We had the good fortune of connecting with Patty Middlebrooks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patty, what can you share with us about hwo Covid-19 has affected your business?
Often we hear of closing doors in favor of other ones opening, but usually, we are the ones holding the knobs. In March, when COVID-19 temporarily closed our studio, Meaning-Full Art, [Link: https://www.meaning-fullart.com/] where we practice and share in the art of Water Marbling, we were pushed forward in ways we couldn’t have expected. Something about the virus’ effect on Meaning-Full Art and those chapters in my life where I’ve willingly chosen a new direction began to feel parallel. I was forced to stand out on that same ledge; they haven’t repainted, and stare into that same murky fog. I had doubts and fears, but I also had ideas, hope, and a community of people championing me and my business. Pulling from what felt natural, aiding in the fight against COVID-19, we began creating custom water marbled silk bandana facial coverings [Link: https://www.meaning-fullart.com/madetoorderbandana] to help slow the spread. Pulling from the desire to strengthen our community, we began offering two options: book a live water marbling video session, or request a video of the creation process that we’ll send after it’s finished. I’ve learned a lot during this time: that when everything else went dark, we turned to art as our source of light. That there’s power in shared experiences between people. And most importantly, that we, as humans, are incredibly adaptive, and when we choose joy, it radiates to anyone willing to bask in it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I identify as many things: Water Marbling artist, mom, wife, and teacher. I also identify as an accidental artist. I started out as a multi-passionate crafter before I found water marbling, dabbling in all crafts from rubber stamping to glass art. After 21 years of stowing my crafts away in what I call the “attic of life” in favor of raising my boys, I fell in love with water marbling quickly and in full-force. It’s wearable, functional, and whimsical. Water marbling is the process of combining water and dried seaweed to form a homogenous mixture, then applying fluid acrylic paint to the top of the dense surface. While the paint floats, the artist then uses tools to manipulate the work into design before transferring it onto their chosen surface—at Meaning-Full Art, we typically opt for hand-hemmed silk, though we also offer seasonal wooden, paper, and leather surfaces. However the biggest surprise I’ve encountered in my career and in growing my business is that there’s an aspect I love even more than the artform itself: the experience of sharing it with others. When guests arrive at our studio, it’s typically their first time water marbling, and as such, there’s an inevitable amount of doubt. Watching that melt into childlike curiosity and manifest into empowered creativity is one of the greatest joys of my life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve lived in many places in my life from the East Coast to the West, and there is one reason the latter reigns supreme above all others: the beach. I feel like I live on vacation. If I had to choose a spot to sit for a week, it’d be Redondo Beach. I’d have all my meals delivered and sleep under the stars. I may be biased as our studio is located right inside, but I think Crafted Port LA—SoCal’s premier arts and crafts experience center and marketplace—is also a must-see.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to our Meaning-Full Art community. It’s a colorful (literally!) group of talented, empathetic, and fun-loving people who are our best cheerleaders and favorite artistic collaborators. Thank you!