Monday, June 24, 2013

My Mentors Interview Series: Jodi Ohl

As an artist and art instructor, I am very grateful to the teachers who have inspired me and have had an impact on my artitistic life.  Jodi Ohl is one of my mentors.  I have taken both her Painterly in Pink and Twinks on Yupo classes and am looking forward to her next course.  As I prepare to take her next class I knew I wanted to share the joy of Jodi Ohl with you.

Her next class is: Funky Little City Scapes
Her Blog: Sweet Repeats
Her Etsy: JodiOhl
Facebook: SweetRepeatsStudioShoppe

Gratefully, Jodi agreed to participate in an interview and is willing to tell us more about the new class she has coming up that starts July 12th.

Tammy Dial Gray (TDG): Welcome, Jodi Ohl.  So glad to have you with us!
Jodi Ohl (JO):
Thank you, Tammy!  It’s a pleasure to be here to chat with you today!

TDG: When did you first realize that you are an artist?  What went into your transition from being a bank manager to becoming a full-time artist?
JO:I don’t know if there ever was one moment that I just woke up and said, yes, I’m an artist. It has been more of a long term evolution of acknowledging the creative side of me, something I truly believe is in everyone.  My creative side has manifested in many different ways over the years.  For example, I was a musician for many years playing piano and flute, and then I moved on to writing and minored in creative writing in college.  It took many years however for me to develop my creative side to the point I actually could make a living at it.   In a lot of ways, I wasn’t a very disciplined artist when I was younger.  Rather, I needed structure in my career path and as it turned out; I rose through the ranks at several different organizations and became a bank manager for a good portion of my corporate career.  It was during the latter part of my career in finance that I had some personal situations that drew me back into creating more and more.    It was a life preserver that I held onto which eventually led me to calmer waters personally and reignited my fire for the arts.  The transition from corporate life to a creative life took a lot of planning and soul searching, especially being a single parent, my decision wasn’t just affecting me, and it would affect my son so it was not a total leap of faith. Looking back now, the timing had to do with several big opportunities that I just couldn’t take on while still working at the bank so I was at a crossroads where I had to make a decision to go one way or another and I decided to give it a shot. I figured I could try this for 6 months and if it didn’t work, I can go back to the bank.  I’m still here. J

TDG: Do you think your art has a message?  If so, what kinds of messages do you intend to share through your art?

JO: I hope a lot of my personal feelings come out in my art when I create it and the viewer resonates with those messages I hope to convey, and those would be a sense of empowerment-you can do anything you set your mind to, messages of home and community and belonging, of reaching out and becoming a part of life rather than just a voyeur of it.  My art tends to be very colorful and playful, not super serious but at the same time, if you look closely, there are a lot of layers to it including hidden messages and symbolic themes incorporated throughout many of the pieces.  This year has been an  emotional  one for my family.  A sudden death of a close family member reminded me very quickly that life is short and taking time out to enjoy it and do what you love with those you love are very important.  I have been incorporating a lot of ‘seize the day’ carpe diem type of messages in my latest pieces.     In any case, I hope those that follow my art are inspired by my story. I totally get the chaos of working full time in or outside of the home, the trying to be ‘it all’ for everyone you touch and how if you don’t slow down and take stock of what is really important to you and your family, you lose a good portion of life by chasing after things rather than enjoying what you have, when you have it.

TDG: I know that in addition to the online classes you teach, you also teach and inspire through your magazine submissions. How did you make the transition to being a teaching artist and what inspires you about teaching?

Well, many artists that are full time artists have different paths that they take to make  a living  full time doing what they love, for some it may be doing art shows in addition to selling in galleries or online, or perhaps they design products for companies, or having open studio events…who knows, perhaps combinations of all these things.  Writing for magazines helped me really break down the projects I was doing in ways that everyone, experienced or not, could understand and hopefully be inspired by what I was doing enough to take it and make it their own.  As a manager in my former life, I spent the good portion of my day coaching and mentoring my team and peers in the business which has helped me transition into the teaching end of the art spectrum.  When I teach, it is so gratifying to have my students feel that spark of passion that I feel when creating, when they have the moment of clarity and suddenly realize they can do this, too…well it is wonderful feeling to see it all transpire.  I’ve come across a lot of people that are very similar to me in the classes, those that really crave a sense of calmness and peace for whatever reason.  Being able to guide these students into a place that really sparks their own creativity which in turn, helps soothe their heart and soul, is also very gratifying. I could go on and on about teaching, the truth of the matter is,  I learn as much from my students as they do from me.

TDG: There are many things I appreciate about your style of teaching and one of them is that you teach techniques that allow for individual expression.  Your students are able to take those techniques and create their own unique pieces of art.  Would you please tell us a little bit about the new class you are offering, the kinds of techniques we will be learning and how we can sign up for the course?

JO:Thank you for saying that Tammy, I really appreciate it.  Yes, I obviously have projects and ideas I want to share with my students when I teach a class, but I always encourage my students to make it their own. I’m always hesitant to give colors out in my supply list and not because I want to be proprietary about it, I just want my students to choose colors that speak to them, and I want to encourage that individuality throughout my classes. In my newest class which will be offered at Icreateflix  (which is a new website one of my former students created with her team of creative partners) is called “Funky LittleCityscapes”.  It may not be a city scape you create and it may not be little (see I’m allowing for some flexibility there), but it will definitely be funky!  The project that will be highlighted is a whimsical collection of houses, buildings, stores, anything your heart desires painted with acrylics on canvas.  I will be teaching the students about building layers, using gel mediums and other mixed media  techniques to create rich, fun compositions. We will also discuss color and color combinations as that seems to be a question I get over and over again.  As the project comes together, I will also give many tips throughout the class on how to embellish and fine tune your compositions.   This class will begin July 12th and be open ended for 12 months (perhaps longer,  but to ensure you have the longest access to the class as possible, registration is open now . Your subscription will start on the day the class opens.   This class will also include a full paint along so in addition to seeing all the step outs and working together on a piece, I will also do one from start to finish.  I hope to see some you and some of your readers in class, it’s going to be a lot of fun!!

TDG: Thank you so much for participating in this interview, Jodi Ohl.  I am looking forward to the start of the next class.

 Thank you Tammy for having me, it’s been a lot of fun chatting with you. I appreciate everyone stopping by and ‘hanging’ out with us today as well!