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ARealLifeArtist presents Selena Beaudry: The "Norm"

by Dugg Dugg

June 6, 2010

In Dugg Dugg’s second edition of ARealLifeArtist, Selena Beaudry demonstrates the essential balance between studio life and family life. Yet her process revolves around the studio, where Dugg Dugg was able to catch some insight into Beaudry’s sensitive and playful work.

In Beaudry’s artist statement, she says: “It is not important that the viewer identifies a specific meaning, but rather they grasp a feeling or sense that is reminiscent of every day life.” Take this statement and apply it to Beaudry’s interview below and you’ll find a delightful parallel.

Selena Beaudry lives and works in Charlotte and received her MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the nation, including the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Spaces Gallery, Hart Witzen Gallery, and Tyler White Gallery. You can view more of Beaudry's work on her website.

Let’s start at the beginning of the day.

Depending on the day of the week, I have gotten my children to school and I get into the studio probably around 10am. I am usually starting on one, two, or three bodies of work. I tend to be working on some paintings, drawings, and collages. I decide whether I will be sorting, cutting, or sitting down and drawing.

“I have a tendency to listen to NPR. I'm the kind of artist that makes a lot, and throws away or rescues pieces. I am a maker, so I have to go throw a lot of things. I might make twenty paintings to get ten, and same with my drawings. Right now I am making collage paper pieces that I then trace into the drawings, which will later inform larger paintings.

“Then I will usually have lunch. Sometimes I eat lunch in the studio other days I pick up Grace Lanier or Ava for lunch. Then I come back to the studio and work until about 5:00 pm. I am either making my work or I write about my work or read art magazines.”

Where does your color palette come from? Does it change within a day, or a season?

Normally I use what I consider the feminine whimsical palette, but I can be affected by the weather as well. This is where grays and blues come in, the rain and clouds. But primarily my color in my mind comes from me being a woman. The colors also bring in humor and a cartoonish nature.

What’s your schedule post-5 p.m.?

Going into the mother world. [Chuckles] Then I go home, cook dinner, eat with my family, and talk about our day. Then we read and have bath time. After dinner, and the kids go bed I either have a glass of wine or sometimes watch mindless TV, or sometimes I read. If I am feeling really ambitious and I have a show coming up, I write about my work. I check my email and occasionally browse some websites.

How does this time affect your studio work?

I watch some art related TV, and I think art history is really important. So I watch documentaries about artists with my husband, Gray. Gray and I met in graduate school. I think it’s important to bring more art into our lives especially when being in Charlotte and not New York for example. Then I go to bed.

Have your children influenced your art?

Certainly there can be an energy to drawings that can be kid-like, but I don’t think the colors have been influenced by the kids, because I have always been interested in these colors. The playfulness can be affected. When I was pregnant with Grace, I started making drawings that were calmer, with watercolor. There was a floating, lightness.

I am always making drawings when I am pregnant which leads to a later body of work. I am often sitting too, which might be what affects them, making them more tedious. Being pregnant slows me down, which is a good thing because it gives you chance to think about your work. For me, drawing is really a form of thinking. I think drawing is just as important as paintings. I do not think there is any hierarchy.

Talk about the flow of a typical day?

There are some days when I don’t want to be in my studio, but I make myself and on those days I clean up. On transition days, it can be very difficult, and it’s difficult to not jump right back into it. For me, you always feel great when you’re making good work, but during the middle stage I have to work to learn about the work. They’re the rough drafts, and I don't show those to anybody... those are the difficult days.

Do you view your studio as a second home? 

Yep, it’s my second home and my office. I am not here as late as before I had children. This is where I would always be, unless out with friends. I really want to have a space at my house, so I can have my drawings there so at night I can have a space to draw. It can be hard to shut your brain off, so I could get more work done.

So you have always had this dedication?

Yes, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. Gray might have disagreed with me. He was a sculptor, more of conceptualist where thinking and living influenced his work. All of a sudden he would make something and boom, it would be there from his experience. I am the kind of artist who makes, so going to hear a band isn't going to help my drawing.

I really love what I do and I know how lucky I am that I get to come and make-work. Occasionally my girls come to the studio and that’s fun, but that is not a daily occurrence. They love to put gloves on and do some drawings, to experience art as young kids. I am always amazed by what they can make and there is no effort there.

This article was made possible by a grant through the Arts & Science Council.

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