i am an advocate for Judy.
I had worked in the same office as Judy for almost a year before we really connected. As designers working at two different firms, our paths crossed briefly, but it wasn't until I came into some unfortunate introspective circumstances, an intense period of anxiety attacks spurred illogically from claustrophobia, that we came to know one another better. The claustrophobia was crippling at the time, my only means of coping with the crowded space of the bus that moved at a glacial pace, was to avoid those two factors at all cost. So, I left for work at 6:15 (never my usual time, truly eveeer) and Judy was the only other person in the office when I would arrive about 7 am. I did this for about a month and each morning, though exhausted from my fear, our conversations came to be deeply fulfilling. I didn't know it then, but she would become a confidant and a guide, a person who would offer me so much wisdom, with a firm but gracious perspective. Months later, that is still the case. I hated the anxiety that soon crept under the covers with me, so much of my time spent preparing for it's attack, but I have developed a strange appreciation as I realize that without it I would not have formed this friendship with Judy. It was in those conversations that I learned she is an artist and I want to tell you about her. I want to advocate for her.
She seeks balance. In life, in her artistic expression, in her creative pursuit, she welcomes the opportunity to grow in every facet. It is inspiring. I have begun new pursuits and revisited long abandoned endeavors by her inspiration and her help, the support influential to both my artistry and my frame of mind. We have quick check-ins while getting coffee in the break room, to talk art and life. When I voice an insecurity, she challenges me to acknowledge it but to never let it overtake me. She speaks about her own challenges and the inner voice she continues to foster. Always, I leave that break room with more purpose to my step and I have rarely left our conversations without a "thank you Judy". It is these moments of connection that remind me how powerful advocacy can be. The fact that I have the opportunity to receive and witness her life because she is willing to share it, and further, willing to let me share her insights with others, is huge. It is too rich a gift.
So, here are some wonderful insights from Judy Hessler, the conscientious artist that I emulate.
DO YOU FIND YOUR ARCHITECTURAL WORK INFLUENCE YOUR ART?
Yes and no! At the moment I am trying very hard to not let architecture/interior design influence the context of my artwork. I had the thought just the other morning that I may be trying too hard, but I want to learn, do, and think differently than I do at work. So, I will stick with the anti-architectural/interior design influence in my painting for a bit. The one thing that I do bring into my art from the design world is what I have learned over the years working with color combinations, perspective, and balance.
WHAT DOES COLLABORATION MEAN TO YOU?
Collaboration to me is a coming together. People coming together to make something, produce something, to create something, or solve something. It's throwing ideas out on the table (brainstorming) to see if they bounce, stick, resonate, or act as a catalyst to create or solve something. To me it's the best part of the design process, or can be.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE THOSE TWO PURSUITS?
I'm not sure that I am - I am still learning how to do that. My biggest challenge is switching my brain from work mode to painting mode and finding the time. It takes time to switch my brain, the adjustment to my work schedule has helped to free up my Friday afternoons to start that transition so I can paint over the weekend. I also try to do something everyday art related to stay in the groove - that is still a work in progress, so at the moment I am still working on the right combination during the week.
HOW DOES YOUR ENVIRONMENT AFFECT YOUR ART/CREATIVE PROCESS?
Specifically, in this moment physically, my studio (converted guest bedroom) is a bit restrictive. I am renting a town home, so I can't go crazy with wild abandon with the paint and other media. At some point I will have that space, but for now I am careful and because I hate wearing shoes and don't like standing on plastic I watch what I do. Yes - I am getting in my own way on that one, but it is what it is.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH YOUR ART? IS THE PROCESS MORE PLANNED OR MORE FLUID?
More fluid for sure. My current motto is "Don't Think - Just Do!". This goes back to learning how not to think like I do at work. I plan spaces for a living; there is a program, a space to work within, codes, tangible things to guide you. With the art it's about trusting your intuition and your heart and moving forward trusting where they take you. It doesn't mean that what I do at work isn't creative - it's just a very different type of creativity.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON KEEPING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP TO YOUR ART? (EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT, LETTING GO, THOSE KINDS OF THINGS)
That is a good question and something I very recently had the opportunity to work on. So for the majority of my paintings have been very personal (which have also been very revealing and healing). In May I was part of the Belltown Art Walk through Stock & Associates (my office - thanks Shelly!), in which I had four paintings included, three of which had very personal and significant meaning to me. There was one I was not going to sell, but it just so happened to be the one that someone wanted to buy. So I sold it after having a little conversation with myself. The gist of that conversation was that a piece of art that I made and meant so much to me resonated with someone! That is awesome! It was an opportunity provided to me to practice letting go of my artwork, for that is the point - to set it free to resonate, inspire, encourage, or make someone laugh, smile, or ponder. Because if I don't let it go I will run out of wall space and my friends and family will too!
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO EXPLORE ART AS YOU DO NOW?
I started painting in North Bend. I hadn't taken an art class since college (where I took many - high school as well). I had thought about it over the years, but didn't act on it until my father passed away. He was a young 70-something and very active pursuing all the things he wanted to do once he fully retired (the list was long and varied - he was a busy guy). In that moment I asked myself if I only have one day or 50 years left, how do I want to spend my time? I didn't have the obligations of keeping up maintenance on a house, so I bought some art supplies and eventually took some art classes and started making art. So, how things turned out in North Bend (i.e. not getting the house I wanted) allowed me time to pursue the art now and not wait until I am retired to start painting. I thank my Dad always for the message I received from this death and the example he gave in pursuing his interests in his life.
NEXT TO PAINTING, DO YOU HAVE OTHER FAVORITE ART FORMS TO EXPRESS YOUR CREATIVITY?
I like to write. There are moments while working on a painting, something will come to me that the painting has inspired (example: "Ruffled Feathers" - I wrote on the back - "Sometimes to find yourself, to find your place, you have to ruffle a few feathers, including your own!"). I journal a lot, and when I reread thoughts, ramblings, musings, rants, and raves I find some good nuggets that sometimes get incorporated into the paintings. It works great in the mixed media work that I do.
WHAT IS ABOUT YOUR WORK THAT YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THE MOST?
Mostly I want people to enjoy it in some way, shape, or form if it resonates with them. It means what it means to me, but it may not resonate the same way with someone else and that is good. If it makes them feel something - that is good. If it makes them happy - that is good. If they like the colors and they feel it will look great somewhere in their home or office - that is good. I will always combine my writing with my art if it surfaces and people can take it or leave it and that is good too. The down and dirty of it is that I create art for myself. If it resonates with someone that is great and that is all it has to be. Nothing more.
You can keep up to date with Judy's amazing work here.
Thank you Judy.
To you fulfilled life,