Monday, December 30, 2013

Spotlighton Becky Buchanan, Artist with a Generous Attitude

I’m not sure when I first saw her work but I recall vividly when I first recognized her skills during a live painting event at Bev’s Jook Joint after an art show at Goin’ Postal in Superior. She's a keen observer with a good hand.

EN: When did you realize that you wanted to make art?

Becky Buchanan: I don't think I ever actually made a conscious decision to make art, it's just something I've always done. My mom really deserves the credit on this one. From the time I was able to pick up a crayon I was drawing on everything I could. My mom was constantly encouraging me to draw her pictures and had incredible patience for my young 'artistic visions'. I remember being about 5 or 6 and feeling very proud of myself and the progress of my masterpiece of a zoo scene stretching across the entire hallway wall. When my mom walked in and saw what I was up to, she said,"Wow, Becky that's beautiful. Let’s go get you some big sheets of paper so you can draw on those next time and I can put it on the fridge for everyone to enjoy." All through school my mom pushed me to do more, got me involved in art shows and competitions and has always been my biggest supporter. She taught me that not everyone has the same talents, and that I can use mine to bring something beautiful or meaningful into other peoples’ lives. I guess that's how I find my own meaning in it.

EN: How did you develop your drawing skills and why?

BB: I haven't had any formal training other than the basic art classes everyone has to take at school, but I had some amazing teachers who pushed me. Mrs. K was one of my high school teachers who really opened my eyes and pushed me in directions I would have never tried on my own. I remember when she made me do a non-representational piece and I actually thought it was going to kill me. I actually ended up selling it last summer. I guess you just never know what you have inside you until you give it a fair chance. Like most artists I'm never totally satisfied with anything I do, and that just makes me work harder. I do a lot of exploring and experimenting with different medium, trying to get a desired effect. Discovering new techniques is always exciting, for me it’s mostly trial and error. It's a challenge having an idea or seeing something and then having to figure out how I'll be able create it. Getting to know other artists in the last year and understanding their work has been really inspiring. You have to get out as see new things to expand your own vision, you can't learn anything with your eyes shut all the time.

EN: You claim to have some unconventional ideas about art or being an artist. Can you elaborate on that?

BB: I'm kind of a traditionalist. When I think of artists, I think of the great masters of the past like Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Van Gogh. Their work has been an inspiration to people all around the world for hundreds of years. Every time I look at their work I’m struck with the same awe at their abilities, truly amazing. These are the artists who have inspired me to want to create work that will inspire others. I believe that artists have the talent and ability to move people and give them something that they don't get elsewhere. I don't think art is meant to be used as just something for personal gain, but instead as something that can enrich and inspire the lives of others.

EN: What have been your most gratifying pieces that you have produced?

BB: Some of the most gratifying pieces I've done are the ones I can see mean something really special to the person who receives them. I did a couple pieces of the local landscape for a friend of mine who moved to New York; it gives her a little piece of home. One oil painting I did ended up getting published in Guitar World magazine, which was a great surprise for me, since I was
n't the one who sent it in. For the last show I didn't do any real serious pieces, but instead decided to have fun with it and painted a couple surprise watercolor portraits of friends based on photos of them back in the 1970's. Those got a few good laughs and really meant something special. That's a gratifying feeling.

EN: Where do you see yourself in five years as regards your "art career"?

BB: I don't think I can call it a career, but [making] art is definitely something I will always be chasing. I just want to continue to develop my technique and keep making things that people will enjoy. The biggest step for me would be to overcome my feelings of showing my work publicly and begin working on getting it seen more. If I ever take the time to figure out the technicalities of my camera I'd love to start taking more photos. I got it initially so that I could take pictures to work from, but that doesn't work unless you know how to use it.

There's always a time battle going on, I think it's like that with everyone. School consumes much of my time, but I have great supporters in my life that push me, and once I start painting it takes a while to get it out of my system to take a break again. I'm hoping that after I graduate, my job will enable me to afford to be not so much of a starving artist and more just an artist.

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