We had the good fortune of connecting with Niki Gulley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Niki, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Before I became a full-time artist, I was art director at a Dallas magazine. I thought I worked hard then! With production deadlines and sometimes working 60-hour-weeks to get the magazine to press on time, I had very little time to create my own art. So, in 2003 I made the scary leap of quitting my job and following my dream of being a full time artist. Over 17 years have passed since that crucial moment and I have never looked back. Ironically, now I spend way more time creating and promoting my paintings than I ever did working at the magazine. I’ve segued from participating in about 18 art shows across the country to now being represented by several galleries from coast to coast with collectors across the world. I started out teaching classes in Dallas to now leading Art Treks across the globe with my husband and travel photographer, Scott Williams. As our love of art and travel expanded, Scott and I decided to incorporate all of our interests and skills into leading groups to some of our favorite destinations in the U.S. and Europe. During these trips we teach painting and photography, while exposing everyone to the best that an area has to offer. The treks are also open to non-artists who would just like to travel. Along those lines, we have also started offering Foodie Treks, where it is just a week of sampling the best food, wine and cheese, along with winery tours and cooking classes. Fortunately, there is a big difference in devoting all of my time to my former job versus investing my energy into my passions. While there are aspects of being an artist (such as sales, taxes, computer work, etc.), the majority of my time is spent doing what I love. Creating artwork that brings joy, hope and serenity to my collectors is one of the greatest gifts, and I never take that for granted. Combine that with sharing our love of travel and food with our students and I can’t think of any better way to devote my time.
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.
Taking the traditional lessons I’ve learned from the Impressionist and Old Masters techniques, I combine those with a contemporary flare to bring a unique, modern feel to my sculptural paintings. Working with multiple layers and extremely thick paint, I create three-dimensional canvases that flow with light, energy and color. Focusing on showing the landscape in a fresh way, I want to demonstrate a twist on reality with nature reimagined. These energetic expressions are designed to lift people’s spirits and instill a sense of hope and serenity. What brings me the most pleasure and causes me to feel like I am making a difference, is when my collectors tell me how much joy my art brings them! Besides bringing happiness into peoples’ homes, I’m most proud of the fact that I am pursuing my dream of being a full-time artist. Both of my parents have been supportive all along, but with my father being blind and with a practical background in economics, having a daughter who wanted to pursue art was incredibly scary and was often met with trepidation about the starving artist stereotype. So, personally overcoming those fears and pushing through questionable economic times via hard work and determination, has allowed me to continue on my artistic journey. Painting has been a life long expression of pure pleasure for me, which became a challenge when I was diagnosed with autoimmune diseases that became exacerbated by the toxic paint fumes. Rather give up on what I love, I have found ways to keep the dream alive. So I want people to know that there is always hope, that you can survive and that you can still follow your passion. You may just have to find a different way to do it. That is what I want people to feel when they view my art, that utmost feeling of joy, hope and sense of well being!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The one place everyone loves, no matter what their background, when they come to Dallas is visiting the Arboretum. Almost everyone wants to go to the 6th Floor museum and depending on the time of year. There is always one of our pro sports teams playing. And, you can’t go to Dallas and not have BBQ. It is pretty much a religion here with a ton of choices. For anyone with a black belt in shopping, we have plenty of opportunities to splurge. We have water parks and 6 Flags for the adventurous, lakes for relaxing and lots of nightlife to get your groove on!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I don’t think I’d be where I am without the continual support, love and encouragement of my husband and fellow artist, Scott Williams. (He is always there for moral support, heavy lifting and bug killing and that doesn’t even begin to cover his hours of help with my sad tech skills!)
Photos by Scott Williams – http://www.Blind-Squirrel.org