Sculpting Young Minds - An Interview with Amy Hartelust
Can you tell us a little bit about the moment you realized you were an artist?
I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t identify as an artist. As a kid, I truly saw making art as an essential part of my life and that is something I still uphold.
How did you learn your necessary skills?
I began formal art lessons when I was in high school and received my BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Memphis. I learned a lot of my art education skills through practice and experience. I landed a job teaching art right out of college and really fell in love with being in the classroom and mentoring young artists. I then got my Masters from U of M in Art Ed Curriculum and Instruction.
Are there specific opportunities or challenges that focused your career?
I lost my first teaching job due to the school being closed and that started my journey into selling my own work. I had been so focused on my teaching that I really neglected my own studio practice. I was able to take that loss as an opportunity to connect with myself as an artist again. I still teach but I now realize how important it is to cultivate my own creativity in order to be the best version of myself that I can be.
Who do you consider as your most influential mentor?
Beth Edwards probably has had the most influence on me. I concentrated in Painting for my undergrad and she took me under her wing. She really knew how to push me to be my most productive while also giving me a lot of encouragement along the way.
Artists are extremely resourceful and often create multiple streams of income. How do you generate income to support yourself and artistic practice?
How do you measure success in your work?
I think I measure success most through learning and growth. If I learn something from a painting or a piece, whether that be about myself or my technique, then I feel like I have truly accomplished something.
What artist inspires you the most?
That is such a hard question because there are so many! Lately I have been really inspired by Milton Avery. His color choices and shapes are so unexpected and bold. Those are things I definitely find creeping into my own work.
Do you have a creative hour, or a time/ place/ or activity that inspires your creativity?
My 8 year old daughter, Lily, and I have a studio night on Wednesdays. We make sure we drop everything and just have time to make something. Otherwise, I am just creating whenever I get a chance!
Do you have a ritual or do you set specific assignments for yourself?
I try to set goals for myself. That might look like completing a series to be released at a certain time or completing a set amount of paintings in a month.
Do you keep a journal of ideas?
I keep a sketchbook and a LOT of Pinterest boards. I love being able to reference multiple images and sources in one work of art.
What is your guilty pleasure?
That would definitely be drawing Anime characters with my daughter. I think the style is so cute.
As a kid what did you see yourself doing as a career?
I really wanted to be a marine biologist. I was a late 80’s kid so The Little Mermaid was my life. I also really wanted to do anything with art.
Amy Hartelust is an artist and art educator. Her students are the artists and she is here to help facilitate and encourage the art that they want to make. She understands the importance of creative thinking in all aspects of life, and strives to make her room one that values the creative process over the final product.