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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much for stopping by, please like and share and make sure to visit Paul in his online Etsy shop!
Your work is a combination of typography and digital collage, with themes of pop culture and surrealism. Can you talk a little bit about where your inspirations to create this work stems from?
It might sound dull, but I get my inspiration mainly from life itself. With music as my main catalyst during the process of my work. I love working intuitively. Most of the time I already have a theme or subject in my head. Then I choose the type of music which has to represent the atmosphere of the work. During the process the work sort of creates itself. Also my children are a big inspiration to me. Their minds and visions are still so pure. I love the way they can still be amazed by the little things in life which we adults take for granted. Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I try to keep this in mind every time I start working on something.
Can you tell me about the Artbook of “visual lyrics” that many of your portfolio works are a part of?
This project is actually an idea for the future. With that I mean, I don’t know when it will be finished. Like I said before, music is a big inspiration to me. So my plan is to keep creating these lyrical artworks until I have enough to make a book out of it and hopefully get it published somewhere. That would be the ultimate goal! Right now I am busy on my sixth lyrical artwork. So I have a long way ahead of me. The one I am working on right now is based on the phrase “We all feed on Tragedy” from the song Vicarious by Tool.
Is all of your work done digitally or do you play around and enjoy other mediums as well?
Well actually, most of my work is done traditionally and eventually ends digital. Most of the time I start sketching, painting, drawing, collaging etc. Then I scan all the elements with my flatbed scanner and continue the process in Photoshop. During the digital process I sometimes even print the result to add some more traditional techniques and scan it in again. Just until I get the result the project asks for at that moment. Some techniques are simply hard to achieve digitally.
So you ask me if I enjoy other mediums as well? Hell yeah! The more mediums and materials the better. Having no limitation as a limitation! Without having any boundaries or restrictions I keep the process of creating fun and exciting for myself.
What have been some of your favorite exhibitions in the past that you have been a part of?
There are a few, but the most favorite one was at the Barcelona Art Fair. An exhibition with artists all over the world at Casa Batlló in Barcelona. Also known as the Gaudi House. Not only was it nice to exhibit in such a beautiful city and meet many different kinds of artists… but how fun is it to say that you once exhibited in the House of Gaudi!
Do you have any favorite artists?
Besides my own children I have always been a big fan of Dave McKean, especially his comics and Graphic Novels. Also Kurt Schwitters, Mark Rothko, Jheronimus Bosch, Henrik Drescher, Sigmund Polke, Karel Appel and Miro are all artists I really admire.
You can also find Bart here:
Welcome back! Our latest feature spotlights artist Sara Schalliol-Hodge from Lakewood, Colorado! Sara is “a designer by day and a printmaker, sawdust producer, and stuff-maker by night.” Read on to get to know Sara a little better, and CLICK HERE to go to her website, and HERE to go to her Etsy shop!
What about the printmaking process do you love the most, and more specifically, why linocuts?
I love printmaking because I love the ability to make multiples of my art. With so many forms of fine art, you can spend many, many hours creating the finished product, only to sell it just once and never see it again. And, often art can take so many hours to create that it can be very difficult to be able to charge a decent wage for all of the time you spent on it. All of that being said, buying a computer-printed art print doesn’t really appeal to me because it seems so far from being made by hand. With printmaking, each print is still made by hand and there are subtle variations in each print, so there is definitely evidence of the maker. It is hard work printing a woodcut or linocut all my hand, and I like to think that that energy can be somehow felt when viewing these prints. For me, printmaking seems to fit into a sweet spot of being affordable but still very handmade.
Many of your designs juxtapose the themes of nature and industry. Where do you get the inspirations for your designs and what about this juxtaposition interests you?
Nature vs. industry, or nature vs. man are themes I explored even in the art I created very early in my life. There is something so poetic about vines growing up and taking over an old car or building. I studied Industrial Design in college, and Industrial Design tends to involve mass-production, and therefore factories. It can be really strange to think about each thing you own and imagine the factory that produced it. This type of thought process made me think about how natural things are made, which is not quite in a factory…. but what if you think of nature itself as a factory? So this lead me to prints like Factory Whale, Love Factory, Salmon Factories, etc.
Also many of my prints display animals and “the hand of man” in one way or another. Like, quite literally in my print Spark:
But I also like to create prints that show animals having to survive in the world that man has modified, like City Lynx:
How has business been on Etsy and do you have any advice for blooming Etsian printmakers?
I was a very early Etsy seller and buyer and it has been interesting seeing Etsy become a website that non-artist-type people have actually heard of and shop from. My Etsy shop has changed a lot since the beginning. I used to sell wooden sculptures, jewelry displays, and chunky wooden jewelery, and now I sell only my printmaking. I have had several great opportunities come along because of my Etsy shop. Half of the brick and mortar galleries I sell at approached me from discovering my shop on Etsy, which is awesome! These days, my sales come mostly from brick and mortar galleries, and not Etsy. For me personally, sometimes it can be hard to sift through all of the shops on Etsy to find that special thing I’m looking for, but walking into a well-curated local shop usually lightens my wallet pretty easily.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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?
- 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.
You can also find Emily on her Facebook Fanpage: Emily Penso Fanpage
And her website: emilypenso.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can you give me a short background of yourself?
I don’t want to make myself out to be a special of any sort, but as far as I know, I am the only baby to have been delivered by a Pekin duck at the OB/GYN. It’s a rather remarkable story, considering hospital policies preventing animals from being in hospitals. But this duck was very career minded and a real go-getter.
I distinctly remember my first thought when I was born- “I’m not getting a job.” And I decided at that moment to become an illustrator. But becoming an illustrator right off the bat is not without obstacles; mainly the drooling and the diaper thing for the first few years. I have since overcome the drooling- it’s a problem that can easily be licked.
My childhood was quite unremarkable- I invented the color “Sleem”, which is mostly beige with cat hair. I wore plaid pants and shirts throughout the entire 5thGrade, (and was not beat up). In art class I spilled paint down the back of the pants of a fat girl with a yellow tooth, (and got beat up). And as that I am on the subject of art classes, I was quite fortunate to have a mother that was an extraordinarily talented artist. What she could not teach me, she provided private tutors, Art professors, to school me in the classical arts. Some music virtuosos are sitting at the piano bench at five tinkling out Chopin on the ivories, I was sketching still lifes of bowls of fruit. And by Providence and the talent I honed, I became an editorial cartoonist for a local newspaper when I was fourteen. This opportunity defined and shaped my future.
The next many, many years I did nothing but dedicate myself to dutifully cartooning and illustrating for panoplies of newspapers and advertising agencies. (Of course, I had bathroom breaks during that time.) One of the most important skills you learn in the newspaper and ad agency business is- meeting deadlines! Another, and if not more important skill you learn as a cartoonist is to be able to tell a joke, impart a political comment or tell a story in a single panel that can be understood by the 100,000 or more people a day who will see it.
Eventually, I became rather worn out from the industry and went on a long sabbatical. Somehow, through an odd chance meeting, I found myself in a very niche field of creating art to be sandblasted on glass that was installed in mega-yachts. After some time I grew tired, or bored of that, and decided to begin illustrating- for me; which is where I am at nowadays.
How would you describe your artwork?
I see myself as an illustrator. And as an illustrator, I tell stories. To describe what I produce is probably best defined as a perfectionist exercise in line and negative space with bits of watercolour.
Your work is so fantastical and full of narrative, every single piece I look at makes me want to know the story behind it. Where do your ideas and inspirations come from?
Hypnagogia is certainly the wellspring of many of the images and characters, I am overwhelmed, deluged I reckon, with imageries and creatures that seek to be birthed by my pen the next morning. Many of the ideas are born through doodling. And as they emerge onto the parchment I begin to know their disposition and story and I am deeply compelled to tell their history. No doubt I too was deeply influenced from rich the illustrations and engravings from the scores of old children’s books I profusely read as a youth.
Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators or artists?
My advice is very simple- stay away from puerile social commentary. I see so many young artists, (and too many older artists), that want to give an opinion on the “World Condition”. The only condition you should have any concern about is hair conditioner. Avoid drawing celebrities…there is only so many ways you can illustrate Marilyn Monroe or P-Diddy. And somebody has already drawn them better than you. But first, you must really know what it is you want to do with your art…your purpose behind the pen or paintbrush.
Are you working on any upcoming projects?
I am working on a manuscript, a children’s fairy tale of sorts, which I am in long process of writing and illustrating. It has taken me a while to remember…but my “purpose behind the pen and paintbrush” is to write and illustrate my own works.