Artist Spotlight: Natalie Jean Bauer

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 forourcity@gmail.com. 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.


i swear we were infinite.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge book nerd. I think partly because I’ve always had trouble sleeping, even as a kid, and without a T.V. in my bedroom, I lost myself in books. Also, I have an extremely short attention span and I liked that I could read a few pages, put it down when I got distracted and pick it right back up. The Boxcar Children, The Babysitters’ Club, Little House on the Prairie…I read through all of them eventually.
 As I have gotten older books have continued to play an important role in my life. I’ve always had trouble “switching off” and “winding down” at the end of the day. I just can’t turn my brain off, thinking about everything I need to do, should have done, SHOULDN’T have done…ect. and reading before bed has been the most effective way for me to de-stress.
I’ll admit it, in college, I was a huge book snob. I felt that anything I read had to be a classic, a prize winner and challenging.  While I read some of my favorite books during this time including: The Brothers Karamazov by Dosteovesky, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy…

I was halfway through Swann’s Way by Proust (and had almost no clue what was happening in the book) that I started to realize that I no longer was enjoying reading!

So, it was at this point that I decided..gosh darnit! I was going to read whatever I wanted and never looked back! Anyways, that was bit of a rant but there is a reason behind it I swear…about 6 months ago I picked up a book entitled Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I was heading to NYC for a quick getaway and wanted a book that I could carry in my bag….I admit I picked it up because it was a thin book and I liked the bright cover (okay, not the best reasons for picking a book but sadly I pick books based on their covers more often than I should). Needless to say, I started reading it on the plane and couldn’t put it down. I finished it that night in the hotel. I don’t like trying to summarize or explain what it’s about because I always do a lousy job and if I tried then you might not want to read it. So, I will refrain, except to say “YOU SHOULD READ IT NOW!”


The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Turtleback Scho Edition) by Chbosky, (Google Affiliate Ad)

For Christmas, I bought 6 copies of Perks of Being a Wallflower and gave it out to close friends and families. Some of these recipients might be classified still as “book snobs” (Sorry guys if you’re reading this but it’s true). I asked one friend if he had started reading it and he said he tried but writing style was too simple and thus, he said, he didn’t think the author was a very good writer. The book is written from the perspective of a freshman in high school named Charlie and he has a unique and fresh perspective on the world around him that is profoundly simple. Please, do yourself (And me) a favor and read this book. And then you can email me and we can talk about how awesome it was.

Anyways, it didn’t take me long to find that I wasn’t the only one who was so moved by the book. I find lots of lovely body art and artwork inspired by the book and I am including them here:

                                       http://literarytattoos.livejournal.com/990589.html

http://thisisrexxie23.tumblr.com/

tattoos: i want them, i need them pt. 3

my forearm tattoo with the Native American symbol for rain clouds (which symbolizes continual growth and renewal) and “kenaz” which stands for inspiration and creativity)

I can always tell when I start to get an itch for another tattoo…last night I was up until 3am looking at pictures of tattoos on the internet.  I am in awe of some of these tattoo artists…especially the one’s who specialize in watercolor tattoos. I think it is hard enough to create a watercolor painting, but these tattoo artists who can make realistic looking watercolor tattoos have my upmost respect.  I don’t know anything about the art of tattooing, except that it looks extremely difficult and you can’t make any mistakes- so I can only imagine how difficult it must be to blend colors and to do shading on skin. I want to give credit to the artists who created these tattoos and tried to find out who did each tattoo…so I listed their names and their websites if possible. but there were a few that I couldn’t put a name to, so if you recognize it and who it belongs to please feel free to let me know!

This is a beautiful watercolor tattoo by Ondrash out of the Czech Republic. 

This is another piece by Ondrash

AND four MORE by Ondrash! 

This one is by a tattoo artist based in Las Vegas, Holly Thomas. She currently works at Voodoo Tattoo studio located behind the Palms Casino.

                              
I love this tattoo…I like the simplicity and detail of this watercolor tattoo by Amanda Wachob. I love the splash of light blue and the black splashes dotting up behind the ear.  I would seriously consider getting a tattoo very similar to this but with a second bright color and only a few bits of black.

                   

Okay, so funny story about this tattoo. I randomly came across this tattoo last night (via http://blogs.discovermagazine.com) and recognized it right away as a inking of a neuron. And, not just any type of neuron, a hippocampal neuron. Those of you who know me or have read any of my other blog posts, might be asking yourselves how I would know something like this, since I am pretty clueless when it comes to all things math and science. Well, my husband is a neuroscientist who works with these exact types of neurons. In fact, I noticed a tracing of a neuron pinned up in his lab one day and commented how that would make an awesome tattoo. So, I  scrolled down to the comment section and the first comment was from Nelson Spruston who said: “Patrick, this is super cool. I think it’s a neuron I reconstructed years ago and published in a 2005 J. Physiology paper (Golding et al.). It’s a beautiful neuron and it looks great as a tattoo.” Who is he? And why does it matter? He happens to be the professor who runs the lab where my husband works. small world! And that’s my story. Yay.

               
I could not for the life of me find out who this tattoo belongs to or where it orginated. but I love it and it makes me want to add more simple lines to my tattoo.


While engaging in my endless online search of tattoos, I came across ALOT of feather and bird tattoos. This one stood out to me because of it’s vibrant colors. I am not sure who the tattoo artist for this feather was but I found it on fyeahtattoos.com

I wish I was cool enough to rock a tattoo like this one. (sigh). This one is by the tattoo artist Guy Le

Do you notice a pattern? I really like tattoos with simple lines. I found this one on http://rodeo.net/tattoologist/.

Another cool idea that incorporates the simple lines but can convey a powerful message. This one also comes from http://rodeo.net/tattoologist/.


goodness. I will never be as cool as this chick. I don’t even have enough confidence to wear shorts in the summer let alone get a huge dream catcher tattoo down the side of my thigh.

diy recycled gift wrapping paper

I meant to get this post in before the Holiday Season ended but didn’t have enough time, or it might be because I was to busy eating chocolate, reading, and taking naps :/ 
Using stamps that I have carved from rubber, (except for the gnome stamp which I bought at Paper Source), paper grocery bags, ribbon and colorful paper, I was able to wrap some gifts. I love doing this, whenever I have the time, because the gift wrapping becomes like an extra gift. It’s a nice way for me to show people I care about them, even though I may not be able to afford an extravagant present (at least that is what I tell myself). 

 I recommend using a pigment based (or thicker) ink for the stamp so it really stands out against the brown of the bag. Color Box stamp ink is my absolute favorite.

Art lately.

 I saw something very similar to this on etsy and it inspired me. A friend has “commissioned” me to paint a large canvas for his new apartment and this was one of the sketches I was considering doing..later I added some sharp black lines. I really love making art with gemoetrical shapes.

 I found this in one of my old journals when I was looking for a password or something. I thought it would be a cool idea to do a gallery showing of artists’ journal pages. I would love to see something like that!

 This is my new chalkboard wall in my apartment (I hope my landlord hasn’t seen this!!) I had a quote by Emily Dickinson on the wall with some really bright framing shapes and colors and it was too much. Plus, I change my mind so often that this works perfectly for me! I can change it whenever I want. I try not to think of the hassle it will cause me when it’s time to move out! 

 glug glug.

 Okay, *le sigh* This is my latest project and has taken a considerable amount of time! A few weekends ago, my husband and I went to the Chicago Renegade Craft Fair, and I was feeling very inspired. One artist I particularly liked was Dolan Geiman. He did some beautiful and intricate artworks using magazine pages. I like the different textures and colors and a project like this is perfect for my OCD tendencies. I get to collect little scraps of paper and sort through old magazines cutting and gluing things for hours!

Okay, so..hahaha…As someone kindly pointed out to me: “isn’t it ‘Not all who WANDER are lost”? yup! It is! ah, well. I took things to a whole other level without even realizing it. Maybe my true calling is philosophy? No? okay…

my art lately.

I have been struggling with an inner conflict in the past several months that has zapped me of any creative energy. I am easily inspired by so many artists and their styles but I always feel like I am copying or stealing from others when I make anything. I always feel that everything has already been done before and nothing I do will be original or thought provoking. I hesitate even labeling myself an “Artist” because most of what I create originates from an idea or a piece of work that I have been inspired by. Lately though, I have decided to just create whatever makes me happy because that is the reason why I love art.

 Nothing calms my soul and brings me a feeling of contentedness than when I am creating something. Often though, my OCD tendencies take over and I am usually unhappy with the end result..I find it too busy or scattered. I have begun to accept that while I may not love everything I make, it is a reflection of who I am and what I am feeling, and that is all the encouragement I need to get on with it.