Artist Interview with Sally Welchman from Mogg Shop

I’m excited to introduce Sally Welchman from Mogg Shop on Etsy! Make sure to visit her shop at moggshop.etsy.com.

Can you give me a little background on yourself and how you developed your unique style?

Hi, my name is Sally and I live in Brighton in the UK. I went to art school and took a degree in design and then a masters in ceramics in Cardiff, Wales. I was then awarded funding by the Welsh Arts Council to do a one year ceramics residency in a small town in Germany. I had already been doing a lot of drawing during my M.A. and had produced some kind of 3D assemblages with wood I picked up in the street and other items collaged together, and in Germany I continued with this, creating paintings of animals using some of the ceramics tools and techniques I was using on my pots too. I think working on wood is a little like decorating the surface of a pot, because its an absorbent hard surface that can be carved into or sanded back. I like that you can keep a design simple whilst still giving it depth in that way.

Why the use of reclaimed wood?

Partly I use reclaimed wood because I like the idea of turning old things into new and reusing something that already exists. From an ecological standpoint I think that’s a good thing to do. Also though I just really like the look of wood that has already had a life and looks a bit battered, so its also for the aesthetic.


What are your sources of inspiration?

My inspiration comes from animals, our two pets (a dog and a cat) but also from feelings and human emotion. I am really interested in facial expressions and what they do and don’t reveal and how human expressions do not always reflect our true feelings: animals and young babies don’t cover their sadness or anger with a smile or “put on” a confident face when they are nervous etc. That’s something that interests me.

I work as a facilitator on a great project at the Brighton Museum, which is about providing a space for marginalized artists – often people with a diagnosed mental health issue or learning disability to make art. This is a project that has been running now for several years and is very inclusive and person centered. People can pretty much create what they want there and I find that very positive and inspiring. For my own work, I honestly feel that every day that I can make art is pretty exciting – I feel like I have the best “job” in the world!

Have you worked on, or are you working on, any exciting projects?

Coming soon I think is a book that will feature one of my cat paintings. It will be written by Desmond Morris (a famous and respected sociologist and author in the UK and a painter himself). The book is called Cats in Art and is due out in September. I have also just finished taking part in an Open House exhibition with other artists at Bright Moon Studios in Brighton, which was a lovely experience.

What is life like as an artist in Brighton?

Life for an artist in Brighton is really good. Brighton has a large artist community and many galleries and events where you can show work and take part in open houses, craft fairs and networking opportunities. People here seem very supportive and interested in art and the city itself is close to London, with its major museums and galleries and also the countryside of the Sussex Downs and the wonderful seaside. Sussex has a long artistic history going back years and the Charleston House (home of Vanessa Bell) (@CharlestonTrust) and Virginia Woolf‘s house are nearby as well as the Ditchling Museum which showcases the work of significant local artists and craftspeople of the last century.

Thank you for reading and make sure to check out Mogg Shop on Etsy and get one of Sally’s reclaimed wood paintings!

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Artist Interview with Aria From The Little Grey Rabbit

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It’s my pleasure to introduce Aria from The Little Grey Rabbit shop on Etsy! The whimsical work in her and Aaron’s shop inspired this interview. Make sure to check out their shop!

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Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop? What made you choose the name “The Little Grey Rabbit”?

I live in the Pacific Northwest on a small country homestead, but my true home is Epernon, France, hence the reason why there is such a strong French influence in my artwork, particularly my roomboxes. My shop is named after our rescue pet, a Mini Rex rabbit named ‘Boo’, the sweetest creature in the world, and thanks to my husband who is a photographer, Boo happens to have her own modeling gig….she’s a complete ham for the camera!

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Where do you gain inspiration from for your paintings, miniature buildings, and dioramas?

My love of architecture and my passion for France inspires many of my miniature buildings, dioramas and landscapes. But there is also the quirky side of me that loves pirates and swamps (yes I know, a weird combination) so it’s not unusual to find paintings of tall ships and the bayou in my shop.

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What’s the process like to create your buildings and dioramas?

Believe it or not (and please don’t laugh), I start out by putting on music that goes with the theme of the piece that I am going to be working on: so if it’s a building in France, I play French music; if it’s a castle, I’ll play medieval or renaissance music, etc..

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I usually start the actual build with a sketch or a reference image. I build the frame work in wood, cutting and fitting each piece together like a puzzle. Then once dry I apply the clay, carving, shaping, sculpting as I go. After which I paint and apply the finishing touches. It can take me anywhere from 2 to 10 weeks from start to finish, depending on the size.

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Are you working on any new projects or works of art?

A project that I have been laboring on for a few months now is a mix of miniature building and canvas painting, with the goal of the painting looking like it comes to life with the miniature building. I loved the idea, but it’s turning out to be more difficult than expected. I never know how labor intensive some projects will be until I get the clay and paint on it.

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Minimal Wood Sculptures by Artist Paul Foeckler

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Artist Paul Foeckler has been kind enough to interview with me! The work in his shop, Split Grain, is refreshingly minimal and unique. Please give his shop and website a visit!

 I love your light sculptures, there’s something so beautiful, unique, and modern about seeing light coming through a piece of sculpted wood. What are your main inspirations and philosophies behind creating these sculptures, and what would you as an artist like communities around the world to know about you and your work?  

Thank you for your kind words. Split Grain is allowing me to explore the hidden beauty in nature in a way that has contemporary design appeal – which I hope helps people notice nature’s subtle beauty more and incorporate it into their modern lives and interior spaces. The project began one day when I was putting an ordinary piece of firewood into the fireplace and thought it too beautiful to burn. The shape the piece took on after splitting it intrigued me but when I started sawing and experimenting with it I found the cross sections revealed incredible shapes that would otherwise go unnoticed. The repetition of slicing the pieces helped to accentuate these hidden details. I started by suspending the pieces from steel armatures and soon discovered how light could accentuate the forms even more and add a whole new dimension. The works are minimal, formal and a bit architectural which mimics a tree’s natural form as well. I hope my pieces help bring nature into people’s contemporary lifestyles and surroundings as well as remind them of the amazing presence of trees.

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You mention on your Etsy shop page that you have been featured in different blogs and magazines, a couple magazines being California Home & Design and Arts Illustrated. What different responses to your work and philosophies have you received from this exposure? 

Most of the exposure I have been fortunate to receive has been with art & design-focused media. I have appreciated the exposure on many blogs but the one that created the most impact for me was This Is Colossal. Chris featured my work very shortly after I launched it and his feature created a real jumping off point. The CAH&D magazine project was interesting as they commissioned artists to do California-centric versions of their work. They approached me and wanted one of my sculptures in the shape of the state of California. At first, I thought it was the worst idea and completely gimmicky but after talking with the editor and seeing previous examples it turned out to be an interesting challenge. Like any creative project, sometimes limitations are good. I’ve been very fortunate as most of the responses I have received comment upon how they have never seen anything like my work before which motivates me to do and explore more.

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This Slice sculpture reveals fascinating contours and amazing growth patterns of a piece of reclaimed California Coastal Monterey Cypress. Details of the outer form and inner grain are thoughtfully exposed. Intriguing from any angle, these diminutive specimens elegantly reveal the wood’s splendid interior rings and odd exterior landscape which occurs from my random splitting technique.

Can you talk a little bit about the reclaimed wood that you use in your pieces?  

All of the wood that I use is reclaimed and I have to say foraging for it is fun but definitely a lot of work.
My favorite wood to work with is California Coastal Monterey Cypress. I used to spend a lot of time on the coast of northern CA at a place called The Sea Ranch. There are hedgerows of Cypress trees there to break the wind from the ocean. Their lives are often ended abruptly in storms. The firewood I thought too beautiful to burn was from one of those Cypress trees. It is a beautiful semi-hard wood that is not considered good for lumber so I am able to reclaim it for sculptures when trees are taken down.
Most recently I found some amazing Incense Cedar from the Angeles National Forrest in Los Angeles where I live now. Forest fires in 2009 destroyed a large portion of that forest but at 5,000 feet elevation there were large cedar trees that were scorched and died standing up. Their bark charred but completely protected and dried the core wood inside. The Cedar has a light aroma to it and has a beautiful grain which gets emphasized when lit in my light sculptures.

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Are you currently working on or planning any new projects?  

What’s consuming my time and energy right now is scaling sculptures up to larger sizes. I have been working on commissions for larger pieces that have been a lot of fun but a lot more challenging. On the horizon I hope to have another project that attempts to reveal nature’s hidden beauty in a different way. I have a feeling it will have to do with motion.

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My Splay sculptures capture the dramatic variations in form that can occur between the top and bottom of a piece of California Coastal Monterey Cypress. I look for pieces that have dramatically different shapes as they begin and end and I reserve them for these sculptures. Each tier is a deconstruction of an entire piece of wood however when viewed from the ends the piece seems to magically reassemble itself. The progression of exterior shape and interior growth rings can be viewed individually and as a singular whole.

Thank you so much for stopping by, please like and share and make sure to visit Paul in his online Etsy shop!

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