How did you first get into art? Were you creative from a young age?
Raised on an island in the Pacific Northwest, I was brought up with nature in my backyard. My upbringing definitely harbored an environment that taught me to think creatively and mess around with arts and crafts, however I didn’t become serious about art until later on. In the middle of my college career I randomly enrolled in a college painting course, and happened to really love it. However, as an avid outdoor athlete and college undergrad, my artist pursuits quickly fell to the wayside.
That is, until the summer of 2015 when I had a horrible mountain bike wreck, broke my back, my teeth and was sentenced to a rigid clamshell back brace.
Art became my solace and savior during this difficult and painful recovery. I began painting everyday. I realized that painting allowed me to experience the same freedom that I found from adventuring in the mountains. This is when I discovered my calling to be an Artist.
How did your passion for art flow into wanting to live life from the road?
Living a creative life is really important to my art and to my inspiration.
Since setting out on this quest to be an artist several years ago, I’ve realized that I am not only meant to create physical works of art, but also that my life should be a work of art in itself.
To me, adventuring in a van fulfills exactly that. Setting out on the road allows me to experiment with different ways of living. I love being in nature, and van life provides the perfect balance of spending most of my time outside, but still having a cozy space that is all set up when I need it. It has taught me how to be comfortable living in a small space. It allows me to have enough room to bring along my painting supplies on any adventure. Whether it is a weekend or month long, traveling in a van is definitely my favorite mode of transportation and my number one choice for adventure.
Where do you gain most of your inspiration for your creativity? Has living on the road helped or hindered your creativity?
My inspiration comes from being outside! I love feeling connected to nature. Whether that means just hanging in the woods, going for a surf, skiing, hiking, biking, you name it- I am inspired by it all. Traveling in my van definitely inspires and aids my creative endeavors. I love bringing along a painting while camping, etc.
However, painting in a tiny space sounds romantic but it can also be very difficult- especially because I love to paint big pieces sometimes. I am also known to bring too much art supplies along with me in the van. I once damaged a painting while traveling with it in the van- that was really sad. I’ve now adapted the type of material I bring along on van trips to work better for van transport (smaller pieces of salvaged and/or rustic wood). I’ve also learned to leave the big paintings in my studio- I try and soak up as much inspiration as possible while in the van and return to the studio to paint the big guys.
How do you survive financially on the road? What are some highlights of vanlife and some challenges you have faced?
I run an online business selling my art- both original paintings and merchandise. I can pretty much do the admin work necessary to keep it going from any location as long as I have service, and I am very grateful for this. Often, I bring along my computer on van trips because my work as an entrepreneur requires me to have access to this.
However, a few years ago I set out on the road to attempt and be a full-time artist out of Bentley (my van at the time), and I had a humbling awakening that I really needed an office space to spread out and create. After a few weeks it became clear that there just wasn’t enough room for my style of art and everything felt way too crowded. It was really difficult to keep an inventory of products in a van, plus have enough room for all my painting in that tiny space.
So, I ended up renting a house to live out of and taking van trips in my free time. Now, I find that for me personally, I need a balance of having an art studio space and a van to get the best of both worlds.
What rig do you have and did you convert it yourself into a rolling home?
I recently acquired a 1978 Dodge van (Blueberry) with a custom extended topper. My boyfriend, Kory, and I gutted it and are now working on the buildout. It is definitely a learning experience and slow going, but we are so stoked to get it livable and design it to fit our custom needs! Spoiler alert- I am working of figuring out how to do some art on the white fiberglass topper- the fun part!
The last van we owned was a 1995 Aerostar named Ronda. Kory built a pullout bed in the back and I spray painted art on her. That buildout was much more simple than the one we are currently working on because there was much less room.
What's next for your art and your adventures?
I currently have two projects going at once- building out Blueberry and setting up an epic cabin art studio in the woods. The cabin has been vacant for years so Kory and I have been putting in a lot of work to get the space up and running... it is beginning to shape up so nicely! There is no running water on the property so its a bit like camping, but there is electricity! The plan is travel in the van as much as possible once it is ready to rip, and when we need a break from being on the road, live out of it here on the cabin property. The cabin studio will be used as a base to paint, work out of, and store all our gear in. Kory is a photographer (he shoots most all of my photos) and book designer so he and I will be sharing both spaces to run our businesses out of and soak up as much inspiration as possible!