We had the good fortune of connecting with Paula Valenzuela and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Paula, why did you pursue a creative career?
I have made art since I can remember. Growing up I had classes with very good Chilean artists, but always kept my art making as a private passion that I shared with a small community. I studied Clinical Psychology and Public Health and after working for many years as a psychotherapist with women and families in Chile, I moved from
to the Bay Area in 2013.
Coming to the US was an opportunity to go back to my creative practice and remember how much I loved making art. I started learning from other artists and realized that by creating art I was fulfilling the need to express what I couldn’t say in words and also was a way of healing and self-discovery. I realized that I’ve always wanted to become an artist but I was afraid at the time or haven’t given it the necessary space in my life. So, there was no way back and I needed to pursue this dream and put all my efforts to make it happen.

I make art because I feel the need to visually express my feelings and thoughts in order to understand them and make sense of the world around me.
Making art is a way of discovering, coming back to myself and being present.
I feel the most alive when I’m creating and I would like to continue doing so the rest of my life.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I am Chilean abstract artist located in Sausalito, CA. I moved to the Bay Area in 2013 and slowly started to go back to my art practice, leaving behind years of working as a psychotherapist in Chile.
It was not easy to start a second career as a professional artist in a foreign country and without knowing anything about the art business or the local art scene. I had no idea how to begin but I knew that there was no way back and this was what I always wanted to do.
So, I joined several art programs, in person and online, and learned from great artists and mentors, about the art practice, the creative process and how to run a small business too.
I started showing my work to a larger audience, participated in juried competitions, art fairs and every opportunity that I had. I discovered who resonated with my work and now is collected in the US and Chile.

In this process I’ve learned the importance of establishing a consistent creative practice and to focus on the process more than the results while making art. Mistakes are welcome and are a fun way of experimenting and learning something new about myself and the materials that I enjoy working with. It has been very important to me to follow my intuition in moments that I’ve needed to take risks and not to listen too much to my inner critic. One of the best advices that I’ve received were to set up clear intentions and follow them through, join a community of artists and be generous on sharing what you I’ve learned so far.

My work explores the connection of darkness and light within us, the complexity of layers that we show to others and to ourselves and the interconnection of conscious and unconscious aspects in our lives.
My process is almost archeological, and I like to use mixed media materials and all different tools. I build the paintings by layers, adding acrylics, paper, mediums, pigments, rust and then painting polygonal shapes or symbols that appear and disappear as a I endlessly edit the surface. I remove parts, cover everything again, scratch the layers, make dents and new marks, adding later more layers that bring the hidden history of the marks to the surface. It is a process of revealing and hiding.

I like to make art that makes you wonder and look deeper, that connects to your inner world in some way.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If you are interested in the arts and creative scene, I would recommend visiting Sausalito’s Marinship district, at the North end of Sausalito, where a vibrant community of artists, fabricators and mariners live and work next to the waterfront.

Start a visit to the landmark ICB (Industrial Center Building). It was built in 1942 as part of a large shipyard complex during WWII. Now it is known as an art destination with three floors of professional artist studios. I have been sharing a studio here for the past three years and it’s an incredible place to be.
Next door is Heath Ceramics factory store, well known for their beautifully hand-crafted tableware and tiles. If you want to have lunch nearby, Fish Restaurant is one of my favorite places to go. There is nothing better than seating on their deck next to the water on a sunny day eating delicious seafood.
Other wonderful and charming restaurants in the waterfront are Le Garage and The Joinery. And if you want to try one of the best Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area, do not miss Sushi Ran in Sausalito.
I like to go for a walk along the shoreline from the Marinship to Downtonwn Sausalito, because you get to see Richardson Bay natural beauty and its unique waterfront community. If you are interested on exploring the area from the water, you can always rent a kayak or SUP and take a look at the colorful floating homes, that are part of the artistic and creative history of Sausalito.

To eat:
Sushi Ran www.sushiran.com
Le Garage
www.legaragesausalito.com
Fish
331fish.com

Joinery
https://www.joineryca.com
Kayak Rental: SeaTrek.com
ICBArtists Association: https://icbartists.com
Floating Homes Association :www.floatinghomes.org/about
Heath Ceramics: https://www.heathceramics.com

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I’ve had great teachers and mentors, both in Chile and the US and I’m especially grateful for the artist community that I am part at the ICB in Sausalito. It’s a supportive and generous group of artists at different levels in their careers and we all share our knowledge and experiences.

Website: www.paulavalenzuelaart.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paulavalenzuelaart/

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/paula-valenzuela-b0788017

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulavalenzuelaart/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PaulaValenzuelaArt

Image Credits
Photos by Doug Kaye and Margot Hartford

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.