We had the good fortune of connecting with Haley McAndrews and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Haley, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
There’s a quote by Picasso: “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” The simplest answer is that I never grew out of being an artist. Since I can remember I’ve always loved drawing and coloring, my whole life. Art isn’t just a thing I do, though. It’s part of who I am. I remember my 6th grade teacher commenting once that I was really good at picking out colors that complemented each other. In high school, I wasn’t particularly encouraged by my art teacher, but every single day I drew in my notebooks, in the margins of my tests and assignments, and stayed up late coloring them all and naming my variety of characters. My art is like therapy for me. A way to express my feelings and emotions. Not to sound crazy, but creating art is like a compulsion. If a span of time goes by that I haven’t created anything, I get cranky and short-tempered. I’m a better person when I create. I actually didn’t intend on being a professional artist. It wasn’t until I had gotten hired as a gallery director that I started selling my artwork, just a few pieces here and there, and discovered that people other than my mom and best friends enjoyed my artwork too! Now I’m a part of a number of art organizations and studio tours, and regularly show and sell my artwork.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
One of the things that sets me apart from other artists in my area is my age. I’m in my mid-30s (I’m no child-prodigy or anything) and have already been exhibiting for ten years. Many of the other professional artists I know are retired. I am fortunate that my husband’s career enables me to be home with our daughters full-time. This has allowed me to focus on my art in a way that wasn’t possible when I was working full-time outside the home. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not art all day, every day. But I can squeeze in some time in my studio during naptime, or a few minutes here and there, and all those little chunks of time eventually add up, and I have been a more productive artist in recent years this way.
I think it all boils down to just putting in the time and practice. Many people my age are busy with careers and families. I am busy, too, but I’ve put a priority on art in my life, so I make the time to be active with different art organizations, I work on new art, I actively show my art in various venues. And, again, not a prodigy, as a kid I drew and colored like every other kid my age. But I’ve got 30+ years of practice drawing now, and the improvement shows.
Some of my subjects are different too. I have a whole series of paintings and drawings of toasters, and am even working on my second children’s book, a number book for toddlers about counting 1 – 10 featuring my toasters in fun everyday scenarios. Much of my art appeals to kids, teens, college-age.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Denison isn’t the biggest city in Iowa, not even close, but I prefer small towns to big cities. My favorite places to go here are to Yellow Smoke Park, which has an absolutely delightful (though sometimes grueling) 4+ mile walking path, a beautiful campground overlooking a lake, and a well-taken care of beach. I also like to go for a stroll downtown, which has a variety of different shops and restaurants. Also downtown is the Donna Reed Theatre and Museum.
Washington Park has a huge wooden playground, a band shell, and is also where the Farmer’s Markets are located in the summer. And if you’re into geocaching Denison boasts over 50 geocaches within a 10 mile radius.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It may be cliché, but I’d like to dedicate this one to my mom, Carolyn Pohlman. She is seriously my #1 fan, and she always has been. She listens to me drone on about the silly characters I create (and is actually interested), and still to this day if I say, “Hey I drew another picture of Ereme,” she knows exactly who that fairy is, and remembers the other 2 pictures I’ve drawn of her in the last 20 years. I don’t know where I’d be in life if I didn’t have her support. Love you, Mom!