Meet Artist Nancy Lefko…
You are quite an inspirational and busy artist! A few things on your plate: creating beautiful collages & journals, hosting online workshops & art shops, and teaching at an upcoming Art Retreat, all while being a full time mom.
Please introduce yourself and your art a little bit.
“I’m an artist.” Yes, that’s me; Nancy Lefko, artist. It hasn’t always been an easy thing to say when someone asks the inevitable question, “What do you do?” I’ve had to grow into that answer. For years my response was the self-deprecating, “I’m JUST a stay-at-home mom.” In this day and age of over-achievers, it never seemed enough. But after years at home with my children, I realized my “job” was as important as any paid position. Almost five years ago I added a new hat to my arsenal. Artist. The moment had come for me to grab some free time for myself every so often, and creating art became my pastime of choice. Fast forward to 2010. I am a mixed media/collage artist who answers proudly, “I work from home–I’m an artist.”
Thanks to the online art community, I sell my work on Etsy, teach online workshops in mixed media/collage, and promote through my website and blog. I have had my artwork published numerous times in Somerset Studio; Cloth, Paper, Scissors; and Somerset Studio Gallery magazines. My third article for Art Journaling by Somerset Studio comes out this summer. I will be teaching my first in-person workshops at “Art Is…You: The East Coast Art Retreat” in October 2011.
My work can be seen at the following sites:
Etsy shop: http://www.collageartgirl.etsy.com
Online Workshops: http://www.creativeworkshops.ning.com
Finish this thought: For me art is…
…multi-faceted. Art is a way to express the emotions that are mine alone; art is a joyful playground of images, colors, textures and designs that stimulate and soothe my senses; art is that wonderful sensation when the thoughts, ideas and inspirations running through my mind come flowing out through my hands. Trying to explain what art and creative expression means to me is often a difficult task. For such a personal experience, words often fall short when describing my passion for creating art.
How did you first get involved in mixed media collage?
As a student, my school years were spent deeply immersed in art classes and the joy of creating. But when a career and then family took center stage, my creative expression was relegated to sewing, quilting and home decor. A number of years ago I discovered altered art and mixed media while web surfing. There was an immediate connection and I knew this was the art form that spoke to me and that deserved my attention.
Your upcoming teaching experience sounds exciting. Tell us a little bit about “Art Is…You: The East Coast Art Retreat” and what you will be teaching.
In searching for an art retreat that was close to my New Hampshire home, I stumbled upon the website for “Art Is…You: The East Coast Art Retreat.” I was immediately enamored with the variety of wonderful workshops available and made plans to attend the 2011 retreat with my friend and fellow artist, Pam Carriker. When Pam, coincidentally, was asked to teach at the 2011 retreat she encouraged me to throw my hat into the ring. Sallianne McClelland and Ellen Legare responded immediately and enthusiastically and I have signed on to teach there for three days. My workshops will be mixed media and journaling related; I am fine tuning them now.
With such a busy life, what keeps you grounded and balanced?
With three boys, my life can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, especially now as my oldest son is headed to college; the number of forms, deadlines and requirements can be daunting. I’m a great list-maker and find if I can keep myself on track and on task, I can keep a better handle on everything. Granted, when something has to give it is invariably my studio time. That’s just life. My family will always be my top priority and if I must put aside my desires in order to meet their needs, that’s what I do. That’s part of the attraction of art journaling — if I can take just a few minutes out of my day to play in my journal, I’m fulfilled and my routine feels balanced between the “wants” and the “needs.”
Your full and creative life is inspiring! Who has inspired you?
When my artistic muse was re-awakened after many years of sleep, it was largely due to the inspiration from a friend who is a very successful children’s book illustrator. A former teacher, as I am, she is currently living a wonderfully creative life. I looked at her life and thought, “I can do that!” Shortly after, I found my niche in mixed media/collage where I have met the most wonderful and inspiring artists online. There are so many artists whose work I admire; too many to list. Early on in my collage work I was inspired by Claudine Hellmuth; hers were the first two books I read on the subject. The very talented Pam Carriker introduced me to art journaling through two online workshops and continues to be a dear friend who inspires me daily.
Are there any tips to living a creative life that you’d like to share?
When you are a full-time mom, living the creative life can be a challenge. It’s easy to get lost in the day to day tasks and responsibilities and lose sight of your creative side. I try to make time for my art journal during busy stretches when I can’t find time to begin a new canvas. I am always aware of inspirations in nature, and even the colors and patterns in fabrics; being tuned in to beauty and design around me keeps my creative muscles flexed and ready when studio time arises.
Nancy, Thank you so much for sharing with us. What touched me especially were your definitions of art is, and your final thoughts. As a fairly new mother the sound advise is very welcome.
“Inspiring Artists!” will be an ongoing series. It will run as long as there are inspiring artists out there wanting to share their stories. If you are an artist and would like to participate please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!!