Nashville artist Amanda Norman has been painting for her entire life. After completing adult painting classes while she was only in the fifth grade, she continued her craft all throughout high school. But when it came time to go to college, she had other career aspirations. “I wanted to be an engineer,” she recalls. “But then I switched majors [and] got into linguistics.”
Through it all, Amanda had been spending hours painting in her dorm room. Finally, she decided it was time to follow and commit to her passion — she changed her major for the last time to officially study art. With a father in the music business, she had a family that supported her desire to follow a creative career path, and she began painting professionally right out of college in 2004. “I have a wide range in what I do,” she says of her current work. “I do abstracts, florals, and portraits.”
She had been creating abstract and floral pieces on her own for years, but portraits came into play after a friend of a friend asked her to paint a picture of their dog. Amanda agreed, and portrait requests snowballed from there. “Since then, I’ve done hundreds of pet portraits,” she says. “Then, once I had my son, I started painting children’s portraits. I [also] had somebody ask me if I could paint the church that they were married in, which then led me to start home portraits.”
This series of “yeses” — trying new and unexpected things along the way — has led Amanda to where she is today. Despite the fact that it’s not exactly how she imagined her career would go, she’s pleased with the diverse group of clients she has amassed over the years. “I always kind of thought that at this stage in my painting career I would be a little bit more focused in on what it was that I did [and] have a little more of a narrow offering,” she explains. “But I realized I really enjoy being able to have my abstract clients, [and] my floral clients … and my portrait clients. And I have several clients who have like, one of each [type of painting].”
Like most artists, Amanda doesn’t necessarily have a favorite type of painting she likes best, as each genre holds special, personal meaning. “I’ve been painting abstract art for a really long time, but this current series of watercolor abstracts came about when my son was about 6 months old,” she says.
Her marriage was nearing its end, and as a new parent, she was feeling hyper-focused on ensuring everything for little Ward was just perfect. “I made homemade baby food,” she recalls, “and [one] day I roasted beets. [Ward] was sitting there eating the beets … and he was covered; he was dyed magenta, essentially. And when I went to clean him up … the paper towels turned this gorgeous, hot pink color. This beet water was just beautiful, and I was thinking — oh my gosh, I wonder if I can paint with this?”
Amanda quickly finished cleaning up, put her son down for a nap, and proceeded to start working on her first series of loose-stroke abstracts.
“Since then, I came to realize that I had this sort of spiritual evolution alongside the evolution of that series,” she adds. “The whole idea is just sort of letting go [and] trusting the process. As I moved into doing them in watercolor — not natural pigments — I really started to realize that they were each almost tied to an element. Each element [represented] sort of what you needed [at the time] — like [there was a] message from that element, essentially. And so because of that, the abstracts feel very special to me.”
The floral paintings represent growth, renewal, and femininity, which resonates strongly with Amanda, and she enjoys painting portraits because she loves being able to capture special memories for other people. “I like them all for different reasons,” she says, adding that much of her work has been inspired by happy accidents. “I have a quote on my website that resonates and is a part of my creative process. Essentially it’s that my favorite part about painting is that intersection of the deliberate and the unexpected, and that it’s the intersection of those two things that make for the most authentic and exciting moments — in both a piece of art and in life. I just have so many art lessons and life lessons … I feel like I’ve learned a lot about life and my spiritual journey through my creative process.”
The results of her creative process can be found at G. Grace Gallery in Nashville; The George Gallery and Dog & Horse Fine Art in Charleston, SC; and Well & Wonder online. Amanda is also preparing for the Montage Well Living inaugural event, which is held at Montage Palmetto Bluff. At the weekend-long wellness experience, which features Deepak Chopra as the keynote speaker, Amanda will be teaching an abstract watercolor art class. “As my career continues to evolve,” she says, “I realize that I’m learning a lot of life lessons through my creative experience. And I’m working on finding ways to help really bring those sort of life lessons and spiritual evolution to the forefront of my work.”
Learn more about Amanda and explore her work at amandanormanstudio.com. All photos courtesy of Amanda Norman.
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