From New Zealand to Isreal: An Interview With Artist Emily Penso

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I am honored to introduce the wonderful artist Emily Penso, who has a quite interesting life story! Emily sells her surreal and whimsical artwork in her Etsy shop, Studio Lavaan, and excitedly agreed to be interviewed on the blog!

  • Can you just tell me a little about yourself; where did you grow up, go to school, what are you up to now?

I was lucky enough to grow up in New Zealand, in the South Island city of Dunedin. It was a wonderful place to grow up and although it’s quite a cold part of the world, most of my childhood memories involve sunshine and bare feet.

I am the middle of three children, with two wonderfully loving and supportive parents  who shaped our world with a comfortable home, a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of the arts – I remember many a boring gallery trip! But although at the time I would have preferred to be playing with Barbie or some other weird toy, there was always at least one art work that would completely mesmerize me.  

 During my high school years (sweet 16) my Dad landed a job in Canberra, Australia. So my small world got bigger and we moved across the Tasman. It was a tough move for me, but character building, and definitely helped guide me into pursuing art.  I ended up studying painting at the Canberra School of Art which was just awesome and completely changed my life.  
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Now, curiously, I find myself living in Israel (which is another epic tale, but involves meeting a beautiful Israeli in India and marrying him in Cyprus). We live in a lovely village on a hill with our two completely gorgeous boys, and a white cat and a black dog. We have a small olive grove which we use for making oil, a small studio which I use for making art, and lots of little vegetable gardens. It suits us well. 

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  • Your work is so surreal and whimsical, where did the inspiration for these types of works come from? Is there anything else that inspires you, just in general?

I guess my mind has always been a bit of a peculiar place, and for as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by things that are out of the ordinary. My earliest surrealist influence almost certainly came from Rene Magritte.  My parents had a book on Magritte and throughout my childhood I loved pawing through the pages. It was entertainment that never got old, no matter how old I got, and every time I looked I would discover something new.

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Another big influence would be dreams. I am a serious dreamer – day dreams and night dreams – but I am particularly inspired by night dreams as they are totally wild, complete raw sub-consciousness, and always purely surreal.  

The world around me is also a major source of inspiration; Birds, insects, trees, people, land forms, and the interactions between everything that exists – I am constantly in awe of this world we live in. It never gets boring! It is a mysterious moving masterpiece that I love being a part of. This spiritual connection that I have with life is also a bit of an influence. It is much easier for me to articulate what it is that I feel spiritually through drawing than words.

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  •  A lot of your work looks like it has been sparked by unique ideas. What have been some your favorite ideas to explore with your art?  

  “You know, most of the time my work starts as a visual idea rather than a concept that I want to communicate (consciously anyway) but always through the process of making the work I begin to understand the symbolism of what I am drawing and mostly it’s personal feelings, thoughts, experiences. I approach my work with intuition, but execute it in a very precise way! Some of my favorite visual themes have been playing with scale relationships between figures, mirroring birds, and using clouds as a very deliberate compositional device (with meaning!)

Clouds have been popping up a lot lately and they are beginning to take the centre stage. I love clouds.

  •  Do you have any advice to artists or future artists on how to promote their work or how to approach getting their work out there? Advice in general?
 I think not being afraid of self-promotion is something that many artists need to overcome, and is definitely something that I have struggled with, and still struggle with to a degree. I guess I would advise emerging artists to think about what it is they want out of their art practice and use that goal to guide them in how they promote their work.
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In general, to get your work out there… approach galleries, apply for exhibitions, get help with submitting great proposals if necessary, collaborate with other artists, get involved in open group shows, exhibit as often as you can, enter art competitions, get the social media happening, create a website, open an Etsy store, take all the steps that you think are important for you as an artist. And of course…don’t let knock backs get you down, because they will happen, and great things will also happen!
  • Do you do anything fun/interesting in your free time? Any favorite hobbies or weekend activities?  

Wow, free time is something that is completely foreign to me! My little boys keep me very busy! But, I do manage to squeeze in a little bit of yoga and any chance I get I am in the garden.  In my down time I have been known to play ‘words with friends’ on my phone ( I’m mildly addicted). If I had more free time I would love to make pebble mosaic stepping stones, sew stuff ,and I’d also restore all the shabby vintage furniture that I have collected.

When my boys are all grown up I would like to do my masters, it’s a nice dream, and I’d love to learn more skills, like basket weaving and everything to do with textiles.

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You can also find Emily on her Facebook Fanpage: Emily Penso Fanpage 

And her website: emilypenso.com

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An Interview With Ines Rocio: Etsy Artist

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This interview is between myself and Ines Rocio from the inesrocio Etsy shop. She is a visual artist living in Portugal and her work is beautiful! Make sure to show her shop some love!  

Your wearable art has vivid colors and each piece is stunningly beautiful in a very natural kind of way. What inspired you to create these pieces and what process do you go through to make them?  

First of all thank you for the invitation and for your kind words about my art work.

Nature is my great source of inspiration, I am fascinated by the vividness of colors, organic, natural architecture, overlapping tones, rhythms and energy.

The creative process begins by being in contact with the natural elements, like strolling through the park or the beach, as a botanist, collect small natural treasures, with which at the Atelier, I give life and energy to natural wearable art pieces. In the jewelry making, I use these elements as a template for the sculptural process, because I like the pace, energy and organic-ness that they give.

The watercolor is undoubtedly the artistic medium with which I identify most, because as my painting is very spontaneous, allows for endless diversity of hues, besides it is a clean paint technique  and more environmentally friendly. Really like to use metallic pigments, especially the gold because in my opinion it adds richness and luminosity to the paintings.

My painting is mostly intuitive, and I like to explore the various dimensions of pigments freeform, almost always with the purpose of transposing the metaphysical vibration and positive energy that nature gives me, through art. The creative act transcends me as an individual.

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Do you ever wear them to show them off? They look like they would make great conversation starters.   

Yes I really like to wear my pieces, they symbolize a little piece of nature and convey to me a very positive energy. It is this joy that I want to share with my clients.

My pieces are very colorful and get people’s attention. These conversations are usually initiated by my son who is four years old and is a big fan of  his mom’s work, and when he sees me wearing my pieces he makes a point of telling people that were made by me :).

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  

I am a mother, a women in love and an artist with a background in graphic design.

I’m a dreamer, creative, have liked to paint since I was a child, used to paint flying ponies, rainbows, gardens and houses. I always liked to represent nature in a colorful way.

I really like music, animals (I have two lovely female dogs), love to cook and create different recipes. I like a lot of children’s illustration and romantic stories with happy endings.

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How did you get to where you are today, what inspires you to create and to be an Etsy shop owner?

I have always felt the need to create, but was afraid to assume myself as an artist completely, but thanks to the support of my dear husband, I gained the courage to devote myself entirely to art. I find the Etsy concept fascinating , and I love belonging to this effervescent community where creative people support and motivate each other. I think this concept of sharing extremely inspiring! So for me having a store there makes sense.

How is life in Portugal?

We have plenty of sunshine, many beautiful places to behold and shoot and lots of time during the year to enjoy these same locations. We have vast knowledge and very interesting traditions . We have many extremely creative young artists, for which the current financial crisis has been very hard.

For me, human creativity is a global phenomenon, and the internet an open window to the world and that is the way I chose to guide my work.

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Do you have any future plans for your artwork and your shop?

My goal is to continue to create and feel happy and privileged for it. I like the idea of creating my pieces and seeing them take their course for their future owners, not only because economic necessity is intrinsic to any store (after all the artists have to eat too) but mainly for the joy I have in creating pieces that also make other people happy. 
In the short term I am planning to create my own blog, a space where I will share my love for creativity.  

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