Hello friends! I've had this super exciting idea for a series on this blog for a while now.
I followed Rayna Schwab on instagram a while ago. So long ago, that I don't remember how I found her or anything! All I know is, I see her content on my home feed and swoon every time. Her eerie color palettes and cold night scenes draw me in, and I can't get enough.
About a month or so ago, she ran a giveaway for one of her paintings. It was a delicate moon painting on a circular canvas, so I tried to apply for it. And guess what--I ended up winning it. I don't win things! But I won a piece that I was in love with.
Rayna and I agreed to meet at the Gem City Catfe for me to collect the giveaway painting, since she and I are both Dayton locals. When I met her, I could instantly tell that she is such a genuine and kind soul. Literally one of the sweetest people I've ever met. And her son was an absolute angel, as well. I was so drawn to her work and felt comfortable enough to ask her if she would be interested to collaborate with me for a blog post.
Before I display the interview, I want to note that Rayna's work is featured in the gallery on the top floor of the Gem City Catfe, but only through the end of November! Go and check out her works there and on her instagram @rayna.schwab!
G&N: "What's your job title?" Rayna: "I find it difficult to assign myself a “job” title, merely because I don’t view painting as a job. I paint to express myself, and selling my work is just a bonus. My titles are stay-at-home, homeschooling momma first and intuitive artist second." G: "How would you describe your work or artistic style?" R: "My artistic style is cool, calm, and moody. I prefer to paint on smaller canvases because I feel it gives my work a more intimate feel. I don’t do big, loud, and bold."
G: "Are you creating art full-time?" R: "Maybe one day when my son is grown I will pursue art full-time, but I’m not sure I’ll ever want to make it full-time gig. I’ve found that painting for any reason other than because I feel like it often leaves me drained of enthusiasm and creative drive. I’m okay with being a little selfish with my creative energy these days."
G: "How long have you been painting?" R: "I have been a passionate creative for as long as I can remember. Art was always my favorite subject and when I wasn’t playing outside as a kid, I was painting and drawing. I started taking painting seriously in high school. I’m self-taught aside from high school elective art classes. After high school, I abandoned painting for about four years. I started painting again after having my son in 2014—I think my soul needed a creative outlet to cope with the demands of young motherhood."
G: "How have you managed to become successful in this arena? I feel like becoming a successful artist is daunting and challenging." R: "The thought of taking my passion and turning it into a full-time profession makes me anxious. A couple years ago, after publishing my art on social media, I got sucked into the idea that I had to produce to make my followers happy and that I had to give everyone an opportunity to purchase my art. I was and am extremely grateful for the support of my online audience, but it did come with a lot of pressure (partly self-inflicted). Nowadays, I create when I feel called and sell my paintings as they accumulate on my shelves. Once in a while I will accept commission requests if I feel inspired. I’m content with this approach so far."
G: "How have you gained your audience? And how has social media helped you grow?" R: "I have a fantastic core group of internet and real life supporters that have kindly shared my work and 'like' and 'comment' consistently. I believe they are the main reason that my audience has grown as it has. I also do my best to keep my portfolio tight with consistent and thoughtful photographs of my work. I used to look into ways to perfect my hashtag game, but I’ve grown a tired of worrying about numbers. Instagram is a wonderful tool, but it can definitely give you a false sense of worth based on silly numbers."
G: "Who are some inspirations of yours, and why?" R: "I’m particularly inspired by several amazing current artists such a Monika Kralicek, Adam Hall, Brian Stostrom, and Henny Latul. All of these artists use cool, dreamy hues to create nature-inspired paintings that I fall hard for. Their work also shares an introverted vibe that resonates so deeply to me."
G: "I noticed a lot of your art is softer. Do you think your work describes you?" R: "Absolutely. My work is an extension of my deep-feeling, introverted soul. I love to spend time in quiet solitude and I feel that the softness in my art evokes and expresses that sort of feeling."
G: "I also saw that you had a period on instagram where you posted brighter works, with shades of blue and purple. What made you experiment with those textures and colors? Was it just temporary?" R: "That was definitely a time of fun experimentation, and before I really landed on my signature style. I had been inspired by galaxy themed art and abstraction. Jewel tones were also something really appealing to me at the time. I still find that style fun, but I didn’t connect with my work back then like I do now. Experimentation leads to discovery and through it I found my creative language."
G: "What types of media do you use for your works?" R: "Acrylic paint (usually heavy body) on either stretched canvas or wood panel."
G: "What draws you to creating mostly night scenes?" "Nighttime is when I feel the creative juices flowing. I feel it holds such a unique and magical feeling, especially when the moon takes the stage. Sometimes I think daylight is just too extroverted for me [sic] lol."
G: "As a mother, is time a challenge to your career? How have you found this balance to create your works and sell them?" "Motherhood is my career and also the biggest challenge to my creative endeavors, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel so fortunate to have the ability to be home with my son."
G: "How has it felt to have your work displayed at the Catfe? Have you been featured in other galleries, more notably in Dayton?" R: "I feel pretty accomplished getting a collection together for display in my hometown. I’m grateful that Gem City Catfe invited me to show my work, because I don’t think I would’ve sought out this experience otherwise. It was a fun way to push myself to do something out of my comfort zone, and now that I’ve done it I plan to display my work more often. The last time I had work on display was in high school at the Miamisburg Art Gallery—so it’s definitely been a long while."
G: "What draws you to quieter colors?" R: "I am an introverted and highly-sensitive person; these elements of my identity heavily influence and inspire my art. For me, quiet = peace. Most red tones feel noisy and give me a bit of anxiety to look at on my palette, so I very rarely use them in my work."
G: "You mentioned being self-taught. I think that's super impressive! I know you mentioned it being intimidating, but what have you learned from this?" R: "I used to feel that because I didn’t attend art school that my work just couldn’t measure up. Once I decided to really accept the encouragement I always received from the people who love me, along with validation from complete strangers, I’ve learned to be more confident in my abilities.
Staying consistent with practice also plays a huge role in building confidence. Looking back on older work, I feel my growth as an artist is evident and that’s really rewarding. The mainstream art world can be intimidating, but I’ve come to realize that much of it is pretty pretentious. The beauty of art is that it can be anything to anyone."
G: "What can you tell other people who might find it daunting to be an artist who might not be certified on paper?" R: "Don’t worry about credentials. Frida Kahlo never attended formal art school, Vincent Van Gogh was largely self-taught, and Henri Rousseau (also without training) didn’t begin painting until age 40. These are just a few of “the greats” and I find that extremely significant. It’s amazing what humans can do when they harness their innate creative power."
G: "What are some key lessons you've learned in your time creating your works?" R: -My productivity does not determine my value. -Not everything I create has to be “good”. Often times, I still find myself creating for the perfect end product. I struggle with “wasting” time and materials on a painting fail, so I’m still working on trying to just enjoy the process. -I can paint things just for myself. -It’s okay to take breaks, to say no, and to keep some things for myself."
Rayna, thank you so, so much for collaborating with me on this and for allowing me to share your story. Your voice is so special and important for other artists, young and old. You inspire me, that's for sure!