What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Samantha Nielsen, and I’m a watercolor artist and urban sketcher from Duluth, Minnesota.
How did you get started?
While I’ve been creating my whole life, I’d say I “became” an artist four years ago. I grew up being musically and artistically inclined, but I put most of my time into music. I thought I was destined to be a music teacher, but I always had a desire in my heart to be an artist. I remember any time my family and I went to an art gallery or craft fair throughout my life I would always ask my dad, “Do you think I could learn to paint like that?” years before I realized that being an artist is what I wanted to do. My dad’s response to this question was always “Yes, but it will take a lot of hard work and dedication.” I didn’t know at the time how much these words would stick with me, and would eventually give me the confidence to follow where my heart and mind were leading me.
Fast forward to my third year of college, sitting in the student lounge as a music major, I was feeling incredibly discontent but had no idea why. A fellow classmate was sitting next to me sketching, and after talking with him a bit he told me he was a music major AND art major. For some reason, I think this was the changing point for me. This is the moment that I knew that I needed to investigate this desire to create. I needed pencils and brushes and ink in my hands, and somehow I needed to get over my fear of changing the whole direction of my life. Somehow I needed to get over the fear of failing. Somehow I needed to get over the fear of others doubting my decision. Once again, my dad was the one saying I was capable. “It will take hard work and dedication, but you can do it.”
How have you grown and developed as an artist or creative person?
I can’t picture my life without my sketchbook, my watercolors, my mind picturing how to paint the shadows that are hitting the trees or the waves of Lake Superior crashing against the shore. When I think of where I am now and the experiences I’ve had because of “hard work and dedication”, I’m so glad I got over the fears and anxieties I had of becoming an artist. This is where I’m meant to be.
Not only do I create, but I teach! I teach high school art at an alternative school, and many of my students use art as an outlet. I think my students also see the importance of art because they see me practicing my craft passionately. This past year I have seen the most growth in myself; I feel like I’ve discovered my voice and my style. I dabble in many mediums, but watercolor and ink have my heart.
Most of my work is influenced by architecture and nature. I think this influence comes from my passion for urban sketching. Right now, I’m content being an art teacher. In fact, I’m more than content; I’m right where I’m supposed to be at this moment in time.
What are some of your goals as an artist?
However, my biggest dreams is to be able to become an artist full time. Sometimes that dream seems unrealistic and unattainable, but maybe with some hard work and dedication I will be able to get there.
My artistic journey can be summed up in a quote from Van Gogh:
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”