To kick off my new series featuring talented women artists in Seattle and beyond, it was a no-brainer to go visit Seattle's own talent, Amy Stone, in her Ballard studio, a couple of weeks ago. I first learned of Amy Stone through the Instagram rabbit hole. I don't remember exactly how. Someone tagged her or I saw her on my frequent perusing of the hashtag seattleartist. One way or another I started following her and my love for her work has grown over time.
It was a sunny slightly chilly day when I arrived at the studio address Amy provided me. To my surprise, I walked up to residential home’s open garage where she was in the middle of one larger work while surrounded by several others in various states of doneness and racks of finished paintings. I was immediately struck by the fact that her neighbors can stroll by and see an artist hard at work living her dream and creating beauty for the rest of us day in and day out. Ballard for the win!
Amy pulled me up a chair and I settled in to learn how she became Amy Stone Uber Talented Seattle Artist with Instagram Following of over 40k.
Originally from New York, after high school, Amy headed off to UC Boulder, where she majored in Studio Art with a focus in painting and drawing. Can we all just stop and admire the fact that she's actually doing what she majored in? Raise your hand if that's you too! But her path from college to career painter isn't that straight and simple and that's what I love about life. It's more like little Billy in Family Circus meandering all over the block to get from the bus stop to the door stoop when he could have just walked up the block. Sometimes it's just more interesting to explore the possibilities than merely to arrive at the destination. If I'd arrived at Amy's studio and her story was just I went to college to be a painter and now I paint, this would be a short article, no?
After graduating from university, Amy returned to New York City where she found the art scene unwelcoming and snobbish despite her New York pedigree and art degree. Bummer dream killer, except not! Cue her lil Billy path to now. Amy waited tables for a year before getting a 9-5 job. Prioritizing things like eating and paying bills. Relatable much, Amy? She got married and lived in a tiny NYC apartment, pursuing her masters degree intending to become an art teacher. Best intentions, right? Instead she started a career in the wine industry. When Amy told me that, I realized the true reason I loved her - I can see shadows of Grenache and Tempranillo in the layers of her paintings. I'm not lying.
And then in 2014, Amy moved to Seattle and the rest is history. Thanks for reading. I kid. So, the greatest thing about Seattle, according to Amy, is that the art scene is felt more accessible and welcoming. Amy found herself drawing again. Pastels were her go to. Her work was featuring in pastels, so she drew more. At first, her work was self-described as pop art.
She focused on dogs and pets and faces. She created bags from her art and sold it on Society 6. Amy realized that she had started to create art for selling rather than for herself. Her work wasn't selling and that was telling. She didn't have the passion for the pop art she was creating and it showed.
Living in Ballard, Amy would frequent a shop I love in Ballard, Horseshoe. It's a little boutique that sells super cute clothes and also supports local artists with wall space. Amy found herself drawn into the shop again and again to look at a painting she'd fallen in love with. One day she returned to Horseshoe finally to purchase the painting only to learn that the artist’s show was over. So she arranged to go to the artist's studio and meet with her. She purchased the painting she’d fallen in love with that day and realized that her yearning to paint had awakened again fully. Within a month of picking up a paintbrush again for the first time since college, Amy quit her job and began painting full time. If that's not inspirational, I don't know what is!! When she told me it was only back in 2016, I couldn't believe it!
Facebook and Instagram helped Amy get her footing as well as friends purchasing her art, which grew to commissioned works and so on. What a different story Van Gogh might have had if he'd been alive in the age of social media. It's a glorious time we live in for modern dentistry and the ability to shout your talents far and wide without relying on a patron or your brother for art supplies.
One of the prominent themes showing up frequently in Amy's art is the female figure, so I asked her to share where that came from. Back during the summer of 2017, Amy was on the "struggle bus." 38, feeling old and tired and different after having children, she spent time looking at the figures represented in the art of others, but wanted to make it work with her style. She leaned into the idea of aging, that bodies are beautiful without being perfect. Using representational lines that may or may not be a figure and the idea that less is more, Amy leaves interpretation up to the viewer. She builds and takes away to add depth to the pieces. And she returns to her old friend the pastel on top of her works to add texture and help the colors pop.
In the two years since Amy began painting in earnest, her style has matured and talent deepened. Early on she embarked on the 100 day project, which you can check out through the hashtag 100daysofartfeltpuns. It helped her to mature her work as she played with color, texture and technique. She's always been strong in color, but during another interview when asked to name her favorite color palette, Amy couldn't, so she decided to participate again in the 100 day project, this time to help her to find her favorite color palette. She's experimenting with colors she doesn't normally use in ways she doesn't normally use them. I think we're about to see another evolution of Amy's work, and I'm excited to see the results!
Making Art Accessible
In 2018, Amy began a really cool effort to bring original art to everyone. She started an Instagram account called Affordable Art Act and started featuring works of her own art at 50% off. It was a great way to give people a taste of her work and often their first foray into original art, showing them that it can be more accessible than many think. She started featuring other artists at the beginning of 2019 after other artists reached out to be featured.
I got to watch Amy work on her piece for a few minutes before I said goodbye. It's always amazing to see an artist at work often lost in the beauty of their creation. I wished her an early 40th birthday - it's today May, 7th! To celebrate we're collaborating on a giveaway, so be sure to follow both of us on Instagram to learn more tomorrow, May 8th!