This month, I interviewed artist Mulatto Rose (TheMulattoRose.com).
What medium are you currently working in?
Ceramics and music. I love all artistic mediums and explore all ideas. Wherever the creative juices flow, I follow.
Did you always know art would be an integral part of your life?
No, I did not. However, if I think about it, music has always been my passion. And I always chose to take art and loved to sketch. I loved crafting and learning new skills. And I flew to the arts like a moth to light. I've been writing poetry since I could write. And what encouraged me to pursue art as an adult was remembering how it made me and others feel.
Tell me about your current project.
I’m working on the drum part for my song “Don’t Be Disobedient”. It was originally written for my kids but then I began to apply it to myself. Don’t be disobedient to God. Don’t be disobedient to myself. Plus it’s a bop, so my kids love it.
Can you describe your technique for us?
Repetitive things too often turn into tunes in my brain. Poems randomly pop in my mind or something catchy I say will turn into a song or poem. Same with my visual arts. I’m usually trying to convey a message. Rarely is my art a replica of what I’ve seen, but more so a message of what needs [to be] said. Or a mindful reminder for me or my kids to help improve our thought process and behaviors.
Do you have any rituals or routines that get you ‘in the zone’ to create?
I go into my studio and turn on whatever music I'm in the mood for. Or I listen to an audiobook or podcast. I find I prefer to create when I’m alone.
What inspires you?
Everything and anything. I am open to inspiration in every location, experience, and person I meet. I’m constantly learning and watching how others work and how life operates.
What do you do when you are having a hard time finding inspiration?
I have a ton of other unfinished projects to work on. I find I get inspirational ideas while working on projects I don’t want to work on. And when I am in a particularly juicy idea streak, I write them down in OneNote under Unstarted Projects for the times when I do not have a project to work on. Or for when I do not want to work on my other WIPs.
Who are your favorite artists?
I grew up on Bob Ross with my grandmother. My friend and local artist Hollie Zepeda with Art Your Way is a very talented artist. And has been such a wonderful art mentor. Salt and Gold Collection on Facebook has really spoken to me lately. And I very much enjoy Shannon Witherspoon’s art. She is also a local artist.
How have personal challenges impacted your work?
I am disabled. It is so very hard to find the energy or motivation to push through high levels of pain and almost constant nausea. I require naps most days. And I’m a mother of three and married. I have a good work-life balance, so I have the time to commit to creating. But I do not always have the spoons or energy to create.
Even if my body isn’t fatigued, my mind can be. And I may not have the cognitive or mental capacity to sit down and create.
How do you take care of yourself on days like that? What would you tell other artists struggling to create or find balance?
I am kind to myself and take naps. I make sure to stay hydrated and that I am eating things to fuel my body. I also take time to spend with my family. And have faith that my energy will return.
How do these challenges show up in your work?
When I'm weak, my hands shaking or my muscle spasms will prevent me from moving a certain way or working at all. I also cut corners to save energy or experiment. So some of my work reflects those imperfections.
Describe your artistic philosophy.
Don’t push it.
Not working? Take a break. Someone pressuring you to create something for them? Say no. Create the environment for your creation. Go in with an open mind and heart. Leave perfection at the door.
Art is messy and imperfect. Go with it.
I love your philosophy. So many elements of the creative process can be applied to our everyday lives, and this philosophy feels especially relevant. Life is imperfect and messy, too! How do you remind yourself of this when you are having trouble with a piece of artwork or hitting a roadblock?
I quote Bob Ross: “We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” He was and still is well respected and loved. It's freeing to just settle into that quote and grace.
Can you recall a time when a piece of artwork profoundly shifted your perspective?
My charcoal painting that was featured in the July 2020 Tumbleweird magazine. I made that in 2010 and was very critical of my own work. It was the best I had at the time. But the responses I've received from the community have been very encouraging.
How do you think art creates change?
It provides visual representation and education. It also provides another’s perspective.
How can our community better support artists?
Continue to host low cost/free opportunities for local artists to sell and show their works.
Ashleigh Rogers is the Creative Director at DrewBoy Creative. She is an artist and art instructor living in Richland, Washington with her husband and four children.
She is an artist, art instructor, and facilitator in Tri-Cities, Washington. Her work explores the themes of connection and intergenerational stories through experimentation in painting, photography, installation, and sculpture. Ashleigh is passionately dedicated to facilitating accessible arts programming in her community.