Day 22/29 Days of Giving is…

I know, I know…

this is the LONGEST 29 days ever…

life just has a way of doing that sometimes …

you will learn why, after i  can finish the 29 days and fill you in….

 i am indeed okay,  just trying to balance quite a few things and take care of personal matters…

but enough about me…

Have you met the wonderful & talented  Jodi Ohl?

If not, allow me the distinct pleasure of introducing you… and if you have, I hope you will grab a cup of tea and join us for this chat and did I mention 3 – count ’em 3 -amazing giveaways? Jodi went above and beyond donating for this – yet another reason to love her! She pushed her way into my list of favorite artists this year as her enthusiasm is contagious, her talent is huge, and passion shines through! She’s an infusion of fresh air, and I am thrilled she so graciously agreed to take part in the giveaways!

(as always, the questions are by moi, and the answers are Jodi’s)

This is the part where you give the obligatory artsy background information. I know, I know .. it’s the worst question to be asked ever – but humor us please! You can always skip that stuff and tell us what motivates you to create!

Heck no, that’s not the worst question ever, I can think of a lot of things I wouldn’t want you to ask me! 

 Okay, so a little about me: I’m a yankee transplant, landing in  central North Carolina about 10 years ago. I was born and raised in Western NY; Dunkirk, NY to be exact. I usually say, oh I’m from Buffalo because no one ever knows where Dunkirk is, but in reality, it’s a great little town right on Lake Erie and I loved growing up there. I gather a lot of inspiration from my hometown so I’d hate not to mention it!  I graduated from college with a BA in English  way back when.  I somehow fell into management as profession rather than my original dream of writing the next great American Novel (or at least  a few good trashy romances).    Currently, I run a bank in Pinehurst, NC.  Isn’t that an odd profession for someone artistic? I find it humorous and love telling my customers what I do on the side. It always surprises them in a good way. 

What else? I’m single parent with two adorable boys, ages 8 and 14.  Part of my motivation to create comes from all of these facets of my background in one way, shape or form.  Within these four walls and throughout all the roads I’ve traveled, I’ve gathered enough ideas and sources of inspiration for a lifetime. I bet many others have as well…you just have to appreciate the little moments in life and see the world  from a variety of perspectives.

Planting Roots - by Jodi Ohl - One of todays prizes!

Planting Roots - by Jodi Ohl - One of today's prizes!

  

I love that you have a distinctive style, common themes & colors throughout your work. How did you find your artistic voice? 
 
I’m still finding my voice, really. As a self-taught artist who entered into the mixed media art scene about 2 years ago, it’s definitely been a journey. I think that the last year  has been a really good time in my life and my themes have narrowed which has allowed me to create a body of work that is starting to be recognizable.  Moving to North Carolina has been a wonderful thing for me to do, but it also has been very hard for me as well. My themes of ‘finding my way home’, community, belonging, and rising above the bumps in the road, to name a few of my themes,  come from that feeling of isolation and needing to have some grounding or roots, if you will.  Living 660 miles away from my nearest family member, I find myself longing to feel that sense of security and sense of community I had in my hometown and so you see that coming out in my whimsical village and home pieces but in a positive way.   I had a really hard time a couple of years ago and without having my family or close friends to turn to, I started painting as a form of healing and meditation.  Sometimes it’s the emotional traumas in life  that launch creativity. It certainly did in me. 

I really love to add layers and textures in my mixed media paintings. I think it’s my way of saying, there’s more to me than meets the eye. There’s a lot going on here, if you just dig deep, you may just find out what that is.  I’m saying that to myself as much as I’m saying that to my followers.    As far as colors go, I love bold colors right now, but not all at once. I prefer to use 2 or 3 main colors with a splash of something surprising. I’m not sure why, it’s just appealing to work almost monochromatic to me. Perhaps it’s a way of taking something seemingly simplistic, and turning it into  a piece that has wonderful depth without going overboard.

I know you are involved in the local mixed-media scene here in NC (something my shy self really wants to make time for one of these days!)… what’s it meant to you having that artistic connection? How have you seen yourself and your work grow as a result?
 
Being involved with the Carolina Mixed Media Guild and belonging to another local group, ProArtisan Guild, has made all the difference in the world to me as a beginning artist. Anyone that is looking to take their hobby to the next level or feels the need to connect with other like-minded individuals, joining groups such as these can provide you with a support system or tribe if you will. I HIGHLY recommend searching out something in your backyard like the groups I belong to and if they don’t exist, start one!  I love the online community, too. The online art/blog community has definitely connected me with so many people as well that  I would not have otherwise met, but you have to have that face to face connection as an artist. The support I’ve  received from the friends I’ve made through the guild is unbelievable. We have artisans of all different mediums, and at a variety of different levels of experience. It’s nice to be around people who not only understand what you do, they appreciate what it took to get there!   I truly believe that one of the reasons I’ve really grown over this last year as much as I have is because of my association with other local mixed media artists!

Planting Roots - by Jodi Ohl - One of todays prizes!

Planting Roots - by Jodi Ohl - One of todays prizes!

  You’re stranded on that proverbial island, and can only bring 5 art supplies – what makes the cut?
 
Yikes. Only five?  Do my paints count as one or can I only choose one color? If it’s just one color, then I choose blue paint, any shade will do.  Gel medium is a must because not only can I collage with it, I can mix it with natural pigments and create more paint. HA!  I can have more than one paint color.  Paint brushes, of course;  oodles of  water color paper, and….oh dear, only one more choice….I’m torn but I think I’ll pick my water soluble graphite pencil. It’s one of my new favorite toys. I have them in every value and even a set of tinted ones. 

I love how fearlessly ambitious you are – can you share with us some of your goals this year? And since we’re on the subject – a lot of my readers are afraid to submit work for publication (despite wanting it so badly) -what advice would you offer them to get the courage?
I can attribute my ambition to my role model, my Mother. She raised three girls virtually on her own, worked 2-3 jobs at the same time, but always had time for us.  We may not have had a lot, but my sisters and I were taught at a very young age to be independent, work hard for what you want because life offers you no promises, and to do your best every day.  My goals for the year are numerous, more than we have time for here!  The big ones are to increase my body of work to a new level with collections around a few different themes & colors, to do a art show this year, look for new gallery opportunities,  and to continue to work on publishing opportunities.  My long term goals are to write a book and to start instructing other aspiring mixed media artists, so I am working on all of these things simultaneously.  
For those interested in submitting your work for publication, my advice is to first do what YOU love and believe in, then take great pictures of it and just go for it.  You never know until you try!  The flipside of that is, don’t take rejection personally because it may not be a reflection on you–it could be timing, so just keep trying. Every NO leads to a YES!  Read the submission guidelines, answer the reader challenges or call for art and submit away!  One thing I’ve learned over these last couple of years is that dreams are great, everyone needs them, but it takes action on your part to make your dreams a reality, so if it’s publishing of your art/writing that you want to accomplish, you just have to do it. No one else can do it for you, so be brave and put yourself out there!
 Random Question Goodness – Pepsi or Coke?
 
Actually, I prefer grape flavored water. Aquafina Flavorsplash to be exact! I’m trying to keep my girlish figure, ya know (HA!) Keeping my hands out of the cookie jar would work better than giving up soda!
Do you have a creative routine when painting? – we’d love to hear about it!
 
Because my time is limited with working a day job, being a single parent, yada yada, I paint with a plan!  I draw out a loose sketch of several different subjects, then  I work on several pieces at once, usually about 5-8.  So it does take me awhile to finish my collections, but when I am done, I have a lot to show for my studio time.  I do try to clean my area before starting a new grouping,but the reality is, I need help in the organizational end of my creative routine.  Friday nights and Saturdays are normally my art days. I have relatively little social life so that schedule works for me…haha! 
 

Artwork by Jodi Ohl

Artwork by Jodi Ohl

Tell us about the jaw-dropping, un-friggin-believable prizes you are offering one of my readers today, and make them work for it – and ask them a question you’d like to know their answers to!
 
The PRIZES I’m offering are: 

 1)  A custom 6 x 12 piece I made especially for this giveaway  (value of $79 dollars) (see the photos throughout this post)

 2)  A  $40 dollar shopping spree to my online store.

 3)  A set of 4 of my  newest collection of Sweet HeART magnets “Green Apple” (recently featured in Cloth Paper Scissors, Jan/Feb issue),  value: $24
 
Question for your readers:  What books or magazines are sitting by your bedside table or on your floor right now?

I have Mixed Media Self Portraits, Cloth Paper Scissors, The Secret12 Secrets of Highly Creative Woman, Art and Fear, and the Sunday paper which I still have not read…LOL

Now, can you see why i totally love her? A Lucky 3 of you (and once again I soooo wish I could enter my own giveaways) will each be receiving one of those prizes!

To Enter this Jodilicious Giveaway Bonanza:

  • On this post; in the comments – answer Jodi’s question – What books or magazines are sitting by your bedside table or on your floor right now?
  • Do this by: Saturday, February 28th, 2009
  • PLEASE keep Spreading  the word! Blog it, Tell your friends — the works! I’m amazed daily at the impact this project is having on people. I want it to be contagious, plus it fuels me to make it bigger & better! 
  • Enter Day 0 & Day 21 still!
  • Check out the first batch of winners, the second batch of winners,  third batch of winners anddddd the fourth batch of winners!
  • Please visit Jodi’s Breathtaking Etsy store & her blog  – she has a giveaway there too !!
  •  Remember, supporting the folks who have been kind enough to donate towards the giving project helps ensure more amazing giveaways!

    Warmly, Chrysti

    Day 14/29 Days of Giving is…

    … Is there not one person out there whom I can convince to name their first born after me?

    {sigh} I’m a tad disappointed in you all…

    … who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity

    to rename their 30 sumthin year old son with my name…

    {sniff}

    alright!  i’m over it.

    ….despite no single artistic souls out there gifting their child with my name

    it brings me hope to know there may be animals….

    ….jewelery collections and the like bestowed with the lovely name of chrysti

    my mom would appreciate it if i reverted back to how she spells it …

    …. {christy} in case you didn’t know

    these ramblings don’t at all tie in to today’s giveaway…

    … so ya know, feel free to just tune them out

    i’m used to it….

    …. there are men in my life afterall

    and we all know what good listeners they make….

    …. okay, that’s unfair

    some men are incredible listeners…

    …and some are simply incredible to listen to

    AHA! Oooooo! A tie in! {applause}

    Okay ladies (and probably under a handful of male readers out there) … have you met the amazing Jon Troast? If you haven’t, pull yourself out from under that rock you are hiding beneath and get with it! Ok, that was just my not-so-nice way of stating – read on!

    Last August, I had the remarkably good fortune of instructing at the first ever ZNE convenZioNE .. an amazing celebration of creativity that I am ever so grateful I was a part of. Throughout the event – we were blessed to have a talented, and very brave musician in residence – Mr. Jon Troast. Why so brave you ask? Well, consider this for a moment: an event dominated with women… and a lone male singer. You be the judge!

    Photo by Chrysti

    Jon Troast at the ZNE Convenzione : Photo by Chrysti

    At any rate – Jon was among the people that kinda got to me while thouroughly impressing me. Have you ever met one of those folks that are obviously comfortable in their own skin, and have that all-around-aura-of-authentic-positivity? It’s contagious. It’s inspiring. You are left wanting.. well, more. Love that. He was not only performing but jumping in whenever we needed a helping hand, laughing, and he was – what I think was the absolute perfect companion to the event.

    Photo by Chrysti

    Jon Troast at Bella Galleria : Photo by Chrysti

    Music & art simply go hand in hand. I believe creativity flows freely from one to the other in this glorious, endless circle … one constantly feeding the other. Have you ever sat back and just allowed yourself to create to different types of music? Given yourself permission to play – to let the music guide you?  I have these  oh-so-powerful-step-back-and-gasp-in-utter-delight-moments when I see how classical music changes my paint strokes subconsciously, or how the really hard, angsty music I was once so drawn to pours this personally haunting darkness into a piece – and when it’s music with lyrics that speak to my soul – I create pieces that show ‘me’ at my rawest, most vulnerable form. Give it a try, Mix it up. See what happens within your own creations.

    Photo by Chrysti

    Jon Troast at the Convenzione : Photo by Chrysti

    Describing music has never been my strong-suit. If I like it, i like it. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m not one to really classify anything.. which might be why I’m so drawn to Jon’s music. It’s a blend of styles – that somehow, become unique to him. It’s evident his own, true voice and experiences lie within his work. All I know, is since I had the privilege of listening to him up close & personal …. he has made his way to each of my playlists – especially, when I’m creating. A couple of his songs, one in particular, would make the short list if I ever create the soundtrack to my life. Powerful isn’t it?

    I asked Jon to take part in my 29 days of giving project, not even really expecting an answer … so imagine just HOW friggin’  thrilled I was when he signed on – not only for a giveaway, but an interview as well! Lucky, lucky us! After reading his interview, I’m now torn on what it is I enjoy most about him – his music, or his attitude! Bravo Jon…. come see for yourself.

    Jon Troast at Bella Galleria: Photo by Chrysti

    (ya know the drill by now dontcha? questions are mine, the answers are jon’s)

    Now that I have posted your photos, I better just get this out of the way.. my readers are largely female and it’s just inevitable I’ll be asked: Are you single?

    Yes, I am single.

    I have to just jump right in with your $100 house tours. I was fascinated by this when we met, and I think my readers will be too. Can you tell us a bit about them?

     Sure. Basically, for $100, I play a one hour concert in your living room.

    You can invite friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Just as long as they’re willing to listen. I came up with the idea because I want to play for people who are listening. What better way to get them to listen than to play in their living room!? Many times, I stay with the host, but housing is not a required part of the deal. I’ve played close to 150 house concerts in the last year or so, from Maine to California to Canada. It’s been a blast, and a great way to do some sight seeing!!

    I bet you have seen some amazing parts of the country as a result of this tour.. any personal favorites so far? Anywhere you have yet to go, that you’d like to?

    I’ve actually recently written a song about not picking favorites because I like each one for different reasons. I did just get back from a West Coast tour, and it was beautiful, so it may be moving up in the rankings, but I haven’t decided on any favorites.

    I haven’t been to Alaska or Hawaii yet. Those are two places in the US I’d still like to go. I think I’ll have to work out a deal that if they pay to get me there, I’ll play for free!

    You can sing, you play an amazing guitar – but what I am drawn to most are your lyrics. I feel some sort of connection to them, and often recognize glimpses of myself, and emotions within them. Songwriting is no easy task, can you tell us a bit about your creative process, and how you overcome ‘blocks’ of your own?

    I don’t think I’m going to unlock any magic secrets here, but for me, the creative process in songwriting works best when I have times of meaningful interaction mixed with time and space to write. The inspiration comes from…well, life, I guess. But in order to process it, and write creatively I need a little isolation and time to think. I usually talk about empathy with songwriting, because I think it’s a huge part of writing songs that people can relate to. If you’re aware of what they’re going through, you can write in ways that emphasize that shared experience/emotion.

    As far as “blocks”, as long as I give myself time and space to write, I haven’t had trouble with that. Sure, sometimes I’m not very productive, but there’s really no quota for how many songs I need to write.

    Wedding Ring is among my favorite songs that you have put out, perhaps because I am adopted. Where did the inspiration for this song come from and is it a true story?

    “Well love makes money seem so poor
    Wasn’t any way they could afford
    To give that girl a single thing
    So my mother sold her wedding ring

    You sparkle more than any diamond
    I wouldn’t trade you for the world
    What are your dreams now go and find them
    My daughter..my daughter..my wedding ring”

    – Jon Troast, Wedding Ring lyrics

    True story. I have 4 adopted siblings. The song is about one of my sisters who was adopted from Bangladesh. In order to pay for the adoption, my mom sold her diamond ring. Awesome!

    This is where I’d ask you to serenade me if this was an in person interview. Let’s just have a moment of silence while I remember how amazing you were live; actually i’ll insert another you tube video.

    Lyrics to that tune can be seen here.

    Random questions just thrill me; so here’s one for you: How many licks to the center of a tootsie pop?

    Well, I held a contest on my email list asking “What number am I thinking of between 1 and 100?”, and the most common answer I got was 33. It was not correct for that contest, so maybe it’ll work here. I’m saying 33.

    It’s so cliché to ask this, but I’m doing it anyway … What are some of the bands/tunes on your own playlist currently?

    I try to listen to as much variety as possible. Here are a few of the more recent selections: Coldplay, Ingrid Michaelson, the soundtrack from “The Mission”, and an old gospel music cd a friend gave me.

    Music and helping artists move furniture around on retreats aside, what are some of your favorite things/activities to indulge in?

    That about sums it up! Hmmm…a few more- exercising(recently, swimming), reading, socializing, cooking…maybe)

    There has GOT to be at least one good embarrassing moment on your house tours, or funny story you can share with us! Let’s have it.

    Well, I’ve forgotten the words to a song a couple of times. My phone rang in the middle of a concert. I sang a song I wrote called “Living Room Tour”, which has a line that says “I fell in love with your daughter”. I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that the folks I was playing for had a daughter. She was 12. Her dad threatened me. She was probably more embarrassed than me though.

    One other thing that really struck me when we met, is this radiant glow you seem to have. It’s one I typically recognize in people who have lived long lives, an internal peace.. that acceptance and happiness so few seem to find. What’s your secret to a happy life?

    For me, it’s knowing I’m in the hands of a loving God. Getting to know Him more every day. Knowing there’s nothing I can do that will make Him love me any less. It takes a lot of the pressure off!

    It’s tradition here, for the guest to ask my readers a question to be answered to be eligible for a prize. What would you like my readers to answer today? It can be as serious or as whacky as you’d like.

    I’m assuming the question doesn’t have to be about me. If it does, how about something like “What color shoes does Jon wear?”

    If it can be anything, how about “Which raisins taste better, Sunmaid or Dole?” The answer would be “Dole”.

    jontroast_aperson_150 jontroast_withtofrom_150 jontroast_second_150

    Isn’t he ab-so-friggin-lutly delightful folks? It’s one of those traits that makes his already good music – even better. Amazing how that works.

    …. Darn it! Why didn’t I ask him if I could design his next CD cover… maybe next time…{sigh}.

    So yeah, back to the giveaway! Jon didn’t just donate one CD today – he donated 3! Count ’em .. 1.. 2.. 3! Initially I was going to give them as a set – however I am feeling particularly generous today myself and will draw names so that 3 of you shall be gifted with an incredible CD of his!

    Even you have his CD’s enter – You can gift it to someone else, through here or in person. Just let me know whom you want it to go to!

    ALL of you have the opportunity to download one of his CD’s – free of charge. Click here, and if you choose to sign up for his mailing list – you may download his CD Second Story – at no charge! I love when everyone can be gifted.

    To tune into today’s giveaway and have your chance at one of the 3 Cd’s ..

    • On this post in the comments answer one of Jon’s questions: “What color shoes does Jon wear?” and/or “Which raisins taste better, Sunmaid or Dole?”  – Extra Credit if you plead with Jon for me to have a shot at designing one of his CD covers someday.
    • Orrrr… You could also let us know how music affects/influences  your creativity and work.
    • Do this by: Sunday, December 21th, 2008
    • PLEASE keep Spreading  the word! Blog it, Tell your friends — the works! I’m amazed daily at the impact this project is having on people. I want it to be contagious, plus it fuels me to make it bigger & better! 
    •  Enter Day 0 Day 10 & Day 11 & Day 12 & Day 13
    • Check out the first batch of winners!
    • Check out  second batch of winners! Is it you?
    • Visit Jon’s site where his blog, store and other goodies are!

    Day 12/29 Days of Giving is…

    I can’t wait for you to see today’s giveaway!…

     … not one, but 2 BIG prizes .. you’ll love them

     first I wanted to address something though…

    .. bear with me for a moment please?

    "Collecting My Thoughts" Journal Page by Pam Carriker

    "Collecting My Thoughts" Journal Page by Pam Carriker

    i’ve been asked recently, why I feature other artists here…

    … asked, don’t I mind that money I could potentially have

    is landing potentially in someone else’s pockets….

    Ummmm. Nope. Not one little bit.

    … firstly, giving isn’t about what you receive in return

    naturally, i’m thrilled with whatever the universe sends my way …

    … however my humanity often comes before my business sense

    that doesn’t mean I’m a poor business woman …

    …. it simply renders me a moral one, or more accurately

    one who is able to lay my head down, feeling good about the choices I make …

    The thing is this: In part, I chose teaching, writing, painting, photography etc. — this spectrum of creative goodness as my career path –because of the community we have formed. It tickles me every friggin’ time I see how intertwined we are. I revel in that delight. It’s actually pretty darn EXCITING to watch others succeed as well. It fuels me, I draw inspiration from it.. it’s my escape. Besides, nothing pure, or satisfactory was ever gained by greed.

    “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”
    — Jane Addams 

    "One Wing" by Pam Carriker

    "One Wing" by Pam Carriker

    I believe the more we hold one another up, the bigger our communities grow – the more successful each of us become. Success — is measured independently. It’s not a universal thing.  For some it’s a steady career, others it’s being published, for someone else it’s a gallery show, and for someone else it’s merely finishing a page in a journal. Success. It’s as unique as we are. It can be had by all of us. Especially, when we nurture one another.  Creativity is far too powerful, too far reaching to be held closely & guarded. It’s a treasure and a gift … one that unites us. One, we all share.

    ZNEis a community that is dear to me. It was a place I had found online — that i fit in. Before Mixed Media became mainstream — that was difficult to do. ZNE celebrates all things creative which is a natural compliment to who I am. Through ZNE I have met some of the most gifted artists, the kindest souls, and friends I will treasure always… and friends I am just beginning to know even better.

    “In our hectic, fast-paced, consumer-driven society, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, isolated and alone. Many are re-discovering the healing and empowering role that community can bring to our lives. The sense of belonging we feel when we make the time to take an active role in our communities can give us a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.”
    — Robert Alan 

    "The Promise of Love" by Pam Carriker

    "The Promise of Love" by Pam Carriker

    Pam Carriker is one of those women I have been blessed to meet through ZNE, and just beginning to know as a person, not just an artist. I have watched her grow, develop her style, become published, and follow her dreams. I’m watching her succeed and my heart just leaps for her! I was fortunate enough to win 2 of her prints through a blog giveaway of her own – and I was actually impressed at the quality of them. Yes, Me! I’m not typically a fan of prints, having been burned one too many times on poor quality ones people print themselves from substandard printers. If I pay for a print, I want it to last. I want it to look good. I want to be proud to display it!  I was beyond thrilled with Pam’s! So I Invited her to take part in the 29 Days of Giving. ( which as a sneak peek, will become a weekly thing here… )

    "Grow" by Pam Carriker

    "Grow" by Pam Carriker

    Grab an indulgent beverage of your choice, pull up a seat and take a few moments to get to know Pam, right along with me! We’ll reveal the amazing prizes she donated soon, don’t worry! Patience! Good things come to those who wait…

    (as always, I’m asking the questions, Pam’s words are the responses.. duh.)

    One of the things I am so drawn to in your work, is the authenticity – all of your pieces have this vision into a soul. It’s evident they come from that magical place within you. What drives you to create? Have you always been creative, or is this something you have pursued only in recent years? Tell us a bit about it!
     
    I have always had the need to create.  My first ‘artistic’ memory is of drawing purple polka dots on the newly painted lavender walls of my bedroom as a child.  My mom was Not happy about that one!  I took every art class offered all during school and afterwards expressed my creative nature through various arts and crafts venues, such as Tole Painting, Stamping, and Scrapbooking.  When I ‘found’ mixed media art about 2 years ago, I was making paper bag albums and selling them on ebay, hence the name, The Bag Lady.  While on ebay I noticed the same three little letters by work that I found amazing, ZNE, and so one day I asked someone what they stood for.  I wish I knew who that was, I would so love to thank them!  It lead me to the most inspiring place, and I have finally found art form that allows me to draw from the 20+ years of previous experience, combining many techniques into one piece of art.

    As to what drives me to create, that I do not know.  I only know that I need to.  These past couple of years I have found such release in creating.  I feel as if I am pouring my heart into my work, drawing from the ever changing emotions of being a woman, a wife, and most importantly a mom.

    Do you have a favorite piece you have created? If so, why?

    I know this probably sounds silly, but each new piece is my favorite, until I create the next one.  I think it is because I feel like I am on a journey and each piece takes me one more step down the path to discovering my true self.

     In addition to your beautiful Mixed Media Paintings, I know you are also an avid Art Journaler. What advice can you give to those who see a blank page in their books and just get stumped?
     
    Keep your journal out when you are creating art.  You can add leftover paint right to your journal, getting rid of that scary blank page right off the bat.  If you use colors and images that you are drawn to, you will create journal pages that speak about you.  I am very excited that my first journals are going to be part of Somerset’s Art Journals, due out January ’09 , so you can check that out for more tips from several different artists:-)

     Who influences you, both as a business woman and your art?
     
    Wow, this would be quite a list.  I think that those who are ahead of me on this journey inspire me to set goals and take that first step towards seeing them realized.  I like to think of all of us on this artistic journey have one hand reaching out in front and one reaching behind helping the next person with what we have learned.   My husband is another huge influence every time I think how could I possibly do that, he just looks at me and says, ‘Why not?’.

    So many of my readers want to be published but stop themselves from submitting to publications. You have gone through this process yourself, can you offer them any tips to overcome their fears? (proof is in the pudding folks, see Pam’s great article in my favorite magazine: Cloth, Paper, Scissors  July/Aug 2008 issue here)
     
    They can’t say ‘yes’ if you don’t give them a chance.  Seriously.  It is scary, and even more scary the first time they say ‘yes, we would like you to write this article’, but the rewards are so worth it!  Last year I set a goal for myself to get something published, what happened was so much more than I could have hoped for and has lead me to make new goals for 2009.  I am a firm believer in writing down your goals and keeping track of your achievements.  It makes them real.  It makes you accountable.  Check out the Art Calls for your favorite magazines and start there.  Don’t be discouraged if they don’t use something, keep trying.  If this is something you really want to do then don’t let fear keep you from it.

    What’s one artistic skill you’d like to cultivate in the coming year?
     
    I have been concentrating on sketching in my journal.  I love collage, but want to develop my drawing skills further. 

    You’re stranded on that proverbial island…. and can only take 5 artsy supplies with you. What are they?
     
    My journal, charcoal, water soluble graphite pencil, aqua brush, and Caran d’ Ache water soluble crayons.  With these I could be happy for quite some time!

    Do you have a creative routine/process? Things you do habitually before you sit down to create? Or do you just dive right in?
     
    Well, I’m a busy mom, so studio time is squeezed between everything else.  I am always working on things in stages.  Put a coat of gesso on, go do the laundry, add a layer of paint, run the vacuum, you get the picture.  My creative process is more like multi-tasking!

    As a devout fan of the random question, I have to ask: salty or sweet?
     
    Now that is the hardest question yet!  I have to say I lean towards sweet, but OMGosh I just made the most fabulous candied pecans today, that are both salty and sweet and they are heaven!

    It’s tradition here that our guest asks my readers a question to be eligible for the prizes.. what would you like to know from the crowd I have here?

    Where is the most unusual place (geographically) that you have created art?  This way we get to see who are the graffiti artists out there-lol! 

     Speaking of prizes – I think we have kept them in suspense long enough! Tell the readers a little bit about the amazing donations you are giving to the lucky recipients today!
     
    (For Recipient 1:)  I would love to share two prints, your choice, of my mixed media portraits.  These are 5×7 prints that I had professionally done, and would be perfect matted and framed to an 8 x 10 size.

    (For Recipient 2:) A free registration to my Visual Journalism 101 workshop.If the recipient has already signed up for the workshop I will issue a full refund of their workshop fee should they win! It is a 5 week course, that will help you get started keeping a journal or give you a jump start if you have tried but not kept up with it. More info below: 

    Visual Journalism 101 Workshop taught by Pam Carriker

    Visual Journalism 101 Workshop taught by Pam Carriker

    This will be an 5 week expedition into the world of visual journalling.. If you have ever wanted to start keeping an art journal, or started one, only to have it fall by the wayside, then this is the class for you! The class will cover journal techniques, putting together a journalling kit, completing at least 7 journal pages, and answer some road block questions like, ‘How do I get over the fear of the Blank Page?’, ‘How can I possibly fit another artistic pursuit into my schedule?’, and ‘Where do I start?’

    TOLD you this was another generous and amazing gift! Seriously – one winner receives two – count em’ – two prints of THEIR choosing, and another a registration to Pam’s wonderful class. Um Hello, Can I enter my OWN giveaway? Please? 

     I know you’re anxious to enter; just do the following: 

    • Answer Pam’s question: “Where is the most unusual place (geographically) that you have created art?” and/or tell me what success means to you – if you totally hate those, then go for this one: Salty or Sweet.
    • Do this by: Sunday, December 21th, 2008
    • PLEASE keep Spreading  the word! Blog it, Tell your friends — the works! I’m amazed daily at the impact this project is having on people. I want it to be contagious, plus it fuels me to make it bigger & better!
    •  Enter Day 0 Day 10 & Day 11
    • Check out the first batch of winners!
    • Check out the newly posted – second batch of winners! Is it you?
    • Vist Pam Online: Her BlogHer Workshop, Her Etsy Store

    I can’t wait to meet Pam in person at the ConvenZioNE next year ( I’ll be teaching!), and she’s doing a make & take I believe!

    Warmly, Chrysti

    Day 10/29 Days of Giving is…

    friends, i feel so badly i missed yesterday …

    …technology just wasn’t on my side

    but rather than dwell there …

    …and get mighty annoyed again

    i just want to dive head first  into today’s….

    …. absofriggnlutly fabulous giveaway

    Oh. I’m not telling quite yet. You have to read to find out! It’s soooooooooooooooo worth it though.

    SO very worth it.

    Page 35-36

    “Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.”
     Bo Bennett

    A few months ago, I placed (what I thought was) a seemingly innocent phone call to my friend Lia; little did I know it would turn out costing me money I didn’t really have to spend! If you don’t know Lia (artjunkgrl) … she has this amazing sense of contagious enthusiasm that just …well, it ignites you! Really. Her passion catches you, wraps you up within it’s folds like a cozy blanket on a brisk day… You’re enveloped in her spirit and before you know it – you’re whisked away onto some whimsical artsy adventure that you never expected! I love that she knows how to immerse her soul in whatever creative venture she has taken on – but in the few years I have known her – I can’t quite recall a time she was quite THIS excited.

     Page 15-16

    “The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.”
    Stephen Nachmanovitch

    Enter Suzi Blu & her incredible Les Petite Dolls Class! Lia had gone to Suzi town, and was taking with me with her. Within hours of that call I had signed up – hesitantly at first if the truth be told – but man, I haven’t looked back once yet. Before I knew it, I was drawing faces, girls, and experimenting with them like a mad woman. I was inspired – in the truest sense of it … that awesome kind of inspired you felt as a small child. Where time didn’t have meaning and you could get lost in this magical world all your own. I was using colors I almost never use. Playing with styles I rarely dabble in — and I loved the freedom I gained as a result. I love the subtle changes I have seen in my work since, and I am enjoying taking what she taught me, and making it my own. 

     Page 25-26 (bottom)

    “Creative work is play. It is free speculation using materials of one’s chosen form.”
    Stephen Nachmanovitch

    The pics you see scattered on my post here, are all part of my practicing. I could barely do a face prior. I have a few journals now filled with girlies, and am slowly working on getting them all scanned in.

    Check out what I do have posted:

     
    Page 43-44 (right)

    “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
    Joseph Chilton Pearce

     Suzi & I have exchanged a few emails since I signed up, and I am genuinly enjoying getting to know her. We are kindred spirits where creativity comes into play, and both believe there is no wrong, no excuse for holding back, and to enjoy – really enjoy the process. She is remarkably comfortable in front of the camera, and her videos will assuredly coach anyone through any of those annoying lil self-doubts we get. She’s an authentic personality, larger than life, and quite possibly creativity’s biggest cheerleader – and she’ll make ya laugh. I’m a sucker for folks who can make me smile, and know how to laugh at themselves.

    Page 23-24 (right)

    “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
    Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Anyway, you will be able to draw  face when you are done. Really. I didn’t think I’d get any decent ones, I just wanted to play. Play without deadlines, without worrying if it’s up to par for a sale … just to play. Lo & Behold, I am doing faces. Addicted to them too. And I’m a tough cookie to please when it comes to being taught, and getting my hard-earned money’s worth. I shouldn’t overlook the rest of the class – it’s great for mixed media virgins, or experienced artists – lots of layer love (my fav as you well know)… beeswax tips, and a whole heck-of-alot more. If you take this fantabulous online course – you will get 10x your money worth. I want to go on, and on and on… but I think you’ll enjoy hearing from Suzi herself more than me….

    Don’t worry there are still prizes to be had, but you still need to read on!

     Page 31-32 (right)

    True to her generous nature & without hesitation Suzi agreed to contribute to the giveaway and to an interview… so without further delay …

    I proudly present you with Ms. Suzi Blu herself!

    (and yeah… the black, bold questions are mine… the colored responses are Suzi’s anwers… do I really need to explain this?)

    You are (to my knowledge) one of the first mixed-media artists to develop a (well-deserved-cult-like!)following with video blogging. You are wacky, wonderful — and oh-so-open with yourself as well as your knowledge! What inspired you to start video blogging, and what advice can you give to those who are afraid to open themselves up in that way?

     I’ve always been a down to earth person and sort of fragile in the world.  I still am when I go places, Im pretty shy. Not when you get to know me of course but alone, in the supermarket, Im scared of everyone. ha. Of life.  But on video I can be anything I want to be. I can be my true self.  As if Im talking to my best friend in the world and she approves and loves me completely. I started making videos out of boredom and necessity.  I was finishing my BA through online classes and spent the majority of my time alone in my aparment with my cat. I lived on student loans and when my money ran thin I put up paintings on ebay.  You Tube was new to me then and I saw how a few other artists would film the making of their painting in their auction and I thought that was a fantastic idea.  I’ve always had a video camera and so I just did it.  In the beginning no one knew me or watched and not all of my paintings sold. But I still made one video a week no matter what, doing whatever I wanted. I WAS FREE! it was awesome. puppet shows in my kitchen, I could be as corny, as happy as I wanted. I could spew my own brand of spiritual art happiness and there was no one there, no parents or friends, to roll their eyes at me (which is what happened in my ‘real life.’  The fact that anyone would really watch was completely not in my thoughts.

    If you could pick one person, living or deceased to spend a day creating with — which lucky soul would be your top choice? Why?
    Oscar Wilde. For sure.  I love his philosophy and the fact that he loved words.  He understood decadance and how art is the best part of life.  I would like to sit with him in a cafe while he thought up a fairytale and I’d illustrate it with creepy puppets and shabby paint peeling sets.

    Most ridiculous object within your view right now?

    My new flip flops on my feet. they are covered in fake fur but they are summer sandals. giant and black. Makes my feet look like sasquatch. (chrysti’s note: she obviously doesn’t know about my huge aversion & distaste for…ick..feet.)

    You seem to have an affinity for bright feather boas, accessories, Neon wigs — i think i already know the value in those things – but would like to know how you see them – What’s the deal there?

        I love color. and in real life I dont get to ‘live’ that very much.  The self I want to be is much bigger than the little self I’ve been up untill now.  I also am not happy with my hair.  Its in the process of growing out too short layers in the front and instead of stressing over it on camera, hey heres a wig.  And Im instantly in another character. Im able to climb out of my role of all of my lables -italian girl from new jersey, etc etc…  I just want to be something bigger, you know? Not that I want attention – I want everyone to be bigger. I want more than just hey when ya gonna get married hey why dont you want a kid. I want a big giant life. I want to play. I want costumes and theater in my everyday. 

    Does anyone ever have a valid excuse for saying they can’t create?

    Nope.
    Watch
    My Left Foot.  True story, guy only had control over his one foot and the toes.  and he painted amazing portraits.  Although people are born with different levels of mechanical dexterity and imaginations, drawing can be taught, color theory can be taught, design, composition, all taught.  And if you are very clear and very honest, everyone has something to say.  Expression is part of being human.

    Through the giveaways, we’ve had some incredible discussions — some funny, some soul searching, and many focus on the role creativity plays in our life. What role does creating, and the creative process itself play in your life?

    Perhaps Im insane which can very well be true, but I cannot live withought the creative process being a big part of my day, every day.  Ive had ooh, quite a few jobs.  None lasted more than 2 weeks. If its not art and painting I am not interested and I’ll do whatever I can to avoid having to do what I don’t want to do. I’ve made it this far in my life and so far its worked out.  Granted, I’ve lived with cardboard boxes as tables and hand me down clothes for a very. very. long time – but during all that time I spent painting so what was around me wasnt important.  Even now, I’ve lived with my parents since March, before that I was on my own since I was 19. I can afford to move out and go to an apartment somewhere, but I dont want to waste any time buying food, paying bills, any of it. I just want to write my Petit Dolls book.  I like giving my dad my bank account and saying please, you take care of it. Make sure my student loans get paid. heres money for food. Just let me sit in my room and paint and write and deal with my students.  And so thats how I live my life.  And will always live my life.  I give up a lot for this, I really REALLY want a place of my own, but if you are clear about what you want what you really want, then it wont feel like a sacrifice.  I want to publish the best book ever.  I want to design the best classes ever.  The rest doesn’t matter. Thats how important creativity is in my life.

    What is one skill you hope to cultivate in the next year?

    Les Petit Art Dolls in clay. I want to take my paintings and bring them into the 3 Dimensional world.

    I have to ask – are you totally insane?(I only feel comfortable asking this, because I am! Ha!) Really, The Les Petite Dolls Workshop is A M A Z I N G. I didn’t think i could do faces, like ever… and I’m getting pretty darn good with them. Love that! But you don’t only teach how to do that – you teach collage, painting, some texture methods, one on one advice, beautiful and inspiring handouts, and a helluva lot more — at an incredibly low price. I love that you are so generous, and it’s part of why I so badly wanted to include you in this – you give back daily, and it’s refreshing. But I still want to know if you have lost you proverbial marbles!

    The most important thing is to have a good product. If you are going to sell something, whether its a thing or a service, you want your customer to feel like they have more than they can imagine. It is easy to put up a workshop.  Write a pdf or make a video and there you go.  But it can be cold.  And if there is one thing I stand for its the fact that Im very good at making people feel wanted.  Im a crappy hostess in that I can’t cook and I don’t like cleaning much, but if you were to come to my home you’d feel like a queen, each time. I respect women highly and I want them to feel special. So thats why there is so much.  This is also very new – a workshop can be A N Y T H I N G   we want it to be.  There is no limitations and so much potential.  Why not put the effort into it and make it a worthwhile experience.

    Also, a lot of the women in my classes are beginners when it comes to drawing in fact, in much of the mixed media community it seems there are scrapbookers and there are fine artists. For the trained artists it is easier for them to make the leap from pure collage to drawing a face and figure but for crafters, they are intimidated.  Thats why I put in so many encouraging pdfs about positive affirmations and things.  The crafters need to know that with just a little practice what I do is not that hard.  Although I do put in a lot of time into my paintings, I put in lots and lots of layers, they can too.  I cant stand elitist artists who say Well, you need to have a masters in Fine Art and some hoity toity pretencious artist statement before youre considered a real artist. Its crap and Im sick of it. So its my mission to turn all the crafters who want to make faces to be able to do so.  

    Also, as a business person – I know the value of an affordable workshop.  Up until August of this year I could never afford to take a workshop.  They are about 200.00 and often in far away places where i need to pay for a plane and hotel.  Way out of my reach.  But 55.00 is something most people can afford.  And if enough people join for that price it equals to the same amount I’d make if half the people joined for 100.00.  I want it to be accessable to anyone who is willing to learn.  And its my philosophy that what is good for all is better than just whats good for me.

    Do you have a favorite medium to work with? A least favorite?
     
    My problem is I want to do everything, which is why mixed media is fabulous.  You CAN do everything. you can mix fabric with paper and sewing and painting.  How incredible.  The least favorite thing I like to do would be…painting something entirely with paints. I dont like to do that. I like to do detail with pencils and then glaze paints over it.  If i had to just use paint 100 % I would cry.  I cant get fine lines like i do with pencil and that frustrates me. when Im frustrated art isnt fun.

    Since I’m a random question junkie – Roll the toothpaste from the bottom, or squeeze it in the middle?

    oh god, squeeze from the middle. 
    I put my toothpaste tube next to my moms and she rolls from the bottom and I always think oh, shes so perfect. there must
    be something wrong with me that I dont care about rolling and neatness. although I like things neat and to be around order, I
    wont give up my dreamy thoughts for long enough to take the time to roll, or fold, or iron, etc… I need to be less harsh on myself.

    Can you give us a peek at what else you have going on, and what suzi blu goodness is to come?

    This is a painting Im making for my friend Jared. Its a Petit Boy!

    Suzi Blus Petit Boy Jared

    Is it true you are giving away one membership to your Les Petite Dolls class workshop?(hell folks, I even hadda pay for mine — aren’t you lucky!!!) Are registrations still open for those who may not win? And it’s tradition here, that the guest gets to pick one of the questions the readers have to answer to win – so what would you like to know/read about from my readers?

    Yes I am giving away one Petit Dolls Membership to one of your readers! Their membership will be active from now unil March 2009, plenty of time to download the videos and PDF’s and email me for personal one to one help.  Since all of the videos are up registration is open until the day the workshop closes.  Its easy to download all of the video lessons and keep them on your computer to do at your convenience.

    The question I would like your readers to think about, is what is there art goal for 2009? What is the big dream – even if you cant make it come true this year, even if you are miles away from being able to do it, even if it seems impossible, what is it you want most to come true? Its really not as impossible as you think.  And 2009 could be the year you begin!

    Ok Lucky Creative Ones! To Enter Today’s Amazing giveaway:

    • Answer Suzi’s question: “what is your art goal for 2009? ” and/or answer mine.. “Roll the toothpaste from the bottom, or squeeze it in the middle?” …
    • If you are already enrolled for Suzi’s workshop, I’ll send you a free print of mine, and you can give the class to a friend – so no excuses NOT to enter kids!
    • Do this by: Sunday, December 21th, 2008
    • PLEASEkeep Spreading  the word! Blog it, Tell your friends — the works!
    •  Enter Day 0 & Day 6 & Day 7 & Day 8 & Day 9
    • Check out the first batch of winners!Some haven’t claimed their gifts! — ya better, fast!
    • Visit Suzi’s Blog, Suzi’s Academy, Suzi’s Etsy & Suzi’s Youtube Videos!

    Warmly, Chrysti

    Day 3/29 Days of Giving is…

    … would you like knowing you can double the odds of winning today?

    ooo, i have your interest now don’t i? ….

    …. but we’ll get to that later

    right now i’m simply elated one of my favorite people is our guest today….

    … so pull up a chair and sit a spell

    afterall we’re nothing but  friends here ….

    …. whenever i hear people refer to Bette Midler

    instantly i think ‘the divine miss m’ ….

    … whenever i hear the name of our special guest today

    my lil’ mind takes me along those same lines….

    though, i tend to think of the delightful vs. the divine …

    but divine is ever-s0-fitting as well…

    … i suppose it would sound better if i added her name there

    rather than making you read these rather silly lines…

    … how about a clue?

    let me get my very best announcer voice on….

    .. *cough*

    Ladies, and probably under a handful of gentlemen …

    … why aren’t more male readers here anyway?

    sheesh! me & my tangents…

    FINE i’ll get on with it already

    I proudly present you with :

    tuttleheadshot600

    The Delightful, The Divine, The Talented –  Susan Tuttle!
    ( admit it, you’re now saying it in your mind, and possibly aloud in your best ringmaster voice too)

    As many of you know, I won’t promote something I don’t believe in – not people, not books, not products.  Is it professionally wise? I dunno. Do people always like it? Nope. But it just  feels right and resonates deep down inside of me… at the end of the day – isn’t that what matters?  I simply just try to do whats right by me, by others, by the world. I don’t always accomplish it — but i strive to.  The older I become, the more important living an authentic,  genuine life is to me. A wise woman once told me that having the courage to be genuine – to be true to who you are – who you really are – is one of those mythical, magical keys to a happy and fulfilled life. I like happy. Happy is good. 

    Anyway….I digress.

    I could probably spend this entire post gushing over Susan; and admittedly I’d enjoy making her blush (but just a lil)… I was fortunate to spend time with her at the ZNE convenZioNE last August (where we were both instructing, and i dragged her on just a few *cough* starbucks runs) …  within minutes of meeting her I felt as if I’ve known her for years and years. I’m always that squirmy-kind-of-awkward when I first meet folks, but Susan is just.. well.. so damn darn open and authentic… i was instantly at ease. Not often that happens to me. Nope, not often at all. She’s one of those special folks – that know just how to touch your heart, and your life – merely by being who she is.

    That is exactly why I am so pleased that she agreed to a short interview with us… where we discuss her new book, her vices.. and I shamelessly try to snag a piece of her original art. I think we’d all agree, her voice will be far more enjoyable to you than mine… so without further adieu… let me introduce you to the book, then on with the show as they say…

     Exhibition 36

     Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations + Explorations
    by Susan Tuttle

     Within the pages of Exhibition 36, readers will enter a virtual art exhibit featuring thirty-six mixed-media artists whose collage, digital, assemblage, altered and repurposed art adorn the walls and pedestals of this unique gallery. The artists are “present” throughout the exhibit, answering questions, sharing their thoughts, talking about their work and offering instruction. The tour is structured to provide insight into the creative process of the artists whose work is on display and the reader will be delighted with the plethora of inspiration, articles, techniques and general visual candy. As a final bonus, many artists featured in the book have contributed imagery as a gift to readers for attending the exhibit to reuse in their own creations. Possesses great crossover appeal for mixed-media artists of nearly every discipline, including jewelry makers, collage artists and more.

    Readers will enter a “virtual tour” featuring art from a variety of contributing artists, including well-known crafters such as Claudine Hellmuth (Collage Discovery Workshop) and Suzanne Simanaitis (Kaleidoscope).Includes bonus collage imagery sheets for readers to use in their own art.

    Gosh.. the day this came? I was not only bubbling over with joy for a friend, but so moved by her words that i jumped right between the gorgeous covers and a few days later re-emerged and reviewed it over at Amazon — I’ll let you see my personal thoughts on the book there… so we can move right along and have a delightful conversation with the divine Susan Tuttle now.

    ( um yeah, questions are mine … the answers?.. you guessed it.. Susan’s

    Let’s just knock out the standard question first,(though common)- inquiring minds still want to know – what inspired you to take this approach to a book? What was your initial vision, and did it change as it came together?

    My initial vision was to create a book that featured a large number of artists and their work, a variety of mediums and styles, flat work, 2-D and 3-D pieces, men and women alike — basically something for everyone. I struggled at first in trying to figure out what the premise of the book would be and how it would all come together in a unified way. I believe if we put our questions out there into the Universe, the answers always have a way of finding us, so I asked for help with the book. I woke up one morning, eyes opening slowly, looking out my window at a sunlit field — my answer came to me with such clarity, and in such a peaceful way. The answer had been with me all along actually, and from that moment on I knew the book was meant to be a virtual art exhibit — my dream art show, constructed from within the confines of my little home in the Maine woods.
     
    You see, I grew up in a rural part of New Jersey but made frequent trips to New York City, and later settled down in Boston for many years. In the city, cultural life was right at my fingertips. My book is my attempt to re-create this kind of cultural mecca that is not as accessible to me in this remote, beautiful part of the country. This book would not have been possible without my access to the Internet and the variety of artists that I have made connections with through that venue.

    Once I had this vision in place, it did not veer from the initial course, and I believe it went the way that it was meant to. In fact, sometimes I felt like the book was writing itself. Not to say that I didn’t work my arse off, but that things unfolded naturally. When it came time to divide the contributions into chapters, the chapter headings came to me with an unusual ease and the contributions miraculously divided themselves amongst the chapters in a very balanced way — true serendipity!  And I would be remiss if I did not give high praise and credit to my editor, Tonia Davenport, who gave me an incredible amount of creative freedom to realize my vision.

    I fell in love with the diversity of art, contributors and styles within your book. How did interacting and collaborating with all these talented folks affect you?

     First and foremost I felt incredibly privileged to have been able to collaborate with all of the wonderful artists in the book. I felt extreme joy on many occasions and I felt blessed by the generosity of these artists as they shared their techniques and heartfelt, personal stories with me and all of us.

    From a technical perspective, my organizational skills were put to the test as you can well imagine, with managing a total of 35 contributions in addition to doing my own artwork and writing. I also got to exercise editing skills and learned a lot about editing another person’s writing, while at the same time maintaining their unique voice. 

    It is rumored you have a sugar addiction while creating – is this true? What is your vice?

    Ah yes, this is indeed true! My great-grandmother, whom I called Nana, owned a candy store, so having a sweet tooth definitely runs in the family. My vices tend to have a combination of sweet and tart flavors (Sweet Tarts, Sprees, Sour Patch Kids, Nerds, Pop Rocks and gummy bears). I can get a little bit more sophisticated though — lol — good chocolate is high on my list! I am also an icing lover — on cakes, cupcakes and cookies — the more gloppy, the better.

    With so many mixed-media books out there right now – what sets yours apart? What do you hope people will take from Exhibition 36?

     I don’t know if there is necessarily anything that sets it apart from other mixed-media books, but the one thing I can say is that the book contains a plethora of artists, styles, mediums and techniques — I think that there is something for everyone. It was important to me that this book not just be a technique-based book, but that it would also include a more personal focus on the lives and artistic processes of the contributors. As I stated in the preface, it is my hope that the reader will find something within the pages that rings true for them — if I have done that, then I have done my job.

     You’ve been slaving for years on your book. Your advanced copy FINALLY arrives…. Did you scream? Call a loved one? Refresh Amazon 100x times a day to see how many sales? What was your first reaction?

    Funny you should ask. It was Monday, Columbus Day, and I walked through the door of my house after being out for most of the day at an installation art exhibit. The kids were tired and hungry and falling apart at the seams, supportive hubby was cooking, and let’s just say, he needed a little help witheverything (as would I if the shoe were on the other foot). I saw a brown box on the floor, that looked about the size of my book, which I had been waiting for with fervent eagerness… only, the box was being used as a kind of base for one of the kid’s games — in fact, my son was jumping on it.  I rescued it immediately and looked at the address — from my publisher!  I actually had to put the package aside though, and help with the evening routine, before I could open it… but when I did, it was quite surreal! I sat down that night in front of the woodstove with a glass of red wine in hand and poured over the pages (not the wine… you know what I mean).  Although I was very excited, the book felt like a familiar friend to me — after all, I knew every last word like the back of my hand and had seen initial drafts. But most of all I felt grateful to the blessed people who made it possible and I felt quite peaceful, actually, knowing that I had fulfilled something I was meant to do in this lifetime.

    Many of the talented contributors in the book really opened up to you, revealed their secrets, and shared glimpses of their soul. The ‘sitting-on-a porch-talking-with-an-old-friend’ feeling really shines through within these projects, stories and creative prompts. How does art play a prominent role in your personal life?

    The first word that comes to mind is vital. I must create in order to feel whole and complete, and alive. The act of creating replenishes me, gives me new energy, and fills me up so that I have more to give back to myself, my family, friends and things I deem important. For me, the act of creating is about seeking truths and revealings. Often I don’t know what I am meant to learn until much later. I also find the process to be circular, where life becomes art during the creative process, and because I am left forever changed by the process, the art feeds back into my life.

    In the book, you mention how music goes hand in hand with your creative process; what are some of your favorite songs at the moment?

    Let’s take a peek at the ‘ol playlist — ah, some favorites:

    • Hymn 101 by Joe Pug
    • Radio Ballet by Eluvium
    • The Swell Season by Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
    • Saeglopur by Sigur Ros
    • Window by Guster
    • They by Jem
    • Lament by Balmorhea

    I’m totally stealing a question you asked Claudine Hellmuth in Exhibition 36: tell us something most people do not know about you!

    How about a few, ’cause I don’t know which to pick:
    – I played my flute in Carnegie Hall
    – I make miniatures with a haunted theme, and have a spooky dollhouse to put them in.
    – I get little chills and cry easily when I witness things I think are beautiful.

    Don’t you want to give me the piece shown on page 41 – ‘a bit goth’?  Granted, I could follow the instructions you gave us to make my own, but I must have that one! So, should I expect to see it in my mailbox anytime soon?

     Sure Chrysti, you can have it, no prob, right along with my first born and my wedding ring! – lol! oh, and I’ll also throw in the deed to my house! Now how’s that for an answer!?

    I knew Susan was kind, but wow — how’s that for generous? Readers –you’re my witnesses – you heard her too right? – though my sarcasm scanner is going off the charts…  

    Has anyone NOT figured out today’s fabulous giveaway yet? No, it’s not the painting I’m referring to… But a copy of her oh-so-incredibly-inspiring-you’ll-jump-in-the-studio-the-moment-your-hands-touch-it-book: Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations + Explorations!

    Ok lovely ladies and probably less than a handful of gentlemen – to enter today’s giveaway:

    • Leave a comment on this post, answering Susan’s question for you : How does art play a prominent role in your personal life?” and/or my question “Shouldn’t Susan give me her Original painting I mentioned?” or if you don’t want in the middle of that battle –admit you really did use the ringmaster voice. C’mon.
    • Do this by: Tuesday, December 9th. Winner will be announced then!
    • Double your chances of winning a copy! Susan’s giving away another copy at her blog as well – quick – go enter!

    If you haven’t already be sure to enter the other giveaways here too! Day 1 is here, Day 2 is here, and a chance for a $100.00 Gift Certificate to my new site as well as a chance of your wish being granted go here… be sure to follow the instructions for that giveaway, and post a comment on each particular day to be eligible!

    Whew! Enough of my babbling for a day eh?

    Chrysti — who has a few wishes to go try and grant..

     

    Day 1/29 Days of Giving is…

    drum roll please…..

    ….. sparing you the link to a you tube drumroll

    i should be commended for that…..

    … it’s terribly difficult for me to restrain my cheesiness sometimes

    which reminds me of a story…

    … ok. FINE!

    i’ll get on with it already…

    … i proudly present you with ….

    The Final Mystery

    (That self-portrait is a clue folks!)

    ….. an interview with the fabulous Cate Coulacos Prato, author of Mixed-Media Self Portraits, Features editor extraordinaire of Quilting Arts Magazine & Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine as well as the editor of Cloth, Paper, Scissors, Studios Magazine (we’ll talk about that in another post…) and one of the infamous Quilting Arts Go-Go Dancers (ya gotta see that video)! She’s also a mother, wife, flea market connoisseur…hmmm… this is really beginning to sound like a personals ad. Sorry Cate’s hubby!

    As I mentioned before ( here & here ) I was fortunate enough to be a part of this seriously amazing book (something I really don’t say lightly) and obviously jumped at the chance to be a part of Cate’s Blog tour. Kelly Rae Roberts, ArtGirlz, Studio 490, Random Arts, Janeville, & Cheryl Prater  are some of the folks who have also taken stops along the blogosphere.

    Besides, who else but moi – would tackle those ultra-important, pressing questions – like what’s in your fridge? I had to participate; if merely to stand up for those of us who are far too curious and secretly peek inside people’s cabinets and fridges. (I totally just lost dinner invites now eh?)

    If you haven’t figured out today’s giveaway yet, read on. Even if you’re suspicious – you’ll need to , since we’re making you work a lil’ for this one! Plus – Cate shares some tips on getting published, getting past ‘blocks’ and more – I think the information and insight alone is a ‘giveaway’ to us all!

    In case it needs to be said -the bold questions are all from lil’ ol’ me, and the responses in the reddish-brown are Cate’s. Not that I think anyone didn’t get that, just ya know… making sure.

    Mixed-Media Self-Portraits was an ingenious topic for a book (I’m still mad I didn’t think of it first!), and had never been done before. What inspired you take on this fascinating project?

    First, the 2005 Creative Self-Portrait Challenge in Quilting Arts Magazine. We got hundreds of responses—funny, poignant, beautiful, strange. It was wonderful. Then, blogging became a thing, and the weekly Self-portrait Challenge tookoff among artists and we thought it was the right time for this book.

    One thing that really struck home with me when reading this masterpiece (particularly pages  92-99 *cough* ) is how it really is an exploration of self, creative journey (like Donna Anderson’s piece)and the effects that has on all different facets of our lives. The glimpses into the contributor’s souls are so present within these pages – What did you discover about yourself through the creation of this book?

    About myself? I discovered that writing a book is hard work! And that as self-centered as I am, when it came to do my own self-portrait, I went through all the stages the contributing artists went through: Denial, bashfulness, indecision, hand-wringing, cringing, and finally, acceptance and enjoyment.

     Just because I enjoy a good random question: what would we find in your refrigerator right now?

    Milk, mayo, sliced turkey, about 8 containers that read “cottage cheese” or “cream cheese” but actually have various leftovers in them, a drawer full of vegetables waiting to be made into minestrone, and a single piece of strawberry rhubarb pie (unless my teenager ate it last night).

    Mixed-Media Self Portraits has an amazing array of creative prompts and exercises to jumpstart folks when they are feeling ‘blocked’ or otherwise just need a fresh perspective. What rituals do you have when creating? (and yes, writing IS creating.) How do you get the words to flow when you feel stumped?

    I get up and move around. Do something mindless like taking a walk or even just putter around the house doing random chores I would otherwise not do. Whatever is the opposite of sitting in front of the computer, so long as it’s not reading or watching TV. When I move and think about something else, the words start to move around in my mind, first aimlessly, then they start to glomtogether, swirl around, and take shape. Then I race to the keyboard to get it down before the words evaporate. When I start to get on a roll and in the zone, the writing just flows. But if I get stuck at that point, it usually means a trip to the kitchen for a snack, preferably something that I can keep popping into my mouth, like popcorn or raw baby carrots or–OK, ya got me—chocolate-covered peanuts. Somehow, that slight distraction jars me off the “stuck” track and gets the thoughts flowing again.

    Aside from how amazingly inspired and original pages 92-99 are, what do you most hope readers  will gain from this book?

    Well, I’ve always been into self-help and self-discovery, so aside from the practical aspects of the art techniques and forms, I hope that readers will use the exercises and the process of making self-portraits to learn something about themselves.

    I love the creative fearlessness this inspires – was it at all scary opening yourself up and going through this process? Do you have any irrational fears? (I’m afraid of fans. And of whatever might lurk deep inside the dark mailbox. Someone really needs to invent a mailbox light. Seriously, sumthin’ could bite one’s hand off in there! ) Oh – back to you- Irrational fears? Process Scary?

    Well, here’s the funny thing. In people’s reaction to the book I detect an irrational fear of being self-centered. “Who me? A self-portrait? What would people think?” Like that. But, you know, you don’t have to show anybody. It can be just for you. Plus, isn’t art a form of self-expression? So what’s so different about making a self-portrait? As for me, I have an irrational fear of vacuuming at night. Someone might sneak up behind me. Really. I only vacuum during the daylight hours.

    Speaking of scary. The piece featured on page 95 is rumored to have scared a child. What was your reaction upon seeing it?

    Well, by the time I saw the mask that appears on page 95, I knew what to expect. I had already seen the one on page 93, and I have to say, I was a little taken aback when it emerged from its obsessively packaged cocoon. The red and black? Hmmm. But it grew on me, once I really looked at it and saw all the layers and the writing. I especially like the view of it partially open. I think it’s one of my favorite images in the book.

    Sidenote from Chrysti: Actually, I couldn’t stand the red & black. I had envisioned the frame as an integrated part of the piece, but time & deadlines didn’t permit it. I had planned to alter it, once it was returned — and then I liked it. Weird how that works!

    Why are manhole covers round?

    I have an answer, but I don’t think you can print it.

    One of the most frequent questions my blog readers ask me – is how to get published. What advice can you offer people who want to shamelessly promote their own pages 92-99? (Aside from having it done yesterday – ha.)

    Just put yourself out there. We are always looking for fresh art, new techniques, or new results from old techniques. The worst that happens is that we’ll say “no.” If so, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean your art is bad. It may mean the editor has already planned a similar piece. We work months in advance. If we say keep in touch, or we want to see more, we mean it. Keep trying. This idea or piece of art might not work, but the next one might.

    One thing I will say is, a lot of people get stuck in the trap of thinking, “Well, they just ran a piece on how to make gelatin prints, so I’ll send them MY gelatin prints—they’re just as good.” As a former freelancer, I’ve fallen into that trap myself. The reality is, if we just ran something like it, we probably aren’t going to want to do it again for a while. However, if you’ve got a fresh twist on the technique or your prints look like no one else’s, bring it on.

    Another barrier I should bring up: bad pictures. The most beautiful, insightful, earth-shattering art in the world is not going to get noticed or accepted if you present it in photographs that are out of focus, too dark, too light, or the image is obscured by the glare of a flashbulb. If you can’t take good pictures or don’t have a good camera, find a friend who can and does.

    Otherwise, blog, network, do swaps, send stuff to publishers. And if you have an idea for a book—don’t sit on it. Media moves too fast these days. Chrysti’s Note: Submission Guidelines are here!

    Is it true you are giving away a SIGNED copy of this book to one of my lucky readers? Why wasn’t my copy signed? I think you should make them work for it and have them answer a question to enter – so shoot – what question would you most like to see responses to?

    This is true! (Yours wasn’t signed because it came directly from the publisher; sorry!) I like the “work for it” concept. My question is: What’s stopping you from buying my book? Just kidding! Actually, my question is: What’s stopping you from making a self-portrait?

    So there ya have it my friends. To enter today’s giveaway –

    • Leave a comment on this post, answering Cate’s question: “What’s stopping you from making a self-portrait?”
    • If nothing is stopping you from making a self portrait then answer one of these 2 questions: What is stopping you from purchasing this fabulous book? or Why are manhole covers round?
    • Do this by: Tuesday, December 9th. Winner will be announced then!

    If you already have the book, enter anyway — this copy will be signed. Besides, that extra copy may just make a good giveaway of your own this holiday season! I love when people pass on the kindness – it may just be the one thing, we can’t over-indulge in.

    I also thought Cate’s question “What’s stopping you from making a self-portrait?” is an interesting blogpost all it’s own. So, if you are inclined – go more in depth with it on your blog – and leave the link in the comments as your response. What fun!

    Next week, the behind the scenes peeks I promised you, and my thoughts will be put up here in conjunction with another giveaway .. so stay tuned. And, it’s not too late too spread the word about the 29 days of giveaways, or enter to win the $100.00 Gift Certificate! Just read here, and comment there to enter.

    Chrysti …….. who is feeling extremely blessed, touched, and inspired by each of you today.