Yesterday, I introduced you to the Stella Carakasi brand and told you to get ready for a whole week of Stella on Daisy Tribe. Today we have a really special feature of one member of the Stella Carakasi team, Yarra McClure. In addition to her role as Stella’s Director of Customer Engagement, Yarra is a talented artist with a lifelong passion for painting. She also happens to be one of the warmest, friendliest people you will ever meet. I’m so excited to share Yarra’s story with you, and hope you will enjoy hearing about her journey from a kid who colored on the walls to the accomplished artist that she is today. (She also shares how she finds inspiration – and why her perfect Saturday morning includes coffee and a four pound chihuahua)!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, my name is Yarra McClure and I am an artist. My art form is painting, varying from small canvases (4” x 4”) to larger works (6’ x 9’). Abstract expressionism, color and landscape are my main influences. I aim to create paintings that are imbued with feeling. When someone looks at my work I want them to feel the aliveness of the image through my use of color and the way that the paint dances on the canvas. Painting, for me, is a way to seek a deeper understanding and connection to the world and myself. My art is where I find my home. To find that “home” I’m often inspired by other people’s work. For instance I might see something and think, “I wonder if I can do that?” Once I start trying to emulate a technique or image I begin to understand what it is and to make it my own. Part of what makes my work unique is the way that I layer paint. My paintings vary from watercolors, to lightly layered acrylic paintings to heavily layered oil paintings. In each painting I work with layers of glazes and washes of paint until I feel a harmony of brushstrokes and color has emerged.
Can you tell us a little about how you got started with painting and how you’ve evolved over time?
I have been drawing and painting since I was little. My parents always encouraged me to draw and paint – I was one of those kids who would draw on the walls. All through school I was always drawing and painting. As time went on and I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I resisted the thought of an art path. Even in college, studying art didn’t seem practical and I tried to resist. Once I began taking painting classes I was hooked. Painting is a life-long passion for me. Over the last 15 years my work has evolved to include more symbolism, even though it is still primarily abstract. Today I feel more free to juxtapose abstract fields of paint with representational imagery. I have become more comfortable with my painting process over time which translates into paintings that are more fluid. My process is fairly simple, I start with a subject and research it. For instance, I wanted to paint a picture of Tomales Bay after a visit there. I had a general impression and then drew from photos I found after researching online. Beginning a canvas can take time, after an initial painting is established I like to draw into the painting and apply more layers. What comes across to me is a story in paint; you see the process of the painting, and the layers of paint and pencil have a history that comes alive on the canvas.
Which painting is your favorite, and why?
Wow, that is a hard question. In many ways the painting Untitled, 2001 at Stella Studio is my favorite painting (below left). I painted it after I first moved to the Bay Area – I was living in the Mission in an Edwardian flat on Liberty Street and my art studio was in a tiny basement around the corner. I remember sitting in the living room of the flat one evening and looking out the window at the wall of the building that was only about four to six feet away from our living room windows! The light from our windows was creating these beautiful ripples across the grooves of the our neighbors paneled building. This was the inspiration for the painting, and when I look at it I think of city nights and how beautiful the passage of light can be.
What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday morning?
Sipping coffee, going for a dog walk and having long talks with close friends and family. I have a busy life working in the fashion industry with Stella Carakasi – in addition I like to stay active in my free time with academic and creative pursuits. On Saturdays, I like to take Lola, my four pound chihuahua, out for long walks while catching up with friends and family on the phone. I have three siblings and this is how I like to connect with them.
Do you have any advice for living a creative life?
Creativity and beauty is everywhere. For me there is nothing like seeing powerful art to recharge my creative “batteries.” I love being surprised by the work of other artists by looking at street art, visiting galleries and museums. Living a creative life is a work in progress – be persistent with practicing your craft. Also, I recommend finding people you trust to share your work with and to bounce ideas off of – it is important to have collaborators.
Where can we find more of your work?
You can find me at my website, www.yarramcclure.com.
Yarra, it was such a pleasure to feature you on our site today. I loved reading about your journey from childhood to now (my kids love to color on the walls too so I guess there’s hope!) – and I feel like your advice to be inspired by other artists, be persistent with your craft, and collaborate with other creatives – will strike a chord with many of our readers out there. I look forward to seeing how you continue to evolve and inspire us with your art.
Tomorrow we’ll be back for more Stella Carakasi Week on Daisy Tribe, so please check in and see what we have in store!