“I have always been interested and curious in something beyond ourselves. The intangible spirit that flows through each of us and connects us all. Something that young children feel and know, however throughout life our traumas and beliefs start to take over as well as our thinking minds.”
Tell us a bit about yourself and your creative journey to date.
I am currently exploring the deeper depths of our internal worlds and seeing how they are reflecting externally. From how we project our deepest darkest parts onto others to how our literal physical external world is reflective of us as a whole society.
My art practice now is really showing me how to trust this process of life. As I look back to childhood and remember the endless amounts of puzzles I did, to the way I "designed" my college dorm room, to the unfamiliar feelings and emotions I felt when my grandfather died. All of these experiences, whether they are trivial or not, are the meaningful and necessary pieces to our giant puzzle of this life.
I am currently overseas visiting my family and my mom has kept nearly everything I have ever made. From the miniature paintings on rocks I did as a child, to all the little ceramics I would paint obsessively at those paint-it-yourself places, to water colours and photographs I did in high school and now their walls are being filled with paintings. This need to create and express has been within since I was a child and I have been very fortunate that I have had parents that have supported and nurtured this curiosity to create.
I notice in your bio you mention that you tried a few different modes of expression (such as floral and interior design) before going back to painting. How did that experience of experimenting with different things contribute to the body of work you’re creating now?
As I reflect back on all the numerous avenues of creative expression I have taken, I look at each one as a critical tool in my current practice. Just as those who are in med school spend time in their residencies exploring the different paths they can take with the main goal of eventually settling in on the chosen practice, artists do the same.
From the hours I spent in the high school darkroom, to each flower I chose with intuitive intention, to the unique objects found and collected to be placed in a home... Each of these experiences I find myself flashing back to while in my chosen practice of fine arts. However, there is one common thread in everything I have explored... colour, composition and tone. While these are essential in any given arts practice, I find that this is something innate within me and each avenue I have experienced and explored has only strengthened this understanding.
I love your Standing in the Threshold collection and the way you describe the liminal space as a moment in time “where we find the stillness of transformation”. How would you describe the role of art as a transformative agent in our lives?
I have always been interested and curious in something beyond ourselves. The intangible spirit that flows through each of us and connects us all. Something that young children feel and know, however throughout life our traumas and beliefs start to take over as well as our thinking minds.
I am only speaking from my personal experience of how transformative art has been and I feel that through this process of my own personal transformation, that art has the ability to show us that which we cannot see. After the last few years of practising intently, I have noticed that when I paint, my thinking brain is left at the door. For someone who spends a lot of time thinking, analysing and organising, this feeling of not thinking was incredibly unfamiliar and uncomfortable at first. However, as soon as I allowed it to be what it was, I started to see it transform my life outside the studio.
There are numerous inspirational quotes about art that could basically sum up an answer to this question, but none of those quotes really truly meant anything until I accepted myself in pursuing an arts practice. This internal shift in belief and being for me has only been facilitated by allowing myself to feel the vulnerability that comes with making art. I see how what I make, paint or draw reflects that which is present within that I cannot see. This transformation is not just happening within me and my arts practice but it is happening in the way I relate to myself personally and to others and to the world. I know I cannot single-handedly transform the world, but I do believe we are all connected and by committing to this transformation it will trickle to others and those will trickle to more and so on and so on.
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."
Who and what are your muses and why?
This life. Our inner workings and the intangible space between two spaces. The transition between that which we know and that which we don't.
All the women around me as it is in them that I see my own reflection.
Mother Nature and this world around us. I find myself drawn to landscapes in which you can see a hint of something man-made. Many would be triggered by this and be reminded of the destruction of this beautiful world. But it reminds me of the gratefulness I have for being here on this earth and reminding me of the role I play in doing my part to not contribute to the destruction.
Agnes Martin, Rothko, Pema Chodron to name a few.
What advice would you give to other creatives who are looking to fulfil this “deep need to create” that you speak of?
Answer the call that is calling. It will continue to call until you answer it. Like those obnoxious telemarketers that just keep calling until you pick up the phone and tell them you aren't interested, only this is something to be interested in! Start drawing, start painting, start sculpting, start writing, start taking pictures. Stay curious. Ask questions. The magic is in the "mistakes" as there is no such thing as perfection so don't be afraid. Lastly, remember your art is smarter than you, so let it show you that which you do not know!
Courtney Cook, was born and raised in Palm Springs, California. With a natural eye for composition and colour and the calling to create, Courtney started her creative career at the age of 21 in Newport Beach California with her floral and event design studio, Three Seas. Upon her arrival in Australia back in 2008, Courtney attended Sydney Design School where she received a Highly Commended Cert IV in Interiors and another Highly Commended for Advanced Colour. Courtney then went on to teach Colour and Colour Theory at Sydney Design School before becoming a mother and relocating to the Byron Shire. After several years exploring other avenues to express her deep need to create, Courtney decided to pick up a paint brush after years of not painting. This is where the journey began. After 3 years of exploring painting freely, she decided to attend the Byron School of Art where she will be going in to her 3rd year with the school in 2017.
Connect with Courtney via her website and instagram.
+ + THE MUSE SPOKE is a mini-interview series with inspiring humans that embody soulful creative self-expression. + +