Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob

It is my pleasure to introduce Ioana Iacob from Bucharest, Romania who creates small paintings on local reclaimed wood roof tiles. Her Etsy shop is filled with colorful paintings that are perfect for small spaces.

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

I have been dreaming of this all my life. Having grown up in a family where almost everybody was drawing and painting, art and colors have fascinated me since I was a little kid. Both my grandfathers painted and I loved the smell and feel of the painting studio. However, I always believed I was not good enough. Fast forward many years later, after finishing photography school and having had a few group exhibitions, I started believing in myself as an artist.

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

As I got older, I also realized that life is too short and that we should do what we love. Painting came easy, after I discovered acrylic painting. I could not stop painting after discovering the little wooden tiles I use as support for my mini paintings. I came across them when refurbishing my parents house, in the mountains. What are they? They are actually pieces of wood used for roofing houses, the traditional way, in some areas of Romania. They are hand carved by local craftsmen and nailed like pieces of puzzles to make a perfect cover for any house.

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

What is life like in Bucharest, Romania? Do you have any favorite spots you can recommend visitors?

Life in Bucharest is great. So is Romania. Do come to see for yourselves! I have lived in the city all my life, but rural life and Romanian traditions and country lifestyle have always attracted me. You can catch a glimpse of these by visiting Bucharest Village and Romanian Peasant Museums. There you can also see houses that have roofs tiled with small wooden tiles, like the ones I use for painting.

Where do you draw your inspiration and vibrant color schemes from? Why the use of wood?

I like living a simple life, enjoy spending time with my family. They and my friends are my main inspiration.

I also love the bright colors that bring life to the wood, make it more animated. Each small painted wooden tile can sparkle up any room.

 Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of ArtInterview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

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

The laughter of my three children is music to my ears and the one I listen to every time I paint. In the rare moments they are asleep, I like to listen to classical music or turn on the radio.

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

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

Plans for the future? I have read that you become a real artist after you have painted 1000 pictures. I have yet to reach that number and call myself a true artist :). I also dream of my own studio with a garden, where I can paint under the sun.

Interview with Romanian Painter Ioana Iacob: Transforming Traditional Romanian Roof Tiles Into Works of Art

You can like and follow Ioana on Facebook to stay updated on her latest tile paintings!

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Interview with Russian Artist Anastasia Cherepneva: Inspired By Nature

Today’s interview features Russian artist Anastasia Cherepneva, who lives in Moscow and primarily sells on Redbubble, Shutterstock, and does freelance work for Russian publishers and universities.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your development into a graphic artist and illustrator, and where you draw your inspiration from?

I’m an illustrator and graphic designer. Sometimes I sew, knit or felt toys and make dolls. I like to travel and draw northern nature. I used to draw and create things since my childhood. I attended art school, but later decided to be an engineer. I graduated technical university, but didn’t stop drawing. I can’t imagine my life without creation, so I attended some art courses and now work for different freelance projects connected with education. I draw my inspiration from nature: I like to travel, walk in the forest, visit botanical gardens and observe animals and birds.

 

What does the process look like for creating your nature illustrations?

When it’s possible I prefer to work in the open air, not in studio. I like daylight for watercolor works, so most of my works were made during my travels.

Are you working on any new and exciting projects (or have you, recently)? What have been some of your favorite freelance gigs?

 I’ve just finished big project that I’ve been working on for half a year. It’s a handmade book about travelling to Svalbard (Spitsbergen, Norway) last year. I think some of illustrations from it soon will appear on Redbubble.

What has your experience been like selling on Redbubble? Do you sell your work on any other platforms?

Selling on Redbubble is great thing. It was my dream to make something useful out of my drawings: postcards, bags, pillows, etc.  I’m so happy that I can realize my dream on Redbubble. I also try to sell my work on Pinkbus.ru, a Russian print shop.

Nature painting sticker

Do you listen to music while you create, and if so, what are some of your current favorites songs/artists?

I’m not used to listening to music when I draw, but for inspiration I listen to folk or rock music.
My favourite band is “Orgia Pravednikov“, a Russian folk-rock musical group.

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Contemporary Abstract Artist Melissa Mary Jenkins: Small Business and The Creative Design Process

I am pleased to introduce abstract artist Melissa Mary Jenkins, a 2016 Etsy Awards Finalist based in Erin, Canada. Please visit her shop at melissamaryjenkins.etsy.com. In the following interview she discusses the creative design process related to her abstract contemporary art paintings and her small business on Etsy.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and the development of your artistic style?

I was a high school teacher for several years before I began painting. I would say that I was always a creative person, from a musical and artistic family, but I didn’t begin painting till about 10 years ago. A good friend of mine and a very talented artist @kylahkussmannart began painting with me to help guide me through the loss of a pregnancy. I was immediately hooked on the magical feeling that arises from being the sole creative force behind creating a piece of art. I feel as though I progress daily in my artistic style but I struggle between the ease of creating abstract floral paintings and the freedom that abstract painting provides. I love interior design and how art can enhance and “complete” the look of a room.

Do you use any kind of reference for your abstract pieces?

I often try and picture my abstract art in a room in my home. The colours of blankets, pillows and plants in specific rooms will often inspire my paintings. I live in an old stone farm house surrounded by farm fields, a pond and ever-changing gardens which also influence my colour choices. We spend most of our summers up North on a lake, so my paintings often tend to take on the vibrant colours of the lake and trees in the summer months. Instagram also plays a huge role in providing inspiration for my paintings. I live with a chronic illness and often don’t venture out into the world as much as I would like to, so following artists, interior design feeds and travel photography on Instagram helps to spark my creative juices and be connected to a fabulous support network of artists.

Can you tell me a little bit about your mudcloth paintings and the process that goes into creating them?

My mudcloth paintings were sparked by the desire to provide a more affordable alternative to the typical (and gorgeous) mudcloth pillow or tapestry. I wanted to be able to incorporate the mudcloth trend in a unique way.

I was first attracted to mud cloth because it creates a touch of boho with handmade whispers of the clean geometric lines of a modern aesthetic. But when I started to research the process of creating this traditional Malian textile, I was drawn even more to the idea that each symbol creates a story that is meant to be interpreted and that it was believed that the mud cloth had the ability to absorb powerful negative experiences. As I create each piece, I think of my story that brought me to this artistic destination. I suffer from a chronic illness, but when I am able to create, I like the idea that the work of art can absorb my pain and dashed hopes and create a story of beauty.

Are you working on any new projects? How has your experience with Etsy and your buyers been?

I am currently working on a large floral commission and when I need a “break” I am creating mini abstracts inspired by all of my house plants and terra cotta planters mixed with my love of indigo blue and a pop of blush pink. I have been selling artwork on Etsy for about 5 years and all of my experiences with customers have been amazing. All of my commissions have been positive experiences and I am yet to experience a disgruntled customer. I was honoured to be a 2016 Etsy Awards Finalist, my work was featured in a collaboration by @houseandhomemag and @EtsyCA this spring, and I have been selected to be featured on @EtsyCA social media channels in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Etsy has provided me with a platform to sell my artwork without having to leave my home (except to mail the artwork), which works for my energy level and family responsibilities.

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Artist Interview With Nessa Ryan

It is my pleasure to introduce the wonderful Nessa Ryan from Tel Aviv, Israel ~ visit her Etsy shop at nessaryandesign.etsy.com.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your shop, and your creative process (materials, thought process, etc)?

“I studied fine art and specifically sculpture in Ireland and also Rotterdam. After graduating I moved to New York and started to paint. I worked as an interior decorator and muralist and had my own art studio. I exhibited and performed with my band in many venues and galleries. I had a child and moved to Tel Aviv, where I started primarily to illustrate. I currently work as a children’s book illustrator and exhibit my illustrations. I work with paper, paint, ink, pen, markers..anything really. If I work on a book it is a collaboration, a dance of sorts, where sometimes the image takes the lead and at other times the text does. When I work on my own illustrations, my inspiration comes from everywhere..movies, poetry, books, memories etc. I love the meditation and process of creating an image , the excitement of colour and mystery of line. It is a wonderful world to be apart of. I joined Etsy to get a larger audience and try my hand at attempting to run a small business, I am afraid I am not a very business minded person, and have little time for marketing and promoting my shop, but every now and then I make contact with someone through the store and I find that valuable enough to keep my shop open.”

Where does your inspiration come from for the content of your work? Can you tell me a little bit about how your content and style work together?

“As I mentioned above, my inspiration comes from everywhere, I collect images in my head from just being awake ( and actually dreams are a pretty good source of inspiration, too). I do not like to take photos , so I suppose I consciously memorize something and know that it will appear if needed when I work. Most things evoke some sort of emotive response, and if not then an intellectual one. It is interesting to play with this and see where the idea decides to land.”

Is there any significance behind the oval shape that you use as a kind of frame for your illustrations?

“I wanted a free floating image, I think it seems less restrictive – it’s like an atom or a cell..it has its own energy/story in an infinite space (the page being the infinite space). The confines of the page size are irrelevant , as the page just becomes part of everything else around it. However, I am not loyal to any format, so things can change.”

Are you currently working on any new art projects?

“I am have almost finished my latest book, I am very excited about it, it was a collaboration between my friend and I. It is a Hebrew alphabet book, each letter is given a poem or a story, the writing is fantastic, it is philosophical, funny and sentimental, both kids and parents will enjoy the read. I found illustrating it to be a joy, as the text was so inspiring and free – children’s books can be so ‘safe’ this days and lack a juicy text, so it is rare to have this much fun illustrating.”

What is life like as an artist in Israel?

“I think it is the same as anywhere else. Life as an artist is intellectually and emotionally stimulating and financially devastating. If you are inferring that because of the occupation and violence here, then it maybe different, and it depends where you live.  I live in Tel Aviv and I am Irish, so I can focus on raising my child and work.  If I were a Palestinian living in Gaza or the West Bank, I would still be trying to raise my child and work, but on top of that I would have to deal with the ongoing brutal occupation. It is, for sure, a very uneven and unfair reality here.”

Nessa Ryan’s Etsy shop: nessaryandesign.etsy.com

 

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Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart

“The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or a task —when a craftsman feels lost in his craft, when a naturalist feels at one with nature, when a believer feels at one with God’s love. That is what the unconscious mind hungers for. And many of us feel it in love when lovers feel fused.”

~David Brooks

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart

It is my pleasure to introduce Deborah Anne Corr from the Modestly Etsy shop. Her artist book inspired by Joseph Cornell inspired me to then interview her for the blog. Please make sure to give her shop some love!

Can you tell me a little bit about your work making artist books and where you draw your inspiration? When did you learn how to make artist books?

The quest of living our lives well is the inevitable journey each individual must take. It is the perpetual drive to retain the mystery and magic in a world that is sometimes inhumane, hostile. Sometimes life becomes almost unbearable in the moment. I have struggled to maintain my equilibrium in different phases of mine – my early twenties working in a pressurized commercial environment, my early thirties becoming a parent, my early forties learning to live with the loss of a marriage and forging a new future.

Since I was a child I have had a curiosity about how to live well. To me this is the question that philosophy tries to answer. And philosophers are interesting, but so are poets and gurus, and business leaders. Curiosity is the spring board to doing something, whatever it may be, it is about the opportunity to dig deeper, to investigate. The process of making my books chose me really. I have loved mining the minds of past thinkers – and current ones too – I think in an attempt to understand more about how to be human. That seems strange, since being human should surely be the most natural of processes. I don’t find that, I find it discombobulating, I look at behavior to learn from it. I know now I am not alone in that feeling of alienation from my own species, and writers and artists taught me that. I learnt from my early life that being a career girl disassociated me from what is most important to me. So I stopped.

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart
A special friend who shared a lot of life with me when we were young parents once handed me a present of a handmade blank folded book. That started me off. I looked at this little piece of created loveliness, and wanted to fill it with something beautiful. I have it still – and it is still blank – I haven’t yet found its story. But it projected me into a new arena of creating, my book making journey had begun. All trial and error – I love to learn by doing, so I just made lots of books. Then family asked me to make them and I considered selling them. I had sold cards at craft fairs, but felt the books would get over handled – so I opened a shop with Etsy, and was thrilled when I made a sale! Then I found more encouragement when I went to a local Etsy meeting, and discovered teams, which opened up the Etsy platform. I find many of my customers are from the U.S.A and that amazes me.

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart
One of my greatest pleasures in life is creating. To find yourself living that flow of easy ‘being’ when the mind and the body are occupied has to be the up there with the best things. I don’t care who you are, or what you have – this is the experience that tops status, recognition, fan appeal. It is really playing – and we in the Western hemisphere have somehow forgotten that play is how we began, and how children learn best. Learn to play, and you learn how to live well. Creating anything, from a cupcake to a spreadsheet, from a poem to an engine, is about that engagement of you with something else. And alchemy happens.

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart
Every time I send something out into the world because a customer has ordered it, I get a frisson of excitement. Will they love it? Often I am lucky enough to get amazing comments and always feel incredibly grateful that someone has bothered to do that. I create in a very humble and small way – but it means something.

Can you give me some background information on the Cornell Book and what the creative process was like? What kinds of materials and processes did you use?

Joseph Cornell, the New Yorker, was a genius at bringing together ephemera, and producing assemblage art in a time when the genre wasn’t really considered art. A collector extraordinaire, inspired by the surrealists and dedicated to the care of his brother whom he cared for and who sadly died early from his condition of cerebral palsy, this gentleman produced items that inspired a new generation of artists and writers, and well, just people. His work inhabits the hinterland between the reality we live in, and the dreams we have, the inner realities that can sustain and sometimes seem more meaningful than the exterior lives we lead. And that is why I love him. And that love propelled me to produce my own small tribute to him. A mixture of images from some of his work mixed with my own journeys into unreality.

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart

Are you working on anything new and exciting in the near future?

Am I working on something new – always!! Work is what propels me, but much of it is done in the background of my life. I continue to read, consume new information and to look. Staying curious is how I work and sometimes there are periods when all the productivity is hidden – nothing to show. I know that is just a period of gestation. I don’t consciously pick my subjects, they arrive. Questions arise in my mind and I research, or a customer asks me to produce a book on a subject I have given no consideration to – that’s how my book celebrating dogs came about. I have always loved sharing my life with my dogs, and it came very easily to me! Virginia Woolf was a subject given to me by a customer – she had wanted the Bloomsbury set but Virginia was louder than them! She arrived in my head and wouldn’t leave for quite some time.

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart

I don’t make myself create a book from a subject, unless I am working to create an order. It is a sort of sideline to my more structured daily routine of illustration, where I try to make something of a contribution to living costs! I try to create something everyday for uploading onto my sites where I sell printed on demand product ranges – its practice, and some are more successful than others, my books are my indulgence really. I suppose like knitting for relaxation, they bring me to a different part of me, where I dream a little. I like the physicality of making something that has form – so much of my day is spent digitally on the p.c. I really wish I could enjoy the world of the kitchen, allowing my creativity to blossom there, but unfortunately for me and la famille, I tolerate cooking. Just. I love the part when I get to make the covers – each book is different, and I like playing with different materials, reclaimed mostly because I love the history of objects. I even like the packaging of my books, and I often finish the order by making it a slipcase, simply because I want to go on with the creation of something wonderful to open. Like treasure. I like adding beads, or textiles.

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart
I am very interested in the past and one of my gestating projects is to produce a ‘girdle book’ , in the manner of a small book of thoughts, daily motivations worn hanging from the waist on a cord. I want to do a sort of modern day version of that.

Artist Interview with Deborah Anne Corr from Modestly - learn about her beautiful handmade books and ephemera projects. #handmadebooks #bookbinding #ephemera #mixedmediaart

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Skillshare has some great classes on bookbinding – check these out if you’d like to make your own!

Alphabet Accordion Handmade Journal Class

Alphabet Accordion Handmade Journal Class - expand your #bookbinding skills! #skillshare #handmadebooks #accordionbooks

Click here to take this class

Bookbinding: Make a Coptic Stitch Book 

Bookbinding: Make a Coptic Stitch Book #skillhare #classes #bookbinding Click here to take this class

Bookbinding Basics: Making a Perfect Bound Notebook

Bookbinding Basics: Making a Perfect Bound Notebook #skillshare #handmadebooks #bindyourownbooks #bookbinding #learnbookbindingClick here to take this class

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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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New Mexico Artist Christy Schwathe

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Today I’m pleased to introduce artist Christy Schwathe from New Mexico. Her work and story inspires me, and I hope it will inspire you as well!

Can you tell me a little about your background and interests? What’s life like in New Mexico?

I grew up living on the second story of an old house, in a small town in Colorado, where my parents ran a restaurant on the first floor surrounded by vegetable and flower gardens. It was an interesting and busy childhood with days filled with different people and projects and nights falling asleep with the muffled sounds of silverware clattering and delicious smells drifting upstairs. Besides being influenced by the hard work and creativity of my parents, I surrounded myself with artists, both in my family and the community. I figured out early that the restaurant business was way too much work and making art sounded way more fun. Eventually, I ended up earning my degree in art at UNM in Albuquerque, NM, falling in love with printmaking and focusing on that as well as drawing. In the years since school, I’ve worn many hats, all of them creative. I’ve spent time working in art supply stores, printing clothing and t shirts, managing a small open press and for a while I had a small business sewing bags and accessories out of recycled materials before coming back to making my art full time.

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When I found my way to New Mexico, it instantly just felt like home, and I’ve been in the state ever since. New Mexico is a unique place, perhaps a bit rough around the edges but filled with the traditions and histories of many different cultures that make this financially poor place feel so rich in other aspects. There is an inherent creativity here, mostly brought about by necessity, that seems to magically turn everyone into an artist of some sort. Beyond the cultural richness, the creativity, the sunshine and the natural beauty of the place the thing that always made it feel like home to me is how friendly people are here. New Mexico is the kind of place where strangers will not only say hello to you, but will end up sharing their life story with you while you pass the time waiting in line somewhere. Having gotten so used to this friendly, laid-back style, I’m not sure if I could ever get used to being anywhere else.

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For the time being, I am living in the tiny village of Costilla, north of Taos with my partner, Bradley Sleep, also an artist and a silversmith, and a handful of cats. Here, you are more likely to hear Spanish being spoken than English and humans are far outnumbered by the elk, coyote and rattlesnakes, inhabited homes outnumbered by long abandoned, adobe structures slowly melting back into the earth. It is a bit lonely and harsh around here, despite being beautiful, which I find alternately frustrating and inspiring. When I’m not working in my little studio, I stay busy with my other obsessions, sewing, knitting, small scale farming, and cooking (oh how I miss the convenience of take out). And when we find rare moments of time to do something else, Bradley and I head out into the valley to explore and do a bit of rock hounding or up into the mountains for some hiking or camping.

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Many of your pieces combine the female figure or portrait with elements from nature, or are devoid of any context and are simply a portrait. What kind of inspiration do you draw on when creating these?

I’ve always been drawn to the human form as a means of communicating emotion and I tend to gravitate towards female subjects simply because, being female myself, I relate more strongly to them. The inspiration for my subject matter comes directly from my own life, living in a solitary space and surrounded by almost nothing but nature. I think the solitary nature of many of my pieces also speaks to what I see as a trend of people feeling more alone and isolated in our current society. It seems to me that most of us suffer from feeling disconnected, from each other and from nature, and so my own personal experience relates more abstractly to humanity as a whole. I also draw on the sense of strength and independence I see in the people of this area, where people dig their heels in, work hard against the elements and adversity and emerge even stronger on the other side.

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What’s the process like of creating one of your mixed media works? How did you develop such a unique style?

My mixed media pieces seem to surface from the refuse of my life. I have an annoying habit of not wanting to throw anything away and tend to keep and collect little scraps of paper, fabric, xeroxed copies of found things, old books, words and sentences cut from magazines, anything that interests me visually, conceptually or texturally. Seeking inspiration, I’ll start dumping all these bits and pieces out, fumbling through them until I find something I feel I have to use and starting with piecing together a background of sorts. Often, I am wondering what would this or that look like mixed with this or that and maybe with this on top, so I try it and see where it goes. For example, with my ransom poem paintings, I start with a background, then work on painting an image (typically a figure or portrait) on top and end with piecing together the poem, seeking words and phrases that reinforce the emotion I’m hoping to convey while at the same time keeping it all somewhat cryptic, I never want it to lose all sense of mystery.

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My style tends to shift around a bit as I grow and learn as an artist, and I quickly get bored with doing the same thing over and over. I think my style stays unique through it all because that’s just the way it comes out, that’s just the way my hands and my eyes and my brain communicate with one another. There are an infinite number of things to draw and paint and an infinite number of ways to draw or paint them, but no matter how I approach a piece and expect it to turn out it always seems to come out looking like something I made, even when my original intentions are quite different than the finished art.

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How has business been on Etsy so far? Do you have any goals for the business or any upcoming projects that you’re working on?

Sales through my Etsy store seem to come in waves, I’ll have good months and bad months and it provides a supplemental income for me that adds to my sales through my local gallery in Taos, Taos Artisan’s Gallery, and direct sales of my art. Being able to have an online store through Etsy has really allowed me to reach out, from my little isolated chunk of the planet, to the rest of the world and share and sell my art to people who never would have seen it otherwise, so priceless for those of us living in rural areas.

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The latest addition to my little business was the purchase of a really nice printer and a fancy schmancy camera which, after learning how to use both of them, have allowed me to make high quality, archival prints from my originals. These days, I’ve been working on a lot of time consuming, original oil paintings that I sell through my gallery. I love investing so much in each piece, but I realize that it often puts them in a price range that is unattainable for many people. The fact that I can now make prints to order at affordable prices makes me feel like more people can get their hands on my art and I’ve been working on adding more and more prints to my store.

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My long and short term goals are pretty simple and pretty much the same… every single day I get to keep working on my art is a small success!

Make sure to like Christy’s Facebook page and check her out on Etsy!

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Sara Schalliol-Hodge : Designer & Maker of Things

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Also many of my prints display animals and “the hand of man” in one way or another. Like, quite literally in my print Spark:

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But I also like to create prints that show animals having to survive in the world that man has modified, like City Lynx:

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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.

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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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