"Follow Your Nola" Artist Statement

“Follow Your Nola”  In the private collection of Brian & Janet Franklin.

“Follow Your Nola”

In the private collection of Brian & Janet Franklin.

Follow Your Nola is a mixed media, original painting created for my Love Life solo art exhibition during my participation in John Ross Palmer's Escapism Mentorship Program. Love Life was my expression of the essence and energy of the City and Culture of New Orleans in the form of abstract art. During the Escapist Mentorship Program, I learned how to build my own frames and stretch my own canvases. I am very proud to say that I personally built and stretched Follow Your Nola myself. 

Love Life solo show was created from two rolls of un-stretched canvases. One roll, I measured in sections, cut beforehand, tacked and painted on my Chrysalis Studio wall. The second roll of canvas, I packed and brought to New Orleans, kept intact as a whole roll, and painted on it in the home I grew up as a child. I also, packed this second roll of canvas up, and brought it back to Houston, where I painted on the roll, tacked on Mark and my apartment wall. With the second roll of canvas, I wanted to experiment to see how the painting would turn out if I just painted several paintings directly on the canvas, without separating them--thereby, inviting the art to merge with the others. As suspected, this process yielded a different style and result I was blessed to explore. 

Follow Your Nola was my experimentation with oil paint. Oil paint is known to be more difficult to paint with, because it takes a long time to dry.  In its natural state, oil is released from the tube, gravely thick yet full of color. What's intriguing about painting with oil, is that it is easy to mix colors, two or three days later. By painting with oil, it allowed me to explore deeper into the painting, and follow my natural inclinations. 

 When I paint, I have no idea what will happen. Quite frankly, I don't want to know what will happen, because my art is the one "safe" place where I don't have to be in control. My husband Mark would agree that I am a very type A personality. I can be unintentionally, very controlling of my input and outcomes in my life and my immediate environment. But in everyday life, I believe we naturally have to always be on top of things, considerate of others, a good citizen, and abide by the law, decency  and healthy boundaries. These are good things, which should be cherished and respected. However, when I create art, I have given myself the freedom, to "let go."  I give myself permission to not be in control of each singular action and the ultimate result. I liberate myself from my own judgmental, over analytical mind and allow myself to create from my heart. Follow Your Nola was a prime painting where I totally let myself go. 

            Follow Your Nola is one of my absolute most favorite paintings in Love Life. I must admit, I was not sure if anyone would truly appreciate it like I would, because I felt that Follow Your Nola  is visceral, raw, and pure abstract art. I called it "Follow Your Nola," because I was listening to my favorite New Orleans local station, 90.7 WWOZ with my IPhone app. WWOZ plays all local New Orleans / Louisiana music. The station is hosted by volunteer New Orleans lovers of music and each DJ has creative reign to play the music they enjoy. On this particular day, WWOZ was playing Zydeco music. As the music played, I created freely and naturally, following my intuition and curiosity.

            When painting Follow Your Nola, I was reminded of one of my most memorable moments in my life, (before I got married). In 2009, after my first year in law school, (which ironically began my career as a painter) I participated in a study abroad program in Madrid, Spain. This trip was the first time, I've ever left the United States. It was the first time, I've ever travelled alone. I did not know anyone who was going to be in the study abroad program. Everything was new to me. This was the first time in my life, where I was living (for five weeks) in a new place where no one knew who I was. And because of this, I had the opportunity to learn more about myself. It was the first time I ever felt alive, fully present and aware, taking in, and cherishing every moment. I found everything inspiring. I enjoyed every moment there, even class. I felt that very same feeling again when painting Follow Your Nola

            Follow Your Nola is about following one's natural desires and ideas, without judgment and without criticism. Follow Your Nola is about following the white rabbit into a new world, where you explore more of who you are. New Orleans always inspired me to be an artist. I would see the gothic, real creatively free, tattooed vagabond artists and musicians in New Orleans French Quarter, secretly wanting to be just like them. There is so much art, cuisine, music and culture where one can explore the city while simultaneously explore more of who they are. It is my hope that Follow Your Nola inspires the viewer to live their lives to the fullest, completely embracing who they are and what makes them happy. It is my intention for Follow Your Nola to impart the sense of freedom to follow one's own bliss.  

A.V.M. Hawkins