Gerald Ringtail and his Battlepus!

Not sure how many of you use Twitter, but I’m on there everyday and I follow the Spokane Authors & Self-Publishers account. They don’t post every day but when they do, it’s usually pretty fun. Well this time they’ve started a May writers challenge, the Sunday Image Prompt. Click the link for original post. https://twitter.com/AndAuthors/status/1125154547083530242

The #SundayImagePrompt promises a new, strange image to write about every week. Here’s their first image prompt. Fun huh?

Well, after seeing this, I just HAD to take them up on the challenge. Enjoy my entry below, and if you like it, I may just continue the story! *********************************************************

Gerald picked up and hefted his great grandfather’s sword a few times. Not his usual weapon, it felt strange and unwieldy in his paw. Still, despite his lack of experience, he knew it was time to join the fight to save his beloved homeland. He shoved the blade into it’s sheath and tied it tightly to his pack before grabbing one more acorn for the road. As he chewed, he looked around at his home knowing he may never see it again.

His bed looked strangely naked, it’s coverlet stashed in his pack. His tool chest closed and locked for the first time in years also looked odd. Due to the commanders weight restrictions for backpacks he’d had to leave the tools of his trade at home. Though, he did make one concession and brought along his favorite wrench. (A squirrel never knew when he’d have to loosen the odd tough nut!) The desk, usually a disorganized mess, was now neatly arranged. His neighbor, Ruth, had promised to take care of his affairs while he was gone and he wanted to make it easy for her. Cleaning that up had been a major task, of course, nothing like what he was heading to. Stories from the front lines had been bleak, at best.

One last bite of acorn and Gerald knew it was time to leave. His precious books lined the walls around him. Many, worn by time, lent a distinguished warmth to his home. Others, still shiny and new, graced his to-be-read shelf. To those he silently promised to return. Gerald loved his books. Through them he’d learned much and lived many adventures, but now it was time to embark on a real one. With a last sorrowful glance, he closed the door to his comfy home and began the long walk to the training camp.

On the second day of his journey, a young jack rabbit stumbled into the road ahead of him. Upon seeing Gerald, the rabbit waved and hollered, “Hullo there! Is this the road to Commander Coyote’s basic training camp?”

“Why, yes it is. I’m headed there myself.”

The jack rabbit gave Gerald a buck toothed grin. “Great! Do you mind if I travel with you?”

“Not at all. I’d appreciate the company. My name is Gerald. What’s yours?”

“Nice to meet you, Gerald,” the rabbit extended a paw, “my name is Conrad.”

The two shook paws before resuming their trek and Conrad resumed speaking.

“I take it you don’t have a mount either?”

Gerald grimaced. “No, I used to have a tree frog, but she met an unfortunate end when a flock of cranes decided to take a break and landed all around her.”

Conrad shuddered. “Oh that’s horrid. I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you,” Gerald sighed. “She was a faithful frog, but she was old and had started to wander further and further from the paddock. It was bound to happen eventually.”

Conrad nodded knowingly. After a moment of silence he asked, “Did you hear about the mounts on the battlefield?”

When Gerald shook his head the rabbit continued. “I heard that all sorts of mounts are available but they only ever award mounts to the best of the best, and rather than the soldier choosing their mount, the mount chooses them!”

When Gerald looked askance at Conrad, he shrugged. “Hey, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard. It’s weird though, isn’t it? How would a mount choose it’s rider?”

“Maybe it’s magic.” Gerald offered. When Conrad remained silent, he looked up at his new companion only to find him a few feet behind with a stunned expression on his face. “What’s wrong, Conrad?”

“No. . . Nothing. It’s just, that would explain so much! My grandpa always spun yarns about his time in the militia and talked about the magical mounts used by the elite soldiers during the Greenleaf war. I always thought he was just, ya know, embellishing his stories. But after what I’ve heard from others, maybe he was telling the truth after all.”

“Maybe,” Gerald adjusted his pack, “but we’ll never find out if we don’t keep walking. Let’s get moving. We’ve only got a few more miles to go before we reach the river crossing. Another day’s travel after that and we’ll reach the training camp. Then we’ll know more about all of this.”

Conrad nodded. “You’re right.” He caught up with his new squirrel friend and they resumed walking. “So, if you were to become an elite soldier, what kind of mount do you think would pick you?”

Gerald chuckled. “I don’t know but with my luck, I’d probably end up with a platypus!”

My mom the werewolf – #BlogBattle

This month’s #BlogBattle word was ‘Educate’. With that in mind, here’s another small installment on the Luna Chronicles’ Moon family. Enjoy ūüėČ

Tammy watched as her mom loped out the back gate to join Walt. Pack historian and Beta of the Spokane Guardians, he greeted Miranda in the alley before they both disappeared into the moonless night. So much had changed since her mother had been diagnosed with Lupus and joined the pack Tammy wasn’t sure her brain could keep up.

A few months ago she’d been so angry about her mother’s poor health, blaming her for wrecking family outings by being too tired, using up family funds for, what she had thought at the time were, unnecessary doctor visits, and for not being there when Tammy needed her. The super reliable, highly motivated and organized mom she’d grown up with had slowly disappeared over the course of the last year. She’d given up her PTA duties, stopped teaching Sunday School at their parish, and didn’t make it to a single one of Tammy’s volleyball games. Mom said it was because taking on an office job after fifteen years as a stay-at-home parent was too much for her, but Tammy suspected it was due to all the extra weight mom had put on. She blamed it on the steroids, but Tammy had assumed it was because she ate too much and rarely got off the couch anymore.¬† Isn’t that what usually happens when people do that?

Tammy cut her mom a little slack when she injured herself. Mom was a total klutz, but the last accidental injury had been really bad. Miranda’s knee had given out and she fell face first onto the washing machine, breaking her nose and gaining a concussion. That had scared Tammy into considering the possibility that her mom really did suffer some illness, but it wasn’t until Dr. Reynolds diagnosis –¬† Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (or SLE) – ¬†that Tammy really began to understand what it was her mom had been struggling with.

Dad had shared the pamphlets Dr. Reynolds gave him and asked both kids to read them. Matt read them over immediately (of course) but Tammy was still too angry. She’d thrown them aside and ignored them. They’d lain on the floor of her bedroom for weeks until something terrible and miraculous happened. Her brother was kidnapped and her mom came out of the closet – as a werewolf! It had been a harrowing night that, thankfully, ended well.

Now her mother was one of the Spokane Guardians. Mom’s friend and Mentor, Sherryl had explained that they weren’t like the movie werewolves. Silver did not bother them, the moon didn’t force their transformations, and they didn’t go nuts and kill people. Well, hardly ever. They were, according to Sherryl, a pack of werewolves created by an unknown saint, and charged with the protection of whatever community they happened to be a part of. Tammy thought that was pretty cool, but the best part as far as she was concerned was her mother’s new ability to eat anything and never gain an ounce! She sort of wished she could do that too, but didn’t really want to deal with all the follicular challenges mom now faced. Especially since that hilarious Nair incident.

Tammy chuckled as the memory filtered through her brain. She still needed to get copies of those pictures from Stan, the Alpha of the pack! Tammy’s smile dissolved into a sigh. Time to get back to the books Walt had lent her. There were three of them: Spokane Guardians – A Short History, Lupus: A Disease for Humans and Canines, and last but not least, So Your Family Member’s A Werewolf – A Guide To What Comes Next.¬† She wandered back to her bedroom, shut the door and started the playlist on her laptop. As Drake’s song God’s Plan filled her room Tammy cracked open the first book. “Time to get educated.”

Taking a gander at Scott Bassett & his  Wild Goose Gallery

Taking a gander at Scott Bassett & his Wild Goose Gallery

 

Running a business well is difficult and time consuming. Running an art gallery as well, at the same time, is an amazing feat of energy and ingenuity. That is exactly what Scott Bassett does every day as President of Pawsitively Bassett Inc., owner of Bassett & Brush Design, and the Wild Goose Fine Art Gallery.

As if that isn’t enough, he is also one of the galleries resident artists! He’s worked in many mediums, but is currently focused on photography. Panoramic photography (as seen above) is his most recent passion. With a quick sense of humor, kind smile, approachable manner, and three dogs (Mac, Khai, & Tonto) all sleeping under the table, Mr. Bassett was fun and easy to talk with.

Keep reading to learn more about Scott Bassett – Artist, Businessman, and all around nice guy.

SnS: Welcome to TheSquidandSquirrel! I’ve visited your gallery, the Wild Goose and enjoyed your photographs many times. Now I’d like to know more about you, the photographer. So please tell me & my readers, are you a lifelong Spokanite?

ScottB: No, I’m not native to Spokane. I was born in Chickasha, OK of all places. My folks were military and at one point my dad was stationed here, so I’ve been in Spokane since 1965. I consider myself an implanted native because this is home now.

Before that, we were pretty much like wanderers because, you know, in the military you don’t ever really have a home. Of course I met and married a Spokane girl (born and raised) Tammy, and she had a big influence on my staying here, but I love Spokane.

SnS: Well I’m glad you stuck around. So, have you always been creative, interested in art?

ScottB: Pretty much! I’ve got a logo I developed that has a picture of me painting, when I was six years old. My mom took the picture. It’s an old black and white and I use that in my Scott Bassett Studio logo.

My mom was very into the arts. She dabbled, and painted in oils and things like that. I was one of her artistic sons, the other was my younger brother, and she was good at letting us explore painting and drawing. I’ve pretty much drawn most of my life, until I got into graphics. Once I got into graphics I was more into design. I didn’t get to do a lot of drawing, and I kind of quit painting when the kids came along, ya know. Life just got too busy. I only did the occasional watercolor on the side.

SnS: Did you go to art school?

ScottB: I went to Spokane Falls Community College and at the time the Advertising and Graphic Design course included some art classes. I took Life Drawing and Watercolor, which I dearly love. I took Oils also, but the fumes got to be a little much. I tried Acrylics. That was a disaster. I’m primarily a pencil artist and watercolorist.

My wife, Tammy, likes to tell a story that she sold one of my paintings for two thousand dollars, one time. After earning degrees from SFCC, we moved to the Puget Sound area where I landed a job. We lived on the coast, in Mt. Vernon, and I’d done a watercolor of a moored fishing boat, and hung it in our home. The boat was named Amanda, just like our baby daughter. It was moored and had oil tankers in the distance behind, and was very misty looking.

Well, having decided to return home, I had gotten a job in Spokane and was living here while Tammy stayed behind to sell our house. One day this guy walks in. He looked around and says, “I’ll give you your asking price if you’ll leave that painting.” And Tammy says, “Done!”

The truth is, she’d been willing to come down a couple thousand on the price of the house, so she counted that as the price of the painting and likes to say, “I sold your painting for two thousand dollars.”

SnS:  *LOL* A logical and valid statement in my estimation. So pencil and watercolors were your mediums?

ScottB: They are my mediums, along with photography. And now wood working, and glass cutting, and kinda everything, but I’m an old guy. I’ve had lots of years to gather skills. Things fascinate me and I just get sucked in!

My art on the side was pretty sporadic since I got into designing. Until about three years ago, that is, when I became infatuated with photography.

SnS: Tell us about your photography.

ScottB: I’ve always had a camera and been interested in photography, and for the last 30 years I’ve worked as a product photographer for our clients. Shooting photos of “widgets”, or hair spray, or whatever. Package design was my company’s forte for a while and we handled clients like Nat Geo and Disney, creating packaging designs for them. Eventually though, packaging took it in the shorts. It started to shrink as an industry once downloadable software came out, but we saw that coming and trained ahead for web design.

What got me going in panoramic photos though is some property we own up in Pend Oreille, along the river. We leave the property mostly undeveloped because we like it that way, and I carry my camera every time we go up there. I just sit there and shoot stuff like a mad man.

Panoramic images really fascinate me, so I started shooting panoramic, which is multiple shots that you then recombine to create one image. You have to do that because digital cameras don’t have the dynamic range of the old analogue cameras that used film. Film is amazing, I mean it really is! But it’s also very demanding, and you’ve got to really know your stuff. The digital cameras are limited though, so you have to do multiple exposures to get your shadow detail, and your high light detail, and mid-tones. So you you have to work with a tripod and shoot one section of your panoramic, then you move your camera to shoot another bracket of images. Then you move it again and shoot another bracket, until you have the whole scene as you’ve envisioned it. Then you go in Photoshop and put it all back together. It’s kind of time consuming to do it well, and get the color balance correct and all the images seamlessly matched. It just drives me nuts, but I love it! So when I get done, I go ‘All right, it worked!’ Then I print it out and do the happy dance.

SnS: Do you remember shooting your first panoramic photo?

ScottB: Yes. There’s a big grassy field, full of birch, aspen, and pine up near our property in Pend Oreille. There’s even a little mountain peeking up from behind the trees, and every time we’d drive by it Tammy would say, “Oh I just love this field. It’s just perfect.” Well, we’d gone up to the property in autumn, and the leaves had all turned yellow and Tammy just went nuts over it.¬†So I thought, ‘AH HA, Christmas present!’

I drove up four days later to take the photos and all the leaves had fallen. Oh geeze I cursed, but I figured I was up there so I took the photos anyway and it turned out to be a really cool shot, because all you got were these white birch and aspen that created a picket fence thing across the far end of the field. So that was my first real panoramic.

SnS: So what made you decide to start drawing on your mats?

Well, everyone raved about my panoramics and told me to do more, but Tammy said, “Well honey, they’re great but they’re just photos. You draw so well, why don’t you draw?”

So that got me thinking, and I started doing pencil drawings to print on the mat boards.¬† I do the drawing by hand and try to pick a subject that relates to the subject of the photograph. For Tammy’s field, I took reference photos of the fence post I’d leaned on, then did the drawing in pencil and put that on the mat board surrounding the photo.

SnS: What a great idea! And framing? How did that happen?

ScottB: So, I’m thinking I was being really cool with the mats, really top notch, but a friend of mine named Bob Brown, who’s a real wizard in the wood shop said, “You really should be making your own moulding.” Bob is my woodcraft mentor and taught me fine wood crafting. You can see, I’m easily influenced.

After that, my hand crafted fine art prints took on a life of their own. Now I build my own hardwood mouldings and frames, hand mount and lacquer my photographic prints, cut my own glass and mats, and finish them with a dust jacket on the back. The whole nine yards. Then each is signed and numbered with an artists certificate. I’m a bit OCD about it, but that’s what I pour my passion into.

SnS:¬†That passion is obvious. Your work is beautiful. What made you open the Wild Goose Fine Art Gallery? I mean, you’re a busy guy running a successful business and all.

ScottB: I was running out of room in the house! I did some art shows. We got the tent, grid panels, all that, and I did three or four shows one summer and thought, good grief, this is gonna kill me. I’m too old for this crap. So I started looking to get into galleries. I got into one in Priest River, ID and sold a number of pieces there, but I just couldn’t find the time to approach galleries. Plus many of them were backlogged with lists of artists waiting to show there anyway.

So, Tammy said, “Well honey, you’ve got that building down there. You could just squish Bassett & Brush into one half of it and open up a gallery in the other half.”

She always comes up with brilliant ideas, and I always take them and go overboard. So on October 1st of last year we began to clean this place out. By the end of six weeks, we’d emptied it, painted it, and fixed some things. On November 1st I called my friend T. Kurtz, who is an amazing pastel artist, and said, “Help I have a naked gallery!” Then I asked her if she’d like to come hang with us, and she said yes. So I said, “If you know any other artists that you are comfortable with, as far as the quality of their work, could you bring them?” We ended up having 14 artists from around the region displaying here when we opened, and the place was packed with stuff.

I’m amazed at the quality of the artists that have come. In addition to T. Kurtz we have work by Shannon Potratz, our other resident artist here at the Wild Goose Gallery. There’s¬† Gabe Gable – a nationally renowned bronze artist, Elizabeth Billups’ beautiful oils and prints, amazing watercolors by David Gressard, quilt art by Tammy Bassett,¬† fine wood craft by Bob Brown, and the list goes on and on.

SnS:¬†That’s quite the group. How many artists do you usually have displaying in your gallery?

ScottB: We usually have 12 to 14 artists. That’s about how many walls we have. ūüėČ

We try to keep an artists work all together, so when you’re looking at a wall it’s all Betty Phillips, or this is all of Shannon Potratz.¬†¬†**Remember that name from a previous interview? If not, check it out here.**

SnS: You said that Tammy, your wife has some of her quilt works here also, right?

ScottB: Yes, she’s very talented, in many ways. She teaches Preschool, draws – even though she says she can’t – plays the piano, and quilts. She’s been quilting for about 15 years, and she’s made some beautiful things!¬†

20171212_152641

Quilted candle holder by Tammy Bassett

SnS: I’ve seen some of her work. It is beautiful! I admire anyone who can use needle and thread. If I tried to someone might lose an eye! *LOL* What artists did you admire growing up?

ScottB: I admired Mark English. He’s an illustrator in New York. I loved his work. Initially, I wanted to be an illustrator for books and magazines. That was kind of where my heart was. I also loved animation and thought I wanted to work for Disney. That was back in the cell days, ya know. I decided I didn’t really want to work for Disney because I’d have to live in California and that just wasn’t for me. So I gave up on that idea.

Andrew Wyeth was another one of my favorites. I love his work. And Maxfield Parrish, he’s almost an Art Deco illustrator of books and magazines. If you look up his work you’ll probably say, “Oh I’ve seen that guy!”¬† Those are the ones I thoroughly enjoyed. I never understood Picasso. I just do not get him. I like Modigliani because he did such weird distorted stuff. In my odd moments I liked to play with that sort of thing.¬†

SnS: Scott, you are such a busy guy! What do you do to relax? Do you relax?

ScottB: I usually take naps. Actually to relax, I go up to the river property. Tam and I go up every chance we get. It’s close enough that we can get there pretty fast, and once there it all melts away.¬†

I love being up there. We’ve left the property mostly undeveloped and we like it that way. We walk up and down, watch the snakes in the grass, the geese on the river, the cormorants on the pilings. It’s where we decompress.

We’ve enjoyed the inside passage cruise to Alaska too. It’s just beautiful! And because it’s inside passage, you don’t have all that wave action. I don’t do well with that.¬†

We also used to do a lot of ball room dancing: fox trot, jive, and cha cha. Those are probably our favorites. I can’t do tango. I get serious and Tammy starts laughing.

SnS: Ballroom dancing. What got you into that?

ScottB: My folks got us into it. They were very big in the Round Dancing movement and taught for many years. Round dancing is a spin-off of Square Dancing. It’s Ball Room, but cued. Pre-choreographed to a certain piece of music, a caller will cue you through the maneuvers. My mom could cue a dance from the floor while she and dad were dancing. She was an amazing lady.¬†

So we started dancing with them, and when they got older and to the point of not being able to cue and dance, Tammy and I started demoing dances for them. So basically we were Junior Associate Dance Teachers, and we did that for about 15 years. It was great fun. 

So for us, fun is going on a cruise and dancing!

SnS: Well that segues nicely to my odd ball question. . . If you could travel anywhere, with anyone (living or dead) where would you go and who would you take?

ScottB:¬†I’d take Tammy. No question. She’s my best friend ever. We met in high school and have been married for 46 years, going on 90 ūüėȬ†

We would pack up a trailer of some kind and start going around the U.S.¬† We’d stop someplace and explore, move again and explore, just go see the U.S.¬†I have no desire to go overseas. We’re happy here. I mean, why go there when we haven’t even explored everything at home yet?

SnS: Understandable. Did you do anything fun over the holidays?

ScottB: I played Santa Clause for about 100 families at Tammy’s preschool. She runs the North Side Learning Center.

SnS: **Looking at his closely clipped beard and lack of moustache** So did you grow that out for the event?

ScottB: No, I used a false beard. In fact the reason I don’t have a moustache is because it’s a little bristly and Tammy won’t kiss me when I have one. So either don’t do the moustache, or don’t get kissed, and smooches are kind of important.¬†

SnS: That they are. So what’s happening at the gallery this month?

ScottB:¬†Right now we’ve got Robert Walton’s work in. He does what I call Romantic Western. It’s like, if you could sit and make up a picture of something western, then just embellish it so it’s just so cool and charming, that’s Robert. That’s what he does. He does some really cool stuff! Things like Christmas steam trains traveling through snowy river gorges. He also has work licensed by Leaning Tree Publications, which is where most people have seen his exceptional artistry. Robert is very talented.¬†

SnS: As are you, sir. And your wife, and apparently most of the people around you. Thanks so much for interviewing with TheSquidandSquirrel.

If you would like to visit Scott Bassett’s gallery – The Wild Goose – it’s at 3919 N. Monroe St. in Spokane, WA. Open 8:30 – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, and Saturday by appointment – phone 509-327-9078.¬† Please also visit their page on¬†Facebook

 

Coming soon – as promised!

Coming soon – as promised!

Hello gentle readers! Shortly before Christmas I promised an interview with artist / gallery owner Scott Bassett, but as you know, it just didn’t happen. What did happen? The holidays! **Insert ominous da da dummmm music here**

So, holidays over, let’s try this again.

Coming tomorrow – an interview with SCOTT BASSETT !!

On The Fly with artist, Noelle Dass.

The painted world of Noelle Dass is filled with whimsy, wonder, and wisdom. Influenced by greats Dr. Seuss, and Gary Larson, there is a joyous abandon and sense of adventure in her work that (from the first time I saw it) makes me smile.

After meeting Noelle, it was easy to see where all of that comes from. Soft spoken, intelligent, fearless, and utterly charming, Noelle is everything you’d want or expect from her paintings, and so much more.

Keep reading to learn more about artist, Noelle Dass.

SnS: Hello Noelle! Thanks for interviewing with me today. Let’s start off with some background information. Are you native to the PNW?

Noelle: I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for 22 years, but I was born in New York and raised in Vermont. I lived there until approximately age 12, when my family moved to Arizona so my mother could earn her MSW. I moved to the PNW to finish college at the University of Washington.

SnS: I’d say you are naturalized by now. ūüėȬ† How long have you been an artist?

Noelle: I think it’s safe to say I’ve been drawing and painting since I could hold a pencil / brush, so probably since the age of three. Art was my favorite subject in school, and I studied art for four years in college. I’ve been a professional artist (earning my living with art) since 2004.

SnS: That is an accomplishment! Did or do you have a job (or hobby) outside of art?

Noelle: Up until now I’ve been so busy doing the art show circuit that I haven’t had time for much else, but I’m hoping to cut back on art shows next year so I can have a little more of a personal life.¬†¬†For hobbies, I love to read, run, hike, camp, walk my dog Ellie, and volunteer.¬†

SnS: What kind of dog is Ellie?

Noelle: She is a Goldendoodle – half golden retriever and half poodle. She’s still young and full of love and energy.¬† I also have two cats: Sadie and Kabuki.

SnS: Where do you volunteer?

Noelle: I haven’t been able to volunteer as much as I’d like, which is one of the reasons I’ll be cutting back on art shows, so I can spend more time trying to make a difference in people’s lives. There are many great organizations I support. Some of my favorites are Sea Shepherd, Mercy for Animals, and World Wildlife Fund. I also donate to animal shelters that hold fundraising auctions.¬†For the last couple of years, I’ve volunteered as a mission assistant for Angel Flight West. I hope to continue as an assistant, and eventually as a pilot.¬†

Angel Flight West is a non-profit that flies people for free, to medical appointments when they either can’t drive themselves or afford air fare. So, say that you need to travel from Spokane to Seattle 3x per week for medical help. Angel Flight West would take you there. All the pilots volunteer their time, money, and aircraft.¬†A friend of mine, Jim, volunteers with them and he introduced me to it.

SnS: So do you have a pilot’s license?

Noelle: Not yet. I started learning last year, but I’m moving from Oregon to Spokane right now, so it’s on hold. Sadly, I’m moving away from my friend Jim, who’s been kind enough to allow me to use his plane without charge.¬†I’d like to pursue lessons again once I’m settled in Spokane, but pilot training can be expensive, so we’ll see. I’ve been painting commissions of people’s planes and saving those earnings for flight school. In the meantime, I’m finishing my ground school training.¬†

In fact, learning to fly is what got me into painting airplanes. It was a new and refreshing challenge. I have so much fun painting something more technical versus my usual animals. The first ones I painted, didn’t have any pilots, but I felt they were missing some life. So I painted Pilot Dog and once I did, the paintings with him got a really wonderful, positive response. In fact, my two main paintings with Pilot Dog sold. I have one original left, of Pilot Dog in a Pitts Biplane. I’ve also done a few paintings exchanging the client’s dog as the pilot. So one thing lead to another, and it’s been fun and exciting.

SnS: Do you have a favorite painting?

Noelle: I tend to favor newer pieces, because I’m excited about them, like my Pilot Dog series. I also like the joy that dogs exhibit in every day life, so that is a recurring theme. We can learn a lot about being present, and joyful, from dogs.¬†

Still, it’s hard to choose a favorite painting. They all have different feels and themes that touch me in different ways.¬†One of my all time favorites is “Rocks Gazing at Moon” (pictured above), because I like to think of everything on earth as having some sort of unseen spirit or energy.¬†

SnS: Which artists (past or present) do you admire?

Noelle: Stylistically speaking, my favorite artists are Kandinsky, Miro, Picasso, Modigliani, Klimt, Dr. Seuss, Gary Larson, and many, many more. Larson’s often dry, outrageous, scientific / intellectual humor was a big influence on me growing up.

SnS: So where do you find inspiration for your creations?

Noelle: People often ask what inspires me, but in my mind that’s not the same question as how do I come up with ideas, so I’ll answer both.

I am inspired by two things. The first is, being in the act of creating makes me feel alive, calm, and at peace with the universe in a deep meditative way. The second reason I’m inspired to create is that it brings humor and joy to people’s everyday lives.¬†In a world with so much darkness and pain, to bring a smile to someone’s mind / face, bringing them joy for a moment, is the most meaningful gift I can give with my talents.

Both of my parents worked in Mental Health fields. My mother was a social worker for abused children, and I was raised with the understanding that it is our duty as humans to do what we can to help others, and make the world better. And no way is too small. A smile from a stranger on the street has resulted in my going home and creating a painting that in turn, brought joy to many others. I think people often underestimate what they can do to make the world more joyful. 

My art is hanging in a few healing / health centers. Some of my work is here in Spokane. Some is in the Children’s Chemo room at Renown Health in Reno, NV, a children’s cancer hospital in Brazil, and other places.¬† To me that is the most amazing, fulfilling thing I’ve done with my art. To give people in pain something to cheer them up. I would love more than anything, to do more art for healing institutions.

How I get my ideas: Most of my best ideas come from clearing my thoughts and sketching without any idea in mind. Once I start drawing, an idea or design will appear to me, and then I will consciously move forward with it. About a third of the time, I will draw with an idea in mind, such as dog, cat, airplane, or Airstream. Beyond that, seeing my dog play in the snow trying to catch snowballs in her mouth, inspires me. As does learning how to fly planes, give me conscious ideas for plane paintings.

SnS: Your Pilot Dog character seems to really get around. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Noelle: That is hard to answer. I want to go everywhere. I like warm and tropical in the winter. I also like outdoor adventures. I found an on-line discussion forum for the sailing¬† community and was able to match up with a couple of people who needed a crew. We met via Skype, exchanged references, and I ended up working two voyages with two different, very small, crews. It was a great experience both times. Of course, Pilot Dog likes to travel too, and can fly himself anywhere. I’m hoping to make a kids book starring Pilot Dog next year.

SnS: Oh, I hope you do! I first saw you at ArtFest here in Spokane. Do you travel a lot?

Noelle: Yes, I’ve been doing art shows full time for 14 years, and that requires a lot of travel. I’ve been doing about 33 shows annually, split between local and out of town. But, I’m excited to be moving to Spokane at the beginning of the new year, and hope to focus more on selling art in my community, on-line, and travel less. That will also give me more time to volunteer and work in the community. I’d really like to volunteer with youth, and spend time with elderly people who may not have anyone visiting or helping them.

Those two areas are very close to my heart. Animal welfare is, as well, but luckily I’ve already been able to help out a lot with that, by donating animal art to auctions, and donating a percentage of sales to various organizations.

SnS: That’s great! So here’s a silly question. Once you are settled into your new home, if you could invite ANY three people (living or dead) to a dinner party, who would you invite and why?

Noelle: Oh that’s tough! I’d invite Jesus, because I think he was cool even though I’m not religious. Theodor Geisel (more popularly known as Dr. Seuss), and the Dalai Llama.

SnS: Now that, would be a fun and fascinating group! Thank you, Noelle, for sharing your time and talent with us, and welcome to Spokane!

If you’d like to see or purchase some of Noelle’s art, visit her website¬†NoelleDass.com.¬† She has originals, giftable reproductions, T-shirts and more. **SquidandSquirrel readers are being given a special $15 off coupon code to use online, with no minimum. Just use code Squid15.

 

 

Zombie-mode! Uhnngghhh

zombiemode Hello friendly readers!  Well, this months interview went down with the ship. The ship being me.

To say that I’ve been in zombie-mode is an understatement. Between chronic illness, change of season, working on the final edit of my novel, and the demands of everyday life I’ve been pretty out of it. Sorry to drop the ball.

Please hang in there with me. I have a wonderful artist lined up for November. Her work is whimsical, humorous, and filled with child-like delight and wonder. Want to know who she is? Wait for my “Coming Soon” announcement next month.

Until then, have a safe and happy Halloween!!

Your friendly neighborhood blogger,  MJ

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The (Water) Colorful Life of artist Bari Federspiel

The (Water) Colorful Life of artist Bari Federspiel

Playful, sentimental, flowy, or tight, watercolor artist, Bari Federspiel can do it all. Quick to smile, or laugh, this bundle of energy is a member of Mensa as well as an accomplished artist. She is sweet, humorous, kind, and courageous, and I believe this spunky septuagenarian could run circles around me!

Keep reading to learn more about the colorful life of Bari Federspiel.

SnS: Hello Bari, and welcome to the SquidandSquirrel. Let’s start with the easy stuff. Where are you from?

Bari:¬†Well, my parents were attending college in Russellville, Arkansas when I was born. Dad had just come home from the war, and they met in the school band. Dad went back into the military after he got his degree, which means we moved around a lot. I’ve lived in many US states; even Germany for a while, but I’ve been in Spokane since 1991. That’s when my first husband, who worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, got transferred here. When we moved to Spokane, I knew that I was home at last.

SnS: All right! So did you attend art school abroad or in the US?

Bari: Both my parents were artists, so living with them was like going to art school. There was always pens, pencils, brushes, Scripto pens, india ink, watercolor paints, and paper. No coloring books, but all sorts of art supplies. 

At first, neither of them had a career in art, but Dad painted lovely watercolors. Mom eventually took up oil painting and ended up teaching for 18 years. So that was my art school.¬†I did take an art class in high school, and one semester in college. But I was a very conservative, very naive young lady, and when the art teacher asked me to be a nude model I thought, “This is freaky.” So I changed to a music major, right there on the spot. I then taught piano for 15 years.

SnS: So you are multi-talented!

Bari:¬†Well, I’m not talented at piano. That’s why I don’t teach or perform anymore. It was nerve wracking. Art came more easily to me, plus I liked it. I do make gourmet pastries, and decorate cakes though. Does that count?

SnS: Absolutely! Where do you find the inspiration for your art?

Bari:¬†Oh, from all over the place. For my ‘Remembering Dads’ exhibit, I took inspiration from what they did. And what they loved. Like dogs, fishing, playing instruments, etc. Because of how this one turned out, I may just do another series. Maybe moms?

I also take photos constantly. 

SnS: Wow! So tell us about your process. Do you walk the garden? Down a quad-shot espresso? Play Tiddly Winks?

Bari:¬†I drink Dr. Pepper. **laughs** Just kidding. I have to clean the room. Before I start a painting, the art room has to have the clutter gone, because as I paint, I make more clutter. Now, if you saw my art room you’d say, “My gosh, she thinks that’s clean?” But everything is in its place, and I know where it is.

Once I have things ready, I draw from the hundreds of photos I have, for paintings. Sometimes combining several photos into one painting, and making some of it up.

SnS: What drew you to watercolors? Do you work in other mediums?

Bari:¬†I just love looking at it. Ironically, most of the paintings I do are not like the ones I’ve admired. Most of them are loose and “juicy”, pastels, and lots of white. Mine are tighter, but I think that comes from 28 years of sign painting. In my ‘Remembering Dads’ series, there’s a painting with pencils in it. They all have lettering on them. That’s the kind of stuff I probably do best. But I really enjoy the chickens.

SnS: I LOVE your chicken paintings! It was one of your chickens that first caught my eye, made me want to interview you.

Bari: Oh good. Chickens are my favorite. They are just hilarious, stupid, and funny. 

To answer your question though, I did oil paintings for several years because my mother taught it. But I only did one or two paintings a month. I hated it because of the smell, and they never turned out looking anything like the watercolors I had always admired.

SnS: Have you always worked as an artist, or have you held other jobs?

Bari:¬†For 28 years I did graphic art, window and sign painting. I even painted a billboard on I-40, and a few gymnasium walls. During those years, I also worked in a bakery, taught at a pre-school, subbed for an elementary school, and was an executive assistant at a small software company. When my husband died in 2003, I decided to do what I’d always wanted to do. That’s when I started taking watercolor lessons. Painting is legally my business now, but I’m 70, and I’m taking care of my mom. I’ve got enough to keep me busy. So next year I’m going to turn painting into a hobby, and back off somewhat.

SnS: So should we all rush out and buy your art while we can?

Bari:¬†OF COURSE!!! **laughs** ¬†I’ll still be painting. I just won’t be as aggressive about it.¬†

SnS: Do you have any artists you admire, or emulate?

Bari:¬†Stan Miller. I took lessons with him for years, and still consult him for critiques. He’s my mentor. I’ve learned a lot about value and composition, the things that really count, from him.¬†

I do like to take workshops from other people though, because I always pick up new techniques, and different ideas. I take away something from everyone of them, and incorporate it into my style. It constantly changes. You can look at my earlier works, against those done more recently, and they don’t even look like they are done by the same person.

SnS: Change is good. So do you have a philosophy of life, or art?

Bari:¬†I strive to glorify God in all that I do, and that’s basically it.

As far as a philosophy of art. . . I like to do what I like. I do what I’m familiar with, and I want to continue to learn and branch out. I think I’ll grow old and die if I don’t.

SnS: If you could travel to anywhere, in time or space, where would you go?

Bari:¬†I would probably choose Australia and Great Britain first, because I can speak their language. Second, our church supports another church in Russia. I’d like to go over to visit, but there are some hurdles to clear. Third,¬†I’d also like to take a cruise down the Rhine or Danube. Ocean cruises don’t interest me. I don’t want to just sit around playing shuffleboard. I’d rather be off the ship looking around at castles, towns, shops, and things. I’d like to go back and visit Germany, and France too.

SnS: Nice! For those of us staying in Spokane, where can we find your art?

Bari:¬†Right now, until the end of September, my Funky Chicken exhibit is hanging in the William Grant Gallery in Kendall Yards.¬†In October I’ll have a painting in the MAC with the Spokane Watercolor Society juried show, and will have work hanging at the Liberty Building. I’ll also be teaching a workshop that month. Then in November, I am showing in the Hillyard Library.

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SnS: Wow, busy lady! Do you have any charities you support?

Bari:¬†My husband and I both support the United Blind of Spokane because my husband’s daughter is legally blind, and my grandfather was completely blind. We give to our churches, World Vision, and Wyran Youth Missions. I’ve also sold a few of my paintings to help raise funds for friends who were fighting cancer, or were going on mission trips.

SnS: All right! Thank you for interviewing with TheSquidandSquirrel, Bari. ūüôā

If you would like to see more of Bari Federspiel’s art, you can find her at:¬†Flootie.com,¬†SpokaneWaterColorSociety.com, or on facebook ¬†as¬†Razzlebari Watercolours.

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.