Meet Morgan Stinson of Oozy Schmoozy
My first show was a Wes Anderson/Quentin Tarantino fan art show hosted by Thumbprint Gallery at BASIC Bar & Pizza Downtown. I used oil paint, and procrastinated hard – the paint was still drying when I dropped the piece off the night of the show. I was so proud though, and had a great group of friends and family come out to support. I’d never felt so much pride in anything before. It was my proudest accomplishment.
During that time I was also going through a lot of internal conflict and growth, dealing with anxiety and depression, and was also in a relationship that brought out a lot of intense feelings – some of which I didn’t feel I could express simply with words. So I began to paint what felt true and natural to me. My first piece in my signature style was actually a gift for my partner at the time, and it was the first piece that I felt captured everything I felt. I used acrylic paint and finger-painted, and found myself almost hypnotized by the process itself. I let the colors blend, and soon I was molding my canvas into a statement. An evocative message built from the colors and the patterns. I realized pretty quickly that I was making something unique and special.
With the encouragement and support of my friends and family, and with a solid creative outlet, I continued to paint and found myself exhibiting my first “true” work of art at Hanalei Artworks’ “HeART of Hillcrest” show at Uptown Tavern in March 2018. I named the piece “Natural 20”, which is a Dungeons & Dragons reference to a “best case scenario” that can occur when you roll a 20 first try on a 20-sided die. To me, that piece was my “best case scenario,” and is my favorite and most treasured piece to date.
My first sale was actually through social media. I had created an Instagram account for my art, and a website too, to use as more of a portfolio than anything. It was my first Instagram post of one of my paintings, and within moments my good friend Bo messaged me that she wanted to buy it. I was shocked and also laughed because I hadn’t even listed it on my website yet. So I drove to Sin City Skates to drop it off to her and walked away $30 richer. After that, I posted my pieces onto Instagram and Facebook fairly regularly, as well as some of my “Rorschach Study” pieces that I created in a sketchbook. How those came about is also kind of funny to me. I’d bought some Posca Paint Pens to use and brought them with me on a flight to NYC, and due to the compression of the aircraft, when I went to use one, it kind of leaked onto the page instead of being like a marker. And I didn’t want to make a mess on the plane, so I shut my sketchbook to kind of sop up the paint. When I opened it it had created this really cool pattern and I just kind of rolled with it. After the paint dried, I used a black ink pen to continue the piece. Since then I’ve created 17 pieces in that style.
One of my teammates ordered a painting off of my website as a gift to her boyfriend’s father for Christmas. A fellow roller derby player from Portland ordered a piece from me through Facebook. My mother requested one of my original “Rorschach Study” pieces to frame in her hallway. A friend commissioned a piece to gift to his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. I was actually creating pieces that people wanted and making money while doing it. I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t sell my first piece at a show until this past February at VISUAL’s “For the Love of Art” show, hours before the show actually even started. I was so incredibly proud because this was a total stranger, not a friend or family member or acquaintance. There was no incentive for them or bias; they just liked my piece. It was insane, and I’ve been riding that high ever since.
Throughout the past three years, I’ve been in nine different art shows, and will be exhibiting a few pieces at a show in Brooklyn in a few weeks. Someone once told me I’d “made the big time”, and after exhibiting work at a gallery in Los Angeles last year, I think I’m on my way. It’s hard for me to believe that people like my artwork, and I don’t know why I feel that way. But I’ve truly loved every piece I’ve done, and love painting, and love that other people enjoy what I make. At the end of the day, it’s always for me though. It’s therapeutic and honestly soul-quenching. I’d always had therapy and roller derby as outlets as well, but painting is more than just expressing my frustrations or exerting energy. Painting is hypnotic and almost puts me in a trance. I feel like when I paint, I’m turning myself into liquid and melting onto the canvas. There’s just no other way I can describe it.
As an artist, I’m becoming a lot more “serious” I guess. I don’t have nearly as much time to paint as I used to; working full time, going to school part time, and playing roller derby. I have some really great supporters of my art who want to collaborate on some fun projects, and ideally, I’d love to have a solo show at some point. It’s such a great feeling for me to not only be able to paint as a way of getting my feelings out, but also as a way to connect with people, earn some money, and grow as an individual. And to think that it’s only been three years and I’ve been so successful? It’s surreal.
No, I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes. I’ve participated in art shows and been that annoying artist who has a tough time delivering or picking up their piece after the show. I’ve also given a meaningful painting to someone as a gift which I later learned they did not keep. I’m a lot more conscious and aware of what I do now, both as an artist and business woman. I want to participate in shows I know that my work will stand out or “make sense” in. I only give my paintings as gifts to those I know who will truly value and appreciate them. It’s all a learning process.
I don’t consider myself a business, or even a “small business owner”, but I know that I can profit from my artwork. To me, the “business” is in trying new things, like new forms or mediums. I have so many ideas and so little time, but I know that once I try something new it’ll be a great feeling. I’ll be able to learn more about myself and my art by getting out of my comfort zone and experimenting more.
I know my bright, vivid, almost “hallucinogenic” themes really entrance people, and I hope to continue that with my work. It’s certainly evolved and I know somewhere down the line it may be very, very different, but for now I’m just enjoying being in the moment.
I hope when people look at my art, they can see the complexity. Because I’ve always considered myself to be an intense and complex person, I feel things deeply and empathize easily, and my artwork is my way of putting all of those emotions into a message that words can’t do justice. I hope people see what they want to see, too, because I’ve always felt that art is subjective. And what I may be expressing in my art may be perceived to be something entirely different to someone else, and I love that. It’s a deeply personal experience for everyone, not just me.
I’ve been told my pieces are “psychedelic,” and in a lot of ways, I feel like I’m on a bit of a trip during the painting process. I describe myself as an “abstract expressionist action painter” because my style is fairly straightforward, but it’s the act of painting itself that creates the underlying message at the end. I’ve never gone into a painting and said, “Okay, now this piece is going to say ______!”. I’m not a realistic painter; I can’t paint people, places, or things realistically. My work is abstract for a reason – it’s what makes sense to me because sometimes things don’t make any sense at all. And that’s what my paintings are for: for me to try to make sense of my world and the thoughts and feelings I have about it. And however, people perceive that is their own personal experience, and I value and appreciate it just as much as I do my own.
I think art comes from a lot of places, and for me, it’s come from intense emotions – both good and bad. I still have a hard time describing myself as an artist, but I’d tell others to simply let your emotions – your passion, your intensity – flow through you and out into whatever you create. Put that energy into something tangible and visceral, because it’ll eat you up otherwise.
I wish I’d started painting sooner, and had pursued it more while I was in school. I would’ve asked more questions, experimented more. But I’m eternally grateful for what I have now, and I’ll be pursuing this passion for a very, very long time.
There are personal artistic goals I have for myself, and opportunities I’d like to have that will make me feel like I’ve truly “made it”. Right now a solo show is my big goal, and I’d also love to collaborate on other media – album artwork, book cover(s), etc. It’s just a matter of timing, and continuing to develop and cultivate great relationships within the creative community. Success also isn’t a finish line for me, but rather an experience akin to “leveling up”. I can “level up” but there’s always another level after that to get to, so I’ll never be fully satisfied. But I will always be grateful.