Thursday, July 24, 2008

Follow the Sparkle

Excerpt of an interview with Violette, folk art painter, by Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray creative women’s project.

Ever want to just go wild with color? Have you seen the houses in other nations, like Jellybean Row in Newfoundland (, and dream of transforming out of the beige that seems to have captivated much of America? Let me introduce you to Violette, a wonderful Canadian woman as colorful as her palette. Her house is purple, van is multi-hued emblazoned with creativity quotes such as Joseph Campbell’s “Follow Your Bliss,” and her home is so vibrant that it has been profiled on an episode of Weird Homes.

You may have noticed she doesn’t give a last name. “When you’re a girl, you have your father’s name. You get married and have your husband’s. I’m happy with just Violette.” A bit of research reveals that Violette and several friends were so set on claiming their own identities that they each had a wedding ceremony – to marry their own true selves. That for feminine identity independence that goes a lot further than calling a woman "Ms." instead of Miss or Mrs!

I asked what her neighbors thought of her home. She said a gal friend asked an older gentleman from down the street when she first painted it. His reply? “It sure is colorful!” Violette laughs. Still, she keeps moving forward adding personality to her belongings and her art to the world. “I used to get embarrassed when friends would go with me to art supply stores and tell people I was an artist. I found it hard to accept the title because I’m not a fine artist. I’m a folk artist. Now I think it is great and I’ve grown into it. Still, as women we’re trained to think about others (first) and to not get a big head. It is a process.”

When you’re an emerging artist, others often offer advice whether you ask for it or not. Violette’s friends were amazing, “They kept saying, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s a great idea. Go for it,” and her grown children also gave their seal of approval. However, other artists weren’t always so encouraging. “I like glitter. I have it on my van, and my floors, and my work. The worst advice I have ever been given was from an artist who said, ‘Wait ‘til you’re established, then add your glitter.’” The artist advised to do what appeals to others first and be eccentric in her style later, even though to do so would have been a denial of part of Violette’s essential self. “I ignored it. I use glitter everywhere. I just love it.”


You may see Violette’s home, her art van (including instruction on how to paint your own), her pieces for sale and the video of her home by visiting her website:
Be sure to tell her Mel. Edwards’ Votre Vray sent you.

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