Friday, January 24, 2014

Cathy Cullis Artist Interview Hastypearl

Artist Interview
Last year, as I was thinking forward, about things that I wanted to do in 2014, one of the things that I hoped to begin doing on this blog, was to do some Interviews.
Interviews of Favorites.
In any category, really, but certainly to include, Artists.
Early on, in my Etsy experience, I discovered, Cathy Cullis.
I guess you would have to be asleep, really, to miss her.
There wasn't anything to me, that even compared with her unique work, on so many levels.
I bought a piece of her work, and collaborated with an artist friend of mine with the framing, and the May Queen, now hangs in our living room.
Cathy, was the first person that came to my mind, when I wondered who would hold the spot for my first interview. When she happily agreed, I was elated.
What follows, are thoughtful and vulnerable answers to my questions.
I cant wait for you to read them, and get to know Cathy better, as I feel I have.
Here we go!
Laura: At what age, did you recognize that you had an ability to express yourself and what medium was it?
Cathy: As a small child I felt silenced by unhappy family events, so it was important to me to find ways to express myself. I enjoyed art at primary school and would write many stories and poems. From early days I created imaginary other worlds and people but what I like the most is *not* being in control of my creative worlds. I have always allowed these spaces to flourish and evolve despite of myself, because I know they are there and I know they work in cyclical ways.
L: Were you encouraged?
C: Not particularly, I always felt I was 'not good' as a child. That is not good. I am grateful to teachers who encourage me in their various gentle ways.
L: What/Who inspires you?
C: I am inspired by too much to list. I often cite Madge Gill as an influence (in my stitch work particularly) but her work is just one strand of interest. I love so much about painting and museums, the history of human expression but especially the eccentric, naïve and 'odd' side to it. I am in love with the sensation of visual art, expressive work that enjoys process and seeks to please the artist first. More and more I am interested in making art for myself. I realise this is the only way forward.
L:What percent of the time do you like your finished product?
C:I need to respect the work and if I don't like it and have no respect for it- then I feel conflicted about it. Perhaps this conflict drives me forward, so that I am always aiming to make better pieces.
L: Do you start and finish a piece, or do you work on multiple pieces at a time?
C: I am always working on various artwork that will may be offered for sale and other pieces that are my private explorations and ideas. This way I feel I am both nourishing myself and helping to pay the bills. Every working artist (eg. an artist who needs to make a living at it) must find a way of working that does not drain them completely. I find if I work on different things at the same time one aspect will help another project, or one idea will spark another and they may seem quite disparate to an outsider, but to me it all makes some sense! I know, for example, with my poetry writing- a poem will just happen and I cant force it. And try as I might, if I attempt to sit at my sewing machine and stitch a wonderful piece because today is Tuesday and it is the day for stitching wonderful pieces- well it ain't going to happen is it! Not always, anyway. So I have to flit and flirt around with ideas and something will, hopefully, come of it. At the end of a week I can work myself ragged trying to get a certain 'thing' made- so I have learned that I cannot do that without feeling deeply unhappy and exhausted. This is why I cannot work on commissioned pieces. I would find myself in hell.

L: What gives you the most satisfaction in your work? i.e. The idea? The process? The materials?
C: The process of just starting with a selection of materials and going with the flow-that is what it is all about for me. Ideas are just tiny seeds and some of them need a long period of quiet. Some of them need that stratification process that takes years! I cannot make an idea into an actual thing but rely on chance, always. Every piece I make is made with a good sense of bravado. I prefer to think of it as bravado rather than fear.
L: I hear people talk about running out of ideas? Does that ever concern you?
C: I don't think ideas are the most important aspect of an artist's working and I know it is not the way everyone works. So for me that is my freedom- I cannot predict outcomes. Ideas are an element and not the whole deal. I am not at all a conceptual artist. I do not find joy in predicting outcomes exactly. And let's not forget, many artists only have one idea and they explore this over and over for a lifetime!

L: How do you deal with challenges/obstacles, in your work?
C: When I am actually making artwork I know that most challenges are because I need to rethink. Or stop and take a break. If I am working with the flow, challenges diminish. There are times I have to remind myself to not try and reinvent the wheel. If there is a way of doing something that works, than I will continue with that way.

L: Cathy, one of the things that impresses me about you is your willingness to step away from something that is "tried and true" and explore a new thing. For instance, I KNOW that you can list one of your embroidery pieces and it will sell on your Etsy shop cathycullis, in minutes! Yet, you deliberately took a break from it, took a leap, and focused more on your watercolor paintings and poetry. Was that a personally Bold/Confident move for you, or were you Concerned about the public reception of that decision? Since we know the ending of the story, which was that of course your paintings/poetry were WELL RECEIVED, I'm more interested in the mental process that you went through!
C: I am always working on my more 'established" strand of work and alongside that artwork that is of a more personal/experimental nature. Sometimes it may be more obvious, that I am putting my experimental work forward and the 'established' work goes on the back burner for a while. This is all part of the cyclical nature of making and creativity. There have been times when I have been forced to make changes. There are times in the past few years when I have suffered neck and hand problems and these mean I have to take a break from stitching so much, for example.
It is simply not the case that my embroidery work sells quickly, and I never take it for granted that it will sell in a short time. I do believe people are looking to see 'what is next' and I am very grateful to the people who collect my work and want to see how my ideas are evolving and developing over time. I appreciate the support I receive, so very much. I am always anxious about how my work will be received and I do need to make a living wage out of it. There will always be a desire to experiment but at the same time I am a realist. It is all about getting a balance.
My thinking has been, over the years: make what you are best at making. And do what you love for yourself. There are two complementary processes at play here, and if they play nicely together I am happy!

L: Finally, since we Know just by looking at your Etsy offerings, from your first sale, to today, that you are an Evolver. What is next for you, Cathy?
C: Thank you Laura, I like that you see me as someone always evolving and change and development is important to me. I am enjoying my latest 'paintings on brown paper' project very much. I would like to explore mentoring other artists and working toward exhibiting my artwork in other venues, perhaps in collaborative or group shows/projects. I am sure I will continue with my 'established' area of working but will want to continue to play on:)

Thanks to you Cathy, for your willingness to start me off on what I hope will be many more interesting times spent "chatting" with people that I admire. I appreciate that you took my questions as they came and answered them all, unedited.
You raise the bar, for all who write, stitch, paint, think and explore.
I am so very glad to have read and followed your Cathy Cullis and nevering poetry blogs. They are my steady diet and I hope they will become that for those that read this interview.
So, dear hastypearl readers...we launch high with a terrific time with Cathy. I now own two of her amazing embroidery pieces, one of which is the second piece pictured. When I asked Cathy to send me images that she would like for me to share, I got a special insight into her that she would remember that I had bought that piece, and send it.
I have a feeling that I could spend hours talking with her...she makes it feel so easy!
I Hope everyone is staying warm, as the entire country seems to be back in another deep freeze!
When it ices in South KNOW its cold!
I do have another interview with another artist coming soon, and I am so excited about it.
I hope that you will follow along with hastypearl and see what happens next!
xoxo Laura   

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Where Women Create....OR at Least Where Hastypearl, Creates!

Where Women Create
or at least where...
Hastypearl, Creates!
No, the magazine by the same name, hasn't called to feature my studio in its pages!
However, wouldn't That be a fun call to receive? !
You might have read on my Facebook wall before, that I crazily decided to set up the Christmas tree, house decorations, AND swap an extra bedroom for my Art Studio, at the same time.
I didn't have big plans for the week, so it seemed like the right time to do it.
Well, it took way longer than I anticipated, but it was done in time to hold a bit of an "Open House", for the families that came through our home, during the holidays.
With the room swap, I easily more than doubled my studio space, and boy, does that feel good!
Now, I know that there are people out there that have Much
 more room than this, and I know that there are those that have less.
I'm convinced however, that whatever room, panty, closet or garage it is, or its size,
we will Always...fill it up!
I think that you can see that I love Antiques.
I love Design.
And right after that...I love to Make a Mess!
I thought that it would be fun...for you to see how nice the room looked during its
"Open House",
 because basically right after I closed the door behind the last guest...
the fur/supplies/waiting projects list, 
started to fly.
I do like to "clear the decks", as Ina Garten says, after each project, but somehow, I just end up getting back out most of the same supplies all over again,
so it stays in a Perpetual.. Mess!
So, cue some soft non-reality Disney music, as you scroll down and look at the neat and tidy images,
and then when you're done with those...
rip out some real world Rowdy music, to see what the last picture I took of my old space looked like, because my table already looks like that, Again!
Yep, Where Women Create...
If you are going to call me for a photo-shoot, I'm going to need a few days to get the space looking magazine ready!
Until then,
 Here Here, to all the REAL World Offices and Studios...Right? :)
As always, Thanks for stopping in to read my hastypearl blog!
While many of you, are still shy about commenting on this blog,
I received many thoughtful responses to my last posting, and I really appreciate that.
For those of you that would like to sign up to receive an email notice of my blog posts, you can do that on the right side of the page.
And, I sure Hope that you Will !
xoxo Laura 
...oh, and, there are some pretty sweet Valentines, already starting to sneak their way into my hastypearl shop, if you haven't checked in, in a while.
Hear that, Men? ;)
The walls will eventually be covered over again, from notes from artist friends, finished pieces
 and future project ideas. 
You're Playing the Disney music, right?




Okay. Cue the Rock and Roll music...For Messy Table, Now! ;)  
(Hope you had some fun at your messy!)
 Best to you...Laura 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

World War II and The Greatest Generation Mixed Media Altered Cigar Box Hastypearl

World War II and The Greatest Generation
Mixed Media Altered Cigar Box
I'm not a Historian.
I'm a "MOODtorian".
You know. Someone who fantasizes about the past, and imagines what it was like.
My father had two daughters.
One born in the 1940's and one in the 1950's.
He loved us, but wasn't particularly demonstrative.
My guess is, his parents also weren't demonstrative.
He provided us with everything that we could have wanted. 
We never wanted for anything.
He worked from dark to dark,
and recovered from those hours, by watching sports on the weekends.
He prayed and he gave and he helped anyone that needed it. 
I asked my mother for some family photos, a while back.
I was sure that I could do something with them.
And I have.
Every photo that I could recognize a family member, was turned into a card or something.
I've always been seduced by the Past.
My parents small hometown in Texas, is still one of my favorite places for Dreaming.
Forget that the landscape is beautiful, it represents a time where throughout my entire childhood, while visiting our grandparents, we could roam the whole small town...and be Perfectly Safe.
What Adventures we had!
But those kinds of days, are over.
Children today, will never know that Freedom or Experience.
My father had a large family.
The sons served their country and none were lost.
They left their small hometown as young men that had basically never traveled,  and saw too much of the world.
I remember asking my father if we could go to Hawaii.
He said he had seen enough islands.
Those were the only words I ever remember him speak, referring to the War.   
My father was a radio operator on an Avenger plane.
The kind of plane that took off and landed on aircraft carriers that came to know what it was like to be slammed into, by kamikazes.
My father never spoke of it to me.
It wasn't until my oldest son, pieced together the story and made each family member for Christmas, an entire binder full of details, that I had a clue what his war experience looked like.
As for being a "Moodtorian"...
History classes, public television, movies and music have helped fill in the blanks for my imagination, of those days.
The strongest for me...the Music!
To this day...I listen to that era's music, a lot...those Swingers and Crooners, that I know that my Father also listened to...while far, far away...from home.
I learned the words of those songs, from him. 
I made this altered cigar box and dedicate it to that that epic horror.
Some survived it...and sadly, many didn't.
I gave the box to my mother for Christmas, this year.
There's something more, than cutting and stitching and gluing that goes on, when you quietly look into the face of your father as a child man, with his siblings, each in their different military uniforms.
What must it have been like to be together one last time, and wonder if they would see each other again?
From beyond those days, we now know what they went through, but they had no clue what was ahead of them, then.
I'm sure that it took way more than swingers and crooners to get them through those days of terror.
So, it was touching for me, even without the details or conversations with my father, to feel like I knew him better after this project.
We also now know what amazing men and women they were and the sacrifices that they make it possible for me as a child, to safely play in the streets of his hometown.
Many of you reading this are too young to have known a family member that lived through World War II, but many of you did.
This box is dedicated to those that we all knew...
and to my Father.
I hope that you will see it for more than an art piece.


I used photos, and letters and randomly tore a page out of an old dictionary, only to discover that it had the word...Papa, on it. That is what his grandchildren called him.
Those coincidences happen to me a lot when I'm creating.
I love it when it happens.

He had a way of making it look like he was on a vacation somewhere, having a ball.
I'm sure that he was acting...a lot.

I put some dried flowers in a handmade glassine paper envelope.

I pad and line the insides of all of my boxes.
I love to put lavender pouches inside, too.
My mother was an excellent seamstress when she was younger,
so I love to honor those arts by adding sewing notions.
Finally, some months back, I found a small box of beautiful seed beads in tubes with a 15cent
Winn's Store price tag on each one.
My father worked for that company most of his adult life.
Another beautiful...coincidence :)

I wish with this posting you could hear, the music that I can hear.
Maybe you would also see me as a little girl, standing on my fathers feet as he danced with me to it.
This box is dedicate to all of our Hero's...military or not.
I hope that you will share this posting with someone that you love...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mixed Media Watercolor Assemblage Shakespeare and Shells Hastypearl

Mixed Media Watercolor Assemblage 
Shakespeare and Shells
Setting tables and mantle scapes in my home, is something that really I enjoy doing.
And, I like to change them throughout the year.
One recent day, I noticed on my dining table, an opened vintage book of Shakespeare, on which I had placed some seashells.
The shells, made me think of someone special, that has a Texas Gulfside vacation home.
I decided to draw and paint the little vignette, exactly as it was on the table...which meant... drawing the book...upside down!
The finished piece, would be one of her Christmas gifts.
Well, one thing led to another, and not surprisingly, it turned into a small
Mixed Media Watercolor Assemblage.
Yes, I'm known to embrace the unadulterated practice of... More is More !
I recently took a short online, Jane LaFazio Watercolor class, which was promoted by Strathmore.
She has such a laid back, breezy way of painting and that was how I approached this composition.
It was a quick drawing, and a quick Gouache painting, with an inexpensive set of paints, from Michaels.
One of the great ideas that Jane promotes, is the use of a simple border.
I've started using that technique, more and more!
She is right, it just pulls a drawing that may feel like its floating,
 right back down on the page.
Thanks for the tip, Jane! 
I wanted my next page, to be a total contrast.
More of an abstract, than a drawing.
I changed the color scheme completely, but the colors are still complementary.

I have stacks of phone books.
Not used for telephone numbers, but they are perfect for slipping in and drying flowers.
The flowers can stay there, indefinitely.
When I need a flower or leaf...they are available and ready to use.
I placed two of the dried flowers, and some short pieces of gold thread between some tracing paper, and sealed the edges closed with tape.

This "flower envelope", became my second page.
I punched holes on the edge, and tied it to the inside cover with some of the same gold thread, that is free floating in the pocket page, with the dried flowers.
I love it when there is actual movement in my pieces.

I started pulling fabrics and beads in complimentary colors from my stash, for some added texture.

The word "love", was an obvious choice, for the recipient.

I struggle, to NOT use fibers in my work.
Or better put...
I almost ALWAYS and HAPPILY, use fibers in my work!
Yes, that's right! This blog, is a Dishonesty Free Zone!
Just look at the Textural Component, and again...the Movement, that the fiber bundle brings.

I used some great colors and variety of fiber types, and tied them together, with the same gold thread.
Repetition of at least one component from page to page, brings continuity.
For this assemblage, I used the gold thread in a different way, on every page. 
This is how the little finished book, looks on the inside...

And on the outside....

Finally, I thought it would be appropriate to honor  Mr. William's ancient,
but still contemporary words... 
and so from Measure for Measure, which is one of the selections in this book, 
"Virtue is Bold, and Goodness Never Fearful!" :)
I enjoyed making and sharing this project...and hope that you can use some of the steps,
 in one of your pieces!
I'm so glad that you stopped by, to read a bit of this blog...
For those of you experiencing bitter cold...Be Boldly Virtuous...and Good...and Please...
xoxo Laura

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sisters! Hastypearl

There are just Some People out there.
I hope you know One...or Lots.
I don't think they come in Lots.
Just Ones.
My my Sister.
Eight years my elder.
One million years, my Mentor.
She mentors in all kinds of ways, that my mind and actions, haven't the skill.
In the 57 years that I have watched her...I have been the Learner.
She, the Teacher.
I've said before, that I've never known her to hurt me or disappoint me.
That's a pretty tall statement to make about anyone, right?
She's experienced life's Challenges.
The Kind that would drop many to their knees...
and if she indeed went to her knees...she Got Back Up.
Its been very easy for me to brag on her over the years...and I even confessed there's been too much idolizing,
but for the First Hastypearl Blog posting of the year,
I just wanted to honor her and say how THANKFUL I am, to be her sister.
She could Possibly kill me for doing this...but that's ok.
It will be the most Amazing and Sweet Killing, that I could ever experience :)
PROOF of how well she knows me...
The following pictures are part of what she gave me for Christmas!

Yep. It was a spot on pick, don't you think?
Some months back, Larry and I were at an amazing estate sale, in one of the historic districts in
San Antonio.
I looked up, and there in the Same Room, was my Sister and her friend.
We were so both "heads in the game", that we hadn't even noticed each other!
I cant pass up the opportunity to explain, that San Antonio is big, like over a million big...and we randomly? bumped into each other!
I LOVE those ODDS !
She had her fanny pack on and canvas bag under her arm...both absolute necessities for picking.
I Marveled at the Gift of That Day, but as I skipped...yeah literally...sorry...back to our car to leave, I was ever reminded, that being the younger, its possible that one day...I wont Have her anymore.
Just like has Already Happened, to many of You.

So, this morning, as I write this posting, its easy for me to see her in my mind, bumping around at an estate sale, with these two treasures on both arms...absolutely Confident that she's found my perfect Christmas gift!
Because she Knows Me.

Maybe you have a sibling that you love deeply.
Maybe not. And for That, I am terribly sorry. 
But, If you are Blessed!
And If you never hurts to tell them One More much they mean to you :)
so...Love you, Dinan...
To my treasured Readers... Happy 2014!!!!
How in the world, did we get here So FAST???
PLEASE hop over to my Etsy shop, hastypearl, where until January 8th, I have All items marked 20% off!
If there has been something that you thought about buying from hastypearl...NOW is the time:)
...and, I hope that you will pass the word, along!
Use the coupon code word     20off        at checkout!
Hurry...the Sale wont last long!
xoxo Laura