About Tammy Gilley
by Tammy Gilley
We are all creative souls. Yes, you reading this, so are you. My joy comes from you connecting to yours. Whether it’s making something with your own hands, traveling to Paris for a week of macarons and Montmartre, or being a tourist in your own town and sketching that cityscape. This is your place to reignite your creativity (or find it for the first time!), to satisfy your wanderlust, and explore the creative life that fits you best.
I started my blog back in 2005 as an online journal to share my art, my thoughts around creativity, and occasional goofy photos of me out and about in the world. It’s gone through many iterations over the years, as has my artistic voice. Ta
Amazing!!! Such a fun workshop, thank you!
In 2022 I turned 60…one of those milestone birthdays. That same year, I traveled to Paris for the first time since I was 21 years old. It was an amazing, joy-full, and life-changing trip. I played the part of an adventurer. Instinctively I set about my mission to document and observe my trip to Paris as if I’d never traveled before. I took notes. Throughout my days in Paris I collected things. I documented my findings in the biggest, juiciest, most beautiful travel journal to date. I noticed patterns in the wallpaper and tiles of the pied a terre I rented in Montmartre. All of it was copied into my journal. I traced typography from a women’s magazine advertisement from 1896. Blissfully, I focused on just one thing at a time. I recorded only what I was drawn to most in those moments.
I came home wanting to keep that “Paris feeling” alive. That feeling of exploration, of discovery, of living in the moment. It’s tricky. Life is crazy. Things pull me one way and another. But in those quiet moments before dawn, or in my studio on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I remember those days in Paris, and that feeling of being fully present.
You may find more about Tammy on her personal website.
Artist Interview: Tammy Gilley
Why do students attend your courses? What will they get out of it?
My students tend to be a lot like me: collectors, gatherers, storytellers, memory keepers. They also love to laugh. A lot. We have a shared love of pretty things, old things, found objects. Especially found objects, because the storyteller in us wants to know the story behind the object we’ve found – who owned it, how did they come across it, what did they do with it? In the absence of a story, we make one up. We give that found object a new story and then share it in our journal in some way, either as a small work of art on the page or in a larger stand alone piece.
What attracts you about travel journaling?
I’m constantly picking things up – ask Suzy! She caught me red-handed picking up a piece of old linen outside the Vanves flea market, which I then used as the binding of my Paris journal. A travel journal gives me a repository for all of my found treasures, and later provides a record of my travels that I can revisit again and again. I like to create my travel journal well in advance of my trip – it just increases the anticipation of that trip.
What have you learned from creating while you travel?
Keeping a travel journal has given me a new way to look at things when I’m out and about. I look up and shoot a quick photo with my iPhone of a lovely building façade. I look down and find a stray piece of linen or an interesting cluster of leaves. It’s about paying attention and being in the moment, not getting from the hotel to destination A for the day. It’s about the wander, the finding of objects along the way, the capturing of those memories and those feelings of being in that place at that time, then archiving them in a way that I can go back to them again and again.
How do you work? What is your teaching style?
Style schmyle! I fly by the seat of my pants! Hahaha! But that’s not probably what you want to write down. Honestly, I do work from an outline, a set of things I want to get across to my students. For example. “Today we’ll talk about building out pages and adding layers of interest. Tomorrow we’ll work with image transfers and photographs.”
But then, I like to be open to whatever comes up – she found a fabulous rusty bolt along the railroad… How the heck does she incorporate that into a journal, for Pete’s sake?! (It’s easy actually. It becomes a cover element with some carefully curated words from a page torn from an old book she found at the book market. Voilà).
What inspires you?
Oh my gosh, so much! Seeing old masters’ work at the Orsay or L’Orangerie. People-watching at the airport. The way the sunlight reflects through my glass of rosé and onto the menu on my table. Other artists. My students! Life inspires me.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I have to. It’s not a choice, really. Although if it were, I’d choose creating over and over again, above everything else. I find if I go a few days without creating, I get cranky, antsy. When I’m creating, I lose all track of time, and I feel really, really happy. Like traveling is not being about the destination for me, but the journey itself, creating is not about the finished piece, but about the joy in creating. No creating, no joy, no bueno. For me, anyway.
What is your background?
I’ve created all my life. All the women in my family are/were artists. Painters, quilters, storytellers. I remember when I was young and my mother’s mother and aunt would come to visit. All of us and my sister sit at the dining room table working on something. The ladies might be working on a quilt together for someone, and my sister and I would grab up their fabric scraps and make clothes for our trolls or pillows and quilts for our Barbies. I don’t remember not being creative.
Join Tammy Gilley for a glorious, sun-filled week on the Frence Riviera June 2024
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