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
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.
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. 🙂
Earlier this summer, I went to ArtFest with a friend. We took our time walking through, looking at all the amazing art, and talking to the artists. A few of them stood out to us, not just for their artistic offerings, but for their kind and fun personalities. Kelley J. Sullivan was one of them.
Despite the heat of the day, Kelley’s vendor tent was an oasis of cool. Cool paintings, cool water, and a cool artist. Inviting us in, she offered us bottles of water, answered our questions, and was just generally kind and amazing. Her paintings, all done in shades of blue, created the illusion of non-sweat inducing temperatures, and we found ourselves hanging out longer than we had intended. When we finally left to finish our tour of ArtFest, we ended up circling back to her booth. My friend couldn’t leave without purchasing some of her cards, and I couldn’t leave without asking for an interview. I just had to share her talent with you all.
Please keep reading to learn more about the deep, blue, emotions of Kelley J. Sullivan.
SnS: First of all, Kelley, thanks for interviewing with me. I am fascinated with your work. Please describe your style of painting.
KJS: It’s hard to peg my style down to one category. I’ve heard everything from abstract landscapes, to abstract impressionism. For me, the category has never mattered. In my mind, I paint emotional landscapes or models of inner-life. Every painting is a moment in time, tied to an emotional state that everyone has likely felt at some point.
SnS: Looking at your work, that is a great description! So, what drew you to the blue palette?
KJS: I’ve always felt more comfortable using a cool palette. When I try to go branch out into brighter, warmer colors it begins to feel forced. I figure if I’m trying to put some sort of my truth onto canvas, I need to stick to what feels right.
SnS: I like that. After ArtFest I started following you on Facebook. You’ve posted pictures of our art on your page, and many of them have a short poem attached. Do you write those, or are they quotes?
KJS: I write everything I post. (There may have been one exception, but I would have quoted the author) I have an absolute love affair with the written word, and write something for almost every piece I paint. I had originally intended to include the poem on the back of each painting, but realized it may change the experience of the viewer.
I think it is more important for each viewer to have their own personal experience with each piece. Without interjecting my meaning onto it. However, I have included it when requested.
SnS: Good to know. So, how did you become an artist? Did (or do) you have a more traditional job?
KJS: I started creating from the moment I was born. Although I’ve held an expansive array of other jobs, art was always a consistent passion in the background. In 2008 a friend saw some of my paintings and urged me to start sharing them. I started small, showing in local coffee shops and entering every online competition I could find. As I gained exposure, my career just started growing in an amazingly organic manner. I feel so lucky to be at a point in my life where I am able to do what I love as my sole career.
SnS: That is a blessing! Do you have any artists (of any genre) you admire?
KJS: There are so many. I find that most of the artists I am in love with aren’t necessarily world famous. They are artists I find on Instagram, at art fairs, or hanging in coffee shops as I travel. I am definitely drawn towards edgier styles of art. Some of my favorites right now are Walt Hall, Annie Owens, Kathryn Hackney, and James Lipnickas.
SnS: What do you do to get in the mood to paint? What inspires you?
KJS: Music is probably my biggest inspiration. With art as my full time job, I often have to create when I just don’t feel like it. If I put on some sad, moody music with good lyrical content it can usually put me in a place where I can open up and paint.
SnS: You seem to always be on the move. What do you do to relax?
KJS: Relax? Who has time for that! 🙂 But on the rare occasion when I am able to, I head outside. Hiking and camping are fuel for my soul. I’ve also found that as I am getting older, quality time with people who challenge me, in a positive way, can do wonders to help me recharge. I’m lucky to be surrounded by an incredible community.
SnS: Community is important. So what do you think is the one thing about you that people would be surprised to know?
KJS: Probably that putting my art into the world was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I painted solely for myself for years, and never had any intention of showing it to anyone. I had rooms full of unfinished paintings that had never seen daylight. I was terrified that no one would understand what I was doing. I’m still in awe that some connect to it.
SnS: Well it is beautiful, and lucky for us your friend pushed you to show it. So here is my favorite cheesy question. If you could host a picnic for anyone, living or dead, past or present, who would you invite and why?
KJS: I’m EXTREMELY sentimental over the people in my life that have shown me kindness, support, or encouragement. It would be one hell of a party. I would love to invite all the people that I have appreciated. It could have been a kind word on a hard day, or a huge show of encouragement. Some would not be surprised, but I bet quite a few would be shocked to receive the invitation.
SnS: I love that. That’s a great attitude to have. You were very kind to me and my friend at ArtFest. Do you have any causes or charities you support, other than overheated bloggers?
KJS: I am a board member of S.L.A.M. – Support Local Artists and Musicians, in Montana.
SnS: Sweet beans! You are a busy woman. Thanks Kelley for sharing your time and your talent with us all.
If you would like to see more of Kelley’s work. . .
Featured artist at ERA Landmark in Bozeman, MT. Sept. 8th.
INTROSPECTION, an ab-ex group show at FOLD Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. through Sept. 18th.
Bozeman Open Studio Tour – October 21 & 22.
Sip and SLAM Bozeman – September and October.
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 🙂
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 🙂 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.
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.
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.
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 cliché 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.
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:
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.
Spend a moment Catching up with artist Kelly Loder’s “Emotion in Motion!”
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)
S&S: Hello Kelly. Welcome to the new year! I’d like to start off by looking back at the important events of 2016. Did you meet your goals for the year? Was there anything that you feel has changed, or enhanced your art?
Kelly: Hello! It is always a goal to show my work throughout the year and have a piece sell. I displayed work at the Loft of Missoula, the ZACC, and the Stensrud Event Hall in 2016 and sold at least two paintings and several framed ink prints.
Anything that enhanced my art? Well, I’d say life. 2016 was an interesting year for most everyone. Lots of emotion which went straight into my work.
S&S: What are you looking forward to this year? New goals?
Kelly: In May, Candice Rhea and I will be doing a conjunctive showing at the Loft in Missoula. It’s a great space, large and open. I’m looking forward to that.
One of my goals this year is to get back into doing live art to live music. I’m an introvert for the most part. Though maybe with a little help from my friends I’ll be able to do this 🙂 My goals have always consisted of doing my best to vary my style, and I like to raise more questions (in the content of my work) than can be answered. The mystery awakens ~ but is never quite understood.
S&S: Please describe your type of art and the mediums you work within. Which medium is your favorite? What do you call your style?
Kelly: I utilize pastel, acrylics, and charcoal mainly using canvas, wood, or driftwood as a surface. My favorite is probably charcoal on paper. The dark on white background is very dramatic, and allows me to really show emotional content in my drawings.
I would say my style is abstract, sometimes with forms and figures based loosely in reality. Many of these have forms influenced by the female face and figure. I think it’s quite original myself. My work is kind of hard to explain though.
S&S: How long have you been an artist? What got you started?
Kelly: I have been working an artist since 1994 when I went to high school in Seneca Valley, Harmony, PA. Before that I was a flutist, in my former high school in Germantown, TN where I studied with a private instructor. My family moved approximately every two years while I was growing up. When I moved from TN to PA during my Sophomore year, I switched from the flute to art. I was clueless in another new school, and Josh Reynolds, as I recall, was the one who pointed me toward the art corridor. I was always a creative person, and James Rettinger was my first art teacher / artistic influence.
During the latter part of my high school career, I spent half my time in the art department working on a large multi-medium collage / mural on plexiglass. I would get passes to leave other classes to go work on art projects. The key was getting my school work done ahead of time so I could have the extra time in art. The collage turned out great and stood in the school lobby for a long time. Art class was the only place I felt half way comfortable. I loved the freedom of expression. .
At the time, I had a variety of body ailments due to stress, as well as my budding Bipolar situation. I will never forget how low the lows got. It was during this time that I began Art Therapy. Practicing Art Therapy is my kind of meditation. Creating art is very cathartic.
S&S: What inspires you to create? (nature, music, people, drama, zen gardens, what?)
Kelly: Music! The music I listen to is usually upbeat, or carries forward momentum. I prefer instrumental music as words can sometimes get in the way. Art as meditation and as therapy and healing are extremely important in my life.
S&S: Do you have a process? (Do you have to sing, chant, or scream before addressing the canvas? Do you dance while drinking a margarita, or do you just binge on coffee and chocolate to get revved up? (Personally, I favor the coffee and chocolate while writing 😉
Kelly: I have several processes for different artistic purposes. For mood, I enjoy a candle on, some incense lingering in the air, and music as preparation to get into “the zone” 🙂
S&S: I’m no artist, so can you tell me, what is “the zone”?
Kelly: The zone happens when I’ve relaxed into my creation enough to find figures, people, beings expressing themselves, showing their forms to me from within whatever I am working on. Once I find them, I just bring them forward.
S&S: Who are your favorite artists alive or dead? They can be from any genre or medium.
Kelly: My favorite artists include Montana’s Jay Rummel, Albert P. Ryder, and Picasso. Some of my most favorite artists are also good friends. For instance, Candice Rhea (Serenity Creations on facebook), and Akhilesh also on facebook.
S&S: What does art mean to you? Why do you do it?
Kelly: Art is my soul’s survival. Art is passion. Art is everywhere. The creation of art, for me, is “Emotion in Motion”, which is the collective title for my work.
S&S: If you could travel to any place / time for your art, where would you go and why?
Kelly: I would travel through my subconscious mind. Maybe then I would know which direction to start. I believe being in the “Right Time, Right Place” brings success. I would prefer to travel to the places where I wold be steadily successful with selling work. I would also like to travel to enrich my life and my art. I really do not have a definitive place in mind. Just the right time, right place!
S&S: And finally, do you have any special projects / charities you support?
Kelly: I do. I hold Art Therapy meetings at my home, as well as more informal “Arting” sessions. I work with both youth and adults.
S&S: Please describe an Art Therapy session. Is it in a group or more individuals?
Kelly: I’ve only hosted a few Art Therapy sessions. Mostly they’ve been individual based, but it’s possible to have groups. Depending on the situation, the person either brings their own supplies or they use what I give them, then they just begin. Sometimes they talk while creating, other times they are quiet.
Art can be very therapeutic as the act of creation is very empowering. A person can take something negative going on in their life and turn it into a positive, maybe even beautiful thing.
Abstract artist Kelly Loder certainly does this! Her creations are both beautiful and evocative. Thank you Kelly for sharing your talent with us.
**Plus bonus interview with exhibition curator Megan Holden!**
Our meeting started out with a smile and a hug. Artist and musician Tom Norton, the People’s Choice winner of the “Origins of Fear” exhibit is a kind, funny, deeply considerate, “live in the now” kind of guy. He believes that, “the last check you write should be to the funeral home, and it should bounce.”
A true Spokanite, Tom grew up near the Garland district and says his love of music started in first grade, when the nuns at St. Xavier asked him to play piano for them. He continued playing at G Prep where occasionally his talent bought him some leeway, getting him out of class, and sometimes out of trouble!
Always looking for the silver lining in things, Tom is still a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to his paintings. He believes that “Less is more” and admits to having painted over finished works when he felt that he’d tweaked them too much. As a writer, I understand that need to edit, re-do, edit again. I believe it is a condition endemic to the artists heart.
Now celebrating seven years of sobriety, (WTG Tom!!!) this self proclaimed “reformed” bad boy is putting his talent for art and music to good use and in turn, making the world a better place. Keep reading to learn more about this fun and fascinating man.
Q: Congratulations! You are the People’s Choice winner at the Little Dog Art Gallery’s “Origins of Fear” exhibit. Your piece, “Room 208 / Mother Please” is apparently creepy and haunting enough to have chilled the most spines. Please tell us what inspired it? Did you make it specifically for this show or had you finished it prior to the open call?
A: Thank you! “Room 208” began as a quick sketch of a face, which I immediately didn’t care for :), so I painted black hair over the face. A straight jacket came to mind – don’t know why, and so it “began”.
I began to think about my mom and her many, many dark years suffering from bi-polar depression. She was treated for this throughout her life, before anti-depressants and therapies evolved into what they are these days. I grew up watching her, not understanding what was happening – only being told to be quiet and kind to her – that she was “ill” and that we needed to do everything we could to make her days easier. Shock treatments, massive amounts of prescribed drugs, and the fallout from these things: nightmares, isolation, realizing that our family was not like the happy families on television – it was tough. Mom could be extremely manic and in no control of what was going on inside herself one day, and then sweet, gentle and wonderful the next, so these thoughts had some things to do with this painting.
It’s not about my mom though. It’s about isolation, and controlled environments. About being kept away from the world. And no, I did not create it for this exhibit. It was completed before the call, and just seemed to be a good fit to me as an entry. I wrote a quick story to go along with the painting . . .
“Mother says that she cannot protect herself from the world around her . . . and me. Mother please. She built a door for me. Then she sealed it closed. She sees me in my room. She put a ladder there today. I fear the world. I dream of better days instead. I must not try to leave. Mother please. . .”
Q: Is this a genre you usually work in, or was this a step outside of your comfort zone? Also, what would you call your style of art?
A: This was way outside my comfort zone or normal work genre. I don’t have, nor do I want a specific style of art. I go day by day, and ideas come to me, or scribbles turn into something. Most of my work ends up being “lighter”, more whimsical, more fun. Some of my art is dark though, and it’s rare that I show it, or even finish it in one pass. One day I’d like to do an exhibit of my darker art, but I fear that I may be locked up if I do!
Q: How long did it take you to finish this piece? What materials did you use?
A: I started this one at Mt. Baker Blues Festival. I was performing there with The Bobby Patterson Band. I play keyboards. I finished it a few weeks later, so I guess about a month to complete. It was done with acrylics and charcoal on wood panel.
Q: Did any of the other pieces at the exhibit creep you out?
A: Yes, I don’t like spiders, but the spider mobile fascinated me. I stared at it for a long time. They were just so beautiful I was mesmerized.
Q: How long have you been painting, and how did you learn your craft?
A: I’ve loved art since I was a young boy. Always doodling, always amazed by the artists in this world. I am primarily self-taught. I was invited to take some art classes at GU when I was in high school. I wish I would have studied art and learned more techniques back then, but I decided to be a rock star instead 🙂 and the music business consumed me for a long time. My art took a back seat, and it wasn’t until 2009 that I revisited that passion.
Q: As an artist, what do you do to find inspiration? (Hot yoga, spelunking, e-books?)
A: Everything inspires me. I love galleries. I love people. I love dogs. I didn’t paint for over 20 years. Then I retired, sort of. Now I can’t stop getting inspired!
Q: Do you make a living with your art or are you moonlighting from a more “muggle-ish” job?
A: No, I don’t make a living with my art. I sell a few pieces here and there. I’m supposedly retired, but my music and art keep me very focused, very busy. I don’t want to be that old man who sits in a chair and looks out the window.
Q: After checking your facebook page, it looks like you are both a Seahawks fan and an animal lover. Is that correct?
A: That’s right. I am a long time Seahawks fan! I love Seattle. I miss living there. And I love animals. Football players are animals too ;). I love my two dogs, Max and Sophie. I don’t care much for cats. They don’t like me.
Q: If you could travel to any place / time for your art, where would you go and why?
A: France and Italy in the present. I love the new emerging art, and I love the old masters. I was in Europe last March. Paris is amazing. I could spend a lot of time there, painting, learning, eating. . .
Q:Who are some of your favorite artists, in any genre, and how have they affected your artistic expression?
A: Dali, Picasso, Gahan Wilson, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Pollock, David Choe, Os Gemeos, andy and all true graffiti artists. The radical differences in these artist and styles of art have “infected me” for many years.
Q: Do you have any causes / charities you support that you’d like to share?
A: I’m currently supporting getting Trump to go away and never be seen again. (D’oh!) And I feed the homeless sometimes. I support 2nd Harvest and Salvation Army along with a few others, but I need to do more to truly support those in need. I need to make the time to do that.
Q: Where can we go next to see or hear more of your work?
A: I’m exhibiting at Left Bank Wine Bar again for the month of November. I love that place. I sell art there! People come, drink wind and beer, and sometimes they see and like my art! I like showing in wine bars. I don’t drink anymore, but I enjoy seeing people drink and have fun and then buy my art.
If you are not into wine bars but want to check out Tom’s work, you can visit his website Tom Norton Art .
Or, if you are more interested in music, you can find him most Sundays playing with Voodoo Church at Cheap Shots.
Q: So final and possibly most telling question. Tom, do you prefer Star Trek, Star Wars, or Dancing with the Stars?
A: I prefer Star Trek. I enjoy the cheesy first episodes, the evolution of Spock, and its more optimistic view.
I can’t say I’m surprised that Tom preferred Star Trek. He is constantly looking for the good in life, in people, in art and music. His kindness and wit made this interview completely enjoyable.
Of course none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Kay West at the the Little Dog Art Gallery and her chosen curator for the “Origins of Fear” exhibit, Megan Holden. A fine line illustrator, graphic designer, and jewelry maker, I got to sit down with Megan a few days ago and ask her about herself and the exhibit.
Unsure about what to expect upon meeting her, the first thing I noticed about Ms. Holden, beyond her gorgeous auburn hair, was her awesome Led Zeppelin shirt and amazingly detailed fingernails painted with skeleton parts on a black back ground. Pretty much everything about her oozed quiet confidence and fun loving friendliness. I was instantly put at ease, and drawn in.
Pun not intended, Ms. Holden’s drawings are intensely detailed, lively and full of motion, it is easy to get lost in them. A feast for the eyes, and her jewelry is just as lovely. You can see for yourself by visiting her facebook art page Poseidon’s Consort or her jewelry page JewelryDesignedByMegan.
When I asked her how long she’d been a curator, the surprise answer was this had been her first foray into curating! Apparently, she’s known Kay for a while, having met at the New Moon Art Gallery , when they both had pieces there. Kay asked her to curate the show and, despite never having done it before, Megan jumped in with both feet and created an amazing exhibit.
She had two criteria for choosing pieces from the many entries the open call brought in: 1) Did the artist follow submission guidelines? No cutting corners or dodging procedure allowed. 2) Did the piece generate a feeling of fear or a perception of danger in some way? Did it dredge up memories of past fear?
I asked how she came up with the theme of the exhibit. Her response was thought provoking. “I was raised watching Hitchcock films and although it was initially inspired by October and the heightened sense of tension created in Hitchcock movies, I came up with the subject matter by wanting to further explore the fears that lie deep within us. It was about tapping into things like fear of loss, fear of commitment and things that affect daily decisions or shape our character. I like to see how fear of all kinds either promotes or inhibits growth. It is a shared experience everyone can relate to on some level.”
I think we can all agree, we’ve all had some sort of fear response to unusual situations, shocking surprises, and those things that go bump in the night, right? Thankfully, Ms. Holden wasn’t afraid of the unknown and agreed to curate the “Origins of Fear”.
Once selected, the artists works spent a month in the Little Dog being admired and voted on. Tom’s “Room 208 / Mother Please” ended up being the most popular / creepy. Second place went to a lovely gal previously interviewed for this blog, Kim Long! Her submission (below) is called “Surrender the Heart” or “Spirit of the Birch”.
Congratulations to Tom and Kim for winning the most votes, and to Megan for organizing a terrific exhibit!