Like most artists, I have done art since I was a child. In middle school I had a teacher who opened my eyes to how diverse and expressive art could be. That was probably the first time I thought about art as a profession; however, I was much more interested in dance at the time. While in high school I continued to take art classes. I hated the artwork I was creating. Nothing ever turned out quite like I wanted. But I worked hard, especially after my mom suggested giving up dance to try and get an art scholarship for college. Once I got into BYU’s art program I fell in love with art. I felt like I was in a kid’s major. Not that the work was not exhausting, but every class was exhilarating. I loved that I went to school to draw and paint with incredible teachers and classmates. As guest artists came and talked about being able to stay home with their kids and have such a fulfilling career at the same time, I knew it was a great fit for the life I wanted to create. 2. Tell us about a piece that is especially important to you. A piece that is especially important for my journey was called “Comfort Zone.” I painted it as a senior in high school. It was the first piece I created that I actually really liked, and got recognition for. It made it to state for the Reflections contest and was accepted in the Springville Museum of Art’s High School Art Show. The series of artwork that I used for my college application was based off of this piece.
3. Which artists are you inspired by?
I love a wide variety of artists for different reasons. Over time I have discovered my favorite artists are pop artists who have mastered beautiful use of bright color such as Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Warhol, and David Hockney. Others I often look to for inspiration are Monet, John Singer Sargent, and Charles Reid. There are many more, including Janine Antoni, Cindy Sherman, and Minerva Teichert, from which I draw inspiration. As you can tell from my response, there are too many great predecessors to name just one or two inspiring artists.
4. Tell us a little about your process for creating a work of art.
I am a mother of 3, soon to be 4, so most of my day is spent taking care of my children. This is a large part of my art process as it gives me time to think while my hands are folding laundry, doing dishes, and preparing food. My paintings are often representations of my time with my children as they are literally the fruits of my labors. I have also recently realized our bedtime song is also part of my art process. Each night my toddler asks me to sing “Temple Song,” I Love to See the Temple. Though I do not make it to the LDS temples as much as I would like, it is obviously a part of my everyday life and therefore often transfers into my artwork.
5. What questions do you hope people ask themselves as they look at your art?
I hope others will observe the paintings and ask why the shadows are as bright as the fruit. Why fruit, how fruit relates to them. I hope they will contemplate the plates and what plates represent in a home, who prepares and serves it, and why. Hopefully the imagery will conjure emotions and ties to family dinners and gatherings.
6. What’s your advice for how to interact with and appreciate art?
My advice for interacting with artwork is to think about it on several levels:
1) A personal level: How does this relate to me and my life experience? This is probably the most obvious and natural.
2) How does it relate to the time period it was made in?
3) How does it make me feel and why?
4) What questions is this trying to provoke?
5) Do I like the way the paint is applied, the light is used, or the color combinations on display?
By looking through these different lenses, I feel like we can find a way to appreciate any work of art for different reasons.
7. What advice do you have for people who are just getting started as artists?
Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Go to art openings and events, and make friends with other artists and art enthusiasts there and on social media. I have made wonderful art connections through Instagram that help me feel encouraged and excited about art-making. Also, find a goal, make a plan, work toward it a little at a time and make it happen. There are so many opportunities for artists to “make it work” in today’s world. We have more options than walking into galleries and hoping they like our artwork. Galleries are wonderful, but they are not the only opportunity any more, and putting yourself out there in other venues is what gives you credibility for a gallery to want you in their space. Being an artist is not easy, but if you love it, work for it and make it happen! Do not worry about what other people are doing or where they are. Focus on your goal and get to work!
#Heirloom2017 will be on display at the Orem Library until mid-April. The show is a selection from a set of 30 paintings. If you would like to see the rest, visit abigalepalmer on Instagram.