Every artist draws inspiration from different places. Some paint the environment around them. Others look at other forms of art like movies, literature or music. Some look at other people’s paintings. For Chicago abstract artist Rebecca Moy, it’s pretty simple.
“It’s kind of intuitive. So, I could just be on a walk and something will catch my eye. It will be like that. It’s instantaneous,” Moy said. “I could be out to dinner and just look at the shape of a glass or something and I like it. I like that line. It could be something that easy.”
Long-time friend Carole Cantrell met Moy about 23 years ago when they both worked for a start-up website. Throughout the years, Cantrell saw Moy’s artistic process up close and personal.
“Just walking through the world, she collects a library or a catalog of forms,” Cantrell said. “It’s kind of like a mixture of improvisational jazz music coming out on the canvas.”
Moy started painting when she was just 4four-years-old. Her parents encouraged her to make art and she never stopped. Moy has since evolved artistically, dabbling in other forms of art as she grew up. Yet, nothing stuck with her the way painting did.
“I tried other things too,” Moy said. “In high school, I did sculptures and stuff but nothing hit me like paint. So, I stuck with paint. I didn’t like photography. It’s just something about canvas and pigments and brushes…It lights me up like a Christmas tree.”
In 1998, Moy started at Columbia College Chicago where she would eventually graduate with a bachelor’s degree in arts and media management.
The way art is sold has drastically changed since she graduated from Columbia in 2003, forcing her to adapt. Regardless, she then built a following on social media. Moy now has nearly 1,500 followers on both Instagram and Facebook.
The practice of art has been done for thousands of years and all of sudden, the internet changes how it operates. While some artists may prefer an in-person approach to selling art, this era of social media and online shopping can help artists gain exposure like never before.
“I make a ton of money off of Facebook,” Moy said.. And that reaches my whole world that wasn’t available to me as a painter at 19-years-old in ’99. The audience reach: you can’t beat it. You also can’t beat meeting face to face and really getting to know someone and their art. And that’s why studio visits are key.”
Moy works out of the same house she got back in 1998 when she was a college student at Columbia. About 85 percent of her income comes from her selling art out of her own home.
“I used to have an off-site studio but it’s just too much money and I really work well from home,” Moy said. “I like all my creature comforts. I like a full fridge. I don’t want to commute. All these things save me time. These paintings take hundreds of hours, so every minute matters to me.”
After sitting at the same table while attending a wedding neither of them wanted to be at, Kate Pommersheim got to know Moy. They realized how much they had in common and have been friends ever since.
Even though Pommersheim has only known Moy for three years, she understands the ambition and drive Moy has for painting.
“It’s in her blood. It’s what she does. She wakes up. She does her morning routine and then she’s working,” Pommersheim said. “And she works sometimes all day. Sometimes she’ll work in the morning and take the evening off or vice versa. She’s really driven and that’s definitely the difference between making a living in your art and just being a hobbyist. She puts in the effort and she puts herself out there and it’s really impressive to me.”