A new feature you will see here on the team blog will be Member Spotlights where we introduce to everyone members of the team and we learn a little something about the artist behind the design. Up first is Becky from Gemini River Rocks
Tell us a little about yourself (name, where from, where you are now)
I’m Becky Nielsen. I have the distinction of coming from Wyoming – my great grandparents were settlers there before it was a state. I’ve moved all over the country and other places as well, but have been living in the Hudson Valley for the larger part of my life. My husband Al and I have five children and eight grandchildren between us.
What is your professional background?
For over 40 years I was a physical therapist. Before I retired I began painting, and that has become one of the big surprises and joys of these later years.
What led you to your current craft?
My art began when I was skipping rocks with my grandson from the shore ofthe Hudson River. One stone reminded me of a bird, so Alex and I began to look for other rocks that had familiar shapes and we brought them home to paint. The sculptural quality of the water worn stone often dictated what the finished piece should be. My work became more intricate and the themes expanded. Gradually I found different ways to use the stones. Some became pins or pendants, some became framed art. Eventually as my confidence increased I started taking classes in traditional iconography and some of those techniques were translated to my painting on stone. And at this point I paint on a variety of surfaces – wood, paper, canvas, and glass, as well as rocks. I primarily use acrylics or egg tempera.
Describe your work area.
After I’d been painting for a couple of years at the dining room table we decided to remodel a portion of the upstairs in our house to become a studio. The ceilingwas raised, a window was added. Such luxury! I vowed never to bring things into the room that I didn’t absolutely need or want there. Hah! That lasted about 1 month. But it is still a great space and I feel fortunate to have it. It has various work surfaces for writing, my computer, painting, mounting and framing. There are lots of shelves of various depths and dimensions for books, materials,frames, supplies. And it has a small altar. The walls are filled with paintings,masks, drums, percussion instruments, photos, art that friends have given me.
Favorite time of day to work?
I’m a morning person. I’d love it if I could start painting first thing in the day. But even though I’m retired, I find I don’t have much time that is mine. Grandchildren take up a lot of my hours. Knowing how quickly they grow and move on, it’s a choice that I make gladly. But as a result I probably do most of my work later in the afternoon and early evening. When I cook, I often make things up that will last us for at least a couple of nights. That way, I have more time the next few days to paint. And cleaning is not high priority, either.
How do you work deal with a creative block?
Creative block can be experienced in different ways. I never have trouble thinking of things to do. When you start this late in life, the bigger problem is trying to figure out which project to work on first. There is so much to explore. But what I do encounter is some trepidation as I anticipate failure. There are projects I put off because I worry that I’ll screw them up. That fear is my version of creative block.
How do you feed your creativity?
I keep journals, always have a sketch pad handy, and jot down notes or drawings as I come across things that I want to consider. I feed my creativity through reading, music, art classes, observing nature, watching patterns and colors, trying to just be aware of my surroundings as much as I can. RecentlyI’ve begun meeting with a few local artists monthly to discuss our work, share our thoughts about what it is to be creative, what we want to do with our art. And I enjoy challenges such as February’s Thing a Day, an online event that asks you commit to creating something every day for the month. I’ve also found theme challenges to be fun and rewarding.
How did you end up on Etsy?
I joined Etsy a few years ago when a friend suggested it as a place to sell my work. Our local Etsy team has grown very quickly and is a fun and supportive group. I also sell through the Catskill Mountain Artisan’s Guild Shop inMargaretville and at some craft shows. My first solo show this past fall was a thrill.
Words of wisdom for aspiring artists?
I would suggest to anyone who is beginning to notice interest in creative expression to jump in without self criticism and judgement. It is far too easy to squelch those tender urges through self doubt. While critiquing work is necessary at some point if selling is a goal, it’s important to first develop some skill and style and that will grow best in a kind environment.