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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Pastel Paradise: Interview with UK Illustrator & Designer Katherine Tromans

kat1

It’s a glorious Tuesday morning and I’d love to introduce all of you to UK artist Katherine Tromans, who has done some truly amazing work! Check out the interview here as well as her portfolio website and her Facebook.


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Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you begin in the arts and what drew you to illustration?

I’ve always loved drawing, and was influenced from a young age by my mum who was an art teacher. So I’ve pretty much grown up being encouraged to draw. I achieved a BA in Illustration from AUB, Bournemouth four years ago and since then I’ve done a variety of gallery exhibits, commissions, and I work at an advertising agency as an Illustrator & Designer.
Illustration is a great area to work in, it’s so diverse. I really like seeing my work in print, as its nice to be acknowledged for something you are passionate about.
kat3
Who have been some of your favorite clients and what have been some of your favorite projects with them?  
Recently I’d have to say the retailer SimplyBe – I worked on their social media campaign producing illustrations about ‘real women with real stories.’ They were quick turnarounds, and I was working fast maybe 5/6 hours to come up with something – I love a challenge!
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I also love working with bands, I really enjoyed working with the folk band Goodnight Lenin on their branding, they were great to work with and they were really happy with the outcome. But I also really love the personal commissions – portraits, wedding invitations and that sort of thing as its more personal.
kat5
I’m absolutely in love with your “Paradise” pieces! Can you talk a little bit about the concept and inspiration behind these, as well as the process?  
Ah thank you! I’ve exhibited these pieces several times across London, but they’ve been getting increasingly popular as of late, and getting blogged a lot – which is nice to see! 🙂
kat6
I explored the theme of paradise as I thought it would be an opportunity to create something beautiful. I asked a variety of different people to describe the physical representation of their paradise ie. the shape of the land, the features etc. and then I translated this into an otherworldly pastel landscape.
kat7
Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?   
Yes I do! I visited Japan in April, and I’m going to start a painting series based on the places I visited; I documented Kyoto quite well for this reason. I met a wonderful photographer out there who gave me a print of Mt.Fuji – he captured a great pastel landscape of it at dusk, and it’s really inspiring me to start painting.
kat8
Also, I know this is random, but if you could have a super power, what would it be? 
I think mine would definitely be travelling through time, as long as it didn’t have consequences (like messing up the future and all that…).
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The Vibrant Paintings of Melbourne Based Artist Christine of Bellablackbird

I’m excited to introduce Christine from the Bellablackbird Etsy shop. Christine is based in Melbourne, Australia. You can follow her blog at bellablackbird.blogspot.com.au, as well as her Instagram and Pinterest.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What is life like in Melbourne, Australia?

I originally came from England where I worked with children under five. In the early nineties, my family and I made a life changing decision to emigrate to Australia. I always had a strong interest in art so began to study both visual art and illustration full-time. Digital media was amazing to learn as it is so versatile, combining textures, painting and Photoshop effects and brushes to make illustrations is so creative and flexible.



Where do you draw your inspiration and vibrant color schemes from?

Painting is another part of who I am. I’m inspired by nature and the vibrant landscapes and the intense colour of Australia. I’m influenced by visual aspects but I usually start a painting without a defined composition and keep layering until I’m happy, my paintings are often very abstract in style.



What materials and mediums do you enjoy working with? Do you have any specific brands that you can tout?

I paint with acrylic paint and really love the Ampersand boards as a surface. I recently returned to creating softer work with watercolour on paper which is fun to do, using Arches Cotton Rag 300gsm thickness and Holbein paints.

We live in a small coastal town and have a large garden full of native birds, which I often paint in watercolour. It’s very peaceful but different to Melbourne which has a vibrant arts community. I enjoy visiting the designer’s craft markets in the city and buy the handmade jewellery, ceramics and bags.



Do you have any favorite music that you like to listen to while you create? 

I do love to listen to music while working and my tastes change all the time. My favourite musicians at the moment are David Bowie, Coldplay and Florence and the Machine. Being a child of the sixties I also love Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen.


Are you working on any new and exciting projects, or have any outstanding artistic or business goals for the near future? 

I don’t have large goals but I’m focused on constantly adding new work to my Etsy shop. I’m also learning how to block print and have a couple of projects in mind. My social media always needs lots of work and I’m thinking of starting a new website.

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Meet Marleen Kleiberg: Painter from The Netherlands

I’m happy to introduce Marleen Kleiberg from the Marleen Art Etsy shop! You can follow her on Etsy, Instagram, and Facebook to stay updated on her work.

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

I live in a village in The Netherlands with my husband and 5 kids.
A long as I can remember I’ve loved doing creative things like cross stitching, sewing, drawing and painting. After high school I started my career as a nurse in the hospital, but I didn’t stop being creative.
When I had more kids I began to work less and started seriously as an artist.

Can you tell me a little bit about where you gain inspiration? 

I have learned a lot from books and by visiting exhibitions.
I have tried to make progress by making small artworks. I had of many of them and when I heard about Etsy I immediately started a shop. That’s perfect for a mum I thought! My larger paintings are for sale on Saatchi Art. I am still surprised that I sell so much there. Every sale makes me happy.

I find inspiration in and around my home. I love to be in my garden and the forest near my house.  I like to paint kids with watercolor or larger in oil on canvas. Inspiration comes also from the internet, like Instagram or Pinterest. There are so many beautiful photos.

In every painting I try to give it a glance. I think that’s in every painting I make. I do that with a dark/light contrast but most with a color contrast. I never ever use pure black or brown in my paintings, I mix them with primary colors.

My studio is in the basement of our house. It’s a nice space to work.

Are you working on any new and exciting projects, or have any outstanding artistic or business goals for the near future? 

I have done small canvases for a long time. But now I make large botanical paintings and I am busy with a beach series. It’s good to change sometimes to improve yourself and to find new techniques to use.


I am also making a website, which is not my favorite thing to do, but my goal is to go online on 1 September.

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Graphic T-Shirt Giveaway: Win a Graphic Tee from Graphic Designer Ioannis Moschou!

This month The Art Spectrum is happy to announce its first ever giveaway featuring YANMOS!

As a brand, YANMOS has been growing over the past few years and I’m happy to support the brand, which creates many designs geared towards a green approach. Other designs are inspired by humor or pop culture.

The designer behind YANMOS, graphic designer Ioannis Moschou from Thessaloniki, Greece sells on many platforms, including Redbubble, Design by Humans, his own Eco-Labelled organic Teemill t-shirt store that makes t-shirts at a certified wind-powered factory, as well as his own website, YANMOS | Sustainable Creativity.

   

You can follow YANMOS on any or all of his social media sites: 

FACEBOOK 

TWITTER

PINTEREST 

INSTAGRAM

ENTER TO WIN A YANMOS T-SHIRT OF YOUR CHOICE 

YANMOS Graphic T-Shirt Giveaway

Click Here for Full Article View With Comments

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