Meet Laly Mille (a.k.a. Laly Blue). Or, as she is known to me, “the artist who makes me want to make beaucoup dinero” so that I can purchase a ginormous Original on canvas and then stare at it all day. I haven’t hid my admiration of Laly’s work from her, but I did realize that I would like to share her with you all. Her answers to my questions below made me swoon. When you do what your heart calls for, magic happens, and she is proof.
You grew up in a family where art was practiced, and yet you have mentioned that it still took you awhile to hear and answer your call to paint. Why do you think that is? What pushed you over and finally made you answer that call?
I grew up in a family where art was accepted and encouraged as a hobby, not a profession. I was a good student and by the end of high-school, when the time came to discuss my future, the real question was whether I would go for mathematics and science or stand firm in my “rebellious” wish to study literature and foreign languages.. Although I had also been taking art classes at the Beaux-Arts once a week for several years, and was feverishly devoting a lot of my spare time to charcoal drawing, it never even entered my mind that I could pursue art any further than for my own private enjoyment. My mom was always a very creative woman, trying her hand at different media (watercolor, sculpture, oils, icons etc.) but she was, and still is a doctor (although she just graduated as an Art Therapist!) She didn’t call herself an artist until very recently (about 5 years ago) and I think that seeing her take her art seriously, as her true calling, has helped me to recognize this need in myself too. I have a tendency to perfectionism and the whole “please / perform / perfect” package that Brené Brown talks about, this unconscious need to please others and conform to what you think is expected of you. Getting out of that sort of pattern can take a while! But I also think that everything comes in its own good time. The path I have followed has allowed me to build a foundation that is absolutely essential to my artistic journey: the most supporting husband I could dream of, two kids who are a constant source of amazement, and enough professional setbacks to push me over the edge and make me want to start something of my own! And during all this time, my art was there inside of me, waiting, like a buried treasure. I’m glad I found the map…
After you began answering your soul call to paint, did anything in your life in other areas shift or change?
I felt whole and more confident, my purpose was becoming clear. I think this creative journey is the visible side of a spiritual one, so it permeates everything in my life.
If you couldn’t paint, or if you go too long without being creative, what does your body feel like? How do you feel?
I get very frustrated! In general I am very patient with people, colleagues, kids etc. But not being able to make art really gets on my nerves and my body compensates by putting on weight…
What is your process? How long does a typical painting take you (I know you like to paint big!) Are your paintings sketched beforehand, or intuitive, or a mixture?
I only started thinking about that when people started to ask me, but it’s really not something I worry about. It is all still very new to me, I have been painting for less 3 years! Most of the time I am experimenting and I cannot think of a “typical” painting. Some take way more time than others, many go through a rejection “ungrateful complexed teenager” phase. Some are figurative and for those I sometimes make a little sketch (last month I did a step-by-step of one of those on my blog at http://www.lalyblue.com/2012/11/compassion.html) others are more abstract. But generally the way I work with colors and textures is very intuitive. My love for words and literature is also very present in most of my art. I incorporate words intuitively during the process and add collage elements that act as clues to tell a “hidden” story, like a sort of visual lexical field. It’s not something I plan, but I go through my collage papers, books etc. and “something” starts to emerge, a story, a memory, an emotion. It happens very organically, in my paintings and assemblages too.
How important is dreaming to your work, and to your life? Do you limit your dreaming? Do you consider anything possible?
The best thing about dreams is to get past the “limits”! “Dream” is a word that can mean many different things to different people. To me, I guess you could say it means retaining a sense of childhood wonder and magic at the tiniest and biggest miracles that I encounter every day. I do not consider that “anything” is possible, but rather that when something feels absolutely in tune with your deepest self, when you start acknowledging it and taking steps towards it, when you are alert to the signs that are sent your way, then it has every chance of turning out into something beautiful. In every piece of artwork that I make, I incorporate a lucky 4 leaf clover, and that’s what they stand for. My wish is that they act as a blessing to the work and the people seeing it, a reminder to pay attention and dare to dream…
Do you have a method to deal with the voices of doubt and worry that pop up when you’re taking steps with your art? Be honest, what fears sometimes crop up when putting your art out there?
Little by little, I am getting better at identifying the “irrational” parts of my fears, and the real ones. My fears are the worst when I am using my “geeky” brain too much, and the best remedy, whenever possible, is to start making art. Writing my doubts down and then writing a positive affirmation for every one of them works great too (I learnt that from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist Way”). Even writing my fears right now and sharing them on your blog is an excellent way of disarming them. They sound like “Come on, you’ve been painting what? 2 years and a half? That’s just beginner’s luck, it won’t last, who will take you seriously?” or “You know that feeling when you put your bare naked little heart and soul out there and nobody cares? Well, don’t come crying when that happens again…” But acknowledging that I am an artist means that I am committed to listening to the little girl within myself. And I can’t lock her up in a dungeon guarded by dragons if I want her to grow and be happy!
What have you learned about turning your art into a “business” that surprises you? And tell the readers something of what you’ve faced in trying to sell your work in France (this was news to me!)
Putting my art “out there” in a “business” way, with a blog, a facebook page, online shops (www.etsy.com/shop/lalyblue and www.zazzle.com/lalyblue) is not exactly in line with the common cliché of the suffering / starving / addicted/ no-one-understands-me-and-I-don’t-care artist. It feels surprisingly right and comes more and more naturally. In fact, I am allowed to be an artist and also be a mom, a wife, be happy, make art that comes from the heart and soul and, through this art, try to touch the heart and soul of others in a positive and magical way.
It is true that I find the french art world intimidating. I do soulful mixed media, not conceptual-cold-contemporary art. I have discovered mixed media through american artists but it is a lot less developed over here. We don’t have the same bridge between art / folk art / crafts. I’ll give you an example: a few weeks ago, I was so glad to find out that there finally was a huge “art and crafts” fair in town. I went and met this woman who made gorgeous colorful paintings of lovely little ladies. At the back of her booth she had a tiny box of beautiful handmade jewelry. I was surprised that it was not better displayed because they surely would have sold really well! But she explained “I’m registered as a painter here, so I’m not allowed to sell them, the organizers have asked me to put them away. I could have registered as a jewelry maker and sold them in the next alley, but then my paintings would not be allowed”… See what I mean? If I want to make jewelry, or even art prints of my own paintings, and sell them myself, in theory this is illegal. But I am learning not to let this sort of things discourage me and to find a way to work with it. And I am loving that this journey is leading me to people from all around the world. I am truly honored that my work touches their hearts <3