Sunnyshore Studio is thrilled to have the fabulous Amanda Pearson as one of our guest artist for the 20th Annual Camano Island Studio Tour. Mark Your Calendars for the 20th Anniversary Camano Island Mother’s Day Studio Tour this May Amanda comes all the way from St. Paul, MN and we think you’ll love the colorful, playful and detailed artwork of this emerging artist.
Sunnyshore Studio: Tell us about yourself:
Amanda: I currently live in Richfield, MN (just south of Minneapolis). I grew up in Portland, OR and moved out to the Twin Cities for college. But now I’m married and bought a house, so I’ll be here for a while even though the Pacific Northwest will always be my home. My husband is fantastic and is always supportive of whatever schemes I get us into. We have two cats and they are rambunctious and endlessly entertaining, although they do not appreciate when I spend more time on my art projects than hanging out with them.
Sunnyshore Studio: How did you get started in art?
Amanda: I was an “artistic” kid. My childhood was spent making various doodads. I remember making a VHS player and videotape out of paper, and a briefcase out of a box that I took to school instead of a backpack (I was super cool). When I was waiting for my parents to be done talking to people after church on Sunday mornings, I would take the weekly bulletins and make little furniture or miniature scenes out of them.
In 3rd and 4th grade, I made a name for myself in my elementary school for making the best dioramas. Then in junior high and high school, my art classes were the best parts of my days (I always took as many as I could). I look back on the projects that I did in those days, and even in my freshman year of high school I was gluing sand or sugar or baking soda to fulfill whatever the assignment was. My mom “fondly” remembers all of the urgent trips to Michaels or the art store to try to make it before they closed on Sunday because of a last-minute scramble to finish something before it was due on Monday. In college, I majored in art education and graduated with my Bachelors in Visual Arts Education K-12. While my actual occupation is currently not art-related, I’ve found ways in my adulthood to incorporate art – I’ve taught elementary kids in an after-school art program, and taken community education art classes to keep me in this back in the days when I didn’t have the space or time to dedicate to it that I do now.
Sunnyshore Studio: What has been your journey as an artist?
Amanda: It took me a little while to figure out how to incorporate art into my life after graduating. I had my art education degree, but wasn’t convinced I wanted to work as a teacher in a school. I spent a couple of years working retail and in a coffee shop, and then I secured a corporate job in the mortgage industry. Cubicles are not conducive to creativity. I did make sure to work in times to still create – since I was working a lot of hours and didn’t have a dedicated art space in my rented rooms/apartments, I decided that I would take a community education introduction to painting class. I enrolled over and over again, not because I wanted to learn the color wheel REALLY well, but because I could sit in the back and just paint. That way, there were a few hours a week where I had to make something. Painting has never been my favorite thing, but doing this enabled me to keep art a part of my life even when I had so many excuses for it to fall by the wayside. Each session, the other people taking the class were mostly empty-nesters or others who had the same tale of enjoying art when they were younger but with jobs and families and all the obligations that come with those, hadn’t made anything in 20+ years and wanted to go back to that part of who they were. I didn’t want that to be my story, but I could see how easily that could happen. So I kept taking the classes. Eventually with my corporate job, I was able to work less than 60 hours a week and had more time to do what I wanted.
Over the last few years, I started to move away from the once-a-week painting sessions and focused on the gluing projects. The reason was very practical at first – I wanted to make stuff but didn’t have the space, so I focused on methods that were portable. That way, I could go and work in Starbucks instead of being stuck in my apartment. So that’s what I would do! I would put whatever project I had in a pillow case and bring my Elmer’s glue bottle and bag of string and make my way to the nearest coffee place. It was not the most efficient way of doing projects that were already incredibly time-consuming, but I was able to finish one or two a year this way. I didn’t show them much, but joined a local art center and participated in their semi-annual member shows (and won a blue ribbon on one of my pieces). Then, my husband and I bought a house. It was a nerve-racking experience. I had gone into it with space for an art studio on my “please please have” list, but after our 5th rejected offer and skyrocketing housing prices, I thought I would have to sacrifice this (and my must-have of a second bathroom). But! We found our house! With a room on the main floor that made a perfect art studio. With my pieces, time is the biggest factor. Being able to have a spot where I could go to every day, even if I had only a few minutes, has made it possible for me to be much more productive and pour myself into this piece of what I do.
I also needed to find my niche. Like I mentioned, painting is not a creative outlet that drives me. I also don’t have much patience for drawing. So what would I do? What would be my thing? What would be the way that I would express my ideas and views on the world? It came to me one night – at the time I didn’t realize it would be such a turning point, but it ended up changing everything. It was a Saturday night. I knew that I wanted my next project to be of Oneonta Falls in Oregon, but I didn’t want to paint it. Then it hit me – I wanted to glue embroidery floss instead. Well, I didn’t have that material at the time, and it was 10 o’clock on a Saturday night and I absolutely HAD to start and could not wait. So I went to Wal-Mart and bought some embroidery floss from their limited assortment and some little scissors, found some cardboard, and went to work. I was so proud of it, and I still am. Looking at it now, I can see a lot of flaws and things that I have learned with the medium since then, but I still am inspired by that moment and what came from it. It returned me to my instincts and tapped into what has driven me to “make” since I was a kid.
Sunnyshore Studio: What about your future as an artist?
Amanda: Since I have now amassed a decent-sized portfolio, I am transitioning away from just making projects for myself to put on my walls for my own personal gallery. At this point, I am trying to find ways to share what I’ve made with others, through displaying art in public places that host artists, selling prints and smaller pieces at art shows, and participating in group shows at galleries such as this one. It is overwhelming at times and I am learning a lot. It is also scary – I am used to critiques from all of the art classes I have taken, but these pieces were made for personal reasons, and I’m putting them out there for strangers to have an opinion on. I have gotten a lot of very positive feedback and some good pointers as well, and I hope to keep learning and pushing myself to be better and share my work with others.
Sunnyshore Studio: Why are you excited to participate in the 2018 – 20th annual! – Camano Island Studio Tour at Sunnyshore Studio?
Amanda: The studio is an amazing place. Jason is my father’s cousin and my father grew up in the area, and this is a really special way to be connected even though I live so far away. It is an honor to have been asked to participate. There is something so special about an area coming together in a creative endeavor like an open art studio tour. The Dorsey’s and other artists who are showing at the studio are fantastic and their work is beautiful, so I am so excited for this opportunity to display along with them.