Getting Down To Business With Artist & Entrepreneur Cameo Townsend

Getting Down To Business With Artist & Entrepreneur Cameo Townsend

 

Hello readers! I hope you all are having a fantastic day. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with young artist / business woman, Cameo Townsend. A gal with a good heart, a ton of chutzpah, a bit of a potty mouth, and a side of snark, she has big dreams for the future. She is clever, sometimes caustic, and super crafty. She dabbles in many artistic mediums, from knit goods to watercolors.

Beyond her art, she is a wife, a mother, and now an entrepreneur! She recently opened a brick and mortar storefront in Spokane, WA called Sticks & Dreams Gallery and Emporium. A true go-getter, this young lady has a lot going for her, and a lot to offer her community.

Keep reading to learn more about Cameo Townsend and her latest endeavors.

SnS: Hello Cameo ūüôā

Cameo: **Gives 2 thumbs up** Hi, I know you can’t see this but there it is.

SnS: LOL no worries, it’ll translate. ¬†So please tell us what drew you to art (no pun intended) and how long have you been an artist?

Cameo: I‘ve been doing art since I was a little kid. I wouldn’t call it doing art exactly, but I’ve always loved drawing. One time I took my makeup and drew a picture, and my mom asked me, “Why did you do that?” and I was like, “I don’t know. Because it was fun and I didn’t want to use markers?”¬†I had a creative child-like mind, I guess.

Actually, I’ve been making art since I was a kid. But professionally, only in the last year. I’ve taken some art classes, but I don’t think I’m a good artist. I think I’m better at helping other artists. If that makes any sense.

I like to try making new things though, so I just make a lot of stuff. If I can give it away, most of the time I do. I give it away so I have enough room to make more stuff. So I guess that’s really my answer. I’ve just always liked art, but nothing specifically drew me to it. There are things that have kept me in art though.¬†

SnS: I was going to ask you what medium or genre you prefer, but it sounds like you are a jack of all trades.

Cameo: Kind of, yeah. I don’t really do one thing, but I guess the most consistent thing I do is watercolor. I’ve used acrylics. I’m not amazing with acrylic. I’d like to take some classes in acrylics, or get new hands. You know, just like slip on some robot hands boop be doop.¬†I’ve also worked with oils. I hate working with oils. Oils are the Devil and they should die.¬†

I’ve also done some found art. I really enjoy found art, where you just stick some stuff on a canvas. I actually did one that was all buttons on a galaxy background. Because I’m the queen of galaxies. It sold the same day that I finished it.¬†

SnS: Wow! So you are basically self-taught?

Cameo: Yeah, I’ve taken a couple of classes. I took a drawing class in college, and a mixed media class in high school which was awful. My teacher hated anime’ so she was really mean to me. She hated video games too, so she was really, really mean to me because that was all I drew.¬†

SnS: Isn’t that what most high schoolers draw?

Cameo: **Laughing** ¬†Pretty much! But whatever, haters gonna hate. I still draw anime’ and enjoy it.

SnS: Good for you ūüôā ¬†So do you have any artists that inspire you, or that you currently admire?

Cameo: Yes, but they are mostly local artists. One of them is my “Aunt” (chosen family member) Isola Olsen who passed away a few years ago. She was an artist who worked in watercolor, acrylics, and oils. She lived here, but mostly showed on the west side of the state, and in Idaho. She did a couple of sessions with me and she was really nice. She kind of solidified my interest in watercolor. ¬†She inspired me a lot, and she kind of got me into continuously doing art.

My Grandma Jan, who also passed away, inspired me too. But she wasn’t an artist. She was just always telling me, “You can do good, kid.” She did all that feeling happy stuff.¬†

Denny Carman inspired me. I mean he helped me get my work out there. He’s inspiring, and awesome, and super helpful. I’m always thanking him and I’m sure he’s going to tell me to shut up one day. He’s going to be like, “Are you going to say thank you? Shut up.”¬†

I have a lot of people who inspire me. Connie Janney is one of the people I aspire to be like eventually, because she’s always just doing stuff. She’s always helping people, always doing classes, and she’s so nice! She’s just one of my favorite people. She’s my friend. We have some of her work in my gallery.

My husband is not the typical artist, but he inspires me too. He helps me with EVERYTHING. He’s a blacksmith, and he makes knives and stuff. But lately he hasn’t had the time to make anything because he’s been running me around to art shows and helping me set up shop. I’m hoping he’ll be able to get back to his craft soon.

SnS: Let’s talk about your shop. It’s called Sticks & Dreams, and it’s located at 903 1/2 W. Garland Ave. in Spokane, WA. What made you want to open a store?

Cameo:¬†Honestly, one of the things that made me want to do art, and build a store right now, was having a near death experience. I didn’t see God or anything, but being so close to dying made me realize that life is too short to do something for a living that you don’t enjoy doing.¬†

I also wanted to help out my friends and fellow artists who were needing a place to sell their work. And to be able to offer fun and artistic things at a reasonable price to people who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

SnS: Wow! Smart and altruistic at such a young age. You are definitely a unique woman Cameo. Now watch me segue. . . Speaking of unique, what kind of things can we find in your store, and in what price range?

Cameo: Every bleeping (*edited*) thing. Everything in here is $200 or under, and I literally don’t think we have anything above $150 right now.

All the art is $200 or less, but all the other little things are $2 – $35, for hand-made stuff.

It’s mostly art, prints & originals. We have wood burnings by Richard Flatt. A woman came in here and dropped off doilies and towels. She also made a thing called a soap cozy and I didn’t have any idea what that was. What the heck is a soap cozy? But as soon as she explained it to me I said, sure you can put that in here! We have wands by Miki Murdoch, art by Oksana Tepp, Connie Janey, Deb Harder, Ryker Murdock, Denny Carman, Leslie Adams, Kevin Montgomery. ¬†

I have packaged prints of my watercolors and calligraphy, as well as Connie Janney’s works in mandala and collage. We have photos by Ambrelle Coy, and digital art by Sarah Russel, and so many others. Oh and we have buttons from Melissa and Misty at Dizzy Bee, etched glass by Cassie Barber, and knit jellyfish key chains by Georgia at PG & Jelly. We have scented hand soaps, bath bombs, and so much more. It’s just crazy and wonderful.

SnS: What kinds of things are you missing that you might like to have in the store?

Cameo: I like outside-of-the-box things. So if you can bring me something that I don’t already have, most likely I’ll put it in here. I don’t have an exact answer for that though, so if you have something unique and weird, you should bring it in here. I have one artist who is bringing in doll heads, in boxes. They are creepy and I love them.

I have some pottery, but I’d like some more. . .

**hint** This is where you local potters should be thinking, “Gee, I should get on that.”

Generally we are kid friendly, as long as there’s no genitalia. **laughs** Sorry I had to refrain from saying something else. So yeah, no genitalia, but some of our buttons do have the “f” word on them. So parents be aware. Most of them though, are smart and sassy quotes that make me happy.

SnS: That’s great! Okay, so if a crafter or artist wanted to contact you to sell their wares, how would they do that?

Cameo: I like it when you take initiative! Come in and talk to me. You can email or message me, sure. But eventually I am going to want to see you and talk to you. Because if you don’t show me that you want to do it, then it’s not worth my time or yours. That’s one of the biggest things for me.¬†

Sticks and Dreams has pretty much every social media account, but if you want to work with me, come see me.

SnS: Speaking of social media, I’ve been keeping track of your storefront via facebook, and you have a few upcoming events. Tell us about those.

Cameo: Okay, so our first upcoming event is on July 22nd. We are having local artist Sam White¬†( pictured below) sitting outside our store doing an original painting from 1 – 4. When it’s finished we’ll raffle it off. The kicker to this whole thing is, you have to be present when he finishes the painting to be able to win it.¬†

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SnS: So you have to stay on Garland?

Cameo: Yes, pretty much. The whole idea is to get people down here to enjoy this area, and stay a while. 

SnS: Great! The Garland district is really growing. It’s exciting to see, and better to share. Now, I understand you are also offering some classes soon?

Cameo: Yes. I am hosting a (non-alcoholic) paint night on July 29th, for 10 – 12 people, with Maria McConnell from Bittersweet Canvas. We’ll be painting a night scene picture (below). The class is $45 / person and we supply everything, including snacks. All you have to bring is yourself, and clothing that is worthy of paint. ¬†

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We also have another class on Aug. 4th, a crocheting class for amature crocheters¬†who know the basics already. We’ll be making an adorable little manta ray, (pictured below) with Georgia Williams. The class is only $15 / person, but you need to bring your own H hook and yarn. We will provide the stuffing and eyes.¬†

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SnS: Wow, you are really going for it! So on top of running the business, you are a wife and you have 2 kids. How are you juggling all of this?

Cameo: I’m not. I’m falling apart backwards and lighting myself on fire.

Seriously though, my 10-year-old step-daughter is pretty self-sufficient. She is happy with her friends and her cell phone. My 2-year-old is really into cars, so that makes life easier. Plus thankfully, we have lots of family to help with him while I’m here. Unfortunately, he left a car in the living room yesterday and I almost tripped over it when I got home. That thing is annoying.

SnS: Just wait till he’s into Legos. The bane of parental feet everywhere.

Cameo: I’m so not ready for that. If that happens I’ll never take off my tennis shoes. I’m going to sleep in my tennis shoes, forever.¬†

Honestly though, I don’t really juggle any of this. I just aggressively multi-task.¬†

SnS: That is an enviable skill. The name of your store is Sticks & Dreams. This tells me that you have a goal in sight, a dream, if you will. Care to share your dream?

Cameo:¬†So, my husband came up with the name. He said the sticks are the brushes and the dreams are the paintings, so that’s been my artist name on all my social media. It’s where I started as an artist, and now it’s turned into this shop.¬†

I guess the dream is to just be able to run. Like, I don’t have to make lots of money, but I want the place to be self-sufficient. If I make only enough money to pay the bills that’s fine. If I make more, that’s awesome. But that’s not really the point of this.

The point is to give local artists an outlet for their work. To get all their art out there, and get people who normally wouldn’t be able to afford art to be able to buy some.¬†

Let’s face it, I’m a cheap-ass. So the whole idea of the store is so that the average person can purchase art, and have something beautiful. That’s why we have so many different tiers of pricing within the $200 or less range. I like being able to sell fun and beautiful items to people who might not be able to afford it otherwise, and I like helping out our local artists. That’s my dream.

SnS: So you are living your dream right now. Do you have a bucket list? If so, have you crossed anything off yet?

Cameo: I don’t really have a bucket list. I mean there are things that I want to do, but none of it is realistic stuff.¬†

SnS: It doesn’t have to be realistic.

Cameo: Okay then. There are places I would want to go. In fact I just want to go. . . everywhere. I’ve only ever been to Idaho and Montana, once on purpose and once on accident. *laughs* My mom is really bad with directions. I just want to go to places outside of WA, ID, and MT. I actually really want to go to NY. And, I’d like to see the Infinity Mirror show.

SnS: I hope you get to do that someday. Last question. If you could host a fantasy dinner and invite anyone living or dead, real or fictional, who would you invite and why?

Cameo: Okay, so this is going to be super clich√©¬†because I would want to bring my Grandma Jan back. I didn’t get to see her for a long time, and the last time I called her was on my first day of college. She was fighting cancer and didn’t know who I was because of all the meds. She died of pancreatic cancer before I could see her again. She was a really great person. She wasn’t a great lady at the beginning of her life, but she really turned it around. That’s one of the things I loved most about her.¬†

SnS: Well, I think she’d be proud of the person you are Cameo. You are amazing. Thank you for interviewing with me, and sharing so much with us all.

If you would like to visit Cameo / Sticks & Dreams online you can find her on Twitter, facebook, Instagram, and Etsy.

 

 

 

In case you missed it. . .

Hello everyone! Because I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful artists and authors this year I thought I’d do a quick retrospective, in case you missed it.

Whether a sci-fi or fantasy writer, intuitive, abstract, impressionist, or illustration artist, all of my interviewees have one (maybe two) thing(s) in common: they are all wonderfully kind and talented people. Learning about these fantastic folks – artists and authors – was such a pleasure I’d like to thank them once again for interviewing with me. You all have broadened my world view and enriched my life. Much love and appreciation to my SquidandSquirrel friends and readers!

First up, our excellent authors:

D. Andrew McChesney – author of Stone Island Sea Stories. ¬†Click¬†here¬†for his interview, ‘I Love It When You’re Nautical!

 

Kate Poitevin – author of Saving Tir Gaeltacht¬†. Click¬†here¬†to read her interview, ‘Kate Poitevin Talks Nerdy With Me.

 

Sue Eller Рauthor of the Emily Trace Mysteries. Click here  to read her interview, Sue Eller Is One Rare Bird.

Now for our amazing artists!

Check out fur suit maker and Multimedia artist Allison J. Wier

A co-op of potters, they started their own business and have expanded nicely. Consider taking a class at Urban Art Coop

Take a gander at pet portraitist Grace Fairchild, an artist with an eye for eyes.

Here is A Glimpse into the Mystical Inner Space of artist Mitchell Pluto

Enjoy The Intricate, Imaginative Illustrations of Kim Long

and¬†Clancie Pleasants ‚Äď Telling Life‚Äôs Stories With Paintings.¬†

Next,¬†Meet Tom Norton, People‚Äôs Choice winner at ‚ÄúOrigins of Fear‚ÄĚ exhibit.

Spend a moment¬†Catching up with artist Kelly Loder‚Äôs ‚ÄúEmotion in Motion!‚ÄĚ

Learn about The Universe According To Fantasy Illustrator Shannon Potratz

And finally, enjoy The Many Layers Of Artist, Linnea Tobias

Thanks, once again, to all of the artists and authors who’ve interviewed with me, and kept in touch. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you all, and sharing your talents with the world. Blessings to you all.¬†

~Mj (a.k.a. host of TheSquidandSquirrel)

‘Emily Trace Mysteries’ author, Sue Eller is one rare bird.

‘Emily Trace Mysteries’ author, Sue Eller is one rare bird.

Author of one novella, a gluten-free cookbook, and two installations of the Emily Trace mysteries, Sue Eller is everything you’d ever want an author to be: quirky, kind, creative, accomplished, and coffee dependent. A self-proclaimed nerd and Star Trek fan, she is fun-loving, intelligent, and a genuinely nice person.

I met Sue at a Spokane Authors & Self Publishers (S.A.S.P.) meeting where she is the current Vice President. Warm and welcoming to this newbie, we struck up a conversation and spoke of our various writing adventures. Of course this eventually lead to my picking up two of her books: ‘Meadowlark Madness’ and ‘Taming of the T-Bird’ – the Emily Trace Mysteries. ¬†20170515_182546

Set in the Pacific Northwest city of Spokane, young widow and newly licensed P.I. Emily Trace has many mysteries to solve. She’d like to find out who killed her husband, and why. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) her small business, E.T. Investigations seems to keep her a bit too busy, drawing strange clients dealing with even stranger circumstances.

Full of interesting characters, nerdy humor, pop culture references, action, adventure, and even a touch of romance, these books are fun to read. Almost as fun as interviewing this amazing author!

Keep reading to learn more about Sue Eller.

SnS: Sue, please give us a little background on yourself. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Sue: Well, my mom wrote short stories, and even sold a few. So writing was always in my life. As was reading. I grew up on a farm, the eldest of six kids, and the only entertainment besides each other was a black and white TV, or books. My dad loved westerns, and I thought the Mickey Mouse Club was okay, but mostly I read. My mom would take us all to the local library and I would come home with dozens of books at a time. I would devour them and go back for more. 

To be honest, I’ve had delusions most of my life about being the next Arthur Conan Doyle, or Carolyn Keene, or Agatha Christie – without the whole murdering the husband thing, of course – but I actually went to school hoping to be a band instructor. I learned multiple instruments: guitar, keyboards, clarinet, saxophone, and violin, but I was told by an adviser that my dream of being a band teacher wouldn’t happen. He told me, “Women just don’t do that.” So I transferred to Whitworth College and switched my major to Chemistry. I minored in Math and French, and took an interest in computer science.

SnS: Wow, so when did you become serious about writing?

Sue:¬†In 1994 I began writing short stories and articles for a weekly newspaper. After a while I purchased the paper and ran it for four years. It was a good education for me. It was fun, and I learned a lot. After that I wrote my first novella ‘Return From Armageddon‘ in 1991. It was published in 1992 as an audio-book by Books In Motion. In 2012 I released the hard copy and Kindle editions.¬†It was later that same year that I published my first Emily Trace book, ‘Meadowlark Madness‘.

SnS: Okay, now I have to ask. Where did you get the idea for the plot of ‘Meadowlark Madness‘? It’s very unique.¬†

Sue:¬†Growing up on the Palouse, my grandmother would drive us kids to and from Spokane to shop. Every time, she would point out the meadowlarks singing in the fields. After a few times, I let my imagination wander and thought, “What if. . . What if those bird songs are fake? What if they are some sort of triggered sensor?” Somewhere between those thoughts and my love of Star Trek and aliens I dreamed up E.T. Investigations.

I wanted the hero of my book to have a name that coincided with E.T. for the pun factor, therefore Emily Trace was born. Emily Trace is very much like me, an alter ego of sorts. She is quirky, flawed, and totally addicted to coffee.

SnS: *LOL* There is nothing wrong with loving the java. ūüėČ ¬† ¬†So, did the plot for ‘Taming of the T-Bird‘ also come from a real life happening?

Sue: *Laughing* Yes, my husband Ray owned a T-Bird many years ago. He drove it to work and home every day, and every day it would die at the same spot. After a while of this, I began teasing him, saying that aliens must be to blame. The story evolved from that.

I wrote both books with two goals in mind. First, I purposely kept them clean. There is no graphic violence, explicit sex, or harsh language. I wanted it to be something pre-teens could read and enjoy. Second, I wanted to bring in themes that dealt with real life issues such as greed, family dysfunction, forgiveness, friendship, and the difficulties brought on by Autism. I have an autistic grandson, whom I love very much. I wanted my books to shed light on these issues, and one of my favorite moments was when a fan wrote to tell me that my book helped her to better understand an autistic family member.

SnS: That’s wonderful! Now, I’ve heard it said that some authors hear their characters voices in their heads, as if they are real. Are your characters real to you?

Sue:¬†My characters are very real to me. Some of them were inspired by friends or family members. One, Emily’s first client, Archie ‘The Keeper of the Paints’ was inspired by Wile E. Coyote painting a tunnel that the Road Runner ran through. My Darla character, Emily’s temp. was a complete surprise. I imagined her as a typical teenager looking for a job, but she turned out to be a bit of a wise-goth. She’s a good foil for my nerdy main character Emily.

SnS: It seems that you and Emily have a lot in common. You both share a nerdy love of Star Trek. How long have you been a fan and who is your favorite character?

Sue:¬†I’ve been hooked on Star Trek since September of 1966 when the first episode aired. Scotty and Bones were fun characters, but I thought Kirk was a sleaze. My sister loved Chekov, and I loved Spock. To me, Spock was the hero because no matter what, he was always intelligent, always in control. Plus, like me, he was a science nerd.

SnS: We’ve established your nerd credits for science and Star Trek, but I have it on good authority that you are nerdy in many ways. Can you tell me more about that?

Sue:¬†Well, I enjoy Dr. Who, LOTR, and Harry Potter too. In fact I believe that the first page of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” is quite possibly the best first page ever written.

Because of my various fandoms, I’ve attended a few conventions like InCon and WorldCon. I dressed up with a Tom Baker (Dr. Who) scarf and hat for one of them. The other I dressed up as Professor Trelawny.¬†That costume garnered a lot of attention, and a lot of people took pictures with me. It was fun. If you really want to understand the extent of my nerdiness though, you will have to come in and see my office.¬†

**There is only one way to describe Sue’s office. Super cool & nerdy chaos. The space is filled with file cabinets, book shelves, and tables. Every surface is covered by computer tech., books, papers, action figures from many iconic films, and even a life-size sorting hat! The walls sport a large map of Middle Earth, a sepia print of Spock, a lovely painting done by her niece, a paper version of Emily Trace’s infamous bird clock, and a massive story board.

SnS: Wow, you weren’t kidding about being a nerd! How do you get any work done in here?

Sue:¬†I don’t. I mostly work from my kitchen table. I’ve always been a busy person, being raised on the farm, going to¬†school, then work and motherhood. It’s hard for me to sit still for any length of time so I get my best work done outside of my office.

SnS: When you say work, you aren’t kidding. Not only do you write, but you and your friend Kate Poitevin (previously interviewed by SnS) work together as editors, and you are Vice President of the S.A.S.P. ¬†Please tell us about editing, and how you got involved in the Spokane Authors and Self Publishers¬†group.¬†

Sue:¬†My friend Kate¬†and I began our adventure as editors 3 years ago, to fill a need by other authors. We offered a less expensive way to get their books a preliminary edit. We felt confident we could do this as we’d helped Kate’s dad edit his autobiography years earlier, and because of my experience editing for my newspaper.

I got involved with the S.A.S.P. in 2013 after taking part in a multi-author book signing at our local Hastings store. I met some local authors involved with the S.A.S.P. (one being Dave McChesney, also previously interviewed by SnS.) and they invited me to a meeting. At first I wasn’t certain I wanted to join the group, but I went again. After hearing more speakers, and making some friends, I decided to stay and have been there ever since.¬†

SnS: Sounds like you have an extremely full schedule. When can we expect a new Emily Trace mystery?

Sue:¬†I’m pleased to say that I plan on having my third Emily Trace mystery out later this year. The cover art is nearly complete, and I’ve been working on refining the story line.

SnS: Well, after reading your first two, I can’t wait to see your next installment! So where can fans find you on-line?

Sue: I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Smashwords and EmilyTraceMysteries.com

 

 

 

The Many Layers Of Artist, Linnea Tobias

The Many Layers Of Artist, Linnea Tobias

I must make an admission here, at the start. . . I was nervous to meet artist, Linnea Tobias. Having seen her work for the first time over a year ago, I was immediately drawn in. The world created by her art is layered with colorful details, whimsical creatures, and a depth of vision that I thoroughly enjoy.

Since that first exposure, I’ve seen her art work in more and more places: coffee shops, galleries, small businesses, and even a friends home! After a while, finding her art became like an Easter egg hunt, a thrill to spot. As I became more familiar with her works, I also became curious about the artist. So while waiting for her to arrive for our interview, I was both excited and a little nervous to meet her. Of course, a low dose of panic set in when I realized that my phones wifi wasn’t working and I couldn’t access a picture by which to recognize her. Thankfully, Linnea found me.

Immediately putting me at ease with her gracious good humor, I found that Linnea is quick to smile, very kind, open minded and just generally fun to talk to. I had promised to keep our interview to 30 minutes, but over an hour later we were still chatting. Like her art, she is absolutely engaging.

Keep reading to learn more about this amazing, intuitive artist.

SnS: Linnea, please tell us who, or what, inspired your love of art?

L.T.: My grandfather used to take me to a little art supply store where he lived in Hot Springs, South Dakota. I loved going there – art supply stores are like candy stores for me! I would take my new supplies, hang out in his basement workshop, and draw. He made wood furniture, but he also liked to talk about drawing. My cousin is an artist and I remember as kids he would always have a sketchbook filled with amazing drawings and cartoons that he had created. I was fascinated by them.

SnS: Are you classically trained, or self taught?

L.T.: I always drew as a kid, but I also took quite a few classes as well. I studied art at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA and spent my senior year in Europe, at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts on the island of Paros, in Greece. I also took classes at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, a few years later.

SnS: So how long have you been in Spokane, what drew you here?

L.T.:¬†After graduating from Evergreen State College in 1991, I moved to Mendocino, CA and lived there for a few years before moving to Arcata. ¬†I moved to Spokane about three and a half years ago, when my husband landed a job here. I have a sister who lives here too, so this area wasn’t completely unfamiliar to me.

SnS: What mediums do you work with, and which is your favorite?

L.T.: I have worked with almost everything you can imagine, and I have liked all of it. I’ve worked with pastels, watercolor, oil, acrylics, encaustic, gouache, collage, colored pencil, printmaking, and clay.¬†

Currently, I love fluid acrylics, watercolor, and experimenting with a combination of encaustic and pyrography.

SnS: For folks like me, who are not artists, please explain encaustic and pyrography? I’m guessing pyrography has something to do with fire.

L.T.: Yes, it does. Pyrography is wood burning. Encaustic is a mixture of pigment, beeswax, and varnish. You heat the mixture up and use the resultant colored wax to “paint” with. It isn’t precise, but is fun to work with.

SnS: How would you describe your style, and which artists (if any) influenced it?

L.T.: I’ve always found that a hard question to answer. I love color and nature. I paint intuitively, starting with an idea or drawing that inspires me. I add pattern to it, or abstract imagery, and I put it together going with what feels right. It’s like putting together a puzzle, and only my intuitive self knows the answer.

Quite a few artists inspire me. Paul Klee, Pierre Bonnard, Gustav Klimt, and Odilon Redon are a few.

SnS: Where else do you find inspiration / motivation for your art? Do you listen to music, hike through the woods, drink herbal tea while watching Syfy or Nat Geo?

L.T.: I love to spend time outdoors taking long walks with my dogs, or in my garden. Nature gives me the most inspiration. When I lived in California, I lived next to a redwood forest. It was amazing, and I loved the light. Now that I’m in Spokane, the light is different, darker, but I’m still close to nature and enjoy many of the walking trails and parks throughout town.¬†

I often meditate before I paint. It puts me in a calm, receptive mood. Puts me in “the zone” so to speak. The zone is where I find my flow, transcend self imposed limitations, and let creativity lead me. I also love to travel, and find lots of inspiration from that.

SnS: Travel is always good. Do you have any destination goals?

L.T.: Oh, so many! I’d like to visit Denmark, Norway, Spain, Vienna, Prague, and Japan. Here in the states, I’d like to visit New Orleans, but not during Mardi Gras. I don’t enjoy crowds that big.

SnS: Me either, but I do enjoy how layered and detailed your paintings are. How long does it usually take you to complete a project?

L.T.: It depends. Often I work in a series of three paintings that relate to each other, and work on them simultaneously. Those can take a few days, to a week, to complete. Some paintings take longer. I may put a layer of paint on them and then let them sit for a few weeks, or months, while I contemplate what to do next. Sometimes I complete something within a day or two, when I can visualize clearly what I want it to look like.

SnS: Has your art changed over time? 

L.T.: My art was much darker when I was younger, probably due to residual teen angst ūüėČ It changed as I grew up, and when I got married, but one of the biggest changes came after I had my daughter, not long after 9/11. My art became lighter, more joyful, and more colorful as a result. I guess it was my way of pushing back the darkness for myself and my family, and to create a positive atmosphere.¬†

Moving to Spokane changed it again as I had to get used to the difference in the light. Spokane is darker than California, and has an actual winter.

SnS: what do you think of the Spokane Art scene?

L.T.: The local art scene is small but good. I see a lot of enthusiasm here, and I’d like to think that means that we’ll keep moving forward, keep growing, spreading beauty and hope.

SnS: Well you are doing a good job of that. ūüôā Did you / do you have a day job?

L.T.: This is my job. In the past I have worked for art galleries, non-profit art organizations, and I’ve done some graphic design work. I worked at a summer stock theater in Custer State Park for six years, during college. I painted sets, ran the box office, whatever they needed. I had lots of other boring jobs in between.

Fun fact: my first job, at age 15, was as a tour guide in a commercial cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota where I grew up.

SnS: Obviously, you’ve been working on, around, art and artists a while now. What are your goals as an artist? Have you reached or surpassed any previous goals?

L.T.: One of my goals is to keep trying new techniques and ideas, to stretch myself as an artist. I’m always searching for new ways to express my ideas.¬†

In the past year, I’ve been experimenting with encaustic, and that has been really good for me. Working with beeswax and pigment forces me to give up control over the end result, and let the materials take over.

SnS: Speaking of control. . . If you could control space and time, travel through it to enhance your art, where would you go and why?

L.T.: I love to visit beautiful places like national parks, gardens, the ocean, lakes, etc, and this past week I went to Palm Springs to see the desert bloom in Anza Borrego State Park, and Joshua Tree National Park.

As for going back in time? When I spent that time on a Greek island, I was fascinated by the ancient ruins and old marble mines where they found the marble to use for sculptures on the Parthenon in Athens. I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to live in ancient Greece, so I’d visit there.

SnS: Nice! Would you ride along with “The Doctor”, H.G. Wells, “Doc Brown”, or “Bill & Ted”?

L.T.: Probably none of them. I’d rather bring my dogs instead.

SnS: Well that sort of answered my next question of, which would you prefer as a companion: a dog, cat, squid, or squirrel?

L.T.:¬†Beside my dogs, I do have a cat I adore, so she’d have to come too.

SnS: Okay, final question. Do you have any causes or charities you support that you’d like to share here?

L.T.: I love PBS and NPR. I support local public radio stations and television. I’ve donated to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Humane Society in the past year.

If you would like to see more of Linnea Tobias’ work, you can find her locally at: Pottery Place, Artemesia in the Women’s Club on South Hill, Lindaman’s, the Chocolate Apothecary, and during the summer, Entree Gallery in Priest Lake, ID.

On line you can find her at: LinneaTobias.com , Etsy , Instagram , or Facebook

Kate Poitevin, author of “Saving Tir Gaeltacht”, talks nerdy with me!

Kate Poitevin, author of “Saving Tir Gaeltacht”, talks nerdy with me!

Walking into my first Spokane Authors and Self Publishers (or S.A.S.P..) meeting, I had two goals: 1) find like minded folks who might help inspire me to finish my own book, and 2) troll for an author to interview for this blog. The meeting went well enough that I plan to go back. I expected that it would, as my buddy D. Andrew McChesney, previously interviewed for this blog, had recommended it. What I didn’t expect was to find a “pot of gold”, in the form of Irish writer Kate Poitevin.

I noticed her book, among many, on a display table. The cover art suggested something I might be interested in, and the title hinted at adventure. Of course like any fantasy nerd, the moment I opened the book and found a map, I was hooked. Without extra copies on hand I was delighted to see that Kate herself was at the meeting. I made my way over and chatted her up a bit. She was kind, quirky, and cool. Thoroughly impressed, I ordered her book on-line as soon as I got home, and devoured it over the next two days.

“Saving Tir Gaeltacht” is a blend of Harry Potter-esque adventure, Irish myth, and Narnia Chronicles wisdom. In it, four siblings and one cousin are tasked with saving a kingdom and fulfilling a prophecy using skills none of them knew they possessed until accidentally stepping through a portal to another world.

Each child meets and bonds with a mythical creature who protects, guides, and teaches them how to survive in the magical land of Tir Gaeltacht. With many missteps, a few life lessons, and much humor, the children make their way across a vast land to meet a powerful enemy and fulfill their destinies.

Told from the perspective of a young bard, this story held my attention  throughout (a feat within itself) and, upon finishing the last page, I decided I had to interview the author. As luck would have it, she agreed!

Mj: So Kate, tell me a little bit about yourself. Have you always been a writer?

Kate:¬†My first home was a float house on Coeur d’Alene Lake. My dad used to be a tug boat captain, and loved the water. His side of the family were all boatmen and my mom’s were lumberjacks. Whether it’s that history, or my Celtic roots, I do enjoy plaid flannel ūüėȬ†

On my first birthday, Dad bought The Boat Drive In. We lived in the attached apartment for almost three years until my parents bought the house my brother and I grew up in. I helped out in the kitchen of the Boat Drive In until the age of 14, when they sold it. I was in my late teens when I first met my husband to be, Jim. We both moved away to separate areas and lost track of each other for ten years. Then in the spring of 1978, we bumped into each other at a pub. We were married by February of 1979.   

¬†After that, I¬†worked at Taco Time for a while. I also worked as a ceramics caster, and a binder in a print shop. Eventually Jim and I bought and ran a concession trailer called “Murphy’s Corner” for 12 years. Retired now, my husband and I both love boats and finally have a sailboat of our own to enjoy.¬†

My first writing experience was early in our marriage. At that time, Jim worked for a company that had a monthly news letter and I was invited to write a short article. I guess people liked it because they kept asking me to contribute after that.¬†It wasn’t until I was invited to visit a local writers group, “The Tin Pencil” in 2008, that I got serious about writing a book though. My friend Mallory Battista founded the group that encouraged and helped me to finish the book. She also designed my cover.

Mj: That was a good group then!

Kate: Yes, and it still is.

Mj: Your bio on the back of your book lists you as a writer, artist, and clan chief. The writer part is obvious. Can you explain the artist and clan chief part to me please?

Kate:¬†It says artist on there? **I point it out to her** Well then, I must be an artist! Actually, I used to cast, fire, and paint ceramics. Maybe that’s why Mallory said that.¬†

Mj: Looking around I see many fantasy castles and figurines. Did you make any of these?

Kate:¬†Yes I did some of them, but I sold or gave most of my pieces away. I did win a prize for one. It’s not a fantasy piece though. **She walks across the room and retrieves a beautifully life like ceramic Wood duck.** I won a Peggy Award for this. It was actually surprising to me. I entered the contest only wanting a little light blue ribbon for best of category. I was shocked the morning after judging when my duck was missing from the shelf, until my boss asked me to accompany her to the winners table. I was thrilled to see a little blue ribbon. In fact, I was so engrossed with the ribbon, they had to point out the giant trophy sitting next to it!

Mj: **LOL** Apparently you can be very focused. So what is this about being a Clan Chief?

Kate: I joined the Irish Clan Cian (pronounced Kee-in) in 2000 and moved up through the offices: Tent Assistant, Convener, and Chieftan, until becoming Regional Chieftan. My region includes Eastern WA, Eastern OR, and all of Idaho.

My good friend, Chieftain Debbie Hinshaw, and I go to the Highland Games around the northwest, and help people find their Irish roots. We also get to bring new members into the clan. It can be hot and dirty, or cold and wet work, but the upside is that we get to spend weekends watching men in kilts.

Mj: Well that is very cool, but your bio also lists you as a Fantasy and Sci-Fi nerd. Is that true?

Kate: **Gives that dazzling smile** Oh yes, I am a total nerd. I became addicted to fantasy novels 35 years ago when Mom gave me my first fantasy novel, “Arrows of the Queen” by Mercedes Lackey. She didn’t “get it” but thought it was a cute story. I, however, was hooked! From that I moved on to the “Earthsea” series by Ursula K. Le Guin, and from there to anything by Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchet, J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, and Anne McCaffrey to name a few of my favorites. Oh and I’ve recently become obsessed with Dean Koontz’ “Odd Thomas” series. Never read horror, but picked it up and fell in love with Odd. Beyond that, I’ve always been a Star Trek / Star Wars nerd and I proudly admit to being a Whovian.

Mj: Ah, nice to meet yet another complete and total nerd. This immersion in nerdiness explains some of your own book, “Saving Tir Gaeltacht”. As does your Irish back ground, but can you tell me what inspired you to write it in the first place?

Kate:¬†Well, it started out as a story for my grandchildren, Gabe, Taylor, Jordan, Zach, and Zayne. They are the stars of the story. ¬†I let them pick what their bond mates would be, and name them. Gabe, originally wanted a flying frog for his bond mate! I just didn’t know what to do with that, so I asked him to study some on mythical creatures. Thankfully he settled on the white stag.

In fact, many of the characters in my book are fictional representations of my actual family and a number of friends. I let them all pick a Celtic name, and tried to get their personalities right. My youngest daughter, Callie, is Kyla. Michelle is the lady warrior, Maeve. Son Kris is Declan, his wife, Josie is Molly.

Mj: So how close are the characters in relation to your grandkids? Are they a lot alike?

Kate:¬†Yes, I tried very hard to make them see themselves. I never intended for this to be published, it was always just for them. I wanted to put in little family references so they would remember what they were like when that age. Zach and Zayne, who followed the story as it was written made sure that I had none of them do or say anything that the real one wouldn’t. In fact,¬†one of my proudest moments was when a friend of mine finished reading the original draft and told me, “It wouldn’t matter if you changed the names of their characters. I would have known who they were just by how you wrote them.”¬†

Mj: That’s a nice compliment! It really is a good read, but when can we expect a sequel?¬†

Kate:¬†Well actually, I am working on a prequel. It is Ronnie’s story. Ronnie was the dragon Jarth’s first bond mate, the one who helped create the prophecy, and set up certain safe guards for the young man who was to come after her.

Mj: Excellent! When can we expect to see this available?

Kate:¬†As soon as I can finish it. I’m getting closer. The problem writers have is finding time!

Well, I for one, can not wait to read it!¬†To order Kate Poitevin’s book, “Saving Tir Gaeltacht” just click on this link¬†for a Kindle edition or paper back version.¬†If you would like a signed copy, and live in the Spokane area, you can purchase it directly from Kate! Just drop her an e-mail at . . . katelaptop@murphyscorner.com.