Summer E.A. a Lithuanian artist and art teacher, is passionate about using her pieces to strike a chord with members of her community. She wants to inspire others to face challenges and overcome obstacles. She teaches at the Grandville, Mich., art school and Studio Art by Era, which she opened in 2014. In this interview, she tells her story so children and adults will hone their art skills.
FarandulaMag: How do you find your inspiration?
SB: I am a creative person. I have visions and ideas about everything in life. The creative process through painting helps me to materialize it on canvas. When I meet people and travel, I start thinking and connecting what I see to my visions. Right away, I have ideas for my paintings and the messages that I want to say to people.
FarandulaMag: What is your creative process?
SB: It’s very natural. I enter my studio and create every day. For serious projects and paintings, I have ideas, visions and sketches. For some works, I spontaneously come to the studio with waves of colors swirling in my head. I use my energies and expressions until I get a vision for a new painting that I never expected. I surprise myself because usually I really like it! Artists don’t always plan their work. Often, my heart and hand has to guide me on what to do. Art is connected to feelings and to my soul. Painting is not mechanical; it’s spiritual to me.
FarandulaMag: When did you begin painting?
SB: The best thing I remember from my childhood was being recognized for my talent in drawing. Wherever we went, people knew I was talented and asked me to draw when an art piece was needed. As I grew, I had a beautiful and talented art teacher who inspired me to want to teach art to others. When I went to a university in Europe to study art education, I knew I was following my dreams and that’s where I wanted to be. I learned a lot during my seven years of education. I am very blessed that I can teach art to people.
FarandulaMag: How has your style changed over time?
SB: My style has matured as I have grown older. I see deference in my art throughout the years, but it still has similar specific personal aspects to my own style in colors and brush strokes. When I go back to my early paintings of my university days, I see similarities to what I do today. The works I painted before I moved to the United States were more realistic.
The ones I paint now in the United States are deeper. I lived here for six years. Every year, I am going deeper into abstract and I love it. The changes are close to my personality It was not easy in the beginning, but it helps to express myself better. I see how much I love that style. These paintings show more of whom I am and how I see the world.
FarandulaMag: What do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition or painting?
SB: Getting deeply in touch with personal feelings is the key element for painting. I am not a writer or singer; I can not express my feelings by words. That’s why I paint. I can express my feelings through colors and shapes. That’s my language. My brush is my tool. I use it to speak on canvas. Sometimes, artists find it hard to be free and relaxed. I learned to be free, and I teach that. I tell my students not to worry about copying others. They need to express their feelings and be themselves. Then, the right piece will show itself.
FarandulaMag: Can you tell us more about your Studio Art by Era?
SB: I used to teach in Grand Rapids, Mich., European School. I taught art, language, culture, history of European countries. My student parents recognized that I had skills. They asked me to do more classes about art. I started teaching private art classes at churches and in homes. As I received more and more compliments and comments on my teaching, I started to consider having a school. I was very excited that the community thought it needed a way for people to learn about art and to see things the way I do. I found a beautiful place in Grandville to have my art school. It’s a beautiful studio to teach art and for me as an artist. It’s a great location, near all major highways. Students come from all over the area to my studio. I would like to have another studio in downtown Grand Rapids. If I choose an expensive Grand Rapids building for my classes, I would have to set a high fee for the classes. I don’t look at my classes as a business. I want to give what I have to others. That’s what I need to do. I need to teach because I had a dream. I like that I can charge a very small fee for people to take my classes. Every family, regardless of lifestyle, can afford it. The price is $39 a month for weekly classes. Many students are coming to my studio after school every year. I teach basic art, drawing and painting, still life,composition, abstract, graphics and art therapy to children and adults. A lot of kids don’t have art classes in public schools.
In the beginning, it was hard to get students because I couldn’t afford advertising. I went to people and talked to them. My reputation spread as people started talking to each other about me.
We finished the second year in May. I showcased a beautiful students’ exhibition in my studio. Families and friends attended. It was a nice event to show what we did, what kind of projects and paintings the kids did! Now, students are excited to start a new school year on Sept. 1. We are going to start our third year with new paintings and projects. I hope they become very nice, talented artists one day. Art education is not only for whom wants to be an artist, but also it’s good for everyone to know the basics of drawing. For example, if you want to be a good baker you need to know how to decorate beautiful cakes and things. If you want to be a graphic designer, fashion designer or architect, you need some skills. I think that, in any profession, you can use the creativity you learn from art classes to excel in your profession.
FarandulaMag: Can you tell me about your participation in the Art Prize?
SB: This year, I did a different painting. I created three paintings that are more serious than those in my past. It will be my fourth showing of my art. I am blessed to be there and represent my newest artwork. Every year, I am trying to do different things with my art. I want to see people’s reactions. It’s important for me. This year, I would like to show life and my reactions at a particular moment. My idea is to give people time to think when they are viewing my art and understand my message. I want people to stop wasting our planet and to love and respect it. My art is about where I see this world going if we do not become better stewards of the land and better humans for each other regardless of culture or borders. We have to love our continents, nature and the whole planet. I believe the universe is watching us. This is the message of my art pieces that I want to show in the 2016 ArtPrize exhibit.
More about Summer E.A
Summer E.A in Artprize >> www.artprize.org/summer-e-a
ART by ERA
3141 Broadway Ave SW
Grandville, MI 49418
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