Oh boy. I had a great time chatting with St. Albert-based, award-winning artist Memory Roth recently. She’s the rare artist who enjoys the business side of art. She’s also an avid photographer.
However, art wasn’t always part of Memory’s life. In fact, there was a time where she wasn’t the biggest fan of art. Years later, however, she would gain a passion for art and hasn’t looked back.
She’s been inspired by her late husband, Bernie, and his memory certainly factors into her art and, as a result, factored into our chat. I hope you enjoy learning about Memory as much as I did
[Featured Artwork: “A Walk Along The Sturgeon” by Memory Roth.]
The following responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.
01. Rock, paper, or scissors?
Well, I have to say water. I know that’s not one of the answers, but if I played the game, I think water would be a fun answer. Just to mix it up a bit.
02. What are three interesting facts about you?
A. I’m an artist. I think that’s interesting but I think people would guess that.
B. I’m also a photographer. I’ve been a photographer longer than I’ve been an artist; almost all my life and that has been my most creative outlet.
C. I never ever thought in a million years of becoming an artist. I was never into art. I never really thought about art. It just fell into my lap. In about 2006, I went to a class with a friend to hang out and unexpectedly fell in love with a medium and a style of art that was never interesting to me. It was just kind of a strange thing that happened to me and I’m happy with the result.
03. Where did your passion for art start?
Well…. *laughs* I don’t think it really started. It just evolved.
I couldn’t actually tell you (when the passion started). I think I bought into art when things happened quickly for me, I received a lot of attention and awards when I first started painting and that shocked me, and it spurred me on and the passion just evolved. I’m not even sure if passion is the right word to describe what I feel, to paint feels more like a calling than a passion. It’s not so much the process of doing the art. It’s the fact I feel that I’m called to do the art and I want to make a difference in people’s lives with the art.
04. Is art your career or a hobby? Or something else?
Art is my career. It wasn’t even in my mind to start, but as things progressed and I continued to win awards and other really positive things kept happening I continued to paint.
As time went on, my late husband and I started talking about it, more in awe that this was actually happening than anything else, but I was excited with all kinds of possibilities. I don’t think he was totally on board yet with any kind of future plans. When I won my first award through Gamblin Oils — it was an international award — my painting was published in the American Artist magazine. My husband thought that was kind of cool. Then, we went to Vegas and went to Blick’s Art Store and when (my husband) was walking around he found my painting on a poster in that store and that’s when he bought into it. He said, “This has to be more than a hobby, this is serious. You’ve got to get out there and make me some money so I can retire.” *laughs*
That’s when we thought of it becoming a profession. Unfortunately, a year later he got sick and passed away. I didn’t know then whether I could continue. A few months after he died, my brother and his family took me and my kids to Hawaii and after having an amazing experience swimming with a turtle I felt inspired to paint it. It was almost as if my husband was calling me saying, “Get back to the easel.” It took a bit to get back, but then slowly things started to go towards a profession.
05. Are you more productive at night or in the morning?
I have a routine of no routine. That’s just the way I work. Some days I’m super productive in the morning and I’m getting everything done before noon and other days I don’t start until six at night and some days I’m productive in the afternoon. It depends what’s going on in my life and what I’ve got on the easel, whether I want to go out and take photos.
06. What is the main medium you use in your art?
I work with oil. That’s it. I sometimes have worked with acrylic but I prefer oil. That’s the medium I learned to paint with and I haven’t really stepped out too much from there.
07. What is your go-to band or artist?
That’s a hard one for me. I have lots and lots of CDs. Yes, I have CDs. I haven’t figured out how to stream. I sort of gravitate towards country. I don’t really have a favorite. I just like a lot of different music, not just country.
Other than when I’m painting, I don’t really listen to music very much except in the car.
08. What is your favorite color?
I think my favorite color is blue. I think you can tell sometimes with my art. Actually, you know what, it depends on the day. But most days I would say blue, unless it’s a pink day.
09. What inspires your art?
Honestly, the answer is everything. Literally everything inspires my art. I want to paint everything and every so often I come across an object that I want to paint a whole series for. People, plants, animals, landscape, weather. I want to capture it all. I don’t know if I have time to capture it all, but I’m trying.
10. What app do you use most often?
Let me look. *picks up phone* Probably the weather.
11. What’s your favorite drink?
I’m so boring. Probably water. I drink a lot of water.
12. Have you cracked the business side of art? Promoting your work, generating client interest?
I love the business side of art. I definitely have a passion for the business side. I probably enjoy it just as much as the painting part, sometimes more.
I feel like I’m learning so much. I’m taking Zoom classes, I’m reading books, trying to figure out social media, trying to figure out my website.
I feel like I have a fairly good start on the business side and on the promotion side, and I’m still fine tuning everything. The social media side of it is such a big part of our business. It’s all very fascinating.
So many of us artists have so much trouble promoting ourselves. When I first started, I had a hard time putting my stuff out there. I thought it was bragging and I felt uncomfortable. But my husband told me there was a fine line between promotion and bragging. He was right. If you want to be a successful artist, unless you have a manager or someone who can help you, you need to focus on the business side too. It takes about 50-60 per cent of the time. I’ve been working hard at it ever since I started it.
13. What is one common misconception about being an artist?
I think people used to think, and maybe still do, that artists are really eccentric people and really out there. Some are, and that’s cool. But most of the people I know are just regular people who just happen to be artists.
14. What do you hope people get out of your art?
I feel that’s really my purpose. It’s not to paint a pretty picture; it’s to go deeper, to make someone feel better, to give them a positive emotional response, even if it’s in just a small way. Maybe bringing a memory back they haven’t thought of for awhile or just an inner peace. I think we need peace in our life and I think a lot of people struggle with peace.
Like I said, I do feel like this is a calling. Every painting I’ve done there’s such huge intuition and huge emotional connection to that painting, I just have to paint it.