Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Conversation With Tammy Mae Moon

"Nimue" 2012

Tammy Mae Moon, a self taught artist from Lexington, Kentucky, creates paintings full of gorgeous, mythological imagery focusing on nature, the beauty of the face and eyes, strong females and human emotions. 

Her artwork is comprised of detailed and delicate line work, lovely colors and striking, brave female faces that stare directly into the eyes of viewers. Tammy Mae Moon spoke with ArtSeen about her passion for art and her artistic influences.

Can you tell us a little about your artwork, artistic background, and artistic processes?
I am self-taught and have been working as a professional artist since 2009. I started painting in 2003 after I had my first child and it took me until 2008 to begin sharing my art online with others. I started first painting in oils, then went to soft pastels for awhile, and now mostly paint in acrylics.

I mainly work with portraiture and focus on the feminine figure. I always start working with graphite and draw out my composition on either canvas, masonite, or wood panels. Then I spray fixative or use clear gesso and start painting over my drawings in many layers. I enjoy how each piece I create evolves and changes with each layer.

"Freyja" 2011
What inspires you as an artist? Why do you create art?
Most of my inspiration comes from human emotions, the beauty of a face, and the natural world. I am completely obsessed with eyes and with the portrait in general.  There is really nothing more fun to me than creating a face. It is amazing to me that the slightest little stroke can convey a totally different emotion in a face. I could spend all day painting the iris of an eye, or the little curve above the lip, and I am in complete bliss doing that. I paint women for two main reasons I suppose. Mostly because women are so beautiful, but also, there is always this theme of remembering the sacred feminine in my work.

I also love painting animals. Birds probably appear the most in my work because they carry this strong archetypal symbol of being messengers from spirit. I like to interweave my women in with animals. I have felt for a long time that the way women are treated and respected is a direct reflection of how the Earth and nature is treated. I want people to see the beauty in both, and the sacredness.

"Leanan Sidhe" 2011

What types of themes, ideas, or concepts do you explore within in your artwork?

I am entirely addicted to ancient myth, so I explore it a lot in my work, especially Celtic myth. Often I will just paint one of those stories, like Deirdre of the Sorrows, who was similar to the Celtic Helen of Troy, or something from the King Arthur legends. I am drawn to those female archetypes that got a bad rap in history or myth, the Liliths and the Morgan Le Fays, the witches and enchantresses. In myth, goddesses like Circe and Morgan Le Fay were said to control the weather by unbraiding or unbinding their hair.  Most of my women have hair flying around like they are in a windstorm. I think it draws upon that archetype of the electrical, creative, dark goddess. It is this archetype of the goddess we still struggle with today. The crazy, chaotic, primal feminine force that man has never understood, and yet underlies all of nature.


Are there any artists that inspire you? If so, who would they be and why?

Like many other artists, I think it was the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood that first took my breath away, then Klimt and Mucha, and of course Frida Kahlo. But I find that it is mostly artists that are alive and painting right now that I draw the most inspiration from in my work. Most of these are powerful portrait artists like Michael Shapcott and Kris Lewis. One of my new favorites is Mandy Tsung because I like how she incorporates wood grains in with her women. Sylvia Ji continues to inspire me more than any current artist I can think of. Even though all of these artists are technical superstars, there is also something alive in their works that goes way beyond technical prowess. That's what I am drawn to the most in other artists' work.

I am also influenced by a lot of the artists I interact with on a day to day basis. I am part of a little artist collective called “The Bad Apple Artist Collective.” We are a group of women artists from all over the world with some very amazing and diverse talent. We do these little themed drawing contests every month and these girls constantly inspire me with what they come up with. A little bit of creative competition can help push you as an artist in a positive way.

"Morgan Le Fay" 2012
 What do you think the role of the artist is?

I think of Joseph Campbell's words in the Power of Myth when Bill Moyers asked him who interprets the divinity inherent in nature for us today. Campbell responded by saying that it is the function of the artist to do this. When I heard him say that many years ago was when I first decided I wanted to be an artist. I really do think artists paint and create the myth for society and myth is the soul of a society.

What other interests do you have outside of 

your artwork?

I read a lot of fantasy novels and fantasy historical fiction, especially things set in ancient Ireland. I am working my way through Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters series right now. Besides that, I just spend time with my two children and husband. We like to camp and go hiking and hang out at the local pool. Pretty boring middle America type of things. Sometimes I get to sneak out and drink a Guinness or two and see some live music.

"The Owl Keeper" 2011
And finally, what advice would you give to other artists?

You really can make money doing this. You will hear tons of people tell you differently.  The big one now is, “no one is buying art in this bad economy.” That is simply not true.  Paint things that speak to people's souls and you will sell those paintings. First you have to practice though and practice a lot. That is the key to it all really and to become good you have to spend hours every single day at it so you deserve to make money at it.  The only people who don't make money at it are ones that spend more time complaining about how you can't make money at art than they do actually making art.

Another thing I am not going to say is, do not compare yourselves to others. That is virtually impossible to do, especially if you ever happen to get on the internet. There is so much amazing art on the internet and new talented artists popping up every single day. Of course there will always be ones that are "better than you", and you are going to have moments of feeling like you are no good. That is human nature unfortunately.  But if you really want this you have to ignore that voice and keep on making your art.  Try to be inspired by all the beauty that others are creating and strive to be someone that adds to that beauty too.

For more information you can visit Tammy Mae Moon's website, blog, Etsy shop and Facebook page for more details. 

All images provided by Tammy Wampler.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview Tammy! Julie Rose

MoonSpiral said...

Thank you Miss Julie <3

Unknown said...

Tammy is an amazing artist, whom we all love to bits! Keep up the amazing work Tammy!! <3

MoonSpiral said...

Awwwe know I love you too! I am so lucky to have some of my favorite artists as my friends :)

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