#sparkchamber 070119 — Amelia McMurrin
Serendipity is often in play in the #sparkchamber, and is the driving force today as a mis-addressed email led us to painter Amelia McMurrin — an artist who “will drive out into the cornfields to chase the sunset on any given day,” who is most alive and most herself in the presence of “orangey light shining off an old road in late afternoon, fingers of sunshine creeping across the grass in the morning, neon reflections shimmering out of rain puddles” — the perfect match for where we are in the season, the sun higher in the sky shifting the angle of light on everything we see.
Originally from Iowa, Amelia earned a BFA from Iowa State University. Shortly after graduation, she worked with a nonprofit student organization in Amsterdam. There she was struck by “the glittering, rain-soaked streets, gleaming tram tracks, and rich artistic history of the city.” Inspired by beauty in the ordinary scenes of the world around her, she loves to help people see that beauty through her work. She returned to Iowa after her two-year term to pursue that passion, looking to stir people’s hearts and minds with her artwork.
After getting married, she returned to the Netherlands. She and her husband now live in Amsterdam and she paints full time. Amelia often incorporates a strong sense of light into her paintings, and her dream for her artwork is “that it would help people to see unexpected beauty around them, to believe that there is hope, to breathe a sigh of rest and relief. Through my work, I look to bring attention to the intermingling of hope and longing we experience when we see truly beautiful things, and to help people feel this sacred longing — selige sensucht — in the mundane as well as the fantastic moments of daily life.”
1.] Where do ideas come from?
It’s a process with a lot of elements — looking at work from people I admire, simply making paintings even if I don’t feel incredibly inspired, being present and aware of the world and people around me. I find that giving myself time to truly reflect as well as simply letting my wand wander allows ideas to start to rise to the surface.
2.] What is the itch you are scratching?
I find so much joy in creating. Struggle too — but mostly joy, and a sense of really being myself. I think I have an inherent drive to be creative, but I’m also driven to bring something meaningful into the world through art. Creating art is a really powerful way to communicate a message, invite contemplation, or simply bring something beautiful and good into people’s lives.
3.] Early bird or night owl? Tortoise or hare?
I’m still trying to find a workflow that works best for me, especially with the less-fun aspects of being an artist [administrative things!]. I find that when I have more of a structured framework for my time, I’m able to allow more spontaneity within that time. Giving myself space to get outside or take a break and do something enjoyable also gives me more energy to get back to work, because creating can be a very intensive process. I find that later in the work week, I need these rest times more often.
4.] How do you know when you are done?
This is hard — I am often tempted to over-work my paintings! If I can look at my painting and it engages me and makes me feel something, and if there aren’t any bits that are sticking out that need to be fixed, I try to stop there, and then maybe come back and look at it again after a while to see if I'm still happy with it.