Rhonda CR Burton, Los Angeles CA
SUM UP YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS IN 1 WORD OR PHRASE, AND WHY
I think the one word for my creative process is: Intersection.
Currently the garden and nature intersect with my art. I feel there is a calming, restorative and regenerative power in the outdoors and nature and I try to translate that with my art.
WERE YOU ALWAYS AN ARTIST, EVEN AS A CHILD? WHAT WAS YOUR PATH TO BECOMING AN ARTIST?
Even as a child, I always felt creative and I knew my life would somehow revolve around art. Color, texture and pattern always intrigued me. I was an art major in school, got married early and never graduated from college. I took a job working in the jewelry industry in the early years of my marriage and one day I walked into a small private art school and I knew immediately this is where I belonged. I began watercolor painting and I was hooked. In a short period of time I was teaching watercolor there and began to sell and to submit my work to shows. My work was accepted to a number of shows and organizations including The National Watercolor Society and shown around the country.
Several years later, as a single parent, I put my art career on hold to support my young children. I took a corporate job in a highly stressful industry. Needing a way to clear my head at the end of the day I started walking and exploring the gardens in my neighborhood. I found relief not only from the exercise of walking, but in the subject matter of the outdoors. During my “de-stress” walks, I began taking photographs and used these images to establish a line of stationery and fabrics that I continue to sell on Etsy.
WHAT IS YOUR MEDIUM OF CHOICE AND WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS PARTICULAR MEDIUM?
After retiring several years ago, I began to explore the thought of creating fine art again. Photography was now my medium of choice and my imagery was that of the garden and nature. Wanting a sleek, contemporary look to my pieces, I had images printed on acrylic and backed with brush aluminum and this added an additional element to the images. I produced my work this way for several years.
I felt the need to touch and work with paper again, to be more interactive with my work. Having my photographs printed on fine art paper, I began to hand embellish the images with color pencil, pumping up the color and texture. For the presentation, I mounted the images on painted wooden panels adding a sheet of acrylic on top to frame. Depending upon the image, a flower or a succulent, sometimes I add various sizes of the same image set at various angles to reflect the growing patterns of the plant.
IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR EXPERIENCE, PERSON, PLACE OR THING THAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE? TELL US ABOUT THAT.
The event that has had the biggest impact on my creativity and production of art was in 2018. In March of that year I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Spending the remainder of that year enduring 2 surgeries and 6 months of chemotherapy, I made a decision while in the hospital. I decided it was “now or never” for me. It was the time for me to put my art out there, to “give myself permission to think big” so to speak. I was going to find representation for my art. A few months after my last surgery, I began working with the Brittany Davis Gallery in Ojai, CA. My work was shown in several group shows at the gallery last year and I was a featured artist that September. I was also fortunate to have been included in Art Palm Springs with the gallery at the beginning of 2020, prior to the COVID19 pandemic. So, in many ways, having cancer seems to have been my motivating factor.
WHAT IS IT LIKE SHOWING YOUR WORK TO PEOPLE AND WHAT DO HOPE PEOPLE TAKE AWAY FROM IT?
Showing my work always creates the simultaneous combination of exhilaration and sheer terror. The “it’s not good enough” talk in my head is constant and at times very, very loud. I work constantly to overcome the noise.
Having worked in a highly stressful job and having gone through such a serious illness, the power of nature and the garden seemed to have a calming and restorative affect on me (along with my doctors of course). There have been many studies done contributing outdoors and nature to healing. With that said, I would like to think that my images of nature and the garden might be viewed as something that could provide a sense of calm and well being.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THE OTHER ARTISTS WHO MAY BE LOOKING TO GET THEIR WORK EXHIBITED?
As I continue to struggle against the “internal talk” it does get a bit easier each time. So, my advice is to DO IT ANYWAY. No matter how much noise may go on your head, DO IT ANYWAY.