Alena Hennessy Artist Interview
Artist Alena Hennessy explains her path to becoming a full-time artist including her art background to her popular artist retreats.
Alena Hennessy Bio
Alena is the author of Cultivating Your Creative Life, The Painting Workbook, Intuitive Painting Workshop, and beloved teacher of the art-making process, both online and at select retreats. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines and publications, including Dwell, The Washington Post, Somerset Life, Spirituality & Health, ReadyMade, Redbook, Stitch, Victoria, and Natural Health magazine, as well as being featured on Good Morning America and pilot shows for ABC Studios. Her paintings have been exhibited across major cities in the U.S., along with several museum shows. Alena is also a flower essence practitioner, along with being a Reiki master and energy healer. Through grace and intuitive guideposts, she calls the beautiful town of Asheville, NC her home. As a facilitator, her intention is that each participant leave a little more transformed, content, and open to wild possibility.
Please tell us what you do.
I’ve been working over 12 years now as a full-time artist. My painting style is fluid and bold in the elements, especially color. I like to use an array of media to create work that honors the natural world, abstraction, and expression of feelings and intent. On my website (www.alenahennessy. com) you can find a variety of online courses about finding your voice and exploring paint and media to transform and fulfill. I also have three books out on the creative and painting process.
Please tell us about your art?
For as long as I can recall I have been making art, drawing imaginary scenes, and enchanted with being in a creative space. Currently, I work small to large in painting or 2d mixed media. My work is water-based with a free instinctual feeling. I love to also paint animal totems, muse or Goddesses, and abstracted landscapes. I love to use paint pen over very layered backgrounds, sometimes I collage, sometimes I add glitter (it all depends on the mood)! I would describe my work as feminine, bright and contrasted, while honoring forms in nature.
What is your art background?
Since I was four years old I have been drawing.. but yes, I do have formal education experience in the arts. I have an undergraduate degree in Fine Art as well as graduate level experience in Design and Art Education. I’ve been painting for the last 18 years but the last 12 I have been a full time artist.
Your website says that your Year of Painting is your most popular class, please tell us about that course?
How it basically works is that at the beginning of every month, I will post a new lesson + technique related to painting (ink, acrylic watercolor, collage, mixed media and so forth). This way you can stay inspired through out the seasons, keep in contact with an awesome worldwide community and learn new ways of seeing and expressing yourself in intuitive processes that explore a wide range of subject matter. Working like this opens up new worlds within and around you creatively! Painting has literally changed my life in every way possible. Each lesson will contain a video (which is downloadable so you can always have it), along with supported text and photos. You can login to our private virtual classroom from anywhere and at anytime, as well as go at your own pace.
~ Setting Intentions with Intuitive Mixed Media ~
~ Wild Ink ~
~ Landscapes of our Dreams ~
~ Eastern Aesthetics ~
~ Paper, Thread, Paint ~
~ Expressive Portraits ~
~ Abstract World ~
~ Your Voice, Your Style ~
~ Fluidity and Variety ~
~ Creature World ~
~ Illustrated Painting ~
~ Culmination ~
Please tell us about your retreats?
I host workshops (at my studio in Asheville, NC) and retreats all around the world. My retreats are more for the body, mind, spirit (with a heavy focus on painting and creativity). Sometimes I collaborate with other teachers to create some juicy offerings. For next year I have two on the beach, one in Bali and the other on the Emerald Coast of Florida.
What advice can you give for artists considering offering their own retreats?
If you have built a following and love to teach and hold space for people, then offer them! The retreats I have hosted have been some of the most rewarding experiences in my life. It takes a lot of organization and follow-through, thinking about details and such. You will need help (assistance) and need to go carefully over budgets and what not. There is a lot more I can share as this is just the tip of the iceberg. A wonderful way to start out is to find a location near you to offer your first retreat or workshop even. If you have not taught or hosted a retreat before, start off simple by hosting a workshop in your area and then take it from there.
You’ve gotten a lot of press for your work, how do you get that publicity?
I have received press in a variety of ways, many found me through being written up on blogs or visiting me at the international gift fairs in New York. One way to seek out press for yourself is to contact the right editor for the department you feel is a fit and offer a free gift and simple handwritten note on asking to be featured.
Do you have any advice for someone hoping to have an art career?
There is SO MUCH I can share about this, which is why I offer mentoring and ArtBiz courses. There are a lot of details that it took me to learn through trial and error, along with keen observation. The main thing I would share is do the work, be devoted to it, and make effort each business day towards your career. Try doing 3 things in three different honey pots (marketing, building a following, asking for what you need, sharing your work, making connections, etc). Brainstorm on an art business model that is true to you, where you get to be yourself, and can also support you financially. Everything in life requires an intention to balance, so it’s vital to realize the business aspect of having an art career is pretty damn important. Another simple but key thing to know is that your website is your home, you are introducing yourself and making a first impression, so its imperative to not skimp on such impressions. Keep sharing your work and keep doing the work. Show up in your studio or kitchen table and make art.
An Inspired Whole Year! At the beginning of each month, Alena posts a new lesson and technique related to painting (ink, acrylic watercolor, collage, mixed media and so forth). This way you can stay inspired throughout the seasons, keep in contact with an awesome worldwide community, and learn new ways of seeing and expressing yourself in intuitive processes that explore a wide range of subject matter.