Imagine a life where your working hours are spent focused on a passion, talent or even hobby and you managed to successfully turn it into a career. Sure, it’s an exciting thought but it’s more than a little scary and definitely intimidating. Not to mention societal pressures to chase after the cliche “normal” career path. It can be inspiring to look at someone who has overcome the obstacles and curves of life to end up living out her dream in her work. Seeking to be true to herself - had the courage to take her painting from a lifetime appreciation to a full time career and is now loving every minute of it.
Niki’s creative streak has always been a part of her identity. In her early 20s she set out to build a career out of it. She can even remember “walking through Cherry Creek and Denver in my early twenties, with my art work in hand, going door to door asking galleries to showcase my work. The SPACE Gallery, which used to be on Larimier, finally said yes and that’s where my first piece hung.” Sometimes however, even what we love takes a backseat to life. Discouraged by that eternal presence of those who thought painting wasn’t a credible career, and swept away while raising her family she put her brush down and did not pick it up for years to come.
Suddenly there was a spark to get back in the game when her now husband saw one of her paintings and encouraged her to pursue a career in art. You could say it was meant to be as her art has since been revered. When asked her defining moment she will tell you it is when New York based retailer and women’s fashion influencers Ann Taylor bought a piece. However, accolades are not what it’s about for Niki. Her thoughts on the creations that she puts out may just put the possibilities of following her path into perspective for anyone. “I paint what I like and I don’t care if it sells. I feel like every piece is painted for someone they just have to find it.”
With a certain artistic harmony, music fuels and influences her painting. “I have thoughts and feelings of what I want to paint and then I’ll put on some music and let it organically unfold from there.” She listens to the song on repeat as the sounds transcend mediums from notes and lyrics on Spotify to strokes and colors on canvas. Each piece is named after the song that inspires and molds it. The end result is Niki’s visual expression of the music and just like a song that you hear that resonates instantly, Niki’s paintings have the ability to make an immediate and lasting impression.
Once her work is complete she posts an image of it to Instagram and tags the singer/artist/DJ that set the mood for the work. Many of the artists that she has tagged have actually reached out to her, which has even led to impressive collaborations. Her most recent being with Anastasia Elliot who commissioned her to paint visual interpretations of her songs.
Today Niki’s paintings can be found on many online Art Galleries and locally she is represented by Denver Art Company. Search Niki Stearman at the links below to see her work (pro tip: listen to the song in conjunction with viewing the painting).
If you get nothing else from Niki’s story, let your biggest takeaway be to imagine what things might be like if we took a stroke from Niki’s brush and embraced that no matter what stage of life you are in, you can always strive to be your most authentic self.
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