Creative Living With Artist Lauren Horton

Growing up in a household filled with artists and boundless creativity, it was inevitable that Lauren Horton would devote her days to the act of creating. Her journey has been a multifaceted one – studying fine art, politics, and creative writing, followed by 15 years in the film and television sphere, and now teaching students to work with all different mediums at a local art school. 

Recently we had the privilege of catching up with Lauren and delving into her world, gaining insight into why she loves what she does, what inspires her, and what she does when grappling with the dreaded creative rut. 

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Lauren Horton – lots of people call me “La”. I’m all about creating and leading others into a creative way of living. But my main business is as an Artist.

I describe myself as a narrative artist – I dabble in a few art forms to tell stories. Right now, I’m mostly painting and creating visual artworks for people’s homes and lives. I also write, speak, and teach art at a local art school. I am currently working on a new series of oil paintings, some stationary, and some limited edition prints of my paintings.

Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you found your way to art?

I grew up in a family that, in a really organic way, nurtured creativity and community… so I was exposed to so many different creative outlets and art forms from my childhood. We always had art supplies, drawing tools, books, and paper accessible, so I was tinkering and illustrating from when I could grip a pencil. My Grandfather [who is a big influence in my life] was an artist and musician, my Dad is the ultimate creative – a designer, furniture builder, creative manager, production legend [stage and screen], and toy maker, and my Mum was always making [food, gardens, clothing]. Our house was always full of hard-working artists and musicians, and anyone else my mum found that needed food or somewhere to feel at home. My siblings are all incredible artists.

I loved school and headed to Uni where I studied fine art, politics, and creative writing before heading into a Film and Television degree. I worked in that industry for 15ish years and kept painting on the side. When I had children I had a strong pull back to my fine Art heritage and to work with my hands in a more tactile way, so I threw myself into painting and illustration again. I really believe that all of our life experiences become tools that we can use in our present situation, so all of my time in Film and my creative heritage has equipped me well for this season of making meaningful artworks and telling the stories of our lives.

My good friend and workmate Jess Le Clerc moved to the coast about 8 years ago and invited me to work with her at the Art School she was establishing on the coast with her husband. At the time it was just one class a week and we both were juggling our small kids and painting/art/creative businesses to see if we could use our art to help others and continue to create our own body of work. We’ve been working together since then. Art School Co is now flourishing and keeps me collaborating and leading other creatives as well as building my own work and business too. I truly believe that art makes the world a better place to be and that people who can tap into their creativity reap the benefits in their mental health which flows into every area of their lives… and the lives of those around them.

When did your love of art turn into a business?

I started teaching kids Art one-on-one in high school but kept painting, as a joy hobby mostly, doing little commissions and Artworks to sell along the way. My business has been a morphing of my life experience and storytelling and my art flows out of that, but I have been building this side of my business for around 8 years now.

What does a typical day in the life of Lauren Horton involve?

Every day is quite different depending on what part of the creative/ business process I am in. But typically every day starts with a meditation to help me keep my mental health on track, a beautiful filtered coffee that I drink while I do a basic skincare/make-up ritual. I put music on in the house and wake up my three daughters and help them get off to school. [that’s a sentence that sounds gentle… but it’s usually a whirlwind of hairdos, last-minute homework, missing uniform bits, rushed chores, and a dog bounding excitedly through it all].

Then – in the delightful quiet moment after they’ve headed off – I try to make sure my life admin is in semi-order and my space is tidy [I find it really hard to get work done in chaos. I then dive into work. Sometimes that is talking to printers about one of my products [art prints or cards], answering emails and making social media posts, or talking with clients about commissions. All of this backend work takes up a lot of the day so I alternate between days that are business-focused and days that are making/painting focused.

Painting days are also pretty structured – I will make a plan beforehand so I can minimize decision fatigue, have my space ready with great music or podcasts and snacks and make sure I have a few hours without interruption to get as much done as possible.

After school hours, I often keep painting and am intentional about having my kids around me. They’ll typically plonk down their bags and come to where I am to tell me about their day or ask me questions [What can I eat? What are you doing? Can I paint too? Can I ride to my mate’s house? Watch me do this flip/cartwheel! Etc.] The work time when they’re around is way less “productive” on the surface, but I believe it’s important for them to feel a part of what I am doing and to see me working hard on something I love. They also love creating and see the fullness of it [it’s not just about painting but also about relationships and business].

My evenings then flow from work into some kind of movement – yoga or a walk with someone [dog, friend, husband] then dinner. I like to read before bed or watch a show with my husband while the kids wind down with books and make their lunches for the next day.

What do you love most about what you do and why?

I love that I have space to be authentic, to help people create meaningful beauty for their homes/spaces [or to be part of giving a unique gift]. I love that my art can speak to people on different levels- someone might just enjoy it aesthetically, and that’s great, but someone else finds meaning and a way that it speaks to their story uniquely. Art is awesome like that.

When I am working with clients on commissions, gifts, and murals – I love to draw out their stories and help them to verbalise what they want. Again, I think this comes from my filmmaking background – but I really love that collaborative part of the creative process and helping clients to verbalise their story, and its value and have confidence to decide on what they like. I am always looking for new ways to express what I am experiencing and also to inspire others.

What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

The first time that I sold an original artwork to a stranger. It was years ago, but that feeling that someone chose my art because they loved it on its own merit was a beautiful, proud moment for me. Every time I sell a work of art I am honoured that someone has chosen to place something I have made in their home and nothing tops that achievement for me [whether it’s on a small or large scale].

Recently we worked on a commission together for an interior styling project I am working on. What did you love about that process?

Space and connection are so important to me, so I loved the process of creating something for a specific stylistic purpose and infusing it with meaning.

Working with you on this was so exciting for me because it meant I could focus on the part of the process I thrive in. I also love collaboration, this might come from my years working in film. In my experience, when creatives work well together they are able to elevate the outcome significantly.

It was wonderful to have the context of the whole vision for the client’s space to work with as well – I found the whole process really smooth and joy filled, and loved that I could trust that the client would get the best outcome with you helping them clarify their needs.

Who do you look to for inspiration and what resources would you recommend to those looking to get out of a ‘creative rut’?

I have so much to say about this – but I’ll try to be succinct [it’s something I talk a lot about on my social media and when I am teaching, so hit me up if you want more].

Inspiration is a slippery little sucker… fun when you can grab it, but hard to catch and hard to hold onto. I love what Picasso said “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”. It’s like if you are sitting still and looking for it, it vanishes like a vapour. To counter this I divide my work flow up – I have work planned and lined up at all times so I can keep working and so that I am not reliant on that magical inspiration to begin. But I am always “beauty hunting” and open to inspiration in the world around me. I also think that creativity is a bit of a perpetual motion thing – the more you create, the more you are inspired and the more ideas come…if you stop, it becomes harder to work out what to do next.

I know the kind of environments that spark creativity for me, but inspiration hardly ever comes at the moment in time I want it to. It rarely [never] comes when I am in front of a blank canvas with time to paint. So, I invest time in feeding my creative soul before I am standing ready to paint.

For me, I find inspiration and ideas in stories and in visuals. Films, fashion, vintage storybooks, art history, magazines, novels, nature. Shaking up my environment always awakens me to new ideas [a day trip to the city, a different cafe, or a new gallery], and intentional collaboration and conversation with other creatives too. I keep my eyes and ears open all the time and then – this is important – I systematically collate inspiration before it vanishes with my shady memory so that when the work time comes I can easily recall and access the imagery or ideas. I don’t need to have an idea for how I will use it at that moment – sometimes it’s years later and I come across a thought or image from my collection and it is ready to be used, and sometimes I know straight away what I want to do.

Most of my ideas come while I am driving, cooking, or reading a totally unrelated book, so I use my phone to save my thoughts. I use the notes function for words and website links, I save my own photography in my “art references” folder on my phone photos [and dedicate time to editing and formatting them to the size of my canvases as I go to make it easy for future Lauren]. I keep any and all other visual inspo on a private Pinterest board – these can be everything from photos of fun colour combinations, cool signage, and typefaces I see out in the world, or paintings or photos I have taken on my travels, or set designs or magazine clippings. I snap it on my phone and save it all so I can easily look them up when I am feeling creatively dry or want to start planning a work.

I think the main advice I have is to take away the pressure by separating those things so the creative work doesn’t rely on the feeling of inspiration… but the pool of collated inspiration becomes a source for where it’s easy to plan my work.

What does being wholehearted mean to you?

My Dad always told me if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. I love that approach – to be wholehearted and committed to living and creating with intention, openness, and authenticity.

Where can people contact you to purchase your art?

People can contact me via my website or Instagram @‌bylaurenhorton and purchase original works, book a commission, or jump on my mailing list to be the first to know when I am dropping my next limited run of prints or products.

Currently, I am working on a new series of oil paintings. The series is called “Herald” and each painting is of a dawn sky – based on the concept of the brand new mercies and fresh start that we get given each new day. There will be some originals for sale [some have already sold] and limited prints. I also have a fresh series of cards coming out to help inspire people to give handwritten encouragements to others and a limited drop of art prints. There are always fun things coming and going so the best thing is to follow on Instagram and get on my mailing list via the website.