We had the good fortune of connecting with Kaylee Michelle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kaylee, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Art had always brought me joy and peace. I started painting with watercolors at the kitchen table when I was a little kid, and that passion has only grown stronger over time. I searched for different art careers, wanting to avoid the “starving artist” trope. Almost ironically, I chose to start my own business and become a public school teacher. It may not be fighting that stereotype, but I’ve found it really is a calling. I can create my own art and influence and inspire young artists- there’s nothing better.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art comes in many different mediums- acrylic, oil, watercolor paint, as well as various drawing media. Much of my portfolio contains vibrant and colorful landscapes, particularly of the Arizona desert. I think it’s a fun challenge to show the beauty of the desert without using browns or greens. People tend to think of a desert landscape as barren and boring- I love to prove that that’s not true! I’m very proud to have been accepted into a month-long artist residency in California in May 2022. It’s a big accomplishment and I’ve used the time to hone in on my skills and enjoy the peace.
It’s not easy being an artist. I get so much inspiration from others, especially through social media. But with viewing their works comes comparison. I often get very self-conscious and worried my work is not “good enough”, or envious because I lack the skill others have. Marketing is another stressor- it’s practically a full time job in itself. I see other artists online posting daily and I am in awe they are so productive.
I have to pause and remind myself it’s not a competition. I have no one to best but myself, growing from my older works.
I want people to know it’s okay to work at your own pace, and your best is enough. You will get better. Give yourself grace.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to Downtown Gilbert for tacos at Joyride or SoCal Fish Taco Co. We could enjoy the farmer’s market and art fest in downtown, too. We’d have to stop for bubble tea at the SanTan mall, and go for a paint night and a glass of wine at Pinot’s Palette Gilbert.
I’d love to take them hiking at the Lost Dutchman park at the Superstition Mountains. We could get an Airbnb in Sedona and road trip to the Grand Canyon for a day. There’s so many beautiful stops in all of these places, plenty of photo opportunities, and shops to support local artists!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Mr B. and Mr. Tantalo! Mr. B. was my elementary school art teacher. He was a sweet older gentleman with a very kind heart. He would start every class by doing step-by-step drawings on the overhead projector. He was so encouraging and wonderful, just a genuine soul. Mr. Tantalo was my junior high art teacher.
He always pushed me to create my best work. At the end of 8th grade, he let me choose an original work of his to have. It’s my most prized and special gift, and it’ll be the first thing that goes up in my classroom.
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