This week is an artist whose work and story are fairy new to me, yet I felt compelled to share. Running your own creative business is a struggle for anyone. The job is made so much harder when having to overcome a devastating head injury. Yet the desire to create still burns within this weeks interviewee Liz from Flossie Inspired Art. Read on for her inspiring story.
1) Introduce yourself.
2) Tell us about your business.
I have Flossie’s Shed in the garden painted to look like a beach hut and my aim is to one day Decoupage the inside, I like a challenge. I show case my art and crafts online, using Facebook and Twitter, I have started a website but it’s still a work in progress. I have had some pieces for sale at a local gallery and I’ve been to quite a few craft fairs too.
My art is very much a need, I hid my artistic side for many many years as it was looked upon my some as “clarting” which is a North East term for messing about and making a mess! Real artists were in galleries in France apparently. It always reared its head though, from making my own wrapping paper for gifts to friends to wood work with my Granddad carving wooden animals in his shed. I think it all started with a tiny set of children’s water colour paints from the tokens I collected off St. Ivel Wizard Mousse when I was about 4 years old. I remember opening the tin box and a golden light shining from within like utopia, of course being a curious child, I had to lick my finger and have a prod!
3) What made you start your business?
My Nanna was very much my second Mother figure, she was an old fashioned traditional Nanna, who was the head of the family or maybe more like a Queen bee, she was the nucleus that held us all together. After my so called Dad ran out on us when I was born, my Nanna and Grandad raised me as if I was their own, though my Mam was always my Mam but we bicker and such likes more like sisters. We were delivered a devastating blow in 2013 that my much loved Nanna had cancer, even though in my thirties I honestly believed my Nanna would go on and on and be with me forever. As naïve as that sounds it’s true and I don’t think anyone is equipped or ever repaired to hear those words no matter how old you are. I was house and dog sitting for a friend at the time, I was agitated, mentally caged with no avenue of escape, I grabbed my car keys, headed into the next village and armed myself with every bit of artistry kit they had and set down to paint. I never saw a soul for days, I just painted – what a release! I found the courage to send a photograph to my close friend Colette, oh how my tummy churned waiting for a reply and there was no relief to be had when the reply came as the churning only became more of a spin cycle. I could hardly bring myself to read it! To my utter amazement the feedback was brilliant, being compared to the likes of Cézanne and Van Gogh. I was too frightened to expose my very personal art to the world for fear of criticism, I felt vulnerable and it was too personal and dear to me, I wasn’t in any place to shield myself, my armour was stripped away and everything laid bare. I decided to hide behind a pseudonym of Flossie Inspired. Flossie because that’s what my Nanna often called me and Inspired because she truly inspired me with her bravery throughout life.
4) Did you have any formal training?
I am completely self taught, no formal training or classes a part from the normal art classes everyone had throughout school, like I say, I hid a lot of my talent, it was very much a journey of self discovery and a coping mechanism. It was to become a secret that refused to be buried any longer. I feel and express with my art, though as most will agree, art is a very personal and passionate thing.
5) Explain your creative process.
My process is a little unorthodox and I remember a artist group being divided by outrage and tradition versus intrigue and fascination. You see I have painted with vivid water colours on to canvas and canvas board, my technique is fairly rough and passionate. Not deemed the correct or proper manner but I believe art has no boundaries and in my own little way I demonstrated this. I have used pastels, charcoal, oils and gouache in the past too. I never know what I’m setting out to achieve, I may have a scene in my head or a photograph that I’ve taken on my travels that I’m drawn to but as far as a process, it’s not methodical. Even the process of mixing my paints are dependant on my mood. I mentioned earlier that my feelings very much depict that, a great deal of the therapeutic side of things can be just sat bringing my colour pallet together. To this day I still hold my breath as the first sweep of colour guides across the canvas. A rush of anxiety, excitement and peace.
6) Describe your typical day.
Ah, this is where things take a side step, my typical day at the moment consists of a different kind of art. In mid December 2016 I suffered a head injury which caused haemorrhages, Strokes and countless TIA’s, I was left paralysed down my whole right side, though I have some feeling and movement back now. I lost my speech and short term memory amongst other things, like learning to read certain words again and speech and cognitive therapy. Instead of the nine to five job, walking the dog and fulfilling customer orders of decoupage photo frames and lanterns or painting for my own pleasure, I have a team of carers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and consultants to help me with daily needs like bathing, cooking and getting me back on my feet and get my body moving again. I’m often in a confused state and suffer seizures, flashbacks and jumbled up memories, though on good days like today and with the help of the Dictaphone on my iPhone, you’d never be able to tell, although it has gotten me into a few hilarious pickles recently with misreading text messages and emails!
7) What’s your biggest seller?
A selection of some of the art I have sold to date, they’re local landscapes to the Northumberland and North East area.
8) What have been the high and low points?
The highs have been and still are, when someone sees and falls in love with my work or they are just discovering your arts and crafts. I get so much joy and satisfaction seeing my work enjoyed by others. My greatest achievement will always be having the courage to openly paint and create, most know the girl behind Flossie Inspired now. If I was to chose a defining accolade, it would be quite literally being found by the Publishers of Sachet Mixte, Simon O’Corra and Nigel Bray. They were thankfully intrigued by my story and wanted to give this girl a break and kindly published me in two of their series of art journals. They gave me tremendous encouragement and support both professionally and personally.
My lowest point I am currently experiencing. I’ve already mentioned the journey on which I have found myself. My friend Colette has donated her Daughters chunky door knob like paint brushes as she knows how much not using that output will be killing me right now but painting is very much a fluid movement, it’s very tactile, almost theatrical yet intricate and my right arm won’t allow for that just yet but they’re there waiting in anticipation along with my pastels and charcoals that I have hidden down beside my chair next to me. I can’t look at them if I’m honest but I know they’re there. I had the courage to place them there about a month ago but to this day I cannot bring myself to try, though I want to so badly. The urge and the want is also unfortunately just as strong as the fear and anxiety that I’ll make contact with the paper and nothing will be there, nothing will show, nothing will present, nothing. But like most defining things in my life, I’ll find the strength to challenge it head on at some point, so watch this space!
9) What would be your top tips for running your art business?
You’ve got to love what you do, I don’t know anyone that got into this game for money, not everyone will see your passion and creativity or concept, not everyone will be inspired or love your work, they may even want to be heavy handed with their criticism but use it as fuel to go forward and produce pieces for the people who love your work as much as you do.
10) What are your aspirations?
Despite my current personal recovery goals, my dream and aspiration would to be a full time artist – who wouldn’t, right?! I will face my fear and uncover those charcoals and pastels and even paint, I know I will, I can’t imagine a world again without it! I’d love to run an art therapy group and write about my experiences, another love of mine that I’ve just taken ownership of, the love of literature and writing. I was brave yet again, to write my first blog a mere 7 days ago, I found it cathartic yet invigorating and you guessed it, completely blown away by everyone’s support and encouragement.
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