Hello beauties, very inspiring TAT post for you today - you're going to want to read all of this, I promise...so I'll lead straight into it, enjoy =)
Tell us a little bit about yourself & what kind of artist you are.
Hi there! My name is Brie. I’m 32 year old Texas girl, and I graduated from Texas A&M University. No, I don’t have a horse, and I detest American football. (Just to get that out there) What kind of artist am I? That’s a tougher one. For several years, I would correct anyone who called me an artist. I’d introduce myself as a crafter, since much of what I was doing fit more into the craft genre, and so I didn’t consider it to be actual artist. Then someone corrected me – if I’d bought a kit and put things together, that would be a craft. I was pulling things together with no instruction besides my own inspiration to create something – therefore, it was definitively Art. Given that definition, I do a lot of Art. From doodles to painting to cutting snowflakes, no paper is safe around me. I make polymer clay figurines, beads, and trinkets to use on my mixed-media canvases. I do nail art. I make jewelry – earrings, wire-wrapped rings, beaded barefoot sandals, bracelets. I love buttons & use them in pretty much anything. I guess ‘mixed media’ would be the best generalization? And I do love mixed media, but it’s only one of the things I make. My hobby, I think, is collecting new hobbies.
What is the biggest challenge you personally face as an artist and how do you overcome it?
I’m a college-educated Type A personality – and a housewife. Believe me when I say I never saw myself here. If I’d decided to stay home to raise my children, I’d be totally ok with the situation… but I don’t have kids. Instead, I have MS. I was out of college, married, and moving up the chain of management in a big company when I started having weird symptoms that landed me in the hospital. First I had bouts of Optic Neuritis which left me temporarily blind, then with permanent degraded color vision. I also had an almost total loss of manual dexterity, balance, and muscle control. Within the space of a year I went from a “normal” life to wearing diapers and using a wheelchair. 2007 was not a good year. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, my symptoms have been severely lessened. I can walk again, though I use a cane when I’m outside the house. A lot of time retraining my brain to make my hands do what I want them to means I can do fiddly-little fine motor tasks again, like beading – just not for long. Changing tasks seems to help a lot, and I’ve been assured that doing art is just about the best thing I can possibly do for a brain that’s destroying itself. By practicing hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity tasks, coupled with creating new things, its reinforcing existing damaged neural pathways and making new ones. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best Physical Therapy ever! I can’t work anymore, and I’m receiving Disability assistance. Believe me, there’s so much pride swallowing involved in that for me it just hurt. I assuage myself in that the Disability payments through the government I earned by the money I put into it for years. Also, the fact that the amount of money I get each year almost covers the cost of my insurance & prescriptions – and that’s it. My husband is supporting me, and my government is helping me treat the handicap. And when I can make art, I can feel like I’m contributing again.
What is your greatest personal achievement either in your art, or because of it?
Getting back up and trying to see what I COULD still do made all the difference in the world. I started playing with all the craft supplies I’d amassed over the years and moved into mixed media. I’ve picked up enough new ‘mini-hobbies’ over the years (and I have packrat tendencies, so I still have all the supplies for them) to make an impressive craft hoard, and jumped into mixed media with horns a-blaring - and in so doing reclaimed my interest in getting out of bed. Slowly, and with persistence & practice, I’m regaining a decent amount of fine motor dexterity in my fingers. It’s nearly back to normal now, most days. I’ve regained the ability to distinguish colors, though everything is somewhat muted, as with seeing color through smoked glass. From always being drawn to neutrals and subtle shade differences, a switch was flipped to being drawn to bright, eye-catching neons and glitters. Where my favorite colors used to be muted moss greens and rich mahogany browns, it’s now the in-your-face glowing snot greens and anything with glitter. And I’m making something – Anything – every day. Sometimes it’s a flop. Sometimes, it goes on the walls in my house. And lately, at the urging of friends & family, it’s listed on Etsy. To date, I’ve made one sale. And I don’t care, because it’s fun. And I can pretend, to myself at least, that I’m participating in this whole ‘part of the economy’ thing. And it’s so much more fulfilling than watching a movie for the hundredth time, or sleeping. There are days I can’t get out of bed. And while I know they’re going to be more frequent and more severe as time goes by, for now, I’ve got something to do on days I can’t get up. I plan. I put ideas together from the things I’ve made or seen or heard about, and jot them all down, and the next good day I have a whole list of ideas to choose from
Do you ever lose your mojo, and if so, how do you get it back?
I periodically go through phases where I’m frustrated with myself. Unsurprisingly, they usually correspond with times I’m physically not doing well. It can be hard to get excited about getting up to do anything when you hurt. It can turn into a vicious cycle if I let it get going strongly: Hurt, so stay in bed; staying in bed means nothing gets done; getting nothing done makes me feel useless. This in turn feeds the pain, and ‘round and ‘round we go. I’m still learning where the balancing point is for myself, how much pain I can deal with before resorting to taking medication that will knock out pain, but also put me to sleep. And don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good sleep! But after a while, it gets old. So I’m finding a middle ground to knock pain back to discomfort, which in turn lets me find something to focus on to take my mind off physical feedback. I can then get involved enough in the creative process that it’s all I’m focused on. And when I need reminding, I just flip through my art journal and see that there are still blank pages, and I still have things to say.
Tell us where can we find out more about you & your art?
I have a nail art blog that I update sporadically, and have posted a few tutorial videos on YouTube also with the handle nailsbybrie. The jewelry & baubles I’m making I’m posting on Etsy, at the repeated urging of friends & family. The name (MindlessLuminary) comes from the whole idea of my having a shop. Mindless, because I’m kind of literally losing my mind, and Luminary to show that even in a dark place, you can find –or be-- a light to guide the way. Thanks for listening to me ramble. Now go do art!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Brie - if this interview doesn't touch everyone that reads it, and make them admire you for your perseverance in doing what you love, I'd be very shocked indeed. As it is you represent a valuable lesson to us all I think, and I for one and now inspired to go off to do art - well kinda, I am on a lil full-blown art break so it'll be in my own finding-a-solution-to-a-problem-by-hitting-the-recycling-bin-way, but it's all creativity ;) wish me luck, if I shall succeed in my plans I shall do a post about it xoxo
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