Creativity Takes Courage | Amy’s Story

Hey all! I am super excited to be sharing today’s guest series interview with you all, because it happens to be someone who is very near and dear to my family’s heart!


Amy Parker is one of my Mom’s great friends, and I have known her for forever it seems! I remember taking trips to her house as a teen and watching her do my Mom’s hair. At the time, Amy ran a hair salon out of the front room in her house in our home town, which had been converted into such a beautiful space. I remember spending a lot of special girl time there with my Mom and my sister, especially on breaks between college semesters. Amy always welcomed us with open arms, and we all shared so many laughs! For a while a few years after that, Amy owned a salon on Union Ave in Laconia, and my Mom worked for her there as well! She even did my first set of acrylic nails for my best friends prom that I attended! Special!


To briefly introduce her before you start reading the interview, Amy is a “Jack of all trades” when it comes to being a creative! On top of being a hairdresser in the past, Amy’s focuses now are painting, sketching, as well as singing lead in her band Amyz Angry. On top of it all, Amy is a Mom to her two daughters Justine and Emily and has legal guardianship of her niece Sonny.


It is rare in life that you meet someone as multifaceted, on top of being such a great human being, and that is why I wanted Amy to share her story with us all on this platform! I hope you all enjoy and can find a little bit of Amy in yourself as you go!

WHO IS AMY PARKER?


AM: For those who may not know you, who are you, where are you from, and what are a few things you think everyone should know about you?


AP: I’m an artist from NH, and I am creative in many aspects of my life. I use my creative abilities on a daily basis, and in numerous ways. I’m a business woman who is a determined, hard worker, and I love giving & being a cheerleader for others.. especially for the underdog. Most of all though, I am a Mom which has made me a strong woman!



ART

AM: When did you fall in love with painting or art in general? Is there a moment that stands out for you? How old were you?


AP: I fell in love with art way back when I was a child. I’m an introverted person (believe it or not) and art always helped me build connections to the world we live in. I learned to see, feel, and think with art and it helped me communicate! There are definitely some early memories that stand out; when I was three (and I can see it vividly as I write about it) I drew a picture of my Mom while she was doing the dishes. She loved it of course, and it was definitely worthy of the refrigerator! At that moment I learned that I could draw someone how I saw them! Around that same young time in my life, we would go to my Mimi & Papa’s often for dinner. They had a beautiful home (she loved to decorate). In their dining room cemented to the wall, was always a reproduction painting of “Grace.” Originally a photo by Eric Enstrom and his daughter Rhoda Nyberg from back in the 1900’s, the painting is a portrait of an older man praying in front of a meal; his daily bread I assume.


Anyway, I was always mesmerized by this piece of art and I remember asking one night at dinner “Why does that man have a headache?” Everyone laughed and thought I was so cute, but I seriously had to wonder what was he thinking or what happened to him. What was he doing? He looked so sad to me and I just wanted to figure his story out.

Grace, Painting by Eric Enstrom

(I do not own rights to this photo)


There is another piece that stands out to me that others may not think is art, but to me it is! Or maybe it is more of an artistic experience. When I was in kindergarden (and I hated school) we went into the gym and stood in a big circle around some material on the floor. We were all instructed to hold the piece that was in front of us real tight. The teacher says “when I count to three, lift your hands up as HIGH as you can and as FAST as you can and run to the middle." When she said “three," I felt so alive! I looked up and saw all these vibrant colors waving and flowing around above me. It was like a burst of color and movement had suddenly happened magically in the sky! I learned that day that color and movement spoke to me. (If you haven’t already guessed what was going on here... we lifted a parachute up and jumped underneath it). Something I will never forget!


AM: What is your favorite medium? What do you lean towards most?


AP: I use acrylic paints all the time. It’s definitely my favorite medium to create my paintings in. I love how fast they dry because I’m a fast painter! Thick bodied tube acrylics mimic oil paintings, and those to me are the "creme de la creme," but I don't use them often because when my kids were little I didn’t want toxic chemicals and fumes in the house, and I’ve now become very proficient with acrylics as well as comfortable with them, so that is what I stick to. Things could change in the future though! I’m always learning and reinventing myself.


AM: Do you have a favorite piece of work that you’ve created?


AP: There’s a handful of paintings I have created that I would consider “favorites.” If I had to pick one though I would say “The Dip." It is a self portrait of me emerging from the water in my pool. I love this piece because I created it with a different technique; one that I invented within myself. The flow of the water is the most interesting to me, and others who have seen the piece express the same intrigue. Another key element of “The Dip” is that I used a monochromatic palette, which I believe gives more of a zoned in view of the water.

The Dip, A Painting by Amy Parker


AM: When did you decide to start selling your work?

AP: I started selling my work when I was a teenager. My friends saw how well I could draw & paint and asked me to create custom pieces for them. It made them happy, which made me happy. I only dabbled in selling my pieces until I had my daughters, and then I got more serious about it and started to treat it like an actual business.


AM: Is there a medium that you find difficult?


AP: Well I would have to say oils because I haven’t used them in a while. It’s tricky to switch mediums (for me anyway), especially when I’m so accustomed to another. I do have faith in myself that I could master them to the best of my ability, but it would take a lot of hard work! Maybe someday when I have more time.


AM: Where do you create your art? Do you have a studio? Is it in a specific room in your house?


AP: Currently I’m in my basement! I have a comfortable home, but it’s not very big. My daughters come back home often and I have guardianship of my niece, so all of the rooms I have I’ve given to them. I used to have my studio in the spare room but now it’s transformed for one of the girls. I do keep supplies in many caddies though so that I can move around the house to get a change of scenery. Sometimes I will paint at the kitchen table and in another area of my house that has a bay window. During the summer I will also paint in plain air since I love to be in nature.


AM: What gets you in the mood to paint, etc.?


AP: If I have commissions waiting the pressure forces me to paint! I don’t like things hanging over my head. But when I’m coming up with new ideas and concepts I use a couple different tactics:


1. Being outside in nature. Taking a walk, going to the beach or just sitting in my backyard, I try to hear, see and feel as much in my surroundings that I can to gain inspiration. To me it’s everywhere! You just have to “look” and focus, even on a little organic element like a stone or a blade of grass.


2. Sometimes I just need quiet time. Thinking time and peacefulness to get my mind in the zone. I do this a lot in the morning while sitting at the table with a coffee in my hand - just daydreaming and recalling segments of my thoughts that I want to piece together.


AM: What is one piece of advice you would give aspiring artists of all ages?


AP: Don’t give up. If you feel it, it can be yours! Believe in yourself like no other. Hopefully you have a wonderful support system around you (family and friends) which helps a lot, but if not... don’t let that discourage you. All you seriously need is your own belief! Experiment with many different mediums. You may be surprised at what you find you like and get comfortable with. Practice a LOT!


And lastly... grow some tough skin when it comes to people criticizing your work. There's a difference between someone being insensitive and real constructive criticism. This can be useful when learning in the early stages, but in the end it doesn’t matter what everyone thinks! Art is subjective to every set of eyes. Not everyone will like your artwork, but some will. The one that NEEDS to like your work is YOU so don’t be so hard on yourself.


AM: Do you have a favorite artist that you look up to?


AP: I have numerous artists that I look up to. Many famous master creators like O’Keeffe, Van Gogh & Turner for sure, but I’d like to mention one who’s inspired me and is living today since I’m a firm believer in supporting “living artists.” Osnat Tzadok! I’m sure she doesn’t know I exist, and I’m also sure she has inspired many other artists and aspiring artists today. I’m not a psycho stalker (LOL) but I have followed segments of her “story” throughout her career and look at her pieces often because frankly, they inspire me. I love the way she composes and uses color placement. I also look up to her because she has been painting less years than I, but has grown a booming business for herself and is also self taught! I first discovered her in 2015 on Ebay.


AM: Did you ever study under anyone? Or are you self-taught?


AP: You could say I’m self taught in the traditional sense of the word, but is anyone really self taught? I don’t have a fine arts degree or any “formal” training with one particular person, but I have been taught numerous lessons from many people throughout the years starting with my mother who helped cultivate who I am. I’ve picked the brains of many family members and friends; especially those who had an ability I wanted to learn. I’ve watched numerous videos, read books, took a couple classes and attended many art association meetings.


MUSIC


AM: You are a woman of many talents. What is your connection to music?


AP: I’m a singer/lead vocalist in my own rock band currently. I’ve been the front woman in numerous bands throughout my life though, starting with “Destiny” when I was only thirteen years old. This band was formed with high school kids from a neighboring town. I also sang in chorus throughout middle & high school and became a member in various singing groups when in high school; tri-tones, quartet, etc.


AM: When did you start your journey with music? How were you introduced to it?


AP: In fifth grade I went to Catholic school, I hated school in general really. Not much inspired me there. I remember the principal, Sister Theresa, needed more kids in the chorus. (back then I didn’t even know what chorus was) and she made a number of us go down to the music room. Now that I think of it, we were probably just picked at random! Anyway, when in the music room that day, we listened to some music, and everyone tried to sing together with the words we had in front of us while sister Rose played the piano. I started to feel something while I was singing (or trying to sing LOL). It felt good to sing with everyone and for once I wasn’t bored!


The next page in the book was “How Great Thou Art” and unbeknown to me, this had previously been rehearsed with a girl a grade ahead of me, who was singing this as a solo. When she stood up by the piano and sang, I wasn’t distracted at all by the kids around me kicking their chairs and chatting with each other; I was totally engrossed in the tone of her voice and the hairs stood up on my arms! In that moment I had an instant prominent thought “I want to do that! I want to know how it feels to make sounds like that!"


Most importantly, I wanted to make other people feel all those feelings! That girl in my class, Rebecca, is now a well known blues singer! So that’s how I was introduced to music and is basically where my journey began; thanks Rebecca!


AM: Who is your favorite artist? What is your favorite band? And why?


AP: My favorite artist is hands down, Pat Benatar!She was the first “rock” singer I liked and connected with way back in the early 1980’s. I had all of her albums and would sing her songs after school every day. I loved the tone and control of her voice. As for a band, I don’t really have a favorite band like I do with my favorite artist. If I had to pick one though I would say “Journey,” because they write songs people can relate to. Even if it’s a sad subject, they put a positive spin in the lyrics. I also admire the fact they are in it for the long haul and have had quite a long career; they have bounced back and stayed in the mainstream, even in adversity. Losing their original singer, they now have Arnel Pineda which is an AMAZING story in itself!


AM: What era of music do you relate to the most?


AP: Definitely 80’s rock!


AM: Where do you see your music taking you in the future?


AP: Short term... some more Amyz Angry gigs. Long term though, I aspire to coordinate a massive singing competition along the lines of Star Search, American Idol and the Voice. I know right... a huge dream! But we all have the right to dream big, and I’m definitely a dreamer!


AM: You have an amazing singing voice! Do you play ay instruments?


AP: Oh you’re so sweet, thank you! And yes, I play a bit of guitar, bass guitar and keyboard. I know all my open chords but I would definitely call it more of a dabble. Nothing ever really stuck with me, and I’m nowhere near the level of my own musicians in the band, but it’s fun to do once in a while!


AM: Where did the name of your band come from? And where did you meet your band mates?


AP: There is actually an entire write up about this on our Facebook business page, but the shorter answers...


I’ve always been moody with an attitude, and when I was playing a duo act years ago with a fellow musician, I was late to the stage due to the fact I was arguing with my boyfriend. When I finally got out there my guitarist says over the microphone: “Uh oh, Amy’s angry again!” and it just kinda stuck because the crowd loved it!


I met Shawn, my drummer, through mutual musician friends about twenty-three years ago. We always supported each other at gigs and built a friendship. I met my bassist, Joe, through Shawn; they’ve been playing together for years and are like brothers. My rhythm player Luke and I met a few years back through the karaoke circle, and I was actually introduced to him by my husband whom Luke knows well. Finally and most important to me, my lead guitar player (aka my husband Tim). Him and I met way back in high school. Once again it’s a long story, but to put it in a nutshell... I came home from school one day and my sister told me my brother had a friend over who played guitar. I took him to my room, sang “Heartbreaker” to him, and the rest is history! It’s another Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo kinda thing.


Band Photo Credit: Tony Campo


AM: Have you ever felt shy about singing in front of others?


AP: Most definitely! And I still do today, although not as much. I think a bit of “stage fright” is a good thing. It keeps me in check in order to deliver a good show.


AM: What is one of your favorite memories of being on stage?


AP: One gig I was playing years ago was way up north in a "hick-ville" town. They’re wasn’t a whole lot to do around there according to the locals, so when something was happening the whole town went! Our venue that night was at an old roller skating rink, there was no bar (it was BYOB), and these people were having the time of their lives; the place was packed! Everyone was on the dance floor.


Sometimes it’s hard to get through a verse or even a song if some silly stuff is going on, but what they didn't understand was that they were actually entertaining me with their crazy dance moves while I was singing for them! So I’m trying to hold it together because they all had a few beers out of their coolers already (if you can imagine LOL) and some woman slaps a photo of a nude man on my monitor! I started cracking up over the mic. My guitar players walked over to see what was so funny while they were trying to remember their chords etc.


You might have had to be there I guess... but we did make it through the song eventually!


AM: What is one thing you want aspiring musicians of any age to know?


AP: Once again it all comes down to believing in yourself. I seriously couldn’t even carry a tune for about 2 years when I started singing!! Lot’s of practice will get you there. I was tone def at first and really had to concentrate, learn keys, study sight reading etc. Patience, practice & determination.


MOTHERHOOD


AM: How old were you when you became a mother?


AP: 26.


AM: As someone who looks forward to having children of my own one day (and I am sure other readers feel the same) I wonder: Did you feel prepared? What were those first few weeks of being a Mom like?


AP: Yes I felt prepared. I may not have had the money or home I wanted, but I had a husband I loved and I believed in myself. I knew I had the ability to love and protect my child forever using all of my abilities and resources!


The first few weeks were amazing although physically I was trying to recuperate. It took some learning and getting used to new schedules and routines, but I was happy and VERY much in love with my baby.


AM: What is something about each of your daughters that reminds you of YOU?


AP: There are many things, but my oldest is stubborn and my youngest is determined. Both qualities I possess. Stubbornness can be a quality to help get what you want and need!


AM: What about being a mother has challenged you the most?


AP: The biggest challenge would be learning and knowing that each one of them are different and individual, and that you need to find specific ways to interact and help them throughout the years. What is good for one may not be for the other. Humans are not cookie cutter molds. Sometimes it’s difficult to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Some issues take longer to solve. Trying to keep a happy medium is important.


AM: What has been the most rewarding?


AP: Nothing in this world could ever beat hearing my children laughing! Those are the moments I think everyone in this world lives for... to be happy, right? At least that’s what I believe. I embrace EVERY day and every moment that it happens.


AM: How has motherhood changed you?


AP: I don’t think that being a mother has changed who I am, but it has strengthened the parts of me that I need to survive in this world, as well as the ones I need to help others. It has helped me sustain my determination and never give up fighting everyday battles for myself, my family and for others!


Photo One: From Left to Right: Amy’s daughters, Justine, Emily, and her niece, Sonny.

Photo Two: From Left to Right: Justine and Emily.


AM: What is something you have learned from being a Mom?


AP: Patience!


AM: What is the most fun about being a Mom?


AP: Family dinners, games we like to play like “survivor” in the backyard, swimming, chatting and long talks; basically spending quality time with one another!


AM: What is one thing you have tried to instill in your daughters as they have grown up? What message do you want them to carry with them always?


AP: Never give up! ALWAYS have that attitude and you will find a way. Believe in yourself, especially when life gets tough.


AM: What is one thing you wish you knew back then, that you know now?


AP: That babies don’t sleep through the night! Well at least most of them don’t.


AM: What are your children’s names, how did you choose them, and did you have back ups?


AP: Justine and Emily. I knew two girls when I was in my 20’s that had those names. They were best friends, and I admired their friendship. The names just always stuck with me. And yes I had some back ups from their dads, but of course... I won in the end!

I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Amy, and are feeling inspired and ready to tackle something that your creative side has been calling you to do for a while now!


For more information about Amy’s art, Amyz Angry gigs, etc. you can all visit the links below!


To View Galleries and Custom Paintings Visit: https://www.amyparkerart.com/


For Live Painting Sessions, Tutorials, etc. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/amyparkerartist/


For Watch Parties and Auctions Visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/amyparkerart/


For Band Updates Visit: https://www.facebook.com/amyzangry/


As always, please show this lady some love and head over to give her pages a like and a follow! You won’t regret it!


Also a huge thank you to Amy herself for giving me the time to pick her brain, and for acting as inspiration for me creatively as I have grown up!


XOXO Autumn