An Interview with Margaret Blanchett

Margaret Blanchett Folk Artist Margaret Hollingsworth Blanchett was born in Mesquite, TX. As with most people who label themselves as an "artist" and pursue it as a career, she developed a strong interest in art at a very early age.
When asked what she remembers about her childhood, she says "not much, to be honest with you. I remember that I was very unhappy, lonely and had a low opinion of myself." She adds, laughing, "Isn't that a cliche? I think it's something that nearly all creative people have in common. I don't really know why, but artists are always outsiders. They were that way when they came into this world, they'll... or, we, rather, will be outsiders until the day we die. And when I say 'outsider', I mean dork. Maybe we try to make up for our shortcomings by learning impressive tricks like being able to render horses and aliens surprisingly well. Anyway, what I remember of my childhood, is me by myself drawing while the world went on around me. I took solace in the fact that I was perfecting my craft, that someday it would pay off. I guess I had this strange idea that the world would need an artist in the future, and that I would become immensely successful and make a lot of money. Unfortunately the reality of the life of an artist is much different. But I'm glad I had those misconceptions, because I love what I do and despite the initial poverty, I wouldn't have wanted to do anything else. I couldn't do anything else if I tried. I actually have tried to NOT be an artist. I failed miserably.
Q: Why do you continue to do it?
A: Well like I said, I have tried not to. I was a very miserable person. My marriage fell apart because I felt that I had to be responsible and ignore my creative urges. My first husband wasn't very understanding of this pivotal thing that defines me, I don't think he really understood this about me. I tried to bury it deep down. It was like trying to keep a beach ball under water. I found that creativity is a monster. And if you don't feed it, it'll eat you up. I left my life of routine and security, for a life of chaos. This suits me much better.
Q: Why would you say that your life is now chaotic?
A: Well, I just can't seem to stay in one place. I haven't put my roots in as they say.
Q: Do you feel that your tendency towards chaos is a result of your artistic nature, your desire to create?
A: Maybe. In my art, I am always evolving, discovering, changing. If you look at my work over the years, you can see that I am constantly changing styles and themes. I think a lot of people see this as being a sign that I haven't found my voice. That's not so. Art for me is about freedom and being able to discover new things. That's what drives me. Maybe my life works the same way. I think the scariest thing in life is stillness. Boredom. To me, that's death. But then again, I'm to the point where I just simply hate traveling. I think I'm about ready to just find a place and stick there for a while. Southern California never gets boring for me. I miss it when I'm away. I feel at home here.
Q: What inspires you?
A: The possibility of creating something new.
Q: Who, as an artist inspires you the most?
A: Well off the top of my head, and as an everyday influence I'd have to say first off Heather Galler. Here's an artist who has a very well defined style, its kind of the same sort of thing over and over again, and here's the kicker, her stuff never bores me. And of course all of the other artists I work with in CA are very inspiring. I find Loriann Austin Michael's work to be VERY inspiring. I enjoy seeing her evolve. It just keeps getting better and better.
Q: Will you ever give up this art stuff?
A: I may try someday, I doubt I will succeed. Seriously though, Its not something that I do in my spare time. It's not a hobby. This is who I am. I'll be painting...or creating in some fashion until the day I die.
Q: If you had a message to send out to the people who buy or are interested in buying your work, what would you tell them.
A: Buy it now, I'm not going anywhere. I'll be painting for the rest of my life. I think there's a good chance my art with be worth much more tomorrow than it is selling for today. I am very serious about my career and will work like crazy in my studio every minute of my life. I feel that I am getting better, that I am evolving, discovering and growing as an artist. I owe a lot of this to the fact that I work with so many amazing artists. And of course, there is the fact that I am my husband's biggest fan. I love Christian's work. It is very inspiring to be with someone so amazingly talented. There's also a bit of constructive competitiveness between us. We rely heavily on each others constructive criticism. We make each other better.
Q: You paint a lot of trees and birds in your paintings. Why?
A: I find that the subject matter is universally liked and accepted, but
the main reason for painting trees, is that it allows me to concentrate on things like color and composition without being overly concerned with the subject matter. Trees and birds are about life. I see color, movement, randomness, and harmony in my tree paintings. The subject matter conveys all of the ideas that draw me to create. Life, action, color. There's a lot there to work with. For example, the amount of leaves I choose to put in or the color combinations of the leaves. The way the branches twist or reach out. These things allow me to convey any idea or emotion I wish, even though the obvious subject is 'Tree'.
Q: Why did you start using hanging pendants in your paintings?
A: These decorative elements are meant to suggest 'celebration'. I think the ornaments, aside from being a nice decorative element, signify the work as being sacred. It becomes a sort of shrine honoring something sublime.
Q: What is that sublime something?
A: The creation of life.

Maggie currently lives and paints in Los Angeles, California.

By Sarah Cartwright copyright 2009, from Art in Tinseltown Newsletter