
Do you have any upcoming projects/collections to share?
I will be working on more collage pieces and graffiti totems. I am participating in Folk N Art Fest July 26, Tomato Arts Festival August 9, Artclectic October 23 and I have some Galleries that I am meeting with in the near future. Many of my pieces are on display at Mayday Brewery throughout the year.