Saturday, March 30, 2013

Artistic Moment Of The Week: Sweet Elephant.

Via Flickr Commons.

I'd Wear That: Hair Edition.

I'm wanting to chop all my hair off and go for a simple, easy to care for, haircut for summer.  I've been scouring Pinterest and decided a long-fronted pixie was right up my alley.  Something along these lines:

via Pinterest.

Via Pinterest.

Via Pinterest.

Blog of Note: Lisa Daria's Painting A Day.

To have the commitment to do a painting a day.  I've attempted to do it a couple of times and always seem to fall short.  I'll keep trying, and I'll use her lovely pieces as inspiration to keep my going.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Artist Interview: Annie Koelle.

I'm almost giddy with the interview I'm bringing you today.  I've had a major art-crush on this artist for the longest time.  I stumbled across the painting below on Etsy a few of years ago, and was immediately smitten.  Now she's got even more impressive and awesome things going, not failing to mention she's a momma to two adorable kids, and now I get to introduce her to you!  Meet Annie Koelle:

White Crowned Sparrow.
1. Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon it later in life?

Always an art kid! Can't remember when I wasn't drawing, making, or thinking about what I was going to make. I don't think I ever had to sit down and figure out what I was going to be when I grow up, its like I have an extra bodily organ that drives me to create.

Small Botanical Transfer Monotype.
2. What style of art is your favorite and why?

I have don't have a favorite style, I like everything from realistic dutch still lifes to candy colored abstracts. I usually connect with individual paintings or pieces of artwork as opposed to one sort of look. 
Kallymenia, Collaboration with Knack Studios.

3. What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?

Oh my! Where do I start!? Inspiration is an extremely complex idea. . . first of all it has been building in life from childhood. My love of natural subjects, the sort of landscapes I paint like the ones from where I grew up and many tiny woven things that I can't probably discern myself but they are a part of me. These bits build on each other and and then I fit them all together within the confines of my present life situations - like not having much time to myself for work because of dear little babies to play with and being too terribly tired at night to think about much. And my art inspiration board on pinterest! I look at all those jewels glowing on the screen together and it gets my brain going.

Carnation Painting on Wood Panel.
4. Walk us through your creative process from idea to finished project.

Well, I have lots of collected things laying around, like old thrift store frames,wood panels and things to assemble, so thinking about what I have to work with I let the idea spark for a while. Then I prime my surface (mat board or wood panel) with flat latex paint, make my drawing with graphite or charcoal, spray it with fixative then I start applying acrylic paint. First I goop on a tinted glaze that I meticulously mix just right, dry brush it out with nice wide brushes until I get the texture I want and let it dry for a day or so, or I hurry it along a hair dryer that has only been used to dry my hair like twice. Then once the glaze dries I might tweak it some more and then I apply the stronger swipes of color in heavier acrylic paint and latex paint. Once I'm settled with it I varnish it, sign it and tap a hook into it. 

2011 Flower Series Grouping.
5. What is a typical day in your life?

Hahaha, first, try to stay in bed as long as possible which is usually until 7:30, change Pearl's stinky diaper, feed myself, her and my son who acts like he is going to die of starvation. I take him to preschool, my husband puts Pearl down for her morning nap and we both get to cracking at art or stuff. I work for a couple of hours if I'm lucky, while she sleeps, then when she wakes up I might run some errands before I pick up Marshall from school at 12:30. We lunch, then Pearl takes another nap and sometimes I work again, but usually I try to reign in the chaos. At night I don't usually do much art work, in the past I've tried but I usually hate what I've done in the morning. I really need good daylight. And sleep! I don't know how some people do it! If I stay up any later than midnight I end up with migraines so it just isn't worth it. You can sneak a peek at these days if you follow me on instagram. 

6. What do you think draws you to other people's work?

I don't actually know, if its really great art it draws me. You can tell when you look at a piece if the artist behind it knows what they're doing, if they really care about what they are doing. 


7. What are your interests/hobbies?

Ha! no hobbies. Living life and enjoying it and painting as much as I can, that's what I do, the painting part is not a hobby.

"The Clouds Gave Up Their Horses."
 8. Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?

Mom of two crazy kiddos. That's job enough at this point.

Botanical Series Grouping.
9. What is your favorite piece you've ever made and why?

Oh dear, I have had several, not too many but a few, more now than before which is good. Right now I really love two landscapes that are a set, they are about 8 inches high with deep frames. There is a wilderness scene with big pines I drew and painted in them.  The frames are gray, then painted gold on the lower half, the best part are teeny tiny gold cowboys and indians fighting in front of the landscape inside of the frame. The paintings are called "Manifest Destiny" and I made them because I didn't know what to do with all the sad things that happened to the indians, my grandfather being one of them. I loved him very much and I think of him every day. That's probably why I like it so much.

An image of a work in progress that became a collaboration with Knack Studios.
10. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the business world?

Well, at this point I am not involved too much in the business world, but I would say networking and finding people who really believe in your art is the best place to start. Fortunately I have many people like that, one of them being Teresa at Art & Light Gallery. 

Her lovely family.
11. Describe your work space

I have a closet that I stuff things into and a mid-century cart that I keep most-used things on. I work on the kitchen table, an easel and usually the floor covered with swaths of brown paper. Here is a link to a feature a sweet photog friend did of my family, house and studio. 

Another work in progress that became a collaboration with Knack Studios.
12. Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

Well, lets not call them setbacks. They are very cute setbacks, I love them very much and their names are Marshall and Pearl. 

Another view of the work in progress of the collaborative piece.

13. What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?

Keep my children alive, be a good fun wife and always figure out how to keep painting.
Thank you so very much Annie for your time, and wonderful answers.  

You can find her on:

Piggybank is 13 Weeks Old Today.

Sorry for the fuzzy cellphone picture, but here is the giant pup at 13 weeks.  He doesn't fit in my lap anymore.  He didn't stay a puppy longer than about a week, then he turned into the giant, gangly teenager stage (and he's still there, ha).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Playlist #11: A Case of the Mondays.

Cover Art via The US National Archives on the Flickr Commons.
Listen via Spotify/Tumblr.

Craving: Pretty Snip-Toe Boots.

How badly I want a nice pair of boots.  I own just a handful of shoes, and my boots are plain, dirty, scuffed, and pretty rough.  I can't justify spending over $300 for a pair of boots, but these are beautiful, and I'd love something similar to wear off-the-farm to make myself look a little more put-together.
Lucchese Women's Tumbled Saffia Boot via Country Outfitter.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Playlist #10--Hey Little Darlin'.

How about that awesome cover photograph?--It's from the State Library and Archives of Florida via the Flickr Commons.

Listen via Spotify/Tumblr.

Little Letters Link-Up.

Meet "Piggybank," our newest family member.
He's 1/4 Irish Wolfhound, 1/4 English Mastiff, 1/4 Saint Bernard, 1/4 Rottweiler,
and 100% a sweetheart.
Found this cute idea for a link-up and wanted to have a go at it.
Dear Cold, Dismal Weather, please, please let some warmer, sunny days be taking up more of the week than you currently are.  Thanks.
Dear Etsy Transactions Emails, I miss seeing you in my inbox.  Let's remedy that, okay?
Dear Exercise Routine, we're doing great together.  Let's keep it up for the rest of the year.
Dear Giant Puppy Named "Piggybank", you're growing extremely fast, and I'm very thankful I drove over 250 miles one way to get you.  You've been an outstanding addition to our family.
Dear Me-Time, where on earth have you been?  I'm really thinking we need to see more of each other.
Dear Lottery Tickets, would it kill you to let me win the jackpot?  I don't play often, but you're never kind.
Dear Ab Muscles, you've come a long way.  Keep going.
Dear Artist Interviews, you're my favorite thing in the world.  There will be many more of you.
Dear Hair on my Head, get ready.  Come May, I have some extreme plans for you.
Dear Art I Need to Make, we've got to get with it.  No excuses.
Dear Darling Daughter of Mine,  goodness you've grown up lately.  Who knew 3 1/2 was such a jump from 3.  You're an amazing human being.  I love you more than I ever thought was possible.
Dear Homebody Personality, you've got to get out more.  Visit your friends, meet more people, etc.
Dear 2013, I really like you so far.  I know you won't let me down.
All the very best,
(This was fun.  Thanks so much for the Link-Up Emmy!)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Artist Interview: Amber Leilani Middleton.

Today's interview is with Amber Leilani Middleton.  Her shop features art dolls, collages, paintings and some jewelry too.  I really enjoy all the characters that she creates.  Let's get to know her a bit better, shall we?

1. Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon it later in life?  

Actually, a little bit of both. I was very creative as a child, but where I lived there were no art programs. I didn’t study art in college because my family didn’t think I could make a living as an artist. I took some jobs after college that had me trying to fit in with certain situations and people, and one day I realized I was squashing my creativity for people and jobs I didn’t even like!! It’s taken me about 10 years to feel comfortable with who I am as an artist and really begin to open up that creativity that I suppressed for so many years.
Bearded Lady, Gerilyn.
2. What style of art is your favorite and why?

I really don’t have a favorite style of art. I like so many different things: folk art, illustration, pop surrealism, fantasy. I can’t narrow it down to just one! It would be unfair to all the others (right now I’m really in to pop surrealism and it is starting to influence my work. But, shhh…don’t tell the other styles!)

3. What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?

I suppose my main inspiration is music. I HAVE to have music playing while I work. I can listen to the same music every day and get a new idea from a song I’ve heard a thousand times. I am also greatly influenced by other artists – some of my favorites at the moment are Michele Lynch, Lateefah Wright, Travis Louie, and Anthropomorphica ArtDoll Oddities. But, I mostly let the ideas come to me when I am actually working on a piece. I find that if I just let go and immerse myself in the process that that is when the best ideas come!

Blue and Silver Cabochon Necklace.

 4. Walk us through your creative process from idea to finished project.  Also what made you choose Art Dolls?

My process is a bit scattered, I suppose. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to do – I have journals full of sketches and ideas, but mostly I will just sit down and start sculpting faces. As each piece is being formed, I let it guide me through what it wants to be. After I sculpt the face I will add any horns, scars, or masks…whatever might add to the personality of the doll. Then I make my armature for the body. After that is finished I then attach the head and neck. Then the piece has to dry. When it’s dry, I then smooth out the features and body if need be and add any embellishments such as hair, clothing, or hats. Then I set it aside to dry again. Once the piece is completely dry (and it can take several days for some pieces to dry) I then paint and seal the piece.

As to why I chose art dolls…I really had never heard of an art doll until 3 years ago. I was recovering from a wrist injury that had put my jewelry making career on hold. I was looking at magazines one evening at the local book store and a copy of Art Doll Quarterly caught my eye. I was mesmerized!! I had my first block of paper clay within a week and I’ve never looked back!! It turns out that sculpting doesn’t hurt my wrist as much as repetitive beadwork!

"Eternal Love."
5. What is a typical day in your life?

Oh, goodness! I absolutely have to have my coffee in the morning! I really like to ease in to my day. I once saw a meme online that read “ I’m not a morning person. I’m not a night person. But I can rock 11am like it’s nobody’s business!” That’s me! I try to be in the studio by 10am on the days I am not at my retail job. I try to work an 8 hour day in the studio whenever possible. I also play with my cats, listen to music, and take a lunch break so I can watch a little tv (I watch way too much television). When my mister comes home, we eat and then it’s usually back in to the studio for a few hours before bed. I would say that’s a pretty typical day. I’m not a very good housekeeper, as I feel life is too short to do dishes rather than make art!

Yellow and Brown Cabochon Necklace.
6. What do you think draws you to other people's work?

Usually a sense of playfulness or a certain dark aesthetic. Or both! Haha! I am really drawn to portraits or sculptures of people. I love the human face…the emotions you can see even in the tiniest of frames. I am also drawn to certain textures. I am trying to teach myself to paint and there are several styles I am drawn to in painting, but it’s usually about the texture.

7. What are your interests/hobbies?

Does eating count? I love to eat! A good meal and a good bottle of wine are my absolute most favorite things in the world! I also enjoy well written television and movies, historical mysteries, steampunk novels, all things Harry Potter, and taking pictures – except of my work. Which I hate! It’s so hard to get good pictures at my house. I also collect writing journals and instruments. I love paper in its many forms and wish people still sent real letters….I miss getting letters in the mail.

Bunny Girl, "Eliza."

8. Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?

I work at home most of the time, but I do have a part time retail job that I really enjoy. I work for an independently owned gift shop that sells cool and kitschy items and fun, funky jewelry.

Carnival Queen.

9. What is your favorite piece you've ever made and why?

Ok, this is weird, but it’s a piece called “Self - Portrait with Bunny Ears.”  I made it after I had major surgery this past September on my left ear to remove a growth behind my ear drum. It was pretty painful and it turned out that I was allergic to my pain medication, so it was not a pleasant experience. It really defined who I was for several months. The “self - portrait” piece was my way of dealing with it all after the fact. She is a very pissy and defiant bunny. She’s not happy at all despite her flowers and lovely dress….and it looks absolutely NOTHING like me except for the big scar on her left ear! That piece is at Dollirium Art Doll Emporium in London, Ontario, Canada. She hasn’t sold yet and if she doesn’t I am definitely keeping her. I kind of hope she doesn’t sell….

Frida Kahlo Day of the Dead Collaged Card.

10. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the business world?

Be absolutely true to yourself, no matter what!! Look and research and experiment and never stop learning. Don’t compare yourself to others. You have to find your voice. Even if you think it’s weird and no one will like it, make it anyway. And never compromise on what you will or won’t do just to make money. Most importantly have fun!!

Circus Strongman, "Jean Pierre."
11. Describe your work space.

I work at home so my space is the back bedroom in our fairly small apartment. I share it with my mister, but it’s really mine. Mwahahah! To sculpt or paint I work at an antique dining room table, which I have lined with wax paper. I also have an antique writing desk where I do my jewelry making. My cats hang out with me when I’m working, and one of them even has a box on the table where he sits and keeps me company when I’m working. I have a lot of supplies and a goodly amount of art and dolls I have collected over the years. It’s a fairly sunny room (painted yellow) and I’ve tried to make it as cheery and inspirational as possible. But, it’s nowhere near as large as I would like…or as clean. And I absolutely HATE the carpet! But, I guess you can’t have everything. All in all, it’s a nice place to work and beats my old work space in our last apartment, which was in the hallway outside the bathroom. 

Amber at work.

12. Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

Well, I did have a hard time growing up as a creative kid in a rural area where most people just thought I was weird. I never fit in. And my parents weren’t keen on me going to art school, so I have a sociology degree. I always knew I was an artist at heart, but I tried for many years to have a “normal” career and fit in and all that nonsense. I think I may have been my own little setback more than once. It’s taken me years to really get back in touch with that creativity. And I am NOT letting it go any time soon!!

Her workspace.

13. What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?

I want to be a better artist!! There is so much to learn and I feel like I just got started (and I’m not getting any younger)…and I really want to be able to make a living making art full time. I’m still not there yet. I keep trying. I was just published in ART DOLL QUARTERLY this winter, and that was a HUGE goal of mine over the last few years. I would love to be able to do more group shows and of course, have a solo show sometime in the future. Right now I’m really just loving being able to do what I love. To me, the most wonderful feeling in the world is having someone purchase something I made with my own two little hands….

You can also find her:

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer with such awesome responses!

Blog Envy: Mimi Thorisson's Manger.

Beautiful photos paired with interesting writing and mouth-watering recipes.  Plus, it pulls at my "I want to travel" heart.  Love everything about it.  I'm positive you'll fall in love too.

Interiors I Dream About: Pleasant Bedroom.

Via Apartment Therapy:  Matt's Modern Minimalist Retreat.