|by Natalie Jean Bauer
This “Artist Spotlight” post idea came to me one night when I was thinking of how so many of my friends are talented artists and besides that, they are all also pretty hilarious. This is my little way of exposing the world (or a few hundred people a month) to the amazing-ness that they bring to my world and how happy they make me. And hopefully share that with someone else! So, I came up with some questions (some I borrowed from other art blogs) and asked my friend Natalie if she would let me interview her and post some of her artwork on my blog. Natalie is one of the most humble artists (and also one of the funniest) that I know. I have (selfishly) asked her when she is planning on making prints of her artwork and selling them, so I can buy one…but not yet. I’m wearing you down Natalie! So, hopefully you get some enjoyment out of this post AND…
if YOU or anyone you know wants to be featured in an “Artist Spotlight” post, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me a couple pieces of your artwork (whether its music, paintings, photography, dancing, stand up comedy..it all works for me!) and answer the questions. I will feature you in the next post!
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Natalie Jean Bauer. I try to paint, draw, and write as often as my big dumb brain will allow.
Describe yourself in five words:
Usually really terrible at this.
Do you have a favorite piece of yours? If so, why is it your favorite?
No favorites, really. They are all a labor of love and yet I am my own worst critic. The entire process of creating anything has always been essential for me, but the second I finish a piece (be it a painting, story, comic, whatever) I still notice every rough edge, every single area that shows room for improvement. This is good in that it always drives me to further develop whatever skills I may possess, but awful when it comes to confidence in my own abilities. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to shut this off. I am ruthless and insatiable.
Any tips or inspiring words for other artists?
Find it in yourself. Keep fumbling and learning and don’t lose heart. Surround yourself with books and songs that make you want to scream and explode into a million stupid pieces because of how good they are. Pile more love and effort on literally everything you’re doing.
Can we find you anywhere on the world wide web?
Art-wise? Besides Facebook, not really. I don’t have a personal website, at least not yet. I’ve always been intensely private and enjoyed my anonymity. A bit selfish, probably, but so often I anticipate being critiqued in a way I won’t recover from. I don’t handle rejection well despite all the practice I’ve had.
What is your favorite:
Color? The particular shade of green usually limited to chalkboards; grey in the beard of a young man.
Animal? My dog, Roxy Carmichael, is the obvious answer here. She has the personality of Gilda Radner, the heart of Gandhi, and the eyes of everyone you’ve ever loved.
Movie? “Santa Sangre” has been in heavy rotation for me lately. Otherwise, Martin Short’s “Clifford” never fails to improve my mood.
Book? I just re-read Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves” for maybe the fifth time and it is always such a task but so beautiful and worthwhile.
What work do you most enjoy doing?
Honestly, it depends on my mood and focus. It all comes in waves; I’ll sometimes go weeks where I mainly focus on writing and finishing a story and not pick up a brush or pencil at all. But then before I even know it, the opposite becomes true: I’ll slave over new paintings or comics before I become conscious of the fact that I haven’t written anything in months. It’s bizarre. My Moleskines are erratic at best.
Name something you love, and why?
I love The Voyager Golden Record. It’s this gold-plated record that was sent into space on The Voyager so that if any aliens ever found it, they could listen to this record and know what Earth was like. The record had an introduction, greetings in fifty-five languages, and the sounds of our planet — a whale song, crickets, the sound of an earthquake, a volcano, thunder, laughter, footsteps, wind, water, a kiss, a wild dog, heartbeats I think. It had twenty-seven songs on it from all over the world, including Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Chuck Berry, and Louis Armstrong. At the end of the record there were brainwaves. The wife of one of the men in charge of the record got hooked up to a machine and her brainwaves were turned into sound. She thought all about the earth and the life on it, poverty, suffering, and some history she could remember. At the end, she decided to make a personal statement. The very last thing she wanted her brainwaves to send out there, the very last thing on this golden record that we sent into space for aliens to find and learn and judge about us, was what it felt like to fall in love.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
More often than not, I feel I have no truly creative ideas. And everything I write, think, paint, or say has already been written, thought, painted, or said by many others. And though I value the wonderful varied perspectives of people everywhere, it makes me feel like poo. During a public internet meltdown of sorts, I had two people whose brains and artistic endeavors I admire impart two pieces of wisdom to me in such a way that it helped to hear at that precise moment. The first was: the truth is that all creativity amounts to in the first place is putting the basic stuff of existence into different patterns. These patterns have personal meaning to us. We ourselves constitute a changing pattern in relation to the rest of the universe. Creativity is either infinite or ‘virtually infinite.’
The second was: you just worry about making art because you’ll die if you don’t.
I try to remember both of these things in my worst moments of self-sabotage and doubt.
Name something you don’t love, and why?
I hate labels so much. Here I am not referring to ethnic, racial, or other discriminatory and/or offensive tags (although OF COURSE I hate those, too). Specifically I mean things such as price tags and the stickers on plastic bins that helpfully note “Sterilite Storage Bin. For storage. Store your shit up in this piece, mofo!” I compulsively pick labels off of everything that is around for even a short time in my life. This urge is slightly in opposition to my love of text — I like monograms, painting words on walls, having lots of chalkboards and papers and quotes and journals sitting around, just to put thoughts down on. I guess it’s just that I want to control how many and what kinds of words and text are thrown at me in my home. Everything outside is so coated in manipulative slogans and advertising (I mean seriously, you can’t even pee at a bar without forty flyers adding to the visual chaos) that I need to be able to look around my apartment without It’sallinside-Nobodydoesn’tlove-Refrescante-Eatfresh-Ownstheroad-Stayclosealittlelonger-Doubleyourpleasure-Choiceofthenew-Camitasmejors-Gentleman’sclub-Whatissexy-It’syourlife-Thenewalbum-Unböring-Unbroken-Undecided-Uncoordinated-Unlisted-Underground-Unrefined blazing across my retinas like Satan’s own stock ticker.
What couldn’t you do without?
It’s so clichéd of an answer, but there’s no way in hell I would have lasted this long without the people I am so blessed enough to call my friends. I couldn’t have asked-begged-prayed-starved for better people to keep.
You’ve been selected to go on an all-expenses paid drinking binge with one famous artist, one famous writer, and one free choice. Who would you choose?
Dead or alive? I think this answer changes daily for me. So today I would probably go with Odilon Redon because stylistically I have never wanted to emulate someone SO MUCH. His paintings are pure magic. Oscar Wilde, because deep-down I identify with the burned-out view and the scathing insight. And the free choice… I guess it’d be that neighbor dog with short legs who runs the way shrimp swim. I like when there’s a dog at a party so my social anxiety doesn’t run down my phone’s battery
Would you rather eat a handful of hair or lick three public telephones?
Whose hair? My own hair? I think I’d sooner set myself on fire than lick a public ANYTHING, to be honest. I probably ingest more than a handful of dog hair on a daily basis anyway, thanks to Roxy Carmichael’s proclivity for shedding. I’m going with the hair. I think I could better survive that from an emotional standpoint.