Local Artist Feature: An Interview With Ann Dodys
Drive an hour east of Atlanta, and you'll find yourself in the small, charming town of Madison, Georgia, which Southern Living Magazine has proclaimed to be one of the prettiest towns in the South. While you may be familiar with its lush, tree-lined avenues of historic homes and flourishing gardens, you may not be aware that Madison is both haven and home to many artists. This small town is filled with talented artists, authors, and craftspersons.
Although the town is small, the culture here is anything but. Madison is proud to be home to the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, the Steffen-Thomas Museum of Fine Art, the Morgan County African-American Museum, and the Madison Artists Guild and Gallery (MAGallery). Madison also hosts many artists who participate in the Olmstead Plein Air Invitational each year. With so much culture and beauty in the area, it's no wonder that many artists call Madison home.
Today's featured artist is Ann Dodys. Her work can be found at MAGallery, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to education and encouragement of artistic endeavor in its members and the community through outreach programs, classes and workshops, social gatherings, and support of local artists. Let's see what Ann had to say about her work:
What is your background?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree from Stratford College (Danville, VA) and a Masters of Art Education from Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA). I taught Art for 30 years in Dekalb County Schools and the Atlanta Public School system, from pre-K to advanced Placement Art in high school.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I always loved arts and crafts but thought I would end up being a Home Economics teacher. When I went to college and discovered that Home Ec. wasn’t offered, I decided to go into the art field and have never regretted my decision.
What is your favorite artwork you’ve ever created?
That's a tough question. I guess my answer would be – the next painting I create.
What time of day do you feel most creative?
I don’t have a particular time of day that I feel most creative. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m painting next and working out potential issues in my head. I set aside time almost daily to work on a painting, do some framing, and clean the studio to help keep me motivated and moving forward.
How do you make time for your art, and would you say you have a healthy work/life balance?
Since being retired, my main focus is to set aside time to paint. For years, it was all about my students and planning lessons for them. Now, it’s my turn. My husband, Dimitri, is very supportive of my art endeavors so life has a way of balancing out.
Tell us about the space where you create.
We live on 4 acres, and I have a studio in a lower pasture. The structure was originally a bomb shelter with a storage area above it. The below-ground room is where I do my framing and has a half bath. The main space above ground has been opened up with double french doors to bring in more natural light. A deck was added off the back. I hope one day to offer small workshops.
What inspires your work?
I’m inspired by the Impressionist movement and the use of light and color by artists of that time. I usually work from the photos I’ve taken, concentrating on capturing a “moment in time”. I minimize detail to encourage the viewer to complete the story based on their interpretation and sense of engagement with the painting.
Who are your biggest influences?
I’m inspired by the works of Van Gogh, Monet, Mary Cassatt, and other Impressionist artists.
Tell us a little about your workday as an artist.
My workday starts in my head when I'm planning my next painting. I typically go to the studio and start laying out my supplies. Once work starts, I typically work until the painting is finished, for 3-4 hours. Then, I let it rest and come back at a later date for revisions. I take photos as I work and look over those when I think I’m finished. A digital image can typically expose some issues that need more attention.
As an artist, do you have a favorite tool you use to create?
I work in oils and pastels. I like certain brands of each but no special tools.
How do you share or promote your work?
I share and promote my work mainly through social media. I use Facebook and Instagram exclusively but may need to reach out to other sites. Being in the guild has helped with more exposure. I’m looking into gallery representation as well. Juried shows are also a way to get my work out to a larger audience.
Do you have any routines that help you be more creative?
The routine that helps me the most is just getting myself physically in my studio. I can always procrastinate and get busy on tasks in the house. There are many days I just don’t “feel” like being creative. I try to push myself beyond the feeling. I participated in a 30 paintings in 90 days challenge on Facebook in January. By putting myself out there, I felt my followers were holding me accountable, and it helped me to keep painting.
What is your biggest barrier to being an artist or creating art, and how do you address it?
My biggest barrier is myself! I have a little note on my easel that says “ You are so much better than you give yourself credit for”. For a very long time, my first thought when starting a painting was how was I going to fail. By saying that out loud to others, I took that power away. Now I look at a blank canvas and say “you are going to be spectacular” and get down to work.
How do you determine what you charge for your work?
Pricing is difficult, and I probably underprice my work at this stage. It’s more important that my paintings find their forever home. If lower prices achieve that, then so be it. I never want to price myself out of customers, but I do value my expertise and time.
What advice would you give to new artists starting out?
My advice would be to work hard to be the best you can be in your particular medium. Look at the work of others you admire and take classes or workshops. Never stop learning something new. Always be on the hunt for more knowledge and experience. Stay true to your style; not everyone will like it, but you will find plenty that do. Do not give in to self-sabotaging thoughts.
When we make an effort to shop local and support small businesses, it's important to remember that this includes the artists who call our community home. Follow my work for more features on local artists, and be sure to stop into MAGallery to see the art in person. The gallery is located at 125 W. Jefferson Street in historic downtown, Madison, Georgia.