Mar 12, 2018

Artist Interview with Shannon Amidon

Hi friends! Today's artist interview is with mixed media artist Shannon Amidon. Shannon's work is infused with mysterious beauty and conveys her deep appreciation for bugs, botanicals, and vintage ephemera. Enjoy!Where in the world are you located? What is it like being an artist there?I am in San Jose California, the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s wonderful to be so close to San Francisco and Oakland that both have great art institutions and communities. Unfortunately, there are very few galleries or studio spaces in San Jose. This is partly because it is so expensive to live and work here and at times tech is favored over the arts. The art community is great and really supportive though. I am a firm believer that you get what you put into something. So if you engage, support and are active within your community you will get that back. You recently shared some really exciting news on Instagram. You were awarded a grant for a group show that you’re curating. Congratulations! Can you tell us some more?Thank you! I am so excited and happy about the exhibition and grant. The exhibit I am curating -  Arousing Biophilia has been a project that has been in the works for 8 months. It began with a desire to say more with my art/art practice. I am really passionate about nature and the environment and wanted to address that in some way. So I decided to curate an exhibit and invite artists who felt the same way I do. There are a variety of mediums and artists exploring everything from plankton and bee extinction to spores and life cycles.In addition to the exhibit, I also wanted to have free events that educated and informed people about the environment, stewardship, and nature. I applied for an Awesome Foundation grant to help out with the exhibit and events. I really wanted to keep everything free and open to the public. My goal is to have everything be accessible to a variety of people. Not just art lovers but nature lovers, science enthusiasts, school kids and more. I am really fortunate to have been awarded the grant and am so grateful to the Awesome Foundation. I am also partnering with Vegielution a local urban farming organization that does a lot of work with underserved and low-income families and teaches about urban farming sustainability, composting and more. I think for a lot of artists, there's a tension between feeling called to be an artist and the pull to have a "sensible" career. Have you always known that you're an artist? How has your art career evolved?I was a late bloomer as an artist.  I have always been creative but was not really exposed to traditional art and that world until college. After my first group show, I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a professional artist.  My career has evolved and grown so much over the years. Each year I am so grateful for the wonderful opportunities and experiences I get to have. I am always pushing myself and if I am not growing and trying new things creatively and professionally I feel stagnate and sad. I have done several residencies, received grants and been in many group and solo exhibitions. There are still so many things I want to do and achieve. I love the variety of experiences I can have as a professional artist.Can you talk a bit about your process? How has your work evolved over time? What are you working on right now? What's new or different about it?I started out in photography and loved learning the darkroom process. I transitioned from straight photography to more alternative processes and then more mixed media and cameraless image making. I love process and getting my hands dirty so my work has evolved naturally from photography to mixed media, collage, book art etc. For the past 10 years, I have really focused on encaustic (painting with molten beeswax) I have really fallen in love with the medium. It is the most versatile, forgiving and challenging medium I have worked with. I incorporate a lot of ephemeral materials into my work and still use photography in a lot of my pieces. Recently been exploring using encaustic in a  more sculptural 3D way. This has pushed me technically and creatively. Are there certain themes that show up in your work over and over again?Yes, there are two themes that I feel consistently show up in my work. Life cycles, through natural history, trees, insects, botanicals, and nature. These are very obvious and can easily be seen throughout my work. The other theme is memories and a sense of time and history. All of my artwork has ephemera in the background. What a lot of people don’t know is that a lot of it is from my family. My Great Grandmothers vaccination record or her recipes. My Mothers drivers test from the 1960’s. Some ephemera I rescue from thrift and antique stores too. I especially love items with handwriting. I think about where these items have been and the hands that created them. Not only is it important from a repurposing and environmental point of view but also as a way to honor those who are no longer with us. Some people are really freaked out that I use the originals in my work. I think of it as sending these memories out into the world to live on forever and not just have them end up in a box in the attic or a landfill.What is your studio practice like? Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the creative zone? Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get unstuck?I have strict studio hours Mon – Fri 11-3pm. After 3 pm and the weekends are for my family & friends. I am often doing computer work in the evenings after my daughter has gone to bed.  It has been about a year that I have got very serious about my studio time and really honor it. No other appointment, coffee with friends, etc during this time. After I started taking my creative time more seriously I noticed that I was a lot more productive and successful.I do get creative block sometimes and I have learned not to do anything about it. I know that sounds strange but the more I think about the worse it gets. I still do my studio hours but instead of creating I might organize or clean. I try to be gentle with myself and fill the creative well as they say. I also meditate every day which helps. I really love your Bugs and Botanicals series. Can you talk a bit about what that series means to you?Bug and botanicals two of my favorite things. It’s funny people either really love or hate bugs, I have always loved and been fascinated by them. This series was created for a group exhibit called 50/50 where each artist creates 50 pieces of art in 50 days. Talk about crazy! It was a really great and challenging experience. Creatively it was frustrating and freeing. When you are in that time crunch you don’t have time to think, you just have to create. After piece 28 I was freaking out realizing I still had another 22 pieces to go. In the end, it was a huge accomplishment that let me explore subject matter, materials, technique and more.  Each piece is named after an entomologist, botanist, or naturalists in hopes that someone might look up and learn a little more about this person. I even created a book to go along with the series.Are you a full-time artist or do you also have a day job/side hustle? If you do have a day job, does it tie in with your art practice?I am a full-time artist and I have a  part-time job as a webmaster at a university. To be honest I am happy that I have the part-time position. Not only do I enjoy it most of the time but it also gives me the freedom to take more risks with my art. It gives me enough financial freedom that I am not starving and can travel and afford art supplies. I do take my art career very seriously though and I feel that my art is a full-time job. I have the best of both worlds. It has taken many years to get here but I am really grateful that I am in this position. Let's talk about work/life balance. How do you balance family life, studio time, business and time for yourself?I don’t balance anything and kind of think it’s a myth. There are times like right now that my art life has taken over everything. I spend 12 hour days working on art/art business and neglect my poor family. Then there are times like the holidays, birthday, etc that I put my art on the backburner and focus on family.  It can be frustrating at times, I am a really driven person and can overdo it sometimes. I have learned to say no more and really value my time.What does being an artist mean to you?Everything, there is a magic and a freedom in art. I am so grateful to have this life full of amazing experiences and adventures.If you could give your 20-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?I am not sure. I’m the person I am today because of all of the mistakes, pain, lessons learned, and triumphs I have had.  Maybe to surrender and let go a little more. Wonderful! Thanks so much, Shannon. For more information about Shannon Amidon, please visit her website or you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook. And if you'll be in San Jose, CA anytime between now and April, 22 be sure to check out Arousing Biophilia.Do you have any questions or comments for Shannon? Add them to the comments below!

Mar 5, 2018

Art Nouveau Peacock Feather Art Print

I'm a huge fan of the Art Nouveau movement. I love the sinuous forms and the sumptuous colors! This mixed media collage incorporates paper, fabric, leather and paint.Prints are available in a variety of sizes, framed and unframed. SHOP HERE

Feb 27, 2018

Still Rolling With the Punches Like a Boss

Things have been a bit tough lately and so I'm re-sharing a blog post that I wrote back in 2016. Our situation right now isn't as intense as it was back then, but there are a lot similarities. I think I need to remind myself of some of the lessons I learned back then.Life has a way of throwing some wicked curve balls. Things can be going great—the family is happy, business is growing, the home is cozy. Life is good. And then BAM. The ax falls.This happened to me about a year and a half ago when my little boy was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis. The seam in his skull that runs from ear to ear had fused prematurely and his brain didn’t have enough room to grow. He would need a major reconstructive surgery.During my postpartum period, I had a hard time adjusting to life as a new mom. I kept piling my plate higher with projects and clients, driving myself and my husband totally batty in the process. I knew that I would have to handle this new situation differently. I needed to clear my plate and unplug.Coping With Difficult EmotionsThe four months leading up to the operation were fraught with fear and worry. Within a few days of getting the bad news, I went about putting my business on hold. I set my Etsy shop to vacation mode and created autoresponders for incoming email. I had a couple of client projects on my plate that I was able to wrap up. As a side gig, I work as an editorial assistant for a wedding blog, so I contacted my colleagues to let them know I would be offline for at least a month.Of course, everyone’s situation is unique and putting business completely on hold may not be an option. It’s a good idea to delegate wherever possible and minimize any stressful or emotionally charged interactions. For me, I was feeling pretty lackluster about wedding invitations and emotionally drained by the customer service aspect of the work, so hitting the pause button felt right.My son’s operation went very smoothly, and we were lucky to catch the problem in time. However, the recovery period was incredibly challenging. The experience was emotionally traumatic for my son, and he ended up regressing developmentally quite a bit. (If your child or the child of a loved one is facing synostosis repair, please don’t let this scare you. Developmental regression is rare, and full recovery generally happens relatively quickly.)In the weeks just after we came home, he was on heavy pain medication. He and I spent all day every day lying on the couch together. This was a strange time for me. All kinds of funk started to bubble up from the depths of my psyche. So I went on a little bit of a self-help bender.These are the gems that I found most helpful: When Things Fall Apart Radical Acceptance Heart of Forgiveness Start Where You Are The Miracle of Mindfulness The Power of Now As great as all that introspection is, it can get a bit heavy. Mixing things up with some fiction is a good way to lighten up. Here are a couple recent favorites: The Bone Clocks (or seriously, anything by David Mitchell, the man is amazing!) The Goldfinch The Importance of Self-CareBeing a caregiver is very demanding. Practicing good self-care is a must! For me, this started at a pretty rudimentary level: self-talk. With no distractions around, I became painfully aware of how negative my self-talk was: from my life-long struggle with a crummy self-image, to the sinking feeling that the timeline of my life was not shaping up as I planned, to the guilt I felt about having unwittingly passed along a heavy genetic burden to my sweet little boy. Up until now, an undercurrent of self-abasement was kind of an unquestioned given in my thinking. Being able to take a step back and acknowledge that was a big deal all by itself and over time by practicing mindfulness, I’ve been able to keep that tendency in check.Resources I found most helpful for self-care: This ecourse offered by Vital Medicine that changed the way I think about my health. The Vitality Map by Dr. Zucker Superfood Kitchen cookbook These journaling and writing prompts Woman’s Comfort Book Overcome The Anxiety Of Not Being Productive EnoughTaking a leave of absence from business has been hard, but I had to do it. Prior to my son’s operation, my business focus was primarily custom wedding invitations. Talk about a tough customer! I knew I couldn’t deal with client work during my son’s recovery, but I still wanted to feel like I was making progress and being productive. I took some fun ecourses for textile design, stationery business, Illustrator for print production, and a paper/book arts class.During this time I read Firestarter Sessions and Desire Map. The timing was perfect! I was completely uninspired to get back to custom wedding invitations. These two books helped me to reconsider my goals and as a result, I decided to revise my business model. I found licensing opportunities for my stationery and textile designs (Society6, Zazzle, Spoonflower) and decided to focus my energy on fine art, especially book arts.Find SupportMy family is lucky in that we can get by on my husband’s income, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone and the loss of income can be devastating. But there are some crowdfunding platforms to help raise money for emergencies: Generosity Give Foward Go Fund Me Women Arts Gottlieb Foundation Craft Emergency Relief Fund After about a month of being completely offline, I returned to my side gig in a limited capacity. Minimizing social media interactions and focusing more on behind-the-scenes stuff helped to stave off overwhelm. For bosses who are unable to put their business on hold, the best advice I can offer is to delegate and automate as much as possible. I found the care packages from Cranio Care Bears to be extremely supportive during this time. And for the early days after surgery or childbirth, a meal tree can be a life-saver.The Silver LiningIt’s been about a year and a half since my son’s surgery and in some ways, he’s still recovering, but the worst is behind us. He’ll be in preschool four days a week this fall and I’ll be getting back to work. This experience put a lot of things into perspective for me. I know with every fiber of my being that my sweet family is everything to me and putting my creative ambitions on hold for a while is not that big of a deal. I managed to face and befriend some of my own personal demons. I also have a much clearer vision of what I want to focus on creatively. I’ll be licensing out my design work so I can focus on fine art. I have a ton of ideas for fine art projects and I can’t wait to get in the studio!If you’re struggling with a hardship, my heart goes out to you and I hope that what I’ve shared here can be of some help.This post was originally published on the Being Boss blog on September 7th, 2016.

Feb 12, 2018

Artist Interview with Jamie Smith

Hi everyone! I am so delighted to share today's artist interview with Jamie Smith. Not only is Jamie a talented fine artist, but she is also the founder of the THRIVE artist network, and thereby one of my personal heroes! Enjoy:Where in the world are you located? What is it like being an artist there?I am located in Vancouver on the West Coast of Canada. Vancouver is such a beautiful city, there is so much nature around to be inspired by and a small but vibrant art scene to contribute to. I think for a lot of artists, there's a tension between feeling called to be an artist and the pull to have a "sensible" career. Have you always known that you're an artist? How has your art career evolved?I most certainly did not know! I have always been in this space of tension between the “practical” and “the dream.” I grew up being creative but we did not buy original art growing up and I didn’t really know people that did! I took an art class in my senior year of high school just because I had room in my schedule. It was actually my art teacher that suggested I get a portfolio together and apply to art school. He helped me do this and I was accepted. But of course, hanging onto my practical side I went to a university with an art department so that if I decided to go into a more suitable degree path I could. I did, in the end, complete my BFA and a minor in business (oh so practical). I learned a lot about how to think about art and about famous artists but nothing about how to create an art career for myself. I deeply felt like I would love to take the path of an artist but I had no idea how to do this. So I enrolled in a teaching program because that seemed to be a mix of the dream side and practical side of me. I taught high school art for a few years and during that time I got my own art studio outside of my house and I fell in love!! I decided then and there that I was going to figure out this “art thing” and realized I was actually running a small business so I studied up on the business of art as well. I spend years hustling and juggling teaching and selling my art any way I could. I was very inspired and excited but I was also extremely lonely and unsure of myself. I slowly started meeting other artists and I would go for coffee with them monthly (I fondly called these coffees "lady dates"). I really struggled with the lack of mentorship and community in the arts. As artists, we spend so much time on our own creating in our studios so it is hard to get out into the world. So a few years ago I started THRIVE to support female, non-binary and gender-fluid artists and to create a community that looks out for one another. This has been a huge shift for me in my practice as I feel like I have a team around me! Now being an artist doesn’t seem like a scary impractical path, it seems like a normal choice as I have surrounded myself with “my people.” I am so grateful for this. Can you talk a bit about your process? How has your work evolved over time? What are you working on right now? What's new or different about it?My work has evolved a lot over the years. When I started, I was painting large abstract work and had a studio that had space for this and a big sink. Then I moved into a much smaller studio and started doing image transfer work on smaller panels. Now I have very limited time with everything going on with THRIVE so I create work one week a month and paint on paper sitting at a desk. I find this very relaxing and a great way to unwind. I am working on a series of florals at the moment and I am loving using bright colors, they make me happy! Are there certain themes that show up in your work over and over again?My work seems to always be focused on memories and the passage of time. I find layering images, collage, and tools like Photoshop allow me to take one image and fuse it together with something else to convey the many stories I am working to express. I always seem to have the idea of “place” in my work and some kind of organic forms. I think this comes from travelling and seeing so many different images, places and people all at once, I think I am still trying to make sense of it all. What is your studio practice like? Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the creative zone? Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get unstuck?My studio practice is very scheduled and disciplined, gone are the days where inspiration can hit and I am painting till 3am! I have 4 days every month to create and I try to get some weekends in as well but that doesn’t always happen. I find throughout the month I am mentally collecting ideas and making plans for those 4 days because I want to jump right in when my studio time starts. Sometimes I find this schedule hard but I do think it makes me more productive as I cherish my studio time and have to just show up and do the work! I listen to audiobooks when I paint and I love getting into a book and I end up painting way longer as I am so into the story and process. I also drink a lot of tea while I work! In addition to being a fine artist, you’re also the founder of the THRIVE Art Studio. Can you tell us about your inspiration for starting this group and how it’s evolved? As I mentioned above I started THRIVE because it was something I needed, I gathered 6 female artists that I had been meeting monthly. I brought the group together and it was such a special night, everyone shared so openly and gave such great advice. It was magic! We decided to meet as a group for 6 months and I created a schedule and questions we would chat about each meeting. I then started getting emails from other artists to join and started more groups. The program has evolved a lot since then but the values and even the questions we answer at every meeting are the same still today! We now have over 175 members and an online program so we have members all over the world (like the wonderful Jessica Molnar!). I am so excited about where THRIVE is today and we have some big plans for the future! All Photos by Britney Berrner If you could give your 20-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?Relax- each win, disappoint, failure and person all lead you down a pretty darn beautiful path. I think my current self could use to remember this more often as well.  Thank you so much, Jamie! To learn more about Jamie Smith, please visit her website or follow her on Instagram.TRHIVE Mastermind intake for May is open so apply now to join the community! Check out the THRIVE website to learn more or follow along on Instagram.Do you have any questions or comment for Jamie? Add them to the comments below!

Feb 5, 2018

Meet Janelle Hardy

Photo Credit: Erica Breau Hello everyone! I'm so happy to introduce you to my friend, Janelle Hardy. Janelle teaches an incredible 4 month online class called Personal Mythmaking. It's playful, deep and transformative. And, by the end of it, you'll have the first draft of your memoirs written. I took this class last year and loved it! It helped me to get out of a nasty creative block and untangle some persnickety psychological funk. Class starts February 19th, payment plans available and when you sign up with code JessMolnar, you'll receive the special bonus that Janelle is offering to my friends: a one-on-one session with her! You can find out more here. Enjoy:Please tell us a about your business and how you help creative women.I help creative women by showing them ways to reconnect with their bodies, their creative life force, and how to heal and grow by examining their life-stories and personal histories. The easiest way of describing my work is to say that I help people write their memoirs, but, of course, it's more complex than that, because we as women and humans are complex, and we arise out of complex histories.Janelle, you have a really interesting professional background in the visual arts, performing arts and healing arts. Can you please share a little bit about how your creative journey has evolved.Oh goodness. I used to confuse myself so much with my widely varied background and interests. My creative journey arose partly out of a deep curiosity and partly out of a frustration with the limits that people were placing on me to do just-the-one-thing. My personal experience as a creative person has been that I have a creative life force, and desire for self-expression that chooses the medium based on what feels most right for what is longing to emerge. And, by following these impulses to dance - I started learning about embodiment. By following these impulses to write, I learned how to express myself through words and the written language. By following these impulses to paint, I learned how to visually convey what I was after. And by trying and failing and trying and succeeding, I've incrementally honed my technical skills, and I've slowly started to reveal to myself what what my soul and bodypsyche has been longing for all this time.What inspired you to create Personal Mythmaking School?I have to say that I didn't really create Personal Mythmaking School. It's a process that revealed itself to me each time I tried to offer courses and articulate what I was wanting to teach and share with others. It originally showed up as an 8 week in person course, then I moved it online and added more to it, then I discovered that the process offers up the rough draft of a memoir (amazing!) and each time I've offered it, to small small groups of truly dedicated people, the Personal Mythmaking process has revealed itself to me a little more. I really feel like I'm offering a process that is asking me to offer it. I can't say I've consciously created it, but that it's been born of me and through me. There is something so mystical and beautiful about feeling like, finally, I'm a worthy vessel and guide, through which this work can emerge, because if I hadn't spent all of those years discovering the creative process, and writing and teaching and doing bodywork and learning about embodiment and trauma and healing and cultural and inter-generational healing as well, I wouldn't be able to offer Personal Mythmaking. So, to circle back around to your question - I wasn't inspired to create Personal Mythmaking School so much as I was willing to let something show up, and keep offering and being open to what arose out of those experiences. Now though, I feel inspired to keep teaching Personal Mythmaking and I feel inspired to really master the art of marketing so I can reach more women who are keen to grow and learn and heal, and write their memoirs too! Who do you find gets the most benefit out of Personal Mythmaking School?I find the people who most benefit from Personal Mythmaking are the soulful curious seekers, the creative deep thinkers who are sensitive, highly attuned to themselves and their surroundings, and are not interested in living with the status quo, but are interested instead in growing and constantly becoming themselves.A while back, I came upon the phrase "embodied creativity" on your website and it stopped me in my tracks! Can you please tell us about what that phrase means to you?For me, embodied creativity means understanding the creative process as a circular, cyclical process that is much like a pregnancy, in that it needs to gestate, it requires patience and attunement to which state the process is at, and a willingness to make things happen when the creative process moves into the next phase. Embodied creativity also means tapping into creativity from a body-centered perspective. Because our 'western' cultures are so very much based in intellectual rational thinking processes, the body gets dismissed, left behind and left out. Yet, our bodies are our only homes, and when we learn to befriend them and listen to them, and cultivate a sensory awareness that rises out of inhabiting them, our creativity flows and inspires us in very different ways than when we get stuck in the head. As an added bonus, getting into the body and creating from that perspective is the best trick I know for dodging and shift creative block, perfectionism and the terrible inner critic/judge so many of us have.Do you have any advice for visual artists who struggle to find their voice in writing?Yes! Remember that you're a beginner and stop expecting perfection. Also, think of words in terms of visual experiences. Try pulling in the vibe of painting/collaging/visualizing, and just think of words as the brush, paints and so on and so forth. Mostly, be kind to yourself, keep trying, and try to be playful too.Do you have any creative prompts, tricks or rituals to use when you're in a slump?Yes. If I'm in a slump, getting into nature and into the body and shifting gears is the best solution. A walk in nature. A project completely opposite to the one I'm working on. Cooking. Playing music and dancing. Especially, doing the hand-touch exercise (10 minutes) that I teach everyone I work with. It's pure gold. I hope that helps.What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?oh god (dess). It's advice I still need to hear. Stop taking everything so seriously. Stop worrying about money. Learn how to play. Everything flows better when you find ways to relax. Don't worry so much about what others think of you. You're young and beautiful, and I know you don't believe but please, just believe it, then live from that place. Drop the self-doubt, be audacious, and start believe the world is conspiring for you rather than against you. And now that I've reminded myself of these things, I'm going to go enjoy the rest of my day too!Thank you so much, Janelle! To learn more about Janelle Hardy, please visit her website and you can learn more about Personal Mythmaking here. Remember to use the code JessMolnar to receive your free coaching session with Janelle.Full Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Personal Mythmaking and when you sign up with my code, I receive a commission. I promise that I only recommend resources that I personally use and love.

Jan 30, 2018

New Prints: Bug Etchings

Here a couple of etchings, inspired the creepy loveliness of insects. Prints available in a variety of sizes, framed or unframed.SHOP HERE

Jan 18, 2018

Resources for Artists #4

Yay! It's time for another resource roundup:) Hope you enjoy:ProductivityMy favorite new productivity tool is the Productivity Planner. It's based in the Pomodoro Method and focuses on helping you to prioritize the most important tasks and stay accountable. There are weekly planning pages and end of the week reviews which really tie it all together. Total win!MoneyThe other day in my artist mastermind meeting, one of the members could barely contain her excitement about this book: The Soul of Money. And personally, as someone who isn't the most financially motivated (but perhaps should be a bit more!) this book looks like it could be a real game changer.Selling on InstagramSales. Oy Vey. What a tough nut to crack! Thankfully though, there are a bevy of resources available to help artists sell their work directly to buyers on social media. Here are a few for Instagram: Shopify Soldsie Like2Buy LiketoKnow.it Candid.io InstaOrders Inselly Spreesy Staying GroundedOk, let's face it. Artists are a bit umm...different. We can be intense, sensitive, flighty, ambitious, complicated. Our career paths have been meandering and a lot of us have been through The Shit. As a result, it can be really easy to fall in the trap of self-judgement. Here are some resources that can help: Tara Brach is a Buddhist meditation instructor and psychotherapist. She has free guided meditations on her website and has written books as well. Radical Self Acceptance is a personal favorite. The Awakening Body is a really great book that I highly recommend. It's about somatic meditation, which is really fascinating to read about, but best of all are the free guided meditations. The Rubber Band Technique Write down your your accomplishments each day. Give yourself props for all that you do! According to Forbes, it's one habit that the most successful people share. Do you have any resources that you'd like to share? Please do!

Jan 9, 2018

New Year, New Curtains

Hey there! I'm so excited that my textile designs are now available as window curtains. Fresh, colorful window curtains are a sure-fire way to liven up a room. A wide variety of styles and sizes are available.SHOP HERE

Jan 3, 2018

Artist Interview with Heather Kocsis

Happy New Year everyone! I'm delighted to kick off 2018 with an interview with Canadian Artist Heather Kocsis. Heather creates intricately detailed architectural dioramas. I find her work so inviting, I hope you do too! Enjoy:Please tell us a little bit about where you live. What is it like being an artist there?I live in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, about one hour west of Toronto. I enjoy being here; I am close enough to the metropolis of Toronto and it is a short plane ride to New York City. It is fun to jump out to see a broader vision of the world, learn and grow, and come back home to work in a more grounded environment with access to nature and being closer to family. Have you always known that you're an artist? When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  How has your art career evolved?I have always wanted to make art, but I wanted to do it in a way no one else had….I was skilled in the arts, with draftsmanship and seeing things differently in school and I followed my heart to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. However, it was not until I was in my early twenties that I had an opportunity to work with a group of artists within a project that supported using our creative abilities to become self-sustaining.It was during my first public exhibition that I sold a piece of work and I was so excited, I thought to myself: “I may be able to do this as a living!”Somehow, following the signs has led me to where I am now, with determination and commitment. It is always about learning.Are you a full time artist or do you also have a day job/side hustle? If you do have a day job, does it tie in with your art practice?Currently, I am full-time. In the beginning (1999), I was supporting myself by using my creative skill as a printmaker to teach workshops and print custom products such as wedding invitations, as well as making and selling artwork. Now I am focussed on commissioned artwork and selling directly to collectors who have followed my work. Can you talk a bit about your process? How has your work evolved over time? What are you working on right now? What's new or different about it?I am inspired by architectural elements, whether it is our everyday built environment where we live and work, or details that are rich in texture and design, but still have an element of familiarity that will connect to us emotionally. I will capture a scene or detail photographically, and then bring it to life by building with the textures and layers of various woods, (primarily plywood)  to create a wall-sculpture. I then paint the artwork with oil paint, which is the fun part, because it brings everything alive and into a new dimension. Over time, as the workmanship of assembling and building the structures has evolved, so has the colour palette and compositions. I choose colours that are lighter and brighter, as well as more interior spaces, where the viewer can feel they are being drawn into the artwork. I am also incorporating more nuances of nature into the pieces, more life and a human element, like a watering can.I am having fun creating little miniatures from scenes from my last trip to Italy. I have wonderful photos of Cinque Terre, with the fabulous colour, architecture and nature and how people lived in such a beautiful part of the world. Your work occupies a very unique niche. I love the three-dimensionality and architectural accuracy of you assemblages. How did discover your voice as an artist?Architecture is my metaphor to connect with people. My early prints were very textured and expressive, inspired by the expressive painters like Robert Rauschenberg and Vasily Kandinsky.Within my prints, I used the images of childhood photographs to evoke feelings of nostalgia and to transport the viewer to a different time and place.I did not have access to a printmaking studio in Cambridge, after university. I was preparing for an exhibition, and while painting in my studio one night, I noticed a reference photograph of an urban streetscape laying on the floor. It had fallen next to a piece of weathered plywood. In that moment, the texture of the plywood echoed the texture of the buildings, and it was a completely inspired moment. I impulsively picked up the piece of wood and began to pry it apart, using the layers as a paintbrush to re-create the photograph. This technique satisfied the technical engineering mind as well as the physical need to build with my hands. I call the wall-sculptures “wood-assemblages”. Since that moment, I am continually inspired to build.  I want to move people, make them think, and I want the pieces to stand the test of time. I am not claiming to have achieved this, but everyday I try to. Are there certain themes that show up in your work over and over again? Capturing time-kept places and the feeling of being at home or returning home; whether it is within yourself or literally.What is your studio practice like? Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the creative zone? Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get unstuck?My studio space is separate from my home, which is imperative for me to go to the studio everyday (with days off) to be within that environment, even if I am between commissions or a new project. I find being within the studio reminds me of what my purpose is. If I am stuck, I will at least organize, or clean, or cut a piece of wood, to help get me out of my head. Sometimes it does take me awhile to get into the zone, if I am working on a project with a deadline, (since my work may take a little longer to see results because it is so detailed), I will do something very immediate on the piece to see I have made progress, such as cut a large piece of wood and assemble it within the composition. Let's talk about work/life balance. How do you balance family life, studio time, business and time for yourself?I admit it is challenging, since I could be in the studio 10 hours a day, which obviously is not very balanced. I write down my priorities of what my ideal work day/week looks like. It does change when I have deadlines, or preparing for a show. However, I recognize that breaks are necessary. I think even Leonardo DaVinci championed taking breaks because that is when your best ideas may come and it puts things in perspective. So I know my health is important and exercise, rest, and spending time with family and friends. Using a daily planner where the entire month is laid out in front of me is extremely helpful and I schedule things in with the priorities in mind. I also do not beat myself up if I do not get everything done in one day. Who (or what) are your biggest creative influences?I love travelling and immersing myself into a different culture; interacting with people and nature.  It offers a different perspective on things and helps me grow. I enjoy listening to other people’s stories. It helps me connect to people and learn about myself as well. I also look within myself to be inspired; meditation and spiritual growth is very important to me.What does being an artist mean to you?I believe being an artist is simultaneously a responsibility and a gift. We, as artists, have the opportunity to see things differently and offer that alternative perspective to the world to add value. I think it is about finding your inner voice and embodying and cultivating who you are, rather than trying to become something. If you could give your 20 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?Laugh more and be kind to yourself and others. It will all work out.Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing, Heather. For more information about Heather Kocsis, please visit her website or you can follow her on Instagram.Do you have any questions or comments for Heather? Add them to the comments below!

Dec 21, 2017

Happy Solstice!

Wishing you and yours all the coziness and wonder the season has to offer!

Dec 11, 2017

Artist Interview with Leah Beggs

Hi, friends! Today's artist interview is with Contemporary Irish Artist, Leah Beggs. Leah creates abstract landscape paintings, inspired by the bucolic Irish countryside.  I love the dreamy and ethereal quality of Leah's work. I hope you do too!Please tell us a little bit about where you live. What is it like being an artist there?I live in a small village called Oughterard on the west coat of Ireland, close to Galway city. I’ve been here for over ten years now and I think it’s safe to say I’m settled. I’m from Dublin originally so it’s a very different way of life compared to city living. There are pros and cons to being an artist here. Pro’s being that it’s fantastic to live in such a beautiful location particularly as it inspires and informs my art as an abstract landscape painter, Cons being you are a little bit disconnected from the larger art world. Galway city though is a very creative place. It’s bursting at the seams with musicians, artists and theatre types! Have you always known that you're an artist? When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  How has your art career evolved?I was definitely an arty kid and come from a long line of creative women but had never really thought about being an artist as a career choice. I wanted to be a Vet but when it came to picking College courses somehow fine art made the list and being a Vet wasn’t on the horizon at all. Interestingly my 8 yr. old daughter has expressed interest in being a Vet. Maybe I can live vicariously through her!!My art career has evolved slowly; I think it’s the nature of the beast! It wasn’t until I became a mother and gave up my full time job that it changed trajectory. At a time when I thought I’d have no time and having dependents, the time I spent being creative suddenly became much more focused and therapeutic to me. Whilst I was painting and creating along the way it wasn’t until I started showing my work in both the Kenny Gallery in Galway and Solomon Fine Art in Dublin that things started to take off a little bit. Being represented bya gallery is a real fortune and I appreciate all they do for me but I think in this digital age it’s also important to promote yourself online, be it through instagram , websites, social media etc.Are you a full time artist or do you also have a day job/side hustle? If you do have a day job, does it tie in with your art practice?I worked as an interior designer for a while, and painted in my spare time. Once I had my kids I gave up full time work, although it planned to be a temporary measure. I started painting during the day when my kids were very young and realized now was the time to try and make it a full time thing. It’s a struggle, and can be a lonely existence, but I strive to keep going, as it’s something I truly love doing. Can you talk a bit about your process? How has your work evolved over time? What are you working on right now? What's new or different about it?The essence of my work deals with an emotive response to fleeting glimpses of the landscape, with particular attention to the quality of light and how it affects the mood of the landscape. I find the energy and power of nature a strong stimulus and whilst I identify as a landscape painter, my paintings are not specifically about a place, but rather memories of places I’ve been, or moments in time, escaping, lost in a moment. When I paint I am immersed in the painterly experience, and as such the resulting work is meditative for both the artist and observer and allows you to be momentarily lost in itI think moving from a city to rural countryside has definitely changed my style of painting. It has also evolved as I’ve become more confident in what I do. I recently finished a new body of work that had a different colour palette to its predecessors. This was a big change for me and now I know I don’t have to stick with blue! Are there certain themes that show up in your work over and over again?Clouds, rainfall and storms! Living on the Atlantic seaboard means you are very exposed to all sorts of wild and wonderful weather. I’m constantly amazed by the sky here. I had an artist friend from California visit recently and something she said stuck with me…she said that she loved to look out the window first thing in the morning whilst she was here and be excited about the weather that day, whatever it was going to be, because in California it’s just sunshine all the time and doesn’t change!What is your studio practice like? Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the creative zone? Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get unstuck?My studio practice needs work! I’m a terrible procrastinator. It’s very easy to get distracted by other things, especially when your studio is at home. I usually start my day with a walk or a run with the dog. It’s a great time to empty my head, but also fill it with plan for the day. I then get in to the studio and once I physically start painting, I get on a roll. I get creative blocks all the time but I think you just need to keep doing the work, even if it’s bad work, eventually you get unstuck! I find if I have to do any administrative stuff done, I can get sucked into a black hole of paperwork, so I try to get it out of the way first thing. It always takes a lot longer than I had planned. I am a total bibliophile and I just love your artist books! Can you talk a bit about what that series means to you? Any plans to make more books? (I hope so!)The artist book thing happened sort of by accident. I meet once a week with a bunch of creative women here in the town where I live. It’s mainly a skill sharing session but the odd time we run workshops. Last year we got an artist bookmaker, Andi McGarry to run a daylong workshop in artist books. I loved it and found it really interesting. There happened to be 2 artist book exhibitions on that year that I submitted my books into. I guess I just ran with it. I haven’t planned to make any more, but I’m always playing around with paper so I’m sure it’s something I will dip into again! Let's talk about work/life balance. How do you balance family life, studio time, business and time for yourself?Now that I have technically have less time to be creative I am much more precious about protecting my time and probably use time more wisely. I think it’s really important to be organized, and to make sure to have time for yourself. I took up playing the bódhran (an Irish drum) a couple of years ago. So once a week I head into Galway city for my class and then take a walk along the seaside promenade after to clear the head. It’s my 'me time' evening, away from home and doing something out of the ordinary. Who (or what) are your biggest creative influences?I just love looking at other abstract painters work. I love the possibilities of paint and what can be achieved on a canvas. I always adored Richard Diebenkorn’s work and I had the chance to gosee some of his Ocean Park paintings in the flesh in London a couple of years ago and I was blown away by them. You could feel the sunshine and light radiating off them. I just thought to myself how did he do that with just paint?!!What does being an artist mean to you?I’m at my happiest when I’m creating; it’s a very therapeutic experience for me. Photo Credit: Firechild Photography If you could give your 20 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?Believe in yourself and what you do. And possibly be a bit more clued into networking in the art world!!Awesome, thanks so much, Leah! For more information about Leah Beggs, please visit her website or you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook. You can shop for her artwork on Etsy or see her work in person at Solomon Fine Art and The Kenny Gallery.Do you have any questions or comments for Leah? Add them to the comments below! 

Dec 4, 2017

Resources for Artists #3

Hi friends! I have a new roundup of resources to make your creative journey a little bit easier. Enjoy:SystemsIt is super important to have a reliable, easy to use system for inventory. Artwork Archive is a cloud based database for artists to keep all their art related images and information.SalesJust the word sales gives a lot of artists the creeps. Never fear! Shannon Ward is a sales expert and coach who takes a fresh approach to selling. For those of you who sell products on Society6, you'll want to check out this great article, complete with a step by step plan for increasing followers and sales.Print on Demand Drop ShippingOh, what a life saver! As an artist, solo entrepreneur and mama trying to juggle it all, being able to outsource the manufacturing and order fulfillment aspects of my business to ethical companies in the US who create high quality finished products and ship them out is really a dream come true. Here are a few you might want to check out: Printful, Printed Mint and Gooten.InstagramLinktr.ee is a cool little app that lets its users work around Instagram's 1 link limit. Orla & Me is a great resource for anyone trying to grow their Instagram following in a genuine, non-icky way.PhotographyWhen it comes to being a working artist, creating the work is the tip of the iceberg. It's also absolutely critical to have gorgeous photos. This is something that I've been struggling with and some artist friends recommended using a small, portable light box like this. I've also heard rave reviews for Nicole' Classes in Photography. I've got my eye on this one.Do you have any new resources that you love? Please share in the comments!
Close (esc)

Let's keep in touch!

Be in the know with monthly communiqués and receive free shipping on your first order.

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now