Thursday, January 31, 2008

I can't help it....

In the bleak midwinter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, Long ago.

Christina Rosetti


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Today's interview is with Tammy at Idea Girl
and Light Crayon

Tammy tell us about yourself

Tall (but realized at my doctor's visit that I'm shrinking - so semi-tall)
Hate Socks.

How long have you been blogging and what made you decide to start a blog?

Well. That's an interesting question. In blogger years I'm 14 months old. In dog years I'm 280.

I'm generally attached to my when I noticed blogs in general I started paying attention. Around the same time my mother took me to a quilting store and I was STUNNED by the colors. I immediately started learning all I could about quilting -- but it took me six months (or more...slow learner) to realize that it wasn't QUILTING that I liked -- God I hate sewing -- if a button falls off my shirt I throw it away (what was I thinking?!) -- it was the color and patterns...from there I evolved into photography -- but not before I did collaging, paper scrapbooking and knitting. It was an evolution. The entire sordid process was documented on the Ideagirl blog. That was the start of it.

Then...I got bored writing about crafts -- I realized I was never going to be one of "those girls" who have perfect crafts...perfect lives...perfect blogs...I realized pretty early on that I was missing an opportunity to really COMPLAIN and WHINE -- something I try not to do too much at home ::laughing:: - so my blog became the place I'd go to really be myself. And it went from there.

I find your blog very entertaining; you have a great sense of humor. I am assuming that comes from your Viking ancestry, what do you think?

Well. Hmmm...yes I'm sure the Vikings were hilarious in between all the pillaging they were doing -- so I'm sure that humor descended directly from that line...or Thor. I can't decide. Well. Yes I can. I choose Thor. And yes, I'm insisting on lumping Thor in with Vikings because it works for me.

Exactly how many blogs do you have?

That's extremely classified information. But...okay for No six. But some I don't write in anymore. Oh crap. I lied. Seven. But one very active and two less active right now. I use blogs to test out ideas -- some work better than others.

You often mention "The SO" in your blog, what exactly or who exactly is "The SO"?

Hahaha. This is not the first time this has come up. The SO is my Significant Other....or Slimy Ox if you prefer that. The man I live with. Not married. Engaged for six years with no plans to really get married.

It took me months to figure that out, so, I thought you should clarify for other readers. (I love you d -- but you are *SO* slow. ::laughing:: Now that's funny!)

You are very candid when you post on your blog, has this ever caused you any trouble?

I'm actually not as candid as I could be -- the really wild stuff goes into my password protected blog. (Which I swore to my mother does not exist.) And...truth be told...I'm very careful not to tie my name to my more candid blogs. When you google my name -- my blog doesn't come up at all -- and that's very deliberate on my part. And my SO doesn't know about the blog either -- which is also deliberate. I just needed somewhere that I could really just write. But I wouldn't be ashamed of anything I've written in any of my posts should he read it someday -- because he was there and he knows and downs. But eventually I decided to put a password on the blog I really was candid in -- so I could control who had access and who didn't. Not because I was worried about scary people, but because I didn't want my mother to read some of the things I wanted to write about. Y'all know how that is, right? ::grin::

So...No. No trouble. I've always been very conscious that my mother read my public blog. So it is definitely censored. And sometimes...I might have a wee bit of a tendency to exaggerate. I'm sure you've never noticed though.

Have you ever had any "unsavory" or "weird" comments left on your blog after a post?

Actually, I have to say no. Maybe one single time -- but I emailed the girl back right away and got into an interesting conversation that turned out to be very cool. I may be open about my own life -- but I don't think I'm controversial -- so no flamers luckily.

Are you still addicted to Craigslist?

Yes. We renovated our entire kitchen from the studs out through Craigslist. The whole project cost under $6,500. I'm proud of that. I love Craigslist. But I am not as crazy about it as I was when I first started...I've refined my process down to a science now. The SO, however, recently discovered it -- and has been buying weird stuff. The good part of that is that he doesn't complain about anything I buy anymore. ::heh::

And what did you ever do with all the Ladies Home Journal and the Home Companion magazines that were acquired through Craiglist? Weren't there hundreds?

I'm going to come over there and poke you for bringing that up! ::laughing:: In my defense -- they were purchased when I was doing a lot of collaging -- remember that? So I was using a lot of magazines and stuff. So...the truth is I have a TON of magazines -- and no idea what to do with them right now. If anyone wants them -- let me know. Pay the shipping and they are yours. ::end of desperate sales pitch::

Your talent as a photographer has really grown since I started to read your blog. Have you always been interested in photography?

Yes. I took photography in college -- and -- wait for it -- hated it. My boyfriend at the time took the pictures I submitted for my final project. I'm not proud of that. Later when I was in my early thirties (yep. I'm old) my interest grew. I bought a killer (at the time) camera and a great lens and it kind of went from there. But the last year has been when I've really been focusing on learning everything I can and growing as an artist and photographer. I love those two words together. Love.

What did it feel like when you got your first real photo "gig"?

Truthfully? I was sick to my stomach with fear. My first solo wedding? Vomitous. Is that a real word? Probably not. It's something you have to go through however. You have to screw up and hate things and have things not work -- that's the only way to learn. I was scared but I did it anyway. And I'm still nervous before every shoot. I just want everyone to have fun and love their images. So far so good. ::knock on wood::

Has photography given you more independence? If so, in what way?

Well -- I've always been extremely independent -- so that hasn't changed much. Photography has made me poorer. ::grin:: All the equipment and software and computer stuff...I'm like a kid in a candy store when it comes to getting cool stuff! This is my dream profession -- there's always more cool stuff to do, learn, think about and buy!

What photography has given me is ... me. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. I found my voice through my blog and my photographs -- in fact -- it's because of my blog that I started taking more interesting photographs. Isn't that cool? Since I turned 40 it's been very important to me to really figure out who I am and to not be afraid of that or what people will say. I love showing others what I see -- because it turns out that not everyone sees things the way I do -- and that's been really freeing for me. I've gathered a totally hip and cool group of people around me both locally and through blogging. People who like me for ME and who get who I am. I don't think you always get that in your hometown.

So photography has been very powerful for me.

What can we expect from idea girl in 2008????

Well -- I've hooked up with another photographer who is HOT -- and am working with him through the next wedding season -- I'm stoked about that -- already I've got 20 weddings on my calendar! I'm excited to learn and develop that style -- because I LOVE the emotion and vibe of those days. Everyone is beautiful and happy and looking their best! A photography dream! :)

And I've just committed to doing a 52 week self portrait project -- which I will be blogging about. Anyone care to join me?

So...the short term answer is -- I have no idea what to expect in 2008. I'm hoping it will be FANTASTIC -- and that I'll really spread my wings in my new business. I'm still working the kinks out of my website ( so if you're really bored -- stop over and shoot me an email about what you like and don't like...but only if you're really really bored. ::grin::

Thanks Denise, for the inspirations and fun questions! Love you girl!

tammy swales
Light Crayon Photography

live *love *laugh *light

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Please stop by this site

This is my friend's photo site. There are some really beautiful photos here. Check them out, you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday morning at 10am-""freezun A" outside

What do you do in North Idaho when it is 12 degrees and you have 4ft of snow??

Duh!! Dog Keg Pull!!!!!!!!!

lost in the snow

Friday, January 18, 2008

Leighanna from Thingmaker is our interview today.
What is your art back ground (if you didn't answer this while telling us about yourself)

Let's see, I took an oil painting class with a creepy old guy for a year when I was a kid & to this day I still can't stand the smell of oil paint!
I attended college, four years of fine arts & photography, but I left 3 credits shy of getting my degree.
But, you know I really feel that the most significant education came from short workshops & one on one mentoring, along with simply making art everyday.
Some of my most memorable workshops were...
a week long photo workshop w/ Brett Weston in Hawaii before he died. (Well, obviously it was before he died, if it were after he died, it would have been REALLY memorable!)
a private paper-making workshop w/ Judy Hatfield that I took on & off for several years in the early 90's.
A short little bookbinding classes w/ Albie Smith in Medford Oregon. Meeting Albie changed my life, she's the one who first talked me into teaching, I wouldn't be teaching if it weren't for her...
Oh & Nina Bagley. It was the first class that I ever took at an art retreat, & I absolutely loved it. She was so sweet & real & I remember thinking that I could teach too if I didn't have to be perfect! I suppose that could be taken as an insult but it is meant as the highest compliment, I so appreciate people who are real.
And finally, a class that I took with Misty Mawn last year. I found out exactly what it must feel like to be on crack, I was so high & into what I was doing, I didn't think I could stop! At first I was talking to the people who shared my table, but at some point I stopped & forgot all about them! All I have to do is look at one of the FIVE pieces that I made in her class & memories of that wonderful day come flooding back.

Do you think that "art retreats" have a positive or negative affect on artists?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but definitely positive. I wouldn't be teaching there if I didn't believe that.
My very first art retreat was the most amazing experience of my life, so many like minded people in one place. Being surrounded by so much creative energy was absolutely life changing for me. Somehow, it gave me permission to be a "real" artist & I've been on this path ever since.

Tell us a little about yourself

Oh, you mean who am I? Well, that’s the big question that I'm determined to answer in 2008, I've got 353 days to go!
OK, first the facts (mamma), I was adopted, grew up in a small town in upstate New York, & lived in a plastic bubble for 12 years. (That's how I refer to being extremely overprotected.)
When I was around 12, I was raped. After that, the magic of hormones kicked in & all hell broke loose. I spent 3 years rebelling, & finally left home for good at the ripe old age of 15. I spent the next 3 years floundering around, & then finally went to college & settled down some, not much, but some! 3 credits shy of graduating; I went on a road trip with a group of photographers. We drove from NY to CA & lived in Yosemite national park for the summer.
In Yosemite I met a guy, almost married him & moved to Monterey. For the next 5 years, my life pretty much fell apart again... (I won't go into detail, but I will say that I could have been on Oprah!!!) Anyway, I ended up in Albuquerque after experiencing my first (and last) earthquake & I have been living here ever since, except for the 3 years that I lived in Medford Oregon.

But none of that is who I am, that's a list of my experiences. If I had to sum up my life experiences, I would say that it's been a wild wild ride, I've been through some incredible challenges, & sometimes I can't even believe that I'm still alive or sane!!!

Right after you asked this question, I received this email from my mom about my astrological sign....
AQUARIUS - The Sweetheart ~ (Jan 20 - Feb 18)
Optimistic (except when I'm being pessimistic!)
Sweet personality (used to be that...then I turned 40!!!!).
Very independent. Inventive and intelligent. Friendly and loyal. (OK, I'll accept that)
Can seem emotional...(boy is that an understatement!)
Can be a bit rebellious. Very stubborn, but original and unique. Eccentric personality. (yup!)

First & foremost, I am a recovering perfectionist...(that's why it's taken me a month to answer these questions, I didn't have time to do it perfectly, so I didn't do it at all!) Some months are better than others!
I've spent my entire life trying to find my voice. I complicate the hell out of everything & have the hardest time keeping anything simple (including my artwork). My number is three. My mission in life is to achieve balance & I'm attracted to small men with facial hair. Ewweeee, that sounds REALLY creepy, short men (not terribly short) w/ beards, is that better?
I am extremely independent & rebellious, & will probably never have a regular job or get married.
(Right now I am in LOVE with this boy, his name is Sam.)
There should be a picture of her dog Sam here, but for some reason I could not get it to paste here....I am so sorry.

Wow a rebel & a perfectionist?! That never occurred to me before, that's pretty scary!

What is the first thing that you created and why did you create it.

I don't have a clue; I vaguely remember working w/ clay in my neighbor’s basement.
It tasted like playdoh.

What most inspires you

Teaching inspires me & my students inspire me. Looking at art that love inspires me. Being at the ocean & out in nature. Cleaning my house. Listening to music. Taking a workshop.
Finding new things to work with, mostly found objects, but I also like finding new paint colors to try, & new toys to play with.
Making art & working in my journal inspires me. I work in my studio everyday no matter what. I wake up, get my coffee & go directly to my studio. Sometimes I'll only work for 15 minutes, but I have to do some art everyday or else I get extremely grumpy!

What are some other things that have influenced your work

I think that the found objects that I find while junking influence my work a great deal. It's like they have a plan of their own, when I see something, say a vintage book with an old worn cover, ideas start coming to me & I need to take it home.

What are you favorite materials

I'm really into golden paint right now. I've always loved gesso & amber shellac, & I like using modern options patina. Lately I've been playing around with gel medium & I love some of the results that I've been getting. Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons have also always been a favorite.
Do you do your art full time now, and if so, when did you decide to do this.
I'm almost full time, about 95 percent full time.
About a year & 1/2 ago, I decided that my goal was to teach & make art full time & I'm almost there. I've been a licensed LMT for the past 14 years & I still work on call a few times a month when I'm not teaching.

I see that you teach at several different art "retreats", do you enjoy the class room? Or do you enjoy art shows more.

I am most definitely more comfortable in the classroom. I absolutely love to turn people on to new things, I love to see the light bulbs go on, & to see people get so happy & excited about what they're making. It's not about me when I'm teaching, it's about art & creativity & being able to share that. And the possibility of being able to make a tiny difference in someone's life.
When I sell my work it's all about me, it's like being naked in a crowded room & I absolutely hate it. Selling my work has always been difficult for me. It's like I have to pretend to be someone I'm not, outgoing, talkative, & I always feel like I have to offer some deep meaning to explain what my art is about. I can't offer that. I make art because I have to. It comes from somewhere deep inside of me. I don't know what it means & I don't care. I just know that I have to do it.
My very first real show was the Santa Fe recycled show 7 years ago. It was a 3 day show & the very first night, I did extremely well, I sold a lot & people were really liking my work. And I freaked out. If my friend wasn't there, I would have run off & left all of my work there! I was totally prepared for rejection, I knew that I could handle that, but I wasn't at all prepared for a positive reaction to my work, I had no clue what to do with that! I felt as if I was under a microscope & all I wanted to do was run.
I still battle those feelings whenever I do a show, but now, It's like putting on this mask, I go in, set up, put on my mask & be the outgoing, friendly person that people expect me to be. That sounds awful, but that's how it is!!!!!

What are your feelings on students "copying" your work or style. I have seen that this is a "hot spot" for some artists.

I think it's absolutely fine to copy someone's work, as long as it moves you into your own style, towards your own voice. I think that's the goal, the destination of art & we need to do whatever it takes to get us there.
That said, I think it becomes a bit fuzzy when the student starts selling work that is identical to their instructors...
I've only had one personal experience with this. I taught a class & a friend who took the class exhibited her work, (which looked exactly like mine) in a show that we were both in. The owner of a gallery where I show came to the exhibit & immediately identified her work as mine. Anyway, it became very awkward & uncomfortable for all of us. I wasn't angry or upset about it, it was just a very awkward moment that I wish didn't happen.
Lately, I've seen people take classes, make something pretty much identical to the instructors work, then sell it either on line, or in one case, at the same event where the instructor was selling, for a fraction of the cost. so I guess I think it's fine to copy someone for your own artistic growth, but to sell it competitively & even undercut the instructor probable crosses some sort of line. On the other hand, that hasn't happened to me, so it's probably none of my damn business & I should just stay out of it!
I know a guy who goes around & photographs work that he likes. He goes home, copies it & then sells it. He doesn't see that he's copying it, he thinks that he's changing it, but to me it looks like exactly like the work that he's copied. It makes me feel sad for him & the original artist, but again, none of my business! (that's my new motto for 2008, "it's none of my business"!)
I also have a fear of doing that myself, I have such a terrible memory, I'm afraid that I'll see something in a magazine or somewhere, forget about it & then make it a year later & claim to have come up with the idea!

What is the name of your blog and what does it mean

The name of my blog is Thingmaker, it means...are you ready for this...that I make things!
It originally came from a Pippi Longstocking quote that I messed up...
"I don't know what you are going to do" said pippi "but I know I can't lie around & be lazy. I am a Thing-Finder & when you're a Thing-Finder you don't have a minute to spare. The whole world is full of things & somebody has to look for them."
Well, somehow that got messed up in my head & became "thingmaker" instead of "thingfinder". Actually, I was an avid thingfinder, but I've been trying to be more of a thing maker these days! My studio is just too small to support my thingfinder habits!
The deeper meaning is simply that I can't just stick with one medium, I paint, I get bored with it & I start itching to do assemblage. I do a bunch of assemblage pieces, I get bored & I start itching to work with clay. I needed a word that covered all that I do & I remembered that quote (or thought I did anyway!)
How long have you been blogging, what made you start and how has it affected you as an artist.
Wow, almost exactly a year.
I used to think that blogging was for people who were popular or famous, or at the very least, had something to say. I didn't think I qualified, but when my friend Raine showed me how easy it was to set up, (OK, set it up FOR me) I decided to use it as a journal of sorts & a place to post all of my pictures.
Since then, I've made so many amazing connections, both personal & professional. I've been invited to teach & show my work at places that I would never have even known about. And I've met the most amazing people from all over the world & made some wonderful friends along the way.
Most of all, it's made me look at my life & my world from an entirely different perspective. It's certainly made me take way more photographs & that in itself makes me look at my life in a different way. The ordinary has become precious & the precious becomes captured. Damn, I thought I was about to come up with a brilliant new quote, but it flopped!

What is your favorite music to listen to while you create

Tori Amos, The Decemberists & Elvis Costless are always at the top of my list.
I also like to listen to books on tape, & Air America radio, anything that takes me away so that I can get out of the way of what I'm working on.

Name three artists that you like and why

Three? That's almost impossible, but off of the top of my head...
Pat Chapman, for her amazing sense of composition & her sick, twisted sense of humor.
Maggie Taylor I love her ethereal, ghostly images. I WISH I could do that w/ Photoshop.
Scott Raddke, I just love his expressive, unique faces
Nicole McConville for the simplicity & frankness that is conveyed in her assemblages.
Melissa Zink's older work.
And I just love Stephanie Lee's Jewelry. And Nina Bagley's.
OK, that's more than 3, see answer # 1 about being a rebel! Hmm. There are so many more, how do I choose?

Do you have any big plans that we need to know about

Well, I have a very heavy teaching schedule this year, art & Soul Hampton & Portland, Art Unraveled, plus 4 or 5 smaller weekend workshops around the country.

No one will care about this except for me, but I'm going to Paris for the very first time this year! I've never even been out of the country (well, except for an afternoon in Juarez, but that's a whole other story!)

Project Eight... I invited 8 of the most amazing, wildly creative artists that I could think of to make one 8x8 piece of art each month for 8 months....AND THEY ALL SAID YES!!!!
Karen, from Indie arts will be here next week to film an interview with me in my studio. I'm absolutely terrified & I don't want to think about it anymore.
I'm teaching at Innerstandings in Portland Oregon & after my class, I'm going to see Cirque de Soleil for the very first time. (that & Paris are both on my bid...before I die... list!)
After that, I’m going back down to Medford to play w/ Albie & to teach at her studio. It's going to be a wonderful trip & I can't wait!
And that's just what I have planed, who knows what the universe has planned for me in 2008. I can't wait to find out!

Leighanna, Thank you so much for your time. It was great to get to know you.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I have been home sick for the last two days. It is nice being away from work, but not when you can't do anything fun!
Thank you for all the comments on the interviews, they are so fun to do and then really interesting to read when they are done. I hope you all like them.

I will have a new one up tomorrow and every Friday (I hope).

Have a great Thursday, now I am going back to bed.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Catherine Witherell Interview

Today my interview is with Catherine of Happy Day Art

Catherine can you tell us a little about yourself.

I live in the San Francisco bay area. I'm 49 years old, have been married 21 years and have 2 kids. My daughter is 14 and my son is almost 13. I was born in Canada from Hungarian immigrant parents who escaped their county in 1956 and went to Canada because the U.S.'s borders were closed at the time. About 5 years after the Berlin wall fell in 1989, I was talking to my dad about it and he said he didn't believe that it ever fell. He felt it was just a story, since he was so strongly affected by the experiences he had in the 40's and 50's. When I turned 30, he felt I should know what had happened to him and he told my sister and I the parts of his story that he could stand to tell us. He was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and he spent time in a concentration camp himself and was exposed to diptheria, smallpox and typhoid in his lifetime.

You are a very talented Jewelry designer, is this something you have always been interested in?

Thank you! No, as a teenager I liked to do a little bit of bead stringing but I didn't get into REAL jewelry making until after I turned 40, in 2001. When I was 32 my husband and I lived in Salem, Oregon and I took ceramic classes at the "Pottery Barn", a little house in the center of the historic part of town. I became very passionate about throwing pots and spent up to 30 hours a week there practicing. I still make pots, and I found I was a passable sculptor too. One day, while sitting around thinking of things that would be fun to do, I thought "Hmmm, I 'd love to be a goldsmith".

How did PMC (Precious Metal Clay) change the way you made jewelry?

When I found out about PMC I was really excited. It was an epiphany in a way and I felt like the Universe was giving me the way I could be a goldsmith. The current definition in wikipedia of a goldsmith is: a metalworker who specializes in working with precious metals, usually, to make jewelry.

When and how were you first introduced to PMC?

Right around that time in 2001 I heard of a class at the Mendocino Art Center on the coast of California and about a 3 1/2 hour drive from my house. They were offering a 2 day class "Intro to PMC".

What is your favorite jewelry piece so far, I think your bird houses are amazing and I do love that little monkey!!

My favorite right now is the two-sided filigree heart necklace with the red resin inside. It is a combination of an old traditional looking style of metalwork, like they used to use in iron work, and new materials. I really like trying to make something that looks old style, Greek, Roman, and Medieval but I like to mix it with new materials and modern images or colors and I am interested in adding some resin. But, I really like the monkey too.

I see that you are going to be teaching at ARTFEST, this year. How does that feel?

You know, it is a new dream come true. Only over the past two years did I realize I wanted to do it. One year at Artfest Teesha Moore encouraged all of the attendees to start a blog. After I did, my self confidence as an artist grew from all the feedback I was getting.

What is your take on the subject of students copying your style after a class? I have asked this question of others but I keep seeing this topic come up.

Copy me. I don't care, or rather, thank you. I am flattered that you like my style so much that you would want to. When you are learning something new I believe it's very hard not to want to copy your teacher and so I think you should. After all that's why you chose that class, something inside of you was awakened by that teacher or that artist. Go straight into whatever you think that is. It's fine if you are going to make this object or image for yourself or for a friend. Make one, make 30. You can sell them to your own customers. You don't even "owe" them, but it is a courtesy to acknowledge where you learned the technique or whose work inspired the design. It's a small world, everyone will figure it out anyway. Word will get around.
The best way is to make as many of the copies you can until you get it out of your system. Let them go. Give them away, sell them or bury them in the backyard. In the process your style will emerge and your skills will improve. Gain more skill. The more you work, the more your art will change and it will be yours. The artist you were copying will be an influence, not a competitor.

Catherine, I think that was so well said, thank you.

How many times have you attended ARTFEST?

Four times.

Have you had any articles published about your art, awards given etc…? If so how does that affect you as an artist?

2007 was a very big year for me. I was contacted by Belle Armoire and my first article "Mixed Media Picture Pendants" was published in "Belle Armoire Jewelry 2" in March. In April they asked me to do another one called "For the Birds PMC Pendants" for "Jewelry 3". That one was a wopping 7 pager and I wrote it and photographed the steps. What a rush it is to see your work in print.
Then, PMC hit a milestone in 2006, 10 years. For the 11th year the PMC Guild decided to put out a book the "Annual #1". Two of my designs are in that book. 56 artists were chosen from over a thousand entries. I am still on Cloud 9.
I consider every time my blog climbs another 1000 hits to be like an award, and certainly when my classes were chosen to be part of the line-up for Artfest 2008 I felt like I had won the Academy Awards.
The latest award in my opinion was becoming a "typepad featured blog" on January 3rd, 2008 I loved being appreciated by Typepad for using their service the way they meant it to be used.

Does your family now consider you to be famous?? How do you handle the celebrity???

My family teases me about being famous. My husband says things like "I remember Catherine when she was just Catherine" or he addresses me as "the artist formerly known as Catherine". He pretends to plead "Please remember us. We're just the little people now kids". It's really funny to me. They are making fun not of me or the "fame" aspect, but to address it. They don't want our life together to change, or me to find other things more interesting than them.
How do I handle it? First, I strive for it, and of course, I eat it up. Sometimes I feel anxious because now, this thing I started about 18 years ago -let's call it "creative expression"- has changed and evolved into something very different. The more success I've got, the more I want. It's a trap to think the fame is what is valuable. It's possible to judge yourself by yesterday's accomplishments and come up short. I'm most happy when I have an idea and I think it through just for me. The most beautiful things I've made were made because it was a challenge and I thought it would be fun.

I know that you have some beautiful art journals, how much time do you devote to creating these journals and how much time using them?

I have about 7, in all different sizes. I have 2 that I draw new jewelry designs into before or after I make them. They are ongoing. Another is a pattern journal and when I find patterns I like I draw them in there or cut a swatch and stick it in. One is just for drawing in pencil or ink, mostly faces and hands. Three more are for experimenting with paint, pastel, watercolor crayons and mixed media techniques I am learning how to paint, in my own way. I take classes, look at other artist's work and it is a respite from the 3-D work I do. When I get back to working in clay, it feels fresh and I look at it in a different way. I also have a photo album that is like a portfolio of all the PMC work I have done.
HappyDayArt is the name of your blog, how did you come up with that and what does it mean to you?

I had a great dress once and on the tag at the neck where it gave washing instructions and fabric content was printed HAPPY DAY! I loved that dress and wore it till there were holes in it. It made me happy! I think we need to find or make constant reminders and prompts in life to stay happy. There are so many things and events in the world today that are sad and can bring us down. I believe it is in our power to keep realigning ourselves with a goal of being happy. Practice. "It's all in the mind" - George Harrison in "The Yellow Submarine"

How has blogging made you more recognizable as an artist and teacher?

At first I was shy and never commented. I posted things I'd made in a class. When I made better things I got comments and would visit those bloggers and get to know them through the information on their sites. I started commenting. They got to know me. We link to each other's blogs. It has become an exchange of ideas, sharing, and now I know a large community of artists who are kindhearted, friendly and inspiring. I have learned so much.

Has blogging influenced your art life? And if so how?

Yes. I use blogging to keep in touch with others like a diary and also a catalog of what I've made. When I look at my galleries, it really adds up. If on a day I have no ideas, I surf around and find inspiration. My confidence in my abilities has grown. Blogging is pretty immediate gratification.

How much time do you commit to your blog?

I think about it many hours a day. I post 2 to 10 times a month. I take pictures and resize them and formulate many posts ahead of time. Sometimes I plan a special post for over a week. I am working on part 2 of a post on 'being happy'. I don't mean to sound like a pollyanna because I'm not one, but I think if we, as artists, can get any kind of understanding or control over our moods we might be more productive. I can hardly produce any thing when I'm miserable. I soar when I am happy.

You once lived in a communal how has that influenced your life?

My philosophy of life is lighter than it was. I don't take so many things personally. I do more of the things I want to do. I'm not the center of the universe. I try to pay attention. I work on making my life and surroundings better. Ultimately, we are all alone inside our heads.

Is that something that you miss now, or are you just happy you had that life experience?

I don't miss it. I'm really glad I did it. It was brave, crazy, fun and unsettling at the time.

What are your three favorite books?

When I'm reading and I can't put it down, that is my favorite book. Then I am looking for my new favorite book.

Of all the great art you create what is your favorite thing to work on?

I don't know that my art is great so that is kind of a funny question. What is really interesting for me to work on? 1. Jewelry -any kind 2. digital artstamps 3. ATC's 4. Mixed media and collage 5. regular clay objects The order of interest changes when I switch mediums.

Catherine, what great surprises and art creations can we expect from you in 2008?

Well, that's going to be a surprise for me too, I think. I will teach 2 classes at Artfest in April and I am a vendor on 'Vendor Night'. It will be my first time ever doing that. I am going to submit my jewelry for the PMC Annual again and if I get a good idea, I'll enter the Saul Bell Jewelry Competition again. I'm teaching at a fancy San Francisco bead shop called Beadissimo in May and maybe again in the summer. I have new drawings that I want to translate into jewelry. I'm going to produce 8 artworks for the artist group "Project 8" hosted by Leighanna Light and I just accepted an invitation to join the Art Pub, a group of women career artists supporting each other in their professional artistic endeavors and career goals.

Catherine thank you for sharing with us today I can not wait to see all that you come up with in this New Year.

Thank you Denise. You are a good interviewer and you made me think.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

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“People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character."~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, January 04, 2008

The First in a Series of Interviews

So for the New Year I have decided to do a mini makeover on my blog.
I have not been really dedicated or thoughtful when posting. I do like posting pictures that I take but I never feel like I have that much to say. Well, actually, I have a lot to say but not a lot of time to say it.

So, I am going to be more thoughtful and try to bring things to you that may be more interesting.

My plan is to start doing weekly interviews with some of the bloggers, artists and anyone else that seems interesting to me. I think it will be fun to learn more about the people behind the blogs I visit.

So, my first interview is with Vanessa from A Fanciful Twist. She is the creator of this lovely lady with the paper dress. Which I have hanging on my wall at home.

Vanessa Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Vanessa Valencia and I am proprietress of "A Fanciful Twist." I write a blog titled "A Fanciful Twist" {Through the Secret Keyhole}. I have a studio in the hills of Arizona, where I also have created a little gallery/shop on the property (8 years ago). I have an online shop also named "A Fanciful Twist." I just turned 32 years old. I love art. Creating it, admiring it, acquiring it, sharing it... Imagination and creativity are my sanity. I sometimes talk to art like this, "Arthur, thank you for coming into my life, what do we have for today? What was that magic you were talking about?"

I used to work in acrylics and oils. But, in the last few years, I have delved into mixed media, lots of paper, paper, paper. Thin paper, colorful paper, book pages, thick paper, hand-made paper, store bought paper, crepe paper, all paper!

I am also working on little creatures again. Oh, I almost forgot, I am a potter as well, and that has always kept my hands in the sculpting and making mode... But, I am making dolls and creatures again. I used to make them 10 years ago, and kind of just stopped for no reason... But, they are visiting me again, so, there is more to come in that realm... I have 4 girls waiting downstairs who are calling me at this very moment.... Off I go...

How many times have you been stung by a scorpion? This is very intriguing to me since I thought that you automatically died when you got stung. -

Twice. I guess it depends on the scorpion that stings you, its size and if you are allergic to whether it is deadly or not? It just hurt like the dickens. The first one was really horrible. I was asleep, and all of a sudden I felt this pain that made me think that somebody had broken into the house and was smashing my elbow with a sledgehammer. I FLEW out of bed, turned on the light, and presto, little awful horrid scorpion. We called 911; they said to have a glass of milk (I guess it neutralizes things, who knows) and to call if my throat was swelling shut. It did get itchy and weird, and I held a bag of frozen peas on my elbow for 24 hours. It felt broken, and then kind of went away little by little. However, it still hurts every now and then. Oh and the 2nd one on my finger in bed again. AWFUL. Funny enough, when I got that one, the old one on my elbow hurt again... who knows....

Is Halloween really your favorite holiday? Because you sure seem to have a lot fun around Christmas time too!!

I like Halloween because you get to dress up. But, I pretty much love all holidays. All of them love them. I just love fun heart warming fuzzy things in life. And, of course, Christmas is truly special and significant...

You have a wonderful imagination and it really shows in your work, have you always been so imaginative?

I think so... My mom has always been quite imaginative and I just grew up with that. My Grandmother tells outrageous fairytale like stories too (scary sometimes). So, I think my brain just grew up with that. Always creating. I have been telling stories to people for as long as I can remember. Altering and changing as I go... I think that started the whole madness, haha!

What is the first thing that you remember creating and why did you create it.

Oh goodness... Hmmmmm, I think it was an elephant in preschool. And jewelry out of macaroni, I still love that! But the real art piece that was on canvas was when I was 13. My parents let me paint all my furniture in these wild patterns. Then, perhaps out of fear that I might take paint to my siblings, they bought me stacks of large canvases. I painted these abstract huge scale paintings for myself, and then my parents friends wanted to buy them... That is how all of that part started...

What most inspires you?

Anything magical and fairytale like... Well, actually, I can be inspired by any random thing on a whim... It reminds you of one thing and that leads your brain to start moving like gears... and off you go...

What are some other things that have influenced your work?

Healing times in life have greatly influenced my work. The way I got the confidence to put my work in a gallery at 18 years old (throwing all the pieces in my convertible, top down so they would fit and heading downtown) was after my first bad break-up. You know, you think you are in love and will never be able to recover... My dad bought me 30 canvases, and I put them on the ground and started painting angels like crazy... Then a gallery wanted them... And that was another ride... Another life time it seems... (and then later you look back and think, oh thank goodness I didn't end up with that guy! and thank goodness I painted instead... ;)

What are your favorite materials; it seems you have quite a variety!

Yes, I do love variety. I think I love them all. I can honestly say that in my studio there is a huge pot of glue as we speak, sitting next to a huge stack of dictionaries for tearing apart. Shelves and shelves of acrylic paint and oil paint and spray paint... And glitter and... Oh gosh, I use it all.... Anything that I can make something with I love. I even love a paper bag and a pen...

Do you have another job other than your art?

I don't know, did they take my office away? hahaha... Right now I am making huge transitions here and there... But mostly, I have been focusing on my art for the better part of a year. It has been a wonderful thing to be able to do. I love it, I love everything about it...

What does A Fanciful Twist, the name of your blog, mean?

I don't know? I am joking. Well... To me it means so many things that are dear to my heart... Things that I love... The dictionary meaning of fanciful is: full of or guided by fancy rather than by reason or experience; whimsical. To me it is that coupled with the idea of taking all your crazy ideas and notions and thoughts and twisting them upside down and right side up and any way you want it... Like a dream... It is imagination without boundaries...

How long have you been blogging, what made you start and how has it affected you as an artist.

I love blogging, long-live blogging! Haha. I don't know why I started. I suppose it was because everyone who knows me in real life thought I should find a way to share everything I was up to... Plus, I just fell in love with the whole sharing aspect. Sharing thoughts and ideas... I find it all so fascinating... It has affected me as an artist in that, I can share my work with people all over the world and they can share their work with me. It is amazing the feeling one gets from sharing and getting feedback, and being able to have this through blogging is incredible... I have been blogging for a year and a month :)

You have quite a following on your blog; do you try to respond to each comment?

I can not tell you how much I appreciate people visiting my blog. I know it takes time from their day, I know they are sharing themselves with me, time & attention... And so, without even thinking about it until this question was asked, yes I do like to respond to people who comment on my blog. Sometimes I am not good at it. But I love to do it. I blog because I love it, I love the interaction with people. And so, that interaction is very important to me...

With so many people reading your blog do you feel pressure to keep it updated and to come up with new and creative postings?

Nope, not yet at least. Oh now, I will have bloggers block (does that exist? haha). I update a couple times a week and I never know what I am going to blog about until I sit down to write. I guess because I love doing it, it gets done... I hope that lasts forever... Of course, sometimes, I take photos on trips and such with ideas to blog about it sometime... I have so many ideas I want to share...

How much time do you devote to your blog?

I guess at this stage of it, I devote a lot of time to blogging. My blog... 6-8 hours a week... It takes me about 2-3 hours to write one post... With the photo choosing and all... I am slow, I know...

I see that you have an article published, How does it feel to be published in Somerset Magazine?

Whenever I think about it, I feel like I am on a cloud and I am in a dream like state. It makes me feel so happy Somerset would have contacted me to be in their magazine. I LOVE Somerset Studio. I have been oogling over it for years. I guess it feels like little pieces of the puzzle in my heart and soul weaving together...

The paper dress ladies featured in Somerset are so beautiful, how did you come with that idea. You know they are my favorite!

I was in the studio one day & I had finished a painting. The little girl on the swing in the painting was begging me for more. I felt like she was tugging on my sleeve, in a British accent asking” please please Madame, might I have a gown..." I had some paper magic beside me and voila, the paper dress was made. I was addicted right there and then...

Do you listen to music when you are working on your art or do you watch TV.I ask because I like to have a TV going when I am working on certain things.

Music when painting, always, no questions. . T.V. only when I am making dolls or jewelry. And then I am watching fairytales, period movies, Peter Pan... Always fun magical spirit lifting movies... Only Dvd's... Nothing with commercials or news. (NPR on weekends)

Name three artists that you like and why?

I love Hieronymus Bosch. Oh goodness... where to begin... The mind blowing detail, the subjects, the colors, the out of this world quality. Every bit of it makes my mind go mad...

Amadeo Modigliani. He has my heart. I think I see people kind of like he did. I have artist friends who paint from life and are magnificent. So realistic. But, I don't think I see people in a realistic fashion... I see them as characters... I love that quality about Modi's work... Plus, I am in love with him... Maybe I will have tea with him in another life...

James Ensor. The masks! The colors, the unusual interpretations... All of it... Fascinating! His home and studio were incredible!! His treasures, amazing!

Do you have any big plans that we need to know about?

Hmmmmmm, um, nope, not that I can think of... Do you know something I don't know??? :)

Can you send me some of your Grandma's Tamales??

Sure. But, they might get there mushed and or rotten... Yucky...

Vanessa, thank you so much for your time and all the beautiful art and the wonderful stories you provide. You are a very talented girl in more ways than one, and I am happy I stumbled upon A FANCIFUL TWIST

Thursday, January 03, 2008

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year...
I have many grand plans for this year. Some include a lot of self discipline and some include a lot of fun!
I have a new plan for this blog and hopefully you will all enjoy it.
I can't start my new plan until I hear back from a certain someone. But, I am excited about it.

Hopefully, you all had a super Holiday and your plans for the New Year all work out.

What are some of your plans????