Monday, January 2, 2017

Introducing the 8305 Project.

I'm hoping some of you will be willing to help. I've had this nagging project in the back of my mind since college. I'm interested in hearing about other people who have chosen an alternative to the “mainstream” lifestyle. Those who homestead, or are nomadic and travel. Those who make things for themselves versus buying from the store. Those who practice forgotten skills. Those who feel a calling to do things divergently to the norm. I'm the homesteader-type myself (who enjoys raising food for my family, and living a life a little different from ordinary), so I've nicknamed this the “8305 Project” after my farm's address. I'd really enjoy hearing your story if you think you fit into this category. If you're interested, then please send me an email at with a little bit about yourself and your life.  I will get back to you with some some basic interview questions, if you don't mind, to get things started. My eventual goal with all of this is to cultivate these initial interviews (complete with some beautiful photography) into a blog series, visual magazine, or best case scenario a coffee table book. I'm not sure exactly what the interviews will turn into, but I'm sure that many others will enjoy the blips of everyday peoples' lives/stories as much as I will. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone who might fit the bill too. Thank you in advance.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Artist Interview: Lauren Marx

Attached”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencils, Gel Pen and Acrylic on Mixed Media Paper, 8.5 inches by 11.75 inches (14 ¾ inches by 11 ½ inches framed).

The artist interview I have for you today is a wonderful treat.  Lauren Marx has such a unique voice, masterful execution of her craft, and a splendid ability to dance the fine line between beauty and the macabre.  That makes for a brilliant trifecta.  Please enjoy this Question & Answer round and check out the links at the end to find more of her and her lovely work!

"Demeter", Ballpoint Pen, Ink, Colored Pencil, Gel Pen, Marker, Graphite on Hot-Pressed Watercolor Paper, 12 inches by 12 inches (14.5 x 14.5 framed), 2015

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

Oh, I was always an art kid! I would spend hours drawing horses, dragons, and my favorite cartoon characters.

Fall Apart Like Me”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Graphite, Colored Pencils and Gel Pen on Mixed Media Paper, 20 inches by 20 inches (23 inches by 23 inches framed).

2.  What style of art is your favorite and why?

Oh my favorite by far is the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painting style. It is a great mash-up of my other favorite styles: renaissance and art nouveau. The style is just so romantic.

Fire-breather”, Ballpoint Pen, Ink, Colored Pencil, and Marker, 18x24 inches, 2013

3.  What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?  Do you keep a sketchbook?  Because I imagine that would be a stunning thing to flip through.
I use lots of things for inspiration! I collect animal skulls, feathers, taxiermies, shells, eggs, and various rocks, that can end up in pieces. I also find inspiration from my various art books and scientific illustrations. When it comes to generating ideas, they just kind of come to me. If I try to actively think of artwork ideas, nothing will come to me and I end up feeling very stressed. My ideas usually slam into my mind and become obsessive images until I can get them out in one way or another. I do keep a sketchbook, but I mainly write my ideas down which are usually accompanied by a very crude sketch. Right now, I am creating a sketchbook that will include more fleshed out ideas from my previous book. I'm having to get used to sketching since I started wanting to make larger works.

"To Kill the Goose That Laid theGolden Egg", 2015, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencil, Liquid Ink, Colored Pencil, Graphite, and Gel Pen on Hot-Pressed Watercolor Paper, 18.25 inches by 24 inches (21.5 inches by 27.5 inches framed)

4.  Your work is so detailed anatomically-did you study biology/anatomy in school, or at home, or how did you come to be so impressively skilled at capturing nature?
Thank you so much! I did not study biology, but I really wanted to! I'm a bit on the obsessive side with perfection and detail. I want my pieces to look “real”, but I can never quite achieve that. The way they look is my attempt each time to make them more accurate. Perfectionism for the win!

Churning Up the Stars”, Ballpoint Pen, 11.25 inches x 23.75 inches, 2013

5.  Can you walk us through your creative process from idea to finished product?
Usually it starts with some sort of image coming to mind randomly, whether I am sleeping, showering, buying groceries. Once that vision hits me, I will either write about it, make a crude sketch, or immediately cut paper down and begin working. To start a piece, I begin looking up usually dozens of reference images per subject on my computer to perfectly recreate the image in my head as accurately as possible. When working on a piece, I start with a rough pencil outline of composition and subjects. Then, I outline the entire piece in pen, moving from foreground to background. I then add color washes with ink pencils to color every part of the piece, except for the background washes, which are done with standard ink following the ink pencils. I then go over all of the color with various pens to add detail, texture and contrast. Once I finished detailing, I add highlights with white colored pencil and white gel pens. Once the piece is completed, I cut down the paper and have it scanned then framed. After that, it is fully finished.

Inhale. Exhale. Choke.”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencil and Gel Pen on Mixed Media Paper, 20 inches by 17.75 inches (21 inches by 23 inches framed).

6.  What is a typical day in your life?
Well, a typical day will be waking up pretty early, watching The Daily Show while eating breakfast and taking care of chores. Then, I set up my art supplies for the day (I work in my apartment, though I think I will be studio hunting soon), and begin working. I usually work on art all day, taking breaks to run errands, eat lunch and dinner, and to sleep or socialize. I tend to keep things loose. I don't want to get to caught up in my art making and end up not enjoying it.

When the First Became Divine”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencils and Gel Pen on Mixed Media Paper, 24 inches by 40 inches (27 ¾ inches by 43 ½ inches framed).

7.  What do you think draws you to other artists' work?
I love realism with flora and fauna. Any artist that incorporates that is high on my list. I also love vibrant colors and contemporary abstraction mixed with realism. What draws me to other artists' work is that I feel they have achieved something that I lack, and their work becomes inspiration for me moving forward.

Red Fox and Indigo Bunting”, Ballpoint Pen and Ink, 18in x 24in, 2012

8.  What are your interests/hobbies?
I collect hoofed animal skulls, and bird taxidermies. I love to go to antique stores when I have free time and completing puzzles. I recently obtained the camping bug too, but now it is too cold.

Swallows”, 2016 Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Colored Pencils, Graphite and Gel Pen on Multi-media Paper, 8 inches by 10 inches (12 inches by 14 inches framed)

9.  What do you attribute to you choosing to make work that is so beautiful yet grotesque?
I really don't know 100% why I make my work grotesque, but I think it has a lot to do with my fear of death and my attempt to rationalize it in various ways, as well as address my anxiety problems and harsh past.

The First”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencil and Gel Pen on Mixed Media Paper, 20 inches by 24 inches (23 inches by 27 inches framed).

10.  Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?
Art is my full-time job! I recently got a once-a-week job at a friend's deli to get myself out of the apartment and to clear my mind. Most of my year is spent working on art and art-related business stuffs.

"The Second”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencil, Gel Pen and Acrylic on Mixed Media Paper, 20 inches by 24 inches (23 inches by 27 inches framed).

11.  Do you have a favorite piece you've made, if so, why?
It could be because I recently made the piece, but I would have to say my favorite is “When the First Became Divine”. It is my largest gallery piece so far, and perfectly captured the emotional turmoil that I was experiencing with my family. I also challenged myself a lot with that piece, with working so large and not sacrificing detail. It will be a big stepping stone for my future work. The piece has become very important to me.

The Red Berries”, Ballpoint Pen and Ink, 19.5 in x 13.75 in, 2013

12.  What advice would you give an artist just starting out in the business world?
I would say to try to complete new work on the regular, to only make art that you want to make, and to stay realistic about the art world, your work and your future. I would also suggest buying some books on art careers!

Work in Progress via Instagram.

13.  Describe your work space.
My work space is my loft in downtown St. Louis. My kitchen table is a vintage drafting table that doubles as my drawing surface. I have a cute little cart, that carries all of my supplies, that I drag around my apartment. I usually have my three cats climbing all over me and running like maniacs while I work. My apartment has been designed to fully function as my studio without looking like it.
Lauren's Workspace via Instagram.

A peek at a sketch paper via Instagram.

A beautiful work in progress shot via Instagram.

14.  Did you face any set-backs on your path to being an artist?
Oh yes! Many! When I first started my career, I was still in college earning my BFA. It was hard to keep up with the demand for my work while trying to complete assignments for my classes. I also had no idea what I was doing, and art school did not prepare me at all for the business side of things...or how to frame my work, photograph my work, promote my work, write name it. It was a lot of learning from my mistakes for the first couple of years. Now I am more used to things, but I am still learning every day. I was also not prepared for the competitiveness and pettiness of the art world. I am still judged quite a bit for my gender and age, and it affects almost every aspect of my art career. I know things are getting better in that regard, so I am not too worried about it. Making money has also been a huge issue to deal with. I am slowly turning a profit, but I had no idea how long it would take to get to that point. It has been an interesting challenge these past four years and I look forward to whatever else the art world throws at me.

Work in Progress via Instagram.

15.  You use such a unique mixed media process, how did you come to develop using such varied mediums in your work?
My materials have a lot to do with my anxiety, actually. Ever since I was a kid, if any materials got on my hands, for example: charcoal, paint, and glitter, I would be very upset. I hated the feeling of things on my hands so much, that I switched to using permanent, quick-drying materials when I was in middle school. A lot of my later materials began being used when I wanted to gain greater “oomph” with my pen and inks, that the materials on their own could not achieve. All while staying off of my hands.

Work in Progress via Instagram.

16.  What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?
I have a couple that I am trying to achieve. I really want to be featured in the print of my favorite magazine, “Hi-Fructose Magazine”, and to show in Thinkspace Gallery. Both will be very hard to obtain and have more to do with outside forces and luck than anything. I also want to make enough money over the next couple of years to pay off my student loans, buy a house, and rent a studio space. I'm confident that I should be able to achieve all three in the next couple of years. It helps a lot that St. Louis is relatively cheap to live in! 
Also find her here:

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!  Keep up the great work.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Portfolio Website.

I've wanted to get a website for a couple of years now, and I've officially taken the leap.  Please take a moment and check out

Screenshot of my website.

And stay tuned, because I will be adding more work as time goes on.

Lots of goals for the coming year.  It's going to be great!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Playlist #23: A Summery Breeze

Image via Flickr Commons (Missouri State Archives).

Listen via Spotify/Tumblr.

Group Show Gallery Opening Reception December 2, 2016

Hey folks, been a long time, I know.  But I'm back at it.  I was contacted last month about being a part of a fun, last minute, all women group show at The Open Gallery in Vincennes, Indiana.  I submitted three paintings, and I'm really excited to see what the rest of the show holds.  More information on their Facebook Page.
"Enid's Sense of Humor" 16"x20" Acrylic on Oval Canvas

"Everyday Saint" 8"x10" Acrylic on Canvas

"Save Yourself" 18"x24" Acrylic on Canvas

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Spring has been epically wonderful on the new farm.

Our first spring on our new farm.  This time last year we were filled with anxiety and worry wondering if our old farm would ever sell in order for us to have this place that is beyond our wildest dreams.  I'm still pinching myself that 75 glorious acres are what I call home.  Here are a few updates: 

Delcy had a little bull calf, we named him Dudley.  She was an absolute dream to milk compared to Nanbert (who took to aiming at my skull and kicking her little heart out).  Now the calves are taking it all, and my milking stool is put away until Lola calves this month.

The chickens have settled in nicely--I had to go six months without home raised eggs...never again.

The walls are going up in the old Amish Hat Factory for our future home.  My bedroom will be directly across from my giant studio!  **Swoon**

This is the old farmhouse we are currently living in on the property.  It's about a hundred feet from the Amish Hat Factory building (which you can see a tiny bit of on the left).  I'm hoping to renovate this little cutie to house guests someday for art retreats and homesteading workshops.  The glass porch on the front is my favorite place to be.
The garden is coming along nicely.  Still have a few more plots to plant, but it all seems to be growing.
And it's that time of year.  The neighbor called for me to pick his blueberries for him to take to farmer's markets.  I picked for about five hours yesterday.  It's quite relaxing, truly, and I get to listen to amazing podcasts like "Art For Your Ear," "Garden Dine Love," "WTF," "The Moth," and lots more.  If you're looking for something to listen to while you work--definitely give these a listen.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Artist Interview: Kaetlyn Able

Our Love Grows and Grows.
I feel just terrible that I didn't get this lovely girl's interview up sooner.  My deepest apologies--this spring has been incredibly busy.  Without further ado, here is an interview with a very talented artist I think all of you will enjoy.  She particularly catches my eye with her vintage-y people and great combination of color and black and white.  Please get to know Kaetlyn Able:
1.  Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon it later in life?
I was always an art kid—happiest when I was drawing and making things. Family lore is that I was a really easy kid, because I always had some quiet project going. I majored in studio art at my small liberal arts college, and then went on to graduate school to get my MFA.
Mini Portrait #3: Masquerade
2.  What style of art is your favorite and why?
It's so hard to nail down just one favorite style! As a viewer I love it all—from contemporary installation work to the old masters. Any work that was made with an interesting concept in mind, excellent craftsmanship, and emotional resonance (a favorite college professor spoke of work that was made with head, hands and heart) is great art to me. As a maker, my favorite style to work in is a sort of magical realism. I love to work from observation—either from life or from photos that I've taken myself and brought back to the studio. That process of looking very carefully and trying to understand the figure, the light, the character and the particular details of an object or scene, is very calming and meditative to me. And then I love to let that realism run wild into an imaginary place by combining strange elements together (lately it's people and plants), working from memory and letting things melt into abstraction in places.
Passion Flower Dreamer 2.
3.  What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?
I collect old portrait photographs. I buy them from antique shops and people give them to me. I spend hours and hours just pouring over them, wondering about the people in the pictures and looking for clues about their lives. My ideas for my paintings begin with figures from or fragments of these images. I also love to people watch. I tend to look for, or imagine, great love stories between people I see out in the world. I'm an unapologetic romantic. And I like thinking about and celebrating sassy, strong women and sensitive, nurturing men—the not-traditionally-celebrated combinations of character and gender. I'm also deeply inspired by the natural world. I spend a lot of the spring, summer and fall hiking around outdoors, camera in hand, looking for wildflowers.
Botanical Hat V:  Thistles.
4. Walk us through your creative process from idea to finished project.
I begin with an image or part of an image from one of my old photographs. This is always an intuitive choice—I choose something that I find intriguing without fully understanding why. Making the drawing or painting helps me to think through and understand my fascination with the image. I sketch out the parts of the image that interest me and leave out everything that doesn't. Sometimes I know what botanical elements I want to combine with the photo image right away, and other times that comes to me as I'm working and thinking deeply about the people and the details of the photo, developing their story as I go. I work on a really small, intimate and detailed scale, either layering ink and watercolor washes on paper with tiny brushes, or painting ink onto claybord and scratching the details with a sharp tool to reveal the white clay underneath. My processes are pretty labor intensive. When I'm working on a piece I almost always get to the point where my perfectionism tries to take over—I start seeing a lot of technical “flaws” that distract me and I start doubting the work. I've learned to step away when that happens—maybe even for a couple of days. I return with fresh eyes and am able to let go of that neurotic side to my perfectionism, see the charm in the “flaws” and finish the piece.
Work In Progress via Instagram
 5.  What is a typical day in your life?
I'm a stay-at-home mom to my two little boys, ages three and five, so I spend most of each day doing mom and household related activities and tasks. My kids are very, very active, so I make it a priority for us to get out and about for most of the day. I'm also undergoing treatment for breast cancer, so I spend a lot of time at the hospital as well. My husband and I share a little workspace in our home, where I make art and he does computer-y things. I work in small chunks of time throughout the day, whenever I get the chance. I'm always at the ready to switch gears and jump into art mode. When my boys are at preschool (they both go two mornings a week) or really into their pretend play together, or watching their afternoon show, or out with their grandma, I sit down at my work table and get a little art time in. I also work after they go to bed at night. My husband and I also trade some kid-free time on the weekends to work on our respective projects. My rule is to find at least half an hour each day for art-making, but I can usually find more.
Dapper Frogs Sitting on Toadstools.
6.  What do you think draws you to other people's work?
Like I said earlier, I love when an artist's work combines an interesting, deeply explored concept, beautiful craftsmanship and and emotional resonance. I love quirky, authentic-feeling art. I also tend to gravitate toward artists who have a nice kind of balance between consistency and variety in their work.

Vintage Airforce and Wild Roses.
 7.  What are your interests/hobbies?
I love being outside, hiking and exploring with my family. I also love doing yoga, cooking, baking, sewing and getting together with friends. And I read a ton. I've also recently started exploring Buddhist teachings and meditation.
Untitled (Mustache).
8.  Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?
My stay-at-home mom gig is my full time job right now. My plan is to transition back to work as a full time artist as my children enter school. My oldest starts all day kindergarten next fall, and my youngest will go to preschool three full days. So I'll have more dedicated art time starting in the fall. And my younger son will start kindergarten the following year. My ultimate goal is to work while my boys are in school, and then to pick them up and spend the afternoons with them. And to be home with them when they're sick.
The Good Old Days #2.
9.  What is your favorite piece you've ever made and why?
I don't think I could ever choose just one! It would end up as a tie between my twenty favorites, I think. And since I'm always making new work, my feelings about past work are always changing. My favorites among my own body of work tend to be the ones that resonate with me most emotionally and the ones that represent conceptual and technical breakthroughs.
Work in Progress via Instagram.
10.  What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the business world?
Do the work, pay your dues, be patient and come up with a plan for how you will create a viable, sustainable business as an artist. What are your goals? What is your budget? Who is your target market? What compromises will you need to make as you're starting out? If you plan to seek gallery representation, remember that there is no venue too small or obscure for your work when you're just beginning. Show your work wherever you can. Your local library, Arts Center, hospital and coffee shops are all great, accessible venues for emerging artists. I showed and sold my work in all of these spaces when I was just starting out. Most of us who apply for big grants or to prestigious galleries will most often be rejected in the beginning. But if you keep plugging diligently away, making work, honing your craft and sharing your work with the public, those galleries and collectors will eventually begin to approach you. It took me eleven years of hard (but exceptionally rewarding) work for that shift to happen.
Buttercups Couple.
11.  Describe your work space.
My corner of our work space consists of a big computer desk, a drafting table, a nice, deep closet and a little painting cart on wheels. It feels perfect to me—just enough space, but not so much that I don't know what I have or where I put things.
Her work space.
12.  Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?
I don't know if I would consider them setbacks exactly. Maybe just the twists and turns of figuring out how to cobble together an economically viable existence making art. I did not do a great job really thinking through the business side of things when I was in school. If I remember correctly, I think my plan was to simply be discovered! At that time I didn't have good time management skills either. The result was that after graduate school I ended up kind of flailing around for a few years as I tried to figure out how to make a living and make art. I had a non art related job that I really didn't like and very little time (or so I thought) for art. You know what they say about hindsight, but if I could do it all over I would have been more thoughtful and strategic about my career path when I was in school. There were some missed opportunities there.
Botanical Hat VI: Pasqueflowers.
13.  What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?
In the short term, I'm working on getting back in the swing of things after getting through the harder parts of my cancer treatments. I'm lucky to be represented by a fantastic gallery, Altitude, here in Bozeman. I had a really successful show last year and sold most of my pieces, but my painting pace slowed down considerably while I was going through chemo and recovering from surgery. So I'm kind of re-emerging right now, and working hard on a new series for the gallery. Once I get them fully stocked with my new work, I plan to seek further representation in other cities. My main longterm goal is to build a sustainable business making art. I've been noodling over how to do that, experimenting with my ideas and analyzing the numbers. And I've discovered that working with galleries is the best fit for me. So that's where I'm focusing.

Silhouette #29.
Please also find her and her work here:

Etsy Shop.