Hello Everyone! It’s my joy to welcome back one of The Art Spectrum’s own, contemporary artist Melissa Mary Jenkins for a giveaway of one of her paintings! Melissa appeared on The Art Spectrum back in June of 2017, you can read the interview here. This month you have a chance to win the painting below! Followers of The Art Spectrum also have access to this exclusive coupon code to use in Melissa’s Etsy shop: ARTSPECTRUMCOUPON for 15% off.
“Beneath the rust and grime which dulls the shine of our weathered hearts, joy patiently waits to be rediscovered.”
John Mark Green
Joy has been resting patiently for years under the weight of chronic illness but I have rediscovered the shininess of joy underneath the rust of fatigue and pain. As I continue to heal, I have been able to snowshoe and cross-country ski around our our farm yards and forests, and I have been struck by the rusty-burgundy colour of the dogwood trees surrounding me.
This painting began with layers of rusty-burgundy-pink with bits of white and grey. Pastels, charcoal, India Ink and pigment liner form the final layers.
*Paper is cold pressed 140 lb watercolor paper
*Painting measures 5×7 inches
*Signed and dated on the back
*This is an original painting, NOT a print
*Frame not included
Here is an update from Melissa:
This past Autumn I began to heal from Chronic Lyme Disease and a co-infection called Bartonella. As I feel the “fog” lifting, I have had a reawakening of sorts. I am completely and utterly inspired by my natural surroundings and have rediscovered the vibrancy of color in the farm fields, forests and pine trees surrounding our old stone farmhouse. I have begun to sketch outside and take daily adventures with our puppy Mylo. I have learned to pinpoint the lines in nature and translate this movement into abstract landscape paintings. I feel as though I have finally “come into my own” as an artist. Instagram still plays a very important role in my art journey, but I feel that it plays a different role in my life. The connections that I have made have taken precedent over looking for inspiration in other people’s artwork. This has been a turning point in fighting off the ever-invasive “imposter syndrome”. I feel as though the perfect way to describe my work is as follows: Inspired by natural surroundings, my paintings reflect the fluidity of the seasons and the movement of my soul in nature.
Some reviews of Melissa’s work:
“The canvas is just stunning and the customer service was impeccable, beyond expectation! Melissa sent me previews and snapshots of her progress which made me appreciate the hard work and care she puts into each custom creation! It was wrapped so nicely and securely, and even included a personalized note and gift tag. Really special! Highly recommended! Thanks Melissa!”
“Melissa was a joy to work with. She began to paint immediately. She answered my questions quickly and cared that the finished product was what I wanted. My beautiful, original painting now hangs above my bed.”
“SO IN LOVE WITH THIS PAINTING! Melissa is a unique artist and is very gracious to returning customers. Thank you again!!”
“I am soooo pleased with the service I received from the boutique owner. This was sincerely above and beyond! The package was soooo nice. A lot of attention to details! And the piece of art is gorgeous! Thank you so much!”
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your business?
I have pretty much been making art since the beginning – my mom and I like to joke about how I once wrote the tooth fairy a letter asking for “more practical things than quarters, like crayons!” Although art was always a true love, it was never a big school thing for me. My high school barely had an art program and I hated the idea of being graded on art anyways. After high school, I went to college to study Sociology. After school I was pretty unsure of my future. I ended up being a swim coach for a few years and bought a super fun 100 year old house, I was really trying to be a grown up. But I was stuck and not happy with where I was going. After some pep-talks with my parents and the realization that I could change my direction, I applied to art school, sold my house, and moved back to my college town to study photography.
I fell in love with pinhole photography and still hope to get back to making those images again someday – but that practice is very darkroom reliant and I didn’t have any access after school. It was very important to me that I keep making, in some way, after I graduated and I ended up ordering a loom online just to have something to keep my hands busy. I made one or two projects on the small loom and immediately knew I wanted to try it on a huge scale! Jonny built me a 5 foot wide loom (and now a couple others) and I was hooked. Jonny and I started The Eddy Line Co. together with the dream of me making art and him making furniture. I have the privilege of getting to try and see if we can make a space out in the art/maker world while he keeps his big boy job for now. He is a huge support for me though, making our looms, creating custom boxes for shipping and doing our post office runs. While I make the fiber art pieces, there is no doubt that this business is a team effort for us both.
What drew you to fiber arts?
After school, I went through a period with a lot of anxiety. I needed something that could keep my hands (and mind) busy while I figured out my next steps. I had learned some of the basics of embroidery in a textile class I took in college so I started a few small stitching projects for friends and wedding gifts. That one class “Intro to Textiles” I think it was called, was a huge inspiration for me. I’m definitely that person who just needs a few of the basics and then I’m off figuring out my own direction. Both my embroidery and hand dyeing basics came from that class.
I think I was drawn to weaving because of the color and texture and just experimented with my little loom until I taught myself some basics. I was determined to make things that I wished were out there, while at the same time not making something you could already find.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your woven wall hangings?
Finding inspiration is one of my favorite parts of making! I am a huge collector of images. I can get stuck in the Pinterest world for hours and I love it, but I also take a lot of pictures wherever I go. I look for color combinations in everything, as well as different textures, shapes, and compositions. I can see future projects in architecture, fashion, nature hikes, paint colors, plants, paintings, everything.
What is the creative process like behind making one of your pieces? How long does it take to finish a larger piece?
The process behind a piece can vary as much as the piece itself. Sometimes they start with just a color palette and a size, sometimes I just know I want it to be round and neutral, sometimes it is completely based off a photo – the same colors and composition. The less rules I place on my work process, the more freedom I have to mix it up and make new work.
I recently was commissioned to make a piece that was 5 feet wide and 6 feet long – it took me about 45 hours of actual weaving time to complete.
Do you have any recommendations for those looking to get into fiber arts, weaving, or selling online?
If you are interested in getting into fiber arts, my recommendation is just to go for it! (Same with selling online – I had to just hit start and figure it out from there or else I never would have begun.) If you are someone that works best with rules, find a class or book that can teach you the basics. If you don’t necessarily like coloring inside the lines – I think fiber art lends itself to experimentation and it can be really fun. You don’t have to make a huge financial investment to try it out, and, except for dye projects, you can pretty much pick them up and put them down for any amount of time you have. No pressure, just enjoy it. If you aren’t enjoying it, try something else.
I’m so excited to introduce everyone to artist and adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.– Deanna creates durable gear for adventurers, and you can follow her blog and Instagram for the inside scoop on what’s new!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your business, and your blog? What does it take to run a handmade business?
I’m a full-time mom and wife from the Midwest with a healthy addiction to mountains and the outdoors in general. I own Dear Summit Supply Co. – a brand with which I’ve made leather journals and sketch books for over eight years, and more recently began adding in vinyl stickers and hand-printed shirts with my designs, all aimed at inspiring and equipping outdoor adventures. I also write the occasional blog post about my National Park shenanigans or sharing tips on creativity and journaling.
Running your own handmade business is not an easy thing to do, but it is incredibly rewarding. It takes a lot of hard work, self discipline, and follow through. I think people imagine me sketching and painting away all the time, but the reality is that the business side of the work (paperwork, emailing, planning, marketing, etc.) takes up a lot more of my time than the creative work.
But whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with the business end of my work, I remind myself that those parts of the job are what allow me to pursue the creative work I’m truly passionate about, and that’s totally worth all the struggle along the way.
What are your favorite national parks and why?
I am a huge fan of America’s National Parks system and the amazing natural landscapes they preserve. My favorite national parks right now are Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. My husband and daughter and I spent several days hiking there last summer and it was just magical. The Giant Sequoia trees are so huge and majestic, and will take your breath away. Hiking among them made me feel like I was in on some grand, enchanting secret.
And of course, that trip was also a goldmine of inspiration for my art!
If I could, I’d love to go on an extended road trip someday, visiting as many national parks as possible and staying a week or two in each one.
What are your thoughts on adventuring?
I define adventuring as just about anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you – but ideally outdoors. That could mean a two-week backpacking trip, far removed from civilization, or it could mean a walk around the block in the rain. This is something I’m really passionate about because I believe that getting outside and seeing new landscapes and trying new experiences is one of the best things we can do for ourselves as humans. Study after study continues to confirm the stunning array of ways in which spending time in nature positively affects our minds and bodies.
We spend so much time sitting down and staring at screens that I think we forget what it feels like to have dirt between our toes or to listen, really listen, to the music of birds calling to each other. There’s something about walking through a forest or hiking on a mountainside that reminds us that the world is much bigger and more beautiful than our own worries!
What is the process like creating one of your stickers versus one of your handmade journals?
The process for creating a journal is quite different from the process to create a sticker. Making a leather journal is very time and labor intensive, requiring hours of precise work for each individual journal, even if I’m making multiples of the same design. I start with blank paper and hand-tear the pages down to the proper size, then fold them and punch the holes for stitching. The leather has to be cut and carefully punched as well before I stitch the two together with waxed linen thread.
I made journals for over eight years and even developed my own method to screen-print my mountain design onto the leather covers, but I’ve recently decided to retire my journals because of some shifts in my personal and business priorities.
With stickers, I draw out the design on paper and then edit it in Illustrator, where I might smooth out edges and play with the arrangement of words or other elements. This process feels really free and fun for me, plus, once a design is done, it’s done. I can send it off to the printers and I don’t have to repeat the process over and over for each sticker I sell, freeing me up to create more new designs (or just spend more time outside with my daughter).
Can you tell me about your Tiny Pages Project? Do you have any other projects in the making?
A while ago I challenged myself to fill up a teeny tiny sketchbook I had made, whose pages were about 3/4 inch tall and 1/2 inch wide, and I called the series of sketches and paintings that ensued the Tiny Pages Project. It was a great exercise in figuring out which details to focus on in order to make each tree or mountain or bear recognizable in such a tiny size. I learned a lot from it and had a lot of fun with those tiny sketches!
Currently, I’m doing a daily sketching challenge in a Baron Fig planner (inspired by my friend Jonny of @drawntosketching on Instagram). Instead of tiny size, this time I’m challenging myself with all sorts of subject matter I have never attempted before, in addition to my usual landscapes. Each week, I’m alternating between black-and-white and color illustrations, to hopefully improve in both. I’m only a few weeks into this new project, and I’ve already learned quite a bit with both methods.
Watch Deanna’s Thoreau Quote Sketch Timelapse: “We Can Never Have Enough of Nature”
I’m so excited to introduce Annie Tarasova from the DreamyMoons Etsy shop. Annie is 21, from Australia, and has a beautiful and successful shop. You can follower her on Instagram and watch her videos on Youtube.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with your art and business?
I have been drawing, reading and creating ever since I was very little. All throughout high school I knew I wanted to go to university to study either art or design, however at the very last minute I changed my mind at the fear of too much competition in the art and design businesses. Instead, I went on to study health science. It was wildly interesting, however after two years I realized something was missing. I didn’t have any time to express and explore my creative side – the side I treasured the most since childhood. I felt like it was leaving me.
I took a break, started traveling, and opened my Etsy shop DreamyMoons which very successfully took off and filled my life with more purpose than ever. I made a difficult decision to leave Uni to follow my heart and intuition. I knew that I needed to pour all my energy into creating.
How has social media impacted your business?
Social media made a huge impact on DreamyMoons. Before opening my Etsy shop I already had a following as I absolutely loved expressing myself through photography and videos. I am so thankful for the audience I already had on Instagram that followed every bit of my journey and supported my business from the beginning. I feel like nowadays there is no better way to promote your business other than on social media – it is what we check if not every day, then most days.
I draw my inspiration for my art from our beautiful Universe. Through my art I am exploring the divine connection between us and the world around us. I am very interested in astrology and celestial bodies – I find it unbelievable that we live on a blue ball rotating around a star in nothingness. My artworks often contain stars, planets and moons.
I wanted to create something more than just a calendar. Year of Growth is a 2018 lunar calendar which shows what phase the moon is in every day of the year. Most importantly, the reason why I chose to call it “Year of Growth” is because every month has it is own goal and/or intention, whether it is meditation, spending more time in nature or writing. Each monthly goal is designed to help your journey to opening your mind and heart.
I travel. That is just as important to me as painting. I can not stay creative and productive if I am home for a long time. I have this crazy urge to travel. It is the best feeling coming back home from a trip, feeling fresh and inspired and motivated to make things happen. It really helps that my partner is a photographer – if he is away for a job overseas, he is able to take me. Travel is a break from expressing myself on paper, however not a break from creativity. I still love to take photos and film videos and share them on my social medias.
Hello All! I recently had the joy of opening a new Etsy shop, Pretty Shiny Prints, and as an artist wanted to have the best graphics possible for my shop’s banner. I decided to create this post so that you can replicate the process I went through to create mine!
What is Canva?
Canva is a free web-based software that runs in your browser where you can create beautiful photo layouts, business card designs, Pinterest-worthy collage pins, banners, and more! I chose Canva because Picmonkey, which is also one of my favorite online photo editing site, is no longer free.
Step 2: Sign up using your email , Facebook, or Google account. Once you have an account, you can save any work-in-progress designs and come back to them later.
Step 3: Open your Etsy shopfront in another tab. Click the orange “Edit Shop” button. You will notice a small orange camera button on the bottom right hand corner of your current banner or banner space:
Step 4: Click on the orange camera button. You will see the following pop-up:
Step 5: Take note of the minimum dimensions of the “small banner” and the “cover photo”. This tutorial will take us through creating a”cover photo”, which is 1200×300 px. The same method can be applied for the “small banner”.
Step 6: Switch over to Canva and under “Create A Design” you will see a “Use Custom Dimensions” button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Step 7: Put in DOUBLE the minimum dimensions indicated on Etsy for the cover photo – this will enhance the quality of the final image and it will not be pixelated or blurry. The dimensions will be 2400×600 px
Step 8: Click the “Design!” button at right.
You will be met with a 2400×600 pixel white image for you to create your banner. Use the Layouts, Elements, Text, Background, and Uploads sections on the left hand side to build your banner. I recommended that you use your own graphics if you are an artist, but if not you can upload stock photos, your logo, or any other images you would like on the banner. Here’s the banner that I ended up making for my shop:
And here are a couple of other designs that I played with but didn’t end up going with:
If you’ve had a logo created for your shop, or items that have particularly good images, upload them to the Uploads section so that they’re ready to be used in your banner.
You can make more than one banner, which is helpful if your shop is having a sale and you want a big, beautiful announcement banner across the top of your shop telling people about your sale.
Make sure the images that you upload to the Uploads section are high quality so they are not too small or look pixelated.
Creating Facebook Banners
Creating Facebook banners, or Facebook cover photos, is the same idea, but here are some tips for creating them:
Best dimensions for Facebook cover photos : 820×462. This will ensure that your photo looks great on both a desktop and a smartphone!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What is life like in Finland?
I am a freelance illustrator, originally from Finland but I’ve been living in Scotland for the past 10 years. Drawing was always my favourite thing to do as a kid, and I can’t remember ever seriously considering of studying anything else than art. To be honest, I never thought I would actually make a living out of it but wanted to give it a go anyway, and so far it has worked out alright!
I moved to Glasgow to study at the Glasgow School of Art, and graduated with a degree in Illustration in 2011. The year after graduating was a bit hard, the difference between the art school and the real world was so drastic, I didn’t really know how to get commissions and how to in general start pursuing a freelance illustrator career. I ended up doing other random jobs, travelling, and eventually even went to study graphic design as I thought it would be easier to find work as a graphic designer. However, studying graphic design made me realize very fast that my passion lies in illustration, and that it really was all I wanted to do. So I dropped out after one year, and started working on my illustration career with a new motivation, and am still on that path!
So many of your pieces seem inspired by faraway places. What is the thought process and creative process like for these?
Yes! It really is one of my all time favourite themes to draw. The world is so full of magical, interesting places and cultures, so many countries that I want to visit – I know I probably won’t be able to see them all in real life, but on some level illustrating them can take me there. It can start from seeing a documentary, a photograph, hearing a song. It can also be a place I’ve visited myself, a feel of a location that I want to remember. I do some research, which can be reading about related topics, and of course looking at a lot of pictures. But I don’t want to replicate existing places exactly the way they are, my goal is to recreate the atmosphere of the location, to hopefully make the viewer be able to imagine how the place would feel (or to take them back there, if they’ve visited).
I do a lot of sketches of existing places, and then try to create my own scene from those. I also pay a lot of attention to colour, as I think every place has its own unique colour palette so getting the colours right can really help you to feel the place.
What has been one of your favorite projects or prints that you’ve worked on?
There’s been a lot of fun ones, but for some reason I’m now thinking about a project I did for my degree show years ago. I did a series of four screenprints called Sacred Animals, in which I looked at different cultures and their relationships with animals, and picked four interesting ones for my project. I had for example the royal white elephant of Thailand, where they are sacred and a symbol of royal power, and all those discovered belong to the king. It was the hectic final year of art school, but I got really into the research and loved reading and finding out more about the different customs and cultures. It combined my two favourite things, making images and learning about different cultures, and I guess that is why it still remains as one of my favourite projects ever. Which actually makes me think that I should do more of those!
Do you listen to music while you create – if so what are some of your current favorite artists or songs?
I usually do like to have something on in the background. But when I’m reading a brief, doing research or trying to solve a problem (composition, colours, whatever), i.e. having to actually use my brain, I might often work in total silence, or just have something very chill and unnoticeable music on. My recent favourite has been this lofi hip hop radio on YouTube, very chill and nondistracting. Too fast or crazy music will make me anxious and unable to concentrate!
Once I’m over the thinking part, I like to listen to podcasts, Radiotopia has some great ones, really love Strangers and Mortified and Criminal, then of course Serial was great as well as S-Town.. and plenty of others! And sometimes I like to watch documentaries or series on Netflix.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
I’m a lost cause living on the West Coast of Canada fighting against “adulthood” one day at a time.
I have always loved making stuff. I come from a family of makers. Music, art, clothing, woodworking, it’s in my blood. I painted my first canvas when I was 14 but I was painting and drawing all over my walls long before that. I had a few other careers before landing on art only 2 years ago. I still feel pretty fresh at the whole making a living out of it thing, but I’m addicted to the rush.
What materials do you use in your mixed media embroidered pieces? What draws you to those materials?
Well, I thrift all my embroidery materials so fabric, hoop and thread wise, whatever I dig at the thrift store will end up in my piece. As for the paint, I bought this dry pigment in Peru when I was there 2 years ago. The colours are so highly concentrated so I’ll mix those with water or white acrylic for the background. I really enjoy the typical paint on raw canvas because the threads of the canvas provide a grid for me to use. But I like expanding too. Velvet is great, anything thick enough to not show the mess of the back is great. That being said I’d like to try embroidering some sheer fabrics. That would be a challenge.
Yeah! I made it as a way for me to have an excuse to do cool things for people who feel compelled to give their support. I want to personalize my relationship with people who buy my work and show their support as much as I can so this just gives me a platform to do so. I love being able to show people my weirder creations and give sneak peeks. It’s fun for me. Plus it lets me live a regular life with some income stability which is a huge benefit to my creativity.
Do you listen to music while you create? If so, what are you currently into?
Yes. And everything. Folk is my staple. But I love hip hop for painting, ambient is good for embroidery. Classical when its raining or in the morning. Shoegaze anytime. I’ve been getting more into Vaporwave. Podcasts are an always thing. I hop around a lot. And sometimes I really like sitting in silence. It almost feels noisy at times. But right now I’ll probably put on some soul/r&b and groove out a bit.
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.