I finally had time before we left for our camping trip to finish up the questionnaire for my Guest Artist appearance in Take Ten magazine. For those who read me regularly, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at my answers and the photos I included…
Guest Artist Questionnaire
1. Introduce yourself. Tell us about your childhood, your interests, etc.
I have three children, ages 13, 8 and 5 and am happily married to my very supportive husband, Michael. Other than stamping, I love to spend time gardening, camping, and volunteering at church and at my children’s schools.
I grew up in Southern New Jersey in the Philadelphia suburbs. Until recently, I never considered myself ‘artistic’ because I am not very good at drawing or painting (even my handwriting is terrible!). Yet as a child, I loved coloring books and I would spend hours filling the pages with deep, bright, rich colors â€“ I still love the smell of a new box of crayons! Now I realize that there is so much more to art than just drawing and painting.
Right after high school, I went to college and graduated with a BA in mathematics and later received a Master’s degree in Software Engineering. I worked for over a decade as a software engineer and project manager and even spent a few years teaching computer science at a local university.
Although I was an accomplished engineer, I found software to be a very intense industry. After much consideration, I decided to start a new season in my life after my second child was born. When he was not quite two years old, I turned my life completely upside down and become a stay-at-home mom. We had to make many lifestyle adjustments, but now my life revolves around my family instead of my job and I have more time to do what makes me happy.
What are your goals in both life and art?
My goal in life is to make sure my family feels loved and that I spend some time doing what I love each and every day.
My goal in art is just to enjoy the creative process. I love to just sit down with my supplies and play â€“ with colors, with techniques, with stamps, with embellishments â€“ that is when I am the happiest with my art.
2. What interests you about stamping?
I especially enjoy stamping because even though I am terrible at drawing, I can still create beautiful art with stamps. And I love that stamps are really an investment â€“ you can use one stamp in so many different ways and on so many different types of projects from cards, to scrapbooks to wrapping paper to altered art.
3. Do you have a creative ritual you perform when you begin working?
I usually take whatever inspiration I have for a project (stamp, embellishment, etc) and then turn around to this huge rack of cardstock that’s in my craft room. I pull out one color that I feel especially attracted to at the moment and then hold that piece up to other colors until I feel like I have a color combination that expresses the mood I want to create.
4. How do you make a piece – what is the process? How long does it take you?
I tend to work in long, intense spurts (maybe that’s the software engineer in me) â€“ once I choose a color combination, I start stamping and laying the images in different ways on my card. I am a VERY messy stamper â€“ I tend to be inspired to use something, grab it and use it, and then go right on to the next thought without taking the time to clean up after myself as I go. If I interrupt the creative process to put things away, I stop the flow of ideas and the project takes much longer. Generally, I will work in my studio for 2-3 hours at a time.
5. What types of things do you draw inspiration from?
I often draw inspiration from items such as textiles, graphic ads and especially from home design. I once considered a career as an interior designer and I realized that the creative art process of stamping is actually very similar in nature. We use colors to convey a mood or feeling, we come up with a pleasing layout and design and we use accessories to accent our work.
6. What is your favorite technique?
I still love plain old heat embossing! For some reason I still think it is so fascinating when I watch the embossing powder melt and I never can resist running my fingers over the raised image. Plus, you can combine heat embossing with so many other techniques.
7. At what point do you give up on a project?
I’m stubborn â€“ I never give up on a project! I can usually tell when I’ve reached an impasse and I need to take a break from a particular crafting session. My best bet at that point is to just walk away from the project for a while. It always helps to look at it with a fresh perspective and figure out what it is that just isn’t working or what should be added.
8. What was the most interesting or challenging project that you worked on?
Interestingly enough, my most interesting and challenging projects both revolved around men!
I did a men’s class last year where the men came and made cards for their wives for the whole year â€“ a birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and ‘I love you’ card along with a card holder to keep them all organized. I used lots of ‘manly’ tools when designing those cards – punches, craft knives, eyelet setters and embossing tools. The men LOVED the class and their wives loved the cards (plus the men don’t have to worry about missing any occasions or running out to the card store at the last minute).
And my most challenging recent project was to create a series of five masculine cards to give to men for various occasions. It can be really difficult to create a masculine card using no flowers, ribbon or feminine colors!
9. Ideas come at unexpected moments, like when you’reâ€¦
In the shower, trying to fall asleep or in the car, driving the carpool.
10. Do you just start in on your elements and see where you end up, or do you plan it out ahead of time?
I rarely plan it ahead of time and even when I do, the project usually takes on a life of its own and evolves into something completely different than what I originally intended.
11. When you have a creative block how do you recharge your juices?
I read crafting magazines like Take Ten or browse galleries online. Or sometimes I just need to take a break from crafting for a while altogether â€“ I don’t want to ever work in my studio because I have to, I want to be there because I want to.
12. What does your work say about you?
Looking at my work, I think it says that I’m willing to try new things. I am a real control freak in most other aspects in my life, but in art, I can just let go and see where the creative process leads me.
13. What advice would you give to a new stamper?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Some of my best work is often a result of a mistake that I made. Sometimes, I accidentally discover a new technique or a twist on an old one after spoiling the one I originally intended to use. Or, in trying to cover up a mistake, my art sometimes takes on a new direction that I hadn’t even considered before. Every ‘mistake’ is just an embellishment opportunity in disguise!
14. Fictional character you’d like to be for a while?
I thought about this question for a while and I realized that there isn’t any fictional character I’d like to be â€“ I’m really just happy being me!