Andrea Holmes is a Texas based mural artist and painter. Andrea is the host of Birdtober, co-founder of My Fairy Art Mother, co-host of McKinney Creative Community, and she serves on the MillHouse McKinney Art Events Team. She has an Associates in Art and a Bachelors in Arts and Technology.
She started painting in 2010 and has been a full time artist since 2017. Her studio is located at the MillHouse, in the historic Cotton Mill building in McKinney, Texas. She is married, with a 5 year old daughter, two doggos, a budgie, and some crested geckos. She loves tending to her plants, binging on tv shows, and traveling.
Carrie: When did you first realize the importance of art in your life?
Art has played an important role in my life since childhood. I was never interested in sports or extracurricular activities, but I was always interested in creating. Making jewelry from flowers, drawing horses, and making Sculpy dragons.
In my 20’s I couldn’t find a job in a creative field so I pieced together four other part-time jobs to make a living. I could feel my creative spirit suffering. Like, I will get grumpy and frazzled if I don’t release my creative energy. If I feel off, it’s probably because I haven’t made something. That’s when I really knew how important it was to me.
Carrie: How would you describe your art?
My work is usually joyful, bright paintings of animals, plants and flowers. A large part of my work is birds. In fact, I’m known as the bird lady. I’ve painted hundreds of birds in different styles. I paint other things, but I always come back to birds. They are so colorful and there is such a variety of species. It’s an endless subject matter.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
It’s pretty freaking awesome. My studio is located in a historic cotton mill building, about 15 minutes away from my home. It has a North facing wall made out of glass blocks which lets in a ton of natural light. It is the perfect place for plants (and artists) to thrive.
My furniture is mostly white with a light blue loveseat for thinking. I have a smattering of vintage objects like a pink Smith Corona typewriter, a mint green phone, and a blue-green fan. I also have a mint green Magic Chef mini fridge. My book shelves are filled with books like “The Artists Way,” “Big Magic,” “The Secret Lives of Color,” and “Daring Greatly.” It’s pretty well organized because I like to productively procrastinate and clean.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
When I create for myself I usually work in a series. So I will come up with ideas for several paintings at once. I keep these ideas on my phone notes. Then I will decide what size canvas I want to create each piece on. One of my goals is to use all of the canvases I have hoarded (damn you Michaels and your deals).
I love priming my canvases with house paint. It just helps get rid of the white and gets the painting process flowing. Blank canvases can be scary. Depending on the subject matter I will either free hand or trace my design onto the canvas. I paint pretty fast, and usually finish paintings in 1 – 3 days.
I also do a lot of custom work, including murals. When you bring someone else into the design process it usually takes longer. I start with a free mural consultation so that I can see the wall, take measurements, and talk about what the clients want. I then send over a proposal with a pinterest like board of ideas and design direction, information about the mural agreement and payment schedule. Once they book with me I work on the design on my iPad. When the design is approved I can paint!
Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?
Joy and beauty. The world we live in can be pretty dark, crazy and hard. I want my paintings to bring a little ray of sunshine into people’s lives. Something that makes them smile.
Carrie: What do you wish you knew that you now know about your creative process?
I wish I knew that my creative process goes through seasons. There are times when I am really productive and creative, and there are times that I am burnt out and stuck. A little down time is pretty natural. Especially after the holiday season. It’s a good time to clean, organize, recharge and recenter.
No matter how much I wish I could be productive all the time, it is just not sustainable. You need breaks. Time to recharge and fill your creative cup.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
If you want to get out of your funk here are a few tips:
- Find a kid and make art with them. Kids are bold creators and have no fear applying crayon to paper. It allows you to scribble and be silly.
- Do an art challenge where you make art every day. There are lots of good lists on Pinterest and Instagram.
- Get inspired. Go to a museum or local art show!
- Have an artist date with a friend and make art together and talk about ideas.
- Take a class. It can be in person or an online class like on YouTube or Skillshare.
- Do a 5 minute brain-storming session. Just write down creative ideas for 5 minutes. If you can’t get going, start coming up with ideas with the letters of the alphabet. A – Alpaca, B – Butterfly, etc. Try to keep your pen to paper for the whole 5 minutes. You will be amazed at the ideas you think of.
Carrie: The different scales of your work is interesting to me. How does working on murals and your smaller works inform one another? What have you learned about you and your work by doing both?
I learned not to let the fear of not knowing how to do something stop me from doing it. I was actually intimidated by color and paint when I was younger. You will always feel clumsy when you first begin something, but the more you do it the better you will get.
Having the ability to try things and make low risk mistakes is so important. That has applied to both painting small and large. Paint for yourself. Paint for a friend. Learn the craft. Watch videos. Take classes. Trust yourself and your ability to do things.
It took me a long time to work up the courage to do a mural. I knew I wanted to do one, but how do you even make something that big?! I started with a mural in my house. Everything you know about painting small applies, you just use bigger brushes! Now I love painting BIG!
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Canva! I love using Canva.com to make mockups, social media posts, mural proposals, and more. It’s a great designing tool with so many templates. It’s a huge time saver for making marketing materials.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
This is going to sound weird, but Instagram. All the creators on there are so inspiring! There is so much wonderful art being made around the world and I want to be a part of it. Most of the time I am like, “Damnit, I wish I made that!” There is some amazing talent out there; it inspires me to get into my studio and create.
Carrie: What does the word artist mean to you?
An artist is someone who takes something ordinary and makes it extraordinary. They are compelled to create.
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