Today I am excited to share a peek inside Alena Hennessy's studio and creative life! Alena is the author of Cultivating Your Creative Life, The Painting Workbook, and beloved teacher of the art-making process, both online and at select retreats. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines and publications, including Dwell, The Washington Post, Somerset Life, Spirituality & Health, ReadyMade, Redbook, Stitch, Victoria, and Natural Health magazine, as well as being featured on Good Morning America and pilot shows for ABC Studios. Her paintings have been exhibited across major cities in the U.S., along with several museum shows.
What inspires you? What motivates you to create?
It may sound cliché—but I get inspired by many things, from what I observe on a walk in nature, to going into town and flipping through magazines or window shopping and noticing current aesthetics or motifs. Mostly though I am moved by taking in the natural world: the colors, lines, shapes, repeated patterns, sweeping movements, and so forth. Working with the elements and principles of art themselves also inspire me a great deal—creating rhythm, finding ways to unify and harmonize a piece through colors, shapes, and how to resolve a painting by balancing a composition, making it all come together. Finding inspiration by doing the work and simply beginning has so much to do with it.
I am motivated to create because I simply must! I often feel I have no other choice…. Its just a longing or stirring within me that needs to come out and be expressed. I’ve also been working as a full time artist since 2005 and usually have many deadlines and things I need to get done within the studio each day. Art has been a part of my life from a very young age; it’s just something I have always done.
I love seeing how other artists set up their creative space. Can you tell us a little bit your studio?
Sure! I live in the Blue Ridge mountain area of Asheville, NC and work out of my home that I share with my partner Matthew and my little white fox (Pomeranian) dog Mimi Simone. We live on 3.5 acres of soft rolling green and its quite peaceful, which allows me to get a lot done. I have had public/retail spaces before and at that time I was finding it was harder to complete my needed tasks. I love the ability to lock myself in my studio and shut out the world for hours. It feels like a gift.
I know that you juggle a lot of different projects. How do you organize your creative schedule?
Each day is different—and yes juggling seems to be the theme these days! I tend to roll with it though and usually have a solid idea of what needs to get done that week and what is most pressing for that day. I wake up and get my day going, answer emails, and then handle step by step each task that needs my attention. I have found that my self-care practices are pretty vital, in other words being able to step away from the deadlines and come back within myself to center and unwind. That could look like a lot of things (swimming at the gym, walking in nature, taking a hot bath), and it helps me immensely in keeping me grounded and feeling motivated to create at the same time.
What is a typical day like for you?
Oh it varies, but it usually looks something like answering emails (as I stated above), filming myself painting, editing the videos, responding to students’ needs, organizing and making more art for my book projects, taking care of website stuff, and so forth. This interview is reminding me how much I need an assistant at the moment!
What do you feel art adds to life?
I feel art can transform life in many ways… it allows us to express what is beyond words, it subsequently quenches and expresses your soul-longing at the same time, it’s a practice that teaches us to let go, it brings you community… so many rich things!
During my quiet-hour(s) of painting, I find that my soul gets to sometimes rest, explore, or express its deep longing. That time when I sit down and create with my heart is sacred. It’s simply your time with you, no one else’s. Something within gets satisfied, something within gets fulfilled. It is a practice and meditation. Within me I also get to express something that needs to come out, be let go of, or made seen. It is a dance between these sacred intrinsic needs.
What are you working on right now?
I have begun to work on a new book project, which is pretty exciting, as well as filming for my online classes. I am always doing that! The Year of Painting class has been a pretty phenomenal experience—I get so overjoyed by seeing what women create from all over this world. They blow me away daily. Every 3 weeks I post a new painting lesson or inspiration, then over 400 women respond to it with their own interpretation (I am all about everyone discovering their own muse and strengthening their own signature style).
Thank you so much Alena for sharing a little peek into your creative life!
To see more of Alena's work, read her blog or purchase artwork and classes, head on over to her website- www.alenahennessy.com
And sweet generous Alena is giving away 3 signed copies of her new book The Painting Workbook! It will ship from directly from her studio to you.
Leave a comment telling us what art has added to your life!
I will randomly select 3 winners and announce at the bottom of this post later this week.
In addition Alena is also offering my readers 25% off her popular A Year of Painting course by using the exclusive coupon alisa25! That’s over $62 in savings!