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Scribble Artist Interview with the creators of Illustration Challenge!

Illustrate a cafe by Kirsti Maula

Illustrate a cafe by Kirsti Maula

Scribble Town (ST): Illustrationchallenge.com is a site for everybody to share their unique creative responses to fun and interesting challenges. For example, the current challenge is illustrate your mythical creature!  I wonder what you’ll come up with ;).

So, who are the genius creators of Illustrationchallenge.com?  They are Kirsti Maula and Mikko Sinvervo and we’re lucky to have them with us in Scribble Town. Please let us know a bit about yourselves.

Kirsti Maula: I’m a freelancer graphic designer and illustrator. I do print design, for example book covers, layouts, posters and brochures. My design work can be seen at www.lufudesign.com. With time I have found out that my favourite work includes always illustration. some way or another. I like to have a job where I can also find myself playing with playdough, sewing machine, or cutting shapes out of paper. The best work are always the ones I had most fun making.

Mikko Sinervo:  I’m an architect and my day job is in hospital design. However, my true passion lies in my artwork which is rather varied from small sculptures and miniatures to drawings and paintings. I also occasionally teach painting or architecture. My wife and I also wrote and illustrated a couple of children’s storybooks, which we’d be happy to share with you later.

Illustrate a boat Mikko Sinervo

Illustrate a boat Mikko Sinervo

ST: You two are very creative in more than one ways.  It makes sense that Illustration Challenge comes from two people who like a good challenge!  Where are you located and what are you up to these days?

Kirsti: I come from Finland, got married to a German and now we live in Berlin. Freelancing and internet makes me flexible so I don’t have to care about country borders. At the moment I’m one month away from giving birth to my first child, so that will be my biggest creative project so far!

Mikko: I’m currently based in Finland but through my Thai wife I also spend some time in Thailand. Now both of us have commitments in Finland so that’s where we’ll stay for now. Hopefully we’ll get a change to go and live in Thailand in the near future. That would allow me to pursue my artistic career as well. My next big artsy challenge is to build a diorama for the annual Dinosaur Toy Blog contest. (I’m a huge fan of dinosaurs.)

Illustrate Autumn by Kirsti Maula

Illustrate autumn by Kirsti Maula

ST: Congratulations on the the little one coming your way, Kirsti!  Mikko, you must keep us posted on your dinosaur diorama.  You yourselves are involved with other competitions and now tell us what is Illustration Challenge and how can we get in the loop?  Is it for everybody?  How do you find your participants or how do they find you?

Kirsti: Illustrationchallenge.com is a platform for whoever wants to draw more! It is free, easy and without any obligations, we just wish to keep the creativity flowing! I have posted links to some forums that have connection to illustration and we have found followers from twitter and facebook. Participants come from all around the world, and they all have their own approach to the challenges. That’s what makes it fun!

ST: Illustrationchallenge.com is all about being inspired by creativity and giving somebody a reason to create. What inspired you to make a platform for this?

Kirsti: To be very honest it was born out of being a little lazy. I love drawing, and had a dream of becoming an illustrator. But I never seemed to have the time to take my pencils out. As a designer I work well under deadlines and I thought that I should take the same approach to illustration. At first I thought of setting up a blog, but ended up making it an open platform for everyone. I just thought it would be much more fun to see what other people came up with the challenges!

Illustrate Bad Hair Day by Mikko Sinvervo

Illustrate bad hair day by Mikko Sinvervo

ST: Sometimes we all need a little push and why not encourage each other with creativity questions?! There’s a deadline soon coming up.  Can’t wait to see all the illustrations related to Life on Mars!  What prompted you to think about this topic?

Mikko: Well – my wife, Fon, is to thank for this challenge. She helped me come up with some ideas for the challenge and Life on Mars seemed rather inviting a topic. It’s not only a great song but an intriguing question – with billions of stars out there we surely are not the only ones, are we?

ST: I’m prone to believe that there are universes waiting to be discovered, but I wonder what other Scribblers think. Check out the creative responses to Life on Mars here.  What is your personal connection to illustration?  Before working as a team, what did you two do individually?  I’d love to know about your path.

Illustrate A Secret Seapon by Kirsti Maula

Illustrate a secret weapon by Kirsti Maula

Kirsti: I have illustrated for book covers and such for a long while but a year or two ago I realized it was getting more serious than that. Illustrationchallenge.com started as a side project, as I wanted to have free hands to play with ideas and search for my style. For a long time I had a problem finding my individual voice and I got a little frustrated with the thought of having to have a “style”. With illustrationchallenge.com I just decided  to try to be versatile and try out as many styles as possible. The most important thing was that I decided that I won’t be critical of the outcome, I would just create something, whatever it was, every week. At certain point some ways of illustrating felt more “me” and I started to explore them. I still don’t feel I have to have a certain style but rather do something that feels like my own thing. Illustrationchallenge.com has been a great way to discover myself and to create portfolio pieces.

Mikko: As I have two kids and a career as an architect, I thought this challenge was great for me because it forced me to draw. Otherwise, I wouldn’t make the time for it.

Illustrate a Jungle by Mikko Sinvervo

Illustrate a jungle by Mikko Sinvervo

ST: What was your favorite toy or game as a child?

Kirsti: I loved to play in my own imaginary world. I think sometimes to the point where other kids found me a little weird. I remember often having an imaginary horse galloping by my side wherever I went. If we traveled by car I imagined my horse galloping next to the car window.

Mikko: Dinosaurs! Me and my best friend used to build miniature worlds around dinosaurs, and we also built towns and cities inhabited by imaginary characters.

ST: If you could be a shape what would you be?  I’m guessing maybe Mikko will pick something dinosaurish 😉

Kirsti: I would like to be shaped like a barbababa. The pink one.

Mikko: I would be a yellow triangle. Don’t ask me why.

Illustrate a vegetarian monster by Kirsti Maula

Illustrate a vegetarian monster by Kirsti Maula

ST: You two are full of surprises! Any last tips on creativity?

Kirsti: Be brave! Don’t be too critical of you drawings. Explore, try different things, don’t be too serious and do what makes you happy. Most of all, keep on doing it!!

Mikko: Just have fun. I think that is the most crucial thing.

ST: Thank you Kirsti and Mikko for sharing with us!  Ok, Scribblers, now let’s get cracking on our next picture for http://www.illustrationchallenge.com!

Check out the books Mikko and his wife, Fon, have made at
http://issuu.com/mjsinervo/docs/2011_croco/1
http://issuu.com/mjsinervo/docs/2012_12_22_hazel_hires/1

Fon and Mikko made these books as Christmas gifts for their family and friends. Thanks for sharing them with us too!

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Scribble Artist Interview with Carol Heppner!

Carol Heppner Queen of Cr8tivity

Carol Heppner Queen of Cr8tivity

Scribble Town (ST): Carol Heppner will get your head spinning once you hear about all the amazing things she is up to.  Around every creative corner, there she is!

Carol Heppner (CH): I am co-owner/founder and Editor in Chief of Bella Crafts Quarterly™, a craft magazine that is also available as a free digital download, and I own Carol Heppner LLC, a craft-industry design services company.  I am a designer member of the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) and serve on the Design Section Council.   I am also on the Editorial-Advisory Board of Scrap and Stamp Arts Magazine, in which I have a column, Art Smarts!™.

I am an author, mixed-media artist, photographer and craft-industry consultant.  My work and photographs have appeared in national art shows, galleries, magazines, books, products, trade show booths and advertisements.

As you can see, there is a lot to keep me busy.

ST: Yes, we can clearly see that!  What are you not up to these days ;)?  With full speed ahead, what does a typical day with you look like?  Even though you have so many different simultaneous projects going on which one are you putting most of your attention to these days?

CH: Every morning, I begin my day by going out for a walk.  This helps me focus on nature so I can relax.

Did you know that craft designers are mostly working on projects that are six months ahead of the current season?  Sometimes, we work a year in advance.  So, while you are getting ready for Halloween, we are thinking about spring.  Because craft-industry clients are publishers, editors and manufacturers, many times we cannot discuss what we are making because the project is being held for publication by the client.  It’s like a top-secret mission!  It’s the same with our magazine, Bella Crafts Quarterly™.  Our fall issue came out on September 1 and we are now working on our upcoming issues.  All columns and articles are always a secret until we publish them.

When I create a craft project, I then have to write step-by-step instructions and photograph the finished project.   It may sound like a lot of work, but I really enjoy it.

ST: So long as you enjoy it then everything is ok.  How did your ‘Queen of Creativity’ career begin?  Were you always coming up with fun creations, even as a kid?  What is something from your childhood that you used to love to create with?

Jewelry making with Carol Heppner LLC

Jewelry making with Carol Heppner LLC

CH: When I was in second grade, I won a regional drawing contest.  I always loved being creative – it’s just the way my mind works.  The more you create, the more creative you can become.  Crayons were a passion of mine in my early years.  Then, I discovered inks and later moved on to batiks. Maybe it’s really a passion for color!

ST: Your expertise on mediums run the gamut- from air-dried clay to wire!  Perhaps you can share a bit about these and how you learned them.  What was your motivation?

CH: My high-school art teacher told our class that if we wanted to be artists, we had to “eat, drink and sleep art”.  He taught us about many different art mediums and the basics of fine art.  He also taught us not to be afraid to explore and try new mediums.
Although I naturally understand how to work in many different mediums, there are some mediums I wanted to learn more about.  I have taken photography classes and stained glass classes which helps me understand the basics on which I can build my knowledge.

My motivation is simple.  I was born with a natural talent and drive.   Having clients is also a major motivator.  The more you know, the more you can bring to the table when working with a client.

Learn to create paste paper in the summer edition of Bella Crafts Quarterly

Learn to create paste paper in the summer edition of Bella Crafts Quarterly

ST: Who encouraged you to be creative?

CH: My parents always encouraged me to be creative, as well as my art teacher.  But, the friends I had throughout life were also encouraging – and still are.

One of the reasons I joined CHA was to be with other people like myself.  I met so many wonderful craft designers, craft professionals, editors, publishers, manufacturers and the association’s staff.  The four owners of Bella Crafts Quarterly™ are all CHA design members and that is how we met.  If I never joined CHA, I would never own a craft magazine today.

ST: On top it all, you are also an author.  Writing about art is so important for your own sake and for others.  What are your writing outlets?

CH: As a professional craft designer, contributor to national craft magazines and editor of my own magazine, I am writing most of the day.   Many times I am writing craft instructions for my clients, but I also write design-team or other craft-business related handbooks.  I also write style guides for client manufacturers.   These guides determine how other writers, who contribute their written work to my client manufacturers, will write their instructions.

Since I am the lead of the Standards Committee of the Design Section of CHA, I am acting as an editor to produce a Designer Handbook for our section.  This project has been two years in the making and should be published soon.  The handbook is only available to CHA Design Section members.

Studio chair by Carol Heppner LLC

Studio chair by Carol Heppner LLC

You will read about my hobby later on in this interview.  I record my findings in an entertaining, yet factual manner.  This research is compiled into a book, which is then given to family members.

ST: When you develop an idea what is your creative process like?  Do you try things out with all the different kinds of materials and techniques?  What are some favorite tools you like to use when creating?

CH: The type of project I need to create usually dictates how I develop the design.  The majority of the time, I “see” the final project in my mind, as well as the steps I need to take to create the project.  I then just gather the materials and complete the project.

Carol Heppner's Clay Chic - Polymer Clay Necklace

Carol Heppner’s
Clay Chic – Polymer Clay Necklace

Normally, my clients tell me what product they need to be used in a project.  I will talk to them about the different ideas I have and they pick the project just from our conversation.  They never see drawings or graphics of the project before it is completed.  They trust my judgment.

Once or twice, I have had to draw a sketch for a client because they had to discuss it within the company, but that doesn’t happen often.

Because I work alone as a craft designer, I do not discuss my client’s projects with others.  So, I am really working alone with my client.  Now, once the project is published, then I help promote it on my social media platforms.

My favorite tool that I use is not made from plastic or metal.  My favorite tool to use is my imagination.  It is the most important tool when creating artwork for yourself and for others.

ST: What are some other hobbies or interests you like?

CH: You may think that with all that I do that I have no time for hobbies.  But I research my family history.  I have a cousin in Italy who is a historic architect and we have been working on our Lopetrone family history for years.

I was able to trace my Lopetrone branch back to the 1700s and then he was able to trace my branch back to the 1500s to the great grandfather of all Lopetrones.  Once my family branch was connected to my great grandfather, I felt grounded.   It was a wonderful feeling to know the names of everyone that came before me.

Because the Lopetrone family is such a small family, it is easier to trace our history than other family surnames.  Some of us have come together to create a universal Lopetrone Family tree.  All those with the Lopetrone name are cousins.  We have our own Facebook group so we can connect with family who are living around the world.

ST: Wow! That is quite impressive that you have been able to trace your family heritage so far.  How gratifying and special that is! What’s your choice of medium, at the moment?  Hmm, I wonder why.

CH: I have a passion for batiks and photography.   Nowadays, my focus is on jewelry making and accessories because I create those type of projects for Bella Crafts Quarterly™.   I like making things that are useful.

Fabric painting and batik by c Carol Heppner LLC

Fabric painting and batik by Carol Heppner LLC

You didn’t ask, but you may be surprised to learn that I really don’t like using oil paints.  Crazy, right?  I will use them only when I have to use them.  The reason why they are not my favorite is because the way they feel when I am using them.  I cannot feel the resistance of the canvas, which for some reason, isn’t pleasing to me.

ST: It never would have crossed my mind that you don’t like using oil paints!  Carol, you are full of surprises.  What is your studio environment like?

CH: My studio is right across from my bedroom. And, yes.  I do get dressed up when I go to work.  It helps me feel professional. That is important when you are talking to a client.

I have a screen door on my studio so it can be closed but I can still feel as a part of my house.  The studio is filled with products that manufacturers send to me to use.  I have fabric boxes for each client manufacturer.  That way, when I need their product, I know just where to grab it.

The chair at my desk is a fun project that my husband and I did a few years ago.  I wanted something whimsical because I want to smile when I walk into my studio.  He helped cut the wood for the back of the chair.  I purchased the chair at a thrift store and it was in very bad condition.  I painted the chair, changed the back and then upholstered the seat in faux leather.

I have some of my artwork around the room because it gives me a sense of accomplishment.  In fact, I made this doll when I was very young.  She sits in my studio and I can remember the very day I made her.  I didn’t have many craft supplies when I was young, so she was made with a lot of imagination.

Primative doll by Carol Heppner LLC

Primative doll by Carol Heppner LLC

ST: Thank you Carol for sharing so much with the Scribblers!  Just keep on doing what you do!  And we’ll leave the Scribblers with your inspirational creative thoughts.

Carol Heppner’s Creative Thoughts

When most people think of creativity, they think of arts or crafts.  But I have always felt that creativity manifests itself in many different ways.  It’s the way you comb your hair, the way you dress or arrange your room.  It’s the way you teach and the way you inspire others.

The person who is writing code for a computer program is being creative and so is the person who is making dinner tonight.  How much creativity you add to whatever you are doing is up to you.  But remember, creativity is just like anything else.  The more you use it, the better you get at it.

CHA’s foundation has a wonderful program that is reaching out and getting everyone interested in crafting.  Make sure to check their website out at Cre8time.com.  You will be inspired by all the great crafts you find there.  You can also make your mark by uploading some of your work there as well.

Also, our goal at Bella Crafts Quarterly™ is to inspire others to create.  In keeping with our goal, our digital copy of the magazine is free to download.  There are many great projects for crafters and craft-business advice for craft professionals.

Thanks so much for asking me to be part of this Scribble Town interview!

Visit the Scribble Shop to get started on making your own crafts!

Scribble Artist Interview with Eric Maruscak!

Scribble Town (ST): Pictures as big as streets that depict the wows and wonders of the imagination.  In that sense, Eric Maruscak, makes the impossible possible…and all with chalk!

Chalk art of a Pool at July Fest. By Eric Maruscak.

Chalk art of a Pool at July Fest. By Eric Maruscak.

Eric Maruscak (EM): My name is Eric Maruscak, I am a life-long artist. My styles range through illustration, both traditional and digital, to cartooning, comic strips and the like. However, I am mostly known for my giant chalk art murals that I create at conventions across the United States, often of various pop culture themes including comic books, video games, and anime characters.

ST: Eric, where are you and what are you up to these days?

EM: I am located in Upstate New York, but I travel all across the United States for appearances. I’ve done chalk murals everywhere from Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle, to LA, Philadelphia, New York City, San Diego and more. I create art for various companies that want to highlight a property – a new book, video game, movie, TV show… etc – as live performance art mostly at pop culture conventions, often taking up to 30 hours to complete.

I also work as an illustrator for all sorts of freelance jobs. I specialize in cartoon style work, but do everything from concept art to sequential story telling.

ST: Your ability to draw realistically is unbelievable!  How long have you been working at this talent?  Who are your mentors, personal cheerleaders and biggest fans?

EM: When I was young, both of my older brothers AND my dad all drew. I was impressed by what they could do, so I set out to be like them. I started by copying everything I could, newspaper comics, Norman Rockwell drawings, and the like. Over time, I got very good at copying, so I took the next step and started working from my imagination. All of my family encouraged me greatly in my pursuit to be a better artist. I also specifically remember Mrs. Hall, the art teacher in my elementary school who encouraged me greatly along the way.

ST: How do you get the vision for your characters?  I can sense that Robot Smith, your Iron Worker, has quite a big personality.  Where did this guy come from in your imagination?

"Robot Smith" - Digital Illustration (unfinished) by Eric Maruscak

“Robot Smith” – Digital Illustration (unfinished) by Eric Maruscak

EM: Images come from several different sources. Sometimes it is from seeing something that already exists, then my mind naturally begins to play with it, wondering how it would look if I took it in a different direction. Sometimes it comes from shape building. I love to sketch freely, just letting forms and contours happen naturally, then looking into those forms to find things. It is amazing what will emerge. Other times, especially when I am tired or near sleep, full, complete images will pop into my minds eye like a flash bulb going off. From that point on it is all work to get as close to that complete image I saw so instantaneously.

The Iron Worker was one of those that popped into my head rather quickly. I had an image of an old fashioned, turn-of-the-centry type steel working, but then my brain played one of it’s usual tricks and I saw him working on some sort of high-tech, futuristic machinery. From there, it was all about capturing that old-time feel.

I’ve always had a love for science fiction and fantasy stories, movies, novels…. etc. All of those bring something to the table when I create new artwork. But reading is one of the best things to train your mind. Read an authors description, then try to bring that to life as a drawing while being as true as possible to the details the author provided.

ST: As for your recent work- I’m guessing you are a huge Star Wars fan!  What are some other movies, games, or characters you really like that end up being a theme for you?

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season V Chalk Art" - Star Wars Celebration VI, Orlando Florida, 2012

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season V Chalk Art” – Star Wars Celebration VI, Orlando Florida, 2012

EM: I am a child of the 70’s and 80’s, so a lot of classics still play at the drive-in theater in my mind. Star Wars is clearly the biggest influence on me, as it was with many people. But movies like “The Black Hole” from Disney, or “Flash Gordon” were very influential on me when I was growing up. I am a fan of the weird and cult films, things like all of the Godzilla movies, or “Big Trouble in Little China”, horror films with EXCELLENT design like “Alien” to the original movie version of “Dune” which, to me, is still incredibly under-rated for the world it created and the place it took you. I find I can watch that movie endlessly for some reason, dated special effects and all.

I loved looking through the Dungeons and Dragons manuals when I was young. I never played the game much, but poured over the pages looking at the fantastic artwork. Dragon magazine was another that high-lighted some of the best fantasy artists working at the time.

I’ve also ALWAYS played video games, and naturally been drawn to the graphics even more than gameplay experiences. I owned everything from a Commodore 64 (where I played “Maniac Mansion” from Lucasfilm over and over” to game systems from Atari, Colecovision, Nintendo, Playstation, Xbox and on. The games that have influenced me over all of these years are too numerous to mention, but I still game to this day playing Skyrim, Bioshock Infinite, and more.

"Madoka Magika Chalk Mural" - Anime Central, Rosemont, Il. 2012. Eric Maruscak.

“Madoka Magika Chalk Mural” – Anime Central, Rosemont, Il. 2012. Eric Maruscak.

ST: Do you separate between your children’s artwork from your adult artwork?  I can see a difference in style and content.  Perhaps you can tell a bit about your different types of pictures and artworks.

EM: It is hard sometimes. I feel like I tend to skew old in everything I do, and maybe… sometimes…. go a little too far when the art is intended for a younger audience. But I think back on what it was like being one of those kids (and pride myself on having not forgotten the feeling), and one thing that always caught my attention, and kept it, was not being “talked down too.” I think the best artwork (and movies, stories, you name it) for kids are the ones that work for adults as well, and don’t play down to their audience. And that is the trick, that is the balancing act that has to be maintained when drawing for youth and adult audiences. I’ll readily admit I miss that line some times, but I try to keep my children’s work something that an adult would enjoy looking at as well. Obviously certain techniques in the level of detail, the “cuteness”, if you will, of the characters, the simplicity of the story or concept I am conveying, all come into play when thinking about a younger audience. Then I step past that and push more adult techniques into the mix, and I find that is when the work really comes to life.

A lof of my younger work involves my cartoons. They naturally lend themselves to younger audiences. And, of course, when I teach my chalk art classes I definitely simplify the techniques and make it much more about having fun with the artwork as it will keep their very short attention spans engaged longer that way. And as the age range goes up, I can increase the level of technique involved, layer on more detail and complex concepts…. but like I said before, I am as guilty as any artist of missing that line and maybe aiming to “old” sometimes.

"Wolverine: Joe Maduriera Tribute Art" - Upstate NY Art Festival

“Wolverine: Joe Maduriera Tribute Art” – Upstate NY Art Festival

ST: What is your process for getting your work out of your head- do you sketch with pencil, paint, computer graphics, etc. ?  I suppose for the chalk art- nature will take over and wash it away with the rain.

EM: I almost always sketch very small first. Thumbnail work is key in my process to creating images. Often it is on scraps of paper as well, I guess it is a way of tricking myself into feeling like the drawing isn’t as important if the paper is scrap, that way I have a lot less pressure and my style is looser. Once the thumbnail (or many is drawn) I will go to a more involved drawing based on the original sketch, changing things (hopefully for the better) as I go. If it is a detailed piece of art, I will work from photo references in certain parts to keep it as accurate as I can, but my natural style leans toward exaggeration, so I try not to sweat the small details too much. It is more about keep the energy up in the drawing, making it feel fresh, and not getting so bogged down in my lines or details that the drawing feels like it becomes static and loses all sense of movement.

Often, I’ll scan the drawing into my computer at some point in the process and continue working digitally from there, either in Photoshop or Corel Painter. I love the freedom a computer allows to experiment, and rework, but those can be downsides too if you don’t keep your focus on what you are trying to achieve. Too many possibilities lead you to get off track way too easily, so maintaining focus on your ultimate goal with the art is key. I’ll often ink the work digitally, then do digital color work as well to get to the final piece.

If chalk art is involved, finishing the drawing is only the beginning. At that point I will create a small grid on the art, then draw out a large grid on the big paper (or directly on pavement if it is an outdoor piece) and get to work re-drawing the artwork in it’s enlarged form. That is right, if I am creating chalk art I end up drawing the entire thing TWICE…. it is the only way. Once the outline on the paper (or pavement) is done, the rest of the rendering and coloring happens live at the event while people watch. Sometimes I am working with 40, 50, 60 thousand people or more moving past the artwork while I draw. I do my best to ignore the pressure that comes with that, and simply do my best and recreating the piece as accurately as possible, right down to the smallest detail.

"3D Chalk Art Hole" - Upstate New York Art Festival

“3D Chalk Art Hole” – Upstate New York Art Festival

ST: When you are creating these days what kind of music are you listening to? Or what is your studio environment like?

EM: I listen to all sorts of things, and often play on shuffle as I like the musical styles to vary as time passes. I have always described my musical tastes as HIGHLY eclectic, meaning that I simply enjoy songs much more than follow artists. There are a few I will buy everything they release, They Might Be Giants being one of them. But then I can range from Metallica, to show tunes, to Weird Al Yankovic, to Ben Folds, to orchestral movie soundtracks, to the Beatles, to Gorillaz, to Hall and Oats, to Iron Maiden, to Muse, to….. well, you get the idea.

My studio is still a work in progress as I bought a house a little while ago, and there is still much work to get it in order. My art studio is currently my computer and drawing table space, but none of the full size chalk artwork is done here. I will draw and the drafting table, and work digitally in the computer space, but if large chalk art is required, I literally have to rearrange the furniture in my living room to make space to work on it, and I can still only unroll about half of the art at any one time. This means that I actually never see the full sketch of a chalk art mural all at once until I actually get to a show.

ST: Your chalk art is absolutely amazing!  I’m sure you have many great stories because you, at times, draw out in the open.  People probably stare in awe.  Is there a story that sticks out in your head?  What’s the biggest chalk art piece you’ve ever done and how long did it take?

EM: The largest piece I have ever done was around 16 feet wide by 14 feet tall at it’s largest dimensions. They average around 9 feet wide by 13 feet tall most of the time, and will often take over 30 hours to complete (the largest one I mentioned clocked in near 40 hours over 4 days). I’ve had all sorts of things happen while working in public, with people often not paying attention and walking over the artwork (even if it is blocked off), I’ve had coffee spilled on one, kids run out onto others, even intentional vandalism at one of my outdoor pieces. I have to be very zen about all of it, breathe deep, fix what damaged parts I can and move on to finish the piece on time. The outdoor ones you especially have to disconnect yourself from as you know it will be gone once it rains.

"Hulk Street Art" - Italian Festival Street Painting Fair, Endicott, NY 2008

“Hulk Street Art” – Italian Festival Street Painting Fair, Endicott, NY 2008

Once I was at a show, and this guys started moving around my mural, filming the art on a video camera. He was running around it like a wild man, filming from different angles and acting generally weird. Then he got down really close to me to film and slapped his hand down on the art. This was an indoor piece on paper, and the paper can actually be very fragile and rip easily so I quickly said “Be careful…” I think that was all I got out before the guy dramatically whipped his hand away, looked at it like he had touched something poisonous, then stood up, kept filming and quickly moved away in the same odd manner he had been acting the whole time.

I continued working, and it wasn’t until a few minutes later that one of the convention goers came up to me and said… do you know who that was? I thought they meant did I know him personally so I said no I didn’t and then they told me that was Thomas Jane, the actor. I had no idea at the time, and to this day I still have no idea why he was acting like that. But I smile at the thought that I told The Punisher not to touch my art.

ST: Great story!  Keep smiling 🙂  Any tips on that?

EM: I mentioned above about drawing shapes and looking into them… that is actually something I teach in my art classes called “The Scribble Technique”.

ST: To read more about it have a look at The Scribble Shop Blog.  Thanks Eric and we’ll look out for your next masterpiece!

Scribble Artist Interview with Yulia Brodskaya!

Scribble Town (ST): Yulia is everywhere!  We first discovered her while flipping through an Oprah magazine and then saw her work featured in Material World: The Modern Craft Bible.  Yulia is an expert paper artist and is generous to share her tips!  Where are you and what are you up to these days?

Yulia Brodskaya (YB): I live close to London, very busy with my paper art and two little kids.

M Real by Yulia Brodskaya

M Real by Yulia Brodskaya

ST: I have never seen anything like your art.  How would you define your work?  It seems to be a peaceful combination of craft and fine art.

YB: I just call them paper artworks; but I don’t normally try to put any labels such as craft or fine art or even focusing on the term ‘quilling’ too much. I use a combination of paper manipulation techniques to create my paper artworks.

Jungle Bird by Yulia Brodskaya

Jungle Bird by Yulia Brodskaya

ST: How did you discover this artistic process of creating paper artworks?  Was there somebody that encouraged you?  With your two kids perhaps they help with the playful aspect of your images!  Your birds and butterflies look like they will just fly away.

YB: I always had a special fascination for paper, I’ve tried many different methods and techniques of working with paper, for instance Origami, paper collages, however Quilling technique turned out to be ‘the one’ for me. I started to use it about five years ago: I was planning to create a small brochure with my hand-drawn illustrations to be sent out to potential clients and I was looking for an eye-catching image with my name ‘Yulia’ for the cover. I created a number of hand-drawn variants, but I didn’t like any of them and then I remembered an image from some school book showing a paper strips standing on edge, so tried to make the letters using this technique and apparently the attempt was successful; over the next couple months I switched to paper illustration completely.

Nature by Yulia Brodskaya

Nature by Yulia Brodskaya

ST: Through playing and dabbling we just stumble upon what we didn’t expect! Where do you find yourself feeling really inspired to create?

YB: In my little studio.

ST: How do you manipulate your paper? What is the process?

YB: I use cocktail straw and little cocktail sticks for rolling the paper strips (I didn’t know that there are specially designed tools available when I taught myself to shape the paper strips, I started to use the cocktail straw and I still use it now). Also, scissors, twisters for little details, glue and of course paper paper paper. For the process the best thing will be to search for some basic youtube lessons.

ST: Yup, anything can be a helpful tool especially when you know what your aim is.  Cocktail straws do the trick!  Yulia, any tips for our scribblers out there?

YB: Just have fun with it; it will be a pleasure if you enjoy it. The process is very slow and time-consuming so if you are not enjoying it the whole experience can be a plain torture.  I have a fish pattern that I designed for my workshop in Shanghai, it is very simple, people can use it as a basis for the quilling experiments.

ST: Thanks Yulia!  I’m going to give it a try!

Pure by Yulia Brodskaya

Pure by Yulia Brodskaya

Scribble Artist Interview with Doris Sampson!

Scribble Town (ST): Here with us on the Scribble Blog is Doris Sampson!  Doris is an artist full of energy, stories, creativity, and much much more as you will soon find out.  Doris, where are you and what are you up to these days?

See how I found shoes in this drawing?  Added eyes to create a shy guy asking for a dance.

See how I found shoes in this drawing? Added eyes to create a shy guy asking for a dance.

Doris Sampson (DS): I live in Duluth, Minnesota . . . U.S.A.  This city is located at the western-most tip of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.  It’s awesome!  Like living on the shore of an ocean, from our shore we cannot see land on the eastern horizon.  Weather events can rile up some terrible storms, occasionally over even modern decades taking a freighter to the bottom of any one of the Great Lakes.  The Big Lake is also our natural air conditioner.  Because the temperature of the lake is always much cooler than the air, when we get a wind off the lake, Duluth can be significantly cooler as we’re situated in the valley of a big hill alongside the shore.  Over the hill, much warmer!  I like it this way because I’m no fan of hot weather!

DS: My career as an Artist spans 48 years, and I started Photography shortly after that, too.  I’ve put tons of time and money into taking pictures, and since starting digital in 2002, in total over all my years, have tens and tens of thousands of pictures.  Therefore, big chunks of time have gone into organizing those photos and since digital can fix OLD photos, in recent years lots of time has gone into restoring many, many photos from family albums covering  my Finnish-American family heritage and history.  I eventually will produce books about my personal memoir and probable historic photo books.  I’ve also been a writer, starting with journaling at the end of 1977.  I absolutely love writing, and my computer storage now contains working manuscripts for at least a dozen book concepts, with other ideas piling up behind those.  But I need to update my computer equipment soon so I can better format manuscripts, and art/photos into them, too, to prepare them for electronic self-publishing.  I love that option we have now!

The shape looked like a golf club, though wildly abstract!

The shape looked like a golf club, though wildly abstract!

ST: When did you start drawing and painting?

DS: As a child I was already a natural artist.  I believe it was genetic as I’m 100% Finnish lineage–and the Finns are genetically extremely artistic.  I loved doing art as a child, all the way through school to graduation.  Because my family was farmer-laborer, I didn’t go to college for higher education–but was smart enough to have done that if there had been money.  Instead, I never sat back on the learning process as a young adult–in any subject.  But rather quickly did return to art . . . painting . . . about 5 years after graduation.  I had two pre-school daughters by then, and began painting on the kitchen table–of course, needing to clean up scrupulously after each session!  Especially because I’d started with oil paints–eventually switching to acrylics to avoid the fumes and possible other contact-toxins from handling oil paints.  Especially Flake White, which has lead.

ST: Was there somebody that encouraged you?

DS: Yes, there was someone who inspired me as an artist starting from a very young age.  Actually, my mother had painted as a teenager with a friend whose name was Marion.  So it was seeing as a child craft pieces my mother had made so many years before by gluing fall leaves on the then-78rpm records.   And then painting the leaves yellows, oranges, reds.  There were three paintings my mother had done that still exist to today.  So those were always on display in my grandparents’ farmhouse in Northern Minnesota.  My father had also been artistic, and had begun art school when they lived in Detroit–I was born in a suburb, Ferndale, at that time.  But he was drafted into World War II and had to quit art school.  Only one drawing my dad did, of the violin maker, Stradevarius, existed then, and to date.  It’s framed and hanging on a wall in my sister’s apartment here in Duluth.  Neither of my parents  were able to follow art as adults.  My mom was a homemaker and my dad a laborer.  Thank God he returned home from the war with just some back problems from a glider crash.  He was in the Battle of the Bulge in the 101st Airborne Division–a terrible event during WWII.

Here is a scribble drawing that reveals a woman by how I filled in spaces with black ink.

Here is a scribble drawing that reveals a woman by how I filled in spaces with black ink.

Marion, as Mom’s girlhood friend since kindergarten (or maybe it was first grade then–did they have kindergarten so very long ago?) . . . was still her friend as I was growing up, and we’d visit her home in that rural area near my grandparents’ farm on occasion.  Marion had taken up painting during her adult  years, but did extremely few in total that I know of.  One was a stunning portrait of a sister who had passed away, painted ethereally in blues, like the sky, her imagery as of angels.  Riveting to me!  Then, I believe this was after I was an adult with a toddler, as I recall one specific visit with my mom to Marion’s, with my daughter; she showed us another painting more recently done . . . a Moose in a Northern Minnesota swamp, edged with the typical swamp spruce and tamarac forest–a beautiful fall scene that I can see in my mind’s eye still.  Marion was so special to me and I just soaked up her artist-ness into my soul!

This mushroom shape becomes one with some embellishment; not the different pen strokes creating varieties of texture.

This mushroom shape becomes one with some embellishment; not the different pen strokes creating varieties of texture.

My family was always supportive of my love of art and Nature as a child.  I would do Paint-by-Number sets, and, again, I loved art in school.  I would save my artworks and when several aunts and uncles came visiting from Detroit and Florida to Minnesota in the summers, I’d bring out those drawings and paintings to put on an ‘exhibit’ . . . and they’d give me a dollar!  Guess what . . . I still have my best, saved artwork from the first dated to when I was 11 years old, through the 7th, 8th and 9th grades of junior high school!  They can be seen on my website:  dorissampson-lenscanvas.smugmug.com !  For so long I’ve wanted to be an inspiration to children, and here is my first opportunity!

ST: I bet you have been an inspiration to children even when you didn’t mean to be one.  I’m impressed with you range of techniques! You even have collage and modeling pasted paintings.  How did you discover and use this technique?

DS: I don’t remember right now what started the collage/modeling paste paintings.  Since I’ve kept good records throughout my art career, it’s probably written down somewhere for me to find when I can start digging.  But they were fun to do, using materials to build a foundation for a painting; then gessoing that ground (a primer layer); finally painting everything.  Then, give it a wash of diluted burnt umber (brown) acrylic paint mixed in a lot of water and quickly wipe it off again with a soft rag–before it could dry.  Then only a little bit of pigment would remain on the surface of the painting to provide a slight antiquey appearance to it.

ST: How do you handle moments when you get a zoom of inspiration?

DS: Since I do Art, Photography AND Writing, inspiration is more or less a constant on-going thing of which I can never keep up; as much as I would like to.  So Art ideas get noted on paper, some started; Photos are a never ending job in my computer now; and my external hard drive is exploding with accumulated Writing projects, or notes and notes and more notes for those underway, and new project ideas.  What I work on from day to day has no schedule–except to plow into whatever project/s are staring me in the face . . . NOW.

Color can be dropped into a drawing as desired on a computer, for me this was done in Photoshop4.

Color can be dropped into a drawing as desired on a computer, for me this was done in Photoshop4.

ST: What other forms of art do you practice?  What are some tools you like to use to create?

DS: Art, Photgraphy and Writing take up all my work time creativeness.  However, I am a ballroom dancer, and good at it.  Genetic I’m sure as both my parents loved to dance and were great dancers in their early years.  Raising a family, I only saw them dance about three times that I can remember.  I sure wish I could see a movie of the years I was never a conscious part of!  Dance  is a wonderful, beautiful and happy form of Art!

ST: How do you find you models for your pen and ink drawings? There must be hundreds of beautiful portraits!

Here I wanted to make a heart shape with abstractions--a very fast swish, swish, swish with the hand kind of drawing.

Here I wanted to make a heart shape with abstractions–a very fast swish, swish, swish with the hand kind of drawing.

DS: A couple of the people and pet pen and ink drawings you see are ones I did because I wanted to do them for myself.  The rest are commissions from folks who saw my first portrait promotions starting around 2002.  What you see in my website are what I’ve done.  There might be another couple or so not shown, but I can’t remember at this writing.

ST: I’m sure there must be many, but what is one of your favorite songs?

DS: It’s probably better to ask what are my favorite genres of music.  I love Finnish music that depicts my era of growing up–accordian and fiddle bands.  There are two in particular I have tapes or CD’s of; Minnesota bands, “Third Generation” and “The Finn Hall Band”.  Next, whenever I have an opportunity to work in my office AND listen to music at the same time, I’ll put on internet radio with Pandora.com . . . and I’m already keyed in to Classic Country-Bluegrass Gospel songs by historic Nashville voices from yesteryear to current singers who still have the same classic sound.  On Sunday mornings, we have a local radio station, WKLK, that also plays those old gospel songs.  I absolutely love them, and they are my inner Church every time I listen to them; filling me with the Spirit of God!

I also enjoy classical music on occasion; and my everyday favorite genre is the current “Music of Your Life” station that is streamed via many radio stations across America.  Those songs truly depict the best pop songs I’ve heard over my 70 years of lifetime!  So it would be more correct to speak of favorites in each genre–but that would be too big a project to do!

ST: Your art career has taken you on such a journey!

DS: I started my Scribble Drawings, which I now call my “Human Emotional & Thematic Caricatures . . . or Just Pure Art Form”, when I was taking drawing classes at a local university in 1985.

Do you see how you can add human emotion to a drawing than can be transformed into a man by adding teeth, an eye and a hat!?

Do you see how you can add human emotion to a drawing than can be transformed into a man by adding teeth, an eye and a hat!?

University art classes were already far into the “modern” thing . . . be loose, let your mind wander, and finally . . . just scribble and see what happens.  Well, I absolutely LOVED what I did with scribbles, learning immediately that the most important thing to remember is . . . WHEN TO QUIT!  My personal take on it was to use quality pen and ink, and then take a good look at the scribbles to see if or what there was anything recognizable in the shapes.  If so, then I’d start filling in space with my black ink to bring out that ‘something’ . . . or ‘someone’, if it had an abstract human element to it.  Other times the shapes and forms depicted only abstract shapes and forms!  So then I filled spaces in while keeping COMPOSITION in mind; to create Pure Art Form.

I did a large number of them around 1985, and it was the year 2000 when I took it up again.  I was working on a book of poems about the subject of “Love” as a “mystery”.  I wanted to illustrate the book and it occurred to me those 1985 drawings could be termed mysterious.  When I checked them out, I discovered that many of my poems actually matched what some of the drawings seemed to be displaying.  So I included them into my manuscript, and started doing the scribble drawings again here and there until now.  I have about 250 of them now!  These can be seen on my website also:  dorissampson-lenscanvas.smugmug.com.  Find this gallery under ART OF DORIS SAMPSON.

ST: Doris, thank you so much for sharing with us! You have shown us how to look at life, lines, and color in a different way with your creative scribbles!  If you have any tips for parents and adults for how to create with children please let us know.

This drawing shape clearly resembled a pumpkin, so I gave it color and an abstracty kind of face!

This drawing shape clearly resembled a pumpkin, so I gave it color and an abstracty kind of face!

DS: As for tips for parents, EVERY CHILD IS AN ARTIST!  Provide the materials for them, and they will draw and/or paint.  Display the Artworks.  Choose the best from every year’s work and place these into an archival album–learn HOW to preserve art and photos archivally, don’t just glue or tape them in.  There are album stores all over the country now.  There is one online source I’ve been able to get oversize albums from in which to store my Scribble Drawings.  It used to be called Century Plastics . . . don’t know if that’s a current name or not.  These albums were acid-free, as I recall, with 12×18 pages of sturdy paper.  A perfect ground for archiving your children’s artworks.  The best of the best artwork/s–mat and frame them!  I have some from my daughters.  Once, when her dad and I went to a conference night, there were pastel painting pictures hanging all around the room–one by each child in that class.  My eyes flew to one in particular that clearly shouted, “This child IS an Artist inside already!”  It was so good compositionally, and with colors, lines, shapes and forms!  Well . . . it was my daughter’s . . . a chip off the old block, going all the way back to both of her grandparents’ generation, too!

This daughter is now an assistant professor in the Art Department of a University in the State of Missouri!  My other daughter is a Certified Public Accountant; and far on her way, too, of becoming a Nutritionist . . . already, via the internet, she is teaching people how to live and eat NATURALLY.  That was something else our family did–we gardened organically, I canned and froze vegetables and fruits; and by golly, both grew up to follow in those footsteps.  The Artist of my two daughters, and her husband, own an organic farm and apple orchard in Missouri!

ST: You are right, Doris, every child is an artist.  Thank you 🙂

Try these two Scribble Inspirations from Doris Sampson:
‘Yellow roses for my birthday’ and ‘Collage painting art project’

Ultimately I elaborated on the original (displayed above) by adding red and blue for a patriotic statement, "I Love America!"  This is a wonderful example of how and why I plan to produce a line of products, such as greeting cards, from my drawings!

Ultimately I elaborated on the original (displayed above) by adding red and blue for a patriotic statement, “I Love America!” This is a wonderful example of how and why I plan to produce a line of products, such as greeting cards, from my drawings!

All photos: Copyright Doris Sampson 2013.  Permission for free educational use for children granted.  All Artist Reproduction-Distribution Rights Reserved. Contact Information:  doris.starofthenorth@gmail.com“.  Feedback to Artist is welcome!”

Scribble Artist Interview with Carly Kasner!

Scribble Town (ST): Carly Kasner shows us how animations bring to life more imagination than we could imagine.  It is easy to see in her artwork and her approach to creativity!

Carly Kasner (CK): Hello Scribblers, I come from Long Island and graduated from FIT, May 2012. I am a graphic designer with some essence of illustrator mixed in. From the time I was little till this very day, I have had a special connection with cartoons, which inspires and or impacts my work today.

Anime self portrait of Carly Kasner

Anime self portrait of Carly Kasner

ST: How are you spending your time these days?

CK: I am currently interning at The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in New York City. It is a non-profit organization that provides mental health and social services. I design various flyers, books, and print/e-mail invitations there. In my spare time, I have been recently involved in t-shirt design contests between the websites threadless.com, and welovefine.com.

In addition to that, I occasionally create my own characters for fun. In recent years, I do consider my work to be more digital but I still highly respect the traditional methods as well as the digital I utilized InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator as my main digital formats I use whatever tool(s) will get the job done in the best way for my idea/client.

Monster's Inc scribble shirt by Carly Kasner

Monster’s Inc scribble shirt by Carly Kasner

ST: Designing t-shirts sounds really fun and it must feel good when you see somebody wearing one of your ideas. When did you start illustrating / scribbling / being creative?  Was there somebody that encouraged you?

CK: The beginning of my creative era was around kindergarten I stumbled into my interest of drawing through the inspiration I got from cartoons and my love for doodling. I used to like to draw dogs. I feel that I was born with a love for drawing.

ST: Your love for dogs is seen in your North Shore Animal League Logo.  I really like how you’ve nested the dog and the cat together.  It’s as if they were hugging each other.  It’s a very clever design!  Where do you find yourself feeling really inspired to create?

North Shore Animal League logo by Carly Kasner

North Shore Animal League logo by Carly Kasner

CK: I think my inspiration can come from different sources and/or artists, but I think my, main root was the endless hours I spent in front of the TV growing up. I was a 90s child and some of my favorite cartoons were Courage the Cowardly Dog, Hey Arnold, the Rugrats, and The Angry Beavers. I was inspired not only by the characters image; I was inspired by the stories that molded the characters personalities. And as I got older, I became inspired by Japanese cartoons and comic books a.k.a. anime and manga.

ST: What other forms of art do you practice?

CK: In high school, I did some ceramics, collages, oil painting, and water colors in recent years, I am still partial to the sketchpad and pencil. I try to use that for my creativity as much as possible and even though I haven’t practiced it much lately I am also fascinated by watercolors.

ST: What is your favorite movie?

CK: My favorite movie is Hayo Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

ST: I also really liked Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle.  The story and images are unforgettable!  Carly, please share any tips, advice, or ways of encouraging scribblers.

CK: I struggle sometimes with accepting mistakes but it is important to accept mistakes and to learn from them. Try not to let them discourage you. I try to look at mistakes as boundaries to define what not to do next time. Keep in mind that you can’t get something right unless you get it wrong.

ST: Thanks Carly! That’s great advice!  Making mistakes is a big part of life and making art.  At least we can say we tried 🙂

Sweet Bots by Carly Kasner

Sweet Bots by Carly Kasner

Expand a picture with your imagination!

Hi!  My name is Arlene Tucker and I am a teacher and artist living in Helsinki, Finland.  Last week I spent the day with The Tigers at Your School Kindergarten (H&S International School).  The Tigers is a group of children aged 5-6 years old.  During circle time, I wanted to share with them how our imagination works and what those images in our head are all about.  Also, I wanted to talk with them about how those pictures, stories, and feelings in our bodies can inspire us to create!

Johannes' image expanded

Johannes’ image expanded

Adrienne Moumin’s suggested art activity in her Scribble Shop Inspiration post gave me the idea to do this with the Tigers.  I think they really enjoyed it!

Johannes really took his time and completed the snowy forest.  I love how he continued the shadows and trees onto his own imagined picture.

For a good half an hour everybody was coloring away and coming up with their own stories from the unique magazine cutout pictures I then glued onto a piece of drawing paper.  In this exercise you can really see where your imagination takes you.  Another fun part was hearing what would happen next!

When Melissa saw this picture of a baby she thought that the baby is wanting something because her arm is reaching out.  Melissa figured that she is hungry so she drew the baby’s mommy holding a baby bottle filled with milk.  How thoughtful and creative Melissa is!

Melissa wants to make the baby happy

Melissa wants to make the baby happy

Anni takes us to space! Over there is Earth, Pluto, Mars, a space rocket and an astronaut venturing into the twilight.  Around every corner (or star) is something new and unexpected and it’s all coming from your imagination!

Anni take us to space!

Anni take us to space!

Try doing this art activity with your kids.  Expanding your image exercise is suitable for all ages too.  You should do one with your child or student too!  You’ll never know what lies behind the borders of the image until you try.

For more information about the project please go to Adrienne’s post Exploring the expansion of your image and imagination.  Thanks Adrienne for the inspiration!

To see all of the Tigers’ pictures you can click here.  Share your pictures with us and we’ll upload them to the set.  Email scribblematspress@yahoo.com for more information.

Scribble Artist Interview with Amy Eisenfeld Genser!

Scribble Town (ST): From a distance what looks like a beautiful volcano of color and texture turns out to be an ingenious technique of rolled paper and paint. Amy Eisenfeld Genser has mastered the art of creating an organic effect by using mixed-media. Amy is also a mom of three sons from West Hartford, CT.  She says, “I’m a tad obsessed with paper and paint, color, patterns, and texture.”  You’ll soon see why!

Let’s start with, what does a day look like for you?

Mineral Long Pink by Amy Genser
Mineral Long Pink by Amy Genser

Amy Eisenfeld Genser (AEG): I am usually in my studio, on the third floor of my home. I work about five hours a day while my kids are in school. It is a juggling act. My typical day is to get the kids off to school, hit the gym for an hour, and then come home to work. Because my studio is in my home, it’s sometimes hard not to get “mess-tracted” as I call it (starting to do laundry, clean dishes, etc…) but having the studio on another floor helps. Going up the stairs is like crossing a threshold. I also listen to books on tape while I work. Time flies when I’m working on a piece and into a great story, but when I see the bus coming down my street at 3:45, my work day is over.

ST: I’ve never heard that term “mess-tracted” before, but I like it because I can completely relate to you! When you do get to your work, how would you define your art?  It seems to be a peaceful combination of craft and fine art.  I have never seen anything like it before.

AEG: I refer to it as mixed-media. I’ve been able to live in both the fine art and craft worlds. It’s nice to be welcome in both places.

ST: I can see how your artworks really settled nicely in the two worlds too. How did you discover this artistic process of paper quilling?  Was there somebody that encouraged you?

AEG: Technically, my process is not quilling – I will outline my process below. I first started experimenting with paper during a papermaking class while studying for my MFA in Graphic Design at RISD (Road Island School of Design). My professor Jan Baker encouraged us to test the limits of what paper can be.

River Run by Amy Genser

River Run by Amy Genser

ST: Where do you find yourself feeling really inspired to create? On your website (About page) you mention, “The sources of my work are textures, patterns, and grids. I look for forms that can be repeated to create a pattern when they are joined.”  Please expand on that and if you have a story we’d love to hear it!

AEG: Most of my inspiration comes from nature because it is perfectly imperfect. I love all kinds of organic processes. They are visually intriguing and engaging. We spend a lot of our summers on the beach in Rhode Island. I love watching the water, the rocks, and the light. Our beach has rocks with these really neat barnacles and seaweed. Their colors are always changing. Sometimes there’s a lot of it, and sometimes just a little. It’s neat to watch the progression. One day when the seaweed was purple, brown, yellow and green, my husband made the awesome observation that nature never clashes. I love that.

Mineral Violet by Amy Eisenfeld Genser

Mineral Violet by Amy Eisenfeld Genser

In reference to my latest “mineral series”, I have always been drawn to gem-like colors. My mother is a jeweler who works with a lot of gemstones. I’ve grown up peering into tourmalines, garnet,diamonds, opals, citrine, etc. We always talk about how juicy and “lickable” the colors are. I have recently been looking at a lot of agate and geodes. The colors are simultaneously vibrant and translucent. Pretty amazing. I thought I’d take a stab at my own interpretation of them.

ST: So how do you turn your paper to look like gems, minerals, and other elements of life? What is the process?

AEG: Using Thai Unryu, I treat the paper almost as a pigment, layering colors one on top of the other to create different colors. My pieces are about a foot wide. Then I roll one layer on top of the other in all different thicknesses. I seal the roll with acid-free, archival glue stick, and then cut the long piece into sections with scissors or pruning shears. I have pruning shears of all different sizes to accommodate different widths.

ST: Wow! What a laboratory of processes! What forms of art do you include in your mixed-media paintings? What are some tools you like to use?

AEG: The actual rolling and cutting process is pretty quick. At this point I could pretty much do it in my sleep. It’s the composition/editing process that usually takes the longest. I paint my surface, either canvas or paper first, with acrylic and a lot of gel medium. Then I place my paper pieces on top and manipulate them until I have a satisfactory composition. It’s like putting a puzzle together, only I don’t know the final picture until I see it. I roll my pieces accordingly as I develop and build the piece. It’s a back-and-forth process. The paper and the piece lay on different tables in my studio. I attach the paper onto the canvas with PVA once I have the pieces where I want them.

Tall Tower by Amy Eisenfeld Genser

Tall Tower by Amy Eisenfeld Genser

ST: Is there a song that moves you at the moment?  Perhaps you can place a song with one of your works.

AEG: I can place a piece with a book on tape – one of my favorite- Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy. I usually listen to books on tape while I work. My head is usually in the story, and my hands are free to do what they need to do.

ST: The titles of your pieces are very revealing and help the viewer guide how they can look your work.  How do you come up with these titles?

AEG: Usually it had to do with the inspiration for the piece. I just look at the work and figure out a title. They always feel a little uncomfortable and arbitrary to me. It’s hard for me to give words to something that is visual.

ST: Amy, what’s a piece of advice you can give our Scribblers?

AEG: Have fun! Do what feels good. Keep your hands busy and the work will follow along. There’s nothing like getting rid of creative energy through using your hands. I was that kid who was always weaving potholders on the plastic loom and making complicated patterns in woven friendship bracelets.

ST: Thanks Amy for sharing so much with us! Amy has shared an activity for us to get started on our own artwork.  Check out Scribble Shop for more details:
http://www.scribbleshop.com/content/roll-it-your-wonder-amy-eisenfeld-genser

Portrait of Amy Eisenfeld Genser

Portrait of Amy Eisenfeld Genser

Scribble Artist Interview with Sharron Parker!

Scribble Town (ST): When Andi, aka Chief Scribbler, met Sharron Parker at the recent Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York City she was amazed at how felt could be manipulated in such amazing ways.  We are lucky to have Sharron share with the Scribble Blog about her craft.  Sharron, where are you and what are you up to these days?

Sharron Parker's display at Architectural Digest Home and Design Show NYC 2013

Sharron Parker's display at Architectural Digest Home and Design Show NYC 2013

Sharron Parker (SP): I live and work in Wake Forest, North Carolina, in an old stone mill on the Neuse River. Since the mill was once a textile mill, I feel I am continuing that tradition with my textile studio there.

ST: Not only are you continuing the tradition, but to be surrounded by such beautiful nature explains how your fiberworks resemble your environment.  When did you start creating with felt and what piqued your interest?

SP: After being a weaver and trying other textile techniques, I discovered handmade felt over 30 years ago, when I saw 2500-year-old pieces of felt that had been found in Siberian tombs. I learned that the technique is the oldest way to make cloth, dating to the Stone Age. Basically, you shrink and lock wool fibers by using moisture, heat, and pressure. Nomadic people did things like dragging the wool in a roll behind their horse, but I just press on the wool in hot water in my sink or bathtub.

ST: I’m so interested in your fiber technique! You explain it really well here, but we are eager to learn more.

Step 5 in Wet Felting by Sharron Parker

Step 5 in Wet Felting by Sharron Parker

SP: This is called “wet felting” and is different from “needle felting” where you use barbed needles to tangle fibers – which I do occasionally. I work with dyed, unspun wool or roving since I like to work with color. It’s something like “painting” with wool: I comb and layer several background layers, and then arrange the dyed wool wherever I want, often in thin watercolor-like layers. Lines can be created by using wool yarns, and more texture can be achieved by using wool curls, etc. After making a piece of felt, I can stitch more onto the surface, sew pieces together, etc.

Raku Flight I for Merrimon by Sharron Parker

Raku Flight I for Merrimon by Sharron Parker

ST: On your website you have a picture of yourself and a tiger.  Is that real?!  It’s a beautiful picture and we’d like to know more about it.

Sharron Parker's Tiger friend

Sharron Parker's Tiger friend

SP: The tiger photo in my artist profile was taken when I was a volunteer at a tiger rescue preserve; I had been bottle-feeding a baby tiger for several weeks. Maybe not surprisingly, tiger-like stripes appeared in my work after that (see Madagascar Moth detail).

Madagascar Moth detail by Sharron Parker

Madagascar Moth detail by Sharron Parker

ST: Wow! With such adventures in life you are sure to find inspiration around every corner.  Is there a particular place or environment you find yourself feeling really inspired to create? The categories on your site are Earth, Light, Living Things, and Color.  Perhaps these are a window to your points of inspiration.

SP: Ideas come from lots that I see in the world around me – rocks, shells, bird wings (see Raku Flight), flowers (see Rose Petal Screen), sunsets, and more. And, of course, the river and rapids right outside my windows. The view of trees outside my window, and the river mists behind them, can be seen in the triptych Intertwined.

Sharron Parker's intertwined felt

Sharron Parker's intertwined felt

SP: For those who want to try wet felting, there are a number of books available. Or my specific techniques can be seen on a DVD called Teach + Learn, Volume 2, available through the Surface Design Association. My website “News” also lists workshops I will be teaching.

ST: Thank you Sharron!  Nature in itself is a point of inspiration and your artwork add to the cycle.  To get started with your own felting supplies please go to Scribble Shop.

Rose Petal Screen by Sharron Parker

Rose Petal Screen by Sharron Parker

Scribble Picks Irra Verbitsky!

Irra Verbitsky is an award winning artist, animator and independent filmmaker living and working in NYC.  She has so many talents and accomplishments that it is hard to name them all!  She was also my storyboard teacher at the School of Visual Arts where she still teaches in the animation department.

"Viking Voyage" by Irra Verbitsky

Currently, Irra is the President and Creative Director at Polestar Animation.  She is involved in many things such as designing storyboards, background designs and animation.  Her independent animated films have been screened internationally and at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as well as at festivals here in the U.S.A. and abroad.

Original Storyboard for "Owen"

Irra has directed and animated children’s films for Scholastic.   On the animation “Owen” (1995) Irra was
background painter and color animator while Sara Jessica Parker narrated the animation.

Irra is a very accomplished storyboard artist.  As a storyboard artist she sketches the stories, so that the scenes in the movies or animations can be visualized.  Here you can get an idea of how she sketches out her storyboards to create her award winning ‘Owen’.

I wasn’t the only one who thought ‘Owen’ was a great animation!  Others thought it was such a talented piece of art that ‘Owen’ won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for Best Children’s Film of the Year and an ASIFA EAST Award!  Those are two biggies 🙂

So far Irra has created over one hundred one minute spots for Sesame Street.

Do you recognize any of these animation stills?  Here’s one from the animation titled ‘The Story of Princess Twelvia’ and another one titled ‘Moving’.  From the picture below, where do you think Princess Twelvia is going?  How many steps are there on the staircase?  Hmm…maybe there’s a connection!

Sesame Street's 'Twelvia' Original Production Cel & Background by Irra Verbitsky

Sesame Street's 'Twelvia' Original Production Cel & Background by Irra Verbitsky

Sesame Street's "Moving" Original Production Cel & Background by Irra Verbitsky

Sesame Street's "Moving" Original Production Cel & Background by Irra Verbitsky

 

The Last Unicorn movie poster

The Last Unicorn movie poster

Irra provided the design work on the title sequence well as the story boards for the feature film, ‘The Last Unicorn’.  The animation is an adaptation from the American author Peter S. Beagle’s class tale ‘The Last Unicorn,’ which was written in 1968.

“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.” – Peter S. Beagle ‘The Last Unicorn’

From that short paragraph of the book’s prose-poetry you can get an idea of how the story is very tender and beautiful.  In the movie the unicorn is told by a butterfly that she is supposedly the last of her kind because all the others have been herded away by the Red Bull.  With that in mind, the unicorn sets out to discover the truth behind the butterfly’s words.  On her quest, the unicorn is eventually accompanied by Schmendrick, a trying magician, and Molly Grue, a woman who has dreamed all her life to see a unicorn. Their journey leads them further and further away from home. They travel so far, all the way to the castle of King Haggard.

Irra Verbitsky shares her talent as an animation teacher at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.  Her excitement for the arts shines through her teaching and encourages her students to be as playful and thoughtful when creating moving pictures!

Flashbacks From My Past: "Departure" by Irra Verbitsky

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