Lack of confidence can be somewhat of a disease among creative people. It seems that an alarming number of deep, artistic individuals are tortured with self-doubt and self-criticism, so much so that many never fully give themselves to their art. They simply don’t think it will be received well. For some, the thought that it will be accepted and valued is even more terrifying than the thought of rejection. The root of all of this is fear and a lack of confidence in oneself.
All artists struggle with fear, but few overcome it. Those who are willing to overcome it often don’t know how to even start to tackle such a foe. Artist Pamela McDaniel serves as a lighthouse to these individuals wanting desperately to break out of timidity and into the truest expression of their artistic selves. Pamela, an art teacher and studio artist, has built her life on conquering fears by trying new things and venturing into fresh creative waters. She’s held onto some of these projects and ideas and chosen to let go of others in order to make room for the new. Throughout this process, one thing has been constant: she has been true to herself.
Pamela McDaniel doesn’t claim to have it all figured out as an artist; she knows she doesn’t have to. One thing she does know is that taking risks and not worrying too much about the opinions of others serves her well. This in turn serves others well as it positively affects her transformative art.
Ready to meet the woman who has fearlessly dedicated her life to creating art and becoming the most authentic version of her creative self? Read on.
Segmation’s Exclusive Interview with Artist Pamela McDaniel
A: I first fell in love with art as a very young girl. I remember sitting at the dining room table, sometimes even sitting on top of it to get directly under the light, and drawing from photos of animals and people in encyclopedias and my Dad’s National Geographic magazines.
Q: What is your all-time favorite piece of art you have personally created? Why is it your favorite?
A: My favorite piece of art that I have done is a painting of a rooster preparing to crow at the moon. It is based on a poem about a person who is trying hard to let their life not be dictated by societal norms, who has the courage to follow their own unique path. The poem’s subject is suffering failures, the lack of understanding, and sometimes misplaced pity and scorn. Still, more often than not this person receives admiration for doing what many others want to do but don’t due to fear of being alone on the journey and of the opinions of critical individuals. Anyway, the beautiful, colorful rooster in the painting has a fierce gaze and is standing on broken boards (these are actual pieces of thin wood ripped from a small bench that had belonged to my grandmother, who was an inspiration to me). There is a cymbal attached to the painting, overlapping the moon, as a reminder that the temptation to just give in to the easy thing is ever present. There is so much symbolism in this painting, and it represents my life. This is why it is my favorite.
Q: If you could be mentored by any artist, dead or living, who would it be? What’s the main thing you would hope to learn from him or her?
A: If I could be mentored by any artist, it would be Van Gogh. I would want to talk to him about his vision. I would like for him to share with me what fueled his passion to paint as he saw the world despite all of the adversities he struggled with. I would like to sit with him and look at the landscape before us and have him explain in detail what he saw and how he would choose to paint it — the colors, the technique, the texture. It would be fascinating.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your process of creating a piece of art. For example, how are you usually inspired? How long does it take you to create a work of art? Do you usually complete a piece of artwork quickly, or does it take you longer?
A: My creative process for a piece usually starts with a found object or a poem that sparks a memory or reminds me of something. Often I let the painting, object, or memory build the painting as I go. That is so much fun because after teaching for so many years, I finally get to take the time to explore and decide what inspires me with no real time frame (except when I’m painting for someone). Sometimes I’ll start several pieces, each completely different, and go from one to the other. Other times, I’ll start something and not stop until I’ve finished. I haven’t decided what my style is yet, and I’m just now starting a business that will allow me to do art full-time, so I’m having fun.
Q: If you could give a young artist any piece of advice, what would it be?
A: If I could give a young artist any piece of advice it would be to not be concerned about following rules. Explore, mix mediums, add objects to your paintings, and don’t be afraid to make what you might consider to be a mistake. Paint on anything that suits what you are trying to say. Play with texture, don’t try to impress anyone but yourself, and create what makes you happy and own it. If you are happy with your art, it will show in the work.
Q: Is there anything you would have changed about your education in art? (Example: would you have pursued more schooling? Less? Had different teachers? Had a different college major?)
A: If I could change anything about my art education, it would have been to study abroad and explore different cultures and their attitudes about art. I would have taken time out of the classroom and studio and let the world be my teacher for a while. Also, I would have sought a degree in art therapy so that I could combine two of my passions.
Q: What is your favorite color?
A: I absolutely do not have a favorite color, but I do favor dark, rich, vibrant hues rather than muted, subtle ones. If I had to choose a least favorite, it would be pink. For some reason I have an aversion to that color for the most part. It’s probably deep seated and psychological :-), but I don’t care to find out more about it.
Q: What is your current artistic project?
A: I am in the process of starting an art collective in Lexington, Kentucky. Right now it is comprised of myself (teaching visual arts), another artist doing the same but focusing on teaching young children, a photographer, and a voice teacher. We hope to add other artists such as a textile artist, an artist who works with wood, a sculptor, and one who specializes in jewelry. We share a space and a vision to bring professional lessons in the arts to our community in a more intimate setting with a huge flexibility in the how, what, and why the student wants to learn.
Q: What would you like to achieve artistically within the next 3 years?
A: Within the next three years I would like to have a thriving arts collective offering classes in many of the arts where people can feel comfortable to learn, share, and explore their “artist within.” I would also like to find my groove in creating and selling pieces that mean something more to the buyer than just decoration. I want to work with clients to create meaningful works of art to enjoy.
*End of interview*
Are you an artist who has let fear, the opinions of others, self-doubt, or sheer lack of self-confidence bar you from becoming your true artistic self? Pamela McDaniel gives you permission to break free and find out whom you really are and what you’re truly great at. Let the journey begin.
Interested in contacting Pamela about her artwork? You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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