Thursday, 31 October 2013

e-Interview with Photographer/Graphic Artist, Tracie Kaska

This month Tracie Kaska, photographer and graphic artist from Utah, agreed to take some time out for this e-interview, in spite of various technological and domestic crises that cropped up to make her life even more hectic than usual!

Tracie's Greeting Card Universe store 
Tracie's Zazzle Store

Tracie, first of all I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions when you were contending with retrieving all your images after your computer crashed - a photographer's worst nightmare, I should think. Very pleased to hear that you managed to restore them all!

So let's begin at the beginning: when did you first realise that you were an artist?
My mom and grandma have been a huge influence on me from a very early age. They would oil paint together, and I loved to watch them. My grandma spent time teaching me how how to draw, crochet, embroider, and paint ceramics. My mom showed me how to make art out of ordinary every day objects. I remember drying out glue inside my desk at school so that it would turn into a clay like substance. I would create little figurines out the concoction, then I would paint them with colored markers. I wonder if the time I spent doing these little art projects during class is why I failed math!
If it was, I don't suppose that has held you back too much, has it? I think it's great that your creativity blossomed so freely like that.

What is the most important thing you have learnt on your journey as an artist and from whom did you learnt it?
The best advice I have received has come from my mother, "Do what works when it works, when it stops working, do something else." People are fickle creatures, what they love one day, they find boring and dowdy the next. I try to stay flexible and divide my time creating what interests others and what I personally enjoy. That way my sales stay consistent throughout the year, which is important when you are trying to feed 5 children.

What is your favourite medium?
I would have to say photography. I take pictures of everything including my other art projects. This first thing I sold in my zazzle store was a photograph of a quilt block I had made for my daughter of an appliqued gingham dog.

How long has your business been up and running?
I opened my first store  a little over 2 years ago. 

Where do you sell your work?
My three main stores are at Greeting Card Universe, Zazzle, and Fine Art America. I also promote other artists on my website focusing on girly business cards.

Do you find that the business side of things takes up more time than you would like?
Although creating is my favorite part of of the process, I don't mind the business end most of the time. I try to incorporate art into it as much as I can to keep it interesting.

Are you working alone or do you have help?
I work alone to the most part, but my family is great for coming up with new ideas. They love it when I use some of their artwork for my projects.

I love that my job is the same thing I would do to unwind. I love being able to say, "Could you please take the baby? I really need to get some 'work' done!"

How many hours per week do you work?
This is definitely a full time job. I bounce back and forth between my computer and household responsibilities all throughout each day.

Do you have regular contact with other artists?
I think this part is essential. I don't think I would have made it as far as I have if I hadn't sought input and advice from others in this field.

Do you have a favourite quote, art-related or otherwise?

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." Mark Twain. 

I really like that one, Tracie - I've never come across it before. Where did you find it?
My grandma shared this quote with me and it has stuck with me through the years. Although I apply it to my every day life, I also apply it to my art. I love turning something that seems like an unforgivable mess into something beautiful. One of my favorite textures I apply to my projects started out as a 
photograph of one of my *blush* extremely dirty windows. Why I took a photo of it in the first place I have no idea! I think you had 'vision'!

And finally, what are your plans for the future?
I want to keep learning new skills and continue growing as an artist. 

I'm sure you'll do that, Tracie, and I'm sure all our readers will join me in thanking you and wishing you all the best for the future - and especially no more computer crashes!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Time to Nurture your Creativity

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a young mother who works in my bank. ‘I used to be creative’ she told me, ‘when I was young’. 

And it reminded me of a question I’ve often been asked, ‘Have you always been creative?’ 

To me it seems like rather an odd question, suggesting that we can start our lives as ‘non-creative’ and later become ‘creative’ – I believe that is the wrong way round.

When you think about some of the core aspects of ‘creativity’ – curiosity, imagination, the ability to play, for instance, isn’t it obvious that we’re all creative when we’re young? We were probably born that way.

But sadly, somewhere along the line, probably during our 'socialization' stage, our creativity got stifled or crowded out by the need to become ‘responsible’ and take a ‘sensible’ path through life. And often that’s the easier option too.

Allowing our creativity to flourish doesn't always lead to an easy life!

For instance, it can cause what I call, ‘Ideas Overwhelm Syndrome’ when we become painfully aware that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, or days in a lifetime, to carry out all the ideas that pop up into our consciousness - leaving us feeling overwhelmed! (If you are plagued with this syndrome, just google 'overwhelmed by ideas' and you'll find you are far from alone and you might even find some good coping strategies!)

And while on the one hand, we encourage creativity, and rightly so, we need to be aware of what it involves. 

As I wrote in a recent post, to nurture our creativity we must be prepared to allow time to daydream. But we also need time to experiment, time to make mistakes, to get it wrong, to take the risk that an idea won’t work out, time to allow the seed of an idea to germinate. Time that we may easily feel that we are wasting, especially in this fast-moving 'Internet Age'.

None of us likes to feel that we have wasted our precious time!!! I may be wrong but I have the impression that women are more inclined to feel guilty about wasting time. I certainly believe that we women have more difficulty than men when it comes to allowing ourselves to play.

Some years ago I knew an artist, a doctor’s wife, who came to an art class I attended even though she was already a very competent artist and she mostly just set up her easel in the corner and painted, oblivious of what was going on in the class. She travelled some distance to come to the class and when asked why she did it, she explained that she felt guilty and self-indulgent painting at home, especially if her cleaning lady was working around her. But in the class, everyone was doing it so she felt it must be OK.

The rest of the class ‘gave her permission’, as it were. 

We all need to give ourselves permission – and time! - to play, to make mistakes, to make a mess, to daydream, to let our minds wander away from the ‘sensible’ the ‘responsible’ to immerse ourselves in exploring an idea, leaving behind our  ‘destination consciousness'. 

It’s true that it’s so much easier to do it in a group. But if no group is available, we need to do it anyway. 

Are you giving your creativity time to flourish?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Why 'Posh & Painterly'? Good Question!


I’ve lost count of the number of times I've been asked, ‘Why did you choose the name Posh & Painterly for your business?’. So I think it’s time I explained!

Spare bedroom rug
When I started working on my new portfolio website , I needed a ‘brand’ name. Obviously I wanted it to be a name I could identify with, something that would reflect my ‘Signature Style’.

But that’s where I got stuck! 

I seem to have so many quite unrelated styles that I couldn’t possibly find a name that covered them all. This time last year I was so desperate to find a common thread running through my work that I wrote a blog post about it, hoping that someone would identify something that I was missing.

Fortunately help was at hand in the form of a suggestion from the Surface Pattern Course I took last winter. We were advised to look at our wardrobes and our homes and see if they gave us any clues.

Luckily mine did straight away!

And here is what I noticed . . .

My Norwich house - quilt and cushions from 'Country & Eastern'

My Hereford house, this time the quilt is plain because the wallpaper is 'painterly' - the Country & Eastern cushions remain!

Two of my favourite shirts - both decidely 'painterly' but both made in India!

The name that immediately came to mind was ‘Country & Eastern’. 

(Country & Eastern is the name of one of my favourite shops. When I lived in Norwich it was just a small shop in one of the alleys but already a wonderful source of gifts, to give and to receive.)

Both the way that I dress and the way that I furnish my home reflect my liking for florals, bold and painterly as well as dainty mini-prints – hence the ‘country’. But there’s also more than a hint of ‘Eastern’ in my favourite clothes and in many of the ornaments and furnishing in my home, some of which came from that lovely ‘Country & Eastern’ store.

So that would have been a perfect name – and I like the touch of humour too! – if only it weren’t already taken! But at least it gave me something to work with and ‘Posh & Painterly’ represents my dual styles just as well.

This photo I took in my Abergavenny Dining Room encapsulates 'Posh & Painterly' for me!

POSH – at school we were taught that ‘posh’ stood for ‘Port Out, Starboard Home’ – the preferred cabin position of the gentry sailing 1st Class to India, that gave them shade on each leg of the voyage when passing through the Suez Canal. I’ve discovered that this a myth but it’s such a lovely definition, I decided to keep it.

PAINTERLY – here’s one definition: Characterized by qualities of color, stroke, and texture rather than of line. And here are some more details – Painterly Definition:

Looking at my patterns, I think those two words cover most of my styles, one way or another. 

And somehow we know when a name feels right, I think, and this one did straight away.


Hope you'll agree!

Christmas Cards - Hand-painted Paper Collage Designs . .

Friday, 11 October 2013

Decorations for Abergavenny Food Festival, 2013

Once again the Market Hall in Abergavenny is looking resplendent! 

Some extremely ‘crafty’ and talented people from Arts Alive Wales have decked it out beautifully for the Food Festival that took place a couple of weekends ago. 

But unlike last year, when I only looked up and noticed the wonderful decorations six or so months after they were put up, I’ve already been to the market with my camera!

The leeks are my favourite . . .

. . . with the cauli running them a close second. 

Which do you like best?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Colour Indigo


What does the word ‘indigo’ mean to you?

For me it brings back memories of childhood, specifically of learning the colours of the rainbow. 

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue . . . and then there was this mysterious colour, Indigo, before you finished off with Violet. It always caught me out. I didn’t know what it meant, apart from the fact that it was the colour in between blue and violet.

And worse still, on colour charts, it always looked like some sort of dirty blue-black that completely spoilt the beautiful bright colours of the rainbow!

So much for my childhood associations with the colour indigo - as an adult, it’s a colour I love. And it’s a colour that holds its own as trends come and go – this article was published a while back but there’s still plenty of indigo around in the shops.

A look at my Indigo board on Pinterest will show you that this colour has had worldwide appeal down through the centuries.
on Pinterest

So why is it so popular?

I suspect that the main reason is that the Indigo plant which the dye is made from, grows all over the world.

Add to that the strange fact that the colour blue doesn’t show the dirt as easily as most colours and you can begin to see why it became the colour of overalls in the workforces all over the world, from the USA to China!
Such was its popularity that there came a time in the late 1940s that the plant became an endangered species. So when Blue Jeans became popular form the 1950s onwards, a synthetic form of indigo had to be used.

Indigo dye is colourfast in wool but not in cotton. But the faded colour is one of its attractions when it comes to denim, where the warp threads are blue and the weft threads white. So as time goes on, the white shows through and gives us the traditional faded denim look.
This faded look was around long before the arrival of the ‘Shabby Chic’ fashion. It arose from a time when the Royal Navy wore denim and a faded uniform denoted many years of service and the prestige that went with it.

Another reason could be that Indigo blue is easy to live with and easy to wear for most people. Like blue in general it has a relaxing effect and indigo in particular has spiritual connotations – though I don’t suppose that contributes much to its popularity. 

I always seem to have several indigo blue items in my wardrobe and some of them have been with me a while! It’s a colour I’ve used in various homes I’ve lived in – in ‘Midnight Blue’ and ‘Laura Ashley Navy’ form, for painted items like Bentwood chairs and even the outside of a Victorian ball-and-claw-footed bathtub.

How about you? 

Are you ever without the colour indigo somewhere in your life?