Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dan Waltz, Author, Artist & Illustrator, Tells His Story

I considered myself a retired artist, or at least a semi-retired one. I’ve had a pretty good career in the arts, lasting over thirty years. I say semi-retired, because due to time, I don’t paint very often anymore, but rest assured, when I really do retire, I will pick up the brush once again. 

I’ve sold a lot of paintings and prints over the years, and illustrated a few books. I even did a few book covers for others, as well as my own. When I’m painting, I specialize in realistic wildlife. I’ve worked in all mediums, oils, acrylic, pen, pencil, but prefer watercolor for the detail I can get from them.

About eight or so years ago, I laid down my paintbrush and picked up a pen and started writing again. I wrote as a teen back in the 70’s, then started drawing and painting, and well, 30+ years later I end up here. “Writing again.”

I really enjoy it. It’s like painting with words. It’s just another form of communication and another form of art; I guess I’m not really retired after all.

I write whatever kind of story that comes to mind. I really don’t want to be stuck in one genre.  I write horror, fantasy, drama, it doesn’t really matter. I would like to say I have something for everyone. If you like zombie fiction, I’ve got it, but I also have a bullying story that everyone should read. I have written a book on an adventurous garden gnome, and even one on a haunted corn maze, which I’m in the process of rewriting. I prefer to write novels over short stories, but I have started a collection of shorts as well.

My latest novel came out almost a year ago. I wrote the first draft in the 2013 NANOWRIMO and published it last year after about a year of polishing. It’s titled, ASH, Like a Tattoo. The book was never intended to be a bullying story, but that’s what it turned out to be, and I love it. I want to do more like it, which is why I recently purchased in hopes to add to the story or create new ones along the way, and to help promote bully awareness. You may have already guessed that I was bullied as a child.

Well, that’s in the works, but so are a lot of things. I tend to work on many stories all at once. In fact, I believe I have about 11 of them going as I write this blog. They’re all different genres and I work on them as the story comes to me.  I like to let them write themselves and I never force the issue. Sure, I have an idea in mind from the start, and most of the time I have an ending as well, but by the time I get there, the ending has usually changed. That’s just my style.  I’m just as much surprised at the end of the book, writing it, as you would be reading it. That’s what makes it fun.

My books are available on my website and on Amazon. To learn more about my art, my books and more about me, please visit my website at and of course, I’m on all the social networks.

This is Week 42 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Dan’s story today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Alice Monroney, Mixed Media Fiber Artist, Tells Her Story

I am amazed at how many people say, “Oh, I am not creative at all. My sister, daughter, etc., is the creative one.” I believe we are all creative in our own way.  If not with a paintbrush then acknowledge your creativity with a frying pan, arranging furniture or a beautiful artful wardrobe.  I did not have my creative awakening until I was 40 years old, after decades in the corporate world. Then one fine day I fell madly in love with a tapestry fabric at a local fabric store. 

I was living in Denver, Colorado then and I decided to make two bags, one for each of my grandmothers, for their birthdays. The bags were well liked so I made 20 more -- for my mother, my sisters, and my friends for the holidays. Suddenly everyone wanted one and I didn’t want to make them anymore! I was not paying attention at all. It was when I made a bag for myself, finally, everywhere I went, store owners would ask, “Where did you get the great bag ... I would buy those if you made them, “ that I started paying attention.  

I hired a friend who is a great seamstress and we designed an entire line of bags from eyeglasses, checkbook covers to wearable art briefcases, duffle and large and a small handbags. Each was embellished with a button, beads and a tassel. The buttons and beads were store-bought (at first), the bags were durable, functional, and the fabrics were fun. We made a lot of bags for each design and I threw them in the trunk of my car and went calling on stores all over Colorado. I drove all over the State, staying in cheap hotels while loving the gorgeous drives. When I got home at the end of the week I had a stack of checks and sold all the bags to the stores! That was the beginning.

Then I hired stay-at-home mothers and retired women to sew the bags. We cut the patterns, packaged up the zippers and accessory items, sent them to the moms, and a week later they brought the sewn bags back, ready to be embellished.

The store-bought buttons didn’t last long because they were way too limiting. I heard about a woman who worked with polymer clay and hired her to teach my us how to make buttons. My creativity blossomed with this new element.

I created a homemade brochure with pictures of fabrics, bags, and a line sheet and set off once again calling on stores all over the country.  I went to stores my friends told me about and then found a book that listed boutiques throughout the country. I called many places and sent letters, following up and a week or so later and often got orders. Then I started doing shows, local arts festivals, and  graduated to selling in Los Angeles and New York City.

I followed my intuition and my heart and used my sales and marketing background. With my design and sales experience, it never occured to me I could not do it or that I didn’t know what I was doing! I just did it.

Ultimately, I sold 60,000 wearable art bags internationally, becoming the “…matriarch of Colorado handbag designers,” according to The Denver Post, and won awards I did not expect --  Best of Denver,” “Best of Santa Fe” and more.

Creativity comes from deep within. The process, I have come to understand, is called divvying -- short for divination, I expect, and was first used by antique dealers who spotting a piece of furniture and knew it was valuable. They wouldn’t know why, they just felt it. This is what happened when I got the fabric, the buttons, the beads and the tassel just right. Something actually happened deep in my body. No one ever returned a bag.

I can always tell when someone has found their bag. At shows or in my shop, women would go through the collection of bags and when they had found “it”, invariably they would just instinctively hold the bag right next to their heart.

Creativity is different for everyone, but I encourage everyone to explore it for themselves. It is a visceral process of being lost in the journey of creating and experiencing a deep contentment while doing it.

Going wild in my studio, making the buttons and beads for the bags -- it is this element, which I like to refer to as “Alice unleashed in her studio with no supervision,” that brings magic to my day, my life and to the bags.

Be inspired, don’t look left or right and don’t worry about what anyone will think! You never know where it will lead.

Lots of Love, 
Alice Monroney

Of note: Alice's Tapestries duffels were chosen as the gift bags for the 2012 Emmy Award nominees and the 2013 Academy Award nominees. Her bags have been carried in The Smithsonian Institute, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The National Textile Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, and The Denver Art Museum.

This is Week 41 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Alice’s story today. 

You can see Alice’s work at the following links:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lori Loveberry George, Mixed Media Artist, Tells Her Story

Its all about mark making and process. I need to capture the essence of whatever I draw.  I am not a painter, but I paint on my drawings.

#212, Acrylic, Wax & Charcoal, 60 x 48

I used to have to make all my drawing perfect, rework, overwork, until I killed it. In high school art class, one of the other students told me, “You ruin all your drawings. You overwork everything.” I never forgot that, and still I overworked them to draftsmanship perfection. It was the finished product that was important, but that is not important anymore.  

#2145, Pastel, Acrylic & Charcoal, 30 x 23

In 2006, when I was 48, I went back to college to get my BA in visual arts. It was then I finally learned how to let go of my need to control, and to play. It changed my life and my mark making. I allowed myself to take risks and learned to trust the process. One of my instructors gave me my breakthrough assignment: Tape up at least a 5’ x 5’ paper, apply a wax resist medium, use thin acrylic, and paint with a 4” wide brush. I was terrified. I continued the process, combining different materials and substrates, and I was free from a tightly rendered perfection prison.  

Wild Child, Wax & Acrylic, 59 x 51

I still like to set up vignettes and draw from life -- it’s my meditation. I like to plot out, sight and measure the image to the paper. It fulfills my need to control, but I am practicing observation skills, not to create a perfect drawing.

Angel Caido, Pastel on Paper, 24 x 18

Grand Idea II, Pastel on Paper, 24 x 19

The human form interests me the most. Gesture and form can tell a story that evokes a primal unspoken language regardless of race, class, or culture.  In 2013, I created a series of drawings and large scale mixed media paintings based on a book I found at the library – Pictures From a Drawer, Prison and the Art of Portraiture by Bruce Jackson – of restored images of early 20th century prison I.D. mug shots. Like looking in a mirror, these haunting images reveal the beauty of the flaws, scars, and vulnerability of the human condition, which most of us are afraid to acknowledge.

#1858, Acrylic, Charcoal & Wax, 30 x 23

This is Week 40 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Lori’s story today. You can connect with Lori on the following links: