The Ramblings of a Creative Soul

Monday, June 28, 2010

Inspiration Series - Part 15

I have an eclectic art collection in my house. I like that. One of my favorite pieces is a watercolor of a cow. There is a story connected to my cow. Years ago, my uncle (the one I pass the clock back and forth with) came home for a visit and brought a friend. She had never been "to the country" before. She was in awe of the dalmatian cows that were all over the countryside. We found her description hysterical and inspiration for future presents. The funny thing, we can't remember her name but we remember the dalmatian cow. My kids grew up thinking they were called that and now find it funny that up the road, we have Oreo cows. Several years ago, a large box was delivered. Inside was the cow painting. My uncle was traveling and had stopped at an art show. He was taken by the cow and figured I should have that. It now hangs in the room I spend the most time in and smile when I see it.

Today's featured artist, Robert Joyner, first caught my eye because of his cow paintings. When I explored his shop more, his countryside paintings reminded me of where I grew up. Having had a lifelong love affair with horses, I was really drawn to his horse paintings. I also liked that he told a story with each of his paintings. I have a weakness for storytelling and love to know what inspired the piece or the feelings of the artist. I think it makes it even more personal. I decided to ask Robert the question,

What inspires you?

Expression is the key to my creative process. Subjects vary, but the sense of expression stays the same. Watercolor was my first medium. The magic of transforming blank white paper into colorful paintings brought me back to the easel day after day. I soon began to add other mediums such as crayon and charcoal to my watercolors. This form of mixed media gave me a sense of personal style.

Having loved the outdoors all my life, I decided to start plein air painting. This experience opened other avenues of creativity and techniques. It also brought me back to the subjects that I enjoy the most. Having grown up in rural Virginia and with a background in commercial fishing, I was quickly drawn to the coastal harbors, fishing boats, and the Virginia country side. Plein air painting gives me a more personal connection with the subjects. By being on site, I’m able to capture and omit certain nuances that give the viewer room to use their imagination and allows me the opportunity to include certain features that add character to the scene. Plein air paintings will often lead to larger studio works which are fueled by time invested on site.

One of the toughest things for me to do is to throw away unwanted paintings and brushes. Many of my favorite acrylic paintings on paper are completed with recycled watercolor paper and well worn, or frayed brushes that many artists would likely discard. It seems like painting on inferior works is less inhibiting. The strength of my art is allowing each painting to have a life of its own. Even though I do not have a methodical way of painting, there are always certain techniques and methods I use throughout my works. Therefore, finishing a piece is always a unique journey.

You can find Robert's wonderful work at

Thanks so much for sharing, Robert.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Family Heirloom

The summer before my freshman year in college, my great aunt died. She was one of my favorite people on earth. She was born in 1900. I loved that she was the perfect age for each of the decades she lived in. The twenties were the perfect time to be in your twenties or the forties to be in your forties. Her name was Mildred but I called her Oo-hoo. When I was little, she would come to the door and ask "Oo-hoo, anyone home?" I just assumed she was calling out her name. She spent her adult life on the faculty at the University of Kentucky, and I would send mail to her addressed to Oo-hoo. I'm sure the mailman wondered about that.

When Oo-hoo died, my uncle and I were packing up her belongings. My uncle, who is more like a brother to me given our close ages, found a rhinestone clock in a drawer. We both joked about how ugly it was and who would get it. I don't know what possessed me but I hid it in the trunk of things he was having sent to his home in San Francisco. I forgot about the clock until Christmas Eve. There was a present from my uncle that had a strange note attached. Christmas morning, that was the first present I opened - suspecting it was the clock. Sure enough, it was. Thus became our ritual of passing the clock back and forth. In the beginning, we were rather boring. We would send it with a Christmas present or Birthday present. The clock would travel across the country a few times a year. We decided to get more creative in our passing of the clock. My uncle once slipped it to my husband during a family dinner, and he placed it on my nightstand during the middle of the night. I woke up to discover it. I had a co-worker who was traveling to San Francisco deliver it to his office while he was at lunch. His most original method was to send me a wooden box that looked like a clock face. I was sure I was going to open it up and discover the clock. When I lifted the lid, I found my favorite Grandma See's candy. I reached in to take a few and yes, found the clock underneath the candy. I managed to slip the clock in the pocket of his coat at the airport, saying goodbye. He found the clock as he went through airport security. I also sent it to him at the end of daylight savings taking advantage of the line, "time to change your clock".

We should have marked the back of the clock each time it was being shipped. At best estimate, it has been across the country over a hundred times. The joke was always the first to die was buried with it. Now that it has so much history, that won't happen. It's a family heirloom. I am sure Oo-hoo would have enjoyed this all.

The clock is in San Francisco right now. I can't wait to find out how it makes its next appearance. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Inspiration Series - Part 14

As I have stated before, one of the great loves of my life is the game of baseball. My father got me interested in it when I was little. He was (still is) a huge sports fan. I used to wait for him to get home from work so we could play catch. I'm sure the guy was dead tired from the long day but he would quickly change clothes, and we would head to the backyard so he could throw the ball with me. Once I got older, I liked to watch the game more than play it.

One of my favorite places to watch baseball is Wrigley Field. A day game there is something everyone should experience at least once. Several years ago, we took our sons to a game there. A family member got us seats fourteen rows behind home plate. My eldest commented that he could call balls and strikes from the seats. We managed to see a ball get lost in the ivy. A home run ball hit by the visiting team thrown back onto the field, and participate in that Cubs tradition of the 7th inning stretch. It was a magical day that we still talk about.

My love of Wrigley Field is what first attracted me to today's artist, Stephen Fowler of Gemini Studio Art. I love the graphic quality of his work. I decided to ask him the question,

What inspires you?

For me, inspiration is found all around me. When I first started Gemini Studio Art in Chicago, I was living in Wrigleyville and naturally was inspired by the Cubs and baseball became a big part of my work. As a graphic designer by trade, I'm always seeking out new and impactful graphics that I find intriguing and visually interesting. Of course much of my work takes on a vintage feel, so I definitely gather inspiration from stuff that isn't new, like vintage advertising posters and signage.

You can find Stephen's work at

Thanks for sharing your inspiration, Stephen.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Garden

When we moved to the farm thirteen years ago, there weren't any flowers to be seen except for the lilac bushes. I thought that odd given the age of the place. I figured I would find old fashioned flowers like hollyhocks, digitalis and coral bells. It became my mission that I should be able to see a flower by looking out any window in the house during spring, summer and fall. It has taken years of work, but I have achieved the goal. The only problem, things keep growing so that means more beds to hold more flowers. To me, that really isn't a problem.

The photos show what the farm looks like in early June. My own little paradise.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Inspiration Series - Part 13

I love books. There is nothing like cracking the spine of a new book and being transported to somewhere else. As I have stated before, I refuse to jump on the electronic book craze. I love having the bookcases in my study/workroom filled with books. They are works of art in themselves. There are books that belonged to my great aunt with notes she wrote in the margins in those shelves. I like having that connection to her. My books are like old friends.

When I saw the bookcase sculpture done by today's featured artist, Papernoodle, I was in awe. It is entitled, Bookcase, and the detail from the individually cut letters to the curve of the books is magnificent. Her other work is stunning, too.

I decided to ask Cheong-ah from Papernoodle the question,

What inspires you?

When I was studying fine art in school, I happened to look at some advertising design books, and saw all this wonderful paper sculptures. I knew that this art form was going to be the vehicle of my expressions. I don't have a proper art language to explain my work. I'm an art college drop-out. I make anything that interests me, or pleases me. I love living. I like paper medium because it's an everyday material we use, and it's versatile. My childhood memory starts with me making something with paper. When I was young, my parents ran a printing business in Korea. I was always surrounded by all kinds of paper. I like many kinds of paper art, but particularly, I love paper sculpture because I get to play with 2d and 3d elements at the same time, and that fascinates me. I call paper sculpture 2 1/2 dimension. I've been making them since 2000.

Papernoodle can be found at:

Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration, Cheong-ah.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Inspiration Series - Part 12

When I was a little girl, I somehow got it in my head that ants opened up peony buds. My backyard had rows of peonies, and I loved to watch the buds gradually open into big, beautiful white flowers. There were always ants crawling all over the buds. I thought it was their job to help push each of the petals from the tightly closed buds. Years later I learned they were there for the sticky substance that was on the buds. I have peonies in my garden now. I love to watch the progress of the buds opening up each day. And yes, there are always ants.

Today's featured artist, Helen Klebesadel’s paintings of flowers are amazing. They look more like photographs. The featured painting is entitled; Ants Love Peonies, and can be found at The title made me smile. I decided to ask Helen the question,

What inspires you?

Careful looking inspires me.

Painting has given me permission to spend a long time looking carefully at how a flower or leaf is constructed. The same is true when I decide to consider a social or cultural issue. My art gives me permission to look a little closer and spend all the time I need contemplating.

I don’t know what I am going to find when I start a painting. For me it is always a process of discovery, whether I am contemplating how a poppy is constructed, how we learn to value certain things over others, or to examine the effects of global warming. I plant the question and then pursue it through a series of studies that lead to larger paintings layered with meaning.

I think art making is intellectual, spiritual, and emotional work. Art can help society see and feel things with new clarity, and provides opportunities to re-examine what we thought we knew.

While I do art about subjects that appeal to me or concern me personally, I have learned to trust that if I put the artworks out in the world they will find their audience. I have also learned that the paintings I have created that I was most afraid to share with the world were the ones that had the most impact on others. They were the most important works for me to share.

I’ve learned to recognize fear as a guide that lets me know when I am addressing a subject worth spending time with. These artworks are usually breaking some convention in art or exploring a subject I’ve been taught is taboo.

My subject matter has run the gamut from mythical self-portraits as Medusa, to works that celebrate women’s traditional arts, to nature and environmental subjects. In each series I had some element of doubt that I had to overcome to move forward.

I guess you could also say I’ve been inspired by fear, fear of telling my truths.

Fear based questions I asked that turned out to be important:

* Is it too beautiful, too decorative, too emotional?
* Is it too feminist, too political, too personal?
* Is watercolor an important enough medium? Are quilts and lace important enough subjects? Am I good enough?

I’ve learned to drop the ‘too’ and embrace the beautiful, decorative and emotional, the feminist, political, and personal, and to paint the subjects I’ve been drawn to with the medium I love. I have learned that my art making is not about the products but about the process of discovery. I have learned that only I can make my art, and that if I do it might inspire others to make theirs…too.

Helen’s work can be found at her Etsy shop, Niceharpy:

Thanks for inspiring me, Helen.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Inspiration Series - Part 11

One of the first presents my husband gave me was a painting. A painting he had done. The painting is an abstract that is filled with the colors of red, orange, blue and green. I love the colors and the great texture to it. I first hung it in my office at work. I didn't have much of a view so it was nice to have something special to look at. After I became a stay at home mom, the painting was placed in the family room. Today, it hangs above the desk where the computer is.

I have loved people's reactions to it. I have found those who are creative or appreciate art really like it. Kids in particular, comment on it. Others look at it and wonder what it means. That always makes me laugh since I don't ponder what the art means but more what it makes me feel. That might explain the very eclectic collection of art that graces the walls of my home - all original. Each and every piece makes me smile.

When I spotted the work of Modernmarks, another fellow Cleveland Handmade artist, I smiled. I loved her use of color plus her black and white prints. I was particularly drawn to this print entitled, Archival Abstract Print - Colorful Angles. The colors remind me of the painting my husband did for me. I decided to ask Sondra of Modernmarks the question,

What inspires you?

What inspires me? Really many people, things, incidents, it is probably easiest for me to list some of them (in no special order):
- fifties and sixties retro designs, artists, designers
- art: minimalism, abstract, abstract expressionism
- my deceased aunt, Margaret Milliken (she was an abstact expressionist)
- fiber artists: Jane Dunnwold - the originator of art cloth, Linda Colsh, Els van Baarle, Jean Williamson, Joan Schultze, to name a few...
- artists: Hans Hofmann, Rothko, Pollack, Krazner, Kandinsky, Miro, Mitchell, de Kooning, Rosenberg, Gotlieb, name a few.
- Designer: Issey Miyake
- artists that I started blogging about on Modern Marks, and will continue to do so...they are all inspiring.
- the concepts of change, inequity, peace.
- nature
- geometric and abstract shapes
- color
In summary, I think that everything that we create with our eyes and hands is affected by a variety of influences...people, incidents, events, our environment, the planet. I have many plans that I hope to develop this summer on paper and fabric. Be well.

Modernmarks can be found at

Thanks so much for sharing your inspirations, Sondra.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Inspiration Series - Part 10

One of my favorite childhood memories is walking the beach with my mom. She was quite the beachcomber. She and I would spend hours with our heads down looking for treasure. A great find would be beach glass, an interesting shell or white "stones" that had a letter L on them. She called those lucky stones. I learned years later they were actually bone from a fish. I have a container on my work table that is filled with those treasures. When I miss my mom, I open up the container and am flooded with the memories of those treasure hunts.

When I discovered the work of Susan Saltzman's SToNZ jewelry, I immediately thought my mother would have loved it. Our beloved treasure was transformed into beautiful jewelry with a wonderful organic look to it. I asked Susan, a fellow member of Cleveland Handmade, the question,

What inspires you?

What inspires me….

a few hours at a great museum
a well written biography
flea markets
art classes
really old family photographs
my honey playing music
anything written by my kids
a day of shopping in a big city
quaint new england towns
trying a new tool
a new box of crayola crayons
leafing through art books
farmers markets
listening to a great joke teller
tv programs about ancient civilizations
putting the top down and taking a drive in my mini cooper on a beautiful day
hearing a great singer for the first time and tracking down their music for my ipod
the last story on the evening news
teachers, nurses, doctors, surgeons, soldiers, firefighters, paramedics
olympic athletes
lebron on a good day
a well written novel
the smell of play doh
the sound of waves crashing on the shore
people who have overcome addictions
a beautiful symphony
sipping a great glass of wine while watching someone else cook
people who keep smiling even when they have been through the wringer (“glass full” people)
the words “thank you”
a really starry night sky away from city lights
making a baby smile
the changing seasons

The bracelet shown is called Summer Memory and can be found at:

You can find ST┼ŹNZ at

Thanks so much for sharing, Susan.