Janelle Gurchinoff is a Michigan-based artist and the owner of Spirit Cat. After getting her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Janelle worked as a graphic designer for 20 years. Having little creative freedom over the years, she ended up feeling totally lost and depleted. Knowing she wanted to do something more meaningful, she took a leap of faith and started an art business. She began to express herself freely again and finally felt that she was coming back home to herself. She now creates art that she loves with the hope of inspiring others.
Carrie: Welcome! When did you first realize your love of art?
Thanks Carrie! I’ve loved creative expression for as long as I can remember. As a little girl and into my teens, I was always learning a new form of art. I pretty much tried everything and loved it all… playing instruments, dancing, sewing, drawing and oil painting.
Carrie: How would you describe your work?
I really crave variety so I work in multiple media. My paintings are acrylic and watercolor and I also create digital art. I love being able to bring messages out into the world that are important to me through digital art whether it’s an art print or greeting card. It’s a fun way to express myself but there’s much more of a need to be accurate and precise. With my paintings, I love working abstractly and intuitively without any kind of plan. There’s no right or wrong and that feels so freeing. I can completely let go of any need to be a perfectionist.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
My art studio is on the second floor of my house. When we moved here, my husband created a larger work space for me by tearing down a wall between a small office and bedroom. The room is kind of split in two sections with one side for my computer, desk and printers, while the other side is devoted to painting with a work table and supplies.
Carrie: Can you describe the evolution of your artistic style? (Have you always made art with this unique vision or what was your turning point into recognizing this style was your authentic “you”?)
Since it’s only been a short time since I’ve been painting and creating art again, I honestly feel like I’m still finding myself as an artist. Before starting Spirit Cat, it had been years since I had created art just for fun and for myself, so I’m enjoying this time of exploration and discovery. I’m constantly evolving.
Carrie: How do you know when an artwork is finished?
It’s a feeling and it’s also visual. It’s that magical time when things start to flow and come together, sometimes quickly and sometimes after layers and layers of paint. Besides looking at things like balance, color, depth, etc., it really comes down to how I feel when I look at it: whether it makes me happy. Sometimes I’ll know right away and other times when I’m not quite sure, I’ll live with my painting for a while and just glance at it every day. The answer always comes to me that way.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
Sometimes I know that I just have to walk away and look at it with fresh eyes later or another day. Sometimes I try and push through it and tell myself that it’s OK and all part of the process, which honestly is sometimes hard to do!
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
I had a huge fear of being an “artist” when I started my business. I was scared to put myself and my work out there. I had to dig deep, find my courage and just start doing it. I had no idea where to start or what to do. Looking back, I made a lot of mistakes. But I’d much rather make mistakes and fumble than stay frozen in fear and not move forward. I really had to learn to believe in myself and I’m still learning to do that.
Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?
I really hope that my art inspires them and elevates their spirit. I love being surrounded by things in my house that make me feel good so if my art does that for someone else, that’s pretty cool.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Online painting classes and Instagram! Ok, that’s two, but I love them both! Painting classes challenge me to continually learn and grow and I also love being inspired by other amazing artists.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
So many things inspire me! I’m inspired by our indigenous ancestors, various spiritual paths, nature, animals, pattern and yummy color combinations. Other artists inspire me. I love seeing what artists are creating. It gives me a sense of excitement to get creating!
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is an innate part of who we are and when we’re tuned into the creative flow of the universe, magic happens.
Be Creatively Courageous: Have you experienced that state of flow and connection when you create? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.