Most people take pictures of their travels, it’s the natural thing to do. However, for Claire, the natural thing for her is to sketch the magnificent scenery that surrounds her. As her fingers lovingly capture the environment to be forever etched onto something personal, a little bit of her heart and soul is transplanted into these creations as well.
Claire’s day job is for a small outdoor company in Seattle as the Social & Digital Media Manager. She spends her time running social media accounts, working with awesome ambassadors, and creating content to go online. She also assists the company’s webmaster in keeping the webpages and products up to date. According to Claire: My favorite part of my job is when I am able to be creative, especially in writing or photography. Over the summer I took some of our gear on backpacking and hiking trips to gather marketing images and write reviews, and the combination of adventuring and creating was so much fun!
Read on to know more about Claire, her decision to start selling her art, and why she’s such an asset to the outdoors community…
Hello! I’m Claire Giordano. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and currently live in the same area I grew up. It is a beautiful place, with lots of trees and a lake I swam in as a kid, and a hard to pronounce name I always get asked to spell. Growing up I was fortunate to have two parents who encouraged me to not only get outside but to be curious, to wonder at the world, and not be afraid to get dirty (although they weren’t super happy when I went through a dirt eating phase as a toddler…fortunately for everyone I quickly decided there were more fun things to do). They instilled in me a love for nature and for getting myself and others outside. I am passionate about fostering connections between people and place, which has led me to a variety of roles in the outdoor industry, education, and to art. I am currently the Social Media & Digital Media Manager at a small outdoor company in Seattle and a creator of visual art on the side. I am working to make art a bigger part of my life, as I believe art (of all forms) has the incredible ability to transcend language and barriers to allow people to feel and experience something new.
How could you describe yourself in 5 words?
What do you love to do?
I love to get outside, and I try to do it as often as possible (at minimum once a week for a few hours). Whether I am hiking, climbing, mountaineering, walking, skiing, mountain biking (badly), biking to work, or simply just sitting and observing being outside immersed in nature is what brings me great joy and peace. Nature takes so many forms, from the sweeping mountain vistas I hike in to the small pocket community garden near work that is a refuge in the city. I strive to find the beauty and wonder in all forms of nature, and when I am able try to capture that sense in sketches or paintings. Quite possibly my favorite thing to do is hike to some beautiful place, plop down on my blue sit pad, pull out paper and watercolors, and sketch. Creating art in a place enables me to become immersed in a place and to know it in a deep and lasting way. When the weather becomes too cold and rainy to paint outside (watercolors and rain sadly don’t play very nice) I delve back into old and new adventures through paintings at home.
What can you do today that you could not do a year ago?
A little less than a year ago I finally started an Instagram account. For the first few months I didn’t do too much with it. Then, around May, a fellow artist named Nikki Frumkin found me on Instagram and showed me the potential for Instagram to be the basis of an online community of artists, creators, and friends. Since her introduction I have learned so much about social media management for my own accounts, and even now work as a social media manager and content creator for a small outdoor company.
What would you regret not doing?
I regret not starting an Instagram sooner! I have found such an amazing and supportive community there that I wish I had known about a few years. They inspire me to try new things in art and life, a source of inspiration I wish I discovered earlier.
When was the last time you traveled somewhere new? Describe your adventure.
My last big adventure was a hike to a part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in September I had never seen before. I grew up hiking around western Washington and exploring the amazing trails off the I-90 corridor. We are so fortunate to have so much wilderness and nature a few hour drive from Seattle. This summer I made a point of exploring these areas again, but going a little farther out and a little deeper in. This desire to explore deeper led me to an amazing series of alpine lakes, tarns, and craggy peaks that I wandered with my dad for five days. The hike in was long and grueling, but we were rewarded with some of the best and most challenging day hiking I have experienced in years. My favorite part was stopping beside a lake for an hour to paint. In that hour the high clouds dissipated, and the sky was perfectly reflected in the still water, the two separated by an immense range of mountains that somehow felt small in comparison to that expanse of blue.
Have you done anything lately worth remembering?
Last week was my first day skiing of the season, and it was glorious. Fresh snow, blue skies, a view of Little Tahoma on Rainier suspended in the clouds… In winter familiar landscapes become new again, the snow blanketing and reshaping and adding mystery. Those first turns in new powdery snow still bring a smile to my face.
What does success mean to you?
I believe success is ultimately grounded in happiness and how much love we share with others. I strive to not think of success as money or possessions or accolades at work. Instead, I try to measure my success in how happy I felt that day and whether I brought some goodness and love into the lives of the people I interacted with, both in the present and over time.
What are you doing to pursue your dreams right now?
This is such a good question, and one that has occupied my thoughts for the past few months. Upon the kind encouragement of fellow artists, friends, and complete strangers I plan to begin selling prints of my artwork in early 2017. For most of my life I made art for me or my family, and it is immensely exciting but also intimidating to prepare to share my art on a large scale. There is so much to learn, from choosing the right web hosting platform to how sales tax works to figuring out printing and shipping and scanning of each piece. I am very excited to soon make this dream a reality, even if on a very small scale.
What are you most scared of?
I am scared that I will someday find myself in a job or situation that does not give me life or joy, and not have the courage to leave. I see life as such a precious gift to be treasured and learned from. I strive to live in the present moment and find goodness in each day, but I also recognize how easy it is to fall into routine and worry. Last year I was in a job for a while that was not where I should be, and it took a lot of courage to leave. I fear that someday I may not be able to muster that courage.
What are you most proud of?
Ah, this is such a good question. There are many things I am proud of, from past accomplishments to mistakes learned from. But in this moment the one thing that immediately came to mind is that I am proud of my relationship with my family. My family has been a solid foundation and support my whole life. As I grew older I strove to maintain a close connection with them, and I treasure the time we share and the memories we create. My sisters are two of my best friends. And we still go on family road trips and adventures, even though we are all graduated from high school or college. I am very lucky to have them.
Where would you like to live?
I might be unusual in this, but I actually love living where I am now. The Pacific Northwest is extraordinary; it has mountains, oceans, glaciated peaks and rolling desert all a relatively easy drive away. I grew up here and feel a special connection to the landscape. It is a part of who I am, ingrained in my memory and the foundation of my love for nature and getting outside. When I think of living somewhere else my mind immediately goes to all the things I have yet to explore here. This does not mean I don’t want to travel, or live somewhere else for a while, as there are many places I want to see! Right now Washington just feels like home.
If you left your current life in order to pursue your dreams, what would you lose?
Of all the questions, this is the one that gave me most pause, as it is easy to imagine ones dreams, but much harder to think about what one might leave behind in order to try to achieve them. My answer to this question is more of a reflection on my current thoughts than specific things like stability or consistent earnings. In many ways I do not yet have a concrete vision of an entire dream. I think I know the things I am passionate about and good at and love to do. But I cannot yet see how they all fit together. For a long time I felt alone in this sentiment, but as I shared my thoughts with friends and family I have come to realize that I am not alone in trying to discern how my dreams would manifest in life; how they would all fit together to create a reality. These conversations have also helped me to see that discernment, and deciding how to follow ones dreams, is not isolated to one specific phase of life. It is something that grows and matures as we do, a continual lifelong process of discovery.
What bad habits do you want to break?
The first habit is rather mundane. When I arrive home from work I put clothes on a chair in my bedroom instead of putting the away. I make excuses like I am too hungry to wait or the cat needs to be fed too, but really they are just excuses. So I would like to break the habit of not putting those items away.
Second, it is not really a habit I want to break, but one I would like to reestablish. I want to get back into the habit of regular upper body exercise! In college it was so easy to go to the gym five days a week before class. It was an easy routine. Now, I need to figure out how to re-integrate that good habit into a little less structured life.
If you were someone’s life coach, what would you tell them?
We must be our own advocates. In our relationships, in our careers, in pursuing our passions and favorite activities. There are many doors that open and close in life, but we won’t know where they lead unless we are willing to take the steps toward them.
Fun and furious questions:
If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
No. My past experiences have shaped me into the person I am today.
How old would you be, if you didn’t know how old you are?
People have been telling me I am an old soul since I was a child. In groups I was often found talking to adults instead of fellow kids. So, I would say my body is that of a 20something, but my spirit is old like the forests I grew up exploring.
What activity makes you lose track of time?
Painting, drawing…anything artistic. When I sit down to sketch, whether I am at my desk in my home or perched on a rock atop a peak, I become completely present to that moment. Two hours will feel like twenty minutes as I delve into the patters, colors, and lines of a landscape.
Best cheat indulgence?
Dark chocolate. The darker the better.
If you could only speak one word today, what would it be?
Want to follow Claire on the regular? Click on these links so that your daily life is a little brighter with her artwork in it.
Facebook: Claire’s Wanderings
Much love and Aloha,
your rhapsody in blue clueless wanderer