We interviewed Virginia-based professional artist Alexandra Schmeling to find out more about her artistic background, influence, and contributions. Schmeling was a gallerist at Culturally's last curated exhibition "Modern Renaissance," now available for viewing at www.culturallyarts.com/exhibitions. Find the entire interview below, along with her advice for aspiring artists!
If something stopped me in my tracks to make me take a photo and then use that as the basis of watercolor, I want to be able to show that thing to other people and help them appreciate it in a new light. In my art, I want people to feel a connection and appreciation for nature and history.
Alexandra Schmeling was born in Saratoga Springs, New York and after moving to Providence, Rhode Island, now calls Arlington, Virginia home. She studied photography at Yale but now focuses on watercolor and ink paintings. However, she continues to view the world through her camera lens as her works are based on her own original photographs. She enjoys the interplay between architecture, flowers, and foliage, especially in historic contexts. Her favorite subjects to paint are the architecture and landscapes of France. She was recently awarded an artist residency at the Château de Orquevaux in France where she will be able to continue painting her favorite subject after travel restrictions have been lifted.
1. What is your background or artistic story?
I have been making art all my life. I majored in art in college with a concentration in photography. Photography really changed how I view the world--I pay attention to the details and the beauty in simple things more. I was very interested in architectural and landscape photography for a long time. While I was in graduate school studying education, I began painting watercolors and really became immersed in the medium during the quarantine. It's become my favorite art medium.
2. How do you seek out inspiration?
I am inspired by nature and architecture. I love exploring historic places and traveling. Being close to nature really brings out the artist in me. I spent one summer in rural Normandy, France and I created some of the best work I have ever made.
3. What do you aim to say by the themes in your art?
My photography was much more conceptual than my watercolors, in my opinion. Instead of conveying a message, in my paintings, I try to convey a feeling or emotion to the viewer. If something stopped me in my tracks to make me take a photo and then use that as the basis of watercolor, I want to be able to show that thing to other people and help them appreciate it in a new light. In my art, I want people to feel a connection and appreciation for nature and history.
4. What is integral to your work as an artist?
I paint from photographs I have taken, which I know is sometimes frowned upon in the art world and those who promote painting on-site, but it is my preferred style. I like incorporating my photography into my painting in this way. Every scene I paint is someplace I have physically been and experienced myself. Painting in this manner brings up a lot of memories for me, and I love being able to share my experiences and my favorite places through my art.
5. What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on turning my original paintings into prints and cards! I also have a couple of art shows coming up that I am excited about. I recently launched my small art business so I have been soaking in as much business information as I can!
6. What changes would you like to see in the arts in the coming years?
I would love the arts to be seen as a more viable and valued career path and the art world to be more comfortable with artists as small business owners. I feel like art prints are sometimes looked down upon as compared to original art, but I have learned that prints are a great way for artists to make a profit. It should be possible for art to be a career and be valued!
7. As a professional artist, what is the biggest piece of advice you have for aspiring artists beginning to navigate the art world?
Listen to your passions! I spent a long time hiding my art away and not sharing it, but being able to share my art with others has been incredibly rewarding. If you possess artistic talent, share it with the world!
Keep up with Alexandra's artistic journey through:
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ASchmelingFineArt
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