Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why Make a Zine?

First of all, what is a zine? The word comes from magazine, as it is a self-published magazine. Usually one person writes all the contents, draws or takes the pictures, designs the cover and format, types and assembles the publication. It can be quite personal. It can showcase you as an artist, writer, poet, illustrator, thinker, or political mind. The creativity can be in the content and also the format and construction.

The purpose of your zine can be to promote yourself or others. It could be simply a vehicle to get your thoughts or creativity out to others. In my case, it was the challenge of creating all aspects of a project. It wasn't about control, but about the planning, execution, and accomplishment.

Zines can be folded over, stitched, or stapled 8 1/2" x 11" paper, the simplest format. That's how I made my zine, Paint/Paste. They can be elaborate, glossy pages, put together through a website, such as or I wanted to go with the complete hand-made style.

Some zines are a showcase of many artists' or writers' work, not unlike a literary magazine. Do yu have any examples you can tell me about? I'll list them here.

Zines are usually pretty inexpensive to sell. $1 - $12 is normal for handmade zines. The professionally bound zines can be $20 - $40. If you're making it yourself, keep in mind that you probably aren't going to make money on them, so just think of it as a labor of love. You can find zines on Etsy, Amazon, eBay, and in some independent bookstores. A place that sells only zines is called a Distro (as in, distribution). You can do a google search for these.

I'm hosting a zine swap. If you'd like to challenge yourself to make a zine, then trade with other zine-makers, check out my tab at the top of my blog. There's still time to sign up.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Be Yourself

Do you love reading blogs that have long, flowery descriptions of their art or latest vacation? I do, but I don't write that way. Should I try? No, that's not me. I'm constantly developing my voice as I expand my art skills, but I'll never be someone I'm not. This is just a quick reminder to be yourself.

Expand Your Skills

This is a stretch for my X post, but here it is. I'm a jewelry artist. But lately I've been trying my hand at painting. I'm not a realistic painter, but I play, and I love it. What is something new that you have tried?

Wellington Art Society

I'm wondering if I've ever mentioned what my day job is? A few years ago, as I ramped up my jewelry making and got serious about entering shows and trying to sell, I joined our local art group. The Wellington Art Society formed 30 years ago in Wellington, Florida. Now it includes artists from all over Palm Beach County. I jumped in and joined a committee, joined the Board of Directors the following year, and was elected President the next year. Which means I'm now running a 90+ member organization. We put on outdoor art shows, gallery shows, one night "pop-up" shows, and display art in office and government buildings. My work involves lots of email communication, meetings, and running our monthly events, which include artist demos and challenges. Our latest venture is with our local Whole Foods Market. We will run a one-artist show in their cafe every three months, with a big artist reception the first week. These have been big successes in the past, just now we will be running it instead of Whole Foods. We generally take the summer off from our regular meetings, but we'll be doing outings to museums and small get togethers.

So that's it. My hidden job, that the blog world probably didn't know about.

Here's one of our artists, Linda Rovolis, at a recent show, selling her paintings and hand-painted purses.

Vacation Destinations

Planning a summer vacation? I'm behind the eight ball on that one, but we'll be going somewhere. Just don't know where yet. To help you with your plans, here are a few fun places we've been to.

White water kayaking in the New River Gorge, West Virginia. Here I am paddling furiously to keep my daughter safe, while she's screaming and having the time of her life.

Sliding down a rock outside of Asheville, North Carolina.

Touring the old homes in Savannah, Georgia

Hiking up mountains in North Carolina.

Or just doing a staycation in your own backyard with the kids.

Where are you planning to vacation this summer?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Understand Your Audience

Just a quick post today. Have you ever heard that expression, "Know your audience"? It's referring to when you are speaking, or writing, or promoting something. We all could work on remembering that when we're writing blog posts. Go back to your original plan for your blog:

What is its purpose?

What do you want to talk about?

Are you promoting yourself, a product, or a service?

Who is your reader?

Who is the purchaser of your product or service?

If you answer those questions, you will know who your audience is. You want to interest them with your blog posts. You want them to want more. You want them to tell their friends about you. Keep your audience in mind, all the time, and you will head toward a very successful business.

A Tale of Two Friends

Last weekend I traveled to phoenix to attend a friend's wedding. I had never met the bride or groom until two days before the wedding. Intrigued? Here's the story.

When I was about 12 or 13, I wrote to a pen pal organization. Remember those? You'd find the addresses in the back of magazines. Probably Tiger Beat or Archie comics. I requested a pen pal from another country who spoke English. I got Karyn, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We wrote weekly for many years, and now we exchange about a letter a year. We've updated each other on our college years, marriages, kids. I knew Karyn had a son my age, another two years younger, and divorced over 10 years ago. I was thrilled for her when I received her wedding invitation. Then, much to my surprise, I saw that she was getting married in Phoenix. I could go there! To travel to Edmonton from Florida would take about three flights. But Phoenix was doable. I decided to go by myself, leaving my husband to stay home with the kids.

I arrived Thursday afternoon, and she had told me that the girls were going out to dinner Thursday night. We all met in the hotel lobby at 7. The other ladies asked me my name, where I was from. A few of them said, "Oh, you're the pen pal! I've heard about you!" We joked that I had probably known her longer than most of them, but I had never met her. I was beside myself with excitement waiting for her to arrive.

I was not disappointed. She made me feel so welcomed, including me in the family dinner Friday night, and seating me at the head table on Saturday. I had such a fun time, hanging out with all the Canadians, who couldn't have been nicer. What a great woman, and a great group of friends. Here she is with her new husband, Ravi.

I know the kids today don't even know what a pen pal is. I can keep up with Karyn's life via Facebook, and she mine, but I will still write her a letter, in longhand, and tuck it into an envelope to mail to her where ever she is, every year.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Scavenger Hunt

I've left for a quick trip to Phoenix to attend a friend's wedding. I didn't want my kids to miss out on an Easter Egg Hunt, which is a tradition in our house. Usually we do a huge hunt in the backyard, inviting all the kids from my daughter's class. (My son got his hunts when he was younger.) We have a big backyard, and hide hundreds of plastic eggs with candy in them all over. "Hide" is an exaggerated word, because only a few are hidden in trees, under bushes, between fenceposts. The rest are out in the open on the grass, but it's still a mad dash to get them.

This year I decided to do a scavenger hunt in the house for my son, daughter, and husband. Yes, my husband got to do it too. We did this Wednesday night before I left. They knew nothing about it, so it was a big surprise when I told them I had hidden Easter gifts for them in the garage. They went off to look for them, and discovered a beach pail with a note in it for each of them. (We often use beach pails for Easter baskets.) The note gave a location for the first treat, so at that point they realized it was a scavenger hunt. I hid about a dozen eggs for each of them, and the eggs contained candy and a note for the next location. I varied the difficulty of hiding spots for each. My son had an issue when he didn't know what a salad spinner looked like. My daughter wasn't sure which piece of furniture was our love seat. In the end, they found lots of candy and a present.

Book Reviews

I'll give you a couple mini-reviews of books -- one for crafters, one for writers (or bloggers). The first, is The Savvy Crafter's Guide to Success by Sandra McCall. If you are beyond the craft-making as a hobby, and you'd like to sell your wares, this book should be helpful. She discusses paperwork, photographing your art, and different venues where you might sell your art. Her husband is a photographer and artist, and the photo hints are especially good. I've always thought taking a good photo of your art is the hardest part of trying to sell it. When you're competing with thousands of others on the internet, you need to let your art stand out. You also need to be consistent with your branding. Your name, logo, and image must be the same on every piece of print material and transmitted text. I've found this book very helpful to look through in depth or just look up specific things. One strange thing: after enjoying the book, I googled the author and discovered that she's dropped out of the art business. How odd. The book has been a big success for her, so I don't know what happened.

If you're looking to jazz up your writing, perhaps for your blog or in the materials you use to describe your art, I highly recommend Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge's Poemcrazy. Susan teaches you to play with words, and try new combinations. She introduces the reader to word tickets, where you write interesting words, then rearrange the tickets to make pleasing combinations. She'll have you creating incredible descriptions of things that will keep your reader interested.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Consider the Letter Q

My son recently received a high school assignment to write a paper called "Consider the Letter Q." Say what? Each person in the class received a differet topic, but they all sounded bizarre like that. He explained to me the style of report he was to do. You take an item, and you think about it in many ways. For example, the letter Q:

How do you feel about it aesthetically? Is it an attractive letter? Does its look or shape effect how you feel about words that begin with the letter?

How is it used in the English language? Is it used frequently or infrequently?

How is it used in other languages, if at all?

Could it be deleted from our language, how and why?

How does it sound?

You get the idea. The point of the assignment is to analyze something, from all angles, in an organized, intelligent manner. Why am I bringing this to you in a blog post? Because it occurred to me that this method is a good way to do a blog post, or other such writing. Let's say I wanted to write a post about a piece of jewelry. I might give a description that included the type of jewelry, it's length or size, the materials used, and the colors. Is that enough to interest someone in buying the piece?

What if I looked at it from other angles? Who might wear it? At what occasion? Do I have other pieces, like earrings, that might go with the necklace? Did I find any of the materials from an unusual source, such as re-using beads from an old necklace that was my grandmother's? What inspired me to make the piece? What techniques did I use to make the piece?

The answers to these questions make the piece more interesting. It may make someone want to see more pieces. It may make the reader pass the blog post on to a friend they think might find it interesting. You see what I mean.

Next time you make a blog post, consider the letter Q. How can you describe a picture or write a story from some new angles?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Painting Styles

I'd like to introduce you to some artists who may have a painting style you haven't seen before. So many wonderful artists are self-taught, and don't make traditional landscapes, still lives, portraits, or other more formal styles. These artists practice what I would call a whimsical, springtime style. The colors are vibrant, not dark. The subject matter might be animals or character/people. I "met" each of these artists when we took an online class together. I'm now a follower of their blogs and their art.

First, I'd like to introduce you to Jenni Adkins Horne. I posted an interview on my blog that you can see in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. She resides in Georgia, and is quite prolific with her art, making paintings, jewelry, and accessories. She often shows her work at art shows and galleries.

Nic Hohn is an artist in Australia who paints beautiful pictures of women, and has branched out into greeting cards. You can see her blog here.

Juliette Crane lives in Wisconsin, where she is very busy painting owls. She even has a "How to Paint an Owl Workshop" that you can see the details of on her blog.

I hope you take the time to visit these artists' blogs, and leave them a note that you dropped by. Are there any painters that you know from visiting blogs that you'd like to tell us about?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Outside Views

It's springtime in Florida, which means we're getting 85-degree days, but the trees and flowers are blooming. I grew up in Central Florida, Cocoa Beach to be exact. For the last 25 years I've lived in South Florida, which is below the tropics line. We have even more blooming trees than we did in Cocoa Beach. We have caladiums, which much to my surprise is a bulb and come back every year. My only experience with bulbs was when I lived in Cleveland, and I loved the first dafodils of spring. We don't get those here. My caladiums are starting to sprout, and should be 2 feet high in a couple weeks. As I took a walk around my neighborhood, and my dad's in Cocoa Beach, I snapped these photos of spring colors. Here they are for your enjoyment. Click on the photos to get a clearer picture of the flowers.



Mahogany -- All the leaves of our mahogany tree fall in April. The first year that happened, I thought the tree was dying. I'd never heard of a tree dropping its leaves in the Spring. It took me a couple years of raking them to realize that the lawn guy would just come by and turn them into mulch, so why bother. An interesting thing, after we had 3 hurricanes in two years, the tree took three years off from dropping its leaves. I guess it really needed time to recover.

Gardenia -- my all-time favorite flower. The bushes in our yard bloom about a month after all the other ones in the neighborhood. I go through gardenia envy every year. This is the neighbor's tree.

Hope you enjoyed these!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Trends in Jewelry

In the world of jewelry making, as in any art, trends come and go. I think most people remember the macrame jewlry trend, and the tiny seed bead trend. Here are a few trends I'm seeing now that you might find interesting. I found these examples on Etsy, where you can search by type of handmade item you're looking for, such as jewelry (or specifically necklaces, bracelets, etc.), or paintings, or handmade books. For each photo, I'll give you a link to the artist's shop so you can see more examples.

Sea Glass

You'll find lots of jewelry using sea glass as a component, in a variety of colors. I don't know if it's real sea glass, like found on a beach, because I know some artists are just breaking bottles and putting the pieces through a rock tumbler. You must admit, though, that the artists make gorgeous pieces. You can find this artist here.

Polymer Clay

Polymer clay is a substance that you can shape then bake to a hardened state. You can use colored clays, and you can add color after it's baked. I've seen artists make pieces that look just like precious metals, gemstones, or rocks. The good part is, they're gorgeous, much less expensive, and lightweight to wear. Laurel Steven makes amazing polymer clay pendants and jewelry.

Steampunk Jewelry

Steampunk is a style where you use old watch parts and odd metal pieces that might be glued, wired, or riveted together. When done well, they can be really cool pieces. You can see this artist here.

Dichroic Glass

It seems everyone has a little mini-kiln nowadays. To make dichroic glass, you layer bits of glass and melt them together in a kiln. They make tabletop kilns now that are perfect for this. I haven't gotten into this since I have young children in the house and don't want a hot appliance around. Some of these artists do amazing things. The problem is, tons of cheap pendants are being shipped over from China and are sold at craft booths for $5 a pop. I know artists who hand make every glass piece, and there's no way they can sell one for $5. It's tough to compete with that. Here's an artist who makes some beautiful pieces.

Wire and Metal
Now this is the trend that I like to do. Cut a piece of metal, shape it, hammer it, add some wire, twist and turn it. I can tell that this piece has also been given an aged look, using Liver of Sulphur. You make a solution and dip the piece in it, and it darkens it, especially in the deep parts. It's a nice look. This artist can be found here.

Stamped Letters

This is an easy technique, and I see a lot of it. You can custom make name tags or stamp inspiring messages. You can also finish it with the Liver of Sulphur, so the interior of the letters darken and stand out more. You can see this artist here.

Art Jewelry and Resin

This is a nice example of two trends. Painters and collage artists are realizing in this economy that they won't be making as many $300 sales of paintings as they did in the past. They need to expand their product line, and the smart ones are selling prints and licensing their art. Others are taking a reduced size of their art and making jewelry with it. I think that's genius. This artist has taken a bit of a map to make a pendant. Others might use just a piece of their art. The other trend here is using resin to finish a piece. It seals and protects paper or small pieces in a pendant. Resin is huge now, and you can try different brands or mixes to get a resin that works great for you. Resin has come a long way, and there are products that dry clear, not cloudy, and bubble-free. You can see this artist here.

Have you noticed any trends in jewelry making? I love trying something new.

M about Me

My M post will tell you about me by telling you about the music and movies I like. I'm no 20-year-old, but if you heard the type of music I like, you might think I'm a bit younger than my 47 years. I listen to the "new" alternative music, as opposed to the new pop, like Lady Gaga and the Celo Green. I get that music from my kids, so I know a lot of the new pop stars. My formative years were REM, U2, The Fixx, INXS, New Order, The Violent Femmes, The Cure. Then I moved into the whole grunge scene, with Pearl Jam and Nirvana, then later, Green Day. So to give you a post that tells you a little about me, I'll mention some of my faves in music right now. Does anyone out there close to my age like these too?

Mumford and Sons


The Decemberists

The Airborne Toxic Event

The Black Keys

Kings of Leon

The Killers

As for movies, I like so much. I love movies with a twist, like The Crying Game and The Sixth Sense (and I'm not ashamed to admit that I didn't see either one coming.) I like ones that stretch the concept of moviemaking, like Pulp Fiction. I like movies that the mainstream audience didn't see, like Lost in Translation, Stranger than Fiction, and The Visitor. I'm not afraid to see sub-titled movies, like The Band's Visit. And I love the classics: Gone with the Wind, The African Queen, and anything with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. I tend to see the new movies later, when they're on Netflix. I haven't gotten around to watching The King's Speech, but I will. And I love, love The Oscars. (I could open up a whole conversation about the merits of different hosts, and how they could make the show better. Have you seen the movies I mentioned? What are your faves?

Lots of Desserts

I know, that's a weak category for L. In a former life, I was a Pastry Chef (until the economy took away the company where I worked), but occasionally I get called to bake for others. I recently created a cookie buffet for a girl's Sweet 16 party. It was a Sock Hop/music theme, and I made some cookies that were supposed to look like records. They are big chocolate chip cookies, dipped in ganache, with a white chocolate center and pink frosting initial.

I made: brownies, peanut butter brownies, record cookies, rice krispies treats, coconut macadamia cookies, pecan blondies, marble cookies, and pink and white Spritz.

You better believe I saved some extras for my family.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kick-ass Jewelry

I'm back among the living with my computer. If you read my last post, I was detailing my computer woes. Well, we took it in, the guy spent 5 minutes with it, and fixed it, not charging us anything. Man, he's good.

To catch up with the A-Z Challenge, I bring you the letter K. I call these some kick-ass jewelry, because they took a long time to make, they involved lots of colors, with a flow to them, and the resulting pieces are quite unusual. And they were really fun to make. Here they are.

Creative Blog Award

I am pleased to tell you that Deirdra Eden-Coppel, from A Storybook World, has bestowed upon me and my blog this award:

Deirdra found my blog through the A-Z Blogging Challenge that I'm tackling this month. Over 1200 bloggers are participating, and we've challenged ourselves to post 26 times during the month of April. Deirdra came upon my blog from this list, and somehow, she deemed me worthy of this award. Thanks, Deirdra! She has created the artwork for her awards, and you can check out all of them here. She is an author and illustrator of fantasy and fairy tales. She has also entered the world of creating animation for e-books (obviously she's good at it, judging by these animated awards she's created).

Thank you, Deirdra, for this award! Now here's the irony -- today marks the post for M, and yet I've missed K, L, and M. You see, I've had major computer problems this week. My 12 month and 3 weeks-old laptop has been hiccuping for about a week (meaning, 3 weeks past the warranty -- Yay). I realized I can't send it away to be fixed until I get a replacement computer so I can keep doing my work (my day job running our local art society, and my other job of blogging and promoting my jewelry). So I bought a new computer on Monday, spent all day loading it, only to return it Tuesday due to a fatal error message. Bought a new computer, then spent all day Tuesday loading that up (like I have spare time for all that). My husband has a good deal at work to get the whole Word/Excel/etc. package for $5 (I know! Great!), but we haven't gotten the code yet, so I don't have the ability to attach any Word files or any other work to emails. The old computer now won't even open the internet, so I can't attach any of my photos to a blog post, because all the photos are located on that computer. Following me? Anyway, that's why I've missed posting my K, L, and M. I just can't do posts without photos. I'll try to take some new ones today to put on the new computer so I can keep going on this challenge.

There you have it. I receive an award, yet I'm neglecting my posting. Stay tuned, I'll be back and running shortly!

Please stop by Deirdra's blog and give her some love for spreading the love.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Artist Interview -- Jescalyn Vazquez

Today I present to you a California artist, Jescalyn Vazquez. Jess is a wonderful painter and collage artist, who is expanding into the creation of clothing for preemies. Her day job as a NICU nurse, combined with her artistic talent, make me sure that her preemie line will be a success. After a busy year (or more) of planning a wedding and starting her new life with her husband, she has jumped in full-force to her art business. I am pleased to introduce you to Jess.

Where do you live and how long have you lived there? Is there another place which you consider your hometown?
I live in Sacramento, California, and have lived here my whole life.

Tell me about your family.
My mother was a single mother, and worked her butt off raising me. The majority of her family weren’t supportive of me being half African-American, so they weren’t a part of our lives. My dad’s family were extremely toxic, so didn’t play a big role in my childhood. It was my mom and me against the world. My mom married my step-dad when I was 13 and they have been married ever since. He and his family are so supportive and loving, and they are such an amazing part of my life.

Do you work at a job other than making and promoting your art?
I’ve been a NICU nurse for 5 years. I used to work 50 hours a week, saving up for last year’s wedding, and a new home. I was burnt out and unhappy. When I decided to get really serious about my art, and business aspirations, I cut back to 28 hours a week. My schedule allows me 6 days off in a row, every other week, so I feel like I have a mini vacation to work on my art and business. I couldn’t be happier. I feel like my life is finally my own.

What hobbies do you have, or how do you spend your spare time?
Oh my, where to begin? I have been told, by many people, I am a grandma, stuck in a twenty-something year old body. I crochet, knit, quilt, garden, draw, paint... basically anything creative. I’m a bit of a squirrel, fortunately and unfortunately, and when a technique, or project, catches my eye I have to try it. I may be a little scattered at times, but that’s just me, and I love every crafty moment.

Where does the name Peach Honey come from?
Funny story... I had lunch with a friend of mine, and my drink for the day was a Peach Honeybush tea. My husband, Joseph, always called me his Peach, so after that day I started calling him Honeybush. Joseph was so supportive when I decided to focus on my art, and our love was its driving force, so I decided to name the business after that love.

How would you describe yourself as an artist and the art that you do? Do you give yourself a title?
I work with any medium that crosses my path, and because my interests change from month to month, mixed media gives me the freedom to explore. I find pleasure in collecting supplies, and try to use them in unique ways. Sometimes I use 20 different supplies in one painting, and I love that! Every layer adds more depth, and every supply has a special place.

What type of art do you spend the most time doing?
I love making dolls, but I’m in the process of changing the faces. I recently drew a quick sketch, for a NuPastel Cravings on my YouTube channel, and I didn’t draw any eyes. I loved it!! It was mysterious and sexy, and gave me a lot of freedom when it came time to working with the background. Next week my focus may change, but I think it’s important to bend to our changing interests, allowing our art to grow as we grow.

Can you give me a timeline of how your art has developed over the years?
I was always a crafty person, but never knew I could paint. I was always focused on school, and my main focus, out of high school, was getting my nursing degree. My best friend introduced me to scrapbooking after I graduated from nursing school in 2006. We used to spend hours at the local scrapbook store creating elaborate books for family and friends. I got such a high from creating, so I started to look for my next fix. Scrapbooking led me to Ali E, Tim Holtz, and then to Suzi Blu, my mentor.

I was on YouTube one night (at 2am), watching painting technique videos, when I came across Suzi Blu’s channel. I became so obsessed with mixed media, so I took a couple of her classes, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. Over the last few years I have bought every book, taken every class, e-course, and read every eBook imaginable. I’ve learned a lot over the years, but it’s only the beginning... I can only imagine where this passion will take me over the next few years.

Has your art always been similar to your current style?
I’ve only been creating for the past 5 years, and I never went to art school, but I have definitely seen my techniques improve as I learn. My color schemes are more cohesive, my faces more contoured, and my paintings have more depth... all because I’m addicted to learning. I will never stop being a student, and I believe there’s always going to be a new technique to learn, a new product to try out, and a new opportunity just around the corner. I don’t think my style will ever stay exactly the same, and I hope my pieces reflect the knowledge I gain as I continue on my journey.

If you were making art solely for yourself, not for sale, what would you make?
I would probably make an abstract painting with lots of texture, and simple silhouettes. I have an idea for a couple pieces that use lots of molding and crackle paste... lots of peaks and valleys with deep color. Love.

Which type of venue for selling your art has been the most successful for you?
Word of mouth. I have made multiple paintings for people at work, and they have referred me to friends who need pieces for their home, or for charity auctions. I like working with people one-on-one to create something perfect for them. It narrows down my wild imagination into something tailor-fit for them.

I think artists now are realizing that they can’t rely solely on selling one type of art. What are all the types of art that you sell (such as your preemie line)? Do you do any writing?
I have just started a NICU-friendly preemie clothing line. I have been busy making blankets and fitted sheets, and the clothing production will start in the next couple months. I write for my two blogs, PeachHoneyLove and PeachHoneyPreemie, but don’t write for anyone else at the moment, although I would love to have such an opportunity in the future. My blogs are in the middle of a major renovation as I change over to Wordpress, and build my brand. I hope to really figure out where I want the two blogs to go, so it’s useful and successful.

How did you get started with making video tutorials, and is that something you want to continue with?
I love making videos! There were days where I couldn’t transform my thoughts into a beautifully well-written blog post, but talking it out felt natural. I sat in front of my MAC laptop, one day, and just talked. It felt so good to be able to get my point across. I will definitely be making a lot more videos in the future!

I met you online when we were both taking an e-course taught by Kelly Rae Roberts. What was your motivation for taking that course and did it fulfill your expectations?
I was feeling so burnt out at work, working 50 hours a week, and not sleeping. I was missing my creative time, and was dreaming of having a successful artistic career, like the one Kelly had created for herself. I read her blog every day, and jumped at the chance to find out how she did it. The class was the kickstart I needed to really be serious about taking the plunge into a different life. I have read through the class twice, and am going through it again at the moment, picking at different lessons as I build my brand and create a community, online and locally. Kelly’s class was my “aha moment” that proved anything I wanted was, indeed, possible.

It seems you’ve taken a few other e-courses. What can you recommend about them?
My new obsession is collecting e-courses. Kelly’s was the jumping off point, and then as I began to build my business, I started looking for other classes focusing on certain aspects of the game. I just finished Holly Becker’s Blogging Your Way class because I wanted to find my voice, and turn my blog into a resource for others (this is still in the works). I’m in the middle of Tara Gentile’s Website Kickstart Class because I wanted to build a website I had complete control over... this has been the start of many steps to building the PeachHoney Brand. I have also taken a lot of art-centered e-courses from SuziBlu and Monica Zuniga. They have a ton of videos you can save right to your computer and reference any time you’re struggling with a technique, or need some quick inspiration.

You seem to have worked hard to cultivate an online presence as an artist: you write blog posts quite often, you’re on Facebook, twitter, Youtube. Is there anything I’ve missed?
I justed signed up for Pinterest this week, so we'll just have to see if it ends up being another soldier in my social media army.

What do you think each of these connections do for your artistic business?
When I first signed up for Twitter I didn’t know what I was doing. I never tweeted, and when I did I didn’t know what to say. I’m a little smarter now, and I love Twitter for creating a community. I have met so many people, and they have become an integral part of my business. My Twitter friends celebrate my successes, link to my posts, and send me all kinds of love through the air waves. I’ve been building a new website, from scratch (AHHHH!). Whenever I have a dreaded code question, I send in out to Twitterland, and I get an instant response from friends. Kelly said it best! Twitter is like standing on the front porch waving at people to come check you out. It's your first line of defense in the world of social media. It gets people interested in you. My favorite people to follow are the witty tweeters. Even though they don't always tweet about their business/art/blog, I feel like I'm getting to know the real them, and it gets me to their site... and that's what we want, right?

YouTube is a great avenue for reaching people in a completely different circle. It was slow, at first, but recently I’ve been getting a lot of emails from artists just starting out.

I do find a jump in page views when I post to my Facebook fan page. I think because it alerts my friends, that don't religiously follow my blog, to my posts and daily happenings. I have linked my Facebook Fan Page to my Twitter account, so if I take a shopping trip to buy more fabric (which happens more often than you would think), I post it on my Fan page, my Twitter peeps get the message too.

Where do you make your art? Do you have a dedicated space in your home, or different spaces depending on the art that you’re making?
I use one of our spare bedrooms as my art studio, and have started to overrun one of the other guest rooms with my sewing supplies, much to my husband’s dismay. I have so many art supplies, so if I’m working on a big piece, I will sometimes bring it downstairs, so I can have some more space.

Can you tell me about your new preemie line, and what stage are you at with that business?
This project is my pride and joy!!! I’m a NICU nurse, and I’ve always seen a void in the preemie clothing industry that I was dying to fill. The professionally-made preemie clothes out there don’t work for a majority of our babies because most of our kids have IV’s, gastrostomy tubes, or something else that hinders their ability to wear clothing. We can’t feed their arms through clothing because of the risk it will affect their lines. On the other hand, the other NICU-friendly preemie clothes are not professionally made.

I hope to create a well-made NICU-friendly preemie clothing line that not only works for the majority of our babies, but is also professionally made and stylish. I’m a preemie advocate and stylist, and they’re in dire need of a cute wardrobe! I have had most of my patterns made, and am now looking for a sewing contractor (hopefully in my area), to produce my line. After I get my samples made, I will take it to work to try it out. I hope to have some samples in hand in the next couple months.

Thank you, Jess for this great interview! If you would like to see or hear about more of Jescalyn's artwork, you can visit her here:

Her blogs:
Pinterest: (still in the beginning stages of development)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Artist Interview -- Concetta Perot

I "met" Concetta Perot last summer when we were both taking the same e-course. She is a fabulous mosaic artist living in London. She makes small mosaics, large public art mosaics, commissions, gallery work, and teaches mosaics to kids and adults. It's my pleasure to present this interview with Concetta.

Where do you live and how long have you lived there? Is there another place which you consider your hometown?I live in London, in a place called “Tooting” (which some people think sounds funny!). Been here for 22 years so its the longest I have lived anywhere but my roots are in the South of Italy (both parents emigrated to the UK in 1960) and I lived in Italy as a child.

Tell me about your family.
Neil, my wonderful husband of 17 years, Isabella (5) and Toby (4) my gorgeous kids, Pom Pom, Rosie and Chloe the cats and various numbers of goldfish! We are lucky to live in a neighbourhood with amazing community feel to it and consider many of our close friends and neighbours as family too.

Do you work at a job other than making and promoting your art?
Well, other than household management and parenting (!).... I gave up my previous job/career 2 1/2 years ago. I was a qualified social worker, running a training department in a national children’s advocacy organisation. Loved my work but the creative path was calling me and having children gave me the opportunity and courage to make the change (which took a lot of guts). I have not looked back.

What hobbies do you have, or how do you spend your spare time?
Gardening - we have a very small garden that makes me happy and we are part of a community farm which is wonderful. I love to write. I love to read. I love being with friends and sitting round a fire, drinking whisky, playing guitar and singing.

How would you describe yourself as an artist and the art that you do? Do you give yourself a title? Do you have an artist statement?
I am a mosaic artist. Mosaic is the most amazing medium - most people are not aware of the existence of contemporary (as opposed to Roman/Byzantine) mosaic. I love the colour, the reflectivity, the possibility. And I love that mosaics reflects life - broken-ness is beautiful.

What type of art do you spend the most time doing?
I make wall art, sculpture and jewelry. My own projects are almost always on the shelf as I have been so busy since going pro. Happy and sad :) :( about that!

Can you give me a timeline of how your art has developed over the years?
I started about 10 years ago. Pretty much self-taught with the support of the amazing online community of mosaic artists. Just after going pro, I took a master class with the amazing teacher and mosaic artist, Sonia King. That confirmed me in my skill, corrected some of my bad habits and gave me some new insight and technical skills. I feel I have flown ever since.

Has your art always been similar to your current style?
It’s always evolving. I feel myself developing month by month - growing in confidence both technically and artistically, going deeper with every piece I make. I just follow my nose - make what either my heart or opportunity (materials, commissions)lead me too.

If you were making art solely for yourself, not for sale, what would you make?
A very large mosaic of a dove, in lots of shimmering shades of white, to go over my bed - the reason I ever started to mosaic in the first place!! I would do large scale, dramatic pieces. They take ages but there is something stunning about scale. And then weeny jewelry to give to friends!

Are most of your mosaics commissions, or do you have some in galleries or other venues for sale?
A mix of all three. My problem at the moment is that I do not have enough pieces! I have done lots of commissions - small and large - which has to date been very fulfilling. I have work in a wonderful place called the b-gallery. This is a lively centre for arts in Bedfordshire (just outside London). Last December, I did my first solo exhibition which was wonderful (and exhausting). You can see it all online here. I also have work in an online gallery called Unearth (but only one piece there at the moment as need to made more!). I take part in group exhibitions such as the forthcoming “Gothic” exhibition in Lichfield Cathedral during May organised by the British Association for Modern Mosaics and the “Forest” exhibition in May organised by Opus Mosaics.

I think artists now are realizing that they can’t rely solely on selling originals of their art. What other things do you do that add to your creative business income, such as, teaching, writing, or anything else?
I run classes at my small home studio twice a week - which I love love love. My blog is regularly populated with images of my students’ works in progress and me gushing about how I enjoy making ‘mosaic addicts’! I also do series of workshops at a lovely place nearby called the Artyard. Lastly, I do community mosaic projects - two ongoing at the moment. The funny thing about the community mosaics is that they have come to me (I haven’t gone out seeking them) and they, so far, tie in directly with the experience I have a social worker for 20 years (children in care, refugees). Serendipity....

I met you online when we were both taking an e-course taught by Kelly Rae Roberts. What was your motivation for taking that course and did it fulfill your expectations?
I love Kelly Rae’s spirit. I resonated with her experience as she too was a social worker turned artist. I wanted to learn from her experience of developing a creative business. The course was resource rich and she shared so freely which is beautiful. The biggest gift of the course was that it makes me take myself seriously as a business woman as well as an artist. I am in the middle of ‘flying’ and Kelly Rae’s course definitely provided currents of air under my flapping wings! Before taking this course, I also took Marisa’s “In the Fishbowl” class which was brilliant and nicely complimentary to ‘Flying Lessons’. Both these courses provided materials and helped me to make important mental shifts.

Can you talk about your art friendships you’ve met online, how you’ve cultivated them, and what they mean in your artistic life?
There are some people I have met on line (through taking both Kelly Rae’s and Marisa’s course) who immediately felt like kindred spirits. I feel a sense of sisterhood with them and hope we can meet one day. In the meantime, we shoot off emails to each other to check in, ask questions, offer support. It’s precious. And of course we visit each other’s blogs. I am lucky in that I have also met several people in real time and one blogger friend Amelia happens to live round the corner and we have become good friends and meet regularly to catch up and help each other on the journey.

Do you still take classes to learn new art techniques?
I did Amelia’s Experimental Art E-Course. Fab for playing with different mediums, having fun and just unleashing creativity. She is just enrolling for a class that starts mid April and I thoroughly recommend it!

Where do you make your art? Do you have a dedicated space in your home, or an outside studio?
I have an out building at the bottom of my garden which is converted into a studio. Small but does the job as I don’t have to walk far to work.

I hope you've enjoyed my interview with Concetta Perot, mosaic artist. You can check out her website here, and her blog here.