Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, Spokane-based artist Brandy Seistrup was hesitant to dive headfirst into an art career.
“I was worried I would lose my love of it,” Seistrup said. “Art encompasses so much of my life.”
But after spending several years in the corporate world, Seistrup decided to take the chance. She left her job at Signet Jewelers in 2017 to start pursuing art full time. Eventually, she was able to open her own business, Opal Fox Fine Art.
“Being an artist full time isn’t as glamorous or as easy as it sounds,” she said. The demands and responsibilities that come with running a small business don’t always allow the kind of creative space an artist needs to work.
“You’ll find yourself holding a lot of titles and wearing different hats at the same time.”
With all her responsibilities, taking breaks often proves difficult. The past year, especially, threw more than one wrench into her plans.
“The pandemic put a near halt to all of my work,” she said. Having to contend with months of uncertainty and canceled events while homeschooling her children meant little to no time for art.
“It took some time for me to figure out the new directions I needed to take to get the business back up and running strictly online,” she said.
Without her usual outlets, Seistrup has started channeling her energy into forming a nonprofit called the Art Advocate Association. A long-term passion project, the nonprofit’s mission is to support communities with art programming, community-based projects and art advocacy. For more information, visit theartadvocate.org.
“Sometimes, all it takes to change the world is a little support,” she said. “The Art Advocate Association … was created to help facilitate that. I am determined to make even a tiny impact in the world and on society’s appreciation of the arts.”
Recently, Seistrup has discovered the power of “stepping back” and practicing self-compassion.
“I had to stop being so hard on myself,” she said. “And I’m so happy I’ve finally figured out I’m able to do that … that everything I build isn’t going to fall apart immediately.”
Seistrup began work on the Rebel Gallery, her latest creative endeavor with fellow local artist Fia Wilson, when she purchased an old Snap-on tool truck over the summer.
Seistrup hopes to turn the old truck into a mobile gallery and art retail shop. With more than 30 feet of wall space for art pieces and other merchandise, the truck will feature work from a rotation of artists as she drives across the country through Seattle, down to San Diego, across Texas and then on to her childhood home in Louisville. For more information, visit @therebelgallery on Instagram.
In addition to creating her own work, Seistrup also teaches art classes ranging from introductory instruction to more advanced techniques, color theory and “the art of letting go.” For more information, visit opalfoxfineart.com.
“You have to let go of the need to be perfect,” she said. “It’s OK to let go of the control and see the beauty in the chaos.”
Seistrup experimented with oil painting early on but now gravitates primarily toward watercolor and ink drawings. Most of her work tends toward the abstract, often incorporating hints of nature and the occasional pop culture reference. Seistrup will show some of her more recent work during Lilac City Comicon at the Spokane Convention Center from Oct. 2-3.
“I love working with inks,” she said. “This medium never lets you have full control. It took me a while to get over that.”
She never quite knows how a piece will look until it’s complete. But, she said, that’s all part of the journey of creating.
“I hope my work just evokes an emotion. Any emotion really,” she said. “I know how I am feeling as a piece is created, why I chose the colors I did, what shapes I find … but who am I to tell you how you see it.”
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