The other moms I met along the way were just like me--on the surface--carting the cupcakes into the classroom and sitting on the soccer field sidelines, alternating between sweating our butts off and shivering with cold. We'd talk about what teachers we wanted our kids to have and how to throw together decent crockpot meals or we'd complain about the weather and the crazy Lexington traffic.
Very rarely the talk would turn to something else. Work. Or work we used to have before we quit or went part-time to raise our kids. Hobbies. Goals.
I always felt really weird talking about my writing. It was personal. Private. My writing dream felt silly/pathetic/selfish. It wasn't something I went around blabbering about.
One day I was dropping my daughter off on a play-date. My plan was to take the two hour break of time and drive downtown to the main library and work on a revision. Somehow I got to talking to my daughter's friend's mom about what I was doing and she told me she liked to write too and she was also working on some art and suddenly we were talking about the creative process and the work and time involved, and before I left, she was thrusting the book Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True by Elizabeth Berg into my hands.
The book was illuminating, and I realized I'd found a fellow creative companion in this mom. But our daughters didn't have any more play-dates and then my family moved from Lexington, and we lost track of each other (except for brief moments on Facebook). But once in a while I'd think of her and wonder how she was doing, what she might be working on, if anything.
Until one day a few months ago, BOOM, suddenly, this woman -- her name is Patti Edmon -- began sharing her art on Facebook, and I was entranced and excited. She's an artist, I thought. Look at that!
So I wrote to her and asked if I could interview her and she very kindly agreed...
Me: Patti, I've been looking at your paintings and I am totally in awe of your work. Can you tell me a bit about it? --the medium you use, the subject matter you're drawn to?
Patti: Lately I've been working with bright colors and lots of detail – flowers, angels, abstracts. The base of every piece is acrylic paint – on canvas, board, paper, whatever’s handy. I love to layer – in most every painting there are layers of papers– tissue paper, scraps, old book paper, along with found objects and ‘stuff’, along with pencil, pens, markers, chalk and pastels.
Over the past few years I've done a lot of assemblage, collage and painting, but I paint entirely from a place of intuition rather than reality. I greatly admire those who can capture a setting or person but I’m too impatient and I like for my work to come from my imagination.
They say, I want to write about this particular subject or whatever. But most of the time, it seems like the idea or ideas just pop up. Is that how it is for you?
Patti: I often do a series, such as The Sistahs and Angels… one recent painting was based on song lyrics, but I usually start out putting color down and seeing where it goes. That’s a primary difference, I think, between writing and art. When I was writing fiction I had a character in mind and capsule idea of the story. When I paint I can literally just pick a technique, substrate or color palette.
Me: Maybe we're not so different. I like to free-write. Put the pen on the page or start typing. Worry about revising later. Do you approach a painting that way too? Or at some point do you plan out where you're going with a piece?
Patti: I haven’t yet painted from a sketch, but I think regular doodling, like journaling, keeps the creativity active. The times I have tried to achieve an idea or end result I end up so far away that I usually just jump in and play. I’m happiest when I’m in a state of ‘flow’ described as total immersion, i.e., unaware of time, surroundings, thought, etc. And, editing in art is adding something to see if it works, or putting in the recycled bin.
I always ask writers how many books they wrote before their first book deal, and how many rejections they received along the way-- do you have many paintings "in a drawer"-- early attempts that you now would not display? Or projects you worked on that went nowhere?
Patti: I have a great deal of work – the entire evolution – in my studio, pieces I did in workshops, experimental pieces and art I didn't produce with the intention of sharing. I believe that art is similar to writing in that we don’t usually share our journals and a lot of the work is, well, part of the journey.
Me: That's the key-- trying not to think about those earlier efforts as time wasted but as necessary practice.
What kind of work schedule do you have every day?
Patti: I try to get to the studio every day, but that doesn't always happen. I like to paint in the morning, before the distraction of all the below! I spend anywhere from an hour to three or four, depending upon the project.
Me: When we met, we were young moms with the carpooling and PTA stuff, but now the kids are older and somehow there are still tons of things to do (or tons of things we think we have to do) and it's a struggle to let that stuff go so we can
Me: I like this attitude!
You're selling paintings now. Has that changed how you work? I guess what I'm asking here too, is if you--as an artist--have changed now that your work is getting attention commercially? Do you have to use time that would have gone into painting, to promote?
my blog, shipping – is a challenge, but it doesn't interfere with painting time and it hasn't changed my approach to art!
Me: I like this attitude too!! Art first. Everything else, second.
What are you working on now?
Me: I am so excited to see what you create next. Thanks so much, Patti, for chatting with me today.
Readers, if you are interested in seeing more of Patti's art -- it is available for sale -- check out her website www.pattiedmon.blogspot.com for more details.