Nicole Elizabeth Ounjian Little
I am an Armenian artist, based in Toronto, Canada.
My work has strong drawing components and centres on themes of finding value in discarded objects and people.
Art slows down time. It swallows boredom and anxiety. Ideas materialize and become compositions. They follow clear and beautiful rules, some written and some known only by instinct.
Art is an access pass to who I am. When I create, I become fully alert. I can focus.
So, it turns out I have a lot of ADHD.
My art is dope – it literally gives me a hit of dopamine. When I am creating, my impulsivity is satiated and my ideas run smooth and clear. Challenges, especially visual challenges, activate my ability to concentrate.
Perhaps because I have ADHD, I have not intentionally curated one signature style. Instead, I have followed my interests and developed a variety of artistic modes.
The oldest and most deeply ingrained of these modes is drawing. Even before I learned to draw from life, I have always loved following a line of ink in a doodle as it materialized on the page.
When I was a little girl at an art show, my mother pointed to a painting and whispered a secret in my ear: the artist wasn’t very good. He had put the hands behind his subject’s back so he wouldn’t have to draw them. Whether this was true or not, I later spent a year exclusively drawing hands before I felt up to the challenge of drawing a face.
After that, I drew my family but mostly my grandmother. We lived with her until she had a fall and lost her eye and couldn’t live at home anymore. Drawing her made visiting her easier. I have always struggled to sit still unless I am drawing. It was good to connect with her as an artist. It feels right that, as an Armenian artist, my Armenian grandmother was my first real muse. She was 105 in her last year. I think of her every time I find a older subject, particularly whenever I see the way skin falls over the bones of an elderly hand.
I am a mixed media artist. I gravitate toward using discarded materials as the basis for my works. I was in a violent relationship. One evening, my partner ripped up my sketchbook, including a portrait of our infant son. This was a turning point in the relationship and in my artwork. I ran with my son. And I began drawing on lotto tickets and subway maps.
I infuse meaning and beauty back into discarded things and it heals me.