Accidental Inspiration?

Kathleen Kaller succinctly states that her “work is derived from life’s drifting REVELATION-Kathleen Kallerinspiration.”  As a study of nature, I couldn’t agree more. It’s the sum of the whole―a collection that makes up the matrix of our souls.

I had a spell of this enigmatic “inspiration” this V-Day. Simply, I made a necklace.  A fun project, but a bit risky for a gift.  I always feel like a child when IPaul Shampine present a new artistic concept…a little boy approaching his mother with a precious object behind his back….hoping…waiting…

Ultimately, I just want create to have others “feel” that same inner spiritual feeling.  It’s when you actually feel your soul.  An unbalanced but comfortable place. That tightness in your chest when you feel happiness, anger, proudly, lonely, excited, guilt, joy and…..inspiration.

I’m always asked the unanswerable…what inspired this?

Paul ShampineHope these guys do it for you…did it for me…
Best, Paul
Paul Shampine


Eleanor Rahim

Surface to Air-Eleanor Rahim


When did you first discover your creative talents? I think it was around the age of six. My mom gave me a painting by numbers set and I did a pretty good job! Teachers at school started asking me to paint the windows at Christmas and do various decorating jobs around the classrooms. Yes, I think I knew quite early on that I had a talent. However, none of my family were artistic so I didn’t grow up with a great awareness of art or have any idea what to do with my talent!

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. Following on from your first question, my education and career went in the direction of graphic design and illustration. I started as a fine artist only four years ago when I moved from London to New York and discovered the Art Students League. I entered a painting in the class concours and won a Red Dot award. The show was open to the public and a man contacted me to ask if he could see more of my work. I really didn’t have many paintings to show him but he fell in love with a piece called Calm at Present, 40 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas. He immediately wrote a check for my asking price. Having been in business for many years with design, I always got a kick out of sealing a deal. However, this was different. When I paint, I paint for myself. My thoughts and emotions all go into the painting. It is very personal. Suddenly, I found someone who understood my work, it resonated with him and he had to have it. It was the most exhilarating feeling and I shall never forget that day, or the collector! I still get excited when I sell a painting and I love to hear how a painting makes the owner feel. I’m fascinated by what people read into my work and the effect it has on their emotions.

Who are your favorite artists?  Well my list keeps growing but I’ll throw out a few, in no particular order of preference: Claude Monet for being the ‘father of abstract expressionism’ as my tutor and also one of my favorite artists, Ronnie Landfield, told me. Gerhardt Richter for his use of color, texture and subtlety. I recently saw his fabulous retrospective in London at Tate Modern. John Singer Sargent, especially his male nudes. Peter Paul Rubens for his anatomical studies, Egon Schiele for his use of line, Pablo Picasso for his sketches, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ilya Repin, Hans Holbein, Johannes Vermeer, Diego Velázquez, Joan Mitchell, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Paul Jenkins, Clyfford Still, Norman Bluhm…..oh it goes on and on.

Artist: Eleanor Rahim
Title: Surface to Air
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 48 ”x 72”
Website: http://eleanorrahim.com

Ali Gallagher
Astral Dust-Ali Gallagher



When did you first discover your creative talents? Like most children I enjoyed painting and drawing when I was young. As a teenager I realized the feeling of sweet positive release while creating and knew I needed to maintain this flow throughout my life.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. The first time I sold work to a stranger I remember the feeling of curiosity as to where the piece would live in a space I had never seen. It was warming to think that they felt a strong enough connection to want to house the piece in their personal sanctuary. I remember they wrote a check and I just kept rereading their name and was so thankful that someone I had never met before was in support of the artwork.

Who are your favorite artists? William Blake, Kathe Kollwitz, Margaret Macdonald, Swoon, Shona Heath, J.M.W. Turner, so many!!! The process of creating is more important than the outcome but these prophets definitely stand out to me.

Artist: Ali Gallagher
Title: Astral Dust
Medium: Oil on wood.
Dimensions: 18”x18”
Website: http://www.aligallaghercreations.com
Blog: http://aligallagher.wordpress.com

Karen Duckles
Hula Hoop-Karen Duckles

When did you first discover your creative talents? I think I first discovered my creative urge when I was a kid.  My mom had art supplies around and she helped me paint a seascape.  I was just fascinated with painting and making things look how they do in real life.  I remember becoming obsessed with painting rocks and making them look three dimensional with light and shadows.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. I sold the first piece I can remember when I was in high school.  It was a landscape, and a friend of mine bought it.  He chose that one because he said he thought it looked like it took a long time to make.  I think I got about ten dollars for that.

Who are your favorite artists?  One of my favorite artists is Mondrian.  I love how his paintings are so precise, and yet so human at the same time.  They are so elemental, and really quite complex.  Another artist I just love is MorandiHis paintings have a wonderful stillness, just being.  The colors are so soft and subtle, just lovely.

Artist: Karen Duckles
Title: Hula Hoop
Medium: Oil on cavas
Dimensions: 37”x63”
Website: http://karenduckles.com

Michelle Oppenheimer
Untitled-Michelle Oppenheimer
When did you first discover your creative talents? I first discovered my creative talents when I was a child but it really blossomed when I was in school studying to become a Doctor of Oriental medicine. That was about thirteen years ago. I painted for a study break. Acupuncture school was arduous for me. I found a serenity when I painted.  I started with water color. I love how water color bleeds and how delicate it is.  I rarely showed anyone what I was painting. I was incredibly shy and vulnerable about my art. I have no formal training and felt insecure about it. My husband encouraged me to continue with it. Explore with different materials and sizes.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. I sold my first painting to a dear friend almost twelve years ago.
It has been one of those paintings that I have never grown tired of.
My friend is an art collector and I was incredibly honored he bought it.
He bought it for 300.00 dollars and it has been one of the most asked about
paintings on my website.

Who are your favorite artists?
I love Rothko.  I love Franz Kline. I love Ed Moses.
All three continue to inspire me on an incredibly deep level.

Artist: Michelle Oppenheimer
Title: Untitled
Medium: Mixed media on paper
Dimensions: 50”x50”
Website: http://michelleoppenheimer.com


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10,000 hours

I recently asked a friends nine year-old daughter (Lily) how lacrosse was going.  “It’s a lot of fun, but I’m having a hard time catching the ball.”  Instantly the self appointed expert gene flared and I caught myself lecturing on the importance of “practice.” Practice or punishment in a K-6 thesaurus play book. Continuing, I stuttered with inspiration that I read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours to become an “expert” (Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell). Her eyes widened and her voice calmly whispered “cool.”  Confused, I thought…did she think I said dollars…not hours…like if you practice, I’ll give you $10,000?  Lily ran off and grabbed her lacrosse stick and darted outside.  I just gave her a 10,000 hour license to have fun.  Need one?

Paul ShampineCheck out these license holders that are great with their stick…
Best, Paul
Paul Shampine


Jennifer Weiss

Dog Run-Jennifer Weiss

When did you first discover your creative talents? I think it was in the 3rd grade. Another student and I would perform these one on one drawing contests and the other students would be the judges (I’m not sure where the teacher was while this was going on). I was told early on that I had some talent, but it took me a very long time to really believe it; as I got older I realized I had to create in some way in order to stay sane. At times I would make paintings or drawings that I’d feel very good about, but it would often be followed by intense doubt and insecurity. It wasn’t until my early thirties, when a professor who I really respected told me I was talented did I actually begin to believe that I might have something worth pursuing. From then on I felt more of a commitment to my work and things really started to grow from that point.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. The first work I ever sold was a group of eight small 8×10″ paintings of coffee cups with a narrative theme. It happened during an open studio weekend in Red Hook where I used to live and work. A couple came in and purchased the entire series altogether for $400 for the eight paintings. I hadn’t expected anyone would really buy a painting from me, and so it came as a total surprise. Fearful they’d change their mind I threw out the first price that came to me. I miss those paintings…

Who are your favorite artists?  Some of my favorite artists include Terry Winters, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Herbert Brandl, and Willem De Kooning.

Artist: Jennifer Weiss
Title: Dog Run
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 72”x72”
Website: http://www.jenweiss.com

Cat Tesla
Endless & Outside of the Box

When did you first discover your creative talents? When I was 3 or 4 years old I made a birthday card for my grandmother using paint and collage, complete with a Hallmark® crown on the back (in goldenrod Crayola®, of course). Since then I’ve been drawing, painting, or making something. I believe it’s who I am part of my genetic code so to say.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  Honestly, I don’t remember my first sale! What I do remember is the last day of an art show about 7 years ago when a lady approached me asking about my “Outside of the Box” series. She really liked the work and said she had a wall that she measured and thought that she needed 50 paintings from this series for the spot she had in mind. I replied by saying you mean 15, right? No, she said. Fifty. Five-oh.” I thought she was pulling my leg. She asked me to come to her home after the show to see the space and bring whatever I had left.

My husband was with me and we were on the fence whether to go. She was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. It was very hot. We told her we’d call when we were all packed up. Once we got everything packed up, we figured “why not? Off we went.  It was beautiful. It was big. It was unbelievable!  The wall space was perfect for 50 “Outside of the Box” paintings. She purchased the 15 I had and commissioned me for the other 35.

Life is full of challenges, surprises, and joy. I’ll never forget this experience and how it taught me to be open and to believe that anything is possible. You just never know how God will bless you. I’m grateful for every day as an artist. For me, painting is the most life-affirming thing to do.

Who are your favorite artists?  William Turner, Jackson Pollock, and Georgia O’Keefe.

Artist: Cat Tesla
Title: Endless, 48″x48″, acrylic on canvas – Outside of the Box, 10″x10″/ea, mixed media on birch
Website: http://artbycat.com

Brooke Harker
Taxi 213-Brooke Harker

When did you first discover your creative talents? I grew up in a very creative home…so if I wasn’t putting on a show, making clothing for my troll collection or hosting dance contests between my sister and I (I always judged and won them too…which she never questioned), I was watching my mom paint…I began attending university art classes with her when I was seven, sitting next to her easel. When she worked on her art homework, I got to participate on a parallel project for me, and she taught me about what she was learning. I don’t remember ever not making things.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  I was probably five years old painting on rocks from the driveway with my best friend Ashley and trying to sell them for 5 cents each. It was a solid business plan, except we set our table of merchandise at the top of her winding driveway in the woods, private property with no food traffic or passing cars…and then we waited. Where were all the people? Didn’t they see our sign at the bottom of the driveway, “Rocks for Sale” with an arrow? Eventually we moved the rocks to the bottom of the hill, but were still shocked that nobody stopped to buy rocks that were hand painted for only 5 cents!  I’m telling this story…because it is possible that a rock sold before we gave up and started making hors d’oeuvres of graham cracker, frosting and marshmallows and delivering them door to door to our neighbors.

The first offer to buy one of my paintings came when I was 10. My elementary school had an art show in the evening, I wasn’t there but my teacher, Mrs. Smart, let me know that a man who collected children’s art wanted to buy my painting. I don’t remember now if I sold him the painting or held onto it…but I didn’t see it in the years that followed… I mainly remember the turmoil of deciding whether to sell it or not…The offer was for $50. I was shocked. The painting itself was from a class study of Matisse. We took turns posing for the class and painting Matisse inspired backgrounds. I was the only student to paint the boy modeling purple. I gave no explanations at the time. Perhaps the idea seemed original or abstract, but in truth I didn’t want to be racist. I had learned on Martin Luther King Jr Day not to pay attention to a persons skin color, and now I was about to paint Eric, the only African American boy in my class…If I chose brown paint…it would have meant I saw his skin color and I surely didn’t want to be racist…so I made him purple…but I still felt odd about the choice. Again another possible first sale…I for sure remember selling a painting of elephants when I was in high school to my elementary school guidance counselor.

Who are your favorite artists?  Rachael McCampbellChris ZambonRoderick SmithChuck Guppert, Paul GarveyMichael FlohrAshley HaganGregg Chadwick,Wendy MorrisMike Brouse, Carolyn ColeDaphne StammerGabrielle PoolRimi Yang,  James VerbickyClaudia Concha PereaBobby Logic, Charles Crossley, Hilary TaubMolly CourcelleMichael SituJean-Michel BasquiatPicasso, Renoir.

Artist: Brooke Harker
Title: Taxi 213
Medium: Japanese ink, oil and acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 36″ x 48″
Website: http://www.brookeharker.com

Kellie Thomas-Walker
The Invited-Kellie Thomas-Walker

When did you first discover your creative talents? I was brought up with a love for art originating from my artist mother. I dabbled here and there between creative writing, poetry, never centering on a creative outlet. Then, after many obstacles and many heartbreaks I started to take up sketching.  My threshold to cross which brought me into my world of colors, lines, and beauty was the progression of becoming a mother to my four daughters.  One day my mother set me in front of a canvas, with unlimited paint, brushes-and let me go. That day I found myself, and the world around me has forever changed.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  My most treasured piece I sold was a commission piece to our dear friends.  They gave me a color pallet to run off of, and gave me complete free artistic reign.  Three panels, reaching close to 10 ft across came to known as “New Jerusalem”. I poured my soul into that piece. It was where I started prayer to God in my work. A constant connection to Him.

Who are your favorite artists?  Without a doubt my all time favorite is my mother, Diane Heesen. She is such an amazing woman, and diverse in her artistic nature. My other favorites are Osnat Tzadoc, and Salvador Dali. Dali is a definite influence in my charcoal/pen drawings.

Artist: Kellie Thomas-Walker
Title: The Invited
Medium: Acrylic on canvas.
Dimensions: 48”x48”
Website: http://kelliewalkerabstractartist.blogspot.com/


Know your audience…Charlie Brown v. Martha Stewart

I was asked to help with the holiday tradition of “getting the Tree” by two very dear friends of mine.  Both reside in restored Connecticut properties.  One is a good ol’ barn and the other is a circa 1700 cider mill.

Walking through the threshold of the cocoon-like barn, Scotty beams you to a Scotty-Star Trekdeep-forest campsite in Montana.  It’s mood changing.  Complete decompression.   The first step in forces your diaphragm to expand and contract and your shoulders drop. You don’t want to leave.  You almost can’t.

The Mill seduces you.  As you descend down the tree-lined driveway, your searching eyes find evidence of a nestled rooftop within a chiseled stone wall.  A moat of playful plant life greets you with a wave of country garden scents of lavender and roses.  America’s board room, the kitchen, where Second base in viewlaughter sometimes meets tears is already at second base.  Soft lighting mysteriously glows to balance the cool marble tops with the wide-planked floors.  You’re naturally drawn around third to enter the living area by a small opening pulling you in to meet low hanging, dark hand-planed beams lit by a soft green hue projected from an arena of windows.

Now, both love gardening and cooking, are green-minded organic and chat up an auctioneer paced wild prattle. Demographically, pigeonholed…..but…..

“Barn” Tree
Barn Tree
Hunting ground: Large brush pile.
Species: Needleless, gnarly, bleached 8’ aged cedar.
Lighting: Trunk wrapped multi-color with neon white shell.
Décor: None.
Location: Outside-fire pit.

“Mill” Tree
Mill Tree
Hunting ground: “Destination” tree farm.
Species: White Pine-postcard.
Lighting: Soft white.
Décor: Popcorn/cranberry string, local hand-crafted ornaments.
Location: Inside, left field.

Every time I ask these same three questions (below­-to more than 50 artists), I’m reminded of one of my personal, constitutional doctrines of life…know your audience.   And as seemingly predictable the answer to the question of “your first art piece sale” would be, there is a continued diversity of answers ranging from “I practically had a f#c&ing  heart attack” to “I never thought about my first sale”.

A marketing strategist might feel comfortable putting an “artist” in a box…a tight niche.    But we’re all as unique as our thumbprint.

Paul ShampineCheck out these thumbprints….
Best, Paul
Paul Shampine

Renee Prisble, Chicago, IL
Renee Prisble

When did you first discover your creative talents? My creative talents were never discovered, they’ve been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories from before I began “real” school was an art class dilemma. I’d made a pinch pot at workshop at our local art center and I was given the opportunity to fire it if I wanted. I remember clutching the four quarters my mom gave me to pay for this extra step as I listened to the instructor explain to me the possible risks of the object exploding in the kiln. The funny thing about this story is that I don’t remember what I decided.  I was fortunate that my mom was also an artist and she very much spoiled me with extra courses and all the supplies I could ever desire.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  Selling work hasn’t been a big part of my practice since much of my work has been installation based. I once sold a piece of jewelry I designed, cast, formed and fabricated for $300. I immediately regretted it. But for the most part I enjoy selling work now because I like that it has a life of its own and that someone likes it enough to exchange money for it. I make so much work now, that the sentimentality of that first sale doesn’t occur anymore.

Who are your favorite artists?  My favorite artists are Janine Antoine, Doris Salcedo, Anthony Gormley, Ernst Haeckel, Lucy Lewis, to name a few from the top of my head.

Artist: Renee Prisble
Title: Thunder Cell Pods
Medium: Bronze
Dimensions: 6” Diameter
Website: http://reneeprisble.com

Blanche Serban, Storrs, CT
Blanche Serban
When did you first discover your creative talents? Being creative is part of being human. We are all creative, at any age. We are creative in what we make with our hands and with our minds. But we are also creative in the way we look at the world, in the way we perceive and assemble and “bend” in our mind the reality around us. We are creative in the way we relate and communicate with one another. Artists are people who value creativity to a high degree. As my daughter keenly noticed: “We always improvise.”  It is a great joy to try new things, to invent new things for oneself, to push this unbelievable body that can think, feel, sense, imagine to get a new experience of this reality. I guess I never discovered my creative talents – they have always been with me, just as they are with all people. I take great pleasure in making art, I can spend all my hours working, and it feels like a party.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  I have never thought about my first sale. Let me see. My father was my first client. It was a Sunday afternoon, in Bucharest, Romania. I was about 10-years old and very opinionated. I was drawing as I often did, and my father stopped to watch me. He said that I should draw something more classical, like the subject of an oil hanging on the wall across from me. I challenged him. “Do you think that painting is so good?”. It showed a blue lake where a woman was washing linens. In the background was a village spread under fall trees. “Can you do it?” he asked me. So, I drew the image in pencil. My father was very pleased, and he bought it from me for the equivalent of $100. I remember seeing the money in a drawer of my table for a long time. Then I sold drawings and paintings to friends of my friends while I was in school. Each painting that I sell acts like a marketing agent, because so many contacts of the new owner see the work. And the more people see the work, the better. The more paintings I sell, the more I paint, and this works great for me. Of course, I do have some paintings that I will not sell, like the cityscape that I painted after my first child was born. I was very busy with the baby and very tired, and I worked at this canvas every day for three months to complete it. I remember how much I enjoyed painting it, even though some days I had only a couple of minutes free to paint.

Who are your favorite artists?  I love Vermeer‘s paintings.  They are like polished gems, perfect worlds. If you look at them this way, you might notice that some do not match – and it is hard not to wonder if there are still some fake Vermeer’s hanging in museums… I love Rembrandt’s portraits, he is a magician. Look closely and the brushwork is simple, ascetic, spontaneous. Step back and it comes alive. I love Matisse for his color and craft. I enjoy Gerhard Richter‘s technique and breath, and Wolf Kahn‘s colors. I enjoy children’s art … I obsess with Marc Mellits‘ music, and contemporary Japanese pottery…There is no way to make a good list of favorite artists… There are many artists whom I admire, and they are unknowingly my teachers.

Artist: Blanche Serban
Title: Place de la Marie, Aix-en-Provence
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 30x24x1.5 inches
Website: http://www.serban-art.com

Jan Geoghegan, Tolland, CT
Jan Geoghegan
When did you first discover your creative talents?  “Artistic talent” is hard to define so I can’t know if I have it any more or less than anyone else does.  I do know that whether I have “it” or not,  I have a persistent need to create.  When people remark that I am talented, they usually mean it as a sincere compliment.. but it  could also be a polite way to avoid saying anything negative about my artwork. It’s not something I dwell on.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  When I began painting in my 30’s, I sold most of what I produced and felt a personal need to break even with the cost of art supplies and framing.  I painted in oils and watercolor; house portraits, landscapes and local scenes. When I began experimenting, my work changed and appealed less to the general public as it garnered recognition via juried shows and gallery representation. My work restoring oil paintings helped to balance the books.  I  recall showing one of my newer paintings to my father.  He commented gently,”You used to paint so well, dear.”  So although I have always been encouraged and appreciative of sales, it’s especiallgratifying when I sell my recent work.

Who are your favorite artists?  Paul Klee is among the artists who hold my interest as well as Mark Rothko, Joseph Cornell and Mary Cassatt.  But closer to home, I am influenced by my artistic peers who, for the most part are, like me,”little fishes in a big pond.”  I look to the artwork of contemporary encaustic artists, not for imagery, but in order to become more familiar with the endless ways in which the medium can be used. My studio is a place for discovery…challenging, frustrating and exhilarating!

Artist: Jan Geoghegan
Title: Studio Time Line
Medium: Encaustic Mixed Media
Dimensions: 7 x 27 inches
Website: http://jangeoghegan.com

Passionately curious…

Passion.  Do we all have passion? Where does it come from? How does it reveal itself? Is it genetic or acquired through our environment? If we all followed our “passion” where would the world be?  Would we have global warming?

I did my first triathlon a week ago.  I had 60 days to prepare.  I’ve put together a sculpture exhibit in 60 days.  I can do this. I taught myself to weld.  I can relearn to swim….in the ocean…for ½ mile.  Got it.  Biking?  Well, I had a motorcycle with 1000cc’s.  0-60 in less than 3 seconds.  15 miles? No problem. But to be safe, I’ll train on a cement-truck-like mountain bike and get in shape fast and hard.  Run?  I run.  Everybody runs.  “Hey, I have to run to the store.”  “We’re running out of toilet paper!”  I run my mouth off about the State of Connecticut wasting tax dollars and increasing their carbon footprint by mowing native plant life along the sides and medians of the highway so, and I quote from the Governor’s Office, “it looks prettier.”  Keep the highway earth-wrecking crew, but layoff school teachers? Not to mention the carbon dioxide pulsing parking lot it creates…I should run for Governor.

Anyway….Day 30 marked the day I urinated on my training partners arm stung by a jelly fish the size of an exoplanet.   I’ve swallowed enough saltwater that I’m now the new Morton Salt Girl (Boy)  and my chainsaw consumed three blades clearing my favorite biking trail from Irene’s tantrum.   Running? No, not for office.  Too many skeletons.  But I am still talking about the State of CT and I shaved 4:30 off my three mile run.

Day 60. Beyond my tears of stomach acid, I felt something special that Saturday morning @ 6AM.  I saw it in hundreds of dancing eyes.  I felt numb with strength.  Superhuman.  Via satellite, there was a foggy glow above Madison, CT that clear, sunny morning.  A colony of XTERRA seals gathered at the threshold of the rookery.

“Boy, those buoys are far out” I said to #923.  “Yeah, they’re cool” he replied.   “No, I mean they are way out in the ocean!”  #871 smiled and nodded.  I survived my Magoo-like swim which probably moved the decimal point on my distance from .50 to 5.0 (I later learned I set the record for the longest half mile swim).   I couldn’t leave my faithful cement-truck mountain bike at home.  We broke many a trail and had a special bond.  So Quikrete and I battled together with Gatorade taped to her belly, fueled by cheers of “where’s the mountain” “go mountain boy! Go!”  “Catskills on your left.” With mouth closed,Paul Shampine I ran the last stage with hydraulic vice grips on my calves which then moved to my shins.   Then it happened.  I can still see the smile in her eyes.  As I was finishing my last mile, she was starting her first…really struggling…  We both looked up from the ground, eyes met.  Passion.  I’ve had less intimate moments with lovers.

Here are three artathletes…with passion.  Have a look through their eyes.
Best, Paul
Paul Shampine

CJ Nye, NYC, NY
sculpture, artist, art, sculptor 

When did you first discover your creative talents?

I’ve been at an easel, literally, since I was in diapers. I first started using oils in school when I was eleven years old. The teacher told us to make a landscape, and I blissed out making a small, extraterrestrial, organic abstract. I was chastised. I defended my piece. I had found my medium.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

I sold my first piece, reluctantly, in 2000, in order to finance another. Jack Whitten asked me to be in “Plural Dimensions,” a group show in the SVA Gallery, Soho. I went down to look at the space – 16′ ceilings! I had a chance to realize a piece I had been dreaming about, barely; the show would be in two weeks, and I was broke. A friend of mine had been after me for a little piece for years; made c. 1989-93 (high school, I worked in oils at home), it was about 3 x 1′, with little patches of rust-pocked metal on board, painted in blue, green, and black acrylic with black and metallic marker to give the effect of a rainforest. I sold it to him for a few hundred dollars and the promise of a bartered haircut that I never got. The cash went to making Banner Triptych. Banner Triptych measures 13.5 x 14 x 10.5′ – a triangular installation with an acrylic exterior (of necessity, as it was I had a hair-dryer on it up to the last minute) of deep blue with silvery mountain outlines, that could be walked into for a panoramic abstract scape of cascades and mountains in blue, green, cream, purple, and orange on a radiant yellow ground. A friend who was in the show with me told me that one evening when I was not there, he saw someone stop in their tracks across the street, and walk into the gallery because of that piece. I guess you could say it was a good trade.

Who are your favorite artists? 

I could sooner tell you my favorite color. I will say that one of my earliest memories was seeing a Morris Louis at the National Gallery in D.C.; my child-mind reeled, “How did he make those drips go diagonally?”

Artist: CJ Nye
Title: Power, Force, and Circumstance.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Each canvas is 8” x 8” x 1.5”
Date: 2011
Website: http://cjnye.com

Barbara Traub, San Francisco, CA
Barbara Traub-Passion Fashion

When did you first discover your creative talents?

When as a kid I learned to play Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’ on the
piano or perhaps my senior year on the campus of Johns Hopkins when I
tried some LSD and watched the trees dance and sway.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

In 1999 my photography was featured in an exhibition at the
International Fotofestival of Knokke-Heist in Belgium. I had about
100 prints in the show and was wined and dined in a room at the
Casino where Magritte had painted the mural Le Domaine Enchanté.
Though none of my work was for sale there, I did receive an
honorarium and donated a print to their collection.

Who are your favorite artists? 

It’s kind of like being at the mouth of a river what with many
streams and tributaries flowing into it from a whole lot of
directions — film, painting, literature, music, media, culture,
nature, etc. Some photographers who have inspired my work, in
addition to the ones mentioned on my Wikipedia page are Ralph Gibson,
Ruth Bernhard, Bill Brandt, Helen Levitt, and William Eggleston.

Artist: Barbara Traub
Title: Passion Fashion
Medium: Lightjet Digital C-print, 11×17 inches
Website: http://www.home.earthlink.net/~traubleaux/

Andrea de Ranieri, Cascine di Buti, Italy

When did you first discover your creative talents?

I do not know if I have the creative talent inside me, it’s up to others to say it. I made what goes through my head and I haven’t enough time to realize what I have in mind.  It’s only been a year and a half I made sculptures,  before I enjoyed  painting here and there.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

The first sculpture was created by accident.  I was making a lamp and came up with something different out of the ordinary woodworking. From there I realized I could do other sculptures.  This “sculpture” was then sold and this has meant a lot to me because I also had confirmation of what would become my passion.

Who are your favorite artists? 

Pablo Picasso above all others, in particular the sculpture The Goat.

Artist: Andrea de Ranieri
Title: Dott.ssa.Manta
Medium: Wood, resin, iron, 15x150x85 cm
Website: http://www.andreaderanieri.com


Interview with an Artist – Nancy Jaffee

Nancy Jaffee, Weston CT

Abstract in blue and brownWhen did you first discover your creative talents? I didn’t really
know I had any artistic talents until I was an adult. But my mother
was artistic. She worked as a clothing designer and a decorator and I always appreciated the way she put colors together in her work. My sister used me as a guinea pig in grad school for her PHD in Psychology. And after taking all her tests, she said I should pursue a career in the arts but I never really did anything about it.  It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I started taking formal art classes and realized this was truly something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Some visual artists describe crossing a threshold where they see new colors, shapes, forms, shadows and movement. Did younude looking up experience this kind of artistic “awakening?” It happen at The Rye Arts Center. When the teacher was explaining how to convert three dimensional space onto a two dimensional page she taught us about foreshortening, cast shadows, reflected light, modeling…volume. It was eye-opening for me
because it all worked. It was like unlocking a door and learning how to
see.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. My first sale was to my neighbor. It was a sketch from a life drawing
class. Just a quick one minute pose. But she liked it, had it framed
and hung it in her living room. She had a lot of beautiful art that she
collected, so I felt honored to have my little throw away amongst her
really nice paintings. I think I charged her $20 for the sketch.

Who are your favorite artists? My favorite artists… long list… but
I would start with Michelangelo… I was lucky enough to travel to Europe several times as a child and was exposed to some of the most beautiful masterpieces of
the world. But the David really blew me away. I love Whistler, JS Sargent, Cezanne, Modigliani, Matisse, Picasso (especially his blue period), Egon Schiele, Munch (the Storm is my favorite), Clyfford StillMilton Avery, Jim Dine… too many to mention.

Do you “see” your paintings before you create it or is it a
work-in-progress? I often start out with an idea for a nude or
something representational. But the abstract pieces are more works in
progress. I usually try to start with a palette and work from there.

When a painting takes on a mood….say a dark one. Do you feel likeescape
you need to exist in that mood to continue with the painting? When I’m focused on painting, I want to create something evocative and
interesting and I’m just trying to do that. What’s so cathartic about
painting is that it takes you out of your own head while you’re doing
it. It can also give you an outlet to express what’s inside you. I
think the emotions come first and then the painting.

I think my outlook is naturally somewhat dark. I see people as alone,
my figures are always alone, they sometimes seem isolated. I think a
heavily clouded sky is more interesting and than a bright blue clear
one. My least favorite paintings are “Spring” and “Painted Flowers” in
terms of their content and color. I was experimenting more with
technique on those, using a calligraphy pen in the first and a palette
knife in the latter.

You mentioned that you like Picasso…specifically his blue period.Picasso
Some feel that his blue period was a reflection of depression, while others say blue paint was cheaper and he couldn’t afford other colors at that time. What do you think? I like his blue period because it seems more compassionate than his later work. Like the famous painting of the woman with the iron. She’s exhausted, endlessly working,  overwrought, poor. She’s not glib or superficial. Looking at her evokes powerful emotions. The painting has soul.

In general though, if you ask most people what their favorite color is,Rockbottom
they say blue. Blue is rich and soothing. It can also be considered
sad as in a blue motel room or a blue mood. But art is in the eye of
the viewer. It’s highly subjective. I think the artist may have one
thing in mind and the viewer something entirely different and both are
equally valid.

male nudeIs there a particular painting of yours that evoked polar views or
moods from a viewer? If so, which one and describe what they “saw.” This is a funny story. A friend of mine on Facebook saw my male nude
who is masturbating in the painting, and thought it was a woman. To be fair, he was looking at it on his phone, so it was only 3″ big. Mainly in my drawings people have experienced the nudes as sad when I just felt they were relaxed, neither happy nor sad. Some people try to understand literally what I’ve painted as in “Escape.” Like what exactly am I depicting? Are there mountains in the foreground? Is that a lake beneath them? Others will just see it as a seascape and not wonder about the realism of the specific shapes. I can’t really think
of any that have evoked polar reactions from different people except
that some will love a piece while others aren’t impressed at all.

I’m also a fan of Sargent. My favorite Sargent piece (El Jaleo) is in
one of my favorite Museums…the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It’s one of those paintings that you have to seeWhistler's Mother
up-close-and-personal.  Do you have a “must see” that you re-visit or moved you when you viewed the original? I was really moved by
Whistler’s “Mother.” When I saw it, I couldn’t stop looking at it. The
mood was so compelling, the gray on gray, the contrast of white on
black, the quiet stillness of the subject almost trancelike.

Sargent’s work is just so elegant and beautiful. One of his paintings that
impressed me the most is in a permanent collection at a museum in
Scotland and it’s titled, “The Lady Agnew”. She is seated and dressed
in white. The skin tones are flawlessly smooth and the eyes seem as
though they are laughing. I also love the painting “Madame X” at the
Metropolitan Museum in NYC.

Favorite museum? Having grown up in NYC, my favorite museums are the Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art. It’s always a pleasure to spend an afternoon there rediscovering my favorite masterpieces. I recently discovered the work of Clyfford Still and his work has had an influence on several of
my most recent pieces.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out? Well, since I Nancy Jaffeetoo consider myself an artist just starting out, I can only offer what I say to myself. Try to be the best that you can be.  Compete only with yourself. While there will always be someone out there that you find more talented or more accomplished then you don’t let that discourage you. There is room for all of our artistic expressions. Just enjoy the process and remember that the nature of
creation is creativity itself.

Nancy’s website: http://www.nancyjaffee.com

Paul ShampinePaul Shampine

The Arts PR Group’s own Kaitlyn Siner makes ABC’s Good Morning America

When I came up with The Arts PR Group‘s concept, I wanted a solid colleague. A trusted dynamic partner with a creative mind, a “make it happen” attitude and someone who knew me well enough to help manage my Founder’s Syndrome.Good Morning America - ABC That’s Kaitlyn Siner.  With a contagious laugh and enough energy to light up a small city, Kaitlyn and I have joined forces to “Providing a Path to Completion” for visual artist.  While wearing her performance art hat with her own organization as President of Artist Solutions, she has already made it to the “Show” or ABC’s Good Morning America Show. With innovative programs ranging from ABC’s highlighted FitVoice and the ArtistVisa program, Kaitlyn’s on her way to providing esssential and affordable resources for the performance art community.  For more information on Artist Solution’s Programs, check them out here and ABC’s Good Morning America, Monday, March 14, 7-8 AM.

Paul ShampinePaul Shampine

An Interview with an Artist, part 8

Partially  inspired by this blog and the direction it has taken, I’ve decided to team up with a great friend, art lover and PR Guru, Kaitlyn Siner to create a consortium of experienced art professionals and local business leaders to support “emerging” visual artists, collectively  forming The Arts PR Group.The Arts PR Group

We define emerging artists as “any individual, regardless of age or occupation who is fully committed to their craft.  Emerging may apply to artists in the early, mid, and late stages of their career, with some evidence of professional achievement.”

We are energized and inspired daily as we organize this privately funded (no federal or state assistance) nonprofit start-up to include a permanent flagship gallery site in Boston, a formal mentorship program (Shadow Program) with grant and fellowship opportunities among many new and unique initiatives for this important and critical collective of artists.

Kaitlyn and I have the passion, drive and the entrepreneurial prowess to commence our vision,but we need to continue to adopt and consult with key industry leaders to refine our objectives as we charge our mission forward. Your thoughts and ideas are welcomed.

Celebrating all visual artists, the interviews continue…

Best, Paul
Paul Shampine

Mara Safransky- You Don't Know What You Don't Know or Why You Know What You Know

When did you first discover your creative talents?

From a very early age I was encouraged to draw and paint. My parents placed a lot of importance on the creative process and always emphasized me finding a means through which to express myself. I was home-schooled with my sisters and our days were structured around reading, dancing, music, and art. Explaining it now, it sounds so bohemian and renegade, and I guess in a lot of ways it was. Still, I feel very lucky looking back, because no matter how much I yearned to have a “normal” life like other children, I discovered my love of art because of the environment I was raised in. To this day, drawing and painting give me a purpose and an outlet. Most days in my studio, I feel like my real work as an artist is getting back to that time in my childhood when my approach to my work was totally unselfconscious and as much about the process of creating as it is about the finished piece.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

My first piece was sold in 2000 through a small start-up gallery in Los Angeles. I was part of a group show and the buyer was visiting from Germany. Because the gallery owner made the sale, I never had contact with the collector. The sale made me feel grownup and legitimate as an artist because it meant someone bought my piece, not because they liked me, not because they knew me, but because the work spoke to them. Ironically, the experience ended up being memorable in more ways than one. Soon after the sale, the gallery went belly-up and I was never paid for the piece. It was a good lesson in the fact that art is a business, so having good contracts and being careful who you work with matters.

Who are your favorite artists?

While it may not be especially vogue to say, I derive the bulk of my inspiration from the painting that was happening in this country in the 1950’s and 60’s. So, to name a few of my heroes: Helen Frakenthaler, Hans Hoffman, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock.

Artist: Mara Safransky
Title: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know or Why You Know What You Know
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, 48×36 inches
Website: http: http://www.marasafransky.com

Batya-We Virtually Held Up the Sky, Made the Wind Move

When did you first discover your creative talents?

It was a natural thing to express through the arts ever since I can remember and it included stories, art and music. I used to draw on anything I could get my hands on, small drawings in hidden spots at home, chalk on the sidewalks, illustrate my desk in school and on the blackboard before the teacher came in.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

The first piece I sold was a drawing of a very long necked woman. I was a junior art counselor in a summer camp and on visiting day this couple saw it and asked me if they can have it. I said ok and they gave me a tip, but I was shocked at the amount.

Who are your favorite artists?

Too many to name all, these come to mind first: CaravaggioGoyaMagritte,VermeerIngresEdward Hopper,Caspar David FriedrichHenry Darger,Michal HeimanPeter DoigJeff Koons and Damien Hirst.Artist: Batya F. Kuncman
Title: We Virtually Held Up the Sky, Made the Wind Move
Medium: Oil on canvas 20×24 inches
Website: http://www.batya.ws

Vesna Jovanovic-TimekeeperWhen did you first discover your creative talents?

I guess I should first address the idea of talent, and how I perceive it. The concept of “talent” has always been a problematic one for me with regard to art.  In fact, I recently listened to a fantastic podcast episode that addresses this idea from various angles (it was a past episode of WNUR’s Radiolab). I think that some artists may be more or less talented in their craft (by that I mean how accurately they can execute something that they might envision or pursue), but that doesn’t say anything about their art, only their craft. On the other hand, I think that humans, by nature, all feel the need to create art. In other words, I don’t think that the word talent applies to art so much as to craft, or skill. Art is something that we all informally engage in: from how we move to how we interact with one another, cook our food, wear our clothes, etc. Art is something that we all experience and share with others all the time, and to judge it or evaluate it seems inappropriate to me. I never sought to evaluate my abilities before embarking on a specific project, but I do make a point of always working on and improving my crafting skills. I’ve just always been curious about the world around me; I’ve always felt the need to explore and create, regardless of my level of talent.

I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, and recently I found out that my elementary school classmates to this day remember me as “the artist in class”. Early on I discovered that this is what I needed to do. I don’t think that any artist is fully satisfied with the outcome though. It can always be better, different, more “true”… This is in part what drives us. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for all artists. But this is what I feel.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

A big problem for artists is that our work is publicly perceived in a way that I believe is quite skewed. The general public seems to perceive artists as people who create products, instead of seeing visual art as part of the humanities and culture (neither a commodity nor a product, but an intellectual, or perhaps even more so experiential, pursuit).I do happen to sell my work – as many artists do in combination with several other sources of income, such as grants, teaching, residencies, etc. – but I think of being a visual artist as being a philosopher or a composer, not a manufacturer with products to sell.

An artist’s job is to create art and show it, not to sell it  – just as a composer’s job isn’t to sell compositions, and a philosopher’s job is not necessarily to write or sell books. These are sometimes unfortunate necessities that can only get in the way of the actual job, which is to create something and expose others to it.  To further elaborate on my point, some visual artists make work that simply cannot be sold (site-specific installations, time-based sculpture, sound video and performances with mixed media, new media, etc.) They rely on other sources of funding.  I just happen to sell my work because I can (and because I need to make room for more!) but I don’t see it as anything that should be memorable nor in any way admirable, or something to be proud of or even happy about; it is neither central nor necessary to being a successful artist.

I noticed that this general misconception about sales (especially in a capitalist society) causes many artists to quit because they feel as though it’s necessary to sell art in order to have some sort of validation, not realizing that this is not the case (especially in countries where artists are deemed important enough to be funded with regular paychecks from the government).

Having said all this… I cannot remember when I sold my first piece. It may have been a series of photographs that I sold back in my undergraduate years… Or there may have been a ceramic piece that I sold before that.

Who are your favorite artists?

I always enjoy viewing art without judging – just experiencing what others have to share and how they perceive the world, whether or not I agree with it. But there is some artwork that I feel an unusual kinship to.  Here’s a short list of artists whose work I really responded to, in no particular order: Lee Bontecou, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Marc Leuthold, Robert Turner (ceramist), Max Ernst, Caspar David Friedrich, Diane Arbus, ancient Egyptian reliefs and drawings, Lascaux cave paintings, Jean Tinguely, H.R. Giger, Gordon Matta-Clark, Katsushika Hokusai, Karl Blossfeldt, William Kentridge.

Artist: Vesna Jovanovic
Title: Timekeeper
Medium: Medical Scans, Watercolor, Ink, and Graphite, 84×34 inches

Website: http://www.vesnaonline.com