Nikki Loy on Coffee, Color, & Creatives

Nikki with brown wavy hair and blue shirt in front of orange background
Nikki Loy

My name is Nikki Loy. I was born and raised in southeastern North Carolina. My education has moved me to several places around the state, but the coast has always been my favorite place to be. The ocean makes its way into a lot of my artwork, but I love to travel and share my experiences through my art. Elements of light, architecture, movement, and reflection have become important to my art. I loved watching how quickly a storm would roll in and bring a sense of cleansing with it. My work is inspired by traveling to places that have struggled with natural disasters and exploring how they have built themselves and what continues to attract people. I aim to create art in which a viewer sees a landscape or events are more than just a beautiful place. I want my art to inspire people to stop and consider the beauty around them.

“Hwy 12”

Favorite Local Third Place: Dirtbag Ales is my favorite place to hang out and eat delicious food. I love that they support so many artists and host events to keep people connected. I was so happy to see them host Art After Dark because of all of the cancelled events, shows, and exhibitions this year. 

3 Things you can’t live without: My watercolor pencils and camera go with me any time I travel. I spend a lot of time at the beach and like to sketch while I’m there. I also probably wouldn’t be a happy camper if I had to go without iced coffee. I know, it’s terrible.

Local artist (any genre) you admire. I really enjoy Emily Musolino’s music! She’s amazing.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: It all began with a French press that was gifted to me earlier this year. I didn’t have time to use it before quarantine. I started making coffee every morning and working on quick art projects. Quarantine gave me a renewed connection to the artwork that I am making. It slowed me down enough to really think about the kind of art that I want to make. I feel like my creativity comes in waves and I needed that space to really dive into my work. 

“Self Portrait”

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I’ve been experimenting with color in my work. I’ve always wanted to be a hyper-realist with my painting, but it’s just not my style. I like the constraints of realism with the freedom to express myself using unrealistic colors. 

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? The first group of people that comes to mind are strangers on the internet. When people are passionate about art, they’ll want to see you succeed. Outside of that, my family has always been supportive of my artwork.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Keep doing hard things, the things that make you stop for a second and question if you should, because you absolutely should do it. And keep meeting people who make art. I think it’s easy for artists to isolate, but there’s nothing like having a support system of creatives in your life. Other artists usually want to see you succeed and success is better when it’s shared.

Motivation and Mess-Making with Maggie McLaughlin

I’m Maggie from the Midwest. I’ve been making art since I was seven years old. I am skilled in many areas, but I specialize in colorful acrylic portraits and animals. I have a bachelor’s in Studio Art with an emphasis in Painting and I am pursuing a masters in Museum Studies. I teach art locally at Wine & Design and I am interning at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum. You can currently find my art on display at Wine & Design downtown and in the Public Works Show at the Arts Council of Fayetteville.

Green flower on orange background with text "we all miss each other"
“we all miss each other” painting

Favorite Local Third Place (not home, not work, a place you like to hang out, talk about the world): Blue Moon Café for cocktails with my best girlfriend!

3 Things you can’t live without: Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I was recently in a show with Samod Wilson and I really loved the portrait work he did. His work is so skilled and colorful!

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I finally gave in to listening to podcasts and I like it so much, I hardly watch TV anymore.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Before quarantine, I was very interested in acrylic pour painting. Now I am revisiting more techniques like printmaking, stencil work, and non-canvas painting surfaces like wood.

Maggie working

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? My husband has been an amazing support system! He keeps me motivated even when I don’t want to be. He is incredibly driven, which I admire.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Ask questions, stay motivated, sign up for shows! Learn from your peers. Failure is a lesson, not a reason to quit. Being an artist can be hard, but stay with it and it will love you back. If you feel out of your element, get involved anyway and you will gain vital experience.

Catching All the Artistic Opportunities: Jessilee Hari

Jessilee Hari in her art studio, various paintings and collage on the wall behind her

Besides family and a career as a logistics specialist in the Air Force, Hari works across both visual and performing arts fields. You can also catch her catching Pokemon in downtown Fayetteville on Community Pokemon Go! Days.

I was born with a natural drive to create art. I began with doodles, which turned into painting murals on my bedroom walls. That drove me to create completed works of art. I am skilled in modeling clay, pottery, drawing, painting, vocal arts, and performance arts. I attended Mississippi School of the Arts, a high school for artistically gifted kids, where I found out I could compete vocally. I sang at Carnegie Hall in NY and performed John Rutter’s “Requiem” with our choir. I also fell in love with dance: I created my own choreography for a show. In the visual arts, I was awarded the highest accolades for my portfolio in MS. I put on my own show and fell in love with displaying my works. Years later I put on a second show held in Memphis, TN and am now currently in the works for my third show to be held here in Fayetteville.

Put your voice in your art and you will find gratification in your work.

Jessilee Hari

Favorite Local Third Place: I have to admit, I am stuck on Latitude 35’s shrimp tacos with sweet potato fries. I crave them. So, I like to take my out of town family and friends there to enjoy the patio seating. I have been to a few events there, one of which was with the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. I have had art discussion meet ups on the patio as well. I love it. It is a wonderful place to sit down for a discussion and a meal with a breeze on your face and a cold one to sip on. The staff is friendly, and the establishment has a family feel to it, as if they genuinely appreciate you coming to dine.

3 Things you can’t live without: Standup comedy. I LOVE to laugh, and many nights I fall asleep watching Dry Bar Comedy videos online. I feel like laughter is a medicine of its own. Just a few laughs every day keeps me feeling positive. It is so easy to get caught up in all the negative parts of life right now. 

Cereal. It is its own food group in my home.

Outdoor experiences. Camping, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, tree climbing, inline skating, biking, sky watching, rainstorms, stone skipping on lakes, fishing, etc. All of it. Many of my most nostalgic memories are from the outdoor moments in my life. Being outside inspires me to really take in life in the moment. It inspires me to create.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I have fortunately had the opportunity to meet several local artists. One of my favorite local artists was a woman I met through the Cool Spring Downtown Street Busker program. I wish so badly I could remember her name. Fortunately, I can’t forget her performance. Her confidence in her art form was striking and mesmerizing. Belly dancing is so physically demanding. She had the moves and security in her own talent to perform in front of hundreds of people both on the street and at local events. She was a beautiful soul. 

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I have begun illustrated journaling. Covid-19 has completely changed the way I live my life. With all the added stressors, I needed a cathartic outlet I could pick up and put down with no associated time limit. I found illustrated journaling to be an important part of stress relief in that the images do not need to be planned out or utilize any formal techniques like I would with a painting. The images also flow freely from my mind like words would for a writer. I began my artistic journey with graphite #2 pencils and pens in the classroom. Going back to that baseline feels like a blast from the past.  I forgot how much I love to draw. I usually utilize painting as an outlet, so I like to incorporate mixed media in the journal illustrations: graphite, tea, pen, or watercolors. 

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I love to experiment with new media. Right now, I am experimenting with adhesives and glass. I am only using the glass as the material to create the images on. I am using adhesives to create textures and translucent imagery. I am enjoying this form of experimentation quite a bit. It feels like a problem to solve since I am learning the capabilities of each adhesive. I love mixed media. 

To give an example, I used a glass pane as my canvas. I used color pigment in an adhesive to create solid color marks on the glass. Then I filled in areas with a clear adhesive and strategically implanted pigments into it to leave the translucent effect. My favorite objective for mixed media is creating art that makes onlookers want to touch it. 

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? Out of all my mentors over the years, there has always been one constant supporter of my art: my Father. I have had art instructors when I was a teen, admirers in my friends, but no one who has ever believed in me more than my Dad. If he could, he would buy every piece of art I ever create or commission me to create works for his home. I have a completely biased supporter, but he has encouraged me to pursue my artistic interests over anything else due to the intrinsic rewards I get from them.  He would say “you can work any job to get money; why not be in a career that doesn’t feel like work?” He always seemed to have all the right words to say. My Father put many miles on his vehicle transporting me back and forth from his home to Mississippi School of the Arts. He encouraged me to attend their program there, for which I lived on campus for 2 years. I have not had formal training beyond those 2 years, but they impacted my entire view of what art means. If it were not for my Father, I would have never had that opportunity in my life. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Don’t feel like art is a competition of skill, but rather a journey to self-discovery. No, seriously.  So many people criticize the definition of art, trying to fit it into one description or another. “That’s not Art; that’s a craft” or “That’s not Art; I could do that if I felt like it”. Lose the labels and ditch the unnecessary censorship. Your art is just that. I used to strive for perfection in my drawings. For a little while, I thought my art was poor quality because I was not creating hyper-realistic images. Then I remembered the reason I first picked up the brush in the first place. The process of creating was more important than the result. What ended up on the paper or canvas was my voice. Put your voice in your art and you will find gratification in your work.

Portraitist Melissa Greco on Music and Meditation

Melissa Greco is “a mom of 3 and wife of a soldier stationed here at Fort Bragg. I’m from California, but this is our second time here in North Carolina so it feels like home. I don’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t enthralled by art and have been drawing my surroundings for as long as I can remember. I remember asking my parents for a kiln for Christmas when I was 10. Over the years I have experimented with every medium I could get my hands on. These days I typically favor watercolor or chalk pastels. Portraits are my favorite, because I love the challenge of bringing a person to life. My decision to sell my art was fairly recent after family and friends begging me to do so for years.” Venmo @Melissa-Greco-11

Favorite Local Third Place: I’m a homebody so I don’t get out very often, especially since the spread of covid-19, but I do love visiting Rude Awakening for some coffee whenever I am downtown.

3 Things you can’t live without: I cannot live without coffee, my pastel pencils, and music. I often put my headphones on and get lost in a painting for hours. My playlist ranges from punk rock to classical music, depending on what I am working on.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Linda Draper of Apex is an amazing oil painter who specializes in pet portraits. As a dog lover myself, I enjoy seeing her capture the character of each pet.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I have started taking some time to myself every day to meditate since quarantine and I look forward to it so much that I plan to continue for as long as I see a benefit.

“Veronica” by Melissa Greco

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently working on a multimedia commission that consists of a monochrome abstract portrait incorporated into a movie poster. I am having a ton of fun with it.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? My sister and my husband have always been supportive and encouraging when it comes to my art.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? My advice is to get out there and make art. Don’t wait until you’re “good enough to be a professional.” There is no such thing. Don’t compare your art to the art of others. We are all constantly learning on our own journey.

Fantastical Figures by Lauren Falls

Lauren Falls is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer specializing in realized portraits with fantastical motifs and elements. Lauren seeks to create abstract emotion as visualized experiences for viewers, using broad color schemes. If you would like to take a look at her work, visit her website laurenroseillustrations.com. You can buy prints of her work at etsy.com/shop/theartshingle. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @laurenroseillustrations.

Favorite Local Third Place: Lake Rim Park

3 Things you can’t live without: my sketchbook, a pencil, and my phone. I love to take photos for reference for  future illustrations while I am out and about.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I am still really new to the area but I enjoy listening to Lisette.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Figure drawing. I have always enjoyed figure drawing and realized I have not been practicing as much as I used to.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Exploring more with my ink work. I have always enjoyed using ink alongside painting with watercolor in my illustrations.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My friends have always encouraged me to push myself outside of my own box.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Always keep practicing, set reasonable goals, and surround yourself with people who will encourage you to reach those goals.

You Have to Get Creative to Be Creative as an Artist-Parent

This one took to visual art early. And she sometimes still draws on herself, now a teen.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to be a practicing artist and mother of young kids in the most expansive of times. But throw a global pandemic on us that keeps our little ones at home or away from regular childcare and tosses our creative processes and rituals out the window… well, life could get messy fast. Or leave artists without practicing their skills for months on end, feeling adrift without production.

I speak first hand! Having a baby at home and wanting to reboot this website with regular weekly content has been harder than I anticipated! I figured I wasn’t the only one who was both struggling with their creative work AND could use a little inspiration. Here are five different get-art-done tactics and some wisdom from other local Fayetteville artist-mamas.

1. Constantly Be Planning
Jason Feifer, dad and editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, recently posted a great series about how he likes to spend a lot of time pulling topics together, considering questions and options, letting ideas simmer as he takes care of his kids or home tasks, and then planning his work before sitting down to write. After all this mental cogitation, the actual writing is fast and focused. I love this process for creating original work. I often find myself ruminating while rocking the baby to sleep or picking up ideas while we’re out riding around.

Muralist and mama of four (9, 7, 3, and a new baby!), Lacey Crime has become masterful at planning: “Since the pandemic I have become more motivated and driven. I have actually landed more commissions during this time than any other. I am realizing the importance of being consistent with my work and trying to set goals that take me out of my comfort zone. Mainly by getting word out there that people could use a custom mural they just don’t realize it yet.”

2. Play Over Perfect
Incorporate playtime with the kids into your creative process. Kids want to do what you’re doing! Why fight it. Instead, use their natural curiosity to increase your own playtime and output.

Mixed media Artist & Mama of three (13, 9, 8), Jen Hancock found inspiration this way. “My creation process became a little tricky to manage during the onset of the pandemic. Routine and my normal means of gathering inspiration were thrown out the window, and my focus shifted to managing online crisis-schooling and keeping everyone from losing their mind. Honestly, it was so overwhelming at first I fell into a complete creative funk. There was so much going on, I had a tough time focusing, and my creation space had turned into a classroom. So I did what I love to do and got creative! I stopped thinking about developing my business and dug back in to why I love to create. My youngest is my art buddy, so I snatched her up and we started working on small projects together, and drew inspiration from everything going on in the world. We created art together as a family to stand up against racism, and to ease our minds and escape from the reality of being stuck at home. Slowly, but surely we’re finding our way back into a routine, and I’ve become truly inspired by stepping back and refocusing.”

3. Change Your Goals
We all had different goals, both personal and professional, for 2020 at the start of the year. But with the novel coronavirus acting like an 8 month old tossing all her toys around the room with our lives, resetting goals is probably something we’ve all done at least once this year.

That reset could be shifting into smaller chunks. In Off The Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, Laura Vanderkam writes about doing the smallest possible step that will allow your brain to recognize forward momentum. Maybe that’s writing one hundred words or doing a single sketch or putting together a single staff of notes or dance moves.

Or you could go the other direction, and work towards one large outcome or project rather than several you may have identified back in January (aka another lifetime).

Graphic Designer and mama of two (6, 8), Betsy McElwee has learned a lot about the work goals she wants for the future. “I’m focusing on bigger picture projects that require more thought process and less fast paced turnaround on small jobs. I’m fortunate in that I haven’t seen a huge decrease in work, as I have steady client base and agency work at a local company. But these strange times have definitely provided insight to the type of work that I want to be doing, and find fulfilling and worthwhile.

4. Nurture Rituals
Find your best work time (if you can). In the book The Artistic Mother: A Practical Guide for Fitting Creativity into Your Life, Shona Cole writes: “Are you a morning or evening person? If morning, consider getting up a little earlier to complete a specific item on your art to-do list. If evening, get your evening chores out of the way and stay up an extra thirty minutes.”

Also, have a dedicated space (no matter how small). Again from The Artistic Mother: “It is important to have an art table, desk, or craft room. It does not need to be huge or fabulous at the start, but it needs to be functional.”

Visual Artist & Mama of two adorable girls (5, 7) Katlin McFadden is grateful for this time and space: “I have a studio in my apartment where I work on my art daily. Sometimes I get up at 5 am to paint until my kids get up for school and I also paint in the evening hours when they’re watching a movie or in bed. My output has improved because I spend a lot more time at home in my studio producing work. I wasn’t really sure how I would be impacted but this time of focus has been a wonderful growing period for me and artist and I’ve produced some of my best work.

5. Find Accountability
Partner up! Have weekly creative sessions with another artist parent. Use deadlines to your advantage (preferably imposed by someone else, real or fake) to get moving on making. And don’t be ashamed to ask for help! From your parenting partner or other quaren-team adult, if you need help with the kids in order to have creative time, or help from your fellow creatives in getting motivated or finishing your work.

Graphic Designer & Mama of three littles (1, 5, 7), Chanai “Genie” Winborn has a great accountability team at the creative co-working space she runs with her husband! “I connect with creative supporters both new and old everyday on social media, mainly Facebook and those that are members at Creative Space Station and people that may come by the station looking for creative help.”

If you’re an artist-parent, how has your own creative process changed in 2020? Drop a comment and let me know!