Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creatively Featured - Jennifer McClean

Hi all! This week we are getting to know Jennifer McLean. You can find Jennifer at her blog, and her Etsy Shop,

Ocean's Tempest
Tell us about blogging and how it's worked for you.
I started blogging ostensibly to support my Etsy shop and try to get my name known on the blogosphere. Everyone always says, engage in social media etc. to get more exposure so that's what I did. What I unexpectedly discovered was that I LOVED blogging. I truly love the writing process and illuminating subjects for others. It's freeing to be able to explain my own artwork and also do features on other artists. My two new forays into blogging are starting an artist's weekly challenge I've called The Artist's Play Room and Blogging 101, from the artist's perspective. The blogging 101 series started recently because all my bloggy friends started begging me for help tweaking their sites and since I had learned a thing or two over the few years I was glad to help. Those friends then told me I should write down these tweaks because I had an easy to understand style. I never thought I'd teach how to tweak a blog but I'm having such fun! I've found blogging an invaluable addition to the artist experience, having the blog community support and comments is invaluable.

How did you discover your favorite art medium?
My mom used to paint in oils, it fit her personality. When I thought about painting I therefore kind of eliminated that medium as a possibility, it was her thing. I guess the most influential thing was the art we had in our house. We still have my favorite painting from childhood. It's a watercolor of a Prairie  (Saskatchewan) scene of a silo, barn, old fence in the foreground and stormy sky. It's spectacular. I would say this painting was my biggest influence. Beyond that, I just loved the translucence of the paint, it fits my personality just as oils fit my mother.

Raggedy Ann
What inspires or influences you artistically?
I am in love with color and movement within a painting.  I find just trolling the blogosphere and Etsy inspires me immensely. Finding beautiful art always kick starts my need to create. I have a HUGE collection of pictures culled from the internet so that if I'm feeling uninspired, I just go through that file and ogle at the beauty of both photographs and artwork. Either one can easily infuse my need to create. When it comes to the masters, the artists I am inspired by are Van Gogh and Monet. I love Van Gough's paintings for the movement and texture in the pieces, my favorite is Starry Night. For Monet I think it's his use of colors and his romanticism. When it comes to modern artists, I love the work of Tracey Fletcher King, Stephanie Corfee, Andrea Joseph Katherine McLean and Dion Dior.

Which aspect of your art do you enjoy most?
I love watching the subject matter come to life as I draw and paint. It always amazes me as a piece comes together. I do enjoy it all though. I've done many, many kinds of art and craft in my day, from crochet to Piysanka (Ukrainian Eggs), from jewelry making to ceramics. I even had a designer wedding cake business for years, where I created three dimensional realistic flowers that I put on stacked wedding cakes. You know, those cakes you see at celebrity weddings? That's what I did here in BC. The problem was I really only wanted to paint. None of the other kinds of art made me happy. It didn't matter if I had talent in the mediums, I only really wanted to paint. So, now that I am, I love all aspects of it, even reworking pieces that I think are less stellar!

You've Got Mail!
How do you see your future work and style developing?
I am a perfectionist. I fight against that trait as I try to loosen up my style. Right now, I'm learning to doodle, using Stephanie Corfee's new book Creative Doodling & Beyond. I'm hoping that learning to be more creative with doodles will translate to allowing my watercolor paintings to be more flowing and less exacting. My micromanaging of my artwork works in some ways, I'm not happy until a piece is perfect, that can make for good art. But it can also stifle my creativity. In the future I'd like to learn how to allow the water in my watercolor paintings to do more of the work, it means I give up some control but the results will be worth the psychic pain I feel in allowing myself to let go. I'm trying to develop my style, find my niche. It's a process and I hope to get there this year.

How do you manage your time?
LOL, I don't! I'm a terrible time manager. I find that whatever I'm doing takes up my whole focus and time is irrelevant. When I'm creating, time stops for me, when I'm blogging time flies by and I find myself skipping lunch, coffee breaks, even bathroom breaks! Time is always getting away from me, but I figure it mean's I'm engrossed and enjoying whatever task I'm involved in. That can only be a good thing! (time management is perpetually a work in progress though, lol)

Bob's Rose
Have you exhibited work or taught classes?
I have not had my work exhibited but I'm about to be published in the premier issue of a new Artist's magazine called "Featuring". I wrote an article about Holocaust Museum Houston's "Butterfly Project" which is an effort to collect 1.5 million hand made butterflies to represent the 1.5 million children lost in the Holocaust. I was privileged to write the article and include my own and three other artists' butterfly submissions.

I also have not taught a class but would love to do that in the future. There is a space in the commercial building next door to my apartment building where art classes are sometimes given and I'd love to teach there. I'd also love to give online classes like many of my blog friends do. It's a future goal.

How do you go about the design process?
I draw/paint when I feel inspired, which is almost daily. I have no design process, I just follow my heart. I ask myself questions when I have trouble choosing my path that day. What do I want to create today? What art supplies do I feel like using? What colors do I want to use? How big do I want to go? Do I want to try something new or stay with what I'm comfortable with today? Then, with those answers, I winnow down my "to do" list to one project and start that. I also have at least a dozen half completed pieces so I can also choose one of those too! I just let the inspiration guide me.

Do you work to a design or theme or just go with the flow…or something else entirely?
As I was saying above, I don't really plan anything, I choose generally what my subject will be then what art supplies I feel will illuminate my subject the best. Then, as I create, I modify my process as I go. If something isn't working I'll switch to another way or medium. If a piece REALLY isn't working that day, I'll put it away and let it marinate for a week or two, usually, by some unconscious process, I find when I go back to it I've worked out how to proceed. I must admit, though, sometimes when a piece isn't working I get MAD and this can be the best thing! When I get mad or really frustrated I create differently and stop micromanaging HOW to make the art. I just DO it, angrily pushing paint around, just going with the emotion. I've created some terrific pieces that way.

They Call Me Mr. Hosta
Is/was there a significant turning point or defining moment in your style of work?
Yes. When I first started painting about 2 and a 1/2 years ago I was so afraid that I wouldn't be good enough. If I wasn't good enough then my heart's desire would never come to fruition, I'd never really be a prolific painter. That fear was stifling. I didn't believe in my abilities at all, I thought each good piece was a coincidence and the NEXT piece would be awful. Then, one day I tried Plein Air. I'd been (once again) afraid to try as I didn't think I could look at an object and actually draw it satisfactorily, especially when my subject was moving with the wind! I drew out the painting called "They Call Me Mr. Hosta". It came out so realistically that I had to admit, right then and there, that I did have talent, it wasn't a coincidence and my talent wasn't going anywhere, it was here to stay. I owned it, it was part of me. That was my turning point. It changed me and how I thought of myself as an artist. Although we have moved, I still have the hosta that I drew that day. It was dug up and planted it in a large decorative pot which now sits on my balcony. I'm thrilled to see it's leaf stalks popping up through the soil this spring. I can't wait to draw him again this summer.

What have you done this past year?
This past 6 months have been the most creative time in my life. I've stopped being afraid to try something new and have also stopped punishing myself if a piece doesn't work. I just enjoy creating so very much and am reveling in my newly found sketching/drawing skills. I'm blogging more and making more and more art. Soon, by the end of the year, I'm hoping to find a few brick & mortar stores that want to carry my work. I intend to start selling prints & cards etc., not just the original paintings. I am also just creating a new line of jewelry, glass lockets with tiny double-sided original pieces of art within.

With my blog I've added several series this past month. Once a month I'm featuring an artist's interview, much like the interview I've just done here! I've added the Blogging 101 lessons, also once a month and I've started the Artist's Play Room challenge that is posted every Saturday. You're all welcome to come on over and participate, I love see what people create!

Loving Pears
What artistic plans do you have for the coming year? 
I have so many plans I run out of time just thinking of them all! As I mentioned above, I want to be in several brick & mortar stores. I'd like to start entering juried competitions and join Nanaimo's Artistic community in showcases. I would also love to write for the Featuring magazine again.  In addition to the original art, bookmarks and jewelry pieces I already have in my Etsy shop, I plan on offering less expensive art in the form of prints, cards, notebooks and moleskines (altered). To do this I've got to find a good scanner and printer in our city. The next few months will be a lot of behind the scenes work but creating a brand is arduous, especially when trying to expand. It is exciting though!

Would you like to be interviewed for Creatively Featured? If so, please contact Heather.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Show and Tell Saturday #24

Welcome to our 24th Show and Tell Saturday. Use the link below to show off your artwork! Please visit at least 3 other artists and put a link back to Artists in Blogland, so other people can find us.

Don't forget to submit an entry for our monthly theme challenge, which is JOURNEY!

Grab a button for your page:

April Challenge Reminder

Hi All! Just a reminder that the April Challenge is still open until April 30th and voting begins May 1st! Our word for the month is "Journey". If you would like to contribute a prize please email Heather.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Creatively Featured - Carol Creech

Welcome once again to Creatively Featured. This week we are getting to know Carol Creech who does beading, drawing, and bookbinding. She even has some of her designs in fabric! Please be sure to leave her some love below or at one of her links!

Tell us about blogging and how it’s worked for you.
Blogging has been a lot of fun! I have had a regular website for a long time, but it felt like I could only post my best ‘portfolio’ of work. With young children, I often don’t complete a lot of finished pieces, so I wanted a place to post works-in-progress, sketches, new artistic interests and experiments, etc.
I started my blog a little over 3 years ago and can’t believe I now have over 200 posts.  I absolutely love seeing how other artists work and what they use for inspiration, so the blog lets me contribute my piece of that to the online world.  It also helps me connect with other ‘kindred spirits’ doing similar work. I’ve met so many wonderful people through my blog!

How did you discover your favorite art medium?
I absolutely love pen and ink. I was in graduate school (library science) back in the mid-1990s here in Ann Arbor and had gone to a remainders book store on Main Street. I found this book by artist Frank Lohan called “Pen & Ink Techniques” and decided I wanted to try it out. I bought a fine point cartridge sketching pen and just started copying drawings from the book. I was hooked! I couldn’t believe how much I loved working with pen and ink and how satisfying it was to see a drawing come together in black and white. It’s still my favorite medium.

What inspires or influences you artistically?
Nature, nature, nature! I just love trees and flowers and natural objects. I have been plugging away at botanical illustration for the last 5 or 6 years and would love to do more of that. And I find that in my bracelets , I am taken with stone beads (semi-precious and others) and earthy colors of rich browns, reds, mossy greens, and intense blues. Fun stuff!

Which aspect of your art do you enjoy most?
I love the sense of accomplishment that I get when I complete a piece, whether a drawing or a beaded piece or handmade journal. It feels wonderful to have the concrete expression of my creativity in front of me.

How do you go about the design process? Do you work to a design or theme or just go with the flow…or something else entirely?
I don’t really think of myself as having a design process. I tend to illustrate things that I see such as a live plant, flower, leaf or seed, so I draw what I see in front of me. Or, for home and pet portraits, my style is a realistic rendering that is accurate and detailed, so again – trying for a realistic, but artistically attractive rendering.  For my recent jewelry creations, I really just go with whatever colors or shapes speak to me at the moment, which actually is a fun departure from the realistic illustrations.

Is/was there a significant turning point or defining moment in your style of work?
I have always had an interest in natural science illustration, but I think a major turning point for me was when we were living in Maryland and Brookside Gardens began offering a botanical illustration certificate course. I never thought I would be so interested in plants! I was able to take the first 5 classes in the program before we moved here to Michigan. It really gave me a good base of skills to build on and a love of botanical subjects that I have been pursuing ever since.

 How do you manage your time? Can you tell us a little about your methods and/or techniques?
My creative time is very much done in fits and starts, whenever I can squeeze it in. I might have a quiet ½ hour to start a plant sketch or to sew some beads to a bracelet. I tend to just grab my materials (sketch pad, pencil, kneaded eraser, or beading supplies) and start working at the kitchen table or standing in front of a plant outside.  For my drawings, I always start with pencil sketches to get the proportions down and details finalized. I also can play around with composition a bit. I take a LOT of reference photos so that I have something to work from later. Once I get a good pencil rendering down, I often take my fine point technical pen (.25 size, usually) and do some light pen work to give the drawing form and definition, maybe a bit of shading. Sometimes I stop there and sometimes I decide that I want to add some color, usually with colored pencils (Faber-Castell Polychromos are my favorite).
For my bracelets, I have recently discovered that I am enamored with the button closures! I have to decide on the right button with the right beads and go from there. If I can’t find the right button, I can’t start!

What have you done this past year?
I have been working on a lot of different things! Drawing is always on the creative desk, but I also love working with my hands to create things and have had an interest in bookbinding and beading for quite a while. I am excited to have finally opened my Etsy shop in January of this year and look forward to continuing to develop that.
Have you exhibited work or taught classes?
I have not done either! I have some submissions in for the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators annual show, but won’t find out about acceptance until May. I would love to have my drawings included in an exhibit at some point in the future.
What artistic plans do you have for the coming year?
I would very much like to continue building my Etsy shop with handmade items. I am really enjoying the bracelets and will continue those (recently added some great buttons to my stash!), but would love to do more bookbinding of both small journals and larger items. I also want to do more drawing! I have some wildflower sketches that I started at an art retreat last year and would love to get those into finished form to have some additional pieces completed that I can incorporate into handmade items for my shop, fabric designs, prints, cards, and more.
Thank you for the opportunity to share a little about myself and my creative process!

Would you like to be interviewed for Creatively Featured? If so, please contact Heather.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Show and Tell Saturday #23

Show and Tell Saturday #23!

Use this linky tool to share what you have been working on this week.

Please visit at least 3 other artists. :)

Please add either a link back to Artists in Blogland on your blog post OR put a button on your sidebar.

Grab a button for your page:

March Challenge Winner.... Timeless Rituals! Please email your address to Marcia so she can send out your prize!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered. You really outdid yourselves! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Challenge

Welcome to April's challenge! I'm looking forward to seeing the fabulous creations you come up with. Use the word for the month as inspiration in any way you like. All mediums are welcome... no rules.  The theme for the month is...


Please enter a direct link to your blog post by April 30th (if you need help with this just contact Heather). Voting will begin May 1st.

**If you are interested in providing a prize for this month, or any future challenge, please contact Heather.**