The Vibrant Paintings of Melbourne Based Artist Christine of Bellablackbird

I’m excited to introduce Christine from the Bellablackbird Etsy shop. Christine is based in Melbourne, Australia. You can follow her blog at bellablackbird.blogspot.com.au, as well as her Instagram and Pinterest.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What is life like in Melbourne, Australia?

I originally came from England where I worked with children under five. In the early nineties, my family and I made a life changing decision to emigrate to Australia. I always had a strong interest in art so began to study both visual art and illustration full-time. Digital media was amazing to learn as it is so versatile, combining textures, painting and Photoshop effects and brushes to make illustrations is so creative and flexible.



Where do you draw your inspiration and vibrant color schemes from?

Painting is another part of who I am. I’m inspired by nature and the vibrant landscapes and the intense colour of Australia. I’m influenced by visual aspects but I usually start a painting without a defined composition and keep layering until I’m happy, my paintings are often very abstract in style.



What materials and mediums do you enjoy working with? Do you have any specific brands that you can tout?

I paint with acrylic paint and really love the Ampersand boards as a surface. I recently returned to creating softer work with watercolour on paper which is fun to do, using Arches Cotton Rag 300gsm thickness and Holbein paints.

We live in a small coastal town and have a large garden full of native birds, which I often paint in watercolour. It’s very peaceful but different to Melbourne which has a vibrant arts community. I enjoy visiting the designer’s craft markets in the city and buy the handmade jewellery, ceramics and bags.



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

I do love to listen to music while working and my tastes change all the time. My favourite musicians at the moment are David Bowie, Coldplay and Florence and the Machine. Being a child of the sixties I also love Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen.


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

I don’t have large goals but I’m focused on constantly adding new work to my Etsy shop. I’m also learning how to block print and have a couple of projects in mind. My social media always needs lots of work and I’m thinking of starting a new website.

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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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Don’t forget to check out Stacy’s website and subscribe to The Art Spectrum for more artist interviews!

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Artist Interview with Sally Welchman from Mogg Shop

I’m excited to introduce Sally Welchman from Mogg Shop on Etsy!

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

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

Why the use of reclaimed wood?

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


What are your sources of inspiration?

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

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

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

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

What is life like as an artist in Brighton?

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

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

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Artists’ Books on Etsy

For those of you who may not know what an artist book is, be my guest in explaining them! Each one is unique, sometimes made in editions like prints, sometimes “printed” by a press, other times not, cataloged in the library like books with a call number, often displayed in museums as art objects behind glass – each one may look, feel, or even sound different from the next (queue Keith Smith’s string book).

A few brave and creative souls have started selling their artists’ books on Etsy. I found these recently and thought I’d share!

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Butterflies from TheMuseumShelves

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Night from SignOfTheLadybug

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Nachtmahr Box from buechertiger

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Miniature Black Artist Book from PegandAwl

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Book of Nonexistent Animals from HandmadeBook

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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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Handmade Eco-Friendly Brooches from Dariakash

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Good morning everyone! Today’s artist interview is between myself and Dariaka from the Etsy shop DariakashDariaka’s shop is based in Prague, Czech Republic, and she loves to create fun, eco-friendly brooches from recycled material.

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How did you become inspired to make your mixed media and papier-mache brooches?

All my life I’ve always loved to sew, glue, cut, and invent new things. I always liked to embody my ideas in something created by my hands. As a child I sewed clothes for dolls, and invented houses and furniture for them. Then I began to sew for myself, to alter my mother’s old clothes or stuff I bought from a second hand shop. I loved to make original accessories for myself – earrings, necklaces, rings, but most of all I loved to make brooches. My friends wondered why I would make such interesting things for myself and not sell them, but I did not even think it was possible. I had another profession at the time – I was a sound engineer and always had a lot of work, and never time for anything else.

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Despite lack of time,  I always dreamed that my accessories would be worn by other people. Finally one day I met someone in the street that wanted one of my brooches. I clearly realized that I must change my life and do what I wanted to realize my dreams. It was then that I went to another country, began to paint, changed my profession (now I study film animation) and began to make brooches.

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Why mixed media? Because I have always loved trifles – beads, buttons, badges, pieces of fabric. As a child I brought whole pockets, wrappers, pins, stones, most of which I found on the street. Now I am always out at flea markets. I’ve got the idea to connect all these little things in my brooches. A perfect base for me is papier-mache, because it seems to me alive, in contrast with plastic. At the same time this technique is very affordable if you compare it with something like ceramics, which requires a roasting oven.

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What kinds of materials inspire you the most?

I am most inspired by paper and papier-mache, which gives me a kind of artistic freedom that I love. I can make beauty from nothing – there is always an empty egg box, from which I make sculpting bases for brooches- there are always old newspapers or magazines, with which I can paint on or make collages on brooches with.

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What kind of process do you go through in order to create one of your brooches?

For me it’s important to just sit down at the table and start working. To begin to sculpt, to spread out all the scraps I have, to put all the beads in front of me, to open magazines, to start to cut eyes, boots, hands – and then the ideas come – all the pieces begin to connect. Even when I have a concrete idea and I clearly imagine the brooch I want to make, thought the process it always becomes something else because suddenly I see a button that I like, or paints will mix to another color, and then I’ll choose another fabric, and decide that the bird will not have jeans but a shirt.
I do not believe in waiting for inspiration, to me it never came just spontaneously. I am confident that I must work and always look for inspiration, and then only through the process are my ideas born.

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Can you talk a little bit about the eco-friendly aspect of your brooches?

Once long ago I watched a documentary about how our planet is already overcrowded by garbage, which influenced me very much. After that I did not hurry to throw out old stuff. If I did not like my jeans anymore, I would alter them into a skirt – if a chair was broken, I would made a shelf from it. So it is with my brooches – I just don’t throw out the old buttons and beads, magazines and newspapers, the remains of fabric after reworking a dress. With these materials I make a completely new and different thing that brings me joy – a new brooch.

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I also try not use any chemical additives when working. Paper pulp, from which I make the basis for my brooches, consists of egg boxes, wheat flour, potato starch and water – that is all! I also use a non-toxic glue and paint. I had the idea to combine the stained glass technique with papier-mache, but because of the presence of lead in solder and toxicity of pastes for soldering I abandoned the idea.
Of course what I do is but a drop in the ocean, but I believe that every little bit helps.

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Make sure to visit Dariakash on Etsy and follow her below!

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instagram

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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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