Artist Audrianna Woods on Earth Goddesses and Elephants
Artist Audrianna Woods grew up in rural Washington State. Though surrounded by natural wonders of the Northwest's big trees and arboreal creatures, at the age of twenty, she decided she needed to "try the South" and moved in with an aunt in Houston.
Being in her twenties, she had little direction. She tried a year at Lone Star College and completed some coursework at the University of Houston for a teaching degree, but never finished. Finally she turned to a skill she'd always kept on the side: painting.
"Being creative was something that I was good at, but not something I took seriously," she says.
Nine years after her arrival in Houston, Woods's style has become one of the most recognizable among local painters. She blends chic modern color pallets with ancient, often natural, iconography. Her portraits tend to center on a single subject and integrate modern or pop culture, as well. On her website and Instagram feed you will find re-imaginations of earth goddesses and elephants alongside those of LeBron James and Ironman.
We sat down to ask her a few questions. (The conversation has been edited for flow and clarity).
HOUSTONIA: You have over 16,600 followers on Instagram yet don't sell any of your paintings in galleries. Tell us about that strategy.
Audrianna Woods: I do go to events and post up as a vendor. Part of the reason I love Houston so much is there's so much culture and art and music.
But I don't really look into getting into galleries—I should, galleries are good, don't get me wrong. But my stuff sells pretty quickly on social media. And most of my art friends, I don't know any of them that are in galleries. They all do their own thing online.
I have been featured in the African museum, for an exhibition they were doing, and a few other little things like that, but to be honest I'm kind of an introvert and stay secluded so I don't go out too, too much into the art world.
You're also a full-time mom to your one- and six-year-olds. How are those two balanced?
If I was able to work nine-to-five just on my art I'd get so much done. But with my new baby painting's very sporadic at the moment. But that will get better over time.
Luckily I paint pretty fast: I can get a painting done in two days if I put the time into it. And to be honest my kids are used to it by now. They sit in their room and watch their Disney movies while I paint as much as I can. But it's a tough balance. But just the fact I can stay home with my kids and not put them in daycare is a blessing.
How do you maintain your roots to the natural world living in a large urban area?
We make it a priority to get out. We just got back from camping this past weekend. We go to the beach a lot. We go on walks and to the parks. We recently took a trip to Vietnam and Thailand, and the Oregon mountains. It's really important to me and my husband that we stay connected. Until I moved here I didn't realize how much being out in nature meant to me. My art functions as one of the ways to keep expressing that love.
That's given rise to a lot of mixed media. I've been adding seashells I find at the beach or stones or grass to my paintings—new things that really bring them to life.
You've also been designing earrings and coasters with African masks on them. There must be a next level to your work that you think about.
Absolutely. I want to start doing murals—that's where the real money is. I want to get out there and be on corporate walls or on hotels. That's where I'm trying to go: more corporate, and more expensive. But there are plenty of roads to take in art, so I'll take what comes, just so long as I'm growing.
Who are the Houston mural painters you love today?
Reginald Adams is a big one. He's got a few downtown, one right off The Breakfast Klub, and I've been to his studio a few times.
Do you have any idea what kind of mural you'd want to do?
If it's just me, I'd love to find a dead wall and make it happy, make it colorful. It'd be awesome to do an African mask somewhere. But I can't be too picky—it will be whatever the customer wants.