Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Holiday Displays at ABC Carpet in New York

ABC Carpet in New York City is probably one of my favorite places to go to just "absorb" the creativity and be inspired on a totally atmospheric level.  Today some of their Holiday displays were up, although I'm sure they will change again several times before Christmas.  enjoy the pics!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mind Body Spirit Artist Interview: Karen Casey Smith

If you've been reading the Mind Body Spirit Odyssey, or have followed us through our Marketplace over the last few years, you'll probably recognize the work of artist Karen Casey Smith. We have been fortunate to be able to use her artwork on numerous occasions illustrate our articles.  Meditative, simple and beautiful...whether through her stunning photographic images or her exploration of the Mandala form, Karen's work makes a specific, focused statement...while always motioning the viewer in for a closer look.

                                                                                                        ~ diane fergurson

Awakening in Your Spiritual Heart
MBS:  Can you tell us a little about your background?  How you got started in art?

Question 1:  My start in art was through my mother's paper dolls. My mom is creative in so many ways. When I was very young, she used to draw paper dolls for us to play with. I was enchanted with her drawings, and wanted to draw them too. I watched her, practiced, and found that I could draw them, and it was fun! Once I started school, friends would ask me to draw things for them. I feel very lucky to be a part of such a creative, and talented family.

Karen:  For many years, I mostly did drawings in pencil, or charcoal pencil. It's a peaceful, meditative activity that I really enjoy. I also loved to write, and by that I mean, the pencil or pen to paper, forming the letters. Handwriting is so beautiful. I've done some calligraphy, watercolor, and was also a comic book letterer for a short time. After reading Judith Cornell's book, Mandala, I was inspired to begin making mandalas in colored pencil. For awhile that was the only art I was interested in making. Once I got a computer, I started learning Photoshop and loved the freedom of it. You're only limited by your imagination, and knowing the program. A dear friend send me a link to flower mandalas, and they were so amazing that I had to try my hand at making one. Because I wanted more of my own photographs for making new flower mandalas, I got serious about photography, and found a new love in that.

Sho Yo

Question 2:  You are both a photographer and, as you said, work with digital images to create your Mandalas.
Do you prefer one over the other?  Or does one really feed into the other?


Karen:  I love doing both! When I go out shooting, I'm surrounded by the scents, the sights, the energy of the place, and filled with love and appreciation for each subject. All these things feel as though they're kind of downloaded into me, and recorded in the images I make. Later when I open the photographs up to work on them, or create the mandalas from them, I have access to all of that information again, and that same wonderful energy comes through in my finished work. When I'm working at the computer, time seems to cease to exist. Each image, each mandala, seems to unfold organically, with ideas and connections occurring during the working process. So yes, one does feed into the other.



Solitaire-White Lotus Blossom
MBS:  I've noticed that you really do seem to have a very focused, meditative connection to the energy of your subject matter, both with the photos and your mandalas.  How does spirituality play a role in your work and as an artist?


Snow Bunny
Karen: While all aspects of life are important, my spiritual life is my foundation. It's essential to my life, and my art. All things are spiritual, including work, family, our bodies, thoughts, and our talk, so it's part of everything though not separate. We're all spiritual beings. Everything is interconnected. Everything is energy. There's a vibration, that might be perceived as a 'feeling quality', to the energy of each being, place, and object. We can just be more, or less, conscious of this.

Making artwork is a spiritual experience for me. It was always that way, even before I knew it as spiritual, or had the words to begin to describe it. In a way it's difficult to talk about all of this, because the place you create from is a silent space. It's unlimited, pure potential, so full, but the experience isn't in words. Poetry, music, images, any work of art, is a physical expression of the artist's journey of connection and communication with the Divine, and a path that can be used by others to have their own direct experience of connection. Creative expression is one of many paths to this place.

Sometimes while working with an image I feel as though I'm watching the process, though I know I have my part in it. Once I begin, the creation takes on a life of its own. The outcome is better if I remain open to inner guidance, and let the piece dictate what steps come next, instead of holding too tightly to my original vision. It's very much a collaboration.

While I'm making photographs, or editing and creating, I focus on peace, the connection with my subjects, my deep appreciation for them, their inherent divine perfection, and love, so much love. All of this energy comes through the images, and the mandalas. I truly believe that the images, and most especially the mandalas, actually radiate positive energy, and that each one has a unique vibration. They can be used to assist in balancing the energy of people and places, and for contemplation. All of my work is uplifting in nature.



Communion
MBS:  Is there anyone or anything in particular that has has a big impact, or influence, on you as an artist, or
on your work?

Karen:  A big impact on my work came when I read Judith Cornell's book, Mandala - Luminous Symbols for Healing, based on workshops she gave. She taught people to access their own personal, meaningful, symbols. They would then use their symbols to make sacred art, for transformation and healing. I found the book absolutely inspiring, a book you really want to participate in! Before I'd even read the whole book, I made my first mandala. I still love making them.

Also, for years I've practiced Reiki and T'ai Chi, and use other energy balancing systems, and these all have taught me greater awareness, and definitely influence my work.


Eternalism
Question 6:  What's a typical work day like for you?  Do you work on your photography and artwork every day?

MBS: The only thing that's typical is the way I begin my day. If I get a good start, set the tone, the rest of the day works out great.
After a nice glass of water, I do Donna Eden's Five Minute Energy Routine, then a modified form of the Tibetan Yogic Exercises, at least five minutes of Zhan Zhuang - the Embracing the Tree form, and then a meditation. Depending on weather, I practice my T'ai Chi outside then, or later in the day. Then it's time for breakfast, brush and play with the cats, and after that, start to work.
As a small business owner, my work includes bookkeeping, packing, shipping, inventory control, creating, and marketing, plus improving my skills, and keeping up with new technology. It's always interesting, challenging, and rewarding. And yes, I do work on photography, or artwork, every day; that's the part I love the most! Some days are filled with other work, or unexpected things come up. When that happens, I spend time on my creative work in the evening. There's either some idea I really want to try out, or I want to do just a little more on something I'm working on. I always make space for my favorite part of my work!


 MBS:  What kind of photographic equipment do you like to use?

Karen:  Other than my camera and my tripod, Photoshop is the "equipment" I like to use the best! Once you know the tools and their functions, whatever you can imagine, you can make visible with Photoshop. It's almost magical!

MBS:  Your work really does have a signature look to it...both the mandalas and your photos.  Your images are very crisp, clear and clean....colors are often bold.  What is it you are striving to portray in your images? 

Karen:  It's definitely a feeling. My work is about light and energy, about the vibrational aspect of our world. Capturing the peace and perfection present in all things, through the beauty all around us, is my focus. I hope that my work may act as a bridge to connect the viewer to the spirit, the truest essence, of my subjects, and this in turn will assist them in connecting to their own intrinsic beauty, their own peace and perfection.
  
Danza de la Vida
MBS: I know many artists who are very hesitant about selling their work online. I've noticed that you actively sell quite a bit of of your work that way and are on several different selling sites.  Your also pretty active with your blog. How has selling online and social networking worked out for you as an artist? Any advice you can give to other artists who are thinking about selling their work this way?

Karen: Having an online presence has been a positive experience. I love selling online. Sales come through at any time of the day or night. I meet lots of really nice people, and have made some amazing friends that I might never have known otherwise. When you sell online, your work has the potential to be seen by more people than you could ever reach in person. Your work is available to buyers at their convenience, unrestricted by the time of day, or where they're located.

My advice for selling online is to deliver high quality products, give superior service, be easy to deal with, and respond quickly and pleasantly to any communication. Provide quality pictures, and information about your work and processes, but don't be offended if it isn't read. People are busy, and have more information coming in than most anyone could keep up with. :)

Opening a shop, or creating a web site to show your work, isn't enough. Besides connecting with your audience, they need to remember you, and know where to easily find you; this is ongoing work. Marketing and promoting are a huge part of your job, though these things can simply be the ways you connect with people, not a one sided activity. Also, life will be easier and more fun if you're adaptable, and love to learn new things. Make peace with the fact that things are always changing, and there's always something new to learn. Have confidence in your work, and have fun!

MBS: Any advice you have for those who wish to pursue an artistic path?

Karen: If you feel a pull to follow an artistic path, begin to take some action in that direction, and make it a priority. They say that people regret the things they didn't do, more than the things they did do. Don't wait for conditions to be "just right," or for anyone else to approve. You don't have to quit your day job. Begin small, begin anywhere. Do even a little toward your path consistently, and it will build on itself. Make friends who are positive people, are supportive, who share your core values, and are moving forward. Jim Rohn said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who and what you surround yourself with matters.

Do your work with a feeling of appreciation, keep touch with why you love it, and why you chose it. This way it will always be an adventure, always be fresh.


Thank you Karen 


For more information about Karen Casey Smith, you can visit her blog.  Her work is also available for sale on Etsy and Artfire

Additional interviews from the Mind Body Spirit Artist Series:
Ben Isaiah
Emily Balivet
Laura Milnor Iverson
Joanne Miller Rafferty
Jude McConkey
Atmara Rebecca Cloe 
Alison Fennell
Fernanda Gonzalez
PattyMara Gourley

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Making the World Smile - Mali the Sheepdog, at the Montreal Botanical Garden

I was looking through some photos recently of garden sculptures and topiarys, when I remembered the photos I had taken last summer of Mali the Sheepdog at the Montreal Botanical Garden - which is a world leader in mosaiculture art and technology.

This enormous dog greets the guests who have come to visit the gardens.  It measures approximately 6 foot tall and is a living mosaiculture made from an ornamental grass, Weeping Brown Sedge, Carex flagellifera ('Bronzita').  Mali on loan to the Botanical Garden as a way of sharing part of the piece created by International Mosaiculture of Montreal (MIM) as Montreal's entry in the 2009 Hamamatsu International Mosaiculture event in Japan.  The work was inspired by the Frederic Back film "The Man Who Planted Trees", and took the top international jury award and the "people's choice" award at that event.


The piece symbolizes both nature and culture, along with the story of a single man who transformed an entire landscape through his own actions.  It is hoped, that through actions...big or small...people will re-connect with nature and help change the world.


Mali was absolutely wonderful to see, but what was really nice was watching the expressions on the faces of the visitors who went up close to take a look.  Pure delight and wonder. 
All kinds of artwork is created in this world for all kinds of reasons and intentions.  It's always nice to see pieces that make people smile... 



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gluten-Free Rice Crispy Treats

Ever since my daughter became gluten-free, I've been experimenting with different baking options.  I've found that introducing new flours into the diet and also experimenting with different leavening agents to actually be rather enlightening, as well as extremely interesting.  Since I've always enjoyed cooking, it's been more of a discovery of sorts.  Through this process I've also realized that for people with a yeast allergy (like myself)... many of the foods and baking ingredients that you will end up cooking with and eating also tend to be gluten-free.

The other day I was trying to think of something simple to make, that would satisfy my sweet tooth, as well as hers, so I thought about some of the foods she use to like when she was growing up.  I decided to make some "Rice Krispie" treats.

It was pretty simple.  Instead of using the "normal" brand of cereal I used the Whole Foods 365 brand, Brown Rice Crisps (healthier).  The gluten-free marshmallows came from Whole Foods as well (in the baking department) - and I also noticed that they are Kosher.  So if you are looking for gluten-free marshmallows in a regular supermarket, if it has a Kosher section try looking there.

All you do to make the treats is melt 2 Tb. of butter together with the sack of marshmallows (7oz) in a non-stick saucepan.  Stir quickly.  When it is melted, poor the mixture into 6 cups of the brown rice cereal and "very" quickly stir it together.  Transfer it to a pre-buttered, non stick 9x13 pan and press down on the top to even it out.  One trick to do, is butter a piece of wax paper in advance and press down using it instead of your hands.  Cool and then cut into squares.  enjoy!

                                   
                                             Another Buddy Fergurson approved recipe!



More Gluten Free Posts:

Gluten Free Mini Cheesecake Recipe

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mind Body Spirit Artist Interview: PattyMara Gourley

Many of us first became introduced to the world of artist PattyMara Gourley through the Mind Body Spirit Marketplace when it was located on the now defunct 1000 Markets.  To me, her mixed media artwork has always possessed a certain je ne sais quoi- that indescribable magical something which sets her apart from the pack.  Is it her personal style?  Her immense knowledge base on indigenous cultures and spirituality?  Or maybe it's just her invaluable accumulated knowledge and wisdom as an older woman.  Whatever it is, PattyMara is PattyMara, and the world is a much more vibrant, positive place by having her and her wonderful art in it!
                                                                                                                ~ diane fergurson


Skeleton Day of the Dead Platter
MBS:  How old are you and when did you become a full time artist?

PattyMara:  I'm 62 and I became a full time artist after my children started high school and college, at age 50.  Before that I worked as a freelance graphics designer/illustrator and assisted homebirth midwives (five years of being on call 24/7!).  I'm never going to retire...I'll just keep making art until it's time for me to go. 

MBS:    Can you tell us a little about your background?  How you got started in art?

PattyMara:  I have clear memories of my mother smoothing out the white paper that came from the butcher, then giving me and my brothers rulers and pencils to make geometric designs to color with crayons.  I might have been four or five years old then...and through my early childhood, I have many memories of using the simple art supplies, like colored paper, magazines and paste to make mosaics and collages. She taught me to sew and cook and bake.   I went to Catholic grade school, high school and two years of college, where art took a back seat to academics.  By the time I transferred to UC Santa Cruz in my junior year, I found a whole new world of art opportunities.  I wandered into a pottery studio and learned to throw functional stoneware pots, and fell in love with clay.  I continued with my academic major of anthropology, but minored in art.  After college I pursued pottery on and off through the years until I became a full time artist when my children were in high school and college.  I gave my children the same opportunities to play with simple art projects all through their childhood, like my mother gave me.   Her gift of creative encouragement planted many seeds within me, and I harvest them every day now.  I have never doubted my talents, because she believed in me and gave me all that I needed to express myself freely.

Frida & Diego Skull Travel Mug
MBS:  It's interesting that you mention your major in anthropology because I've always noticed that the belief systems of different cultures are predominately reflected in your work.  For example your pottery is not just functional pottery.  It's much more then that. The same with your Day of the Dead work.  What are your thoughts on that?

PattyMara:  Anthropology came into my life through a wonderful teacher, who worked in Guatemala. My first class with her in college hooked me to the mesmerizing study of other cultures.  What galvanized my attention was the shared role of ceremony, story and art.  From Inuit shaman masks to Spiro Mound clay effigy pipes to rock art petroglyphs, all of them were connected to ceremony and story.  I romped through anthropology classes at UC Santa Cruz, concurrent with learning to be a potter.  Perhaps that is the first connection of the two strands in my life.  Later I learned that pottery shards last for centuries and remain to tell the story of their people, long gone.  My love for anthropology and pottery has remained entwined.

Ceremony plays a big part in my life, and I found its source in the early matriarchal cultures, when the Great Mother, the divine feminine, reigned, long before the patriarchal Father God(s).  My work reflects the celebration of the turning wheel of the seasons and the remembering ceremonies, like Day of the Dead.  My teapots made of New Mexican mica clay mirror the Yixing teapots of the Sung Dynasty (also made of burnished mica clay).  My painted silks are gilded with words from Rumi, O'Donohue and the Dalai Lama.  All of it nourishes my soul and hopefully will nourish others as well.

Mica Clay Blessing Bowl
MBS:  You really do have an intense love for mica clay. How and when did you discover it?
As a material, how does it differ from working with clays, such as stoneware or porcelain for example?

PattyMara:  You are right.  I do have an intense love for mica clay.  I discovered it in 2008, when I traveled to New Mexico and stayed at Felipe Ortega's Owl Peak Pottery and B & B (found on a random internet search, what good fortune! www.felipeortega.com. While staying there, I watched Felipe make a mica cook pot by hand and he cautioned me about the clay, saying "Once you touch this clay, you will never want to work with any other."  He spoke the truth.  I ordered a hundred pounds of his clay to be mailed back to my home in California.  Most mica clay artist handbuild, using the coil and scrape method of the traditional pueblo pottery traditions.  But I've been a wheel potter for forty years, and even though folks here are surprised that I use my wheel, it is just what comes naturally for me.

Micaceous clay differs from other clays in that it is "shorter", less plastic, and it just feels so good to work with energetically.  This clay emerged from ancient clay deposits here in northern New Mexico, was dug with reverent, respectful prayers and it resonates with Mother Earth's song.  Throwing it on my wheel and burnishing the surfaces for hours with a stone is like entering a spirit-infused meditation with an old wise Grandmother. What's not to like? 

Finished mica clay pottery is sturdy and useful as cookware, ovenware and for everyday enjoyment.  I like to make functional pottery, elevating each meal to a feast of gratitude and communion.  I believe finding mica clay back at Felipe's studio is what started the magical journey for me and my husband to find a new home in New Mexico after he retired.  It cast a spell of enchantment, and I am so grateful!

Buddha Mica Teapot
MBS:  As you mentioned, you relocated to New Mexico fairly recently from being in California for many years.  How are you finding the creative community in NM and how has the move impacted your artwork?

PattyMara:  We just celebrated our first full year of living here in northern New Mexico.  I participated in the Pilar Studio Tour last year, three weeks after unloading our moving truck because one of my new neighbors encouraged me early on to do the tour.  Crazy, after the rigors of packing and moving, but the tour was a magnificent success for me.  This year I joined the team to organize the tour, and will be setting up my display in the next few days.  I have found the art community here to be numerous in numbers and warmly welcoming in attitude.  Within a few months of relocating, I found a gallery shop in Taos, Coyote Moon, which has actively promoting and selling my Day of the Dead ceramics.  Additionally, I've been included in two group shows of women artists, including one at Ghost Ranch (a great honor to me to see my fiber art hanging near the landscape where Georgia O'Keeffe painted).  Both shows were successful in sales, but more importantly, gave me the gift of new friendships with women. 


Mice Wedding Cake Topper
How has our move has impacted my art?  At first blush I would say:  red willow and nuno felting.  I signed up for a one day willow basket weaving class in a nearby town.  The baskets I made introduced me to red willow, which grows everywhere here ('Taos' translates in the pueblo language as 'people of the red willow').  Though I won't ever be a famous basket maker I did enjoy getting to know this native plant.   Then I took a felting class from a new woman friend and discovered how much I love working with wool fibers on silk.  My 20 years with silk painting has given me a familiarity with silk, but layering the wisps of wool, alpaca and cashmere rovings to a silk ground and then felting them to form a completely new fabric, well, that's just too wonderful for words.  I make frames from bound willow branches to stretch and stitch my nunofelted pieces, and what emerges is a feather light ethereal piece, born from this land and celebrating the sky.  

I have always worked in many media (often critiqued by the 'art world' experts as unfocussed).  I pay them no mind.  It's just how I feel the creative urge expressing itself.  A three or four week concentration on mica pottery production may be followed by two or three weeks of silk painting or nuno felting or beading or collaging or messing around with fabric. Each foray has its own gift of discovery and fulfillment.  I am excited to begin each project, and I learn something new each time.  And, to be honest, I just love the collection of art supplies that I *need* to have on hand.  The clay, silks, willow, handmade papers, fabric swatches, collage ephemera, dyes, paints and fibers sooth and infuse me with creative sparks.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Cherry Blossom Twilight NunoQuilted Silk Scarf
MBS:  There are a lot of people who might not be acquainted with nunofelting.  Can you explain what it is?

PattyMara:  Nuno felting is a fabric technique developed by Polly Stirling, a fiber artist from New South Wales, Australia, around 1992. The name is derived from the Japanese word "nuno" meaning cloth. The technique bonds loose fiber, usually carded unspun wool roving (it looks like a fluffy cloud) onto a sheer open weave fabric such as silk gauze, creating a completely new fabric that is bonded by the felting action of the wool. The fibers can completely cover the background silk, or they may be used as a decorative design that allows the silk to show. Nuno felting often incorporates several layers of loose fibers combined to build up color, texture, and/or design elements in the finished fabric.  I also like to add other elements between the layers of roving such as wild silk fibers, called tussah silk, mohair curls, cashmere and other elements like ribbons, yarns and torn recycled silk saris. 

I created a body of work which I called NunoNebulae for my group fiber arts show at Ghost Ranch last spring.  I found my inspiration in the amazing photographs of nebulae taken by the Hubble space telescope and other NASA sources.  I layered different colors of wool rovings over black silk guaze, leaving much of the black silk exposed to represent the far reaches of space.  Felting all of the layers involves wetting the whole shebang with warm soapy water, then rolling it up in textured layers of bubble wrap and  bamboo sushi mats (for big pieces I use a bamboo sun shade).  Then the work begins:  rolling (with hands, forearms, elbows and feet) unrolling, rolling in the opposite direction, and finally "throwing" or slamming the big wet mess of silk and wool down onto a hard surface like a deep sink.  Al of this aerobic exercise is done to encourage tiny hooks within the wook fibers to grab onto the silk gauze and marry itself permanently to create a whole new bonded fabric.  kind of like a relationship, eh?  After is felted my NunoNebulae, I sewed tiny beads and crystals in the places where the stars actually are, to catch sparkles of light, then stretched and stitched them onto the red willow frames.

MBS:  I enjoy working with a variety of mixed media materials too in my work, so I understand and appreciate the discovery and exploration you described.  In working in a variety of mediums what have you discovered about yourself, both as a person and an artist?

Quan Yin Silk Meditation Banner


PattyMara:  It reveals my Aries nature!  Always looking for a new adventure, a new learning experience.  I like to think that I integrate each learning curve that a new technique requires into the accumulated knowledge from my past.  But really, I just like exploring unknown territory.  I don't mind making mistakes, because they hold big rewards as I learn how to correct and apply what I know to what I didn't know before I made the 'mistake'.  Also, I get to gather new materials, and that brings me such delight.  I probably won't ever just work in one medium, but who knows?  Anything can happen.

MBS:   How does spirituality play a role in your work and as an artist?

PattyMara:  Spirituality is nothing complicated for me.  It is who I am, how I navigate in the multileveled worlds of body (the physical), mind (the mental) and spirit (my Soul essence, the multifaceted being that is both me and All that Is).  I can't separate spirituality out of anything I am or I do.  It permeates, infuses and surrounds.  No separation, no distinction.  So when I take a walk up the dirt road beyond our land, and happen upon a basalt boulder covered with old petroglyphs (800 - 4000 years old!) pecked into the rock surface, I can sense the presence of the original artists who made them, the sagebrush still growing nearby which may have spread its fragrance to them as it does to me as I stand in the warming air.  I recognize without words or knowing the meaning of these symbols that they are numinous artifacts, still brimming with energy.     Mica clay has its own energy signature too, in addition to being sturdy, practical and beautiful.  It is infused with an angelic presence for me, who seems to like the name Micah...and this angelic being comes when asked and brings deep healing and other gifts.  I don't know how I know these things, they just appear naturally, and I simply breathe it all into my my heart with appreciation and awe.  I'm reminded of the Van Morrison album (best played loudly) "No Guru, no Method, no Teacher..."


Silk Wall Hanging
MBS:  What is a typical work day like for you?

PattyMara:  I wake up early, always have...I love the silence of dawn.  I've found that the first things I do in the morning are precious, important.  When I'm just fresh out of my dreaming time, I can access all that non-physical information more fully if I pay attention then.  So I make coffee and sit in silence, a sort of meditation, and a sprinkling of Reiki distant healing that I send out to my tribe around the country.  The images and emotions and perceptions that come through are different then, than any other time of my day.  I'll often open my journal to write or sketch.  All the while I'm mostly looking out the window watching the birds at the feeders nearby, the hummingbirds at their nectar bottles, the light changing on the Sangre de Cristos.  then I walk with my yearling pup Rio, either around our land and orchard to check in with the trees and the clouds, or up the road into the wild places.  Often my husband and I go fishing early too.  The Rio Grande flows just down the road, and that big mama river is always fun to fish or swim or walk along, full of heart rocks too. 

Next I check my online shops (I have four) for sales, and write down the orders on a running list I keep on a clipboard next to my desk calendar.  Read my email and Facebook.  I try to spend no more than an hour doing this morning check-in, otherwise "screen time" devours my day. 

Whatever orders I have to fill, I take care of them right away, packaging and labeling and printing postage.  Then I continue working on whatever project is in process.  One trick I've learned over the years is that when I am working on a piece, I leave a fun part undone the night before, so that I can jump right in with vigor the next morning to keep the ball of energy rolling...otherwise pieces get stuck, unfinished.  For example, I left the final embellishment of some silk banners I was working on last night, unfinished, so this morning, I was enthusiastic about finishing them with ribbons, bells, beads.  It's the fun part. 

I work until I get hungry, then make a meal usually from my greenhouse garden of lettuce and basil and tomatoes.  It gets me outside again and into the air.  I love hanging laundry outside on my clothesline, so often I'll do that too.  I have to mix up my indoor art making with being outside.  I have to, or I get antsy.  My eyes need to have a long view to rest on, after doing detail painting work or beading or screen time. 

It goes on like that through the day until about 6 pm, when I go downstairs to start dinner and watch the sunset.


Namaste Wall Hangings
MBS:  What prompted you to sell your work online?   How has social networking impacted your sales and visibility as an artist?

PattyMara:  I opened my first online shop in early 2008 on Etsy after I read in a magazine that an artist made a piece, listed in her Etsy shop and sold it within 15 minutes.  Yikes!  I want to do that too, says me.  So I did.  I had to learn a whole range of new skills including photographing my art and learning the search engine language and tagging/packaging and customer relations.  Within a year, I discovered 1000 Markets, and though that site was later sold, it opened up my world to online cooperation and communication and collaboration with hugely talented artists who formed markets together and promoted one another.  I learned so many new skills, and continue to this day to correspond and collaborate with many of them.  The Mind Body Spirit Marketplace was one of those markets, and it is still alive and well, evolving daily, thanks to your attention Diane.

Social networking has made an enormous impact on my sales and visibility as an artist.  And for me, it's all Facebook.  I don't get the tweet thing.  Facebook has provided me with an online customer base as well as a connection to my California customers who I used to sell to in person.  I will often post photographs of a work in progress on Facebook before listing it in my online shops, and often will make a sale just from that first posting.  I've gotten wholesale orders from galleries as well.  I don't have tons of friends on Facebook, but I add a few a week, steady as she goes, and try to keep from getting immersed in it during my workday. But I do check it from time to time during the day. I don't have a smart phone (no cell service out here in the boonies).  Both of my adult children refuse to accept my Facebook friend requests.  Oh well.  They still call me occasionally (from their iphones).

MBS:  That's just too funny... adult children and Facebook!  What are you currently working on and what would you like to explore next?

PattyMara:  I'm currently working on a shrine for Our Lady of Perpetual Chocolate, for my Pilar Studio Tour this coming weekend.  I have always loved the Dark Madonnas, some of them ancient, all of them potent.  I wrote a poem prayer to her, and will have copies of it available at the shrine, as well as many nice chocolates in her honor.  I've put up an altar for her every year of my studio tour (this is my tenth year: 8 in CA and 2 in NM) but this year I'm making a nicho (a painted wooden shrine in the tradition of the santeros here in New Mexico).

What I will explore next:  after the tour, we're going fishing and camping near the San Juan River, where there are "quality trout waters".  That's all I want to do after the tour.  Then, who knows?  With the weather turning crisper, I'll be doing more nunofelting for sure. 

MBS: Is there any advice you have for those who wish to (seriously) pursue an artistic path?
 
PattyMara:  Learn all you can, whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Take classes, workshops, seminars from other artists.  AND, Be self-taught.  Find out what sparks your interest and follow the trail as far as it takes you.  Make mistakes.  Find ways to "save" your mistakes especially if it uses non-conventional methods.  Break the rules. Make up new ones, or not.  Support other artists that you meet along the way, by buying their art.  Collaborate with other artists, even if they live across the country.  Make it work (at Tim says).  Pay attention to your dreams.  And this is especially for women like me, who raised their children while working either at home, or in an occupation that made money to support their family.  To all you women wanting to pursue an artistic path after your children are grown:  Go for it.  Go for broke.  You have so many skills, artistic and otherwise that you honed every single day by being a mom.  Use them and have a blast doing it.  Spread your wings. 

~ Great advice!  Thank you PattyMara!

You can find PattyMara Gourly's artwork online at Etsy and Zibbet.  The article she wrote for The Mind Body Spirit Odyssey about The Day of The Dead can be found here.


Additional interviews from the Mind Body Spirit Artist Series:
Ben Isaiah
Emily Balivet
Laura Milnor Iverson
Joanne Miller Rafferty
Jude McConkey
Atmara Rebecca Cloe 
Alison Fennell
Fernanda Gonzalez

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