FACES of Nashville: Dorsey McHugh

We are absolutely thrilled to showcase Dorsey McHugh today. Liza, one of the co-founders of StyleBlueprint, tells the story of selling her lunch cafe in 2001 and wanting to buy a Dorsey McHugh painting, as she simply was drawn to all her artwork. Instead, she bought adorable and expensive bedding for her children, which they outgrew within a few years. The painting would have been the better investment (but the bedding was really cute!). So, when Liza almost moved to Maryland in 2009, she got in her car and drove to Dorsey’s home to purchase a painting. She would not leave Nashville without some Dorsey McHugh art hanging on her wall! It was from this meeting that she continued to stay in touch with Dorsey. Liza remained in Nashville and the painting she bought hangs above the fireplace in her bedroom, making her smile every single day. We hope everyone can find art that makes them just as happy.

Where did you grow up and what brought you to Nashville?

I grew up in a small town in South Dakota, located not far from the Black Hills. We ended up in Nashville because of the music business. This is our home now.

We understand that your career as an artist was a path that emerged later in life than most who become professional artists. What inspired you to change directions?

I admired artists all my adult life, never imagining that I might be one. A friend gave me a book by Betty Edwards, “Drawing on the Artist Within.”  I read the book and did the exercises in it from cover to cover. When I was done, I knew that my life had been changed. Art has been my largest passion since then.

We love the change that your artwork has taken in the past few years. Would you now say that most of your artwork is going in this paper collage multi-media direction?

I like switching back and forth between different mediums. I know I will always be painting with paper now. My technique is improving and I enjoy it even more now than when I started using it. But, paint (oil and acrylic with a palette knife) will always be dancing around in my head. I usually get ideas for subject matter and envision it done in either paper or paint.

We hear wonderful testimonials about your art classes. Do you plan to continue these?

Yes! There are a couple of other new things in my life that have been very exciting for me, and teaching is one of them. My classes are focused more on “finding your artist’s voice” rather than mimicking someone else’s voice. The only solid rule that cannot be broken in my classes is that my students are not allowed to say anything negative about their abilities. I encourage them to approach painting as if it were “play.” The goal is not to “do a painting,” but rather to have fun. It’s hard to be afraid when you are having fun.

I love seeing other artists begin to believe that they have something valuable to say with their talent. We will be doing a group show this fall (October 6th) at Character Eyes in Franklin to benefit Bridges Domestic Violence Center.

And I would love to make art a bigger priority for our children. The study of art has been proven again and again to improve a child’s ability to learn in all areas.

I am also doing some writing. You will hopefully hear more about this shortly…

If you could have another career entirely, what do you think it would be?

I have tried to think of some other career that would be even close to as appealing as art is. I can’t think of one. I began doing art so late in my life that I have never actually gotten to the point of taking it for granted. I am THANKFUL to be able to do this for a living. I love the excitement of each day’s journey.

What is your favorite thing about Nashville?

Lets see…I think my favorite thing is the people who live here. Endlessly interesting.

What books are currently on your bedside table (or in your Kindle).

I just finished reading Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Next, on my Nook is, Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Days. 

What was the last movie you saw at the theater and which movie are you most looking forward to seeing next?

I just saw Moonrise Kingdom. Love love loved it! I also can’t wait for Catching Fire, the second of the Hunger Games trilogy coming out next year.

Where is your favorite place to eat lunch?

Royal Thai in Bellevue.

Do you have an event you are most looking forward to in the next few months?

Yes – I am hoping to go to London and Paris in the fall.

Best piece of advice ever given to you?

To stay in this moment because this is the only one that is real.

Do you have any fears?

I don’t like to give voice to my fears, but spiders creep me out.

Person who has had the strongest influence in your life?

My father probably, though there have been so many people who have given me so much!!!!

Name three things you can’t live  without (excluding God, family and friends).

I love my laptop. Vegetables. And exercise, literally. Could not live without them.

Thank you so much Dorsey! Find out more about Dorsey and her work on her website, here.

Check out more photos from today’s FACES of Nashville on photographer extraordinaire Ashley Hylbert’s blog: here.