One of the very best things about this life on the road is meeting people that we would never have met otherwise. And we stick around long enough to allow some of those meetings to turn into friendships. Blaire is one of those meetings. I wish I could say that I was cool about it, but I totally wasn’t (I never am, dammit)…I’d seen Blaire walking her sweet pup, Lucy, around our RV park and I have no idea if it was the confidence in her walk, her gorgeous tattoos, her fantastic style, or just her general mojo, but it’s distinctly possible (ahem) that I ran out to the street as she passed by our camper and asked her to be my lifelong friend. Yup. Totally cool.
To Blaire’s credit (and courage), she didn’t run screaming from my awkwardness, and I have been bowled over by her in conversation after conversation ever since. Smart, compassionate, courageous, kind, funny as hell, and committed to simply and honestly moving through this life in the very best way she knows how, I cannot even begin to capture her many dimensions.
And on top of all of her other virtues, Blaire is a extraordinary artist.
She has a show coming up here in Reno next week and I have been fascinated by the work and energy and preparation that goes into such an endeavor. In the midst of all that work, Blaire graciously agreed to allow me to photograph and interview her and I am so excited to share her words and her work and her amazing smile with you!
What is your art background…have you been formally educated or are you self-taught or some combination of both?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a "doodler.” I can remember teachers in elementary, middle and high school initially becoming upset with me because they felt I was not engaged in the class. During the progression of the year, my teachers began to understand that doodling helped me to process information. I never had to focus on the doodles or sketches, rather they just seemed to create themselves. What I discovered was my ability to think through questions or thoughts that were on my mind. I understood from a young age that my artistic, creative outlet was highly therapeutic.
My first year of college I took an art class and I HATED it!!! I remember feeling super frustrated around the concept of “grading” someone’s art. I dropped the class by the second week and never looked back. I never wanted to feel that my creative outlet was being critiqued for a grade. I understand the judgement (for lack of a better term) that will accompany my first art show: my art isn’t for everyone. From an art show perspective, at least my work will be judged from an artist platform perspective and not from an instructor ensuring that I am following a rubric.
What medium(s) do you most enjoy?
I most enjoy pen and paper. My art is deeply intricate and the precision I can achieve with my pen and paper is where I like to play the most. I will incorporate liquid acrylic into my pieces from time to time, but on rare occasion.
Have you always considered yourself a creative person?
As I mentioned above, yes. I have always felt that I am a creative being. I have a deep appreciation and respect for all art. I consider anyone’s self expression art. How people choose to share themselves with the world is art. I love all of it.
Can you tell us a little about your process?
My art usually follows moments or events in my life when I am feeling blocked from progressing forward. When I feel the need to really sit down and process and work through an aspect of my life, art is how I make that progress happen. I am able to sit with my sketch pad for hours upon hours without having to think of anything other than what is weighing me down. I always have music playing, music is my lifeline. I light some incense…ambiance is so important to me. Feeling comfortable in my space allows me the freedom to release myself from the world and slip into a sacred space of healing and creating.
Generally speaking, where do you tend to draw your inspiration from?
I just begin. I don’t try to get in the way of my art or manipulate it in any way. I just allow it to become what it is meant to become. People may assume that because my art is a tool to support me through my grief, that I draw inspiration from it, but that isn’t the case. Rather, I find inspiration to live as a result of my art.
Your upcoming show is called Reflections of Now and was created during an intensely personal period in your life. Can you share what aspects of that period inspired this particular work and what effect creating this art had/continues to have on you?
Reflections of Now is a collection of artwork I created in the aftermath of my husband’s death. I would work up to 11 hours at a time on a piece and that would allow me time to recognize, acknowledge and work through each component of my grief. I made a commitment to myself early on in my grief process that I would feel each part of it. I didn’t want to wake up 5 years from now and realize that I didn’t process what had happened to me. I wanted to be raw with my being and give myself grace and the space necessary to heal in a healthy way. I remember not even really enjoying a piece once I was done with it. I would simply finish a piece, turn the page, and it was on to the next one. It wasn’t until about a year after my husband had passed that I began to look back through what I had created. I will always remember the profound moment that I understood that I was truly healing. I was looking through my art and I was overcome with the thought that during my darkest hours, I was still able to create something beautiful. It took my breath away. In that moment, I knew I was going to be ok. I was surviving and doing a damn good job of it.
Has sharing your work publicly come with any unexpected emotions/challenges? Can you tell us a little about that process and why you ultimately chose to share your work?
The upcoming show will be my first experience sharing my art with perfect strangers. The trepidation I feel around sharing my art publicly isn’t so much about my art, but the vulnerability that comes with sharing the story behind my art. Trauma and grief are highly personal experiences and sharing that time of my life is always uncomfortable. But I realized that if just one human can see my journey and may then realize that they too can heal the darkest of places in their soul then it is 100% worth it for me.
Do you have any specific hopes for what someone taking in your art would get out of it?
I hope they can appreciate the healing that creating each piece provided to me. They don’t have to enjoy the work I have created, but it is my hope that they respect the power of healing through creating.
What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t consider themselves creative?
They need to get out of their own way. The fact is that we are all creative beings. Society tends to navigate us in a certain way and with that comes personal judgement around how we express ourselves. If we could just experience our own creativity without judgement then there is a strong chance that we can experience one another without judgement.
Any thoughts/philosophies/ideas you’d like to share about making art or the creative process or its value to you or society as a whole?
Yes, when we can appreciate the process for which creation comes then we can appreciate the person who is creating. We are all trying to navigate this crazy journey called life and creativity helps that process.
If you are in the greater Reno-Tahoe area, be sure to join us for Blaire’s opening at Boho Gypsy’s Treasures on September 14...it's going to be quite the shindig!