We had the good fortune of connecting with Carol Fennell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carol, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Balance is at the core of well-being both of the body as well as the spirit. Achieving this balance, especially for artists, means balancing opposites like discipline and inspiration, creating for survival yet meaning. Learning to live peacefully with these opposites and checking in is key. Because creativity has no schedule, I often find that I become absorbed into the work and put in numerous hours in the studio after dealing with daily demands by family and circumstances of life. Awareness that life is out of balance can slip away. By paying attention to little signs that life is out of balance, which usually shows up as creative block, burnout or uninspiring work, help me adjust and remember to take a step back and evaluate. This practice has changed over time, as I used to put in as many hours as needed and take on all work that was sent my way. Now, I learned to honor my creative spirit and my body, by taking jobs that mean something to me and making sure I have time to walk and get enough rest. I am also aware of risk with creative work and balance risk management. After a huge 600 ceramic tile installation, I couldn’t move my left arm. I had torn my rotator cuff when creating the tiles. I was out of balance, spending most of my time working long hours on the floor of my studio and paid the price. It taught me to think more realistically about how I handle working on a project. Taking longer on a project or hiring help are ways to keep the balance from falling off kilter. Finally, self awareness helps create balance. How I respond to stress or fear help me understand my emotions and where I might struggle which leads to imbalance. Often talking with other artists about my emotions or working with art journaling can bring out behaviors that I am not aware of. When I become more aware, it shows up in my work, and I find authenticity. Being authentic, and knowing who I am and what I am capable of means living a more joyful, present life.Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been a full time artist since I graduated with my MFA in painting in 1992. Knowing I wanted a career as an artist was an easy decision, but making it a career was difficult. I had a degree in hand, but knew very little about marketing, sales and production, which is what it takes to not only survive but make a living. Once I knew what I wanted to create, work that celebrates women and nature, I applied to galleries and shows. To overcome the challenges of rejections from early galleries, I applied to more. For every one rejection, I applied to three more galleries. Eventually, I was featured in over twelve galleries and began to produce a lot of work each month to keep up. I was not only creating the art, but I was labeling, packing, shipping, writing bios for advertising and record keeping sales and inventory. Being an artist is more than one full time job and it is the biggest challenge for most artists including me. While in galleries, I met and began working with art consultants and created large scale work for public buildings such as hospitals and offices. I am most proud of my work created specifically for hospitals because it impacts well being. Patients surrounded by art heal faster than without art. I had the pleasure of seeing my work in the hospital while my father-in-law was treated for cancer. I could see and feel the difference all the art made in emotional well being of patients. I also teach art at a shelter and love the enthusiasm the residents bring to the group. They feel better after they create and that is a highlight of my career.If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For a week visit, I would include a trip to Catavella for their happy hour which includes a beautiful charcuterie tray and wonderful wine then to Stanley Marketplace for a stroll around their shops and a stop at Ruby June for clothes. A hike in the mountains is a must for me. I love Evergreen and was a resident there for over twenty years, so their trails are close by and beautiful. I would include a winery tour at Ballesteri and a taste of all their wines they make on site. We would bike along the sand creek trail and stop for a picnic lunch in bluff lake. Finally, we would take a stroll through art galleries around town and end with a lesson in my studio.Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The Evergreen Gallery has supported me from the start in the 90’s. They are in Evergreen, CO and feature all colorado artists.
Linkedin: Carol fennell
Facebook: Carol Fennell Art
Kathy Daly photographer- for headshot only