Sometimes we hold ourselves back from doing something because we put rules or conditions on it. It goes from small things like, not buying those jeans until a certain amount of weight is lost, to bigger things like, not going back to school until “the time is right” whatever that means to you. A friend of mine that I grew up with is a wonderful and talented actor, however, she won’t pursue it because she didn’t go to art school. Her hangup about having an educational background in art has always confused me, but it’s one of those rules that she’s put on herself.
Victoria Lynn is a Traverse City-based artist whose self-taught work embodies the memories she’s collected from Michigan, from childhood to now. She’s created a life that allows her art to support her. She and her work are in a constant state of growth.
“I don’t have an art degree or anything like that. But I create what I like and that’s how my style has evolved.”
She began with doodles in childhood to releasing her first collection ever in a month, and her style has changed and grown over the years just as much as she has.
“When my sister and I were kids, we would sit at the table coloring for hours and no one would hear a peep from either of us. It’s something that I’ve always loved doing. Originally when I was in high school I wanted to go into fashion design. Then it evolved when I was at home with kids. What can I do while I’m home with them?”
She painted as a fun hobby for a while before starting a small business based around it. She was painting a lot of abstract and nature pieces. But it was when she and her husband had just moved back to Michigan from South Carolina when the business really began to pick up speed.
“I’d say it really got popular about three years ago when I started going to art fairs. The kids were in school and I wanted to see what I could handle.”
What caught people’s eye time and again was Alyssa’s Michigan focused work. Her style captures the natural beauty of Northern Michigan both accurately and whimsically, creating illustrations that look to be out of a storybook.
“It started with the birch trees. When I was growing up in Michigan my grandparents would take us on vacation up north to their friend’s little hole-in-the-wall cabins. I always remembered the light against the birch trees so I started painting them and it evolved from there. I painted those for years because people loved them, but after a while, it was like, ‘I’m a little tired of painting trees,’” she laughed.
But art as a living is hard. Victoria knew that to break away from the trees she would have to create something that would appeal to a wide audience just as much if not more than the trees. Keeping in line with her love of the forests, she focused on woodland creatures. From there, she expanded into Michigan landscapes that feel fresh and vibrant.
“I am that typical, introverted artist. My paintings are an expression of what I like to experience in life. Quiet, woods, little animals. I always say if I was in a little cabin in the woods on 30 acres, you would probably never see me again!”
She’s coming out with her first collection of work, and it’s based completely on her love for Michigan. The pieces will all be one-of-a-kind, and won’t all be paintings. There will be acrylic paintings, watercolors, and sketches all for sale when it’s released in March.
“I’ve never released a collection all at once. But, I’m seeing more professional artists that really brand themselves release two or three collections a year. They’ll talk about it and show their process while they’re working on it and I wanted to try that angle. I’m doing some Michigan birds, lighthouse paintings, Sleeping Bear Dunes paintings, so I’m able to see everything right in front of me and relate the colors to each other.”
The collection is a new project for her, and while she joked that it could be a bust, I doubt that will be the case. She has prints, stickers, magnets, ornaments and other giftable items in gift shops around Michigan, with her closest location here being at West Bay Handmade in Traverse City and Leelanau Books in Leland. All of her work is available to check out on MyImaginationIsYours.com.
Victoria inspires me with her creativity towards her work, and her drive to grow, improve, and not put rules on herself that hinder those things.
“The best way to be successful is to really latch on to and find out what you like. What do you love? When you paint, when you write, when you do any of it. If you love it, it comes out in your work.”
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