The very best side effect of our website is being connected directly to you, our friends and customers.
Personal correspondence is passed on to me.
We thought it was a good idea to put frequently asked questions in a blog for you!
THE most common question was just asked on Facebook. It is “Where do your ideas come from?” The person who asked it, then answered correctly: from my family, my pets, my home, my food, but I will add to that that glimpses of total strangers on the street and random thoughts also come into play when I pick up my pencil.
1) How did your journey as an artist begin, what inspired you to start creating?
Everyone I looked up to as a child, made things with their hands. I simply followed their example. My great uncle was Edmund Tarbell, an American Impressionist from the Boston school. His exquisite portrait of my great grandmother hung in my grandmother’s dining room. It held a subtle luminous quality that mystified, amazed and intrigued me. My mother was a painter, sculptor, jewelry and furniture maker. My grandmother went to the Boston Museum School, my sister to RISD, both were inspirational to me. Looking at Persian miniatures and Japanese ink paintings close up at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts at a very young age affected me profoundly. My mother bought me some Japanese brushes and ink sticks after that visit.
I remember drawing all the time. My mother kept a small collection of things I made when I was 5 : little people, turtles, sheep and babies out of sea shells, and frogs, snails and insects from pipe cleaners, glue, snippets of fabric and a quill pen and ink. I was eager to clarify and animate what I saw in the materials at hand.
3) What themes do you pursue in your artwork?
Communication and energy; the silent discussion between beings and colors.
4) Describe a real-life situation that inspired a particular piece of your artwork.
I have one for just about every piece.
An example is this painting that I did after my dad died. “We are in this Garden a short time Together”. My parents were strong individuals still very much in love in their seventies. My dad was way too young to be lost to us, but especially to my Mum.
5) What memorable responses have you had to your work?
That same painting was hanging in a gallery. I was later told that a couple saw it, sans title, and had a dramatic reaction to it. They bought it instantly. I found out later that they had recently lost a child.
I have enjoyed an equal and opposite reaction as a fly on the wall at times, hearing people laugh out loud.
6) Art is very subjective. What some people like, others do not. I’m sure you’ve received both positive and negative feedback in your career, but what I want to know is how you handle the negative criticism, especially when it might seem offensive or hurtful to you.
It is a big part of putting your grown up artist pants on to realize that criticism a good, healthy part of the process. Art is so personal that it is hard to expose yourself to what may be harsh criticism. Essentially, one has the choice of keeping everything in a drawer, or putting it out there to see what happens. Criticism may be painful at first but it does not take long to realize that one has everything to learn from honest observations. I have learned the most from the harshest critics.
7) What are you working on at the moment?
I just completed the line for 2016. The samples have just arrived. There is an addition to the Woodland grouping but these are Woodland Brights! And there are some very funny ladies ready to join our Synchronized Swimmer...
I wish I could show you, but we need to keep them a secret for a while! I can share this little drawing I made for a college graduate. I filled in the ribbon banner with messages from her mother, father and her teachers.
8) What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
I love my yard and gardens which occupy me all spring and summer.
I like cooking and eating at home. This time of year, with unbelievably luscious heirloom and Jet star tomatoes, sweet sun golds, abundant herbs and greens, I am in heaven. Boil some local corn for a few minutes, roast and dress anything pulled from the garden and slice some melon for desert. Perfect.
I have an animal fetish. I spent my youth in the company of dogs, horses, cows, pigs and chickens. We have had menageries over the years from pigmy hedgehogs and skunks to ponies, but we are now down to just two small dogs. (I am working on Holly for a kitten.)
It feels good to help unwanted and endangered animals. I have managed to connect a number of small dogs to very happy homes. I yearn to go back to Africa. Through sales and our website, the Jambo! collection, we will donate to education and boots on the ground to help stop poaching of African animals, especially elephant and rhino.
My family works to raise funds and awareness for cancer research, which is very important to us.
9) Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
The best message for any aspiring children’s book authors or illustrators is to subscribe to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and to read, read, read.
For artists and designers, I can only suggest that you keep working and educate yourself to what is out there in the world so you are sure to do something fresh and totally your own.
Make the kind of work you love and believe in. It is all about showing up at your desk and picking up your pencil, paintbrush or piece of clay. Let the magic happen.
Then, if you want to share your work with the world, or if you want to sell it, you need to make it visible. The Internet sure makes this much easier than it was back in the day.
Be ready to listen. Try to find a group of fellow artists you respect for honest criticism. It is great to get feed back that does not come from your closest friends.
10) Do you admire any artists / photographers? (Famous or not!)
Off the top of my head? Twachtman, Twombly, Turner , Da Vinci, Rothko, Lisbeth Zwerger, clothing designers: Elke Walter & Trelis Cooper. The list is ever expanding, I love to browse Etsy and see budding artists making handmade work.
Regarding the questions on children’s books that were favorites, here is what comes to mind today: I loved Hilary Knight’s Eloise books, Garth Williams, Brave John Henry, the original Winnie-the Pooh series with E.H. Shepard illustrations. I loved my book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson.
11) What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about?
Etsy is such a fabulous place to see established and budding artists doing great work. Local jewelry makers: Michelle Darin, Lorie Hawke, and some pretty amazing artists in my family: Marlee Brockmann. Xavier Brockmann. Pipo Brockman. Brewster Brockmann