This Artist Interview with Erika Lee Sears will surely strike a spark of motivation in you. Get inspired by Erika as she explains how her personal project called “Making Art Every Day” has helped her pursue her true calling in life.
Tell us about yourself!
Hi! My name is Erika Lee Sears and I am a mother of two and a self-taught oil painter. My current project is called, “Making Art Every Day,” and I am in my third year. It’s a project where I create an oil painting every day and share it on my social media, no matter the cost. I originally started this project because of the birth of my son, and I wanted to make sure I kept art and creativity in my life every single day. My work can also be found on the tv show Portlandia, the first season of Significant Mother and in the Brooklyn Art Library. I’m inspired by my daily adventures and happy accidents.
What motivates you to paint every day? What do you feel is your purpose as an artist?
There have been two times in my life that I made the choice of choosing art. Before I became a parent and I made art every day, I worked in finance and the hours were long and grueling but I was great at what I did. I loved being able to make a difference in peoples’ lives, and help individuals achieve their dreams, but I knew deep down something was missing. I started making art at night and showing my work around Portland. Eventually, I was able quit my job, but I knew the choice of becoming a working artist was a tough one because there is no safety net; it’s something you have to just go for.
The second time was after I became a parent. Being a mom is a very big job that requires a lot of love and selflessness, but being able to create and make art every day is my gift to myself. It’s something that I am able to do every day, even if it is just for ten minutes. I know that as long as I show up for art every day, it will reward me and help me work through anything. Making Art Everyday truly has healed me and let me grow as an artist in more ways that I can imagine. I share this gift on my social media, in hopes that I will make compelling, ugly, passionate, beautiful, and art that I just want to throw away on some days. It’s my window for hope and possibility. It’s the place that I share my journey and relationship with art.
Portland, Oregon has a saying of “Keep Portland Weird.” Does living in Portland influence your artwork or the way you look at things?
I am born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Portland is a special place and it’s all I have ever known. It does make me smile at our motto, “Keep Portland Weird,” but we are all different, unique and purposeful individuals. What makes Portland special is that you can find practically anything here and you can meet with the person who made it or grew it.
Portland is part of my essence and of course, it affects me in many aspects of my life and my work. I don’t even notice it anymore. It’s part of who I am.
What do you look for when you’re looking for something to draw? Is there a theme?
I used to think about themes a lot in my artwork and consistency, but at some point, you have to throw out the rules and make art. Some ideas are stronger than others and sometimes, ideas will pop up more frequently, but that’s the sign of a truly good idea.
How has making art every day impacted you as an artist and your influence in the art community?
Making Art Every Day has completely changed my relationship with art and my outlook with it. I love the idea of being able to create whatever I want and I can let it go if I want to. I don’t have to stick with it, or I can. It’s purely about the inspiration. I share my artwork every day on my blog and through social media, and it has led me to reach so many meaningful and talented people. Through social media, I can truly reach and connect with people around the world. My promise is that I show up every day to create something, but it’s even more special when others are experiencing the work and being creative too.
What personal goals have you set for the third year of making art every day?
My word this year is growth. I really want to dedicate more time, energy, and growth to creating the best work I can possibly make and stay inspired. I try to really keep it simple because then I feel like I can do anything or everything.
For artists trying to get their artwork seen in the world, what tips can you give that will help them?
Being brave and taking the first step is the hardest. You just have to start and once you start sharing, you’ll meet people. It’s pretty simple, but sharing your art is showing your vulnerability. Art is really a true glimpse into someone’s soul. There is no hiding. Yes, you can be a beautiful technical artist, but what is your artwork saying and what was the journey? There are a lot of choices that go into making art, and the thing about sharing artwork is that people can experience your journey. So, picking how you want to share your work is important and which ever platform you do choose, go for it 100 percent. Show up.
We’ve noticed that you use oil paints on our Super Deluxe Paper. Tell us about your experience with that media on the paper, as well as why you choose oil paint.
This sketchbook was first recommended to me by my local supply store and they told me it was the best. It could handle pretty much ANY media. So I picked it up. Painting is a tough discipline in terms of supplies. A lot of oil painters paint primarily on canvas, board or wood, which take up a ton of space and get really expensive. I started using the Super Deluxe because it had an amazing tooth, held the paint and dried in about 24 hours (normally). The Super Deluxe really helped me with my practice and let me explore new ideas, it was a game changer for me. I highly recommend it because it’s an amazing sketchbook.
How do you stay focused to create every day?
I wake up pretty early every day to work and I have set office hours around my kids schedules. This has helped a lot because I get dedicated studio time and I can be a mom. Focus comes and goes, but I know that if I least show up in my studio that something will happen and maybe a little magic too.
Artist: Erika Lee Sears