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“Get That Glitter In All The Cracks”

Hearts of Costa Mesa: Ana Cadwell, Artist and Eastside Costa Mesa Resident, Orange County California

“I moved to Orange County from out-of-state about nine years ago. When I got here, I really was like, ‘Ugh. Where do I fit?’

“In the beginning, we tried living in Newport and Irvine and I had a lot of moments of, ‘Oh my gosh! What are we doing here?’

“Then we moved to Costa Mesa about four years ago and it was the first time I was finally like, ‘This is home.’ Of the three OC cities I’ve lived in, it was the only time I felt like I really connected with the community.

“I’ve met so many amazing people since moving to Costa Mesa. The network of women I know now is amazing. The art community here is really strong. There are a ton of creative people. Even if they don’t have a ‘creative career,’ they’ve got something interesting going on in their garage or backyard. It’s pretty rad.

“The creativity of Costa Mesa speaks to me. I’ve always been artistic, even as a kid.

“My stepdad was an art teacher, so I had a lot of influence and guidance in keeping my creative outlet open. Drawing and ceramics, mostly. I did some painting, but I loved drawing. And then squishing clay for ceramics – it’s that whole tactile thing, the feel of it – I liked that part, too.

“Once I got to college, all that creativity got pushed aside. Then I got married and had two kids, and it really got pushed aside. Now I’m slowly finding my way back to it, trying to figure that out.

“I didn’t really tap back into my creative side until after my second child was born. I had become a stay-at-home mom and really felt like I lost part of myself. This feeling came over me like, ‘I’m stuck at home with kids and I don’t have an outlet anymore.’

“So I started taking some fine art classes and then gradually moved into doing my own, original work. Getting back into art after becoming a mom – having an outlet to express my experience – it was a real relief to get it out.

“I started small. First, I did little projects here and there. I made belt buckles to give to my friends, stuff like that. Then I started working a few hours a week during open hours at a local studio. I’d paint or create mixed-media, hang out with other artists. Slowly, I expanded to my garage and started creating in there. Over time, I built up a little collection of some mixed-media pieces I had created.

“I have a friend in LA that I’d see once a month or so, and she produces art shows. So I asked her, ‘Hey, how does someone get into that?’ She told me to just submit what I had. I sent her four projects and three of them made it into the show.

“One was a mixed-media piece I call, ‘Trellis.’ My inspiration was the pergola over my patio. The piece is more of an optical illusion, or op-art, thing with a repeating pattern in plaster. It’s also got paint, spray paint and glitter… that was the best part, the glitter. I was like, ‘Yes, get that glitter in all the cracks.’

“Since the show I’ve taken a bit of a pause. I’m waiting to find that head space again, get in the right spot. I have some ideas in the works. I’ve been thinking a lot about flowers and women’s bodies and female sexuality, lately. Sort of a Georgia O’Keeffe direction. I’ve also been collecting palm fronds to eventually cut up and create some very abstract 3D stuff. I don’t want to reveal all of it, but yeah, I’m thinking a lot about palm fronds, flowers and women’s bodies – so we’ll see what comes of it.

“Art is intuitive. It’s about connecting to the ‘you’ that’s hidden in your subconscious and putting it down on canvas. You start something, then walk away, then just keep coming back and adding on.

“Eventually, you get to that feeling like, ‘Whoa. I don’t even know where that came from.'”

– Ana Cadwell, Artist / Mother / Eastside Costa Mesan

About The Author

Hearts of Costa Mesa

Hearts of Costa Mesa is a curated journey through the rich diversity of Costa Mesa life. We'll be sharing vignettes and stories through the reflections of Costa Mesa's residents and regulars. This is an ongoing project, a tapestry we'll continue to weave over time. Please contact us through the website if you'd like to participate. Read all the Hearts of Costa Mesa vignettes here.

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