Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What is YOUR passion?

I should have been a reporter, lol!  On a roll here with some interviews with fabulous people.  I met Canadian artist Jeanette MacDonald on Facebook and made instant friends. I LOVE her art, but more than that I feel her passion.  I invited her to tell me about her life as an artist and she graciously agreed.  Yay!

Maria:  How did you get started with your art?

Jeanette:  I always dreamed of being an artist, and I have always drawn and
painted. When I was a kid I loved to color, to draw girls, and paint using Artex liquid acrylic roller paints. When I was seventeen I was given the book, Drawing On The Right Side Of the Brain. I began to open up to some other ideas about sketching. I started to see that doing art might not be an inherited skill like I thought it was. I found that using the concept of negative spaces, I was able to draw much better than when I tried to draw the whole object.

Then in 2004 I bought the book,The Artist Way, by Julia Cameron and that opened me up even more! I was working in a creative environment, a home decor and vintage furniture store, and I loved the work. I learned how to create vignettes. I also learned a lot about composition through learning how to build a vignette. I was also taking courses in Interior design and home staging back then as well. I was working with other creative women and together we started doing The Artist's Way. We were all painting up a storm, sharing our experiences, growing together and we even had an art show.

When I quit working in the store, I stopped doing my art temporarily. I moved from the town I was living in and I kind of put my art on the back burner at the new place.  Although I always had some creative endeavor on the go, whether it was decorating my house, sewing, or something else.

A little over a year ago, we decided we were going to sell our sweet little cottage, and live aboard a boat. That is a whole story within itself, and it could be told as the "Art Of Living" but it would make this too lengthy. We sold our home to a well known artist and author, Nick Bantock. We became friends with him and in August last year I took a weekend workshop facilitated by him. What I adore about Nick is that he does not give you a set of step by step instructions. Rather he gives everyone some tools to access their own unique artistic muse. There was not one project that came out of that workshop that looked the same. I have since done some workshops that I am not as keen on. While I love what the artist themselves create, what I created was too close to theirs for me to feel like I could call it may own. Nick has since released a creativity book, called The Trickster's Hat.

My artistic journey has made me realize that we are all artists. We all have creativity in us, and the big thing is to practice using our creativity. Through that we naturally grow and improve. This is what I believe.

Maria:  How did you get to where your art is today?

Jeanette:  As I have mentioned above, my art is ever changing and becoming. I am where I am today because of the time put into practicing my art. The more time put in the more I learn about myself and what I want to create. Someone said, "I do not wait for inspiration to come to me. I get down to work and through creating art, the muse comes." I am not sure who said it or how they said it, but that reflects what I believe. If I do enough art, I may eventually improve and make some art that is good.

Maria:  It is more than good; it's great!  What inspires you the most?

Jeanette:  I am inspired by making my art a habit. I do it every day in one form or another. I usually write every morning for a couple hours when I wake up, I wake up early, so I am busy right now writing a book on my creative musings. What I have been doing is using my art to tell me secrets about my inner muse. When I contemplate upon my art, little bits of truth about me reveal themselves.

I love the writing and contemplation process so very much. For years I have been reading all sorts of books on the Law Of Attraction. I still read them. I love the old-timers like Emmet Fox, Robert Collier, Thomas Troward, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Napoleon Hill, just to mention a few. But since I have started painting and then writing, I am learning how to integrate these fabulous teachings into my own life more. Each painting has become a psychic message about those principles, designed solely (or soulfully) with me in mind. My life has been given a tremendous lift by making art my practice. I love my art so much; it has been the breath beneath my wings.

Maria:  What type of art materials do you like the most?

Jeanette:  I love acrylics. I have never used oil.  I live and work on my boat, so there is not enough space and ventilation to try it out. But having said that about acrylics, I am so grateful to Nick Bantock, because he opened me up to the possibilities of mixing any medium I wanted to try. I am still playing around with that, and probably always will be. But I am so grateful that the materials I use to create art are only limited to my imagination.

Maria:  How do you get your materials?  Do you save things, recycle things, or buy in a particular place?

Jeanette:  I do save magazines and have picked up bits and pieces from my travels, but mostly I buy my paints and stuff from Opus, an art supply store in Victoria.

Maria:  Is your family supportive of your art making?

Jeanette:  This is an interesting question. Most of my family is very supportive of me doing my art. I am a quirky girl. I have been seeking an artistic outlet for forever, so maybe that helps. But, some family members, I have noticed, seem to be triggered by my doing my art. They are not able to get excited about the fact that I am out there giving my all to it. I suspect they have not yet identified their own inner artist and are still thinking that artistic talent is inherited. This tends to make people resentful and covet what others have managed to gain through hard work alone. Like I said, I believe it is in the doing that everyone can be an artist if they so desire.

Maria:  What is your big goal as an artist?

Jeanette:  I want to finish writing and publish my book. I would like to be published in an art magazine like Cloth Paper Scissors, or Somerset Studio. Maybe it is ego, but I think it would be cool to see my art in there. I have some bolder goals that I will make manifest, I am good at manifesting, but I am not going to share them

Maria:  Aw, shucks!  How do you intend to accomplish that goal?

Jeanette:  I will keep working on my book. I have been writing for several months and at one point I decided it was crap, and started over. But I don,t think it was wasted time. I became more clear on why I was writing and who I was writing for in the process. One thing I will say about me, is that I am one of the bravest people I know. I share my stuff with anyone and everyone. I take the feedback to heart in a good way. It has helped me to gain clarity around what I am hoping to accomplish with my writing. I am working with an editor, and I see that everyone is really on my side. They want me to succeed, so their feedback is gratefully considered and appreciated.

Maria:  Any advice you can give to people starting out as artists?

Jeanette:  I do want to offer my advise to those beautiful people starting out on their own artistic journey. You have art in you to give to yourself and the world. You ARE an artist, no matter what anyone has told you. And the most important thing to remember is that if you ever hope to paint a thing that will make your heart sing, you have to be willing to paint a lot of things that will not sing at first. Practice, practice, practice! There is no quick way to improving your skills.

Maria:  What makes you the most happy?

Jeanette: What makes me so happy is that I am truly able to have it all. That I can have the time I need to be the most "me" I can be, and I get to do that through making art of one kind or another whenever the mood strikes me. I am so grateful to God that I have a husband who appreciates my painting, my writing, and my desires to grow through it all. He actually uses what I write about to contemplate on creating the best life for himself and us together.

Maria: Give a little info about the two paintings you chose to display here.  What inspired you?  What did you learn?  If you'd done it any differently what would you have done?

Jeanette: I am choosing these two because they are two of my recent pieces. My art is ever changing. I am not even sure that I have a style. I am inspired by where I am at spiritually and emotionally with each piece.  The top one was created with empathy I have for every person that I share the planet with. Maybe the cat represents God? I like the idea that there is hope for us as a species. I painted this for a a friend who was desperately trying to convince me that we are doomed as a planet and that there is nothing good to focus on. But, I do not believe that. I think that we create our reality with our thoughts. The only thing he could find that he felt any happiness about was his cat. So, I made him a cat Guardian Angel. I love her. She gives me hope too. I always look for the positive to focus on.

The second one I called You Can Lead A Fish To Water. The fish looked kind of sickly. She made me think about how I have to take care of myself first. If I lose myself then I lose any joy. So I must live my life as the example I would talk about, instead of preaching to anyone. I need to just concentrate on being the best me and have faith that everyone else has their own inner guide that is much better at guiding them than I can ever hope to be. I am enough work.

The other thing is that I live on the water and see orcas quite often. I love the sea. But, I could write a blurb on what each painting means to me and that is what I am doing with my book. I love all my pieces, They each tell a little story about my thought and life process.

That was wonderful!  Thank you Jeanette, for sharing your art and perspective with us.  To connect with Jeanette, check out these links!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What do they read in Singapore?

Since my other personality is a writer, lol, I have many friends in the writing business.  Due to the Internet, I can now have friends all over the world, which is fantastic.  I'm always curious about other cultures and their ways.  How do I connect writing with art, since this is an art blog?  Book covers have always been a fascination of mine, and when I was a romance writer in the past, my book covers were always painted by mysterious artists in New York, most of whom I never met. Some of the book covers I loved, and some I didn't.  I had no control over the process.

Since the huge rise of self-publishing, I thought I'd talk to someone who is into this modern way of creating books and book covers.  I did an interview with Eddy Kong an ebook publisher in Singapore.  He has put out a bunch of books, and I really like his book covers.  They are stylish and visually beautiful.  Here is one from the book THE THIRD.

I asked Eddy some questions and this is what he said:  

Eddy: I am a small-time publisher from Singapore during the night.  During the day, 
I am a full-time equity trader.

Maria:  Tell  me something about your work as  a publisher and what makes you
love your job. 

Eddy:  In fact, I was a clickbank infopreneur selling some health & fitness ebooks,
but found that the revenue for my info products was not moving as fast as it could due to
overwhelming competition.  I decided to become a publisher after transferring
some of my info products to sell on Amazon Kindle. I now see some decent results 
without doing much work since 2011. I noticed I could earn more being a fiction 
authoand publisher representing other writers. Now I am publishing full-length novels
for them and myself.. I am still formulating a simple system to create, engage, and 
connect with my readers/fans.

Maria:  What are people's reading habits in Singapore? 

Eddy: We are a reading nation due to the government campaigning to cultivate the 
reading habit.  This is a good initiative.  However, getting a Kindle tablet in Singapore 
is pretty tough as shipping overseas has to be done via a third party delivery
service.  I hope that Amazon will be able to open up shipping more Kindles
to my country.  This would increase the availability of reading material.

Maria:  How are books bought there? 

Eddy:   We mostly buy our books from bookshops or borrow them from the local 

To answer some questions pertaining to the cover art.

Maria:  How do you go about choosing a cover for one of your books?  

Eddy:  I collaborate with a book designer.  I give her the book synopsis that tells her 
what the story is about and the mood I try to create

Maria:  I have here the cover of The Third by Zsu Hsia, and it is very elegant.  What 
makes you decide on the colors? 

Eddy: I give the choice to my cover designer, I do not suggest the colors to her since
I trust her artistic sense.

Maria:  Is it difficult to design the right cover?  Even if you have a designer,you give 
them guidelines.

Eddy: The designer just makes 2-3 drafts and I chose one that fits the book 
synopsis the best..

Maria:  Does the designer use real models for your covers?

Eddy:  No, she doesn't. From stock photos she can put together a cover with 
Photoshop or similar programs. 

Maria:   Are covers important for book sales? 

Eddy:  I find them rather important as first impressions do have an impact on my book 
sales.  People tend to buy more copies of the book if the cover intrigues them.  

Maria:  How do you use fonts, or choose the right ones? 

Eddy:  Again, I don't have to choose the fonts myself for the title or the author's name. 
I just let the cover designer choose since she is more experienced.  Since I'm 
working full-time, I give her full freedom with the cover art designing process.

Maria: What are things you don't like about covers?  What makes you pick out a 
book from a shelf? 

Eddy: I don't like covers that are too simple, with no matching color tones, and  with 
uninteresting fonts. I pick a book from a shelf based on its attractive cover art, and 
I like embossed fonts for the title and author's name.  I like to be able to see what 
the book is about just by looking at the cover.

Maria: How do you deal with the back of the book cover?

Eddy: Since I don't publish in the traditional way yet, all my books are ebook editions. 
But the back blurb is important on the cover of a paperback.  A great book blurb 
sells more books. 

Maria:  Any advice for artists about book design?  What can they focus on to make
a big impact with a cover? 

about cover art.

Maria:  I would like to add that most covers are done digitally these days and the
knowledge of Photoshop or some other design program is a valuable skill to have. 
Thank you, Eddy, for giving me this information and a peek into your life on the 
other side of the world!  

For more info about Eddy Kong's books, please visit his website:

You can join his Facebook page:
You can see some more of his great book covers there.

Zhu Hsia's author's page on Amazon:  HERE  The books are written in English. 
Why not read some books set in contemporary Asia?  I intend to read some 
to learn more about their culture.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Be Still... a mixed media piece

I finished a small 8x8" mixed media piece the other day, and I was happy with the result.  We can all use some meditation and be still, right?  I know I do.  I'm working on a large canvas and it's sometimes difficult to get all the elements to fit the whole.  When it's finished, I will post the process.  I've been taking pictures all along, and the painting has gone through a lot of stages.