A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: painter Natalie Groves, who lives with her husband and daughter in Exira, Iowa.
Self-taught artist Natalie Groves (who got her start as a chalk artist at Trader Joe’s!) began painting with watercolors after she moved from Southern California to the rolling countryside of Exira, Iowa. Here, she shares a glimpse into her life in the country and opens up about juggling art, life, and motherhood.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I have loved drawing since childhood. When I was in my early 20s I worked for Trader Joe’s as their chalk artist. I received incredibly valuable on-the-job training: how to find my own personal style, how to consistently meet deadlines, how to listen, catch vision, and crank out artwork. When I moved from Santa Barbara, CA to Exira, IA with my husband, I started experimenting with watercolor. Eventually I met Meg Gleason of Moglea and started working in her letterpress studio. She encouraged me to enter a Minted art challenge! I am so glad she did.
Did you study art formally in school?
I am self taught, but I would love to study children’s book illustration someday.
Where do you currently reside?
I live in the rolling countryside of Exira, IA. The city is an hour from us, but I love almost everything about living in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful views, lots of space, quiet, gardening, horses in the pasture, kittens on the deck, deer in the timber, simplicity. It’s quite perfect out here!
Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
I am a new mother—our daughter Navine (rhymes with ‘pine’) is 11 months old—so my day consists of caring for my family, home, and property. I think the only constant is that my husband and I always go to bed at the same time together, and he reads Scandinavian folk and fairytales to me until I fall asleep.
What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
I only paint when the house is clean and my daughter is sleeping… so not very often!
What was the best recent conversation you’ve had?
Any conversation with my little sister. She is a wise and incredibly funny young lady.
Please describe your last month in a word.
Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
I just started painting pet portraits! (Ed. note: See a recent cat portrait in the collage above.) You can watch the process unfold on Instagram (@meadowtogrove).
What are you serious about?
Loving my husband and daughter.
How do you balance work and family time?
I am still experiencing the new struggle of self-sacrifice for my daughter. There are days when I get overwhelmed because I want to accomplish something, but we do baby stuff all day instead. When she snuggles me or I get to see her do something new I forget about my crashing art career. That is a dramatic way of saying I am so grateful to stay home with her. She tips the balancing scale.
How do you encourage creativity in your own child?
Navine already enjoys making noise on several different instruments. We read piles of books, explore outside and share new experiences. I can’t wait for her to be able to hold a crayon! Then we can make art together.
What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
A micron pen, a brown color pencil, and watercolor on hotpress watercolor paper. I also love working with Nupastel chalk.
When did you begin drawing and painting?
As soon as I could hold a pencil.
Is there a movement in art history that speaks to you?
Golden Age illustration. The line work is remarkable!
If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be and where?
Beatrix Potter, in her home.
How do you approach your art?
Very quietly with a paintbrush. I like to sneak up on it.
How would your describe your artistic style?
What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
Clean the house or weed the garden.
What are you working on now?
Drawing the Belgian draft horse that currently resides in our pasture.
What are some of your favorite Minted pieces?
“All is Quiet” by Jenni Kupelian: I love the color palette and the subject. The Icelandic pony is so sweet and the landscape is serene.
“Landscape of Triangles and Dots” by Yao Cheng: I like the texture of Yao’s painting. To me, it looks like a forest of triangles. Every person who visits our home comments on how much they like her piece.
What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
I am so thankful that Minted allows me to make a small living so that I can stay at home with our daughter and take care of our home and property. I spend about four hours a week painting! Barely anything! But because Minted does all the hard work, promotion, printing, shipping, and record keeping, I am able to paint and then sit back and enjoy my family and responsibilities.
Natalie’s Favorite Things
We asked Natalie’s to share her current favorite art, style, home décor inspirations.
Who inspires you: My husband
Favorite place in the world: Home
Favorite color: Light ochre
Fashion idol: I wish I knew how to dress!
Favorite city: Santa Barbara, CA
Last stamp on your passport: Italy
Song in your head: “White Foxes” by Susanne Sundfør
Favorite pieces of art in your home: “Cetti Warbler” and “The Night Bird Sings His Lullaby,” both commissioned pieces by UK-based artist Natasha Newton.
Favorite flowers: Hollyhocks, dahlias, zinnias, lilacs, peonies, and ranunculus
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Chad and Meg Gleason’s house
Favorite drink: Mulled wine
Favorite snack: Frozen banana, peanut butter, milk smoothie
More from Natalie Groves:
• Natalie’s Minted Store
• Natalie’s Blog
• Natalie’s Instagram
• Recent Julep post featuring Natalie: “Has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you?”
Photos: Some Kinda Golden; cat portrait is courtesy of Natalie Groves
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