This week, meet Laura K Maxwell! She is a 2-D artist who specializes in drawing and painting. She is also the Co-op member in charge of this blog (so yes, she is writing in third person right now and interviewing herself--don't judge!)
Where are you from?
I am originally from Oklahoma, but have done most of my living in Texas. I moved to Portland, OR with my husband and two dogs this past December because we fell love with the Pacific Northwest. It hasn't disappointed us! We love it out here and spend most weekends outside exploring.
What jobs have you had other than being an artist?
In Dallas, I was a full-time teacher and taught visual art to K-6 students. After watching the kids create all day, I wanted to go home and do it myself! That's really when I found my own artistic voice. Before that I was mainly a student--getting my Bachelors in Art History and Masters in Art Education--and had other odd jobs such as serving at a restaurant, being a camp counselor, working at a daycare, substitute teaching, and working at the ticket office of a museum. I currently teach part-time after school drawing classes to elementary-aged students.
How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the Co-op?
I joined Artistic Portland in February of this year. I really liked the idea of having a physical home for my artwork. Before I had only sold my art online, and Artistic Portland seemed like a great opportunity to have a consistent home for my art. I also love that it's a co-op -- a diverse community of creatives that have committed to work together to make this thing work. It has really helped me to learn and grow as an artist.
What appeals to you about your artistic style--using pen and creating lots of itty-bitty shapes and patterns?
My current art style developed by first just doodling. There is an art movement called Zentangle, which involves the use of repetitive patterns in a sort of meditative process to build up a drawing, one mark at a time. I was teaching my students this method of drawing and they loved it--my classroom had never been so quiet! I started doing it a lot on my own and my style has evolved from there. I really like using ink when I draw because it makes me commit to what I'm doing. Even if I make a mistake, I have to incorporate into my artwork (a "beautiful oops"--this is also something that came from my teaching philosophy. No mistakes, only opportunities!). Sometimes I will use pencil to get a basic outline when I first begin a drawing, but then I switch to pen.
What frustrates you about drawing?
Because I often fill my drawing with lots of little patterns and shapes, they take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to finish. I have to work on them a little at a time over many weeks, sometimes months for bigger pieces. I would like to get more into painting, so I can work quicker with larger strokes.. That's something I've been dipping my toes into recently.
What inspires you?
Walking around Artistic Portland! So many talented artists are involved. Also, my husband and I love hiking. Being outside always refreshes me and makes me want to get creating. Oh, and teaching, like I've already mentioned. Young children create without any inhibition--they just dive right in. That really inspires me.
What do you like to do when you're not creating?
If I'm not drawing I'm usually hiking, walking my dogs, playing games, or reading a book at a coffee shop.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new artistic skill, what would it be?
I would love to learn printmaking!
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
There's always going to be doubt and second-guessing, but just keep putting one foot in front of the other and don't be afraid to ask for help. I'll often be working on a piece and have no idea how it is going to end up Instead of letting that freak me out, I just focus on the step I am on, and don't think too much about what's next until its time. Usually by then I have an idea of what to do. One of my favorite quotes is by Henri Matisse -- "Creativity takes courage." And courage isn't the absence of fear, but moving forward despite fear.
Stop by Artistic Portland to see and purchase Laura's drawings and paintings in person!