Thursday, February 6, 2014

Behind the Art// Interview with Molly Swanson

Morning friends!

We are so excited to welcome a fabulous friend of mine (Alison!) and incredibly inspiring artist, Molly Swanson of Specs and Wings. Not only is she the sweetest gal around, she has such a heart for living a creative life. I never leave a coffee date with her without feeling inspired. I feel like she's actually one of the prime examples in my life of how God uses the abilities He has given you for His glory! I could give you a thousand examples, but when I was moving to Africa, God put it on her heart to paint (about a billion) paintings and give them to me. She listened to my stories over coffee of my very first trip to Africa, and started painting my stories to life. (They were INCREDIBLE.) Then she gave them to me and told me to fundraise with them. She is truly a gem. 

We are really excited to share her story with you guys. Hope you adore her as much as we do!

1. What is the story behind what you do? 
As an art student in college, I felt so much pressure to create paintings that would please my professors and peers that I was frozen in fear. I didn't feel like I could paint freely from my heart or be free to be myself. Then one special painting professor changed everything when she encouraged me to paint based on the sketches in my art journal...starting with a simple self portrait complete with bold "specs" and a funky pair of "wings". I realized that God had created me to be who I am for a purpose! I began to live an create for Him instead of worrying about what other people think. My heart and my art grew wings and that's how Specs & Wings began. 

2. How has your practice changed over time? 
5 years ago, when I opened an Etsy shop, and sold small accessories and hand sewn goods. I loved the process of creating and connecting with people. Eventually I realized my true passion has always been painting, so I decided to focus on creating unique paintings of people's stories! I love to connect with my clients (who are my friends!) and learn about what encourages them, what they want to celebrate and what makes them feel alive! Then I take the stories and turn them into paintings.

Molly created this one about one of my stories about "Rosie" one of my favorite girls I met at the orphanage.

3. What are some ways you would you inspire someone to live an artistic life?
I love that God has created us in His image to be creative in different ways! Everyone is an artist! Creating is an expression of God's glory. You live creatively when you dance around your kitchen, write on your blog, bake a cake, sing in the car, tell someone you love them, make coffee, braid your sister's hair, send an encouraging note, hashtag on instagram, etc! You are an artist created by the Great Artist to show His beauty to the world.

4. What’s on your favorite playlist when you’re creating? 
So hard to choose! I LOVE music but my top 5 right now are:
The Fray, All Sons & Daughters, Of Monsters and Men, BOY & Feist!

5. What is your dream project? 
I feel like I'm living my dreams each time I get to create a painting on canvas or on a pair of Toms that tells someone's story. What a privilege to create something that could be passed down to their kids as a reminder of what God has done, or words of scripture that will breathe truth into someone's home, or something colorful and full of life to express the way someone feels and the beauty that inspires them!

6. What’s the best piece of advice you've been given?
My mom always told me "you make your own happiness" and that has always stuck with me. In any situation, choosing to be happy and thankful makes everything more beautiful!