Meet artist Amber Rose Roth from Outer Banks, North Carolina of Red Tail Arts.
Preferred Medium:My main focus recently has been painting on feathers, but I’ve been known to work with polymer clay, wood, bone, and soapstone.
Favorite Tools?: I’ve fallen in love with acrylic gouache and Beste brushes for my feather paintings. Though some of my absolutely favorite tools are those that I’ve made. I’ve learned to make a brush out of a feather, and while it doesn’t last very long, it has been invaluable for those exceptionally thin lines. Even a good portion of my polymer clay tools are modified or made from scratch. I guess it comes from being a bit of a control freak.
What would you call your ‘style’? I try for realism. Even though much of my work with polymer clay is more fantasy creatures, there is still a lot of thought that goes into the sculpting to make it as realistic as I can. Oddly enough, it can feel like one of my biggest hurdles as well as one of my greatest motivations.
What are you currently working on? I’m trying to get a collection of painted feathers to go up to a gallery as well as a new string of commission pieces. I’ve also recently learned to make drums, so I really look forward to being able to make more in the near future.
What is a favorite piece of art you created and why? Favorite pieces are so difficult because there are so many that I love. If I had to choose though, I think a young alligator that I painted recently has to be my current favorite. Though I’ve gotten a lot of love for my recent wolves and some of my feathered dragon sculptures.
Where do you create? I have a little studio on the top floor of a little house I share with my other half, Branden. I like to work in small areas, so it is absolutely perfect. Open the windows in the evening, and I can even hear the ocean!
When do you create? Any time that I can. I also have a full time job at the local Native American Museum that takes up a good portion of my time. However, there are many days when I’ll come home from a long day of work and go straight to my little studio and keep going.
What do you do when you hit a creative block? I usually put down what I’m trying to work with and start a project that is completely different. If I’m doing 2-D work, I’ll try to sculpt something, and the other way around. If my brain is a complete blank, I’ll just start smooshing material till it starts to look like something. In short, I play with materials till something magical happens.
Do you have any special techniques your would like to share? I get a lot of questions asking how I get painted fur and water to look so realistic while still being on such a small surface. It can sound like a joke when I say that I just “smoosh paint” but sometimes that’s what it is. I’ll dip my brush in several different colors and do a tiny bit of blending right on the feather. If you look closely at the ocean, or the fur of almost any animal, or even a sunset, there are an uncountable number of colors! So instead of approaching it like a paint-by-number, I take a cue from Mother Nature. My paintings can easily have 6 or 7 really thin layers of “smooshed” paint to give it the depth and richness of color that I want.
Do you teach? What and why? I do, but not on any kind of reliable schedule. I’ve taught feather painting basics at the Frisco Native American Museum Powwow, gotten together with small groups at their request, and invited people into my studio. I love what I do, love the feeling when I’ve created something beautiful, and want others to experience that joy. I’ve heard so many times “Oh, I could never do that”, and it hurts me a little bit every time I hear that. Sure, there are some of us that have natural talent, but there is an artist in everyone. There is this crazy idea that most artists just pick up a pen and “Voila!” a masterpiece; that artists are almost a special breed of people separate from everyone else. Those walls need to be broken down so anyone can see that it’s okay to have fun making mistakes while you learn something new.
What do you listen to when you create? Pandora Radio is an artist’s best friend. I have several different stations set up so there is one for any mood that I’m in. Sometimes it’s Oren Lavie and Hozier, others it’s Puscifer and VNV Nation, or David Guetta and Kerli. If I’m in for a full day of art, I actually prefer to put in an audio course so I can listen to lectures while I work.
What other things do you like to do creatively? I love to cook! I have a bad tendency to cook like I paint, and kind of throw spices at it till it smells good. Thankfully, it has worked splendidly so far. Writing is also a bit of a hobby/love. I focus more on short stories, but I get so caught up in my more tangible art that I don’t know if I’ll ever finish off a book like I plan.
Tell us about any commercial art endeavors: There’s a rumor going around that some of the sugar skull jewelry I create out of polymer clay will be finding its way down to a shop in New Orleans in the near future!