We had the good fortune of connecting with Valerie McMullen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Valerie, do you have any interesting experiences or advice related to making friends as an adult?
I think as we grow older making new friends may be something that many adults will be faced with at some point in their lives. We may move away from our homes for education or a new job. Putting down roots may mean establishing new relationships as well. Some of the best ways I have found to form new friendships is to join groups or organizations for activities which are of a personal interest. I joined local art organizations, hiking groups and became a volunteer for an animal shelter. It was through these activities that I formed many lasting friendships. I encourage everyone to find a hobby or activity that you enjoy and search your local area for organizations related to your interests. And most importantly, have fun!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been creative for as long as I can remember. As a child making things with my hands gave me the most satisfaction. That inner creative voice stayed with me through many jobs and it was my husband who encouraged me to pursue my passion. I resumed painting and studied with many nationally recognized artists to learn new skills. Through much exploration I fell in love with abstraction and the many challenges it brings to the easel. There is no planning to my painting or even an idea to what the finished painting will be. I react to the initial marks or washes and let the painting guide me to its final completion. My intense love of color combined with shape, line and the addition of collage strike a balance and create a unique dialogue. Painting requires practice and discipline. An artist is faced with many hours honing your craft and the inevitable rejections along the way. My advice is to use those rejections as a driving force to move forward and create more art. Do whatever you need to do to create the art you were meant to create. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box and put your work out there for the world to see.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Arizona is a wonderful place to explore. It’s rich with culture, history and some of the best landscapes around. In the local Phoenix area some of the more popular places to explore would be Old Town Scottsdale with its trendy stores, galleries and restaurants. The Phoenix Art Museum is the Southwest’s largest fine art museum and features a collection of global masterpieces. A fun and interactive art experience is Wonderspaces located at the Scottsdale Fashion Square. They have brought together interactive art installations created by artists from around the world in an unforgettable and thought provoking art experience. The Desert Botanical Garden is a great place to spend the day walking its many trails that showcase the variety of desert plants that are only found in the Southwest. A tour of Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school, offers insight into the architect and his inspiration from the surrounding desert. A great place to grab a good meal is Green, a new American vegetarian restaurant located in Tempe. The variety of food is amazing along with their famous Big Wac burger. Leave room for one of their popular tSoynamis for dessert!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Whatever path we are on in life, there are many people who guide us and help shape our journey. For me in particular, there is one artist that stands out and that is Stan Kurth, nationally recognized artist and instructor. He resides in Phoenix and I was first introduced to his work through the Arizona Watercolor Association. I was immediately drawn to his work and signed up for a workshop his was giving. I learned many new techniques and continued to take classes and workshops from him whenever possible. Stan is a very encouraging and supportive instructor. Through his demos you are able to see how he lays down initial washes and marks. He then begins the intuitive process of observation and one mark or color influences the direction he goes from there. It was from these repeated workshops that many of his principles helped to guide me in my own work. Last October, Stan Kurth and I had a 2-person show at the Eric Fischl Gallery located at Phoenix College. It was truly an honor to be in a gallery exhibition with your teacher and mentor.
Profile image photo credit: Krisie Ramsey All artwork photographed by myself.