You are here: Home » Artist Interview » Fear no dog: Sally Ham Govan is an amazing artist to know

Fear no dog: Sally Ham Govan is an amazing artist to know

Buddy by Sally Ham Govan

Buddy by Sally Ham Govan

Dogs – they filled my days of summer in 2008. Living in a little cottage in Tuckaway Cove in Tennessee, my neighbor’s German Shepherd, Lab, and King Charles Cavalier often came to visit.

And then there was the day I drove into Knoxville to see Sally Ham Govan’s “Dog Show” at the Blunt Mansion Gallery. It was official then that the dog days of summer were upon us, but in such a pleasant way. Walking into that space and seeing the walls lined with dogs in repose, dogs in action, and well, just dogs – this became a defining positive art moment of that time period.

I had not met Sally until her reception, but somehow, we’ve stayed in contact over the years. She was part of a special club of folks who had worked at Whittle Communications where Ken spent a great deal of his professional life. She is now a senior editor/graphic and web designer at Middle Tennessee State University.

Well, the thing you should know pertaining to her “Dog Show” is ever since I graduated with a BFA, I’ve sought out art I’m interested in looking at – not art that someone told me I should like and revere. Sometimes I wonder if I formed my esthetics out of rebel notions. Well, shortly after I graduated, I decreed that images that have animals in them are art. There are so many great artworks that feature animals.

And the thing about Sally’s show – I totally fell in love with her dog drawings.They are Art with a capital letter A.

And still to this day, I get a thrill out of seeing what she creates (I also really enjoyed her MFA work from the University of Hartford, from which Ken is also an alumnus).

So, I sent her the interview questions you’ll see below and her answers are amazing. This is a person who is gracefully juggling a full-time career, life and art. She gives form to the idea that the sum of a person isn’t a job title, but how one creatively spends their time and energy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

© 2016. Sally Ham Govan.

Sally’s words:

1. Do you feel you are more of a fine artist or an illustrator or is there a murky line between or connecting the two – and why?

A. I prefer the philosophy of my University of Hartford professors: I’m an artist. That simplifies things.

I do a variety of work. I have not really worked professionally as an illustrator. I have always done representational—figurative—art. I have created art that depicts scenes. I have not ever created any abstract art that seems to have substance or weight. I have seen abstract art that I can admire for its aesthetics and design. I can’t spend much time looking at most of it because there’s not enough to hold my attention.

2. When I first met you, your subject matter revolved around dog and cat imagery, are you still working in this genre and what inspired you to work with such subject matter?

A. When my father was in a nursing home, I drew portraits of him and the other residents, whom I saw and got to know on my many visits. After his death, there was a void from the previous caregiving, and I began making and exhibiting more drawings in earnest.

I always loved drawing the figure most of all. I had grown up afraid of dogs. On Christmas Eve, I couldn’t think of anything to give my brother as a present, so I made a drawing of his dog from a photo. He loved it, and other people started asking me to draw their dogs. I enjoyed drawing them just as I had the human figure in so many life drawing classes. Once I started photographing and drawing dogs, spending more time looking at them, studying their individual characteristics, learning the different breeds of dogs, I was no longer afraid of them. It was a profound lesson in the power of art therapy.

I still draw dogs by request, on commission. My favorite recent drawings involve a figure, or more than one dog, in a setting or situation so there’s more of a story rather than just a portrait. I’ve done a few painted dog portraits in acrylic, with lots of color. I’ve enjoyed creating digital scenes that have more complicated details. I’m planning a new one that I hope to complete this summer, which may start a new series.

3. What are your current inspirations?

  • The college wanted more marketing pieces produced, so I have developed a magazine that I edit and design and transformed the annual report, which I enjoy reinventing each year. Those have received a couple of recent collegiate publication awards and have taken up a lot of my creative focus and energy.
  • We recently watched a British TV mystery series, Rosemary and Thyme, about two women who design gardens for fabulous estates in Europe—quite interesting.
  • Our house was new when we bought it, so we’ve been spoiled for a long time, not having to repair or renovate anything. After 20 years, things had started looking a bit worn, so we’ve initiated clean up/paint up/fix up projects. I obsess over one project at a time, so for months we’ve been getting estimates and poring over Internet remodeling sites. Finally we’ve settled on simple, economical, minor DIY refinements that feel right and aren’t breaking the bank.
  • Last year we took a big trip. Planning for months – all the details of logistics, sights to see, places to stay that looked inspiring – was an exciting design project of another sort.

4. You are a senior editor/graphic and web designer and a design professor, as well as an artist. What is the biggest challenge in being true to each of these aspects of your life?

A. I don’t feel I am true to any of them. I am spread too thin—jack of all trades, master of none. My official full-time title is senior editor. I add “designer” to it informally to let people know all that I do. For many years I was a designer and art director and always felt that an editor was my boss. With degree concentrations in graphic design and drawing, and since I had edited my high school paper and been a reporter and editor at a newspaper during college vacations, it seemed a natural fit when I took a job designing magazines. I then learned from years of reading copy editors’ notes how they deleted lines of copy to fit a layout. When I began freelancing for a while, I jumped at the chance to start editing as well as designing (books and academic journals), so my next full-time job was as a university editor — who could also design layouts. I love being in total control — ha! — designing the entire content of a publication, from concept to print production, so everything works together as a whole. I do get bogged down in production—there is no one to delegate to.

My dad had inspired me early on with his admiration for creative innovators like Charlie Chaplin and Richard Wagner. (I wrote a high school research paper on Wagner’s innovations.) My husband had studied videography and respected Orson Welles. Those creative geniuses didn’t just write, or direct, or act, or produce, or compose, or design sets—they conceived and created the entire project. I desired to emulate them in my own small way and found that my true enjoyment comes from being a sort of “director,” endeavoring to create what Wagner called a “total art work.”

Once, in a state of career confusion, I took a battery of tests at a center that helps people find the most suitable career. Their theory was that everybody has certain skills, and to be fulfilled one must use all of one’s skills. They told me mine was the most difficult case—so many skills that it’s almost impossible to find a job using them all. Such a person usually has multiple hobbies or side gigs because a one-skill job would be too boring. They advised me not to just accept a job advertised in a classified ad, and that a smaller company or even self-employment would probably be more suited to my needs. Because I have craved the security of a salary and benefits, I’ve had to cultivate work situations—small pockets within larger organizations—where I can continually build on the job description to incorporate multiple responsibilities. This requires very understanding bosses who are willing to let me innovate and grow—as long as I still accomplish what needs to be done. (Ken Smith was such a boss!)

5. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned from becoming a college professor?

A. I have been teaching graphic design, typography, and 2D-computer illustration as an adjunct instructor at a university—just one class a semester, one evening a week (and the rest online), so I can manage it with a full-time job.

  • It’s an enormous amount of work. One can always do more work preparing for a class and finding new ways to reach students. It leaves very little time and energy for creating your own work.
  • Researching examples of the best work and trends, both historical and current, to show my class has revitalized my own work with both inspiration and new skills. (It reminds you what had made you want to do this creative work to begin with, after so many years of just meeting deadlines to pay bills.) Just as I grade student projects, suggesting improvements, I am pushing myself more to continually refine my own projects, not settling for the first solution. It’s impossible not to get inspired yourself as you show your students quotes and video footage of design and illustration greats like Milton Glaser saying “go for the wow.” It reminds me as I am doing my own work: go for the wow.

6. If money were not an issue, how would you spend your days?

A. We are working to figure that out now as we begin to think about planning for “retirement.” It becomes harder as years go by to live on an organization’s schedule. It seems unnatural spending hours at an office, completing tasks that can sometimes seem redundant or irrelevant. One naturally starts to seek more spiritual fulfillment and ways to care for the body as physical stamina gradually and perpetually declines. One considers how to spend the time and energy remaining. Quality of life becomes more important. A recent article summed it up: “Time is the new money.” Our creative project currently is conceiving ways to live with less money. I would need to set up a schedule and create projects that seem meaningful. Taking the past week off from work has been wonderful: relaxing, getting enough restful sleep, walking outdoors when the temperature’s most pleasant, taking care of the house, and spending time with my mother, soaking up her wisdom and even improving my bridge and Scrabble skills. In order to be creative, one requires spare time and “boredom” in which the imagination has room to play.

To learn more about Sally’s work visit:

Save

Save

Save

Save

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.

http://www.lskingphotography.com

418 Comments

  1. Pingback: how much is cialis
  2. Pingback: Order viagra us
  3. Pingback: Price viagra
  4. Pingback: albuterol inhaler
  5. Pingback: naltrexone pills
  6. Pingback: cialis coupon
  7. Pingback: chloroquine tablet
  8. Pingback: cheap viagra
  9. Pingback: cheap viagra
  10. Pingback: cheap viagra
  11. Pingback: otc ed pills
  12. Pingback: ed meds
  13. Pingback: generic cialis
  14. Pingback: walmart pharmacy
  15. Pingback: cialis mastercard
  16. Pingback: vardenafil dosage
  17. Pingback: buy cialis
  18. Pingback: real online casino
  19. Pingback: viagra sildenafil
  20. Pingback: cash payday
  21. Pingback: quick cash loans
  22. Pingback: instant loans
  23. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  24. Pingback: generic cialis
  25. Pingback: cialis internet
  26. Pingback: 5 mg cialis
  27. Pingback: generic cialis
  28. Pingback: cialis to buy
  29. Pingback: doubleu casino
  30. Pingback: casino
  31. Pingback: casino slot
  32. Pingback: viagra buy
  33. Pingback: sildenafil 20
  34. Pingback: viagra generic
  35. Pingback: generic viagra
  36. Pingback: tadalafil online
  37. Pingback: viagra pills
  38. Pingback: sildenafil
  39. Pingback: generic for viagra
  40. Pingback: online casino usa
  41. Pingback: cialistodo.com
  42. Pingback: buy womens viagra
  43. Pingback: Viagra 50 mg nz
  44. Pingback: viagra for sale
  45. Pingback: Viagra 200mg cheap
  46. Pingback: cialis cost
  47. Pingback: canadian viagra
  48. Pingback: viagra cost
  49. Pingback: Cialis 40 mg nz
  50. Pingback: cialis
  51. Pingback: buy Cialis 10mg
  52. Pingback: lexapro 5mg uk
  53. Pingback: viagra substitute
  54. Pingback: viagra for sale
  55. Pingback: generic cialis
  56. Pingback: bayer cialis
  57. Pingback: cialis at rite aid
  58. Pingback: viagra at boots
  59. Pingback: sildenafil dosage
  60. Pingback: ceclor cheap
  61. Pingback: celexa price
  62. Pingback: cheapest claritin
  63. Pingback: slots real money
  64. Pingback: online casino
  65. Pingback: online casinos usa
  66. Pingback: casino real money
  67. Pingback: slots real money
  68. Pingback: insurance for cars
  69. Pingback: buy cialis brand
  70. Pingback: buy cialis usa
  71. Pingback: quick loan
  72. Pingback: bad credit loans
  73. Pingback: how to use cbd oil
  74. Pingback: buy cbd oil online
  75. Pingback: Get viagra
  76. Pingback: essay online
  77. Pingback: random assignments
  78. Pingback: buy a essay
  79. Pingback: clozaril coupon
  80. Pingback: Buy generic viagra
  81. Pingback: coreg coupon
  82. Pingback: cialis
  83. Pingback: crestor australia
  84. Pingback: cialis myths
  85. Pingback: Viagra jelly
  86. Pingback: diamox nz
  87. Pingback: diltiazem cheap
  88. Pingback: cheapest dramamine
  89. Pingback: cheap elavil
  90. Pingback: etodolac prices
  91. Pingback: cheap flomax
  92. Pingback: how to buy geodon
  93. Pingback: cheap tadalafil
  94. Pingback: imdur uk
  95. Pingback: brand cialis
  96. Pingback: does cialis work
  97. Pingback: order imitrex
  98. Pingback: imodium generic
  99. Pingback: this
  100. Pingback: order imuran 25 mg
  101. Pingback: lamisil uk
  102. Pingback: levaquin usa
  103. Pingback: lopid price
  104. Pingback: luvox 100 mg price
  105. Pingback: macrobid cost
  106. Pingback: female viagra
  107. Pingback: micardis pills
  108. Pingback: Buspar
  109. Pingback: motrin 600mg cheap
  110. Pingback: viagra cost
  111. Pingback: prevacid 30 mg usa
  112. Pingback: prilosec 40mg uk
  113. Pingback: protonix price
  114. Pingback: buy remeron 15 mg
  115. Pingback: revatio tablets
  116. Pingback: robaxin online
  117. Pingback: rogaine coupon
  118. Pingback: singulair usa
  119. Pingback: skelaxin 400mg usa
  120. Pingback: cheap tenormin
  121. Pingback: zestril generic
  122. Pingback: zithromax coupon
  123. Pingback: best site
  124. Pingback: zocor 40mg otc
  125. Pingback: zovirax tablets
  126. Pingback: order zyloprim
  127. Pingback: zyprexa australia
  128. Pingback: sildenafil uk
  129. Pingback: cost of tadalafil
  130. Pingback: cheap escitalopram
  131. Pingback: buspirone 5 mg uk
  132. Pingback: cialis 20 mg price
  133. Pingback: loratadine cost
  134. Pingback: clindamycin coupon
  135. Pingback: warfarin cheap
  136. Pingback: buy divalproex
  137. Pingback: fluconazole online
  138. Pingback: cheap phenytoin
  139. Pingback: doxycycline cost
  140. Pingback: herb viagra pills
  141. Pingback: gbgeiags
  142. Pingback: etodolac canada
  143. Pingback: buy cialis drug
  144. Pingback: alendronate coupon
  145. Pingback: buy viagra 100mg
  146. Pingback: loperamide otc
  147. Pingback: propranolol prices
  148. Pingback: cialis 20 mg cost
  149. Pingback: terbinafine otc
  150. Pingback: order atorvastatin
  151. Pingback: gemfibrozil online
  152. Pingback: clomid vs hcg
  153. Pingback: online propecia
  154. Pingback: custom my essay
  155. Pingback: neurontin 300 mg
  156. Pingback: zoloft vs paxil

We would love to hear from you!