We took a visit to Starla's home studio and learned about her journey,
process and goals for the future. Read the full interview below!
Interview by Katie Dunkle:
K: What are you currently working on?
S: I’m working on a series of hot air balloons and am planning on painting 6 to 7 different versions.
K: What inspired the movement to hot air balloons?
S: I wanted to switch things up and go in a different direction. I always pray about my ideas and this one just felt lighthearted. When a painting comes easily and inspires more paintings, it’s confirmation I’m on the right track.
K: What are you inspired by aside from your current mood?
S: My paintings are a visual journal. Instead of writing I paint.
K: What techniques and mediums do you use?
S: I use acrylic and oil paints. With an image of what I want to paint in my mind, I start with a rough acrylic base painting, sketching out the ideas as I go. After this process, I typically add the oils to give a richer texture and a more finished look. Sometimes, I don’t even look at the palette to see what color I’m dipping my brush in. When I’m feeling that confident, it feels more like a harmonized symphony and hitting a home run, - it just feels right. It’s the best feeling and it’s addictive.
K: How did you learn how to paint?
S: I am self-taught. I started painting when I was 20 when I took a Design 101 class. There was this strong faith in me that I could paint but I didn’t know the first thing about materials, brushes, and the logistics of painting. The professor taught us color mixing, shape, and form. We were told to paint an apple and mine looked like a photo once I was finished. At that point I thought to myself, “Eureka, I knew it!! I knew this was in me.”
After that experience, I would stay up until 4 or 5am painting because I couldn’t stop. It was so peaceful. My friends would invite me to go out and I would decline thinking “I’d rather paint.” I’ve been working on my style for 15 years and growing as an artist.
K: What is your ultimate goal?
S: I feel the sky is the limit. As a little girl, I would always grab the P Encyclopedia and look at paintings by the old masters. I marveled at the beauty and wanted to be like the masters. The best way I think I can get there is to continue to paint from my heart and spirit and not compromise on quality or faith.
K: Are you showing your work anywhere right now?
S: You can see some of my originals at the South Lamar location of Anthropologie. I also do personal studio tours in my home by appointment.
K: What were you doing before you became a full-time artist?
S: I was a desktop publisher with the same company for 8 years. The last couple of years the business moved to the same exact location that the movie Office Space was filmed at. If you’ve ever watched Office Space the movie, you’ll understand. I felt I was living the movie out in my life and continued to pray every day about my dream to be a full-time professional artist. Then some really awesome things began to happen those last two years there. A friend of mine contacted me about posting my art on his Pinterest page because he had suddenly gotten over 1 million followers and didn’t know how. After that, I was extremely motivated once I saw the response my art was getting. It felt amazing and gave me the boost I needed; however, I knew the timing wasn’t right still.
I went through a lot of fear and questioning, talked to someone who had a strong faith, and the next day after our talk I walked into my job and put in my notice. The last day of my job was the day before my 33rd birthday. The first day of my career was on my birthday. Believing in myself, taking a step of faith, and trusting God with that step was the best birthday gift I ever gave myself.
Two months after I quit my job, Anthropologie found my work on Pinterest. One step of faith got me here but it’s been a long hard wild crazy wonderful terrifying journey.
K: Do you have any favorite spots in Austin that inspire your creativity?
S: Yes I do- Town Lake is amazing. The greenbelt…the sunsets here or gorgeous. This city is urban and yet rural and I love that because I need nature.
K: What can we expect for the future?
S: That’s a really good question. I’ve already taken some leaps of faith and I expect to take more on this journey. Expect more great art from me.
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