We had the good fortune of connecting with Rose Irelan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rose, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I was working as a Creative Director and Graphic Designer. I had been doing this type of work for quite awhile. In the recession of early 2000’s the company I worked for closed their doors for the San Diego office. At that time I had 3 children from ages 5 – 12. I had volunteered at the the local school to teach art there for many years. I would take time of off of work to do this. I felt getting art and creativity back to our youth was so important and something that was being pushed aside because of budget cuts. This really hit me in the heart, because as a young child and into my teens it was art where I found my genius, my confidence and my peace. I was not good at Math and struggled with some other subjects, home life was not good with an abusive and alcoholic father. I may have been diagnosis with ADD if that was a thing back then. It was in High School where I had an art teacher, Mrs. Zimmerman who not only recognized my talent bu told me that I could do art as a career. She told me about the Art College, CCAD, downtown in Columbus Ohio, and suggested I go there for Saturday morning art School. I loved it!!!!! I found other creative people I could relate to. Loved the teachers, loved being in the studio and the smell of Oil Paint. This became a turning point for me. Because of an increase in my confidence and finding out that I was not “dumb”, but that I was a visual problem solver and a creative thinker. I quickly figured out better ways to study and memorize things. (visually of course). I became engaged in school, and ended up being an Honor roll student during my last 2 years of High School. I won the Governors Award for a couple of my drawings. Art was a huge Game Changer for my life. After high school I went to CCAD (the Columbus College of Art and Design where I earned my BFA in Illustration with a fine art minor. My husband and I moved out to California and that was the start of my 20 year career as a graphic designer/illustrator.
So back to the early 2000’s when I was faced to find another Creative Director job, I had some sort of Divine Intervention, and I just had this very clear message that I needed to open up an art school, teach art and get back to my love of painting! Also as a Creative Director I was in charge of hiring Creative talent and interviewed graduates of art programs looking for jobs. I recognized the lack of foundation art skills they had after attending 4 year University programs. I can’t tell you how many times that when I would ask a young graphic designer fresh out of school to sketch up their ideas and bring them to me for review….that they would say…”I don’t draw”. That just hit me like “Wow, this is really bad. They are not going to get far if they can not even sketch up their ideas!” I was saddened with where art education was going from elementary school through college and decided I wanted to do what I could to change that.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is about life, color, and the deeper essence of Nature, people or a place. People that look at my art usually first comment about the color and how I captured something or someone. They may not know how I did that but they are attracted to those qualities. They also comment on how when they view my work close up they see impressionistic brush strokes yet how it pulls together with depth and reality when looked at from afar. These qualities come from my study of light and working from “Life” in direct painting methods that I have done for so many years. Direct painting is painting direct from life (vs. the use of photos). I get most excited about light and the use of color!! I look for subjects that bring an emotional response in my soul and engage my aesthetic sense. It is then that I know I must capture that moment in time. I love the adventure of Art and how you never know where a painting is going to take you until you just dive in and lose yourself in abandonment. I love the challenge of painting…of balancing skill with intuition. Painting is much like a sport to me. I was a competitive gymnast in my early years. The balance of skill, artistry and dedication is part of my painting practice and work ethic. Finding the poetry of light, color and brushwork is where I bring my Art alive. Getting to where I am in my painting and my teaching business was not easy. It has taken me a great deal of discipline and grit to stay with both. I raised 3 children as the parent at the home….while juggling going to art classes and workshops while creating my curriculum for my art school and teaching. It took ongoing ingenuity to figure out how to balance family life with running an art school and becoming the best painter I could be. I will always be working on how to be the best painter I can ….I imagine I will continue this as long as a live. I overcame these challenges by keeping an ongoing positive altitude! I also was doing what I loved: being a mom, working on my art and teaching. No matter how busy I was, I was learning new things and figuring out how to balance a life and the people that I loved. There was a lot of frustration with not being able to paint up to what my knowledge base was. This is typical. Where we can become front loaded with theory, and procedure of how to do art, but can not execute it to what we see in our mind’s eye! So frustrating!!!! But the real deal is this folks…..You have to be in it 100%, digging the trenches, living it, breathing it and doing it for a LONG time for it to all come together. This is what I find to be problematic about sitting on our computers WATCHING art tutorial videos and not doing the work directly. Watching someone paint will not get you there. You MUST take the first steps to paint yourself. You must continue that journey step by step. Don’t fall into the trap that every painting must be a success. No! That does not happen with any artist! If they tell you that happens, its a lie!! In fact… the most meaningful moments of my learning to paints a by product from my failures. So you learn to practice, have patience, and to just love the process of learning. You find that the beauty is in the journey itself and how each painting reveals a new secret every friggin” time! Nurture your sense of curiosity! Chase the light, paint and draw what makes you excited!! This is how I came up with creating my Art Journey brand. What makes my teaching methodology different … is my in-depth teaching and hands on exercises of the fundamentals of art. In my 20 years of teaching it has become clear to me that it is in the understanding and implementation the foundations where we can actually set ourselves free to express our own artistic voice! Foundations first, and after that something good to revisit often. I am super excited to launch my new online course: THE FOUNDATIONS OF OIL PAINTING!! This is an 11 part step-by-step painting course. Each video has a lesson plan (PDF) that is designed to give you the most background knowledge you will need for the lesson along with invaluable information about art foundations. Each lesson builds upon the last lesson. So that each painting you do in this course will help you gain more knowledge and understanding of painting. This is a course that will get you off of the sidelines and actually painting!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to Sunset Cliffs for sure. If they are a painter…we would take our painting gear to plein air paint. After painting we would stop by Lion Cafe for a latte and yummy bruch, or if they were ready for a margarita and Mexican food we would go one block down to Hugos Cocina!! No trip to San Diego is compete without an outing to see Balboa Park. The best day ever would be a stroll in Balboa Park, visiting the San Diego Art Museum and then dinner and drinks at the Prado. Then top off the evening with a play at the Old Globe. (I can not wait to see live plays again!). We would have to also take a hike at Torrey Pines, and check out the Torrey Pines Glider Port. We would also need to do a beach day in Del Mar. I would definitely love to take them wine tasting in Ramona!! Ramona Ranch is one of my favorite views of the mountains. I also like the urban wineries in my neighborhood in Poway. Mission Cellars Winery and Koi Zen; fabulous wine makers at both! And at Koi Zen we would go on a Saturday night so we could catch some entertainment (yes during Covid!!!) I would also make sure they get to mountain bike while in town. We (my husband and I) would take them to Penasquitos Canyon Preserve for some fun night riding (with head lamps). We would also have to head over to Iron Mountain for sunset hike. They would want to see my gallery in my home and check out all my art. My husband Dave would make them a wonderful dinner and my daughter Rae Irelan would likely come over too because she lives in town and can not pass up his grilled salmon. She would serenade us with her original music. We would wine and dine and play on our boulders and Dave would force them to swing on our HUGE tree swing. They would go home filled with fun, laughter and a bit exhausted!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Well first of all I would like to thank my mother, who passed away this year, for always encouraging me to do my art. Then I would like to Shout Out to my husband, Dave, who continues to support me doing my art, and my teaching endeavors through all the years. Some of the time my painting takes me on trips and workshops and he is supportive and encouraging when I need to go on these excursions. Traveling and expanding my perspective has been a big part of my art journey and the development of my plein air and landscape work. (Outdoor painting. “Plein air” means plain air in French. Then of course my first high school art teacher, Mrs. Zimmerman. I would like to recognize my art school, CCAD, The Columbus College of Art and Design, for their amazing Illustration Department. https://www.ccad.edu One of the teachers that I learned the most from at CCAD is Joseph Canzani (the school’s president then), who taught Canzani color (color theory) for the full 4 year term. I learned a TON about color from this program. There were some great design teacher’s there as well. When I got back into painting in the early 2000’s I started classes with Watts Atelier. It was with Robert Watts that I first learned how to Plein Air Paint. (paint outdoors). I also studied with Jeffrey Watts (founder of the school and a great fine artist), where I learned so much about drawing and painting people. Since, I have taken many painting workshops. Some of the most influential painters I have studied with are Daniel Pinkham, Jill Carver, Ray Roberts, Kevin MacPherson, and Carolyn Anderson.
© copyright Rose Irelan