Thursday night, I had the pleasure of speaking with Vanessa Churco, owner of Barefoot Studios in Lawrenceville, and the conversation was quite refreshing. Her personality seemed to parallel the images of her paintings outlined in her professional portfolio. There was such a vibrant voice behind the phone as she spoke to me from the beachside of her stay in St. Pete Beach, Florida .
Here’s the dialogue from of our conversation:
Tell me a little about yourself, Vanessa.
Well, I have lived in Lawrenceville for ten years. I grew up in Duluth, Georgia. I’m a mother of three boys. I graduated from Georgia Southern University with an education degree. I taught second grade for a couple of years. I loved teaching.
So, how did you to become an artist?
I started painting stuff in my kid’s room and my neighbors would ask me to come paint for them and one thing lead to another. My grandmother would paint, and I would paint with her. I came from a very artistic family. I was always around art. Like if you were in a music family and people were singing, it would be something that was natural for you. So for me, it wasn’t a big deal to paint. It’s something that actually comes very natural. It’s just really easy for me to do.
How do you use your talent as a profession?
I provide high end finishes and custom painted murals for residential and commercial clients. I’ve been doing this for 12 years. I just did my second addition of the Gwinnett Braves Stadium. I completed night clubs, , in downtown Lawrenceville, , Havana South in Buford. I have painted for model homes all throughout Atlanta. You can see a lot of my work of course on my website.
What inspired you to name your company “Barefoot Studios”?
I paint with no shoes on. (She laughs) I paint barefoot. I climb up and down my ladders with no shoes on. I have two reasons for this. My first reason is I’m most comfortable with no shoes on .The other reason is that if I’m working on a ladder, I can grip my ladder with my toes cause I’m really short. I’m only 5’1”. So when I have to reach these taller places, I can get at the tip-top of the ladder and grab it with my toes and kind of hang on. And the most important one is if I step in paint, I’ll know it. And I’m not going to track it everywhere.
Where does the motivation behind each painting come from?
Most of the time a lot of people put their faith in me to do what I think is best. They give me creative freedom, especially if I’m doing children’s murals or anything like that. They’re like “Oh, go have fun. Do anything that you want. Just make it happen.” That’s very nice to be able to go with the flow and come out with something that makes everybody happy.
Do you have a favorite piece of art?
I did a little girl’s room with horses. Each one (piece of work) is unique and different, so it’s really not one specific type that I like because each one presents its own challenge. I love to get something unique coming at me. It’s like the same thing is not expected of you every single day. You have to interpret what idea somebody has in their head and you have to bring that out as a piece of art work. So I’ll listen to what my client says. This one woman (said), “Oh my daughter likes horses. She wants to go horseback riding, and I bought her this bed and she wants horses on her wall.” I had to interpret that into this huge wall mural for her daughter’s room, and it turned out absolutely beautiful. It was a wonderful challenge. It pushes you to be your best at all times. You’re aimed to please and at the same time you’re kind of just in awe with what you come up with. It’s a lot of fun. It gives this sense of accomplishment.
What do you think makes your work unique?
Each artist has their own hand. I end up becoming friends with all of my clients. I’m not real fond of small canvas work. I like the big giant wall that I can go crazy on. I feel more comfortable painting on large surfaces.
What colors do you like to paint with most?
I like bright hues. I like things that have a lot of depth to them. I like things that are sunny and bright... very vibrant colors.
I see that you are a traveler. What places do you like to visit?
I have family that lives in the Bahamas, and I love to visit the Caribbean. I am a water baby at heart. I’m a beach girl. I love the beach. I like to visit my family in the Bahamas. Like right now, I’m down here in St. Pete Beach. I’m right here on the water. I’m actually sitting on the deck watching the manatees. It’s beautiful.I like to travel a lot. I’ve been to a lot of places all over the world actually. I’ve been to Spain, Morocco. I went to school in Scotland for a little while. I’ve been to Britannia, the Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands, but I like the crystal-clear water of the Caribbean most, absolutely.
Painting comes second nature for you, but what has been your greatest challenge thus far?
When the paint doesn’t work right or your product doesn’t work right and you have to redo it.
What are your career goals?
I would love to do a historical city mural. My greatest challenge would be to organize something like that. I proposed to do a historical mural with the city of Duluth because that’s where I grew up. I wanted to bring back all of the history of Duluth through art because everything with grow and change you know. You kind of forget about all these places and people who were instrumental of creating your town and your city, you know that’s important too, but it fell by the waste side. But I would absolutely love the challenge of a large city mural. You know I organized the St.Patrick's Day festival in downtown Lawrenceville. I believe the is on Lawrenceville Patch. You should check it out, girl.
What you do is not easy for all. What advice would you give to those who are aspiring to be artists?
Practice makes perfect. You get better with every piece that you do and always be open to learning something new. And my favorite saying is “It’s just paint, you can always paint over it”
What are your most rewarding aspects of being an artist?
I am extremely passionate about what I do. I absolutely love my job. I just love it…love, love, love, love. And if you can use your talent to do what you love in life and be happy, it’s the best. I love creating things, painting, and I like bringing color and happiness into our world.