Meet Joe: High-school Sophomore and self-taught artist!

by Angela Bandurka

This morning our regular customer, Joe, came in to look at some watercolor paper and we got to chatting about the artists that Joe admires. We shared one of them in common - Mary Blair, the late, amazing Disney artist (think "It's a Small World").

This young man has ambition and pride in his work, it's just refreshing to see in someone this young. He has dreams of becoming a writer, illustrator, and eventually start his own animation company!

Anyway, he allowed me to share some of the art he's most proud of. I don't want to share his last name as he's a minor, but I bet we'll see more of him in the future. Thanks for letting me share, Joe!

Here is my personal favourite:
Snow Shy

Sam the Dragon

Little Dragon

Another Amazing Customer!

by Angela Bandurka

Isn't it incredible what you discover about strangers when you start talking to them? They cease to be strangers and you start to see the unique things about them that never cease to amaze.

At ARTspot, the customers who come in and stay and chat are infinitely fascinating - and Eliza Wyatt is no exception. 

This beautiful willowy soul came into the shop last week to buy a fountain pen and ink, and I commented on her cool corset. This led to a long discussion about clothes, lifestyle and interests.

Turns out, Eliza is a writer and illustrator. And her books are available online - for FREE! I asked if she wouldn't mind if I posted her link so that everyone could benefit from her hard work.

Why do they give away their books for free? She and her partner, Christian Leffler, put it best themselves:

The Forever Series: An epic fantasy series of love and immortality.

Have a free book.

No, you don't need to sign up for anything. I don't want to know your email address. No account, no DRM, no expiration date. Take it. Go on. In fact if you like it, email it to your friends with our blessings. Just don't print or sell it.

We do this because as readers ourselves, it's important to us that people discover fiction that they can be enthusiastic about. The book we're offering is the first of a series of fantasy novellas (books about a hundred pages long) for readers age 16+. There's no trick ending, no cliffhanger. You can find the next books in the series in our shop-- each ebook is a dollar. We also sell printed books, if you'd like a solid copy. - See more at:

The valuable little sketchbook

By Mike O'Day

| ARTspot ARTist

Nothing is worse than opening up a bag of clay, grabbing a hunk, and being completely clueless about what you’re going to do with it. I constantly had this problem every Wednesday night when I first started at Sculptors Workshop, until I discovered the solution to this conundrum. Bring my sketchbook! Although the sketches were originally made for paintings or linocuts, I found that any of my drawings could be the inspiration of a sculpture.

My sketchbook is a valuable little tool that I occasionally refer to when I’m stuck. Anything from a good song lyric to a crow flying overhead can send me scrambling to record a fleeting image before it escapes. A lot of my scribbling can be awful, or just plain odd (what was I thinking???), but I’m not trying to impress anyone, and they basically are just inspirational notes.

Sometimes it can be quite difficult to transform a quick gestural sketch that I love into a sculpture. I gradually realized that the best method for me is sculpting solid (as opposed to slabs or coil building), and then hollowing the piece out. Other times the sketch can be a reference point, and the sculpture can head in a strange new direction.

Working out the problems of a big complex sculpture on paper is a great way to avoid headaches. The “Ship of Fools” sketch page shows how the idea evolved, the details, and even how the sculpture will be cut into pieces and hollowed out. But as you can see from the finished piece, I added the head of a mysterious being, and I decided to change the position of the guy with the telescope on top of the world. Sketchbooks-don’t leave home without ‘em!

From Cardboard Spaceships to Cheetalopes

Blog by Mike O'Day. 
ARTspot is proud to represent Mike's work at our store in Edmonds, WA.
How does a kid who loves to draw and make things out of cardboard with mom’s steak knives, eventually buy a kiln and try to scratch out a living making Cheetalopes?
Fast forward to college, where the art students were separated into two groups: Commercial Artists that were prepared to sell their souls creating ads for banks (I actually got to draw an occasional illustration!), and Real Artists that painted nudes and were prepared to live perpetually in mom and dad’s basement.
After 4-5 years of selling my soul (but not living in the basement), my wife Chris and I headed from St. Louis to LA, where, on a lark, I answered an ad to draw caricatures on historic Olvera Street. This is a tourist destination, so I spent two years honing my skills drawing thousands of people from all over the planet. I also learned that school kids on field trips would gladly pay $1 for a kinko’s copy of Bo Jackson, M.C. Hammer, and Vanilla Ice.
When son #1 was born, I quit the carefree life of a caricature artist and began the role of stay-at-home dad/freelance illustrator/home improvement guy. Changing diapers, creating humorous illustrations of Michael Jordan for Inside Sports, and hanging sheetrock became my full-time job. After son #2 was born and they both started school, I began teaching art at the local co-op where I met a potter named Julie Perrine.
Julie invited me to check out Sculptors Workshop which was ruled by our benevolent dictator Rose Morgan. Two years later, my sculpture “Red Plant Man” won best in show at the Edmonds Arts Festival. Unfortunately, my streak abruptly ended the next year. After purchasing a fellow members kiln, and setting up shop at home, the rest is history.
I still like to occasionally make stuff out of cardboard now and again.

You can always find Mikes ceramic sculpture at ARTspot. 
From Mike O'Day Blog originally published April 6th, 2013
See Mikes work at his website:

Battling Post-Show Blues!

by Angela Bandurka

There is something that happens to me every time I attend one of my show's receptions that I've come to expect and am trying to work though.

In the interest of finding others who might feel this way and will just feel better knowing that they're not alone, I am putting it all out there. 

The months leading up to a show, I work hard at creating a new body of work, something that I feel good about putting out there, that is cohesive, and that makes me feel something (whether it's nostalgia, calmness or self-satisfaction). This is always fun, exciting and envigorating.

To prep for a show's reception, I create advertising - print media (which can be expensive to produce), facebook events and posts (free!), and email newsletters.

The day of the event is usually full of errands: getting wine and snacks (when necessary, and it usually is), making sure I have a stock of business cards and any bonus items ready (for this recent show I made calendars of my work to give to anyone who bought a piece).

Prepping myself for a reception is another thing that takes way longer than it used to. Most of the time is spent trying to figure out what to wear that fits in with the "brand" of who I want to be as an artist, and then because I have taken so long to do this, I am running behind, feeling less than attractive as I run out the door with the wrong shoes, no deoderant or some other fashion faux-pas.

Last night, as we were running out the door, my 8-year-old (whose Dad was meeting us at the gallery to get him) came up to me with a guilty expression, saying "Mama, I'm sorry but something may have happened to your umbrellas." He and a friend were using them as swords and ruined them both. "No time, kid! Get in the stinking car and while I appreciate you coming clean, we'll talk about this later."

At the reception, I hang around awkwardly, not sure where to stand or what to do with my hands as I smile at everyone and say hi. Hoping upon hope that I don't look too desperate or awkward. When I see a friend I run over to them gratefully, happy to have a moment where I don't look so painfully insecure.

By the end of the night, my feet are killing me because I put on heels (see "wrong shoes" above) and I'm hobbling to the car as fast as I can without toppling over. I get home and decompress by turning on TV and trying not to self-hate too much (OMG I can't believe I said that to so-and-so, and I should have talked to that one person more and People were just being nice about my art because I was standing right there and I am sad that so-and-so didn't come...). That monkey brain is the enemy!

Knowing that this happens every time, I try to remind myself that: A lot of my friends DID come, and that the reception was well-attended, and the gallery owner was so nice to me and was very complimentary! I also remind myself that I'm lucky to be a part of a gallery at all and that I'm fortunate to be able to create my art and do what I love. It also helps to know that the next day I'll feel much better and that this is just a result, most likely, of all the build up of prepping for the night.

Maybe next time I won't be as depressed afterwards. If it does, I'll have my cry, go to bed, wake up and start prepping for the next one :)

Golden Mediums are the bomb, baby!

by Angela Bandurka

Barbara De Pirro (

came in to give a presentation about the amazing Golden acrylic products last weekend and we were packed to the rafters with an engaged audience! Barbara's presentation was so informative, creative, and generous that we felt that we needed to share some of it with all of you.

We hope to bring her back again soon for another presentation - even if you don't paint with acrylic paints, you might find some of these products come in handy for your woodworking, textile design, graphic arts and a plethora of other applications.

Some of the products that were most intriguing are:

GAC Specialty Polymers

("Golden Artist Colors", or "GACK!")

  • GAC 100: This seals your surface, so if you like to paint on wood and want to retain the look of the wood in your piece, paint this clear polymer first and let it dry. Then you're ready to go and you won't have to worry about the sap or oils from the wood interfering with your painting! This product is also good for painting on other surfaces that need to be sealed - fabrics that you stretch on canvas, for example. Dries stiff and clear.
  • GAC 200: Great to add to your paint for outdoor murals or to prime hard surfaces like glass and metals!
  • GAC 400: Will dramatically stiffen fabrics for cool sculptural effects! 
  • GAC 700: Great for glazing
  • GAC 800: Perfect for imitating encaustic techniques, you can pour thick applications of this one without worrying about it forming valleys and cracks (those annoyances are called "crazing") - can be tinted with yellow for a beeswax look. Air bubbles? Just spritz a little rubbing alcohol on it to get rid of 'em!
  • GAC 900: This is fantastic for painting on fabric while keeping the fabric's softness and flexibility! Heat set it in the dryer when you're done and you're "golden"! (sorry, couldn't resist)

"Nectary" by Barbara De Pirro, 

(detail), 2011, crocheted fiber, encapsulated and painted using acrylic

Golden Gels:

you can apply up to 50% gel to paint and still retain your colour! That's due to the high pigment load in Golden paints - you couldn't do that with student grade paints.

  • Soft Gel is great for collage glue. Feels soft and buttery.
  • Regular Gel is the same viscosity as Heavy Body paints - like toothpaste.
  • Heavy Gel and Extra Heavy Gels are stiffer than regular gel and are great for creating thick, sculptural effects.
  • Clear Tar Gel: Great for marbelling effects and dripping lines on your project. Be sure to apply in thin layers to avoid "crazing" (see GAC 800 description for definition :)
  • Self-Leveling Clear Gel: levels flat when poured, also must be applied in thin layers!

Golden Pastes:

These are opaque (covers what is under them), and you can mix in some paint but you'll get a tint of the colour since the pastes have a white opaqueness to them.

  • Molding Paste: dries smooth, good for imprinting on!
  • Light Molding Paste: dries with a slight tooth, flexible and highly absorbent.
  • Hard Molding Paste: dries smooth and hard - great for sanding and carving
  • Coarse Molding Paste: bright white and toothy
  • Fiber Paste: When dry, looks like handmade paper (toothy)!
  • Crackle Paste: Do not rush its dry time, or it won't crack :)

"Glow" by Angela Bandurka, 

2013, Golden acrylics painted on canvas prepped with a layer of light molding paste first, then gesso tinted with napthol red light.

Golden Grounds:

  • Absorbent Ground: great for watercolor techniques with watercolor or acrylic washes. Also slightly toothy and porous.
  • Acrylic Ground for Pastels: awesome tooth, great for drawing wit all media including pastel and pencils. Translucent!! So it can be applied in thin layers over other drawings/washes :) Be sure to spray each layer with a blast of varnish before painting on another layer of ground!

There was so much more information than this in the presentation that I couldn't possibly put it all up for you - but please refer to Golden's website for more details about their products at, including a great newsletter and detailed descriptions of how to achieve certain effects! They are also one of the few companies that have excellent customer service and welcome calls to their technical support line: 1-800-959-6543.

And you're always welcome to call ARTspot to ask any of our knowledgable staff what medium/gel/paste might work best for your project! If we don't know, we'll find out!

A Thousand Cranes of Peace

by Angela Bandurka

ARTspot has a small selection of amazing origami papers and the other day I decided to buy some and play around with making cranes. While online searching out instructions, I stumbled across the most amazing story about a little girl who endeavoured to fold 1,000 of them in order to get well from cancer.

Sadako Sasaki was only two when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She lived two kilometers from ground zero when the blast blew out her windows. Several years after the atomic bomb, an increase in leukemia was observed especially among children. By the early 1950s it was clear that the leukemia was caused by radiation exposure. Sadako was one of these young victims. 

She had heard that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes you would have a wish granted, and she used whatever materials she could find - candy wrappers, scrap paper. Before she died she almost reached 1,000.

Sadako's story was highlighted at the opening ceremony of the Goodwill Games 1990 in Seattle wherein Seattle schoolchildren, working from the 644 cranes sent by Japanese schoolchildren, completed the unfinished 356 cranes for Sadako, and sent them aloft into the skies in honor of Sadako and world peace.

This month at ARTspot we had dedicated a window in her honour. The antique typewriter holds a brief story of her life, and the paper cranes we folded with her legacy in mind. If you'd like to fold some paper cranes, come on by - we have a free instructional handout for you!

Grey Days Can Bring Bright Color

We all develop coping skills for getting through these long days of winter. As artists we can bring color to our life with our artistic process. I find myself longing to paint bright, saturated canvases and the bigger the better! ARTspot is also sporting tropical window displays this month, and the studio could not be more cheerful. Whenever you stop in, be sure to check out the ever-evolving displays back there. Tracy  

Detail from current work, collaging in symbols of home for me: waffles, music and cross-stitch.
From my "Save A Painting" Acrylic Class at ARTspot Feb 2, 2013. Tracy Felix

Angela Bandurka instructing Fume Free Oil Painting last Sunday in the ARTspot Studio.

Mini manikin men sporting paper umbrellas. ARTspot window display February 2013.

 We have been building our book selection. This month we have new titles about color mixing and DARING COLOR!! ARTspot window display February 2013. 
ARTspot also a gallery showing contemporary art. Think of us when looking for gorgeous, exceptional paintings, sculpture and jewelry by the local artists we represent.  Painting shown, by Stephanie Reilly,  is part of our current show. 

A Conversation with Angela Bandurka

Angela Bandurka is an award-winning artist, and also a colleague at ARTspot. You’ll see from her accent (favourite… colours…) that she hails from British Columbia, Canada. Talking with Angela about art is always a joyful and inspiring experience!

Scott:   What are the most important materials you use to make your art?

Angela:   Wow. What a good question. I tend to start thinking too much about this and I'm going to go crazy! Essentially, I could make my art with any materials and support – it could even be a stick and some sand! The end product may change depending on my situation and time, but I will always create.
Scott:   Haha! That’s great – I’d love to see your Stick & Sand Collection someday. What materials are you utilizing in your current projects?
Angela:   As far as the key ingredients that are specific to the work I’m doing today, I'd say these are my Top5:
  • Brushes

  • Canvases

  • Paints

  • Modeling Paste

  • Gesso 

Scott:   What techniques have you developed that have proven to be essential to your art-making process?
Angela:   I always cover my canvas with light modeling paste as my first step. It's essential to my art-making process because I have discovered that I detest the uniform texture of canvas, but I like the give of the fabric. Modeling paste allows me to create a texture that is not uniform, but can allow bits of canvas texture through in places and still allows the fabric to give under my brush. 
Scott:   What is your favorite art-tool at this time?
Angela:   My favourite tool is a flat or bright brush. I will use different sizes of this style of brush for everything. It allows a thin line as well as a thick line. When using oils I enjoy fluffy makeup brushes as a way of softening my edges and blurring sections.
Scott:   Where do you find your inspiration to create art?
Angela:   I find inspiration in everything! I don't have a choice in whether I create art or not. I go to bed dreaming about painting, what colours I'd use for a specific piece and different ways I can create interesting imagery. Sometimes in nightmares I imagine dark paintings. I might paint these at some point, but right now it's not time for that. Inspiration comes to me in quiet moments. When I'm watching my son play, seeing scenes around home that are beautiful - the play of light in the trees, a flutter of a bird or butterfly, or anything else external that makes me calm and that makes me feel good. 
Scott:   Who are your essential influences right now? What is it about them that stirs you?
Angela:   My essential influences? I have had many that have led me to where I am now, and I continue to find more that help me shape and change the way I create. My grandma and great grandpa, who were both artists, were my first influences as a very young child! Right now, I'm influenced by Picasso and his life -- the way he continued to evolve as an artist, more so than even his art in itself! I see that as a huge influence on me and who I am as an artist and the way I try to think about my art.
Scott:   How would you describe the art you’ve chosen to bring into your living space?
Angela:   There are three types of art in my home:
  1. Art created by people I love, my grandmother, other distant relatives, my mom, my son, friends...
  2. Pieces that I've purchased because they spoke to me. I buy art for emotional reasons, not decorative ones.
  3. Some of my art has been passed down to me by ancestors – going back even farther than my grandparents.

Scott:   What would you love to add to your collection?

Angela:   I'd love to add more functional art - replacing objects that I use daily with handmade, creative pieces. Furniture, dishes, and the like. If money were no object, I'd have hand-painted Spanish tiles in place of my floorboards, and original one-of-a-kind wooden furniture carved sleek and elegantly by someone who loves their craft.

Come As You Are!

by Angela Bandurka

"Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be.
As a friend, as a friend, as an old enemy."

Appropriate for the city of Edmonds, these lyrics of Nirvana's song, Come As You Are, says it all. Everyone is welcome down here - young, old, hipsters, traditionalists. Folks who grew up here but moved away are coming back, because of the energy and artisan craftsmanship in the shops around downtown.

The smell of artisan spirit is everywhere (a bad play on words, I know - obviously there was Nirvana playing on my car stereo this morning).

Last night as I was teaching my water-soluble oils class, Tracy Felix Fraker commented on the wonderful scent of the paint (fume free!) that filled the studio. It's true! The whole place smelled of creativity and intention. 

At the new butcher shop on the corner, the air is filled with the bouquet of high quality meat and meat products, crafted lovingly. And down the street you can catch the whiff of a mix of Thai, Mexican, Coffeeshop and other delightful aromas that make you want to stay and eat, play, chill.

There is a liveliness here. You see it in the hand-holding elderly couple window shopping in the rain, and you see it in the young teenagers browsing our selection of art supplies. It's everywhere.

Come, as you are.

Mastering Values with Monet

By Angela Bandurka

Claude Monet was clearly a master painter. But one of the things I appreciate most about his work is the way he used colour and value - it's brilliant! 

Today in my Fume Free Oil painting class, I talked to my students about how colour can trick your eye into seeing values wrong. Remember, value refers to the difference between dark and light. 

Monet gives us a perfect example of this in "Impression, Sunrise."

Impression, Sunrise
Claude Monet, 1873
This painting has some vibrant blues, greens, yellows and oranges in it. The fiery rising sun pops out at you. Your eye might think that the sun is lighter than the sky around it...  but it's not.

As you can see in the black and white version, the sun virtually disappears! 

Impression, Sunrise - in black and white
It's like magic.

Why does this matter? 

It can really help you when you feel like something is just not working in your painting to revisit your values. 

Use a photo editing software like iPhoto, Photoshop, or others, to turn your resource black and white. Then it'll be more clear to you where your darkest darks, lightest lights, and mid-tones should go.

And don't forget that you can exaggerate them, too! As artists, we have tools in our "toolbox" that we can employ to imply a 3D scene on a 2D surface. 

Here are some of mine: (these rules can be broken, but they are usually true and very helpful):

  • VALUE: Darks approach, Lights recede. Things that are closer to you are darker - so your shadows in the trees that are right beside you are going to be much darker than the shadow in the trees 100 feet away.
  • PROPORTION: Objects get larger as they get closer to you and smaller as they move farther away. That's why the road gets narrower and narrower as it goes off into the distance until it becomes a spec.
  • SATURATION: Colors are brighter and have more yellow in them than colors that are in far away objects. Think of distant mountain ranges. They might be full of green trees, but they still look blue and pale. Distant objects are usually greyer and blue/purple-ish. That's because of the atmosphere, which usually drops the color yellow first in the spectrum, followed by others one by one.
  • DETAIL: Objects that are closer are gonna have more detail - but as an artist you can determine where you want the eye to go first and be more detailed in that area. So you can fudge this one a little (think of how a camera lens can do this for you - now do it for yourself in your work!)

Encourage your Child's Creativity with Positivity!

by Angela Bandurka

I've taught numerous types of children's art classes, as well as adult art classes (plus I am a mom as well). If there's one thing I've noticed in the classrooms and dining rooms of young people, it's that they love to create and their parents want to help them but don't know how.

Well here are some pieces of advice I've picked up along the years to share with you :)

- Use positive language! For example, if your child asks you how to draw a house, you might say something like this "I'm not sure, why don't we try putting a triangle on top of a rectangle and then go from there?"
- Let your child take the lead on creative projects. You can help them in a playful way, but try not to lead them at all. This will shut them down.
- Use a playful, soothing and encouraging tone. Creative time should be a safe environment to foster creativity. Playing gentle, fun, playful music can be helpful.
- Don't stress out about the mess! Set up expectations with your kids: "Why don't we create and be messy for one hour and then let's clean up together!"
- Make a variety of creative tools available. Paint, pencils, paper, cardboard, items from the recycling bin, glue, tape, etc!
- Encourage them to enjoy the process. That's where the magic happens. They'll take your lead on this!
- Send your child to art classes! Classes are usually provided through community centers and local art supply stores - at ARTspot we have many classes for younglings on our website:

- Never ever project your insecurities onto your child. It's ok to feel like you're out of your comfort zone, just don't express it to your kids in a negative way. Kids look up to their parents. If you say something like "Art stresses me out" then your child will think that they should feel that way, too.
- Do not tell your child that they are doing anything wrong, even if the house they're drawing looks like a mushroom. Art is subjective and there is no wrong way to do it. Think about Picasso and his work!
- Do not give your child unsolicited help for something they're doing: if they seem frustrated or you see how they could improve their art in some way, find a POSITIVE way to express it, making sure you say something good about their work before helping: "Hey! That's a great use of the colour blue! What would happen if you added another colour somewhere in there? Try it if you want!" - and then leave them to do it themselves.

The key is letting them create, succeed and fail, feel secure in the knowledge that this is their personal time to be free to express themselves. The benefits are many!

Art not only helps our kids, it can help US, too - so get in there and get messy with your kids. You can always clean it up later!



What are the Benefits of Art Education for Children?
Read all about it at

  • Hand-eye Coordination
  • Concentration
  • Creativity
  • Self Expression
  • Risk Taking

Long Term Benefits of Art Classes
The whole deal can be explored at
Researchers have recently discovered the health benefits of art class programs particularly in helping children and teens with emotional and behavioral problems. It has also improved behaviors and helped promote positive thinking.

Arts in Health: a Review of the Medical Literature 

From the Arts Council of England:

Different artforms have been shown to have different effects.

  • The use of literature, creative writing and poetry in mental health services produces significant benefits for both the patient and the care provider.
  • It enables patients to regain control over their own inner world, increasing their mental wellbeing. It helps the nursing and medical staff to understand the cultural, social, ethnic and economic factors influencing the behaviour of patients
  • Theatre, drama and visual arts all provide patients with powerful ways of expressing themselves and understanding their own world. This promotes empathy between patients and staff
  • Music, singing and dancing all help mental health patients to recall events from their lives. These artforms help them to express themselves and, on a physical level, to increase their range of movement 

It highlights the crucial importance of the arts and humanities in

  • inducing positive physiological and psychological changes in clinical outcomes
  • reducing drug consumption
  • shortening length of stay in hospital
  • increasing job satisfaction
  • promoting better doctor-patient relationships
  • improving mental healthcare
  • developing health practitioners’ empathy across gender and cultural diversity 

Aging and Health Benefits of Art:
AARP Link: "Lively Arts"
"We know intuitively that art and creativity can dramatically improve older people's quality of life and health" - Gay Hanna, Ph.D., Executive Director, Society for the Arts in Healthcare (SAH). "Creative activities like painting, writing, pottery, drama, singing, and storytelling raise self-esteem, increase enthusiasm for life, and result in fewer doctor visits," says Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., of George Washington University's Center on Aging, Health, and Humanities at the George Washington University Medical Center.
More information on this is also available at this link

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

by Angela Bandurka

Have you ever seen that show from the 80s? Cheers. The show was centered around a pub where everybody knows each other, one the main characters is Norm - whose name is yelled out whenever he comes in.

That sense of community is something I feel whenever I'm at ARTspot. Tracy and Denise have really created a welcoming, safe and creative spot here. Locals come in all the time just to hang out and see what's new, check out our artist's contributions and chat with the employees (all of whom are artist). And as a part-time employee, I am encouraged to focus on relationships. It's like I'm not even working!

Well, last week we got our own "Norm" - and his name really is Norm, Norm Dalke.

Norm and I got to chatting. The subject of life's passion came up - for me, it's being an artist and creating art; for him, it was being a pilot and flying.

Most interesting to me was how similar our experiences in such different fields were. He told me about how as a small child he saw small aircraft flying above his home, and from about age 5 he would dream of flying nightly. Once he became a pilot as a young adult, the dreams didn't happen as regularly because he was LIVING his dream! And if he was ever cranky at home, his wife (and mother of their five children) would demand that he leave the house and get into the air immediately. For me, the bug to be an artist began as a toddler, hiding crayons in my diaper and creating murals on the wall behind the crib (I even have photographic evidence - see below, which my mom snapped before spanking me :). The dreams, as well, are the same - I dream of painting and creating regularly, and the dreams are pretty vivid. When I'm not creating they're more frequent.

At 86, Norm says he still gets up in a plane or glider as much as he can, though he no longer pilots the crafts. His dreams don't haunt him anymore, either - maybe because now that he's retired he can have peace knowing that he fulfilled his passion and can now just enjoy it on his own terms.

What's YOUR passion?

An Interview with Barbara Wyatt

Barbara Wyatt is a ceramicist/sculptor with a palpable verve for her work. In fact, just conversing about art made her restless to get back to the studio to create! 

Scott: What are the most important materials for you in your art-making?

Barbara:    Clay and glaze, of course, but also items I find "in the wild". It's natural for me forage for interesting bits and pieces as I walk the beach, for example, or when I travel. Something beautiful catches my eye and stirs my creative spirit. 

Scott: How do you use the things you collect?

Barbara:    I keep these found objects in storage containers in the desk area of my studio; when my clay pieces have been fired and glazed, I often find adding a feather, stone or shell gives me the feeling of having completed the piece of art.

Scott: I've seen that in your work, and you're right -- it does add a real sense of completion.  

Barbara:    One of the things that drives my aesthetic is the desire to create bridges between Nature and Art. Because for me they are not really separate at all!

Scott: That's excellent, and it makes perfect sense. Where else are you finding inspiration?

Barbara:    Inspiration comes from multiple sources. I love to look through house design books and fabric/wallpaper designs. I have Art Deco books with fantastic designs that can be carved into the clay. Sometimes I use slip to create a raised design. Snorkeling on a recent trip to Hawaii gave me some ideas on using colored slips and carving.

Scott: What are you looking for in a slip? Do you make your own?

Barbara:    Slip is made of liquid clay with additives that keep it in suspension for a consistency of buttermilk. Yes, I do make my own. Colorants can be added to it.  Most functional ceramics have a coat of glaze over the slip to seal the work. If making something non-functional, you can choose to skip the clear sealing glaze and leave the slip bare, for a matt look. 

Scott: What tools are you using to carve and texturize your work?

Barbara:    Sometimes I use handmade tools because there's something specific I want to achieve. But I use kitchen tools, cardboard, car floor mats, just about anything you can impress into the clay! The interplay of these textures with particular glazes is what I am trying to work with to accentuate this shallow and raised surface design.

Scott: Are you experimenting with any new techniques right now?

Barbara:    Most recently I have been drawn to using a torch to dry the surface of the clay. When stretched, this produces a serendipity texturing of clay strips that can be molded into space -- in recent pieces, specifically the form of the female torso.

Scott: Wow, I had no idea you were using a torch to coax such delicate contours from the clay! What are your big influences right now?

Barbara:   I love to see how other ceramic artists are using this very malleable substance to create.  My students influence me too. When they ask, "Can I do this?" -- whatever this might be -- it's such a valuable question! Can I do this? is a question that stirs my soul. Speaking of which, it's time for me to get in the studio and get busy!

An Interview With Darlene Gentry Lucas

Darlene Gentry Lucas is a watercolorist and art instructor; her joie de vivre is readily evident in both pursuits! It was a treat to have the chance to hear her responses to a few of my questions.   ~Scott Burnett

Scott:   What is the most important material you use to make your art?

Darlene:   Daniel Smith Granulating Watercolors.

Scott:   What are your preferred painting surfaces?

Darlene:   I love both hot and cold press paper. Cold press is more forgiving. But, when I’m painting and emphasizing my “marks”, then I like hot press because it is so immediate. But always, I love Arches paper. It takes a lot of abuse.

Scott:   What techniques have you developed that have proven to be essential to your art-making process?

Darlene:   Since graduate school I have used sketchbooks to record ideas and make sketches. I usually have one 8x10 sketchbook full for each year.

Scott:   What keeps you so dedicated to your sketchbook practice?

Darlene:   Sketchbooks have been part of my life since my undergraduate days. In graduate school, my professors continued to encourage me to use them. They are the repository for sketches, watercolor formulas, notes from workshops, photographs from the Hubbell or Kepler Observatories-anything that interests me. I carry a sketchbook everywhere. I’m never bored. There’s always something to read or sketch. Later, when I want to think about an idea for a painting, my sketchbook is a very personal resource.

Scott:   Are you currently adding any new techniques to your repertoire?

Darlene:   I am always experimenting with sand, salts and granulating watercolors.

Scott:   What is your favorite art-tool at this time?

Darlene:   A bridge. I have a genetic tremor called Essential Tremor and the bridge helps steady my hand.
My other favorite “tool” is my travel kit. It includes a small paint set, zipit bag, travel brush, small watercolor block, sketchbook and Faber-Castell triangular pencils.

Scott:   Is there a particular reason you use triangular pencils?

Darlene: I could tell you it’s because they don’t roll off the table, which is true. But, I think the real reason is the grip is more stable.

Scott:   Where do you look for inspiration?

Darlene:   Everywhere! But most specifically, I find inspiration in past and present-day theories of Physics and Astronomy. I’m not a scientist, but science is my stimulus.

Scott:   Fascinating! Do you have any favorite tutors or “tour guides” in those disciplines?

Darlene:   Brian Greene and Lisa Randall; I love the clarity they bring to physics.

Scott:   Which artists are influencing you right now?

Darlene:   Joseph Raffael for the liquid beauty of his watercolors.  Mark Mehaffey for his strong composition, especially in his abstractions.  Katherine Chang Liu for the timeless quality of her paintings. And for her enthusiasm and her support.

Scott:   How would you describe the art you’ve chosen to bring into your living space?

Darlene:   I like to collect local artists. Lynn Scott, Janis Graves, Barb Childs, Joyce Donaldson, Kathy Rinaldi, Mary Bess Johnson, Sue Robertson, Alice Owen, Tracy Fraker, Molly Winton… a wide variety!

Scott:   What would you love to add to your collection?

Darlene:   I would like to own work by Joan Archer and Nancy Thompson.

New Wave Palettes

We were contacted by Kyle O'Brien a while ago. He and his brother have a new company in Pennsylvania creating absolutely beautifully made white maple wood palettes. The design is by their father, who had been oil painting for over 40 years, was frustrated with the heavy or awkward to hold, causing pain in the hand, thumb, and wrist. Others lacked functionality or were not made well. The answer for him involved a trip to the lumber yard, a jig saw, sand paper, and many free afternoons. With that, the design for a new artist palette was created. The idea of New Wave grew for years as he invented new palette shapes around his three point design, for his own use. With our combined efforts a simple idea became reality as new shapes were created and old shapes were refined around his original three point design, with emphasis on comfort, quality and functionality. New Wave's origins are the same as so many time honored artist supplies: designed by artists filling a personal need for their artistic process. New Wave designed Artist Palettes, handcrafted with hard white maple by the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Come in and see, as ARTspot was chosen by the O'Brien family to carry these lovely palettes in Washington state.

We make gifting easy!

At ARTspot we know art supplies, and we're passionate about putting together gift packages that'll make your holiday shopping easier this year!

So... come check out some of the combos you can pick up for VERY reasonable prices chock full of fun for the art lover in your life.

Photos: Angela Bandurka
You can blame the irreverent text on Angela as well!

Pure Joy of ART

Every day I meet a new customer with a wonderful story of their art journey. People who wander into ARTspot are a self selected group of people with an eye for beautiful color, design.... aesthetics. Some have not done art for many years, and some are practicing professional artists. But what we all have in common is the desire for that awesome feeling of the creative moment. It can be part frustration, leading to ambivilance, confusion, focused problem solving to the moment of pure joy. Something is triggered that makes you a uniquely creative soul at the moment of inspiration. Art happens.


Photo: Scott Burnett
Glass sculpture: Tyler Kimball
Ceramic sculpture: Mike O'Day