Published in 405HOME By Adi McCasland Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander
At 30 years old, Lauren Elaine Wright bucks the “starving artist” label, thanks to her parents’ unwavering commitment to her passion and a support system providing her the opportunity.
“They basically made my path giant and wide to do what I love,” she said. It all started with a Crayola trifold art set made just for preschoolers—a gift her parents gave in lieu of the typical Barbie doll.
“My parents always gifted me arts and craft stuff, and I realized that’s just what I loved to be into,” she said. Growing up sans typical toys, Wright cultivated her own style of creative skills through her own style of inventive play.
Now, some 25 years later, fueled by Topo Chico and music, she has carved a niche for herself in the Oklahoma City metro art scene, spending her days painting commissioned pieces for clients across the country, and also painting intentionally for a variety of local nonprofits. Wright cherishes her community and grasps the importance of investing her own strengths in it.
“I really love donating pieces that help raise money for different causes in the metro,” she said about her work with organizations such as Calm Waters, Wings and Anna’s House.
If her wide-eyed enthusiasm for paint hues didn’t confirm her role as an artist, the colorful paint spatters across her hands surely would. Though technically a mixed media artist, Wright primarily uses acrylics to paint stories of inspiration. Her work, like all good art, connects the viewer to emotion, eyes to soul.
“I don’t feel proud of myself at the end of a month by what the dollar sign says, you know? I feel proud of myself by what story I told through my art—or how the client feels about it,” she said. “So, it’s much more personal than how many I sell.” But this isn’t to say that Wright isn’t successful within the industry.
With a degree in marketing and public relations, as well as a strong business sense, she was able to leave her 9-to-5 job just months before the pandemic struck. She has been fostering her dream as a full-time artist since. Her departure from heels and morning meetings fortuitously coincided with a notification that she was accepted as an alternate for the 2020 Festival of the Arts, which was ultimately postponed until June 2021. Like much of the world, when COVID-19 hit, Wright sought the good amid the viral chaos, and that good came in the form of a phone call from the Arts Council of Oklahoma City informing her of her official spot in the 2021 event. She had no inventory and only two weeks to prepare, but that didn’t deter her from an immediate and exuberant “Yes!”
Looking like a piece of her own art, Wright donned her work uniform, which is nothing more than paint-encrusted leggings and a well-worn, oversized sweatshirt. Then, she began painting with great deliberation. Calling it the best experience of her life, she says the intensity of 16-hour days culminated in an opportunity to not only share a platform with some of the region’s most talented creatives, but also, for the first time, to meet so many members of her digital community.
When asked if she would repeat that sleepless stretch, Wright gave a definitive “yes,” however, she won’t have to anytime soon. Brushing her hair behind her ear with her paint-spattered hands, she smiled and revealed that she’s been asked to return to the Festival of the Arts in April 2022. Her painting is well underway.