Interview with Artist Taylor Mason from Mason Makers

It is my pleasure to introduce Taylor Mason from the Mason Makers Etsy shop! Taylor and her husband Ryan are both designers living in Portland, Oregon and run their Etsy shop together, please visit their shop and their website to show some love after the interview! You can also follow Taylor on Instagram @taylormasondesign.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?

I am a graphic designer and painter living in Portland, OR. Art has always been fascinating to me, as a kid I played movies in the background and poured over library books, trying to replicate the sketches I studied. I was in love with the magic of creating, to see a pencil sketch come to life and create an illusion on paper was mesmerizing to me.

Today my passion for drawing and painting has only continued to progress. I love painting in oils and gouache. I primarily create landscapes and animals from my travels. I love plein air painting as well, there is something peaceful and challenging about being in the middle of nature and attempting to capture the light and colors in the moment.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your oil paintings? What draws you to painting in miniature?

My inspiration for my paintings comes primarily through my travels. Locations such as Wyoming, Maui, Canada, California and Montana offer sweeping fields, large open skies, mountains, desert plateau’s, lava fields and rainforests. There is so much variation in nature and I find inspiration everywhere I visit.

I decided to paint in miniature when I ran across interesting wood rounds in a craft store. I like how small they are and how painting or staining the edges can mimic the frames of larger classical paintings. I’ve also found that people enjoy owning smaller, more affordable pieces, in contrast to larger commissions.

How did your series on Maui come into being?

My Maui series came to be through my trip to Hawaii last spring. I’ve visited the island several times, but on this trip because I’ve been more focused on painting landscapes, my eyes were more attuned to noticing details I hadn’t before. One thing I enjoy is the variety of climates in a relatively small area. Visiting volcanoes, rainforests, coastlines and wildlife provided me with an abundance of inspiration, and led to this series.

Can you speak to the creative partnership between you and your husband?

I met my husband Ryan through the graphic design program at our university. His humor and love for drawing really captured my attention. Today we enjoy sharing creative time side-by-side, sitting at our desks in the evenings as he draws comics and I sketch or paint. We also enjoy creative days outdoors where I paint en plein air and he sketches beside me. Ryan challenges and encourages me on a daily basis, helping me with my compositions and not letting me take shortcuts. I’m thankful to have a spouse who values creativity just as much as I do and enjoy pursuing our passions together.

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Interview with Artist Teena Stewart

I am pleased to introduce artist Teena Stewart from Serendipitini Studio! Please show her online website/shop some love!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? 

I just participated in Art Appreciation Day along with 20 other artists at Ball Creek Elementary School in Conover, NC and I got to show and talk about my art with several different classes. I encouraged the kids to ask questions and several asked me when I “started” being an artist. My answer to that is that I have always been an artist at heart. It is something I cannot turn off.

I remember as a child going up to our attic with the drop-down ladder and looking through my dad’s old sketch books. He drew when he was in the Navy and was a creative person. I always loved to draw.  One year for Christmas I asked for an art kit. It was like lighting a jet engine. I loved playing with the drawing pencils, paper and paints. However, I wasn’t encouraged to pursue art. My mom later told me it was because she didn’t think I could make a living at it.

I went to college as an adult for graphic design and graduated with a BA. During college I could not get enough of the art courses. I never really worked in graphic design, more desktop publishing, administrative and promo. I even became a published writer. But I continued to create on the side as I raised my family. About six years ago after losing my job I worked as a subcontractor for a silhouette artist friend who had developed a line of pet silhouette ornaments.

I assembled them and they sold very well seasonally. I still sell those ornaments today. It was that experience that showed me what great and in-demand market pets are. I am an animal lover myself and I started experimenting with not only selling those ornaments online but developing my own line of art and artisan gifts. I have a strong animal focus.

About three years ago after running my Etsy shop and my Amazon handmade shop I felt it was time to jump off the cliff and quit my day job, set my writing aside and pursue art full-time. I’ve done a lot of studying to learn how to market what I do and each year I gain a little more knowledge and grow my business a little more which includes teaching classes locally.

Included in that development is working with glass. I’ve always been fond of working with recycled things into my work so I began playing with recycled wine bottles. Eventually it led to getting a dual-media kin which can do glass and ceramics. And though I do some ceramics, they are usually small pieces like jewelry and I tend to gravitate more to glass. Last year I got a grant in order to take a course on making fused glass boxes.

I have also started experimenting with 2-D art and prints and am working on developing products for art licensing – getting my work on products. These are both new ventures so it remains to be seen how well I will do. I love learning new techniques so I’m always trying out new mediums. Most of my work now is animal themed or glass, but every now and then I will work in something else just for the creativity of it.

What does your artistic process look like for a painting? What materials do you like to use? 

I am fond of acrylic paints and mixing medias. Most recently I have experimented with acrylics, alcohol inks and colored markers. Before creating a work, I usually have an idea in mind I want to go with, then I research images, sometimes taking my own pictures or finding them online. I don’t use the images directly but may study them and draw my own based on them.  Then I plan out the design on canvas or paper figuring out where the components will go and how I will get them on there.

Do you listen to music while you create? If so, what do you like to listen to? 

Sometimes I do but not always. It tends to be classic rock: Moody Blues, Elton John, and an eclectic mix on Pandora….

Are there any current or future projects that you’re excited about?  

I am in a new artist co-op gallery in Hickory, NC called Trade Alley Art. I like the challenge of creating a new work or works for the displays so that keeps me on track for creating. Also, coming up for new designs for art licensing is one of my goals for the new year. The Christmas season tends to get really hectic, especially the on-line sales, so once those die down I will have time for more creating and planning.

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Art Wish List | 10.26.17

Claire Goodchild Moon & Stars Libra Art Print

Kris Chau Gates Of The Moon Art Print

Leah Duncan Mountain Blossom Art Print

Goodnight, Love You Wooden Plaque

Floral Figurative Art Print by Britney Jette

 

The Resplendent Rabbit-Bird of Paradise by Penelope Kenny

Embroidery Wall Hanging from Cup of Needles

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Artist Interview with Kathy Crabbe | Spirit Animals

It’s my pleasure to introduce artist Kathy Crabbe! During this interview, Kathy will speak directly about her Spirit Animal series and her artistic process. Make sure to show her some support by visiting her website and following her on Instagram @kathycrabbeart and Facebook.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?  

I am a self taught painter since knee high to a grasshopper (love that saying!). I was always an artist and decided at a young age that I didn’t want to go to a fine art school because I had a style all my own and I didn’t want anyone messing with that since I tend to be easily influenced. I always wanted to attend both university and college and I’ve done that. I have an Art History degree and a 3 year diploma in Graphic Design. I moved to the States after falling in love with my husband-to-be and he convinced me I could live my passion and be an artist full time so we moved to Laguna Beach and I started doing the Sawdust Art Festival; a 2 month art fair where you build a booth and sell your wares 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. That was amazing! After 7 years we moved to the quiet countryside outside of Temecula Wine Country and I was pretty much a hermit for many years which allowed me to delve into the spiritual side of things which has found its way into my art, of course! I paint magical, shamanic beings, nature and animals because they surround me and I’m one of them.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your Spirit Animal paintings? Does storytelling and narrative play into them?

I live in 2 countries; my home country of Canada (Ontario) and my adopted country, the USA (California) and both homes are on dirt roads surrounded by nature; one is in the forest on a lake and the other is in a desert valley surrounded by ancient oaks, cactus and an elfin forest so I’ve got plenty of nature and wild creatures to inspire me on a daily basis. I’m also a Celtic Faerie Shaman and my spirituality is a huge part of my life. My pets are also an inspiration. All of my Spirit Animal paintings would not be complete without the poem that bubbles forth in one quick stream of consciousness right after I finish the painting. Usually it’s late so I light some candles, take off my glasses and let the words pour forth. Originally I started out trying to describe the painting but that quickly morphed into poetry; my favorite mode of expression. The poems speak of the power and guidance we can draw upon from our animal guides and what their message is for us. The wild creatures are our teachers. They help us remember our wild self and are vitally important for our well being and our healing.

Can you tell me a little bit about your painting process and favorite materials? 

My current series of Spirit Animal paintings were initially inspired after I purchased a small pad of 6×6 inch Montreal made watercolor paper in Kingston, Ontario (where I was born). I sat down with that pad of paper surrounded by the sounds of the forest and the water and immediately painted a cat woman with watercolor. That was in the summer of 2016 and I haven’t stopped since. I start with the face using my non dominant left hand because it’s my emotional, intuitive hand. I draw with a large soft piece of lead and the elfin figure that emerges tells me what kind of spirit animal belongs with her. I paint with watercolor and gouache and occasionally acrylic. I especially love Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes, M. Graham and Schminke gouache and Daniel Smith iridescent watercolors.

What has been your favorite achievement or project thus far? Do you have anything new and exciting on the horizon? 

In regards to the Spirit Animal series, I am very proud that I paint them every single day and that I write a poem for each one. I share this on Instagram @kathycrabbeart. On the horizon I look forward to spending more time in the forest with the wild creatures and traveling and hiking more; there are so many wild places to see in this great North American land of ours. I also hope the Spirit Animals will continue to grace more gallery walls with their healing, magical presence.

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10 Creative Subscription Boxes for Artists

I’ve always been interested in trying subscription boxes for makeup or handmade goods, but I recently tried looking into art subscription boxes to see if there were options out there, and there are! Here are a few – this is mostly a list for myself but if there are others out there that are interested, maybe this will be helpful. If you’ve ever tried any of these please let us know in the comments!

Lettering Box from Cratejoy

 

This Lettering Box from Cratejoy looks enticing for me particularly because it looks like it would have items in it that I could experiment with for my watercolor paintings. I especially have been wanting to test a metallic Prima Watercolor set!

SketchBox

SketchBox has been featured in Nylon Magazine, Apartment Therapy, and Buzzfeed! The last box had the “Ink” theme and featured a set of Copic Markers, Tombow Calligraphy Pens, a Princeton Mini Detailer Brush,  and the Zebra Double Ended Brush Pen which hasn’t hit stores yet.  This subscription is fun because SketchBox puts DIY videos on their blog for techniques using all of the products you receive in your box.

ArtSnacks

ArtSnacks was created by the same lovely folks that created the Eat Sleep Draw Tumblr blog, where you can submit your art to be featured on the blog. This seems to be the most creative subscription art box that I’ve found – they like to partner with artists, authors, and non-profit organizations to bring you extra goodies like pins, notebooks, and more – and some kind of snack or candy is always included! October’s box includes Marabu Fineliner Graphix PensWinsor & Newton Drawing Ink, a Speedball Calligraphy Nib Holder and Nib, a Connoisseur Protégé Short Handle White Nylon Brush, and a ZIG Fudebiyori Brush Pen. It also contains a Things Are What You Make of Them Pencil Pin and Mini Zine by Adam J.K. – a collaborative addition – as well as candy!




Creative Art Box

This awesome art box chooses to send a box to their subscribers monthly based on a medium and and tools for achieving creative work in that medium. This one looks like it’s best for beginners, but there have been some really great unboxings and tutorials on Youtube that prove even the professionals will enjoy this fun box. This box definitely includes the most products as well – you can see the list from last month’s box here.

Palletteful Packs

Each month, Palletteful Packs curates an art box for their subscribers based on a theme. Like other boxes, they also like to send their subscribers new and exciting products. They offer three different types of boxes, the Petite Pack, the Palletteful Pack, and the Young Artist Pack.

Smile Create Repeat

Smile Create Repeat sends both art supplies and lessons for how to use the supplies in the box. The October box included the Versachalk chalk marker, colored pencils, a colorless blender, and other goodies not listed.

ScrawlrBox

ScrawlrBox is similar to ArtSnacks in that they include candy in their subscription boxes. September’s box included Royal Talens Van Gogh Watercolour Paint, a Pentel Correct Express Pen, a Koh-I-Noor Mondeluz Water Colour Pencil, a Seawhite White Synthetic Round Brush, and Bockingford Watercolour Paper.

Smart Art Box

Smart Art Box is another great beginner art subscription box. Each box’s theme is a different project. August’s featured Sennelier Full Sticks Soft Pastels, a Koh-I-Noor Black Drawing Paper Pad, a Crescent 300 Cold Press Illustration Board, a General Pencil Magic Black Artist Eraser, and a Stumps And Tortillions Set.

InspireME Crate

InspireME Crate looks amazing – it comes with lesson plans and art prompts for those who might struggle with a creative block or do better with instructions. There are also warm ups, drawing challenges, tutorials, and more. Besides all of these great things, the box also comes with 4-6 quality art supplies.

Art Bento Box

Art Bento Box is an Etsy subscription box that is geared towards artists who like to work with collage, texture, composition, handmade paper, ATC’s, art journals, and more. You can get the Winter 2017 subscription box here!

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Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried any of these subscription boxes. What are your thoughts on them – are they worth it? What are the pro’s and cons? Also, don’t forget to subscribe to The Art Spectrum for more posts like this!


The Whimsical Menagerie of Artist Emma Gray

I’m excited to introduce everyone to artist Emma Gray from Brighton, UK! I hope you love her whimsical work as much as I do, please make sure to show her Redbubble and her Folksy shop some love ♡! You can also follow Emma on Instagram (@em_menagerie) to keep up with her latest inspirations.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What inspires you as a human and artist? 

I live by the sea in Brighton in the UK and I sell my original paintings on wood and greetings cards in my Folksy shop, Menagerie. Most of my work is animal themed and I’m especially a fan of dogs. I often draw rescue dogs looking for their forever homes, and I take commissions for animal portraits. I also have a shop on Redbubble that sells prints and goodies like cushion covers, mugs and stickers (I’ve never grown out of my love for stickers!).

I grew up around various animals including a donkey, ducks, dogs and tortoises, all of whom I loved and found fascinating. One of my earliest memories was trying to make a dog out of clay I’d found in the garden, so the animal theme started young. I have a favourite photo of me as a toddler in a smock with more paint on me than there was on the paper and I also used to include unsolicited illustrations to accompany school homework!

I studied art history in Edinburgh whilst going to lifedrawing evening classes and selling paintings and mixed media work through shops and cafes. I’d received a subscription of ‘The Great Artists’ magazine as a young teen and art history was a passion, but, I sometimes felt like I was missing out on the creative journeys my friends studying Fine Art were making.

After university, I did a foundation course in art therapy and enjoyed how freeing it was to play and experiment using basic materials – big sheets of cheap paper we could tape together on the floor and crawl across as we made bold, imperfect marks with thick brushes, crayons and charcoal. It felt reminiscent of the joyful, present engagement with art that I had had as a child.

I continued to make for myself and for friends and family, working in various media including mosaic, printmaking and paper sculpture. But low mood had affected my confidence to sell to people I didn’t know and to remain motivated creatively. For several years I focused more on writing, and became involved with the local spoken-word short story scene.

A bout of depression in my thirties led me to a therapeutic art group, where, on the first day I painted pebbles. I managed to anchor myself more calmly in the moment with the activity and left with a intricately painted matryoshka pebble in my pocket. It seemed like a solid prompt to try to return to regular making no matter how I was feeling.

What began as a therapeutic pastime resulted in a growing collection of little painted animal pebbles. Inspired by Victorian cameos, I attached some to pins and ribbons to make brooches and these became my first listings in Menagerie. Wanting more space for detail, I later moved on to paint on wood. I enjoyed its warmth and texture and how the scalloped lasercut shapes I used provided their own frame.

Some milestones since I set up Menagerie have been some lovely galleries selling my cards and paintings, a piece being featured in Frankie magazine and exhibiting in the Artists Open House festival and Lewes Artists and Makers fair.

What past or current projects have been your favorite and why? 

A favourite painting of mine is ‘Gratitude’. It features a crow with wings outstretched, surrounded by precious objects and was inspired by real life stories of crows who have gifted objects to people. I think we are living in an era that is particularly worrying politically. Bonds across species move me as examples of communication and empathy despite differences. I decided to go vegan two years ago and I think this has intensified my awareness of the sentience, instincts and intelligence of animals.

‘Gratitude’ began with an old mahogony frame that I found on the street. I cut a wooden panel to fit it and the shape leant itself well to the composition of the crow. The painting was also larger than the surfaces I’d been working on – it felt like I was stretching my own wings and taking up space. ‘Gratitude’ was the first image I added to my Redbubble shop – perhaps with hopes for a flying start.

Another of my favourite pieces that’s also available on Redbubble is ‘Swim Dog’. Earlier this year I set myself a daily art project with the theme of ‘strange creatures’. An unexpected outcome was a rediscovered love of drawing. ‘Swim Dog’ was inspired by a beautiful whippet called Yoji on Instagram. In one photo of him, he has his ears back and I imagined him in a bathing hat and old-fashioned swimsuit. The drawing includes three of my favourite things – sea-swimming, dogs and bad weather!

How has your experience been selling on Folksy and Redbubble? Any advice for new artists looking to start their own business?  

I joined Folksy in 2012 and was drawn to it as a British company that’s also not so enormous that I might feel like a tiny fish in a big sea. The Folksy team have been great with championing my work on social media and including pieces in their Folksy Favourites and Gift Guides. I was also delighted to be a Featured Maker last year.

To anyone starting the adventure of their own online shop, I’d encourage you to expect and embrace the learning curve. It’s likely that along the way you will adjust your prices, modify your packaging, better identify your market and allow your creations to evolve. However, your customers shouldn’t be guinea pigs for products that are still in a stage of trial and error.

Unless you already have a big network, it can take time to get noticed and achieve sales, so it’s important not to be discouraged. Folksy has a lively forum where you can chat with other makers and share your work and tips. This can be a good way to feel part of a community and to up your profile. I’m quite introverted and not a natural self-promoter or networker, so selling under the supportive umbrella of Folksy has been helpful.

I would also say that it can help to put your art-selling eggs in a few baskets (I’m planning to start adding works to my neglected Etsy shop soon). I often hear of makers who, for example, have low or no sales at an art fair and lose confidence in their work when there were likely to be many factors unrelated to what they were selling that might have been at play.

Creativity can come with the gift of a greater sensitivity, but this quality can mean that a resilience needs to be developed when stepping into a selling and marketing role. Honestly, I don’t feel I’ve mastered this resilience myself, but I like the words in Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ that describe the lifeskill of being able to ‘meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.’ Praise and perceived success can be motivating, criticism and perceived failure can be discouraging. Both can be fleeting and subjective. So, it’s important to try to hold on to that deeper sense of what drives you to create, and to sustain that passion and journey with regular practice.

I started selling under Redbubble this year and I feel glad and grateful to have just reached 250 sales there. I appreciate having this space for my more diverse work from portraits of comedy heroes to the unicorn-esque ‘Magic Ladyhorse’. The latter, inspired by a gemstone-loving creature from Philippine folklore, is my bestseller and one of my works that’s been featured on Redbubble’s homepage. The featured works have led to many more sales and this has been a good lesson in the value of exposure.

With Folksy, I get the chance to package up original artwork, include little extras like a greetings card and write a personal thank you to my customer. I miss not having this with Redbubble, but I do value the ease of merchandise being produced and shipped by someone else. When I make a sale on Redbubble, the buyer remains anonymous so the process can feel quite impersonal. However, I still enjoy imagining the ‘Someone in Sweden’ wearing their Lord Magpie T-shirt or who the ‘Someone in the UK’ might be who bought the Party Igor greetings cards (and who, apparently, shares my love of the absurd!).

Can you tell me a little bit about the creative process that goes into your painted animal pieces?

My oval paintings on wood are usually inspired by a photo of an animal. I think we are all hardwired in anthropomorphism to a degree from children’s book characters, and particular photos inspire imaginings of names, personalities and outfits. I’m not a fan of real animals wearing unpractical, restrictive clothing, but I hope my paintings are fanciful enough not to be promoting this!

I use lasercut wood that I buy from a Welsh company called Daisymoon Designs, whose profits help support their own menagerie of rescued animals. I tend to draw designs straight on to tracing paper that I can then transfer to the wood to get the composition right first time. I also sometimes use Derwent Inktense pencils to broadly lay down colour first, especially if I want a painting to have stronger hues. I use acrylic paints, small brushes and a paper palette so I can tear off a fresh new sheet for each piece. Sometimes I’ll add extra detail in pencil and fine pen.

Painting the eyes first helps bring a character to life for me. I’m especially drawn to grumpy looking animals in party hats, but I have a tendency to involuntarily mimic the expressions of who I’m painting. My face needs timeout after particularly morose subjects!

Most of my animal characters have names – they seem to name themselves. Sometimes I imagine larger back stories as I’m working, especially for a piece that has more of a folklore feel. Whilst working on my painting ‘Home’ featuring a white stag holding a nest in his antlers, a short story emerged that then informed details of the image. The story can be found in my Instagram feed.

What are you currently listening to? 

I work in silence or listening to anything that feels like gentle, undemanding company. For me, BBC Radio 4 has this quality, as does Cerys Matthew’s weekly show on BBC Radio 6. I appreciate Cerys’ curious and celebratory delight for people, music and poetry and most of the music she plays (and often introduces me to) would be welcome on my own playlist. I also enjoy podcasts and a favourite is ‘The Mental Illness Happy Hour’ presented by comedian Paul Gilmartin. I’ve found this show full of insight, courageous disclosure and just the right amount of humour. What am I listening to right now? Squawking, squabbling seagulls roosting on the roof opposite. This is the soundtrack for most people in Brighton!

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Artist Interview with Rachel Gregor | Figures and Flowers

It is my pleasure to interview Rachel Gregor, painter and fine artist from Kansas City, Missouri. Make sure to check out her Etsy shop and her artist website as well!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?

My name is Rachel Gregor and I’m a fine artist living and working in Kansas City, Missouri.  I grew up about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis, Minnesota where my parents own and operate their own retail greenhouse and nursery.  My mom was a freelance illustrator and graphic designer before getting involved with the greenhouse with my dad and grandfather, so that’s where a lot of my interest in art came from.  I remember as a child while she worked at her seeding bench she would place me at a table nearby with blank pieces of paper and crayons.  I was always drawing at a young age and she rarely bought me coloring books, so I had to invent scenes and stories to draw.  That’s how it always was throughout grade school, I was the kid with the sketchbook drawing Pokemon and trying to sell the drawings for 25 cents.  Eventually that led me to applying to an arts high school in Minnesota called Perpich Center For the Arts Education, I always knew I wanted to be an “artist” but that’s when I started to learn what that meant and then it became real.  I then went on to receive my BFA in painting from the Kansas City Art Institute, gained a lot of great mentorships, and now here I am.

What are you inspired by? What are the stories behind some of your portrait paintings?

A lot of my work is inspired by nostalgia.  When I was in college my grandparents started the process of moving out of their home and into a nursing home, and I started to become really homesick for their old house.  Even if the setting in a portrait is vague, I’m usually thinking back to their house and trying to get the idea or sensation of what it was like there.  I’m a huge fan of mid century patterns and household kitsch so oddly enough just surfing Etsy for weird ceramic knick knacks and table cloths gets me excited for painting.   In my larger compositions I usually try to hide away objects that I remember from my childhood.  I want my portraits to feel very still and mundane, but underneath the cheer and kitsch there is some darkness.   Even if they’re surrounded by flowers and cute prints, my figures are typically alone and isolated.

What does the process look like for creating your portrait paintings? What are some of your favorite paint, paintbrush, and canvas brands?

I like to get pretty nerdy over my material process, but I think to be a painter you have to be very familiar with your medium.  When I’m doing a larger piece I work on stretched linen, typically a finer weave, always raw and never pre-primed.  I stretch and size my linen myself with rabbit skin glue, and once it’s prepped with an oil ground and has had time to cure, I can get to work.  I use rounds and filberts for my brushes, typically hogs hair, from various brands, it doesn’t really matter too much which brand as long as the brushes are the size I want and bristles aren’t shedding.  Rarely do I need fine sable brushes but I sometimes use these when working on really slick surfaces and for details, like with my still lives.  For my figurative work I like to work in a really direct method, wet into wet, and then switch to more indirect methods and using a dry brush.  Lately I’ve been really enjoying doing a grisaille, which is painting with a single pigment like burnt sienna or an umber, and white, letting that dry, and then doing layers of scumbling on top of that, which is essentially glazing but with little to no added oil medium.

When in comes to smaller pieces or studies, I really enjoy painting on toned paper prepared with acrylic gesso and ground pumice stone.   I prepare this myself but ColourFix makes great toning gessos with grit in them and ready to use pre-toned paper.   The nice thing about prepping it yourself is you can tint the paper tone to any color you like and because I’m using acrylic, the paper is sealed so I can use the surface for dry media, wet, or oil.  The pumice stone adds a really nice grip as well, so it has a nice tooth for both pastels and for painting, the brush can grab the surface and it doesn’t feel like you’re just smearing paint.  I also like to keep a roll of Grafix’s Dura-lar acrylic film around for the same reason, if I want to do a quick, small painting or study I simply cut a piece from the roll and no prep work is required.  One side of the film is foggy and has a bit of a grip, it’s not totally smooth, so again your brush has something to grab to and it doesn’t feel like you’re just smearing paint.

As far as specifics go with mediums and brands, I like M. Graham & Co. walnut oil for a painting medium and walnut alkyd if I’m working with dark earth tones.  Walnut oil has a slower dry time than linseed and is clearer and a bit more glossy.  Alkyds will start to form a skin within a few hours so be ready! I only use alkyds in the final layers.  If you want your paint to have that varnished look, sun dry your walnut oil by placing it in a shallow bowl and let it sit out for a few days.  It will become thick like honey and give your paints a beautiful gloss, much like an alkyd but I find it’s a bit more forgiving and workable.  I don’t like relying on varnish to give my paintings that final polish, it can become a crutch.  If a painting is built up with the proper mediums, it shouldn’t need an immediate coat of varnish as soon as it’s dried.

At this moment I probably have around 10 or more different brands of paint tubes, from Old Holland, Michael Harding, Winsor & Newton, to store brands like Utrecht.  I’m not really loyal to any particular brand.  Brands specialize in different products and mediums and I think it can be foolish to swear by one brand for all of your mediums and pigments.  When I’m at the art store shopping for paint, I look at the individual pigment, let’s say burnt sienna.  I like my burnt sienna to be very hot and orange, which goes against what a lot of people say burnt sienna should be-that it should have purple undertones.  So I go through each brand and sample the paint on a piece of paper and look for one that has the right temperature and undertones that I like.  I also look for how much medium they add to the paint, if it’s separated, if it feels dry, ect.  Even if I have a go to brand for one type of pigment, I always check because there can be variances between the batches.  Look for what you want in your pigment, just because Winsor & Newton makes a beautiful hot burnt sienna doesn’t mean that their yellow ochre is any good, it might be too green or too orange for what you want in that specific color.  Also never judge a brand by it’s price tag, more expensive brands at the store like Old Holland might make some beautiful tubed paint, but that doesn’t mean that the formulas or the pigments are right for your specific purpose.  Of all things, I actually like the student grade Winton cadmium red light a lot.  They add a wax filler to the paint to extend it, and if you are aware that it’s there that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I really like the added wax for painting flushed cheeks and ears.

Can you tell me about your Flowers from Home zine?

My zine, ‘Flowers from Home’ came about after my partner and I moved into our new house and I finally had the space to start gardening on my own.  I started thinking a lot about native plants and researching plants native to the midwest.  My studio work was consisting of a lot of still lifes based on Dutch Golden Age masters like Rachel Ruysch, and I started working on my own still life compositions based on dutch paintings but using native flowers.  Once I got a lot of sketches built up I decided to draw them out on a larger scale and reproduce them in a zine.


I decided to focus on native flowers from both Minnesota and Missouri since those are the two places I’ve so far considered ‘home’, so my native areas, and group the flowers based on blooming seasons or growing locations like prairies and woodlands.  It’s supposed to be semi-educational, since I did quite a bit of research going into the project I wanted the viewer to have to do some research as well.  Each drawing is accompanied by a list of all the flora featured, but it’s in alphabetical order by it’s scientific name, so if you want to identify a specific plant you’ll have to look up the names to try to ID it.

I like the idea of appropriating Dutch Still Life and using midwestern native flowers in place of the exotic and cultivated plants the Dutch loved.  Often times art scholars brush aside Dutch Still Life as a genre that’s purely aesthetic, but I find it extremely philosophical.  Many gardeners as well tend to ignore the possibility of using native plants because they aren’t showy enough or they think they can get weedy, without realizing that actually a lot of cultivars you find in nurseries are bred from US native wildflowers, or that there are many possibilities and ways to include native plants in your landscape along with cultivated plant species.  Both seem to be kind of mundane and humble in their own right, and I like the idea of combining them and using them to elevate each other.

Do you listen to music while you create? If so, what are some of your favorite music artists or bands?

While I’m working sometimes music can become too distracting and I find myself wasting time at the computer trying to find something or I realize I’ve been sitting there for several minutes just hitting the “skip” button.  If I’m listening to something, it has to be familiar so I can use it to fill the silence but I can also just ignore it, but I usually don’t mind silence, a lot of the time I prefer it.  If I need some sort of background noise though, I typically open up Pandora and put it on the Mirah station.  I also like Pinback, Death Cab for Cutie, and Wilco for working music.  A lot of the same indie music I’ve listened to since high school.  Very often though, I will listen to Brontë Sister novels via Librivox.  I’ve read them enough where I can tune in and out of listening, and I won’t ever get bored or frustrated and feel the need to skip the track.

 




Delphine Leviste: Collage & Diorama Artist from Amboise, France

 

It is my pleasure to introduce Delphine Leviste from Amboise, France – collage & diorama artist from the Atan Mouala Etsy shop. The following interview contains both English and French translations.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? Pouvez-vous me parler de vous-même et de votre voyage avec l’art?  

As far as I can remember, I always drew. While I was a child I was rather reserved and shy, and this was my way to light. I remember that on each of the doors of my elementary school, the teacher had hung one of my “works”. Childhood is golden…something to continue to cherish  and especially not to forget for the rest of your life. No doubt this is why I naturally became a teacher. I work and attempt to convey my passion every day to youth 10-15 years old. Each of my activities feed each other, being an artist at home and a teacher
the rest of the time.

D’aussi loin que je puisse me souvenir, j’ai toujours dessiné. Alors que j’étais une enfant plutôt réservé et timide, c’était ma façon à moi de me mettre en lumière. Je me souviens que sur chacune des portes de classe de mon école primaire, les maîtresse avaient accroché une de mes “œuvres”. Pour moi, l’enfance représente l’age d’or…celui qu’il faut continuer à porter et surtout à ne pas oublier tout le reste de sa vie. Sans doute est ce pour cela que tout naturellement je suis devenue enseignante. Je travaille et essaie de transmettre chaque jours ma passion à des jeunes entre 10 et 15 ans. Chacune de mes activité nourrissant l’autre, plasticienne à la maison, enseignante le reste du temps.


Where do you get inspiration for your art, in particular your art boxes? Où obtenez-vous de l’inspiration pour votre art, en particulier les boîtes d’art?  

I arrived at drawing through observation of by studying the natural world. My sources of inspiration are often from nature and cabinets of curiosities. I’m constantly producing work on large format canvases…this was a challenge for me being a small woman! And then when I became a mother, we had to find another way to work for lack of time and space! As I tired of pencil drawing, I began to create dioramas, which allowed me to go smoothly to creating a larger volume of work. I currently have a collection of 100 small boxes (but I’ll probably not stop here!). I found the idea of a new diorama from my collections of “little things” that accumulate at the bottom of my drawers, and I’ve noticed that the link with childhood is more present in the latest boxes I’ve created. My starting point can also be an old photograph. In that case I then feel very invested in giving new life to the forgotten faces in the photo.

Je pense être arrivée au dessin à travers le dessin d’observation de mes leçons de sciences naturelles. Aussi mes sources d’inspiration ne sont jamais très éloignées de la nature et des cabinets de curiosités.
Pendant longtemps j’ai produis des toiles de grand format…c’était comme un challenge pour moi qui suis une toute petite bonne femme! Et puis lorsque je suis devenue mère, il m’a fallu trouver une autre façon de travailler afin de composer avec le manque de temps et de place aussi! De coup de crayon en coup de crayon, j’en suis venue à créer des dioramas, ce qui m’a permis de passer en douceur à la mise en volume. Je me suis fixée comme objectif de constituer une collection de 100 petites boîtes (mais je m’arrêterai sans doute pas là!). Je trouve l’idée d’un nouveau diorama dans mes collections de “petits riens” de “pas grand chose” que j’accumule au fond de mes tiroirs…je remarque que le lien avec l’enfance est de plus en plus présent dans mes dernières boîtes. Mon point de départ peut être une photographie ancienne. Je me sens alors comme investit de la mission de donner une nouvelle vie à ses visages oubliés.


How is life in Amboise, France? Do you enjoy selling on Etsy? Comment se passe la vie à Amboise, en France. Aimes-tu vendre sur Etsy? 

I just moved to Amboise this summer, which is in the center of the France: this is a big change in life for me my husband and two kids! (before we lived just north of the France). Amboise is a beautiful city that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape. It is also the city of François 1st and Leonardo (his tomb is here in the castle of Amboise). This life change has slowed down my artistic activities in recent months, but I have just finished installing my new studio – photos on my blog – and I cannot wait to get back to it.

Etsy was a revelation for me. I can create without stress and at my own pace,and I have fun seeing my dioramas go to the four corners of the world. It is a possibility that I would have never been if forced to use the classic exposure systems. It was also an opportunity for me to gain regular clients. I also spend a lot of time browsing on there (and sometimes buying). I’ve found so many varied, inspiring and high quality creations.

Je viens d’emménager à Amboise, au centre de la France, cet été: C’est un grand changement de vie pour moi mon mari et mes deux enfants! (avant nous habitions tout au nord de la France). Amboise est une magnifique ville, classée au patrimoine mondial à l’Unesco.C’est aussi la ville de François 1er et de Léonard de Vinci (son tombeau est ici, dans l’enceinte du chateau d’Amboise). Du coup ce changement de vie à quelque peu ralenti mes activités artistiques ces derniers mois, mais je viens tout juste de finir d’installer mon nouvel atelier –des photos sur mon blog– et j’ai hâte de pouvoir m’y remettre.

Etsy a été pour moi une vraie révélation. Je peux créer sans stress et à mon rythme, et ,je m’amuse de voir mes dioramas partir au quatre coin du monde. Possibilité qui m’aurait jamais été offerte si par le systèmes d’exposition plus classique.Ce fût aussi pour moi l’occasion de faire des rencontres, avec des clientes régulières. Je passe aussi beaucoup de temps à m’y promener (et parfois à acheter). Je trouve qu’il y a des créations très variées, inspirantes et de très bonne qualité.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you create? Quel type de musique aimez-vous écouter pendant que vous créez?   

I have very eclectic taste in music. When that I create I need music that moves, often something like rock, but sometimes Bjork…the atmosphere has to be playful!

J’ai des goûts musicaux très hétéroclites.Lorsque que je créer il me faut de la musique qui bouge, souvent du Rock mais aussi parfois du Bjork..il faut que l’atmosphère soit enjouée! 

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Papermaking Kit Giveaway with Wooden Deckle!

Papermaking Kit Giveaway with Wooden Deckle!

Message from Wooden Deckle Shop Owner Elizabeth W.

Wooden Deckle papermaking kits were a natural progression from my love of making botanical art, and wanting to equip others to do the same, right along with me.

Enter to win your own papermaking kit from Wooden Deckle!

At Wooden Deckle our mission is to get you up and running at making paper, so that you can make great things. Our kits enable you to recycle paper to make handmade paper in a variety of sizes, for a variety of purposes.

We specialize in small and sturdy mold and deckles for practical everyday paper making. By shredding used printer paper, wrapping paper, sheet music, greeting cards, etc., and processing them in a kitchen blender, new life is given to what was once destined to be thrown away.

Finding a second use for something instead of throwing it away is good for our earth, and honors the One who made it.

Enter to win your own papermaking kit from Wooden Deckle!

-Wooden Deckle LLC is located in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.

-The frames for our mold and deckles are handcrafted in the U.S.A.

-We get a little help from our friends… our boxes are folded and the labels for our paper making kits are applied by hardworking individuals at VIP Services.

-We assist educators/teachers interested in papermaking in the classroom.

Enter to win your own papermaking kit from Wooden Deckle!

Wooden Deckle Paprika Paper - Enter to win your own papermaking kit!

You can follow Wooden Deckle on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

We are offering a papermaking kit of your choice – whichever one you could best use, to make great things!

Please explore all of our papermaking kits woodendeckle.com or at etsy.com/shop/WoodenDeckle.

Papermaking Kit Giveaway




Pretty Little Thieves: Artist Interview with Nancy Mungcal

Today we welcome Nancy Mungcal from the Pretty Little Thieves Etsy shop! You can find Nancy on Etsy, Instagram, and her artist website prettylittlethieves.com.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
Art making and creative work have always been a part of my life. Several years ago, I took a leap of faith and decided to pursue art full time. On most days, I spend the morning writing while painting and drawing take up my afternoons and well into the night. Depending on my deadlines, my work schedule can vary.
Besides art, I have a strong love for books, especially poetry.  I live in California.

   

What’s the story behind your sad girl and cat paintings? Where do you get your inspiration?
During a show, someone came up to me and said “even your animals are sad”. My work has always been about exploring recurring themes of connections and disconnections as well as duality, loss, heartache, sadness, and uncertainty.
I am incredibly fortunate to have people in my life who constantly inspire me.  I also believe it’s important to maintain an art practice and to make new work, that inspiration comes from doing that work. Poetry, art, music, and road trips are also inspiring.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you create?
This changes often but usually Nick Cave, Mazzy Star, and lately, Sparklehorse.

How has selling been going on Etsy?
I’ve been selling on Etsy since its earlier days. I’m grateful to the platform for giving me the opportunity to show and sell my work.
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