This month's Member Spotlight is on Blanche Guernsey, a longtime SAGE Member from Gillette, Wyoming. Blanche creates detailed oil paintings of nostalgic objects: cameras, paper cranes, lego men, classic video game consoles, converse sneakers, and more!
What is your "art story?" How long have you been creating?
I have been creating art my whole life! For as long as I can remember, I have had art supplies at my fingertips. I enjoyed it from the time I was in kindergarten and all through school. Participating in all the painting and drawing classes every year, and the art symposiums offered was exciting for me.
As I got older, I slowed down to be a more involved parent. I still presented in art shows throughout the years. In fact, my children were at times the subjects for my pieces, but I wanted to take time to enjoy being a mother and enjoy watching them grow up.
For me, art has always been a part of who I am. I enjoyed creating special treats, volunteering at the schools, actively participating at AVA Community Art Center in Gillette when needed, and creating and presenting for such causes as Local Color, Wine Festivals, various Art Walks, and others. I have been fortunate enough to have had my art presented in a wide range of venues and they have all had special significance to me. Some of these places include Scarlow’s Gallery in Casper, The Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, Cooper and Dash in Denver, Colorado, and SAGE Community Arts in Sheridan, Wyoming.
What are your favorite mediums to work with, and why?
I love everything about oil painting. I love the smell, the mixing of colors, the feel of the paint on the canvas, and the way you can achieve texture if you desire.
What inspires you most when you paint?
I see inspiration all around us. I love circles, shiny things, metal, rust, lots of color, memories, that feeling of nostalgia. . . I hope that the images might connect us; in the personal beginnings of selected objects, there is something universal in the stories and memories they evoke. This is something that connects us all, across time. These are images about care, about significance, about cherishing a moment as it passes and remembering it fondly when it visits, perhaps whispered by one of those silent objects.
How do you fit studio time into your daily life?
I make time. I make sure that I am in my studio every weekday for at least 2 hours.
What have been some challenges in your artistic career?
Because art is a subjective matter, it can be difficult to take criticism at times. Saturation is another challenge as there are so many artists out there; with the ease of access to online venues to show the work, it is easy to get lost in the oceans of artwork.
I would say, however, one of the greatest challenges has been balancing the time to create art and the time to be an effective parent because these are my greatest two loves: being a mother and being an artist.
Has COVID-19 affected your art/creativity?
During these times it was hard to even get into the studio and continue with daily routines. Gift shops shut down, galleries shut down, all the art shows that were on my schedule were now canceled -- at times it felt like “what is the point?" But I kept looking forward and painting made me feel some sort of sanity.
With the world in chaos and everyone feeling so on edge, I needed some moments of zen and started some fun paintings of succulents -- a subject matter that is a little out of my box! They are calm, neutral, and simple -- something we could all use in these times. I plan to have these on display at Java Moon in downtown Sheridan this fall!
Do you have any art role-models or other artists that inspire you?
So Many!! We have so many hard-working, talented artists in our region and I am honored to have weekly art coffee dates, collaborative shows, and support systems from whom I bounce ideas! These fantastic artists have offered ideas and advice at times without having been asked, or without even knowing.
Blanche currently has artwork on display in both the Member Gallery and the Exhibition Gallery as part of the 10th Annual National Juried Show (through July 25). SAGE also has prints and notecards of her work available. Blanche will also be showing at Java Moon in downtown Sheridan, August 21 - September 16, 2020.
Shop our selection of Blanche's work in our online store: www.artinsheridan.com
View more of Blanche's work and her blog on her website: www.blancheguernsey.com
Blanche's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blancheart7/