W h i t n e y S c h l a n d e r
I first came across Whitney in our Marcy Cook feature. Marcy shared a quote that Whitney shared with her and I knew I wanted to reach out to her. The quote she shared was full of so much wisdom, love, and understanding of this industry--all of which are echoed in her interview here. I love when shares that her art is a contradiction of herself. This is something I will be unpacking for days in my own head. I challenge you to read her words and not think about what you are expressing with your art. Is your art saying something you can't? Is it repeating something you've already seen or heard? Is it an extension of yourself? Whatever it is, I hope it's from you--that is more than enough and will always be beautiful.
Captured by Jackie Wonders and Whitney Schlander
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Whitney, an artist/painter who just moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Painting and using my hands has always been a part of my life. I received my bachelor’s of art and then worked as the display coordinator for Anthropologie for 5 years. I moved into full time commissioned pieces from there. The birth of my son propelled me into painting full time, and gave me the motivation to create. It became a form of healing, an outlet, something that felt so deeply necessary.
What is your creative process?
If it is a commissioned piece, I speak with the client about color palette, composition, art that inspires them and go from there. For pieces I create outside commissions, I have ongoing images that I reference for inspiration, composition, etc. It is a lot more free form and organic. This is why my art is a contradiction for me. I am a very structured, planned, organized person and when it comes to my work, I can be inspired by something and I just start with no plan really. It’s like an insatiable energy arises and I have to act on it. Music is an absolute necessity for getting in the flow.
Where do you find inspiration?
Nature, light and travel are imperative. The newness of travel, how light affects our emotions and experiences, and how vastly beautiful nature is affects my work. I love researching other artists and seeing what they see--reading and skimming books and checking out new exhibits at galleries.
What advice would you give to other artists pursuing a full time career in art?
Just start. Start somewhere. Have a support system around you that will encourage you, that you can trust, that provide accountability. Fear isn’t always negative- it shows you care, it can fuel you, it can be channeled into something fruitful.
This is a learning process, you aren’t supposed to know how to do everything. Ask questions, be patient with the process. Trust your gut, trust your instincts, trust the process.
Being in the creative industry can be hard and sometimes draining. How do you manage a career as a creative entrepreneur? How do you recharge?
It’s taken me a while to learn when and where to take a moment and rest my hands. Time spent away can be just as productive as when you are creating. As a mother, introvert and artist, I have to be pretty structured with time. Having almost 2 hours alone in the morning is vital for my day. It’s early but worth it to read, journal, plan, sit in the quiet. Being able to manage also comes in the form of a support system- my husband, family, close friends and other artists. These are people who really know you, who can remind you why you started and why you are creating.
Who are your favorite artists?
Jean-Michel Basquiat for his gesture + emotion
Joaquin Boz for his scale, depth, worn layers
Cy Twombly - don’t even need a reason!
Joan Mitchell because Joan Mitchell
Claude Monet for his color palette, richness, quietness
Willem de Kooning for his life and vibrancy
What is your favorite flower?
Way too many! Hellebore, Scabiosa, Iris, Lilac, Ranunculus, and Anemones.
Currently reading and listening to?
I read Streams in the Desert every morning.
Listening to just about anything…Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes, First Aid Kit, U2, Bon Iver, Jose Gonzalez, Hillsong/Bethel, and Coldplay.
What would you say to encourage the creative and artist communities?
Brene Brown talks about coming from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. I think a lot of that is centered on this fear that there isn’t enough to go around, we aren’t enough, we will miss our chance at something, etc. I would encourage others to work at your pace, let the process happen, and give yourself a break. We are so critical of ourselves and others. Your work is meaningful, it matters, let it matter.
Lastly, where can we see or purchase your work?