Artist Gabrielle Noyé Explores Hidden Concepts And Sensations
Enjoy this interview with intuitive painting coach and working artist, Gabrielle Noyé. She will be launching a WomanSpeak Circle (where women learn the art and soul of public speaking) this month in Wexford, Pennsylvania. She’s also hosting Spring Tune Up, a day retreat for holistic well-being in Mars, Pennsylvania. All paintings in this article created and copyright Gabrielle Noyé.
Can you remember an instance when you first knew you were a creative person? What were you doing?
Although my mom and brothers were natural artists, my awareness of “creativity“ just wasn’t there early on. Although I did see my mom drawing from time to time, the first real experience I had where I really felt creative was in high school. I took a hand-building ceramics class. I felt creative like I had the ability to make something that I enjoyed.
How does your creativity manifest?
It manifests through concepts, colors, shapes, and sensations. Sometimes, I take those experiences and turn them into a painting, a haiku or story, or a project that involves other people.
Would life be different if you didn’t act on your creativity? How?
When I am present to my creativity, I see how I use it every day in pedestrian ways–especially in the kitchen when I cook. If I just followed recipes and formulas about how to cook, or about how to be, I think life would be very dull. The thought of that type of routine makes me shudder. I’m not interested in the type of existence where I can’t imagine, invent, and make things that take up literal space in the world.
Where do you “find” your ideas?
My ideas find me, so to speak. They come when I am not looking for them. Still, I “scratch,” as Twyla Tharpe puts it. I seek out new experiences with my senses because I am curious and harnessing that curiosity I find new ways to interact with ideas. There aren’t necessarily original ideas, but I trust (or hope) that there will be originality in the execution of my ideas.
Does society support your creative practice? How about your social circle, family, and friends?
I don’t know if society supports it. I hear a lot of lip service about supporting artists in different communities, but at the end of the day, it’s all up to me. No one is reaching out their hand to help, and that is okay with me. I don’t expect much from society.
My social circle and family do support me. They listen, give feedback, and engage with my sense of exploration. If I had friends who couldn’t engage and support much, well, we wouldn’t be friends. That sounds kinda shitty, but if I’m not fueled by being with them, I don’t waste my (or their) time. I am also looking to be supportive for other’s creativity in my relationships. When we can each support each other, it is a lot more fun.
What do you think makes one person an artist and another, not? Do you think our society supports artists, and should it?
I find this question interesting. I think being an artist shows up different ways. If one makes art, they are an artist in my world. I could expand that to say that everyone is an artist (which I believe), but not everyone will own up to that or take artful actions. I know people who I would consider artists, but they do not claim that title. In a creativity focus group I conducted, I asked participants about the artist identity and to my surprise, a few of them had no such title that they accepted. On one hand, it’s empowering to declare “I’m an artist.” However; for others, declaring this feels more like another hurdle to surmount, a title that heightens the expectations of others. I think these people are hesitant to own that they are an artist because they believe that their actions do not match up with what society expects of an artist.
I think that if society does indeed support artists, it’s only very narrowly and very selectively.
And it is asking us to compete with other artists for the “prize.” Society accepts some artists and not others. We accept those who are skilled and reject those who are not. We accept those who can communicate intellectually about their art and reject those who just shrug when asked about their art statement. But if being an artist is really about making art, then why would it matter if the quality was “good” or not? Could it be good enough that they loved doing it and that they had the courage to share it?
I am excited about where the peer-to-peer economy is going and I hope that the day of CVs on artist websites are over. That might signify the end of pandering to the art world’s current gatekeepers. If you have an audience and they want to buy your work, that is success to me! To be clear, I’m not against thoughtful discussion and commentary about art. That is interesting and worthwhile. I just have a hard time taking critics seriously when they talk about art. If they’ve never cultivated a practice, I don’t care much for their viewpoint because it’s out of touch and disconnected. Those who talk and don’t do cannot have a proper perception of the art experience because they make no contact with the actual making of art. This idea has been shaped from my love of environmental artist, Andy Goldsworthy’s quote: “There is no perception without contact.” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about art critics, but that is how I apply his statement.
Do you think artists should starve?
I don’t think it is necessary to starve as an artist. I reject the idea that being an artist means wallowing in turmoil and suffering. Suffering happens, but I don’t indulge in it. That doesn’t motivate me to create at all, but I suppose some are motivated by their suffering more than others. I’m motivated by curiosity, myself.
If one can’t make a living as an artist, they need to find something they don’t mind doing to support their art. I am giving up on this idea that our passions must pay the bills. I think that can backfire by putting too much pressure on the artist. Again, it depends on how one relates to pressure. I don’t do it well as an artist.
What challenges have you faced in your creative work?
The challenges I face often have to do with moving through the work even when I’m not sure where it’s going. I struggle to finish a piece before being tempted to just jump into another one. Often, I do start another and then have two or three paintings going at a time. It can work, but having a few unfinished pieces bothers me when I can’t give them attention and finish them.
I do the same thing with books, Gaby! This leads me to ask, do you give yourself strict rules when creating paintings, or do you let your subconscious and/or creative impulses lead your actions?
I will do both depending on the project. When I start an intuitive, process-oriented painting, my intention is to be spontaneous, explore, give up any agenda, and have no rules.
When I have an idea in mind for a product-oriented painting, there is a plan in place for the finished product.
Intuitive painting and product-oriented painting lie on a spectrum for me. There aren’t many absolutes where I can say “this one here is purely about the result, and this one here is purely about the process.” They are a blend of both, but making that intention clear beforehand guides me.
Finishing paintings give me a sense of achievement, so I intend to finish what I start, but the more time passes, the more I realize that the chance of getting back to the painting is slim. My engagement window is short (like 2 weeks), so oftentimes I will not even start a painting if I think I can’t finish it within a week.
How do you stick with it when the going gets tough?
I have to ask myself if I’m going to commit to the painting. This is usually about 40% of the way in. If the answer is “yes” then I have to let go a bit and be willing to see what happens instead of trying to control it. If the answer is “no” and I decide not to commit to it, then I let it go and try to recycle the canvas. Starting from a reused canvas is an even bigger challenge than not finishing, at times. You can see where you’ve been by the texture underneath–even if you paint it white–so it’s like a painting of denial and failure.
Does bad news in the outside world ever affect your creative process or output? Could you talk a bit about your work around sustainability in relation to art practice here?
No, the bad news in the world doesn’t consciously enter into my work or process. I used to make some political art, but I’ve lost my taste for that. It’s just not what I want to communicate about. However, in my immediate environment, negative things certainly influence whether or not I will paint or write. Sometimes, I over-schedule myself or I just have a bunch of unexpected things to deal with. When this happens, it affects my process and causes delays and distractions. If I’m also in a stressful state I don’t have a desire to paint.
Ideally, I would love for my whole life to be sustainable and that would include my creative practice. It isn’t though. I don’t need my art practice to be financially sustainable, but at some point, I might. I am beginning to see how workability is just as valuable as sustainability; it’s easier to commit to and feels more attainable! I can make my systems work in my life. Sustainability? I’m not sure, but I’m open to the possibility of it.
How do you measure success when working with an intuitive painting client?
I measure success is their enjoyment of the process and their breakthroughs. If they have a new, more enjoyable, way of relating to their creativity, that means I have helped them. If they learn to work around their so-called “blocks” (i.e. perfectionism, control, and resistance) that is success.
Does coaching others help you in your personal art practice?
Yes, because I hear my own words reflected back at me. Seeing another person’s creative blind spots helps me see my own–sometimes, not always. That is why coaches need coaches. Coaching also helps me in my painting practice because I see how most of us struggle with the same things. I see certain themes pop up repeatedly, and how they are normal. And I don’t make myself wrong about it. It’s just human to resist, procrastinate, and get side-tracked.
What does your creative work offer, in a larger sense, to your life?
It gives me a way to express the ideas I am playing with and it keeps me engaged. If I’m writing, I feel it makes an impact on others who can see a bit of themselves in the story, the poem, or the prose. When I am in a state of flow in painting it is immensely satisfying and relaxing.
What are you working on currently?
I am working on a book about the creative process, starting a podcast about artists, and working on my paintings. I have this novel idea that I will put my haikus into my paintings, but I haven’t gotten around to that in years. My current paintings are abstractions and color fields. I love to experience vastness, so I aim for that in my abstracts.
I’ve had a few revelations this season in regards to the way I run my business. My platform and message are clearer than they have ever been. Basically, I am allowing my own spirituality to be part of my business. Previously, I had kept it private, thinking that it didn’t have a place in my work. Now, I see it as a source of alignment and strength. This renaissance, if you will, is not fully articulated yet. I am giving myself the winter to surrender to that vision and move forward with purpose and refinement.
How have you made it financially possible to focus on your art practice? Do you ever make tough decisions about whether to spend money on art or more mundane necessities?
I have bought a tube of paint when I had less than $40 to my name. The ironic thing was, it was a compulsive purchase and I didn’t get around to using the paint until weeks or months later! It was like a subconscious but wild gesture to convince myself that I was committed to my painting.
I’ve had the privilege of a supportive partner who works a successful construction business. I still struggle to be resourceful and make sure I’m not investing in things that might not be worthwhile. My time is spread a little thin at times, so I’m selective about what I commit to. I make conservative choices when it comes to art supplies and most everything. I did a number of low paying and/or free gigs in the past and I’ve stopped that because it didn’t feel like a good exchange. If I’m depleted I can’t invest in myself, my family, my health, or my art. It might appear like I focus heavily on creative projects all day, but a lot of my daytime is spent being a stay-at-home mom, and all that entails. I make time for projects while my children are at school and in the evening.
What challenges have you faced in your creative work?
I face challenges around finishing paintings and also managing all my different projects. If I were just a painter, I think that would be much easier! But, I’d be bored with only one outlet. I need to teach, coach and collaborate with others. I am also challenged by how to synthesize my knowledge around coaching and teaching into a neat and tidy package. I’m not sure why this is necessary except that it feels easier when I can manage and communicate about my service-oriented offerings skillfully. I need organization. Currently, I’m working on synthesizing and bringing all of myself to my audience.
How can people follow your news?
The best way people can stay up to date on my creative adventures, art, and teachings is to go to my website and opt-in to my mailing list. I send out a newsletter once a month because any more than that is a drag for me and my audience. Aren’t the inboxes just overflowing with junk we once thought we wanted? I don’t want to add to that influx, so I mail out once every 4 weeks or so. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Tell us something we don’t know about you yet:
I used to be a birth doula. It was a strange and interesting profession since I worked mainly at hospital births. The hours were long, of course. I found out in the first year that it wasn’t for me. I stayed on another two. Physically, I was deteriorating. I loved my clients, they were great people. There were many good outcomes and a lot of cute new humans to greet. I also met some of my best friends in that field. But I often found myself feeling sad and angry about how people were treated, especially non-English speakers. Ultimately, I was a cog in a broken system.
Gabrielle Noyé is an explorer and adult guidance counselor at heart. She works as a visual artist, writer, and a creativity specialist–a title she gave herself because “coach” didn’t quite fit. Women who want to be seen, felt, and heard, hire her to help them navigate their journey into empowerment so they can achieve more by living from alignment. As a personal development coach, she guides and supports women in living boldly and being the woman she knows she’s meant to be.
In Gabrielle’s teaching sessions, she uses a blended approach influenced by transformational coaching, yoga, Kaizen-Muse, and intuitive painting. She helps others demystify their creative process, align with their authentic voice, and bring their big, soulful ideas into the world. When she isn’t making art or working with clients, she is making her Pittsburgh home a little more artful and enjoyable for her husband and children.