We caught up with Sabrina from LilyRuby Art for the next post in our Interview with the Maker Series! You might have seen Sabrina outside the shop live painting these past few months. We chatted about the origins of her business, inspiration and motivation, and things to come!
Where does the name LilyRuby Art come from?
The name LilyRuby Art came about a few years ago. I was creating my Etsy shop and needed to name it. I knew my full name would be hard to remember/spell (Hegefeld is not the easiest) so I started trying to think of other ideas. I wanted a name that was meaningful to me and that I would love forever. My dogs, who are my furry children, are name Lily and Ruby. I rescued them both from the Bryan Animal Center and they have been the light of my life for the past several years. I knew if I wanted to choose a special name, it had to include them and I am so glad I did.
When and how did you get started painting?
I was always a creative person. My mom painted when I was a child and she always let us help and be involved with her crafts. I loved to read from a very young age and enjoyed writing. I always had an active imagination. Painting didn't really come until I was in high school though. I suffered from anxiety and depression and I was lucky enough to have an amazing art teacher who took me under his wing and taught me anything I wanted to learn. That is where I find the foundation of my art and any "taught" skills. After high school, I chose not to go to art school. I took a break from painting to work and support my family and life got busy. I started getting back into painting about a year ago, when things had calmed and many of my life goals had been achieved. I finally finished my long-awaited Bachelors degree (not in art, but in General Studies) that I had pursued while working full-time and suddenly had free time again. I felt like there was still a part of me that I wasn't able to share and I was unable to find the words to speak it. When I picked my paintbrushes back up, I found that voice again. At first I made gifts for my loved ones as a way to tell them, "I care about you, I am paying attention to what your interests are, and I made this just for you." It has evolved into being able to share who I am with each person who buys a piece of my art.
Where do you get inspiration from? How do you stay creatively motivated?
Most of my inspiration is internal. I do find beauty in landscapes and use color palettes from nature, but a lot of my art centers around emotions, feelings, and connections. I like to share my story in my paintings. Almost every single painting I have made I can tell you what I was thinking about when I painted it, or what was happening at the time, or what emotions inspired the piece. I have a full time job and a home to maintain, so I don't get to paint as often as I would like. That time constraint helps keep me motivated, but what most helps is how much I absolutely love painting. I find art so therapeutic and it helps calm my anxiety, while also allowing me to use that energy in a positive way. At this point I don't know that I will ever make art a full-time career, because I love how much I love it and I would never want to lose that feeling.
How has your style evolved over time?
Because I am a self-taught artist, I feel like my painting style has evolved a lot over time. I can pull old paintings and still see a connecting thread in my style, but it definitely has evolved. I feel like I have more polished and refined pieces now and I have also been able to move into a more abstract space than I was ever comfortable in before. Letting my imagination take over has helped evolve my art so that instead of painting a scene, I paint what I feel or what an object represents to me. Because those representations change over time, I am sure my style will continue to change. I also enjoy experimenting with paints and mixed media to create new textures.
What is your favorite thing to paint?
Right now my favorite paintings are all very abstract and not necessarily a thing. But if I had to pick a thing I like to paint or at least represent in my art the most it would be nature. I love big skies, trees, mountains, and flowers. Those shapes, colors, and relationships influence even my most abstract pieces.
We’ve always been curious about how long a painting takes? Do you work in batches on multiple pieces, or do you focus on one until it’s where you want it?
I paint everything from mini canvases to watercolor cards to large five foot canvases, so each one has its own challenge and timeline. I usually work in one medium at a time, but I like to switch between acrylic, watercolor, and oil depending on my mood or the feeling/color story I am trying to create. For my watercolor art I have found I do best when I work quickly and don't overthink, so those pieces I typically start to finish in one sitting and spend under 30 minutes on. For acrylic and oil I like to layer colors and textures, so there is a lot more dry time involved and most pieces cannot be finished in the same sitting. I usually have a few hours in the evenings and if I have a free weekend to paint, so when I have time I tend to work on at least five different pieces at once, each in various stages of layers. If I have an entire weekend free, I have been known to paint about 12 hours each day and I have created 7-8 new pieces in that time frame. But then I will get busy and not be able to work on anything for a week or so. I try to maintain a balance and I have noticed that if I let paintings sit over a few days I tend to look at them differently and I am able to create better pieces that way.
You’ve done a couple of live-painting events at the shop – with more to come – what is it about live painting that really works for you?
I absolutely love getting to meet people and talk about art. It is crazy to even say that, because in high school I had such high levels of social anxiety I rarely talked to anyone except close friends. As an adult I have found that sharing my art and talking about it has given me the confidence to talk to strangers and really make friends in a way I never felt comfortable before. So much about my art is about emotions and sharing, that it feels natural to paint in front of people so they can feel that energy. Also every time I have been able to host a live-painting event I have met amazing inspirational people who have opened up and felt comfortable sharing their stories with me. All of that positive energy translates into better paintings.
What pieces are in the pipeline? Is there anything we should expect to see in Market 1023 soon?
I have a huge 5 foot canvas that I have been working up to courage to paint and I think this is the right time, so that one will be coming up soon. I also know the holiday season is closing in fast, so expect to see more holiday themed-items at the market soon. I plan to make some great Christmas ornaments this year as well as holiday/Texas themed cards.
And what about teaching a class?
I have had a lot of inquiries, especially during my live-painting events about teaching classes and it is definitely something I would love to do. Up to this point I have not taught only out of fear that as a self-taught artist I don't know enough to teach. But my confidence as an artist has grown exponentially in the last year, so I think it is something I need to do. I want to teach classes that will make people who don't consider themselves "artists" feel comfortable. I also want to teach classes that are less about skill and more about finding yourself in art. That is definitely on my to-do list and very soon, so keep an eye out for that.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become an artist or a maker?
Yes I do! The best advice I ever received about becoming an artist/maker was to be confident in what I bring to the table. There are a million talented people out there and its really easy to compare yourself to them, but what makes you special is also what makes you different from them. Appreciate hand-made goods and art of all kinds, but stick to what makes you feel the most like you. Never feel like you are an impostor or fake. If you are creating you are real, that is all it takes. Support artists and creators who make things that speak to you and that network of creators will grow around you and support you in return.