Collier Paints a Business on Her Professional Canvas

By Andy Meek

Dorothy Collier’s career path has unfolded similarly to many enterprising professionals marking time before fully committing to their passion.

Up until late last year, the longtime painter was employed as a middle school teacher partly because it provided an attendant level of predictability that artists don’t necessarily enjoy. The incremental pull of the canvas, though, became more than a place where Collier ensconced herself on weekends and eventually emerged as a representation of a fresh career slate – so much so that she said goodbye to teaching in November and has since been building up Dorothy Art, her painting venture.

For her business, she creates original oil paintings. Not only is her work displayed and sold around the city and in Nashville, but in the past month she participated in Front Porch Art’s “Art For Squares” event as well as the recent Orpheum Art Sale, among other events. What’s more, she’s also in the running for some major recognition.

Dorothy Collier left her job as a teacher last year to pursue her painting venture, Dorothy Art. Now, she finds herself a nominee in the Martha Stewart American Made competition.

(Photo courtesy of Dorothy Collier)

Collier is a nominee in the Martha Stewart American Made competition, voting for which is underway now. According to the contest, “Through American Made, Martha Stewart and the editors of ‘Martha Stewart Living’ are spotlighting the next generation of great American makers. The journey culminates in a signature event in New York City where makers from across the country gather to discuss, create, and explore. It’s here that our 2013 American Made winners are honored for innovation and excellence in their field.”

Winners will be announced Sept. 24.

“My mom’s a full-time artist in Nashville, I studied art at Ole Miss, and I just knew in the back of my mind I wanted to do this for my whole life,” Collier said. “I wanted to start teaching to have a sturdy ground at first, but that eventually didn’t seem as much fun as painting, like I’d been doing on the weekends.”

The shift started happening as commissions for work started rolling in, and she used word of mouth and the online site Etsy to disseminate her work and her brand. That’s what helped her realize her hobby could be something more.

A few months ago, she converted the upstairs space at her home into a study. She doesn’t have a set schedule by which she paints – sometimes in the morning, sometimes the evening, but “I do work a lot better at night.”

In an interview with her posted to the website of Front Porch Art, she said her favorite thing about having a booth at festivals and events is meeting new customers and introducing her art to them. At the same time, she still frets over the usual unknowns, like whether her potential clientele is attending the show, if the weather will hold up and if she has enough inventory on hand.

“I sell in lots of shops around here like at Gild the Lily, and I work at Gild the Lily a couple of days a week so I can talk face to face with customers,” she said, referring to the East Memphis gift shop. “I’m on Etsy, I’ve got some stuff at Sheffield Antiques Mall, at On a Whim – a clothing store in Germantown – and in some galleries in Nashville as well.”