Interview with Portside Gallery in Islamorada, Florida

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Andrea Naylor Artwork

 

Tell us more about your year in the keys.  Where were you? Did you like it? Anything you miss?

 

I lived in the keys during 2007, right after I returned from the Peace Corps. I remember returning from the Peace Corps and really needing to find work and googled “jobs with free room and board” and Sea Camp came up. They had a position open as a Marine Science instructor and because I had experience teaching and a Degree in Biology- they hired me. I absolutely loved working at Sea Camp on Big Pine Key. I lived on a houseboat, took kids to snorkel the reef every day, received my scuba certification, met my husband, and was on a first name basis at Coconuts. (: I miss it every day. 

 

Tell us about the Peace Corps

 

I joined the Peace Corps in 2005 and my primary project was Education. I taught Biology and Physics at a local high school in Ghana right on the border of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. I also did HIV/AIDS Education within my community. It was one of the most impactful experiences of my life. 

 

How did you end up in Door County. How is it the same/different

 

I moved to Door County after living in Australia for a year. I moved “Down Under” in 2013 with my husband for his job and his job eventually brought us to live in Wisconsin. When we moved to Wisconsin, we both knew we wanted to try to live on the coast, so when the opportunity arose to settle in Door County, it was a no brainer for us. If I am comparing the Florida Keys to Door County, I find them very similar: small town, amazing close-knit communities, and much like the Fl Keys chain of islands- Door County is a peninsula. Something about living on a peninsula or an island that catapults all the residents and visitors into “island time” immediately upon arrival. I would say at different times of the year both have extreme temperatures (the keys is HOT in the summer and hurricane season can be intense, respectively Door County winters are not for the faint of heart). For me there are a lot of similarities between the Florida Keys and Door County, Wisconsin. 

 

How did you get into art? 

 

At the time I moved to Door County, Wisconsin in 2013, I had been working as an artist in Australia for almost a year. In between traveling all over Australia, backpacking New Zealand and Tasmania, and visiting the Islands of Fiji, I started a travel blog where I shared my photography work and painted every day. At the end of our stay in Australia, we actually shipped all my artwork back in a big crate and I winded up selling the majority of it in the US upon my return. From there, my formal art career was born and I haven’t looked back since.  

 

Where do you work on your art? What is your process?

 

I work on my art in my home studio which encompasses the entire third floor (loft) of our home. In the summer, I work outside along the water in our backyard. I work with a mix of heavy-bodied acrylics and oil pastels.

 

What inspires you?

 

I remain inspired by my personal film work, painting with my children on a daily basis, and spending a great deal of time outside along the coast during all seasons of the year. 

 

Do you paint something in one sitting or do you tinker for weeks?

 

It usually takes me 8 months to a year to complete a collection of work. 

 

How does photography inform your process?

 

I primarily shoot with film photography during the summer months and when I travel. I use film photography to cope with how fast my children grow and they are the subject of most of my film photography work. My favorite medium is 35mm and Fuji 400 film. I also use my Polaroid camera and my medium format Contax 645. Film has a wide dynamic range allowing me to accurately capture the light on the coast. Once it is developed, I print all of my work. I then study my film prints when I am creating work in my studio. 

 

Where is your art headed?

 

Art for me is necessary. Like drinking a tall glass of ice cold water when you are very parched. It’s something that I’ve done since I was very young. I consider myself a creative being and cannot wait to continue to watch my body of work evolve over my lifetime. 

 

What has been a seminal experience?

 

A ground breaking experience for me was when I was pregnant with my second child in 2018. I stopped and asked myself, “What do you want your legacy to be for your children?”. Asking myself this question put a lot of things in perspective for me at the time and I saw the meaning behind my work really start to emerge. 

 

Why do you do the work you do?

 

I feel compelled to create and to do it to the best of my ability. 

 

How long have you been painting?

 

Both of my parents are artists. I learned to paint from my mother and have been painting since I was a child. I have been professionally painting as an adult since 2012.

 

What is success to you?

 

The ability to buy more paint when I need it, to put food on our table, love in our house, and health. 

 

Is there certain music that helps you work?

 

I listen to salsa, reggae, and R&B. I warm up to paint by dancing.

 

Is your family supportive?

 

My family is extremely supportive.

 

How would you like your work to be described?

 

I typically describe myself as a “Coastal Artist”. I am drawn to the edge of the earth. The place you stand and gaze out and you see nothing but a horizon of water. I love to feel the waves crash against my ankles, the hot sand on my feet, or how cold my toes get when I go to walk the beach at sunrise. I love to listen to the sound of the birds, the calming breeze coming off the water, and watch the sunset dip below the horizon every chance I can get. I love how seashells feel in my hand, watching the flowers dance in the windy beach-dunes, and the way the sunlight hits the boardwalk. I love how I feel when I am standing or sitting or swimming in a large body of water such as the Lake or the Ocean. I paint this “subject” constantly to re-create the way I feel when I am there. It’s a joy I wish I could bottle and that’s what my paintings represent to me. 


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