In this month’s Artist Spotlight, I’d like to introduce a fellow mixed media artist I discovered while browsing on Etsy: Sadee Schilling. Stumbling across Sadee’s art and writing was like discovering a treasure – it’s just too good not to share! I immediately fell in love with her stunning artwork (see her Shop here) and blog, rich with encouragement, wisdom, and a wonderful vulnerability about the Beautiful Mess we call Life. I think you’ll enjoy reading her story below, as well as visiting both her websites!
BT: Please introduce yourself and your medium.
Sadee: I am Sadee Schilling, an American mixed-media artist living in Germany. Watercolor is my first creative-love, but the littlest loves of my heart (a wild pair of bright-eyed German-American preschool princesses) have taught me the art of “loving a thing to pieces.” Now my favorite creative activity is to cut things up–literally, to create collages that combine messy mixed-media elements with delicate watercolor and ink drawings.
BT: When did you first discover your creative talents?
Sadee: Drawing was always my favorite thing to do when I was growing up. I guess my parents discovered early on that I had a bit of a gift for it and they enrolled me in after school art classes. I used to only draw things I could see–I’ve never been very good at drawing from my imagination. It wasn’t until I discovered the possibilites of more “abstract” and “expressive” painting in my early twenties that my creative journey really began.
BT: What themes do you pursue in your work?
Sadee: “Beauty from Ashes” or “A Beautiful Mess” are the themes my work most often explores. For me it’s not just about painting on a smile when your heart is breaking, but about truly embracing your circumstances–even the hardest things in life–as opportunities to be thankful for the small graces that abound everywhere we look for them. I’m not saying that the hurt and pain in this world isn’t real or is simple to overcome. But I have discovered–through a succession of tough decisions to choose to be joyful anyway–that this attitude of gratefulness really does make a difference. And at the heart of this difference is the way gratitude opens our hearts to a God who loves us fiercely–especially when we are in the middle of our messes. He has a beautiful, redemptive plan that works for our good, even when our human eyes can’t always see it.
BT: What “fills your well” and inspires you to create?
Sadee: Spending time with my family is at the top of my list. My husband is my best friend and on weekends (and weeknights!) we are nearly inseparable, plus we rarely spend time away from our kids. We enjoy exploring our neighborhood, Hamburg and Germany in general when we can get away. We like being outdoors when the sun is shining (it rains a lot in Hamburg), but we are homebodies at heart so our little apartment gets quite chaotic as we entertain our preschoolers at the same time we relax and sip coffee, or I have all my art supplies spread out (our living room doubles as my studio). But I am learning to embrace the chaos (hence my gravitation toward the “Beautiful Mess” theme!) and have discoverd that the chaos is quite inspirational for me.
BT: How do you handle creative block / writer’s block?
Sadee: When I feel blocked or am not really in the mood to focus, I pull out some beautiful paper (actually, sometimes ugly paper works better!) and just throw on the color. I like using wax crayons as a watercolor resist and on top of that I often etch messy scratches onto the page with a craft knife or pen. Working this way has become amazing for my creative process because it gives me the freedom to discover new techniques “by mistake” and helps me keep up with the supply of hand-painted papers I like to cut up for my collages.
I like to try and work even when I don’t feel like it, but sometimes I just need to grab a good book and get lost for a while. Reading is perhaps the thing that really ever “slows me down!”
BT: If you had a superpower, what would it be, and why?
Sadee: I would definitely have super speed–so that I could accomplish 100 things in the same amount of time a “regular” person could accomplish only one thing.
BT: What artists do you admire?
Sadee: My two favorite watercolorists are Geninne Zlatkis and Holly Ward Bimba, both of whom I have followed for a few years–since they started selling on Etsy. And my favorite collage-artists are Hollie Chastain and Stephanie Levy. I began to admire Stephanie’s work after I moved to Germany (she is an American artist based in Berlin). Last year I was inspired by Stephanie’s e-course, which is probably the reason I think I found the “creative courage” to start exploring collage and mixed media myself!
BT: What is your dream project?
Sadee: Ahhh, my interests could take me in several different directions that it’s hard to say which one thing is my real dream! But for a long time I have dreamed about writing and illustrating a book for children (which is probably the main reason why I named my blog and business “Picturebook Life”). I have at least one idea that has actually begun to solidify in my head a bit, so maybe soon I will try and get it down on paper!
BT: Any words of advice for aspiring artists?
Sadee: Don’t spend too much time worrying about whether you’re an “artist” or not–just go make some art!