'Artists can find healing for themselves and others through their artwork.'
Nicole Woodruff is an artist working from her basement studio in Utah. Her works portray deeply personal explorations of issues relevant in her life, especially the health impacts of Lyme disease. Symbolism and metaphors are employed to develop the narrative in Nicole’s impactful work.
Where is your current studio? What would be your dream studio?
My current studio is in a spare room in my basement. It’s located next to my children’s playroom. It is a cozy room with my easel, a desk with my printer for references and it fits my needs nicely. It has a nice closet to store supplies, although it could use some organization. I prefer to work from home as my schedule is a bit unpredictable with small children.
My dream studio would still be in my home but it would be upstairs, and it would be three times the size of my current one. I would love large windows, lots of wall space to hang my work, and lots of shelving to store my supplies. I would like a designated business section, and a couch for my studio breaks. I’d really love a place to have another easel for when my friends come and we can paint together.
Do you prefer to work in silence or does certain music inspire you? You will usually find me listening to an audiobook in my studio, the longer the book, the better. I enjoy getting lost in a story as I work, it helps me get into a flow state. I also find it helps me get into the studio when I have a story also pulling me there. I also listen to music, it depends on my mood for the day but I rotate between Broadway musicals, Bruce Springsteen, country and pop music. My taste in music is all over the place. Studio life can lead to isolation, how do you address this/ keep a balance? Studio life can be isolating and I love that at times but also feel the need to connect with the real world. For me, with small kids I don’t really have the luxury of staying in my studio all day, at least not yet. So I am forced into the world for my children’s sake. But I have found that an artist needs friends that are artists. I have found that social media has given me a new community of artists. I have connected to artists through instagram and Tiktok which eventually led to the app, Marco Polo. I have a group conversation going with three other figurative artists. One lives in a different state and one lives out of the country but we talk daily, bounce ideas off of each other and it has been the best thing for me this past year. They have become dear friends and their influence is definitely behind some of my work. I think community is very important as an artist, I hope mine continues to grow. What is your favourite/ least favourite part of the creative process?
My least favorite part of the process for me is taking references. I know how essential they are to my entire painting so I feel a lot of pressure while taking them. They feel more like a task to complete than the painting does. The painting is the enjoyable part, the easy part. But the relief that comes when I get the reference that is “the one” is a great feeling. I think it’s because the foundation of my work lies in my reference and it stresses me out a bit.
My favorite part of painting is in the final layers, after the underpainting and the first layer I can finally get really into the color and value shifts and I get lost in the work. I know if it’s going well because I get a little jolt of excitement in my gut. Varnishing is fun, and so satisfying but it is within the creation that my love lies. Detail a moment which was the highlight for you, thus far. A highlight for me was when my painting, “Oddities and Paresthesia” got into Paint The Figure Now last year. It was my first museum show and I couldn’t believe the caliber of the artists in the show alongside me. It was a very exciting time for me. My husband was so proud of me, he flew us out for the opening. The reception ended up being moved to zoom due to Covid but the museum was still open. I spent a long time there looking at each and every piece. It was a dream come true for me. It was a very quick trip with lots of masks and sanitizer, but I am very grateful I was able to see it in person. The other highlight was just a couple weeks ago when my painting, “Centered,” received an honorable mention in the International Biennial Portrait Competition at Wmoca. I was so honored to be included, let alone receive the honorable mention. I still smile thinking of it.