Artist Spotlight Series: Erin Donahue Tice
Art can transport you and we could all use that these days.
I met this talented Austin,Texas artist at The Southern C Summit this year.
I look forward to sharing her delightful work
Enjoy getting to know…
What is your training?
I am a self-taught artist. I actually didn’t even pick up a paintbrush (aside from art class stuff in elementary and middle school) until 2018. I spent my entire career working in public relations for firms in Chicago and New York. My husband and I moved to Austin, TX in 2014 and I continued to work for my NY-based PR firm remotely. It was a wonderful period – I could work from home and still had flexibility to tend to my baby, William. But then in 2017 I had another son, George, and all of the sudden things were REALLY busy! I decided to take some time off from my PR job to focus on the full-time “mom” thing.
About eight months later, I was itching for a creative outlet, and sort of in a funk. I absolutely loved being a mom, but I was craving some “me time.” I also happened to be on the hunt for some art for our own home and couldn’t really find what I was searching for in Austin. I thought, “Well, why don’t I try to create something myself?” I was super into interior design and art, so it seemed to make sense in my head.
I went out and bought a boatload of art supplies, and basically just experimented for hours at a time. I set up a makeshift “studio” in my tiny back guest house (which also doubled as an exercise room), and would get lost in the paintbrush. I would paint whenever I could – during my kids’ nap times, after they went to bed, whenever I could grab a minute. It gave me such a release and allowed me to “disconnect” for a bit and recharge.
After about six months of painting – a few friends caught on to my newfound hobby. They saw some of my work one day and encouraged me to try and sell it. I never really thought that was an option. I kind of just thought I was painting to hang some stuff in my own house, and to have a new creative outlet. But with their encouragement, I decided to give it a go. I built a website, instagram page and had my work photographed. All of a sudden I was in business. It’s still shocking to me how it all came together.
My whole journey to becoming an artist taught me that anyone can have a “Second Act,” and sometimes you don’t know what hidden talents are deep down inside of you until something pushes you to uncover them. For me, it was being a new mom and trying to find my voice again…I just didn’t know painting would be it for me!
What inspires you and your designs?
I am greatly inspired by interior design. Some of my favorite design influences include Bunny Williams, Amanda Lindroth, Mark Sikes, Miles Redd, Amy Berry, and my own Austin-based interior designer, Kristen Nix.
I love to look at a beautiful room, observe the color scheme, the textures, the negative space, and the way it all works together and get an idea in my head for a jumping off point for a painting. Instagram has been an amazing platform for this.
I also like looking at old photographs. I’m fascinated by the Kennedys; the colors in those old photos were always so vibrant. There’s a photo I’m obsessing over right now of Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radzwill riding elephants on a trip to India in 1962. Their pink dresses are the perfect foil to the grey of the elephant and the bright ochre and red blanket they’re sitting on.
I also love looking at photos I’ve taken from my travels. I’m especially inspired by the East End of Long Island. We have a summer house in East Hampton and were married there in 2014. The colors, smells, sights and feelings of this special part of the country give me a great jumping off point for my work. I have a piece that sold last year called “Lily Pads,” that takes me straight to a small duck pond we like to visit with our kids. I also have a piece called Shelter Island that is inspired by many fun times biking through the back roads on Shelter Island, culminating in a fun lunch with rose and lobster with friends (this was pre-kids!).
What is your favorite piece?
I really like some of my new work…it’s interesting how work can evolve over time. I find I’m painting more monochromatic pieces, as well as more neutral pieces. I once heard that art is like handwriting – it may vary here and there, but there’s always a recognizable quality about it. I feel like my art is that way – I like to explore different styles and mediums, but at the end of the day, I hope the viewer can tell that it’s mine, and there’s a consistent story from piece to piece.
How has your area influenced your work?
I currently live in Austin, but spend much of the summer in East Hampton. So I would say I’m influenced in different ways by each place.
In Austin, I love the funkiness of the city – it has a certain energy about it that makes me visualize bright colors – lots of orange and pink and green. I have a piece called Texas Fall that reminds me of how hot it still is in Austin during the fall!
In East Hampton, I see a lot of blues, light pinks, lime green, lavender. There are so many hydrangea blooming in the summer and we have lots of blue hydrangea in our backyard. That reminds me – I need to come up with a piece based around that perfect blue hydrangea color!
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin?
My favorite Austin restaurant is a place called Clark’s Oyster Bar. It’s one of the first restaurants we tried when we moved here and we keep going back. It’s set up like an upscale New England seafood joint. The ambience is great – yellow and white stripes, maritime touches, beautiful wicker hanging lights…And the fresh fish is flown in daily. It totally reminds us of The Hamptons.
In the Hamptons we love SO many restaurants, but one of our standbys is called The Clam Bar. It’s a fish shack on the side of Montauk Highway with outside seating only. Sometimes the fish is caught like 45 minutes before you sit down to eat it. Can’t get fresher than that.
I guess you’d say there’s a theme here…we like our fish places!
What is your favorite cocktail?
Typically a Sancerre or Sauvingon Blanc, but in Austin I love to try Margaritas at all of the amazing Mexican restaurants we have here.
How do you balance personal life and work?
It’s something I wrestle with a lot. Mom guilt is a real thing. I think back to the days pre-kids when I had more time to “think” and to get lost in my own thoughts (pre-Smartphone days were pretty great for this too!).
But the best advice my mom gave me on the topic was “Pick your times to lean in, and pick your times to lean out.” She has always set an example for me of what it means to be a working mom, and how much self worth it provides. I’m just trying to take it day by day, year by year…there are some moments when I really “Lean In” to my work, and some moments when I intentionally “Lean Out.”
I also try to come up with systems that allow me to be productive. I usually have most of my day planned out in my digital calendar. My kids are in school and various activities, and I’m lucky to have the support network of other moms in the neighborhood who can help with carpools, drop offs, etc. I find times when I can schedule workouts, errands, and block off time for painting and office work. We also have a wonderful babysitter who is like a member of the family. She has been a godsend as I’ve ramped up my professional art career the past 18 months. Some days I feel like Superwoman and some days I feel like I’m failing on all accounts. But you have to give yourself grace on the days you feel the guilt creeping in. I remind myself I’m setting a good example for my children by showing them how to use their creative talents or God-given gifts to build a career and to work hard.
My husband and I also prioritize family time on the weekends. He travels frequently for work, but we are all typically here Friday – Sunday. We generally have a standing Friday night family dinner at a local TexMex spot, and Sundays are spent at Church, grocery shopping, playing outside at a park, simple things that allow us to reconnect as a family unit.
I’d love to see New Zealand, and South Africa would also be a dream destination.
Would love to collaborate with Mark Sikes or Amy Berry! Love their work so much, and I feel like they’d be so much fun to work with. I’d also be honored to work with Jenna Bush Hager – she’s a Texas girl with great design taste, and I feel like she’d “get” my work.
Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?
I was recently given a Santa Maria Novella terra cotta pomegranate melograno as a housewarming gift, and now it’s my go-to gift to give others. It comes in the most gorgeous terra cotta container and sits atop a little dish, and slowly releases a delectable fragrance into the air. It’s to die for.
Who is your style icon?
Your favorite up and coming artist?
Not sure she’s up and coming anymore because she’s killing it – but I love the work of Catherine B. Jones. I’ve got four of her pieces hanging in my own home.
What is your most treasured possession?
Definitely my two sons, William & George. They are my world.
What are you reading?
I recently read “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb and loved it.
I also read Elton John’s memoir, “Me” and
Jessica Simpson’s “Open Book.” I’m big into memoirs because I find it fascinating to read about someone else’s journey and how they pushed through the pain in their lives to find who they really are.
What are you listening to?
The Goop Podcast,
What are your favorite blogs / publications?
I’ll always love House Beautiful – it’s a design Bible for sure.
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