No guidelines

Senior artist Bailey Bouton encourages abandonment of traditional perceptions of art through own work

Bouton watercolors one of her sketches during a drawing and painting class she takes at the Artistic Hand Gallery and Studio.

photo by Peyton Whittington

Bouton watercolors one of her sketches during a drawing and painting class she takes at the Artistic Hand Gallery and Studio.

When it comes to art, the grandeur of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the famous stare of the Mona Lisa or the Venus de Milo’s missing arms usually come to mind. For senior Bailey Bouton, it’s girls with long necks, exaggerated facial features and pastel-colored skin.

Bouton drew and painted as a hobby all her life, but only recently started doing it routinely. She uses her art Instagram account as a platform for her work and has started taking drawing and painting classes at the Artistic Hand Gallery and Studio.

“My parents knew I liked to draw, but they didn’t know I was serious about it,” Bouton said. “I started showing my mom my work and now she gets mad if I create something and I don’t show her.”

A self-professed amateur, Bouton uses her lack of experience to her advantage to develop her art style, usually consisting of what she calls her “freaks and geeks,” which are distortedly-drawn girls with odd characteristics, such as hooks for arms or third eyes.

“My understanding of proportions is really small, so I’ve used that to create my own thing that’s easy for me,” Bouton said. “I can make my own little people and they’ve got their own personalities, so it’s like writing but you can actually see them.”

Though she finds drawing fun, Bouton still describes it as something that requires discipline in order to achieve her own goals.

“Some people think good artists are just good and they’re born with the ability, and that is very seldom the case. It’s definitely a hobby, but if you want to improve, you have to force yourself to paint for hours and hours when you don’t feel like painting,” Bouton said. “You have to practice if you want to get better.”




This diligence has earned Bouton respect from fellow artists such as senior Lindsay Robillard.

“Bailey and I have fairly different art styles, but I do feel like her motivation and persistence inspire me more than anything,” Robillard said. “I really admire the dedication she has to it and that’s something that would mean a lot to me to have.”

Aside from the technical aspect of drawing, Bouton enjoys exploring social topics in her work, namely the taboo surrounding female nudity. She said she has had two of her posts on Instagram taken down because they featured women with bare breasts.

“I thought it was kind of funny and strange because they’re drawings, not real people, and even if they were, they’re not offending anybody,” Bouton said. “I think it just kind of sparked something in me and made me want to do it more.”

Bouton stands by the idea that society should take comfort in nudity, rather than treating it as something shameful.

“We should see it as something beautiful in a non-pornographic way,” Bouton said.

Though some may view this aspect of her work as unfavorable, it is also the reason why others value her art.

“The style Bailey has is a reflection of her acceptance of diversity and oddness,” Robillard said. “Her art shows an admiration of beauty that might not be recognized until she takes what she may see as equally strange as beautiful and draws or paints it in a way that is somehow able to convey both messages.”

This love of diversity led to her work being featured in an indie feminist zine, Phosphene Girl, where one of her sketches and an accompanying poem were published. She is continuing to push her work into the art world by making prints of her drawings available for sale for around $3 each.

“It’s exciting because you’re just taking something that you painted in your bedroom and giving it to people,” Bouton said. “Knowing that some people are going to hang this in their bedroom or in their house somewhere is really cool. I’ve never thought about people having my art in their houses until now because it’s never been an option.”

According to Bouton, the community response to her work has been positive, from family and friends to Instagram followers to complete strangers.

“Before it was just something I kept to myself. The fact that other people want to see me succeed is really inspiring,” Bouton said.

Bouton does not see becoming a full-time artist as a realistic option, yet intends to continue making her art on the side, whether it be through an Etsy shop, a farmer’s market stand or owning her own bakery. She currently works in the Publix bakery and finds confectionery goods to be just as much of a creative outlet as her sketchbook.

“[Baking is] a tangible way of making art all day long because instead of giving people art like portraits or something, it’s a cake,” Bouton said.

No matter what she decides to do, Bouton always hopes she can offer others a more open understanding of what art can be through her work.

“I don’t think [art] has to be ‘beautiful’ in the traditional way,” Bouton said. “People might look down on it like, ‘Oh that’s not how you do art,’ but there’s no specific way art should be. There are no guidelines.”

Disclaimer: Bouton’s personal Instagram feed is linked below. This gallery contains images that some may find offensive. 

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