Latisa Tatum says even a blank wall can inspire her to think creatively.
“Everything I see is: ‘Oh, that would be an awesome painting. Oh I want to paint that.’ It’s constant,” said Tatum, 43.
A native of Mount Airy and current resident of Winston-Salem, Tatum uses bright colors to paint portraits, animals and flowers that convey a sense of serenity, which is not surprising given Tatum’s other jobs — yoga instructor at the Winston-Lake YMCA, 901 Waterworks Road, and massage therapist at the Breathing Room, 918 Bridge St.
Tatum grew up drawing and considered studying art in college.
“There was a long wait to get into the department, and I just got off track, doubting whether that could be a real profession,” Tatum said.
She returned to painting and now tries to paint a little every day.
“I get irritable if I don’t paint,” Tatum said.
Q: How would you describe your art?
Answer: I paint for the process as much as for the end result. So much is about how I feel when I’m creating art: focused, problem solving, seeing the infinite possibilities beginning to shift and change, experiencing the highs and lows of the creative process, a moving meditation. I love how meditative following the movement of each brush stroke can be or those “A-ha” moments of an unexpected end result. I’m most satisfied when I allow the process to morph from the original vision; that was simply the “seed” and it’s much more enjoyable to relax and stay open to what develops.
Q: How have you evolved as an artist?
Answer: As a kid creating art was simply an enjoyable way to entertain and express myself. In school, the purpose shifted to presenting something that was pleasing to others, and I found myself not enjoying the process as much. Over time, I’ve returned to the joy of creating for the sheer pleasure I feel when I do.
Q: Who has influenced your art?
Answer: My family has always been key in my development as an artist. They’re a source of immense encouragement, always there to lift me up and make me feel valued and supported in the full expression of myself.
Years ago I met a wonderful artist couple, Scott Burdick and Susan Lyons, who over the years have offered invaluable advice and encouragement. It’s been a great example to see them living their dream as successful working artists, through hard work and discipline.
Q: What are your biggest challenges?
Answer: Time! I like to have the whole setup when I’m painting, the windows open, the music playing or a podcast on. I become wrapped up in that “zone,” and before I know it, several hours have passed by, and I’m reminded of how time is such an illusion, perception is reality.
Q: What does art do for you?
Answer: Art truly is my passion and soul food, I can be in a funky mood and a friend will mention art supplies or anything about art and I’m lit!
I’m deeply inspired by viewing others’ creations, and I’m replenished whenever I have the opportunity to be creative. There are times when, out of concern, my family or friends will ask: “Have you had your art time lately?” I obviously become like a toddler that needs her nap, just not myself.
Q: Any advice for other artists?
Answer: I believe that we’re all creatives. We express it differently in our own unique ways. Artists are born, and if creating art is your calling, then I would say follow that passion to the ends of the earth no matter how many “no’s” you may hear. Never mistake someone else’s doubt as your own. Surround yourself with people who support you, and if that’s not possible then just isolate and create because it’s therapeutic. There’s a reason you have that passion and there’s Soul Gold to be mined in those moments of communion with yourself.
It has not always been the case, but I’m now able to truly embrace not just being an artist, but being an artist who can make a living at creating her art. The old paradigm of the struggling artist is falling away, thankfully.