Friday, April 30, 2010

Artist Inspiration Interview: Creative Experiments

With April coming to a
close, I didn't want this
month to pass without
sharing some inspiration
from a creative friend,
Melanie Testa.

I recently had the honor
and privilege of meeting Melly, (as she likes to be
, at the Spring
Festival of Quilts in Chicago.

Melly's new book, Inspired to Quilt,
is a favorite, and I was interested
to find out a little more about the
author, herself.

She was gracious enough to participate
in an inspiration interview for The Red
Door Studio.

So without further adieu...

1.What is your story, how did you become an artist?

I became an artist through focused effort and practice.

I have wanted to become an artist since I was a little girl,
A friend of my fathers bought an oil paint set for me and
I painted a picture of Annie, big poofy yellow hair, red
dress and all. Art was always my favorite class. My first
mixed media project that got into a 'major exhibition'
was a completely fabricated TV dinner. I made food out
of paper mache and placed it artfully into a metal tray
with the proper segments-remember those? One large
section for meat and three smaller sections for vegetables,
mashed potatoes and a brownie in a pressed aluminum tin.
I even created the box with realists graphics. It got into a
local show in a gallery in New Haven Connecticut. My mother
set up a date and a few friends went to see the show together.
It was awesome.

2. What is your medium and why did you choose it?

Do I have to choose one? Mostly I work in cloth, I surface design,
print and quilt whole cloth quilts using Procion MX dyes. But I
also love to journal, visually, using gouache in watercolor journals.
I really can't imagine working in any other medium. I know oil
painters and admire their work, approach and style, I even
understand the basics of the medium, but cloth is what works
best for me. I sorta feel like this is a difficult question. I didn't
really choose cloth, it chose me. I went with it and didn't look back.

3. What inspires you?

I love the human form, it is challenging to depict and beautiful.
I am also taken by nature, birds and flowers. I have a degree in
textile design and learned to draw flowers first and foremost. I
have also had a longstanding love affair with birds and am right
now working on a series that I am quite excited about. There is
a list of 20 Common Birds in Decline. The trends for these birds
can be reversed if we, as humans and stewards of the earth take
action. I have begun creating one piece of art for each of the 20
on the list. Because fiber takes so long to complete, I am also
creating prints in the form of stamps for each of the 20 birds.

4. What is your favorite artwork that is not your own work?

Untitled by Helen Frankenthaler
Check out her words about it here

I walked through a show of Helen Frankenthaler at the Yale
Museum of Art a few years ago and had an epiphany of sorts.
I began to day dream about how I could use monoprinting to
build layers of color on cloth. Her work was so saturated and
intense it took me for a mental ride. I remember standing in
front of this piece and thinking about the intuitive nature of it.
I am still working through some of those ideas.

5. Do you have set studio hours? How do you arrange your day
as an artist?

If I limit computer tasks to a few hours in the morning, I can
then focus and create artwork, class content and move forward
on pieces that need completion for the rest of the day. I find that
if I focus too much on trying to complete class proposals, send
emails and check in the facebook that I feel cheated and drained.
So limiting time spent on he computer works best. When that work
piles up, I will spend a few days and plug away at it, but really need
to reward myself with creative play afterward.

When I am unfocused and find myself unable to connect with myself
artistically I find that putting my headphones on and listening to a
book on tape will help me tune out on the world around me and will
help me to hone in on a creative task. After about an hour, I find that
I can stop listening through the headphone but remain focused creatively.
It is important to figure out your own focus trick! And use it.

6. What is it that motivates you to keep making art?
(aside from creating art for classes or books)

Making art keeps my mind clean and open. I stress less, I keep my
focus on myself and what I can do to make this world better and
more livable. Everything flows better.

7. What are you working on right now?

A new series I am calling The 20, I spoke about it before. Question #3

City Queen ATC 2.5x3.5" Printed on watercolor paper

8. Any upcoming projects, classes, books etc..?

The next class I will be teaching will be held at Art and Soul in Hampton
Virginia. May 23-24, 2010 Soy Wax with Paint and Inspired Journaling, every-single-day! both classes are near to my heart.
Surface Design and Journaling

9. What is your favorite artwork from your book? Why?

Still Life in Time. This would be my favorite from my book because the
pitcher and bowls use a color hankie I found sodden on my town green
ages ago. I carried this hankie with me for years. One day my cat got it,
play with it and tore it up pretty badly. I was so mad! I stuffed the piece
in a fabric bin and called it a day. When that piece came into being, I
saw that ripped hankie and thought it would make a great china pattern!


I have been spending time with Melly's new book, Inspired to Quilt.

I really enjoyed it and have decide to give away one copy.

Leave a comment by Wednesday, May 5th for your chance to WIN!

Check out more of Melanie's Art and Life, here!


Jeannie said...

I have been so lucky to have taken an online class with Melly and I own both her book and DVD. Whenever I am in a slump I pull out either her publications or you book and I then relax and refocus. You both amaze and inspire me. (No need to enter me in the drawing, as I own the book!) Have a great weekend.

artcarheather said...

Please put me in the drawing.

Lee @ The Way I See It said...

What a wonderful book. It's so nice to be introduced to other artists out there. COunt me in.

PS- a robin has anest on my gutter- wish I could get up high to take a peek. Getting some chickens soon- then I can look as eggs all I want to. LOL.

Peggy said...

please count me in.

giddy up said...

This sounds like a great book, I love to books for inspiration... count me in. Thanks!

Marley said...

Thanks for the interview. It is always nice to see how other people work. I find myself drawn to fabric more and more. Thanks for the continued inspiration.

Jane LaFazio said...

Melly's book is fab, I have it (autographed no less :-) and this interview, aside what Melly had to say, was for me a new interest in Helen Frankenthaler. cool.

thewayibe said...

Nice interview. Please include me in your drawing. Being a self-taught artist, and new to the art quilt scene, I need all the help I can get! Kathy

Have a *Happy Monday*

singtatter said...

Please count me in!

Your watercolour City Queen is amazing!