Take it from the words of an artist like Courtney Fleming herself—art can be found anywhere.
“Art is everywhere in all forms,” Fleming said. “Everyone is an artist in some form. I love to be inspired when I sit back and look around.”
Fleming started painting about seven years ago, and what began as a pastime evolved into a passion and a business.
“I had an itch to dabble in it. It quickly became one of my favorite things to do,” she said. “My family and friends would always ask me to paint them something or ask to buy something I had painted. It thrills me to know that sharing my art is a way to share the joy and happiness it gives me in my life.”
The passion was even contagious for Fleming’s family.
“My family caught the bug, and now we enjoy painting together and it is a constant source of joy and excitement for us,” she said.
The Valpo native’s artwork has begun spreading in popularity, and is available for purchase through her website. It also is sought by collectors across the country.
“My art is abstract with no rules—I have no rules or limitations. The finished product is always a surprise that I look forward to,” Fleming said. “I am always trying to think outside of the lines, trying to find unique tools to paint with or help make unique texture with. I am always mixing colors in my mind and curious how different mediums would work together.”
Nothing is too out of the box when Fleming is pondering her next pieces.
“I have artwork that has weathered storms. Literally, I leave it out in storms. It always adds something unexpected and sometimes a worn, vintage look. I am always experimenting and that is always so much fun!” she said.
“I love recycling items,” she added. “My kids will give me a hard time sometimes when they see some of the things I am considering. If that’s how I embarrass them, I love it!”
The process of creating something is as rewarding as it is challenging. Fleming has a very personal connection to her work.
“When I paint something, I put my heart into it, I don’t stop until I feel it’s finished. Sometimes that backfires because it can bring me back to square one. It can take me months or a few hours,” Fleming said.
“Some of my favorite paintings started out as my worst paintings,” she admitted. “I don’t just throw something together because what’s the point and there is no fun in that. Every piece I paint tells a story through its choice of colors, medium, texture and imperfections. I love to keep the imperfections as a reminder of the beauty in imperfections.”
Much like her perfectly imperfect finished products, making art reminds Fleming to make the most of the in-between moments in her life.
“Art means so much to me. Every time I paint, I go on a new experience. Life slows down for me and I become completely present in my painting, in the moment,” she said. “This is a unique experience for me because I can rarely ever slow down. I have three kids, and my youngest is 3 years old and my oldest is about to turn 11 this week. My days can be chaotic.”
“So often I am inspired to paint the most when I am stressed or overwhelmed,” Fleming said. “I make time to slip into my studio and paint. It can be for as little as five minutes or turn into all night painting, but either way it’s a mental vacation. It is my form of meditation.”
Fleming explored many different outlets and zip codes before finding her sanctuary in art. In fact, she’s lived in eight different cities, had 21 different jobs, and completed four sprint triathlons. Her work with vulnerable populations especially stands out to her.
“After I graduated from Loyola University Of Chicago with my degree in social work, I worked in Chicago in the social work field with juvenile delinquents in early childhood,” Fleming said. “About two years after I met my husband, we moved to the West Village in New York City and I got a job working for a company called Women in Need. I helped them find jobs and education, traveled all over NYC, and occasionally stayed up all night helping the homeless find shelter and keeping count for an organization called Everyone Counts.”
Worth noting are the ironic circumstances that led Fleming to meet the man who would become her husband.
“I met my husband in Las Vegas, even though his office was across the street from my condo in Chicago. What happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas,” she said with an exaggerated wink.
Fleming ended up setting down roots in her husband’s home state of North Carolina.
“When my husband and I decided we would start to think of a family, he always jokes that I said I will move anywhere as long as we go somewhere warmer, not colder. Since his family was in North Carolina, we thought that would be a great place to go because of the mild winters, yet you still had the four seasons. We picked Raleigh because of its proximity to the mountains, the beach, and a big enough city where we wouldn't go stir crazy. Plus, it’s a two-hour flight to Chicago.”
Although she loves her current home, Valparaiso will always have a special place in her heart.
“I can't imagine growing up anywhere else but Valparaiso. It was a place where, at a very young age, we were free to ride our bikes far distances and didn't need to come in until dinner because neighbors always had eye on not only their kids but others’ as well. Valparaiso is a safe place. Everyone knows each other in some way and is willing to help each other out,” Fleming said.
“To this day, I look at Valparaiso as one big family, a place where you know you can count on the love and support of one another during the best of times as well as the worst of times. You can't find that kind of love everywhere, and I am very grateful,” she said.
Since most of her family members still live in the Valparaiso area, a visit home is always enjoyed.
“I am actually the favorite child out of the five of us,” Fleming said with another wink.
Fleming hopes her artwork can inspire others to learn the values she’s discovered in creating it.
“I like to think my art helps people remember to be themselves and take chances with new things in their lives,” she said. “And to remember that variety is the spice of life. We often spend much of our lives trying to impress others when we should be trying to excite ourselves and do things that make us feel good and, in turn, the ones we love. The earlier you learn this in life the happier you will be.”
Visit https://cflemingart.com/ to explore Fleming’s artwork and more about her process.