Recently I’ve been describing three successful artists with unusual careers. We saw that they were guided by moments of insight and they found a creative community. What else do these artists share?
Alisa Burke (alisaburke.com)
Alisa Burke is a painter, printmaker, teacher and writer. She supports her family by running a multi-faceted art business. She offers online classes, sells books and DVDS, hosts workshops and retreats, sells her paintings and collages and adult coloring books, and even started a fashion accessory line. Alisa writes a daily blog and has 50,000 followers.
Chris Motley (chrismotleyart.com)
Chris Motley spent 30 years in a “left-brain” job, as a lawyer in the public sector. She has no formal art credentials. After retiring from her legal career, she began to knit 3-dimensional sculptures whose originality gradually brought her national recognition. She has shown her work in galleries and art centers across the United States, and recently had a solo museum show.
Lia Cook (liacook.com)
You can find Lia Cook’s ground-breaking work in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian, among many others. She works in a variety of media, combining weaving with painting, photography, video and digital technology. She is currently collaborating with neuroscientists to investigate our emotional response to images by mapping these responses in the brain.
Alisa, Chris, and Lia share another quality common to artists who eventually become well known. Before they discovered universal themes or reached large audiences, their art was first personal. It grew out of their own lives.
One of Chris Motley’s early sculptures was “Living Alone,” a female torso holding a backscratcher. “It was for me, the essence of my mother’s life after my father died, since she’d never lived alone in her life.” The work is both humorous and sad, conveying complex emotions.
As Motley’s art developed, it became more abstract. Such works as “Confusion” and “Up, Really Down and Up Again” evoke different states of mind that punctuate our days. Other works, such as “Homeless” and “Brown is the New Green,” address issues we face as a society. Motley’s work now explores universal themes, but her Mother’s personal story started it all.
Lia’s Cook’s work with neuroscientists grew out of her own curiosity. “I was always interested in how the brain works.” When she started to explore faces she based her work on her own family photographs. “My mother was a photographer, and so we had a huge collection of family photographs.” She tried using anonymous images, but found that her personal photographs were more evocative. These intimate faces from her early life made viewers recall their own family histories.
Alisa Burke’s life and business grew out of her personal vision. She created her art business in order to live on her own terms. Alisa was raised in a family of artists, whose pottery studio was part of the family home. She assumed that running a creative business from home was a natural way of life. Alisa integrated her art practice and her life into a creative whole, based on her DNA. “I always saw the world though a lens of creativity.”
Each of these artists reminds us that art grows out of the core of yourself. The famous artists you admire started with a personal vision. Remember this and honor your own beginnings.
All the best,
Mary Edwards, Ph.D.
Career & Life Coach for Artists
I’m a Career and Life Coach for Artists, based in the San Francisco Bay Area and working with artists across the United States and internationally. If you’d like to ask a question or set up a time to talk, please write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.