In advance of Wendy Addison’s November 16 presentation of her artist’s book, Theatre of Dreams, we asked her a few questions about the project and the artistic life she’s built for herself.
What was the inspiration behind Theatre of Dreams, and what can readers expect from it?
Most briefly, the book is about a penniless old bum who is in love with a visionary fairy dancer, and using nothing but the most threadbare of found materials, he manages to make a stage for her to dance on...and in the process she comes alive. The main character of the book was based on someone I met 45 years ago—and he really was a penniless old bum who was a dreamer, and a visionary, and who did build something absolutely amazing out of found materials. The memory of our few meetings became a secret that gave me the strength to be myself for years. Readers can expect a fable about the imagination and about how to make magic happen in the real world!
What—or who—were some of the first motivators for your art? How do they still affect you?
I was lucky to have two artists for parents. Although he was not very present in my life, my father started me off in the idea of keeping a drawing sketchbook, and my mother was a constant supporter. Preposterous as it sounds, Leonardo da Vinci was my drawing teacher. I was obsessed with him from the beginning of my drawing career, and he literally taught me how to draw. From the ages of 12 to 22, I finished a sketchbook every month, and they are filled with studies of da Vinci.
His drawings still haunt me and when I get an occasional glimpse of his self-portrait, I remember his face looking down at me from my bedroom wall, where it hung for all of my teenage years.
As you’ve had more success with your career, how has your approach to art changed?
I have to make more of a concerted effort to spend solitary time in my studio just playing with ideas. Having a business in the art and design field is wonderful in many ways—I feel so lucky that I can use my own talents to feed and shelter myself and my daughter—and send her to college, keep my shop running, buy a car. But business matters do have a tendency to suck way too much energy away from the creative end, so it is an effort to keep my private time safe.
What would you say to artists who are yearning to “make the leap” and turn their passion into a full-time pursuit?
I would tell them to wait until they have found their own unique voice. That is something that only happens in solitude. You must not look out and around at what other people are doing—you have to look inside to find what is original and authentic to yourself.