While life and location made it challenging for us to connect, when the timing was right and the room was quiet (for a moment), we were able to put aside the to-do list and visit. We instantly found common ground as moms of twin boys, sharing the joys and challenges of raising these little ones to be both individuals and celebrate their connectedness. As our conversation unfolded, it was obvious that Cameron Schmitz is a natural teacher, curator, creator, collector, and talented artist. A little bit of everything, Cameron is able to channel all of it into the beautiful artwork that she creates.
Born into a creative family, Cameron has been painting for as long as she can remember. Throughout Cameron’s childhood, she received gifts of sketchbooks and art supplies. These artistic treasures summoned Cameron to explore her own talents at a very young age. Comparing her work to that of her creative mother and father provided a rubric of success and challenged Cameron to find her own perspective. Cameron’s desire to paint led her to major in art and eventually pay her own way through graduate school, where she refined her talent and found amazing mentors within the industry.
While she might not recognize it, Cameron has a deep rooted trust in herself, the process, and the moment. She challenges herself to live in the right now, with a great appreciation for each unfolding experience. All of these little moments have provided context for her work and given her confidence to “just create”. Recognizing and honoring her work as an evolution and inspired by what is going on around her, Cameron acknowledges that she is “on her own path, and will end up where she should be” – both in life and in painting.
Cameron is not only an accomplished artist but also a natural in front of others. In her signature workshops, Cameron’s mere presence puts others at ease. Sharing her knowledge of color theory, composition, and visual basics, Cameron takes each participant on a personal journey towards artistic freedom and practice. Cameron helps others find their voice and shows them how to make paint dance across the canvas with the rhythm of their life – combining colors in concert with the mood, life-stage, and experience of the hands that hold the paintbrush.
Even when life is hectic, Cameron carves out time to paint, which feeds her soul and restores inner balance. Three months after her daughter was born, she was at the easel cultivating her craft. Once the twins arrived, Cameron headed right back into the studio – sometimes even painting with the boys in kangaroo carriers. Cameron’s daily schedule and movements are reflected in how she approaches a painting - the depth of emotion from inside herself showing up in the colors and strokes in each piece she creates.
Giving herself permission to move at her own pace, Cameron is uncovering freedom in her process and in the ability to manage her own timelines. Not only are the paintings she creates beautiful, but the wisdom Cameron shares through her journey of creation is extraordinary, deep, honest, and humble.
Here's peek into our conversation.
What is your process for creating? Do you have a time of day or place that you are most creative?
I have always been a morning person. I see color much more accurately in natural light and my color is so much better when mixed during daylight hours. On the three days that the kids go off to school early in the morning, I'm right into the studio, often unshowered because I want to take advantage of every minute possible.
I start on a blank canvas with a drawing. With a large loaded brush, I begin with a single gesture on the canvas. Sometimes this is while on the easel, sometimes it's on the floor or sometimes when it's a really large canvas it's propped up on paint cans leaning against the wall- either way, I am making big gestural moves, moving my body simultaneously to express that gesture. That gesture activates the picture plane and gives me a starting point. I then directly respond to that gesture and begin building upon it while sometimes wiping other areas away - a dance of give and take. There's a lot of back and forth with the painting. I make a mark, dash or gesture and then observe and respond to what I'm seeing. Eventually, I am not the one dictating things and it's the painting calling the shots and all I'm doing is responding to that, giving it what it needs.
What part of your artistic career are you most proud of?
This is a difficult question for me. I think my biggest success honestly is getting back into my studio only 2 weeks after my twin boys were born. Some days I had them both on me in the double carrier, continuing to paint regularly in my studio even while they were infants. I was physically exhausted but at the same time, I didn't want them to be the reason that I didn't paint. In fact, it was such a surprise to find out that I was pregnant with twins that I initially panicked and feared that having twins and thus 3 children under three would result in the end of my painting practice and the end of my art career as a know it. Now they go to day care three days a week and I am the most productive I have been since 2007 when I had no children and had all day in the studio.
My biggest successes in life are also my greatest challenges. And my biggest challenges are my greatest inspirations. My three beautiful children who are 3 and under are energy-intensive, but they are also what fuel me in the studio and are the greatest source of inspiration to me!
What inspires you?
Painting is a metaphor for my perception of life, inspired by tender, emotional relationships, and rooted in notions of touch, love, and wonder that I experience as a woman, mother, and humble observer of the world.
I use mark-making to express the constantly moving, changing, and morphing of life and nature, leaving observers certain that they are witnessing merely a fleeting moment in time. I am fascinated by the imagery that emerges from the physical and emotive act of painting itself—dashes of paint, gestural strokes, and rhythmic painterly marks are representative of human touch, personal exchange, energy, and the shifting of time.
Why do you love abstract painting?
My pathway into abstraction stems from my background in both landscape and figurative painting—I have always been fascinated by gesture and the human aspects of nature, such as the way tree branches appear to reach out to each other, as if yearning to touch and hold hands. I have found that being a parent has heightened my senses and my desire to move beyond literal forms and clarified my artistic motivation to express joy, wonder, and a contented unknowing about life. All of which is messy and intense but always potent with exceptional beauty. It is this uncertainty I embrace while painting intuitively and abstractly because it allows me to relinquish control and give way for the painting to become a dialogue between me, the material, and its viewers.
Where do you want your career to be in 2yrs?
My first and foremost goal is for my work to continue to develop and to increase my ability to produce work and create new efficiencies within my practice (like my dreaded annual accounting! Ha!)
Currently, my work is represented by three galleries and an art dealer- covering the locations of Vergennes, VT, Greenwich, CT, Norfolk, VA, and Palm Beach, FL. In two years, I hope to be represented by a gallery or dealer in the Boston area and another strong location where my work is not currently available.
Additionally, I've been in the process of building up my print business so that I can offer my work in a more affordable and sustainable way to a broader market and audience. It's really important to me that my work is accessible, and my hope is that by offering giclee prints, I can provide affordable art to people who love my work but are unable to afford an original piece (yet!). I would of love for anyone and everyone to own an original, but I also know that it's not within everyone's means, and so my goal is that by providing an online shop for custom prints I can reach a broader audience and feel like I'm making my work more accessible to people (like me) who are on a tight budget. This past December I launched a new online shop and will be adding new prints to the website this spring, and will be continuing to gradually expand this.