We had the good fortune of connecting with Rochelle Dammel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rochelle, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
The work/life balance for artists can be a little complicated. In many ways, there is no balance between the two as work and life are one and the same. As a mostly abstract 2D artist, I am always observing my surroundings to find new ways to be inspired by color, texture, and emotion. In my studio, at the grocery store, sitting in traffic, hiking in the mountains. There is value and possibility in everything we do in life that can be made into work. Years ago as a beginning artist, I attended a lunch at Seattle’s Gage Academy, The established artist there said that the difference between a hobbyist and a professional artist is professional artists must show up and paint everyday, even on days when they don’t feel like it. While I agree that this definitely helps with flow and production of work, painting or even being in our studio isn’t the only part of “work” that we do daily as artists. Reading, journaling, seeing our surroundings from an artistic perspective and truly being present all play a role in the work we do as preparation for the actual act of painting. And then there is the administrative part of work. In today’s online world of art marketing it is necessary to spend more time on the administrative piece of being an artist. As an artist, I think this is the part of the balance that must be watched and controlled. How does an artist stay true to their creative calling and not be consumed by the many marketing tasks that are required to be apart of today’s art world? Not everyone has a gallery, rep, or assistant. It is very easy to fall into the trap of trying to do too much and burning out. Planning each month and segmenting the week so that creative time is separate from administrative time works well to keep the balance within work. This isn’t always an easy task for creative minds, but imporant. Time must be left in the day to gather inspiration through experiencing life more freely. In the end, artists will always come back to the act of making art and seeing art in everything we experience. While experiencing life is a required ingredient for creating great art, it is also needed in order to evolve and stay energized as a creative person.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I began my art journey when I lived in France and my kids were still very young. I took an art class from Madame Volodos in LePeq so I could work on my French language skills. Though I’ve been taught and mentored by many talented artists, I can’t say I have an art degree. While this bothered me at first, I believe this is an advantage in many ways. It offers me a greater understanding of my collectors and what they react to when looking for art, and it helps me be a more supportive peer and mentor to those just starting. When I paint abstract and organic paintings, my goal is to not think, which is not a normal process for realistic painters. Trusting my intuition and base of knowledge, my goal is to simply paint when I begin a painting. I believe that my intuitive approach is something that offers the world a unique view into my emotion and a translation of my world. We spend so much time ensuring everything is perfect and well-though out today, that painting in this style allows for a subconscious way of peeling back the onion so to speak. Even I am sometimes surprised at how my emotions and surroundings are interpreted via my palette knife. My paintings are a way of seeing the world through my eyes but also my heart. Anyone can say they are an artist, but making space for yourself within this crowded space can be more challenging. Today, it takes constant effort to keep yourself visible and to resist the urge to hunker down like a hermit and simply create. Because in my pre-art career I was in the business world, I take commitments, deadlines and professionalism very seriously which has enables me to curate shows in a way that is helpful to the artists and the professional facility where their art is displayed. As artists we create beauty to put into the world. If you can put yourself out there consistently, online and within your own community, you will be rewarded with knowledge and the incredible gift of connecting and learning from the amazing and supportive people in the arts. Sharing your art with the world allows the world to understand you a little bit better and I believe that everyone has something powerful to share with the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love cities. Denver has incredible mountain views and public art from so many of the parks in the area. Simply walking down city streets and feeling the energy of the people hustling and bustling around me is like being in a current of a fast running river. It’s contagious and invigorating. My favorite sport to watch is baseball and I think baseball stadiums are incredible. Coors Field is no exception with its city location and incredible light so I would also recommend grabbing drinks and food at Rhein Haus, my favorite German beer restaurant located in Larimer Square, and then a walk down the brick walkway to the stadium for to watch the Boys of Summer. That said, my favorite sport to play is golf and Denver and its surround areas is absolutely incredible for playing golf, and you can do it almost all-year round thanks to the many sunny days we have here. The train station is also an incredibly energetic place, a hub of action with drinks, people coming and going. Good food would also be a must and there are endless small one-of-a-kind options in RiNo, where I had my first art studio at the Dry Ice Factory. The Clyfford Still Museum would be on my list. Such a unique place and a wonderful way to really understand the entire life and evolution of an amazing abstract artist. Since I live just south of the city, I would definitely add a walk around the Bluffs Regional Park in Lone Tree where you can see 360 views of the city, mountains and beyond. A trip to the friendly Lone Tree Brewing Co afterwards (with dogs of course!) would be a must for their award winning Mexican Lager, Pilsner and all-around fantastic people who work there. If biker bars are more your thing, we would definitely take in some live music on the deck at The Platte River Bar & Grill. Real people, and real good smothered burritos! The Denver area is rich with culture, amazing food and endless festivals and things to do. There is no shortage of places to see and be seen at in this incredible metropolitan city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are many who have supported me and helped me along my journey as an artist–my family and friends here in Colorado to name a few. However, a group of 4 fellow artists I met when I lived in Seattle and was just getting started I really would like to shout out to as giving me the courage to take the plunge into art. We met monthly and we ranged in age from 30-60 years old. Our small group included artists from Iceland, Mexico, Australia and the US. This group was key for me in developing not only my art skills but also my confidence. Sharing our work with each other and painting together was “food for the soul” and allowed us to grow as artists in a safe and gentle way, but also offered a wonderful way to gain a deeper understanding of the various phases of life as artists, parents, spouses and friends. Founding a community that is a safe place for new artists to gain courage while simultaneously moving through life’s phases is something I’m currently creating as a way to give support to people interested in making art.
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