This week's blog was written by textile artist Karin Kaufman of Nadelwerk Designs. Karin interviewed visual artist, Lea K. Tawd.
How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the
I joined Artistic Portland in October 2016, but I had been thinking about joining for a while before that. I had my son when I was in college, so even though I got an art degree, as a single mother I felt unable to really engage with the art community for a long time. Being able to connect so closely with a community of artists (even though my son is a teenager and I now have a toddler, too!) was a big appeal. I was also really excited to get my art into a permanent space downtown so that I can connect with potential clients who never would have otherwise seen my art.
What is your background?
I earned a degree in Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking from PSU in 2002, but I've been making art my whole life. My parents are both creative, and my dad and stepmom are artists. My mom used to leave art projects on the table for my brother and I on the weekends so that she could sleep a little later.
In high school I wanted to be a writer, and spent a lot of time writing short stories and poetry. That morphed into an interest in comic books, and later in fine art as I worked my way through college.
I've been a working artist for about a decade now, selling my art and doing commission portraits and murals.
Why do you do what you do?
I know a lot of artists say this, but: because I can't do anything else! That is not to say that I don't have any other skills, but I am miserable working full time for anyone else, and if I do not spend regular time in my studio I'm not very fun to be around, either. Plus, I am stubborn. You have to be if you are going to choose this lifestyle and keep at it! Finally, I want to show my children that they can make what they want of their lives.
What would you say was your “ah ha” moment in going from thought to passion to actually starting your business?
I was lucky in that I had a set of circumstances that allowed me to pursue my art more seriously. Which may sound funny when I say the first thing that happened was that I got a very serious case of tendonitis from my office job. I couldn't work there anymore, and luckily a friend needed help with her eBay business so I became self-employed as her partner. This gave me the luxury of working at my own pace so that my arms could heal and so that I could make my art a regular practice and begin to create a business around it.
Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?
Aquarian, haha! Whether or not you believe in astrology, it fits!
Where do you create?
I have a beautiful studio/in my backyard that my husband built for me.
What motivates/inspires your work?
My current work began as part of a journey to find my own beauty after so many years of not seeing it. Now I hope to inspire others to see beauty and strength in themselves.
Who inspired you if anyone?
My parents and stepparents have inspired me a lot, by introducing me to art and to creative lifestyles, and showing me how to be independent and create the life I want for myself.
Tell us how you choose your supplies, material, you use in your Art?
I was given some wood panels to paint on many years ago, and I was so inspired by the wood grain that I began to paint almost exclusively on wood. The other supplies and materials, besides paint, come from my collection of paper scraps and other media that I've collected over the years. Each painting calls for different materials.
Did anyone ever tell you couldn’t do it?
I've been lucky to have a pretty supportive family, although I've been surprised at times by who can have the most negative comments!
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
I find that creating on a regular basis is vital to feeding the muse and avoiding creative blocks. In ideal times I have worked at the same time every day; when that's not possible then I at least create on the same days of the week as much as I can. I like to sweep up my studio first, grab a cup of coffee, and play loud music that I can dance to while I paint :)
What is the most difficult thing about making your Art?
Besides finding more time to create (I can always use more time!), I would say the most difficult thing is making sure that I am always learning and pushing myself to grow as an artist. It can be so easy to stay in a comfortable place, as a creator and as a business person. Whenever I feel uncomfortable, I know I am growing.
Do you have other staff, partners etc.?
I wish! I dream of having an intern to help me with some of the more mundane tasks in my studio so that I can spent more of my time in my strongest areas.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever created?
That's hard to answer. My most recent piece is often my favorite. Currently, that would be a large piece called "Storyteller," which features a woman who is holding a bird in one hand, and has tree branches growing from her hair.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new artistic skill, what would it be?
That's a hard question! There are a lot of things I'd love to learn but aren't related to what I do so I've never found the time to do it, like knitting.
What do you like to do when you're not creating?
I spend a lot of time playing with my kids, hula hooping, pulling blackberries out of my back yard, reading, and watching television.
Be sure to stop by Artistic Portland to see Lea's beautiful work! Not only are her original paintings available for purchase, you can also find calendars, prints, and other affordable art gifts created by Lea. Artistic Portland is open Monday thru Saturday from 10-6 and Sundays from 12-5.