Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece includes a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
You could say Val Saxer took the long road on her way toward a career in art.
The Janesville native started out in nursing. After obtaining her degree from Madison Area Technical College, she headed off to Gallup, New Mexico, to start working. She eventually came back home and spent a few years of private duty along with working in local hospitals and at the Cedar Crest retirement community.
Saxer later took advantage of an opportunity to work in her family’s business (Saxer’s Sporting Goods), and she spent 20 years as a sales representative before her attention wandered toward art and antiquities.
She went on to follow her passion by painting commercially for businesses and residences, creating specialty finishes. Tiring of work on a ladder, Saxer began showing her work in galleries on Madeline Island, in Door County, in Florida and in the Janesville/Beloit area. She continues to show art in each location and spends more time encouraging others to paint through her own paint party business, Monet To Gogh.
Saxer will host painting parties Aug. 20 and Sept. 20 at Northleaf Winery in Milton; Aug. 22 at Bodacious in Janesville; and Sept. 6 at O’Riley & Conways in Janesville. Visit MonetToGogh.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
1. To what do you credit the increased popularity of painting parties? I think people want to have a fun time out with friends and create something. Pinterest has presented so many ideas that most can emulate.
2. Is all of this just an excuse to get together and drink wine? Most painters want to explore a fun afternoon or evening dispelling the idea that they “have no talent.” The wine is just liquid courage.
3. What initially sparked your interest in creating art? I was raised in a lively environment, and my mom (artist Lyn Saxer) always provided ideas, materials and encouragement.
4. In the ’80s, I tried to draw Tippy the Turtle from one of those Art Instruction School ads in “TV Guide.” It didn’t go well. What makes you think I can re-create a piece from one of the original masters? My parties are well balanced. First I get you to relax, and then I lead you, step by step, toward producing your version of the art we are being inspired by.
5. “Monet To Gogh” is a clever name. Did it just come to you, or what is the story behind it? I had been thinking about primarily presenting familiar works to paint—images we’ve all seen from childhood on. Monet and Van Gogh are two of my favorites, and as these were going to be traveling parties, the “Gogh” worked in nicely.
6. If you could travel in time, would you go into the past or the future? My life has been so good, I’d probably just go back to my childhood.
7. When it comes to creating, what is the one thing you can’t go without? Inspiration. All you have to do is open your eyes.
8. Has there ever been a time where you became frustrated with a project? Sometimes, under deadline, “painter’s block” happens.
9. You are a former nurse. How did you go from the medical field to a career in art? I’ve always been motivated to help others and to contribute. Earlier in my life, it was through nursing. Now I prefer to work in the art field.
10. You have created art pieces that include human or pet cremains mixed in with the paint. How did that come about? After our mom passed in 1992, my sister, Lisa Saxer Buros, came up with the concept to “keep mom with us” via Madelyn Keepsake Pendants. Instead of high-quality jewelry for cremains, I chose to create original artwork embellished with loved ones, human or pets. It’s not for everyone, but I am proud of “Stardust Art.”
11.What are you most afraid of? Depends on the day. I try to look at all of it as an adventure.
12. As an artist, are you creative in the kitchen? What is your favorite dish to prepare? I’d rather eat out.
13. Do people tend to become better artists after a few glasses of wine? They tend to lose their inhibitions. Then they’re more willing to push forward.
14. Do you have any creative rituals you need to go through before you begin the creative process? The room has to be picked up so there isn’t chaos around me.
15. What is the best/worst invention of the 20th century? The best and the worst—cellphones.
16. Be honest ... have you ever cried while watching a movie? Sure, “Old Yeller.”
17. Do people tend to lose or gain creativity as they age? I believe people grow in all ways when encouraged, regardless of their age.
18. What is the most challenging aspect to being an artist? Staying fresh with my work.
19. The best thing about living in Wisconsin is? The worst thing is? Best: My family and a lot of friends are here. Worst: Winter.
20. What does it mean to “be creative”? To express the essence of yourself, whether it’s painting, gardening, cooking, thinking, planning—any activity that requires presenting what you’ve come up with.