A monthly column that keeps its finger on the pulse of Forsyth’s artists and their inspiring stories
This month’s featured artist, Dot McCollum, takes color and whimsy to the happiest of heights creating a world all her own with the singular desire to never settle for singularity but experience a little bit of everything life has to offer!
Dorothea McCollum | Mixed Media Artist
How would you describe your work?
Whimsical, colorful and textured.
What influences your art most?
Influence comes from everywhere. I always have paper around so I can doodle something and there’s always my handy smartphone where I can bookmark or send myself a text to remember. I am drawn to bright, colorful, whimsical, happy things in life so that’s what I generally prefer to create.
You just returned from a recent road trip. Did your adventure inspire you in new ways?
I recently returned from a 28-day road trip adventure with my kids! My goal for this adventure was to explore the plains and deserts of the southwest. I have been in love with New Mexico since I was 14 and I took two winter semesters in college at Ghost Ranch in NM. I’ve been wanting to return ever since. The warmer color palettes of the earth and rock formations in AZ, NM, UT and NV are so different from the lush blues and greens surrounding us in Winston-Salem. I captured moments by sketching and took 1,000 photos! I hope to work on some desert landscapes to bring my emotional attachment to canvas.
How have you evolved, personally, as an artist?
In 1984, when I was four, my mom entered me into a Snoopy related drawing contest at Christmas. I still have that crayon drawing framed and I vividly remember drawing it. I took extra art classes in high school and went to college for a BFA, never having a singular focus because I wanted to try it all.
I think 20 years ago I was completing projects and assignments to (A) fulfill the project criteria and (B) make something other people would like. The blanket of fear I mentioned kept me from showing myself as a professional. The last couple years I realized I needed to live my artist life like I live my actual life because time isn’t a guarantee. I will make art I love because I love making it and it will find its place somewhere.
You are an Artomat artist, can you explain what an Artomat is for those who don’t know and share what you love most about contributing?
In short, Artomat machines are repurposed cigarette vending machines that now vend artwork from contributing artists worldwide. Artomat was created by Winston-Salem artist Clark Whittington and now venues across the country can host a machine. For $5 you can have a tiny original piece.
Submitting a prototype a few years ago was my first step to throwing off my blanket of fear. I want to make art, this is a fun way to send my happy little paintings out into the world. Besides coming up with funny food related puns (which is my chosen Artomat subject matter), my favorite parts of being an Artomat artist are the online community I’ve found and the “green cards” we receive quarterly showing us precisely which machines our art has been sent to!
How do you carve out time to be creative?
It takes balance and scheduling an appointment with myself! During the school year I try to work in the studio a few hours throughout the day and I plan about a week ahead, especially since my boys are home during summer. I work in batches so while things are drying I can be working on something else instead of wasting time, literally watching paint dry. I can prime and work on 100-200 tiny paintings at a time (grouped into sets of 20 per design). Short bursts of time throughout the day and week can accomplish a lot when the paintings are so small.
What are you working on that excites you right now?
The best thing I did during quarantine was sign up for an online art group. This group is encouraging, supportive and wildly talented from beginner to seasoned pro. It’s a treat to see how everyone interprets the classes and makes adjustments to suit their own aesthetic. Tons of inspiration is soaked up here. Having this library of technique and themes has been invigorating and has really sparked my desire to try new things.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to share with fellow artists?
Your art is yours, that’s why it’s so special. Keep creating!
If you are interested in learning more about Dot McCollum you can follow Dot on Instagram @delightfullydotty as well as find her work in Artomat throughout Winston-Salem.