Today we’d like to introduce you to Véronique Latimer.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Véronique. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a little kid. I pursued lots of different interests and had a variety of non-art related jobs but making art was always something I carried along with me. It was during my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco where I had lots of time to think about what path to follow once I returned to the States that I decided I needed to pursue my art at the next level. I ended up applying to MFA programs and went to Parsons. I loved NYC and had lived there for a few years right out of college..but I learned pretty early on during my grad school experience that I didn’t want to be an artist there! I looked forward to returning to Boston. Upon my return, I got a job working in admissions at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. This was great as I worked with so many interesting people and was in such an inspiring place full of other artists. It also made me realize that my favorite part of the job was meeting with high school students during school visits. This led to me pursuing teaching at the high school level which I have been doing for 13 years now. For me, it is a great fit, I really enjoy working and inspiring young people. Their energy in the studio is contagious. It also really pushes me as an artist to pursue my own work and to try new media. I also feel like it’s important to have role models who make a living being creative. I was always getting the message that I’d never have a job doing something creative when I was younger. I get it, it’s less predictable, and the path might not be as straight, but it’s absolutely possible to do! I think I owe it to my students to practice what I preach, so I make a lot of work. I take risks. I fail, often. Sometimes, I get somewhere new. I’m still learning, but I’m still making work everyday, and I still love doing it.
We moved to Acton in 2014 and I found myself farther away from the art communities I had been a part of in Boston/Somerville. It was not long before I found them just down the road in Maynard. I began consigning some of my small encaustic paintings at 6Bridges Gallery in 2016 and then became an Associate Member in 2018. It’s been so nice to be a part of another art community and to learn about many of the different aspects of running a gallery.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road! I was so disappointed by grad school. It was a really hard time for me. It almost made me want to stop making art completely. The transition to teaching was hard at first, too. It took all my energy and time and my art took the back seat for a while. I have 2 young daughters and juggling parenthood with my art and teaching can be tough. My daughters really love that I am an artist though, and they inspire me to keep going even though I can really only make art once they’ve gone to bed at night! I’ve found that just being really disciplined, and realistic about what I can accomplish everyday is important. For the past 3 years I’ve tried to stick to painting for at least 30 minutes a day- even if I am not feeling like it, uninspired, exhausted, whatever. Even if the results are pretty bad, I post them online, just to keep myself accountable and doing it. It’s how I’ve managed to keep going even though some days I’d rather not! My advice for any young women starting their journey is to just to keep going- make the work you love making. Not everyone is going to like it, think it’s any good, etc. and that’s fine, just keep making it! When I was in grad school, a professor told us that if we were ever going to be a ‘real’ artist we had to make a lot of sacrifices, particularly, not having a family or perhaps not having someone to share your life with! It seemed so silly to me. My advice would be that you can absolutely be whatever artist you want to be- and don’t let other people tell you what is ‘real’. For me, some nights being a ‘real’ artist is painting for 30 minutes at my dining room table after packing my kids’ lunches, doing a load of laundry and making sure I have everything prepped for a lesson I’m doing with my high schoolers the next day. It feels pretty real because no one is making me do it, I just feel weird when I don’t.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into 6 Bridges Gallery story. Tell us more about the business.
I make mixed-media encaustic paintings. I paint a lot of birds using gouache, watercolor or oil paint and use hot wax to seal and collage them together with vintage things like old wallpapers, letters and always a stamp or two in the upper right corner. I miss getting letters in the mail- something that used to be a big part of my life with grandparents who lived in another country who wrote me letters well into adulthood, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in the pre-cell phone era of volunteers. Getting mail was a treat. A lot of my work has to do with correspondence and communication.
I’m also known for my daily painting practice. Sometimes, my 30 minutes will be part of a work in progress, like one bird to be collaged into a larger encaustic painting, but many times I will paint a 30-minute watercolor painting that is a reflection of somewhere I’ve been or something I’ve seen that day. I really find that searching for something to paint at the end of the day helps me to appreciate the beauty of the world around us.
It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
I love late nights in the studio listening to podcasts while I paint. I’ve been enjoying “The Longest Shortest Time” a lot lately. I’m always up for listening to a story from “The Moth” or “This American Life”, too. These aren’t art podcasts, but painting can feel like a pretty solitary activity, so I like hearing stories about common human experiences to not feel quite so alone when I’m working.
I also just enjoy listening to music while I work. My students will tell you that WERS (Emerson College radio) is always on in my classroom while we’re making art!
Véronique Latimer (art work), Jonah Borrelli