Visual Artist Spotlight: Terri Morse
A1.I’m not sure there was ever a conscious decision. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making art. It was always a part of who I was. I received my first set of pastels and a large sketchpad when I was about 12. That gift opened a whole new world to me. I think that was when my passion for creativity became the most evident. I was drawn into a dance with color that has been the joy of my life.
Q2.When, if at all, did you realize that God had called you to be an artist?
A2.When I was 19, I entered into a conscious relationship with the Lord. It took me much longer to discover who I really am. It happened in a roundabout way, while I was discovering who I was not! I worked a series of office jobs. Then at the age of 26, I finally went to college and earned a degree in nursing. Over time, the Lord showed me that neither one of those things was on the path He had chosen for me. I do remember that an art elective class I had to take for my degree was the most enjoyable class I had taken and that I had a natural ability.
A3.I haven’t had a great deal of formal training. When I was in high school, I attended weekly workshops at the local university. I was fortunate enough to be mentored by one of their art students. I attended art camp at the same university, and I studied art as a major subject in high school.
I began my real training at my dining room table! My son was about 15 months old at the time. I knew I wanted to be at home with him, but I also had a few hours a day during which he mercifully napped. One lovely day, when I had an afternoon to myself, I wandered into a local craft store. About an hour later, I emerged with paints, a few brushes, a couple of cute wooden boxes, and a book on decorative painting. Studying that book carefully, I taught myself the basics of brush handling, stroke work, composition and color theory. I practiced on paper, and finally I set my sights on those wooden boxes. As I painted, time went away. I soon realized that it was the only thing I wanted to do, after being a wife and mother! I soon set up a studio in the back room and I began accumulating a huge library of books on every aspect of making art. I began selling my painted wood pieces, such as step stools, lap desks, and birdhouses. As I attended more and more shows with my work, people began approaching me to do custom work on furniture. Another artist I knew needed a partner to take on commissions for mural painting when she became too busy. I needed to quickly develop a portfolio, so my rented house became my training ground for painting on a large scale. Blessedly, the landlord allowed it.
Since that time, I have never stopped learning. I’ve spent most of my time reading countless books and then applying the new techniques I’ve learned. The various media I have worked with include acrylic, pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, and oil. I’ve also studied and worked in collage, Russian floral painting, fabric painting, traditional quilting and art quilting. I also have twenty years of experience in digital art. I began with the Corel series of products and later moved onto Adobe. In 2009, my blog, Comfort Cottage went live. Consequently, I was moved to learn everything I could about digital photography.
Q4. How did your training influence what you are doing now?
A4.Until recently, I’m not sure I realized that my entire creative life has been leading up to where I am now. Years ago, mixed media art didn’t receive the attention that it does now. After years of studying a wide variety of media, I realize now that everything I have learned has been a preparation for what I do now.
Q5. Please describe your art style and medium, and why you chose that particular one.
A5. Primarily, I consider myself to be a mixed media artist, although I am not limited to that. Mixed media allows me to have a rewarding experience from both a visual and tactile standpoint. It allows me to create works rich in texture and depth. My style is bold and vibrant. I’m not into subtlety. The way I see it, if you have something to say, be direct and make it count. I don’t wish to shock people with my art, but rather to energize them. I want to convey a sense of joy and appreciation of the life I have been given. I want it to be clear through my work that my soul belongs to God and that everything that I am comes from Him. I want to see the world through His eyes and reflect that in my work.
Q6. What do you do or use to keep yourself inspired for your artwork?
A6. First and foremost, I begin every day with God. I read my Bible and meditate on how His word applies to my life. His strength becomes my strength as I share my joys and cares with Him. Then I am renewed and free to create.
Second, it is essential to get out of the studio periodically. I often take my camera with me. I photograph anything and everything. Spending time outdoors surrounded by the work of the original Creator is one of the best ways I know to inject new life into my art. I spent a few weeks traveling throughout Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico during the summer. I returned with fresh perspective and a deep desire to express the joy of that experience through my art. My travels also afforded me the opportunity to speak with other artists. The very nature of the artist’s life invites isolation, but interaction with other like-minded individuals broadens our inner world. The exchange of ideas and experience fills the creative well. By immersing myself in the culture of such iconic artists’ meccas as Taos and Sante Fe, the fires of my imagination were ignited.
Third, I study the work of others, read about and apply new techniques, and learn about the properties of the materials I use.
With all of that being said, one can only do so much traveling, studying, and accumulating of art supplies. Sooner or later, it comes down to picking up the brush and getting to work. Inspiration is more often a product of the process rather than a prerequisite.
A7. Incorporating God into my work would be somewhat akin to putting the cart before the horse! My work is a product of His spirit flowing from me. He came to reside in my heart not because I chose Him, but because He chose me. And because the spirit of God lives within me, it will show up in my work whether I consciously mean it to or not. I believe my work expresses joy and light, and love. Those are qualities that can only come from Him.
Q8. Is there a class or offer that you would like to share with my readers?
A8. I do not currently offer classes, but I author a weblog, Comfort Cottage. I’d be delighted to have you visit me there at www.terrimorse.typepad.com. I often document my process with photos and a description of the techniques I use, and you can find these posts under the category of art techniques. I also offer digitally created pages for art journaling that are free for personal use. They can be found under the category, free for your use, or at my Flicker site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/terri_morse/sets/72157629236736432/.
Q9. Any final thoughts about sharing your artwork with my readers?
A9. One, it’s never too late to embrace the creative life. The most important element in the equation is your own desire. That desire was placed there by God, so don’t ignore it. Be willing to experiment, and while you are doing that, turn off your inner critic. More often than not, it lies.
Two, remember that there is more than one path to an education. If formal education is unappealing, or simply no longer an option, check out your local library, bookstore, or search the internet for information. Talk to other creative people. Visit their websites and blogs.
Finally, get to work! There is no substitute for experience. Every piece of work you complete will be a stepping stone to something better. Enjoy the process.
I have been making art from the time I could first hold a crayon. My love for the visual arts has blossomed into a passionate desire to express myself and my faith through my work. I am primarily self-taught. I spent a number of years working as a decorative artist painting furniture and murals. I’ve worked in a variety of media including acrylic, watercolor, oil, pen and ink, pastel and colored pencil. Most days find me in my studio creating mixed media paintings and working in my visual journals. I share my creative adventures sprinkled with a little bit of life through my weblog, Comfort Cottage.
When I’m not at the easel, I enjoy digital photography, playing the flute and guitar, making digital art, quilting, lake kayaking, camping and hiking.
I share this wonderful life that God has given me with my incredible husband of thirty-two years, my amazing son, a quirky studio cat, and my sweet golden retriever. My life is made rich with the joy of walking with God and His Son, Jesus Christ, my savior.
(c) 2012 Cheryl Cope
Cheryl Cope on Google+