Welcome to a new feature of the Roaring Out blog! I’ve decided to start an “Artist’s Spotlight” to highlight some great visual artists. First up is Vanessa Himeles, a fabulous acrylic and seaglass master! You can check out her work at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ChromaGoth
I recently interviewed Vanessa about her craft. Check out her responses below.
Roaring Out:Your current creations are so fanciful! How long have you been creating pieces?
Vanessa Himeles: I started drawing when I was 9, but it was around 15, that I started developing a style and completing pieces instead of just sketches or attempts. I still have some of my high school projects and I treasure them as much as my current work.
RO: What first inspired you to art?
VH: My older sister showed me how to draw a horse when I was a little kid. That’s how I got started. As I improved and moved on to new mediums, I realized that I could use art to create all the weird and often twisted fantasies in my head. The more unusual ideas I get, the more eager I am to express it through art. A lot of my inspiration for pieces is the desire to shock, creep out and, well, disturb the viewers. I also read a lot of Stephen King, so I’m sure his dark novels have influenced some of my style and inspired some of those fantasies.
RO: What mediums are your current favorites?
VH: Sea glass! The past 7 months I’ve been living in Castine, Maine, and having multiple beautiful beaches within walking distance keeps the sea on my mind. I think the combination of sea glass with acrylic paint is beautiful. My ocean-themed art is not “disturbing” at all, but rather calming and pleasant. How weird is that?
RO: If you could spend the rest of your life focusing on one art form, what would it be? Could you choose just one?
VH: I would choose paper mache sculpture. It’s time consuming to make a good base, build it up with paper, cover it with paper mache, and then paint or decorate, but the finished product is always rewarding. If space were not an issue, I would love to create 10’ tall goblins and a gothic style castle. Oh! And a giant chihuahua! Or maybe a giant paper mache ocean wave covered with sea glass? Maybe I’ll try one of those after I finish the interview…
RO: What is the longest time you’ve spent on a piece of art?
VH: My senior year of college I made a paper mache demon. It was about 3’ high and 1.5’ wide and took me about 25-30 hours to complete over the span of a week. A lot of that was done between midnight and morning.
RO: What do you enjoy doing when you are not arting?
VH: Reading Stephen King novels ♥, playing with our cats Mark and Addie and applying to law schools mostly. I am currently taking a year off before I begin law school this summer, so for now I try to spend my time relaxing. One of my goals for the year is actually to focus on art, so that’s what I do most days.
RO: Could you please talk a bit about your creative process?
VH: A project usually starts by me seeing some natural arrangement, like a large pile of snow, or playing around with some medians, like oil pastel, sea glass or paper mache, and thinking either,“I bet if I did this, it would look really freaky” or “maybe if I did this, it would look beautiful and intriguing.” I admit my projects almost never finish they way I thought they would. I make mistakes that I end up loving, or sometimes I take a step back, look at the piece and make a split decision to change something dramatically. For example, today I made a 6’ tall snow demon in the front lawn of my house. I planned on giving the demon small slanted eyes and two large horns, but upon stepping back and looking at the work-in-progress, I suddenly thought large rounded eyes and one large horn would be better. I know the project is finished when I no longer feel the urge to make sudden changes. I’m trying to get better at knowing when that point is!
RO: It’s obvious that you put a lot of effort into your handmade pieces. Is there something handmade that you own that is particularly special to you?
VH: One that is particularly special to me is a classroom activity from 1st grade. We used different colored paints to design a Chanukah stained-glass-like wall piece. Even though all I did was fill in the predetermined spaces with different colors I had a fun time trying to arrange the best combination. I remember taking the assignment really seriously and being so excited once it was done. I plan to always keep it.
RO: As a woman who works with many different styles, do you have any advice for someone who hasn’t quite found their artistic niche yet?
VH: I didn’t know I had a unique style until friends saw a work-in-progress in my high school art class and, on her own, knew it was mine. I still don’t understand how it developed and I only recently started to realize that there are certain forms of art I am particularly good at producing over others. I do know that I tried many forms of art, used dozens of different medians, and experimented with tons of ideas over the years. It didn’t happen over night, but rather over years. I know no one wants to hear “practice and it’ll happen naturally,” but in this case I really do feel it that as long as an artist is always practicing their work, styles and specialties will develop.
Thanks so much for checking out this first installment of Artist’s Spotlight! If you like the work you’ve seen featured here, then don’t forget to check out Vanessa’s etsy store-front at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ChromaGoth