I came across Mollie Kellogg's work through a post on Facebook! Her style and use of colour immediately drew me in, and I am incredibly inspired by Incognito Witch: Paint My Life. What a great reminder to live all that one is, instead of hiding the inner magick we have. And, I am not the only one inspired; Mollie says that she has come to find that the message in her art has helped viewers with self-empowerment, self-love or body issues.
As a child, Mollie tried her hand at painting on her mother's works-in-progress when she wasn't looking (what a patient, supportive mother!). Through life experiences - among them, theatre, children, and life-threatening health issues - her work has become conceptual, sometimes blurring the line between what is imaginary and real. "I believe that this accessible humanness combined with the imagination, strong concepts, consistency, and the ability to find humor in painful or embarrassing situations is the Incognito Witch magick formula."
What does Creativity mean to you?
The question of creativity and its origin has been an ongoing theme over the years at our First UU Art Guild/Bard Hall Gallery discussions. We meet monthly at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego -- fellow artist John Keasler and I facilitate. In these discussions there are generally three camps: one believes that creativity is somehow channeled from the universe and everyone has the ability to tap into it; the second believes anything they create is all their doing -- that it only comes from within them; the third group believes only some people have creativity, and these are generally people who think that they, themselves, are not creative.
I am in the first camp -- I sense that creativity is somehow channeled from the universe and everyone has the ability to tap into it -- and I believe if you ignore it, or crimp off your “creative flow” for whatever reasons, (personal, work, fear, family, abuse, insecurity, time…), then you could suffer physically over time, just as someone would who has negativity in their life and then develops a chronic illness. At least this is what happened to me.
As a result of my experiences, I am passionate about empowering all three camps, especially the “non-creatives,” to recognize that they can bring creativity into their everyday activities in baby steps -- such as spending a little more time coordinating an outfit, putting on makeup or styling their hair; humming a song, doodling, writing poetry; arranging the furniture, flowers, or the knickknacks on the shelf; playing, laughing, pretending, visualizing -- while taking pleasure in these rituals. I believe it doesn't need to be a big production to get a little more creative juice flowing in your life.
How do you expand yourself creatively?
At this point in my life, I eat, breathe, and sleep creative. I often have too many ideas conjuring themselves up that I am trying to manifest. The paintings happen pretty smoothly and are a somewhat solitary activity -- sans the model shoot and the loved ones tapped to critique my progress.
I expanded the Incognito Witch concept to film in a short birthday video I created for my daughter a few years ago. Over time the scope expanded to short films. I have experience in film acting, art direction and production, but to realize my vision it required me to learn new skills, such as song writing and editing. So, in that regard, to expand myself creatively, I needed to make dedicate time and space to get my brain around somewhat left-brained activities.
Time is something I do not really have -- so must be resourceful when moments become available. The inspiration for the new film came to me while driving home from dropping my son off at school, so I recorded it on my phone during the drive. Over the next couple days, I transcribed the recording while waiting in my car at stoplights, Starbucks drive-thru, picking up my kid, etc. I crafted the lyrics to my song over two weeks a stolen hour here and there. Then I passed the lyrics to my husband for his input and to develop a melody. The images for the scenes often times come to me during Zumba -- I keep a notepad sitting on my purse for when this happens, and I sneak over and jot it down during class.
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
I was so creative as a child that I imagine I was very annoying. I sang and danced constantly, drew on everything, ran around obliviously in two different colored socks and with underwear hanging out. Saying I danced to the beat of my own drum is a bit of an understatement -- it was a full-on choreographed Rockettes production! I know I annoyed the other kids, at least until I got a handle on my quirks in high school, when in my sophomore year and focused my talents in theatre and art.
The adults in my life were always supportive. My teachers in elementary school and junior high tried to protect me from the cruelty that ensues when one stands out -- and they seemed to appreciate my eccentricities. Teachers also guided my ship with their counsel: Mrs. Webster, Mrs. Frank, Mrs. Braig, Mrs. Moser, Mrs. Williams, Mr. Miner, and others, had a hand in my making the career choices that allowed me to live a creative life, 24/7.
My mom supported me in everything and in every way -- the dance classes, competitions, recitals, theatre auditions, rehearsals, costumes, speech tournaments, it was endless… My mother is an artist; my father a cartoonist, photographer, and collector; my aunts and grandparents on both sides were artists and singers, musicians, photographers. I didn't have chance to avoid this path! ;-)
I run into many artists who were told by their parents as a child that art was not a career option. I can not imagine the hell my life would be if I had been born into one of those families.
What inspires you most?
Life -- its joys and its sorrows.
What turns you on creatively?
It really isn't an on and off switch for me. It is a hunger. I am always a little hungry and it get’s uncomfortable if I am kept from the table for too long.
Do you have any gratefulness practices?
I am generally a very grateful person. I voice my gratitude to the universe on an almost daily basis. Each night, when we sit down for dinner as a family, everyone at the table holds hands and take a moment to reflect on all the things in our lives we can be grateful for. I realize I am a very lucky person and I have wonderful, caring children, Petyr Cirino and Alice Jane Kellogg and her fiance, Shawn Underwood, and an amazing husband, T.Collins Logan, a mystic who teaches and writes about Integral Lifework, a practice that strives for a balanced nourished life. When the cup is half-empty, or I get in work-mode, if it were not for my husband, I probably would only stop working when I dropped from exhaustion. He is also good at distinguishing when I have to be in overdrive, when a break is not an option, and he does everything he can to support me to get through the crisis. My husband also leads by example, by being very mindful to show me his love every single day in little ways to make my life easier. He will often say “Life is good” and it is.
Do you daydream often? If so, does it inform your work?
Daydreaming is part of my job as a fine artist, filmmaker, illustrator and creative art director. I guess the connotation of daydream is escaping when you are supposed to be focusing on other stuff. I call it concepting or brainstorming -- that way it is billable.
How does a relationship and/or children affect your creativity?
My art and theatre changed after the birth of my children. It made me feel very intensely (or maybe it was hormones). I present the magick in every day-ness in my work. The roller-coaster fuels my brush. Leading up to and after my divorce, many works were a visual diary of sorts, I had no voice, only on the canvas.
I met T. Collins Logan at an art show I was attending with my mother. We both had work in the exhibit -- his photograph and my painting. He approached me because he wrote a poem about my painting. We became friends and he started teaching a mysticism class at First UU. When we started dating, he read me poetry, including his own works and Hafiz -- both of which inspired several paintings and continued to have a strong influence on my work for the following years. He also helped me change the perception I had of of myself from starving artist to a professional. Currently we are collaborating on the Incognito Witch short films and a book.
Art is a family business. I have shown with my mother, Bonnie Stager, and son as CreativeSpiritworks at several festivals, also with the help of my daughter and her fiance.
My kids and my man are also very excellent models! And affordable.
Is there a Creative, past or present, that you would give just about anything to work with? Who, and why?
I like painting alone -- I mean, I like people in the house, but I don’t want anyone looking until I am ready -- it is too painful. I would like to have been an observer of Warhol’s rise from a commercial artist to an art icon. I think it would be mind-blowing to witness.
I did, however, have actors I wanted to perform with on my bucket list at an early age: Vincent Price, Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire, and I really, really wanted to be on an episode of Star Trek!
How do you care for yourself to ensure you’re available when ideas present themselves?
I try really hard to work out regularly, get enough sleep, and spend a little time each day with my man. Otherwise I am too fatigued to execute and that affects my mood.
How do you balance life and art effectively? Or, do you?
I wouldn’t without my family. My man makes sure I eat well and my clothes are clean. If I lived alone I would wake up wearing what I painted in the previous day and go back to painting -- going out only for Starbucks coffee and sandwiches.
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
I don’t really have dry spells -- I do hit a wall if I am trying to push through to complete a painting or to solve a visual problem. I have been known to paint through the night obsessing over something that isn't working. I will ask my husband to go look at it the next day because I am afraid -- it never looks like what I think it did the night before. It was so bad one time that I couldn't “see” for a day or two -- the painting was like it had been abstracted, I couldn't see it as a whole. I had to not look at the painting for a while to reset how I saw the work. Then, it was made obvious to me what the real problem was.
I have read that we use different parts of our brain to see the big picture versus seeing detail. I know I need to take a break between the two. I can’t block in a painting in then go to working on detail -- I can’t see it.
So, pushing-through has never really ever worked for me and maybe some day I will remember that…
How do you deal with change, especially when it comes to creative mediums and passion?
I have worked hard to be consistent, but recently I have been strategically evolving my Incognito Witch Project. So much of my technique relies on playing and making a mess, I have a lot of flexibility.
The tension I feel usually comes more on the film side when I am in the middle of one production, but my mind has moved on and is feeding me ideas for the next film. This happened with the project I am currently working on. I ended up merging the new ideas into the current project and it made it different but better.
How does criticism affect you?
No one likes criticism, do they? I will ask a select few their opinion or advice, otherwise I am not interested in unsolicited critiques. You do not have to like my art, I know it is not for everyone. Of course, I like to hear when someone likes my work -- I will accept unsolicited praise any time! If you want to see me cry say, “I liked it better before.”
Has your work ever been copied? If so, how did you deal with it?
I can't say I know if my work has been copied. I would not care for that. The closest I have come is use of my painting Moon Goddess without permission online. I allow folks to post my art for personal use if they give me a credit line. If it is for a business, then I ask them to pay a small usage fee. The first time I searched using Google Images I was shocked at how many people were using that one painting. I totally obsessed and spent days trying to reach out to the various culprits. I even translated my message into other languages and signed up for various sites to deliver my message to the user who posted her. I had a 50% success rate. I threw in the towel when one of the foreign language sites I joined turned out to be a swinger’s sex site. Oops.
How important is self compassion to your creative process?
My work embraces both the good and bad inside everyone without judgment. Compassion for all is required.
Do you have any other mediums you use to express yourself creatively?
My current painting work is mixed media primary acrylic -- it consists of thick gesso, metallics, watercolor powder, foil stars and glitter, gold or metal leaf, sometimes dried flowers, or feathers....
I also do photography and film and almost went to school for photography instead. My first passion was watercolor -- then I added pencil and pastel. I painted with oils for a while until I had kids.
Do you enjoy collaborating, or prefer to work alone?
Alone painting. Collaboratively for theatre, music and film. I love when a good natured group comes together and shares energy to create a vision.
Do you work in a studio/space designed specifically for your creativity, or on the spur of the moment/anywhere inspiration strikes?
Yes (to both). My husband converted a space for my studio and built painting storage, etc. It is the center of the house. However, my brain is always ready for creative action whenever and wherever.
Is it important for you to have a creative, inspiring environment?
It helps. But I think it can be an excuse to not create. I can be in a loud busy crowd and they all go away if I am in the zone.
Do you plan thoroughly for projects, or go with the flow?
I plan thoroughly, but the art does what the art wants to do -- regardless of my intentions.
Do you have a preferred way of cataloguing ideas?
I carry a journal to sketch thumbnails, but then I misplace the book for a while and start a new book, then I have an idea in the car (where a lot of my ideas come to me) but I left my book by the bed and so I grab a gas receipt or napkin to doodle my idea, then take it into the house and file it with the tax receipts… But it all works out in the end.
Do you utilize social media? If so, how?
Yes. I try to share progress and insights on Facebook and Instagram. Also trying to learn Twitter and better represent on LinkedIn. Some day I will figure out Google+. I have a Pinterest but probably not making the most of it yet. Opened an Etsy page as an experiment for Creative Spiritworks with my kid’s and mom’s work, and some of my older stuff.
What is your typical day like?
Wake up. Check email and Facebook. Eat breakfast. Take kid to school. Workout. Work-work-work/create-create-create. Eat Lunch. Work-work-work/create-create-create. Pick up kid. Work-work/create-create. Eat dinner. Work/create. Sit with husband. Go to bed
Minus: Taking kid to school and workout
Add: Wonderful husband brings me breakfast in bed
Do you have any rituals that help to set your creative time and/or space?
I put on my paint clothes. It is like when they tell people who have in-home businesses to dress as if they are going to work. I put on the comfy paint-covered clothes and I am an artist.
Does spirituality and/or culture play a role in your creativity?
Yes. It is part of life and thus part of my art.
Do you believe art can change the world? If so, how?
I would like it to. I think there are projects that can do good for many people while building awareness of important issues. I recently showed You, Me Us at ArtRage Gallery in Syracuse, NY and screened my film at the 2014 Awareness Festival in Los Angeles, CA -- both social justice themed venues with very important missions.
But art requires a willing recipient. I think we can touch many people and make their lives a little better, and that is amazing and wonderful. I think the challenge is to reach new ears and eyes with a call to action -- it is all too easy and validating to simply preach to the choir.
How I think art can change the world is by getting it back into schools and into communities and to fund the arts. Teach art, music, dance, crafts, etc., to everyone -- let everyone experience the creative flow. I knew a masseuse who said if everyone could have a massage she thought there would be less violence in the world. I think that may also be the case if everyone had a creative outlet.
Do you believe that connecting with your creativity, or helping others to do so, can positively affect the world? If so, how?
I believe this 110%. That is the Incognito Witch “hidden magick” message. That being true to yourself, to “paint a life you recognize” through self-examination, self-acceptance, and play, could make your life, and the lives of your loved ones, a little brighter.
I explain more about the concept in this April 2014 presentation www.vimeo.com/molliekellogg/magick2014.
Are you active in your local art community? If so, how do you help and support each other?
Since 2005 I have coordinated monthly shows and discussions at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego. It is a support group for artists. I had a show in the venue in 2004 and no one came. It was my husband and I and our platter of cheese. When Suzette Southfox asked if I would take over the group in 2005 I swore another artist would not spend a night alone crying in the deli platter, so I set up a discussion format where artists can bring in up to three pieces of art to discuss. This makes them eligible for a show. That way at least artists are there to support other artists. It is about participation and community. We have been going strong ever since.
Do you surround yourself on a daily basis with creative, inspiring people?
I surround myself with good people. Good people are inspiring.
What effect do you want your art to have on the world?
First and foremost, I want my work to stop people and make them feel. Then, if they have the means and desire, I would like them to take it home with them and love it forever and ever.
What music, if any, plays while you work? What are you listening to at this very moment?
Shuffle Pandora -- a very broad, eclectic mix of everyone in the households tastes. In the car if I am working on a music project, then I listen to The Coffee House - SiriusXM. I also like to play my husband’s music -- this is a song he wrote for me when we started dating, www.soundcloud.com/t-collinslogan/15-bird-song-2003.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Bits of advice that have stayed with me over the years:
My high school art teacher told me to take as many art classes in high school as I could then take commercial art in college. This was a good solution for me.
My seminar teacher was not impressed with a cutesy little bird illustration I created and she informed me it was decorative. I got the distinct impression she did not approve and have tried to make her proud ever since.
In art school my life drawing teacher made the point that our work was not precious. This is a good ego check. Especially if you are working for someone else who may not agree with your direction.
Keep painting despite setbacks -- you can’t win if you don’t play.
Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives?
Have a back-up so you don’t have to compromise your vision.
Don’t pass judgement on someone else’s art* (or your own) until you have spent time in a variety of museums. *Unless you are paid to do so.
Be consistent with your pricing once you start selling.
Creativity is not toothpaste. You can not squeeze it out on demand. If you have a creative job and your bosses don’t understand this -- your life will be hell.
Do you have any favorite books?
Do you have any upcoming projects/collections to share?
Recent Incognito Witch paintings include A Matter of Time (above) and the Ocean Goddess commissioned by high school friend Mindy Keeling being unveiled in this video www.vimeo.com/molliekellogg/oceangoddess.
I just completed the first Incognito Witch Selfie of Ginger Anxiety. The 2011 painting Incognito Witch: Familiar inspired the character from my September 2014 birthday video, created for my daughter, which inspired this new Dec 2014 painting. I plan on doing a few more based on the film characters of Incognito Marilyn and G, the Incognito Witch. Ginger sings in my upcoming short film currently in production.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Years ago I clipped a Wizard of Id comic out of the newspaper and kept it taped to my desk. Somewhere along the way it was lost -- but the message stayed with me:
A sitting frog reflects, “I had life all figured out…then my tail fell off.”
Where can we find your art?