Visual Artist Spotlight: Joy Choquette
A1)It wasn’t a conscious decision for me. In fact, it’s still difficult for me to call myself a “real” artist, as I have this mental picture of artists living in huge cities and attending extravagant galas and openings regularly; none of which I do. I think of myself more as a creative and someone who likes to play with possibilities: one of my favorite questions is, “I wonder what would happen if . . .”
Q2) When, if at all, did you realize that God had called you to be an artist?
A2)There were two books in particular that helped me accept that it was “okay” to consider myself an artist; that God really did make me creative on purpose. One was “The Creative Call,” by Janice Elsheimer, and the other was, “Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit,” by Luci Shaw. I would highly recommend both of these books as well as “Walking on Water,” by Madeleine L’engle to anyone who thinks that maybe they are a closet artist. All three books were excellent and made me feel like an older sister was walking me through the process of acceptance.
A3)I’ve taken a few college level art courses as an adult, but most of my training takes place in my home. I now have a room dedicated to art but started at the kitchen table. I dabble, play, and experiment with various art supplies in my studio until I hit on something I really like. An avid reader, I’ve started a growing collection of art technique books. I love learning. Every day life offers great opportunities to incorporate more art into every aspect of life, if we remain open to it.
Q4)How did your training influence what you’re doing now?
A4)I’m a huge fan of mixed media and assemblage. I call what I do “intuitive art” because I’ve had very little formal training. One of my art teachers, and a wonderful inspiration, told me once when I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t afford to go back to college and study art, “You should be grateful. You don’t have to unlearn any of the art rules that are taught there.” I think she’s right. Training is important but making yourself sit and work at your craft is essential. You can have all the greatest ideas in the world, but if you don’t manifest them they’ll be just that: ideas.
A5)Mixed media is my medium. I’ve dabbled in watercolors, tried fiber arts, a metal working class, jewelry making and a variety of other art forms, but I keep coming back to mixed media. I love the freeing nature of it; there are no mistakes. If you put something somewhere and don’t like it, or if you drip paint somewhere you didn’t intend to, you just incorporate those things into your work. To me, it’s a great reminder of what life is like: going with what you’ve been handed, working with the materials you have, looking for opportunities to turn something that’s potentially ugly or useless into something beautiful or meaningful .
Q6)What do you do or use to keep yourself inspired for your art work?
A6)I read art blogs when I have time and love looking at art books and magazines. A tight budget doesn’t have to be a deterrent. Browse your local library, book seller or craft store. I also keep an art journal (okay, three) and even though I don’t work in them daily, I do try to keep adding more material as often as I can. It’s fun and a good way to stay in touch with my creative side.
A7)This is a great question. To me, God is present in the making of every piece. When I’m sad and I’m scribbling lines in my journal, when I’m angry and making slashing graffiti marks, when I’m bubbling with happiness and painting it yellow–he’s with me in all of it. That being said, I don’t share all those pieces with people, some are very private. But as far as public works go I think of them as passing along information as I understand it to those who might need help seeing it. A great definition of artist, to me, is a conduit, or maybe a mark on a map. Someone, somewhere might need just a little bit of clarity of an insight that only you, as an artist, can give.
Q8)) Any final thoughts about sharing your art work with my blog readers?
A8)One of my passions in life is communication. I communicate through writing, talking with others, and making art. It’s a powerful tool that can be used for good. Often in the Christian community, art and artists are seen as suspicious or worse, go unseen. I hope that as more and more faith-based artists share their work this bias disappears.
An important part of communicating is internal through processing emotions. I grew through some very painful events as a child, and one in recent years. My instinct is to retreat, bury my feelings. Overeating, shopping too much, drinking, over exercising, smoking; we all try to escape our emotions at some time in our lives. Art has helped me to move through my emotions in healthy way. It also helps me to get my feelings out when even words fail me.
Joy Perrino Choquette is an author, writer, nonprofit marketing consultant and artist: communication is the thread that binds all these together. In her free time, Joy enjoys recycling odd bits of things into her artwork, enjoying the label of voracious reader, writing novels and drinking tea in Vermont. Learn more about her by visiting her website, joychoquette.com or her shop on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/people/
(c) 2013 Cheryl Cope