HOW TO HAVE AN ART LIFE – REALITIES & REVELATIONS OF BEING AN ARTIST
Please welcome Melony Kara Smirniotis to the Gingernut Express. Melony is a Textural Expressionist living in Sydney. I met Melony when I was sharing a show up in the Blue Mountains. Her work involves layers and layers of carefully rendered paint that results in a shimmering display of light, texture and colour. In many ways her work reflects much of the tenacity she displays in maintaining an art practice. Read on to see how she makes her art life happen!
Where you always a creative person?
Yes, I was always a creative person. From my earliest memories I enjoyed being sent to my room as a child as I found it to be a wonderland. I was forever changing the landscape of the room, moving drawers, tables or any furniture around to create a new environment. I often recycled my parents boxes and odds and ends to create toys, cubby houses, rocket ships. I always felt, even as a young child that I viewed the world differently to others, making out shapes from clouds, trees or anything nature related whilst keeping it to myself as I found not many shared the way in which I perceived my surroundings.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I knew for certain in my early 20’s that it was something that I wanted to pursue at some stage on a full time basis though just didn’t know how to monetise it. I knew that there was a level of creativity within me that needed to be exercised consistently or I would then find myself feeling out of sorts. It became almost an emotional journey where I felt this need to express my feelings and the way in which I interpreted my every day experiences.
When did you decide to dedicate more time on your art practice?
After my first child was born (16 years ago) I decided to invest a particular amount of time every day to practicing my art, that I would invest time risk-taking in regard to the creative process.
Where do you make your art?
I have two studios at the moment. One where I allow for mess and one that is completely mess free.
Where do you store your paintings?
I currently store my paintings in my gallery space and also distribute my work to a few galleries.
How do you plan your art making?
It often starts with a trip to a location. I love travelling and a lot of my landscapes are based on my travels. It often starts with sketches on site and sorting out colour palettes. Then I hit the canvas. I like to work in a collection so I plan at least 4-6 works on the go. My work takes a lot of layering so I work from one piece to the other in stages so that the layers can dry and be ready for more layers.
What mediums and materials do you use?
I use a range of mixed media materials. Heavy body texture medium with palette knife technique is my signature. Each painting involves a great deal of experimenting with materials and I often have works running simultaneously going back and forth working on them over time.
What is the focus of your art practice?
To translate onto canvas my experience of my surroundings with the main subject matter of being nature. I expect that my work communicates the transient nature of the seasons with a focus on texture, layers and light.
How do you schedule your time?
I work my time around my family and my gallery.
Do you like to work in complete silence or do you have music or other things playing in the background?
For each painting I put together a playlist that I believe will compliment the creative process.
Where do you show/sell your art?
I show and sell my art through Gallery11:11 but also various galleries though I prefer to showcase particular series’ in different galleries that I believe are relevant to the subject matter. For example, the tree series is represented at GalleryOne88 in Katoomba and the ‘floral series’ at HummingBird Sweet Things in Wareemba.
How do you pay the bills? How do you balance your art making income and out goings with other income?
I monetise my art journey via the sales of my work and by facilitating workshops and exhibitions for other artists and also through teaching.
How do you keep motivated?
I keep motivated by trusting the process, by trusting that what I do in the studio and in as far as workshops and exhibitions goes makes a difference in peoples lives and connects people to their own creative journey. I attend as many exhibitions as I can to support the arts though also come away with creative energy.
When do you hit a flat spot and how do you get over it?
Fortunately I have a wonderful support network in Australia but also internationally. There shines the beauty of social media whereby I am able to interact with other artists on a daily basis and share the highs and lows of the artist journey.
How do you tackle social media in the new ‘self promotion’ arena we find ourselves in.
I post daily or keep a ‘digital journal’. I haven’t missed a day in 4 years. It provides a wonderful visual retrospective. In terms of self promotion, I keep my social media posts as consistent as possible and try not to ‘over post’.
What is the hardest thing about being a painter?
The hardest thing about being a painter is the dance of love and fear, the highs and lows, the balance and the maintenance of motivation. Raising three kids also makes it challenging as I find I end up painting mostly at night when everyone goes to sleep.
What would you say is the best thing about your art life?
The best thing about my art life is feeling as though I have a sense of belonging and self expression which I believe is innate in all of us.
What is one thing you would recommend to others struggling to get more art in their life?
The one thing I would recommend is to take risks, to push past the fear, to create that corner of the day and allow time for art making.
Where can others see your work or find out about your workshops?
Do you have any exciting art adventures happening in the near future?
I have approximately 16 workshops scheduled for 2020. The gallery has ten artists in total providing a wide range of experiences for the workshop participants. I am introducing a couple of international artists in the next year and also a wide range of artists in regard to upcoming exhibitions. I’m also aiming to collaborate with other artists in my own art journey.
I have a solo exhibition at Into-Arts in West Ryde on the 3rd of April 6-8pm where I intend to raise money for the ‘Support the girls’ charity and another exhibition in the mountains with 3 other artists in September.
You can find more details about Melony Smirniotis’s art at:
Check out more artist interviews here
These monthly instalments are a sneak peak into how other artists I know build an art life and maintain a creative existence. I hope you will jump on board as we take a few trips beyond the easle on THE GINGERNUT EXPRESS!
The Gingernut Express is a monthly blog, written and produced by Visual Artist and Arts Educator, Kristine Ballard on www.kristineballard.com
© Kristine Ballard 2020