Here at LiveMom, we love meeting new moms (and dads) doing interesting things around town. Our monthly features give us an excuse to learn more about these hardworking Austinites.
I think that all that museum-going I did as a child instilled in me a real admiration for artists and the work they create. Luckily for us, we have so much amazing art to see here in Austin. The two times of year I tend to spend the most time taking in art are in the spring at the West Austin Studio Tour and during November at the East Austin Studio Tour. I usually come home with a pocketful of business cards from each event and vow to check out websites and plan our next art purchase.
Often, these business cards sit on my desk for months. I finally dug out of my office recently and subscribed to the e-newsletter of one of the artists we visited during the West Austin Studio Tour, Denise M. Fulton. My husband and I love her paintings of trees and hope to have one in our home at some point soon. After I read her newsletter, I realized she is a mom, so I reached out to her to see if she would be up for answering a few questions for a feature. Luckily, the answer was yes! Here are her answers to our questions about creating with little people under your roof, where she goes for inspiration and how she left the world of video games to pursue a career in fine art.
LiveMom: What brought you to Austin?
Denise: I moved to Austin to take a job as a manager for a video game studio. It was challenging, but not creatively rewarding. Subsequently, I worked at another game company in town in a similar role.
LiveMom: What made you decide to leave the corporate world to pursue a career in fine art?
Denise: The last game company I worked for closed two weeks before I gave birth to my second child and I decided that it was a good time to give my dream of being a fine artist a try. My husband and I evaluated the situation and agreed that five years would be a reasonable amount of time to devote to trying to make it happen. My daughter will be seven in February and my art career is now going strong.
LiveMom: Do you feel that there is something special about Austin which helps nurture creativity?
Denise: Austin is a place where it’s comfortable to be creative. There are quirky things to see almost everywhere you go — great things to paint and be inspired by. There is also a large community of talented artists and many great art-related events each year, e.g. The EAST and WEST studio tours.
LiveMom: Where are your favorite places to go around town to get inspired?
Denise: As you can see by my work, I’m inspired by nature — trees in particular. Some of my favorite places are by Shoal Creek, but there are wonderful trees tucked away in almost all of the Austin neighborhoods.
LiveMom: Have you experimented with other mediums, or were you always drawn to painting?
Denise: I play around with many mediums, but always return to painting. It’s a bit of a joke around my home that I’m always trying out a new medium or craft. So far I’ve tried out mosaic, wood carving, lamp-working (glass), pottery, crochet, and clay sculpture. Within painting, I’ve worked in watercolor, acrylic and oils. Each of these forays teaches me something and brings new perspective to my work.
LiveMom: Did your art or creative process change when you became a parent? If so, how?
Denise: I got a lot more efficient about my time once I became a parent. Every moment when the kids were occupied (napping, at school, etc.) was time that I could be painting. This was especially true when the kids were babies. Now that they’re in school full time, it’s a lot easier.
LiveMom: What do you like most about Austin, and what would you change if you could?
Denise: I like a lot of things about Austin. When I moved here I assumed that it would be a temporary home (since video game jobs are transient by nature). Now, fourteen years later, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Austin has a charm that’s hard to resist.
In terms of what I would change, I’d join the chorus in wishing that it would stop growing so fast. I think as Austin develops into a genuine big city, it is losing some of its appeal.
LiveMom: What is your idea of the perfect family-friendly day around town?
Denise: I’d start with breakfast at the original Kerby Lane then head to Zilker Park with the kids and dog in tow. After a few hours of fun outside, we’d head to the Alamo Drafthouse for a kid-friendly movie and lunch.
LiveMom: What would you do in Austin if you had 24 hours to yourself?
Denise: Not to be boring…but I’d probably just work in my studio. It’s what I like to do best.
LiveMom: What are you working on now? Do you have any exhibits on the horizon?
Denise: I just finished a two-person exhibit featuring my landscape paintings at Davis Gallery, where I’m one of the gallery artists. In the studio, I’m working on a series of figure paintings that I hope to exhibit next year. You can see the latest work on my website, www.denisemfulton.com.