Just get in the studio as often as possible, excited about it or not and just do the work.
Name, Age, Professional Title
Tara Flores, 35, I’m a painter but I’m feeling pulled towards exploring some mixed media and fiber arts too so I’m training myself to say “artist.” I am self-employed.
What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
I have two small kids and I consider that my full-time job. My art is my other as-full-as-possible-time job so hobbies aren’t really a thing for me right now. In theory, I love gardening. In another life I’d be happy as a flower farmer- or a physicist. The history of science and the discovery of the universe is fascinating to me and I’d love to understand the actual science from the inside out rather than just the cliffs notes version. I’d still want to make art but it would be a great mix of research, theory and artistic creativity. My grandfather recently passed and I learned that he was an inventor, physicist and test flight engineer who worked on NASA missions and held patents that helped develop fiber optics, among other things. Towards the end of his life he started wondering about conservation of energy and all the concepts that I consider in my artwork today. I never had a chance to talk to him about any of it or dig into all vast knowledge swirling in his amazing brain but he’ll always be an inspiration for the crazy amount that he accomplished in his life just because he was passionate about the science.
Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
I don’t think I have a hard time with that since much of my “professional” work is personal. I’d consider every new series to be in both categories, but my commissions do take a lot of head space and time, both of which are limited with an 8 and 2 year old running around. The constraints of the clients wishes for their custom paintings can feel limiting at first but it’s also fun to treat it like a puzzle I get to solve creatively. Plus, I’d never take on a project that doesn’t have anything to do with my subject matter or personal painting style so in that way I’m always working in an extension or hybrid of my existing series and pretty much guaranteed to end up happy with the results.
What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
If you would have asked me this in school I would have said evening right through to just before the sun comes up, but times have changed. I used to think I had to be in the mood or the right head space to paint but having kids and especially a toddler at home, has caused me to adapt. A few years ago I had a ton of resistance to getting in the studio because I wanted my work to be spectacular. I felt like if I was fighting for every second I got to work that I had to have something useable, sale-able to show for it. I’ve since learned, as all artists do, that you just get in the studio as often as possible, excited about it or not and just do the work. It develops the habit. Now I can jump in and out of a painting throughout the day if I don’t have a babysitter. Any “spare” time has to do.
What are your creative goals for the future?
I have so many dream projects and concepts for series that I want to work on like a mural and a line of repeat patterns based on my paintings, but overall, I’d love to have gallery representation and make enough money to support my family. Simple goal but a big one. I’d be happy to be the sole provider doing something that I love. I wish everyone could be in that position. The world would be a happier place.
Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
I have a few little collaborations that are on-going that I’d love to spend more time on. One is a mixed media series with cyanotype artist, Jocelyn Mathewes. We came up with a concept together and ship pieces back and forth to be worked on by both of us- when we have time. Another project is focused on combining painting and weavings with fiber artist, Lee Leibrandt. We’re still experimenting on what methods work best for us but it’s a lot of fun getting outside our little bubbles and thinking about another medium. I met both of these ladies through Instagram and I’m so glad that I did. Sharing projects and ideas with someone who is as focused and enthusiastic as you are is pretty amazing- especially for a stay-at-home-mom solo entrepreneur artist who is used to working alone. I also have plans to start a portrait series that’s been on my mind for years.
My inspiration has always been the elements and meaning of life sort of stuff. Science and spirituality. In school I painted a little series inspired by human pathology. Some microscopic and close up views of disease and cell death. That inner world has always fascinated me. Now I focus on energy itself. To borrow from my artist statement: “I paint what I would want this tiny science to look like. The boundaries, the membranes, the movement and scale of life. All of my work is about energy and movement- the essential elements of existence. Energy as emotion, in life, in death, as light, and as information. I visualize the peaks and valleys of emotion and imagine inner landscapes of our bodies, our cells, our psyches. I wonder how knowledge moves between membranes and how chemicals help us grieve. It’s this inner space that feels so tiny and mysterious and yet so all-encompassing that I want to explore.” My continued exploration in to the science of it is like a really slow process of discovering for myself what ancient spirituality already knows; that everything is energy, we are all one, nothing is constant but change.
As far as my creative process goes, each series is related and builds upon the last. I consciously note what I love and don’t love so I can aim to change it in new work. I generally work on the whole series at once because there are so many layers involved. I can’t imagine doing one at a time and having the group look cohesive so I work all of them at once. It’s a lot of shuffling around since my studio isn’t huge- for my last series BOUNDARIES LOST AND FOUND I took over the kitchen for a few weeks, but for me, it works.
What scares you?
I could go down the motherhood/children/health and safety rabbit hole, but as far as creative work goes, not much besides the thought of not being able to work as an artist for whatever reason. There was a time in art school when I was in a lot of pain, all of my muscles ached like they were on fire and it especially affected my arms. I had to skip some classes and I kind of freaked out. I remember thinking that I didn’t have a plan B. There was nothing else I could see myself doing with my life besides art so this needed to work out. It just had to. I’m less dramatic about the prospect of having to do something else these days but I know that I wouldn’t be happy working in any other capacity.
What does success mean to you?
I consider just being an artist a success. I have tons of goals but in the midst of striving for all that I try to appreciate this little nook I’ve carved out for myself because not everyone allows themselves the space to try to follow their dreams. If I could meet my career and financial goals that would be one thing, but just being a working artist and interacting with people to share my point of view shows them the value of art and the artist’s role in our society (and it reinforces it for me.) It shows people that it’s possible to live your life doing something that makes you happy and that the pursuit and product of that passion is both meaningful and important.
To learn more about Tara and her beautiful work, head over to www.taraflores.com.