Fairmont is a national award-winning artist whose
main medium is watercolor. Last month, Manette shared
her ideas on the nature of art and the artist as well
as insights about overcoming limitations to become
an artist. This month, she explains how confidence
and courage helped her find her own artistic voice.
She also destroys stereotypes and gives
very clear tips on what it means to be an individual
Last month we discussed the fact that many people
believe that in order to be successful and truly artistic,
artists need to separate themselves -- be different,
deviate from the norm, do drugs, become involved in
the sensual experience. And yet, you explained that
deviance is actually self-destructive. Van Gogh comes
to mind. While he's a brilliant artist, he's portrayed
as the suffering artist. He cut off his ear and had
lots of struggles. How does Van Gogh fit your understanding
of true artists?
Actually Van Gogh was a very unselfish artist. He
was attuned to the right idea, but didn't have confidence
in it. He tried to emulate other people, but he didn't
like doing that. He was uncomfortable going against
the divine grain. He couldn't paint any other way.
But when Van Gogh put his art out there, he was criticized.
Gauguin, a friend and mentor with whom Van Gogh painted
for a while, realized that Van Gogh was talented.
Gauguin's jealousy and criticism were abusive. Gauguin
told Van Gough that he had no talent. He told him
that his yellow chair that's so famous now was trite
and trivial. This pained Van Gogh, and he got so depressed
that he cut off his ear. Van Gogh listened to Gauguin
rather than listening to the beauty which inspired
You seem to have endured a little bit of this
same critical treatment when you were young, but you
have come out on top. What made the difference, do
I had a choice (so did Van Gogh) of whether or not
to accept what someone else said about who I was or
what I could do. Unlike Van Gogh, I chose to see myself
as God saw me. I learned I wasn't limited to the opinions
of other people. Van Gogh didn't trust his vision.
Yes, just because someone expresses God's art does
not mean that he or she will become an instantaneous
success. Sometimes it's a struggle, and you need to
have the faith and commitment to be true to the goodness
within you. That's what Jesus was teaching in the
Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, "Blessed are
they that mourn: for they shall be comforted"
(Matt. 5:4). Van Gogh must have forgotten that. He
was a good Catholic, and he was "poor in spirit"
(Matt. 5:3). The Beatitudes protect your thought from
the abuse of human opinion.
Not everyone has loved my work; I have been criticized
a lot. But my work has had broad access to the world.
To be creative means to push the paradigm. Creative
people move beyond the senses of the moment. They're
pioneers. There's a certain amount of courage that
goes along with paradigm breaking -- the courage to
do things right even though it doesn't appear to meet
with everyone's expectations, the courage to follow
Can you share how courage has helped you in your
Sure. In college, I made a choice to change from a
business major, which was safe ground, to an art major,
which appeared to be very foolish. This required a
great deal of courage since the prevalent opinion
is that it's hard to make a living as an artist. But
having the courage to follow God's path yields huge
blessings, even though at times that path may seem
unsuccessful. If you break through the "illusion"
of what other people think of you -- all their opinions
which really don't say any truth about you -- you
find all kinds of amazing jobs, resources, income,
supplies. You find a more satisfying sense of yourself
and life. This feeling of satisfaction multiplies
and magnifies, and you're put in a position to bless
Are there any particular incidents that stand
out as significant?
Yes, I've had so many. In my senior year of college,
I ended up getting the Studio Art award for my graduating
class. I was so surprised, as there were so many talented
and accomplished artists in my classes. I had not
pursued the award. I didn't paint to get the award.
The award was given to the person who had also made
the most progress. I had worked hard, coming from
zero because I hadn't touched art since I gave it
up as a freshman in high school. And for the first
year or two in college, my artwork was pretty pathetic
in the scale of the world. But in the last two years,
creativity and art were just pouring out of me --
I couldn't help but express myself through my art.
The award was evidence that I had broken through limitations
and could be creative. Just last year, I won third
place in the nation for watercolor. There were 20,000
entries. 80 made it into the show.
And you got third place?!
Yes, and I've won 20 national awards. I'm just thrilled
to be in the game. I've also done interviews for magazines.
I've accomplished more of my dreams than I ever thought
I could. I'm doing all this while I'm running my gallery.
I find that it doesn't take me that long to come out
with paintings that win awards. I've learned that
time has little to do with creativity and expression.
When you're divinely inspired, you leap over limitations.
It's good to keep working, of course, and I'm doing
artwork all the time.
You have certainly "leapt
I learned how to. The woman who told me originally
years ago that I wasn't very good in art told me she
could not believe how successful I was. Her children
told me that she was rather embarrassed that she had
told me that I didn't have any talent.
Sometimes where God places us isn't where other people
place us. We each have our own individual path. We
need all different types of artists. What you do doesn't
determine who you are. The world needs Broadway producers,
school teachers, plaque painters, and watercolorists.
God places you where you need to be to bless the most
The woman apologized for putting a limitation on
me. But I didn't let her reject me. When you don't
allow someone to have control over your destiny, your
path in life, you have eliminated rejection. Rejection
What do you mean, "rejection becomes non-existent"?
WE do the accepting or rejecting. WE put limits on
OURSELVES by accepting the lies that others say about
us. These lies about our abilities come in many guises,
too, to snag us. I was told I'd never win a national
award and I'd never run a gallery. I was told that
I'd fail if I changed my style because it was too
risky. Half-way through my career, I changed from
painting landscapes and florals to painting more abstract,
conceptual landscapes. My work now is all about design
-- a quilt pattern pieced together to create a landscape
image that's fun, happy, interesting, and colorful.
It's a form of abstraction that I found I loved doing
the most, as it was the most creative for me. This
"risky" conceptual landscape art is why
I received the 3rd place.
There comes a time when you have to find your own
voice and be a unique artist in the world. You're
looking to be your own individual self.
Now, how does finding your own voice relate to
individuality and deviation?
To be an individual is to be a reflection of God,
to be part of the light ray. A ray of sunlight has
all these colors, and these colors have unique properties.
All the light combined -- all the hues of color --
make white light, and that's the oneness of which
I spoke. When you see light go through a prism, you
see the individual colors. But the colors don't pull
apart from each other. They are not separate from
light. They are held by the energy of love, which
holds all those hues together. Think of a leaf for
a moment. Each leaf on a tree has its own unique composition.
The leaf is a whole leaf, in and of itself, but it's
also part of a whole. Everyone has his or her own
unique properties and composition. Now let's come
back to light. Everyone is a complete hue. But if
you try to deviate from the oneness of light, from
the oneness of God, your reflection becomes muted.
You don't have the clarity necessary to make light.
People often talk about artists going through a drought
or being burnt out. I've never experienced that. I've
never not had an idea. I think if you accept human
limitation, you've dimmed your individuality. Sometimes
my best inspirations come in the last hour.
Is there anything you'd like
to tell young adults about art or life?
- It's not about how you dress, how many tattoos
you have, how many earrings you have. It's not about
"image." None of that has anything to
do with you being an artist.
- Being artistic doesn't mean being rebellious.
If you talk differently or dress differently, you're
actually being more like most other people.
- To truly be an artist means to find your true
spiritual self, because that is the prism through
which your talent and vision for art shines.
- True artistry is not external. It's having the
self-worth to realize that it's okay to understand
that there is a God.
- Without God, it's much more difficult to create
and to be truly artistic on a deep level.
- Don't look to other people and their opinions
to define you. Human opinions and peer pressure
do not define you. That's the herding mentality.
- To try to be included in a group because you
want acceptance from a group does not mean you're
- People say you have to be talented to be an artist.
That's not necessarily true. Talent only means you
get it quicker.
- You have to be willing to work at what you love.
That's what determines your future success -- to
stay with it and not give up.
- You're not limited because of parentage or family
dynamics. They have nothing to do with your future
at being creative, artistic, and successful.
- If it's in your heart, do it! Follow your heart
as long as it blesses everyone involved and it's
not just selfish.
- It has to bless you, too.