Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Go To Work Every Day

The following is an excerpt of an interview with Robin Koehler, fiber artist, for Votre Vray Creative Women by Mel. Edwards.

There is no magic pill for achievement or artistry. “Whether your life is a creative one or a 9-5 office life, the basic principles apply to us all. If you follow those principals, success should follow,” says Robin Koehler. “Go to work every day. Don’t stop learning, and don’t be afraid to try anything.”

Speaking of trying anything, many creative people will put their hands and hearts to work in a variety of mediums, loving some more than other. “When I found fiber arts, I walked away from all the other mediums I had attempted over the years. I can’t imagine doing anything else since I am able to combine mediums with the fiber art.”

What keeps Robin going? “I know I should be empowering myself and not rely on others’ feedback but I grow from it. The bigger impact comes from having a stranger tell me that they like (my work).” Does she believe in her own work? “Yes, but I constantly compare myself to other artists in my field and the first reaction it to say I’m not good enough. I need to override that with positive self talk which can be exhausting. Self-help only works if you do it. I put that little voice to the back. Each time your try, it makes it easier the next time.”

Doing her art isn’t the only nerve wracking aspect of getting her work out there. ‘I do door-to-door sales of my patterns to quilt shops. I like selling via my website better because you don’t have to see the look on the potential customer’s face when you discuss price.”

Marketing and selling is a well-known challenge of creative people of all mediums and modalities. Most of us do not create to become wealthy, but for the joy of the art. In the end, the joy will carry us through.

You can enjoy and purchase Robin’s work by visiting www.nestlingsbyrobin.com.

Boys and Girls, in the Center Ring, An Amazing Architect!

The following is an excerpt of an interview of architect Mary Cyr conducted by Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray Creative Women project.

Many people “oh” and “ah” over artwork and glamorize the technical skill and hard work that goes into creating a piece. The same goes for the effort that is required to be an architect. Many artists often are astounded when non-artists exclaim, “Oh, I could never do that. You’re so talented,” completely discounting the fact that anyone good at her art must show up at the drawing table again and again, ready to work, regardless of inspiration. “They make you sound like a lion tamer or something. Then I wonder why my life isn’t as glamorous as they think.” Mary Cyr was guilty of such feelings as a child, “I felt like I couldn’t do math. I think only teachers make less (than artists and architect).”

Still she made the leap with a little help from those who fostered her spark. Who supported her dream? “I had several ‘angels’ come into my life as I needed them. The first was my undergraduate Art History professor, Dr. Rosa, with whom I did an Architectural History tutorial in contemplations of a career in Architecture and who saw that my sculpture was definitely growing towards an architectural expression. I had two professors in graduate architecture school, Professor Adele Santos and Professor Urs Gauchat, who saw value in my word and encouraged me to nurture it. I had wonderful employers. My first job (at the now defunct The Architect’s Collaborative), my mentors were Vick Madera and John Weigel, who encouraged me to take on more responsibility in my first foray into the ‘real’ world. Oliver Egleston, the former president of Shelley Bullfinch & Abbot supported me by showing me that midlife transitions are nothing to be afraid of. Most recently, Bill Quatman, FAIA who is an attorney practicing construction law in Kansas City has been a great fan of mine as I sought his support in my establishment of my Architect-led Design/Build company.”

Mary states, “The life of an artist is a real lone existence. At age 20 I knew that I wanted to be more deeply connected to the community. What I do now has the self-discipline of art but much of my work is for non-profits. I’m doing an RFP this morning.” Mary has spent twenty-five years as an architect and ten of those years running a sole proprietorship. I’d like to grow and have multiple streams of income that all are intertwined: an art gallery in my office, a small non-profit studio/artists incubator for emerging artists, my design and build company, and ideally, I’d like to go back home to Boston.”

“I’m ready to step out of my profession, not to abandon it, but to take a chance and see what happens when I allow more into my creative life. Not only does that not scare me, it makes me excited about my future.” Little does she know, her passion excites others too.
Mary Cyr’s business can be found at: http://www.cyrarchitects.com/

Warm-hearted Crafter Becomes Fiber Artist

The following is an excerpt of an interview of Bailey Earith for Votre Vray Creative Women by Mel. Edwards.

Every day in crafting stores around the world, a child spies a kit that looks fun an interesting. Begging ensues. Parents either foster the creativity (“You want to make that? Okay. Put it in the cart.”), site financial obstacles (“Not today. We can’t afford that.”), demand shared ownership (“How much of your allowance do you have left?”), or shoot down the request (“No. You have plenty of toys at home. You don’t need that. It’s junk anyway.”). Bailey Earith was lucky enough to have a family that encouraged her creativity. “I started with kits as a kid and my work developed from there.”

“Growing up, waaay back I used to just consider myself a crafter. My original training was occupational therapy, which developed from a post-WWII program for shell-shocked veterans. I had to learn ceramics, woodwork, mosaic, knitting, crocheting, etc. so I could teach others. I wanted to take it to the next level. Then I read a book that stated the words you use affect your life. I decided from then on to take the title of artist and the change was immediate.” Bailey’s favorite quote? “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t you’re right.” – Henry Ford “I so believe that. My special passion is empowering mentally challenged people to help them create arts and bring it to market. I also teach arts at retreats to help people with their personal journeys. We make spirit dolls.”

Bailey adds, “I’m not religious, more spiritual, more Dr. Wayne Dyer and honoring American Indian traditions. So, when I say this, it may not be what religious people think of, but I say, do what makes you happy. Be true to who you are. Believe. Then you will (be able to do create your vision).”

Bailey’s work can be found at: www.BaileyFiberArt.com

Monday, July 28, 2008

Votre Vray Interviewee Earns Rave Reviews

Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz, M.S. Ed., author of Sputter, Sputter, Sput has sent links to
two solid reviews. Please check them out and know that an excerpt of Bab's interview for the Votre Vray Creative Women project is coming soon!



No Negativity in a Passionate Process

The following is an excerpt of an interview of Anya McManis, painter, conducted by Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray Creative Women Project.

What is your heaven on earth? Anya McManis’s version is painting. “It is a dream, a wish, that has come true.” Many of McManis’s graphic design clients may have no of idea the artistry that lives within Anya’s soul. When I asked her how she felt about being called an artist she said, “Now, I feel that that’s me. My father was a painter but he had to get ‘a real job’ instead of following an art career. For me, becoming comfortable with the term was a growing process, to finally realize that is who I am. Now, it resonates with me.”

So often, those of us who realize our creative path as a second career or a new found love born anew later in our adult lives, artists are often overly self-critical and fearful of putting our work, hearts and souls on the block for others to evaluate. I asked Anya if it was ever, often, or always a fearful process to put her work out there for the masses. “Surprisingly, no, not at all. I’ve always gotten a good reception, and that helps. I never had a fear because if I did what I loved, I felt I just had to do it. I enjoy it so much. There just is no negative. As I work, I’ve always felt I was becoming myself more than ever before.”

How does she balance a full-time graphic design business and her art? “Sometimes, it is not so easy. I’m very busy, but always looking, trying to find that balance. I ride my bike to the office, and try to get to the gym.” Still, her love for her art is so powerful, it is hard to imagine she wouldn’t be willing to live an unbalanced life for a long time just so that she can paint. “Deep inside there is more I can do with it, and I’ve looked into a (business) space that was more like a gallery in front. It can encourage others and help them get their art out there too. Remember, the process is the most rewarding part. Being in a creative zone, a space where you do your art, is just wonderful.”
Anya can be found each day at her other creative passion: http://www.kreativekeystrokes.com/

Lady, Your Kid Looks Like a Monkey

The following is an excerpt of an interview of Laura Glusha, artists and human mom of sorts to an endangered DeBrazza monkey, by Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray Creative Women project.

“I had been working for the movies (making posters) and it was never fulfilling. The studio takes all the credit for your work. Your name is off everything that you paint. I worked like a dog but in the end, you are nothing. I was in a complete depression, so I’d go to the zoo and sketch. One day, I went to the children’s zoo, where I never went, and there was this human incubator. I had a background in sketching for medicine, so I knew what it was. There was this baby monkey, only six inches long, sucking his toe. He had the most beautiful eyes I had seen in my life ever. He looked at me as he knew me. I walked around and could almost feel his eyes piercing me. I went back the next day and every day for five days. It was quiet then, in 1972 the kids were at school, not on trips to the zoo. During that time I just watched and drew him.”

Laura’s connection with the infant did not go unnoticed. A zoo worker said, “We’ve been watching you.” Then they told her the sad tale. The baby had been found in the arms of its father at two days old. The father was throwing him against the side of the cage and when he was spotted. He was almost dead. The zoo workers dropped a net into the cage and hosed down the male until he let go of the offspring, and the workers pulled it to safety. That was the day Laura met him.

“He thinks you’re his mother.”

Laura smiled, “I feel as if he’s my child.” The truth is, Laura and her husband, who helped her gain great skill as an artist, never did have human children.

“We don’t think he’s going to make it but we want to name him. We were thinking either Harold or Suck-a-toe.”

Laura still laughs, 36 years later, saying, “That’s all he did. So, Suck-a-toe it was.”

Although Laura is an artist by nature, her adventures in visiting this little guy every day for nine months brought her along two other colorful paths that were wholly unanticipated. She found an author for Suck-a-toe’s story by discussing it with her chiropractor and his nurse. Laura had no idea the nurse was a published author, but Sister Mary Dorothy knew a good story when she heard it. She handed Laura a sketch pad and said, “We’re going to write a book and you’re going to do the pictures.” Laura also began sharing her stories of Suck-a-toe as a public speaker, visiting schools for free just to talk about her beloved. “It has become the most important thing in my life. I don’t know what made me go the other way that day into the children’s zoo. But when I got in, there he was right in front of me.”

Sometimes love is at first sight, and lives change in an instant. Gratefully, Laura’s life blossomed and the depression went away, as she sketched Suck-a-toe day after day, played peek-a-boo with him in his incubator, and then shared his story with the world.

“I believe everyone has a purpose in this life and if not pursued that person will never be happy,” says Laura. Perhaps without a mother’s love there would have never been a thriving monkey named Suck-a-toe.
Please visit Laura’s website and her amazing animal artwork: http://www.artsonstone.com/

So…What happened to that story???

The following is an excerpt of author Carol Hoenig’s interview with Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray Creative Women project.

Why does someone purposely get up each day and face a blank page or computer screen with the intention to write fact or fiction? For Carol Hoenig it was a matter of self-preservation. “Growing up, I was never a debater. I’d just fumble unless I really knew my stuff. I question my verbal choices when spoken. When I write I can say, ‘Okay. That’s what I was trying to get at.’ Something in me tells me what I have written is right, and then I know I’m done. Still, if I know it isn’t finished, it keeps niggling at me. Even now when I blog I try to give it an hour to set before I put it out there.”

Leading such an exacting verbal existence may seem exhausting so many, but not for Carol. “I grew up in a little town north of Plattsburg, NY, and I learned early one that when I wrote poetry in school people would laugh at my quirky humor (in a positive way). So I kept at it. I never called myself a writer before I was published, but when I was being taken by the industry, I knew it was time.”

Who inspired her? “I know it is cliché but I had a home economics teacher in 7th grade that I showed a story I was working on. She was interested in it. Then, I saw her again when I was in the 12th grade and she asked about my character (Tommy). I was mortified, because I didn’t want to let her down. I told her I was working on it even though I hadn’t touched it.”

Her high school influences apparently went much further than one teacher’s interest. When Carol’s first book was published one review compared the novel to To Kill a Mockingbird. “It was my first review, and I waited for it to come out. Three hours later, I learned they downsized my job. I looked at the review as a signpost, took my severance and put the word out that I was going to try going it on my own. I got my first freelance job the same day.”

The rest, we hope, will make her-story!
Please visit Carol's website: http://www.carolhoenig.com/

Free Ways to Promote Your Art

Hello, everyone.

As I work on this Votre Vray project I talk to more and more women who don't promote their art outside of their communities, or those who put up a website and just hope someone finds their work.

I've started this post to invite you to share how your promote your work and get business. Please add your tips to the comments section.

Here are a few of my tips from what I do now:
1. Start a blog, and update it regularly. Each post can end up a topic people search for. I love Blogger because it is easy, the templates match my style, it is FREE and Google owns it, so when someone Google's my name or my project, you bet you see a bunch of links pop up. (RSS feeds help too.)
2. Send out a press release for each new venture and event to people who have the option of writing about your work, including to your dream venue/gallery/theatre etc.
3. Participate in statewide and national shows and get your name placed in their advertising for free as an exhibitor/vendor. (I'll be in the South Carolina Upstate Women's Show August 22-24 and I'll be listed for free as one of their exhibitors/vendors.)

Here are some things I'll be doing in the next month:
1. Begin a free newsletter/e-mail list with easy opt in and opt out.
2. Sell related merchandise via an online store such as CafePress, eBay, etc. or use automatic checkout via PayPal for your merchandise. (www.ShoutKissMyArt.com will be using the PayPal invoices as soon as I set it up this week.)
3. Participate in free marketing workshops and networking groups to let people know who you are and ask for their tips and tricks.

So, what do you do?
Please share with other Votre Vray readers via the comments section below. Feel free to add links to your websites and blogs in your comments. This community is all about promoting you and your true creative self.

Until next time,
keep creating!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to Become a Votre Vray Profiled Artist - Volume 2

Those who have been following the blog know I have about 100 women already who have answered the six interview launch questions and filled out the release form (posted June 25th). The deadline for submissions for Votre Vray Creative Women, Volume 1, has passed.

NOTE: If you filled out the documents and haven't heard from me, you'll get an e-mail from me within the next few days to do your follow-up interview.

If you've not filled out the six questions and release form, you can be considered for Volume 2, set to go through the interview process later this fall IF you do at least TWO of the following:
1. Subscribe to the blog and wait for a call for submissions for Volume 2.
2. Post positive comments to the blog and profiles of other artists between now and then.
3. Come to a Votre Vray event.
4. Buy something from a Votre Vray artist (and have the artist e-mail me that you came to them because of the Votre Vray project).
5. Write an article about Votre Vray on your own website or print media and send me a copy (and I'll cross-promote it).

It is my mission to promote women and the arts. We can only do it by working together, reaching out to each other, spreading the word and, holding up our heads to:
Shout: Kiss My Art!

Keep creating!

Support Votre Vray Artists!!!

If you see an article to an artist you're interested in, go to their site. Buy their work. Become their best advocate and post comments here....but DON'T STOP there!

If you're a friend or family member of a Votre Vray creative woman, please read the articles and see the work of the other artists. We're not competitors here. You can love the work of several artists, even in the same medium, and not be disloyal to the one artist you came to see because you already knew her or her work.

Votre Vray can only be a success if you reach out to each other, tell everyone you know about the artists here, and about my work to be an arts advocate. Kudos are great, but in the words of Carla Sanders, the sincerest form of appreciation is when someone pulls out their checkbook.

Also, if you are interested in buying work or seeing more work from any of these artists, please visit their links directly. I don't make a single red cent in promoting anyone here. The artist make the money when you visit them and buy from them directly.

Thank you again for your patronage, and please:

1. Tell 10 people today about Votre Vray
2. Subscribe to this blog
3. If you want art, buy something from one of the wonderful women who've been profiled here, or whose links appear on this page.
4. Create your own art for your own pleasure, or to share, and join the Votre Vray family!
5. Put a link to Votre Vray on your blog or website.

Keep creating!

Follow the Sparkle

Excerpt of an interview with Violette, folk art painter, by Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray creative women’s project.

Ever want to just go wild with color? Have you seen the houses in other nations, like Jellybean Row in Newfoundland (http://www.flickr.com/groups/jellybeanrow/), and dream of transforming out of the beige that seems to have captivated much of America? Let me introduce you to Violette, a wonderful Canadian woman as colorful as her palette. Her house is purple, van is multi-hued emblazoned with creativity quotes such as Joseph Campbell’s “Follow Your Bliss,” and her home is so vibrant that it has been profiled on an episode of Weird Homes.

You may have noticed she doesn’t give a last name. “When you’re a girl, you have your father’s name. You get married and have your husband’s. I’m happy with just Violette.” A bit of research reveals that Violette and several friends were so set on claiming their own identities that they each had a wedding ceremony – to marry their own true selves. That for feminine identity independence that goes a lot further than calling a woman "Ms." instead of Miss or Mrs!

I asked what her neighbors thought of her home. She said a gal friend asked an older gentleman from down the street when she first painted it. His reply? “It sure is colorful!” Violette laughs. Still, she keeps moving forward adding personality to her belongings and her art to the world. “I used to get embarrassed when friends would go with me to art supply stores and tell people I was an artist. I found it hard to accept the title because I’m not a fine artist. I’m a folk artist. Now I think it is great and I’ve grown into it. Still, as women we’re trained to think about others (first) and to not get a big head. It is a process.”

When you’re an emerging artist, others often offer advice whether you ask for it or not. Violette’s friends were amazing, “They kept saying, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s a great idea. Go for it,” and her grown children also gave their seal of approval. However, other artists weren’t always so encouraging. “I like glitter. I have it on my van, and my floors, and my work. The worst advice I have ever been given was from an artist who said, ‘Wait ‘til you’re established, then add your glitter.’” The artist advised to do what appeals to others first and be eccentric in her style later, even though to do so would have been a denial of part of Violette’s essential self. “I ignored it. I use glitter everywhere. I just love it.”


You may see Violette’s home, her art van (including instruction on how to paint your own), her pieces for sale and the video of her home by visiting her website: http://www.violette.ca/
Be sure to tell her Mel. Edwards’ Votre Vray sent you.

A Needle Pulling Heart

Interview excerpt by Mel. Edwards for Votre Vray Creative Women’s Project

Janet Perry, of http://www.napaneedlepoint.com/, loves needlepoint. “I adored it from the beginning. It took me a long time to satisfy me and make me money, but in ’97 I claimed it. I get enthused. I now see images in stitches and it is a joy to turn the image in my head onto canvas.” Because of her love of her craft, she has a patience with it that many non-stitchers do not. I asked if it was difficult for her and she said, “I have MS but it doesn’t hurt my stitching at all. I have great attention to detail.”

We talked about how the world of needlepoint was compared to other needle arts. “Needlework is very conservative endeavor. It is way behind the curve compared to quilting. The consumer doesn’t understand (always) where you want to go, and your methods of marketing. You must be willing to educate others to be able to accomplish what you wish.” I asked for an example. “I have been doing virtual book tours. My first book came out last August and I did some tours that way. Then, went my second book came out in May, three people said, ‘You were here already,’ and weren’t interested in having me do my tour with them again.”

I was stunned with Janet’s story. Imagine someone telling a fiction writer, “Gee, you wrote one book. Why do we care you’re developing new characters and stories? We know what you’re all about already.” Certainly no one would say that to Stephen King. My ire rose and I really wanted to knock someone in the head. Luckily, Janet is classy enough not to share which three people in the world of virtual book tours said this to her.

Janet advises, “Don’t expect returns for five years. That was advice to me that has turned out to be true. I was told to stick with it and wait for the returns on my work investment. I’ve been persistent. Make sure people know that you’re there. The returns will come.” I wish many happy returns to Janet for many books, project and years to come.
Visit Janet’s site to order Needlepoint Trade Secrets, Bargello Revisited, and a variety of needlepoint designs and supplies.

Kay Ryan - New US Poet Laureate

If you haven't heard, this October, the US will have a new woman poet laureate! Read more about her here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/07/17/MN8411QTIU.DTL

My favorite part of the interview/story is this line:

"But when I was 30, I realized I wasn't going to avoid being this poet thing," she said.

Ryan happens to also be an English teacher, like yours truly, and she's 62. So, all you women out there who haven't "made it" in your field yet, know the big prize can come at any time. I've got 22 years to go! I'm so excited about how much I can do in that much time and feel a whole lot better about the fact that I "wasted" so many years suppressing my art trying to fit in to the world of public education when I really wanted to shout and run around like my hair was on fire.

Question of the day: When could you no longer avoid recognizing your art?
Let me know your story! Either post a comment below or e-mail me directly at Mel Edwards Connect [at] Yahoo [dot] com.

Until later,
keep creating!

Votre Vray Preview Set ~ Barefoot Annie's, October 1st

Votre Vray preview night, October 1st, 2008 will be held at Barefoot Annie's Coffee House and Tapas Restaurant on Main Street, Simpsonville, SC. http://www.barefootannies.com/

Kim, proprietor, was the first woman to submit her story to the Votre Vray process, so Mel felt she should be the first proprietor to benefit from the show.

Please be a patron at Barefoot Annie's long before the show, and long after. You'll love the atmosphere in the new location, Kim is feisty woman who won't hold back her humor or her love for what she does, and the fare is fab.

Preview is free and open to the public. Annie's opens at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. giving you plenty of time to come eat, drink and be merry. Come meet Mel., wear your "Shout: Kiss My Art" T-shirt, and donate to local artists and arts organizations to help them offer FREE arts events to women looking to find and honor their artistic spirit.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shout: Kiss My Art !!!

Mel has launched a new website to promote the Votre Vray show.
Visit: www.ShoutKissMyArt.com and see preview and Opening Night dates, and order a T-shirt that says:

Shout KMA!
(Kiss My Art)
[in white letters on the front]

Votre Vray
Your Truth is Your Way!
[in white letters on the back]

Additional details on ShoutKissMy Art.com.

Mention you saw this blog posting when you order the shirt and Mel will give an extra $1 to the arts and send you a FREE ticket for preview night!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dance Today, Knit Tomorrow

An excerpt of Ann McCauley's interview by Mel. Edwards for Votre Vray Creative Women.

Ann McCauley is late coming to her knitting career, by way of 20 years of dance at the Denver Center Performing Arts, 14 years of choreographic adaptation of a Christmas Carol. “I joke that I’ve been in the arts and now I’m in the crafts,” laughs Ann, although knitting has been part of her life since the 1980s. She notes knitting and dance have a good deal in common. “They’re interrelated: shape, content, rhythm, design. They are similar. There is order, repetition. It is all about movement -- even if knitting is more intrinsic and less athletic.” In 1995 Ann did her last major dance performance, and now at age 56, she’s still in “really good physical shape.” Ann admits that “I knew one day I’d be in another market. Still, I have a vision of doing a dance about knitting. I can see it….” She goes on to describe her vision, but I will not steal her thunder here. Instead, I fully expect she will develop it, and when she does, I will let you know.

Ann says her creative spirit is given information at those soft moments that are connected to her truth. “It may not inform on the literal level, but maybe in some abstract way. You must learn to get out of the way. Open yourself to the deeper reservoir inside. Focus away from the daily routine. Let surface thoughts fall away. That is when I know I’ve found it.”

Where ever you find your joy and life’s work, it is not too late to learn to knit, or be creative in another medium. Whatever you do, Ann says, “Be true to your inner self.” So she is.
Ann McCauley has been a knitting author since 2003. More about her and her books can be found at: http://www.annmccauleyknits.com/

From Corporate Fast Track to Natural Arts and Healing Path

The following is and excerpt of an interview from Dawn Clare, www.spisebliss.com, conducted by Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray Creative Women project.

What would you do if you were on the fast track to CEO, Harvard MBA under your belt and full of energy? Would you honor your creative gifts outside the boardroom? Imagine for a moment, impact of metal on bone, and flesh, pain and your vehicle is demolished beyond recognition. Regardless of your fast track reality, just moments ago, you’re now immobile, allergic to pain killers, trapped in a brace – and you’ll stay that way for months. Do you dream of returning to corporate America? Or does the muse haunt your dreams?

Before Dawn Clare’s accident four years ago, she knew she was creative and had healing skills. An Indian shaman had shared his awareness of her gifts with her more than 10 years earlier. After the crash, “my gifts are now at a higher level,” Dawn admits. She’s helped parents previously unable to conceive find their truth in the process. Some have walked away knowing parenthood wasn’t what they wanted after all, and perhaps had blocked all along. Others, who had wanted to be parents most sincerely, now are.

Dawn says, “People are often afraid about their life gifts. I say, be open internally about what your gifts are, and what they are not. Once you understand that, it (your truth) becomes your anchor. If you have a core passion, your truth will come from it. No one can tell you what it is. Go internally to find your truth. Then find people who support it and they will become relationship anchors.” Her mantra? “Do what you love, be with those you love, and the rest of your life falls into bliss!”

What is her artistic passion? “Sunsets. To me, they are nature’s smiles.” Dawn began taking sunset photos from the same location each week for over a year. “I now have over 2000 sunset photos,” she beams. From what I can tell, she has every reason to smile back at Mother Nature, night after night.

You can find more information about Dawn Clare and see her sunset photos via her website: www.spisebliss.com

If Birth to a Loving Mother isn’t Enough of a Gift…

The following is an excerpt of an interview of Tisha DeShields, www.OriginalBellyWorks.com, conducted by Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray Creative Women Project.

For some women, pregnancy is pure joy at the expectation and anticipation of a new life. Tisha DeShields was one such mother, four times over. “I wanted to leave something tangible but unique for each of my children, something that I could pass on the hopes and dreams for each child in a displayable or creative form.” Thus, the belly cast was born.
When Tisha began, she used plaster kits and sold those. Then, one day while she was in the dentist’s chair, a little voice inside her said, “Mass produce.” Knowing this was the step she needed to grow her brand, she rushed home and began using the power of the Internet to look at what options were out there. Soon she discovered a man who made fiberglass mannequins. “He was willing to do them in small number, and I won’t say they are indestructible, but I will say they don’t crumble (like plaster does). They bounce.” That made her idea less fragile and the options expanded from there.

Who would buy these fiberglass bellies other than expectant mothers? “I had a man buy one and put the family tree on it and give it to his grandmother for her birthday. Adoptive mothers can buy them too.”

What do her children think of the decorated belly casts? “The kids can’t wait to show them off to their friends. Now they help me design new ideas.” I’m not sure she needs much help in that area, as she goes on to explain, “DeAngelo (one son) has his covered with angels. DeLino (her other boy) has a baseball theme on his, and the girls, Diamond and Denim, have crystals and patchwork on theirs.”

So, if you could design a belly like a scrapbook to show the world who you are, and where your ancestors have come from…what would you put on it? Tisha can help you there as well. “This fall we have belly charms, and charm bracelets coming out. I’ve also designed a belly cake pan and cookies for celebrations.” Oh, mama! What amazing and fun show of love will you dream up for your babies next?

Tisha DeShields is the founder of the Original Belly Works and can be found at www.orignalbellyworks.com

Monday, July 21, 2008

Attention All Votre Vray Artists ~ Call for Give-Aways

Dear Friends,
As mentioned in the blog the other day, I will be at the Upstate (SC) Women's Show August 22-24. In addition to promoting my poetry chapbook and cd, I will be focusing upon the Votre Vray stories of creative women. In doing so, I'll be asking local women to participate in the Votre Vray Creative Women project and telling them about you and your work. If you have any items you'd like me to give away as part of that show: books, business cards, cd's, dvd's, magnets, bookmarks, fliers, pens, prints, T-shirts, etc. please snail mail them to me at:

Votre Vray
P O Box 1106
Mauldin SC 29662

I will make sure every item is given to potential customers and encourage them to tell you Mel Edwards' Votre Vray sent them. All give-aways must be received by August 20th, 2008.

Until next time, keep creating!

Why Votre Vray Creative Women Entire Artist Interviews and Images Do Not Appear Here

I, Mel., would like all participating Votre Vray artists and visitors to the blog to know that only artists or businesses profiled that do NOT have a full website available at this time will have images in this blog. Once all interviewees have been profiled, if time permits and there is no conflict with the publication, images will be added to profiles that already have working business web addresses. Please note any image in this blog or any part of interviews that appear here cannot reappear as is in the Votre Vray book, as the book contents must be unique. The same artists may appear in the play or the book, but additional information from the interviews would be used for that purpose.

If you have been interviewed and you do not see a link to your site, or information about you at this time, please be patient. I have about 80 interviews in queue as of this morning, and I'm trying to close on a house, find a new home, prepare for the Upstate Women's Show, conduct more interviews, and move my office before August 7th.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter, and best wishes in all of your creative endeavors. Remember, it is my mission to promote your work as well as create a play and a book that will benefit us both. Please be patient as I strive for the highest quality work possible.

Respect Your Dream and Others Will Too

An excerpt of an interview of Deborah Argyropoulos, oil painter, by Mel. Edwards for Votre Vray Creative Women project

Some of us know from an early age what we want to do for the rest of our lives, but those who love us often work hard at diverting our passions to make sure that we’ll be provided for in all social and economic climes. Deborah’s parents were no different. She knew from age 4, with a drawing of a horse, what her truth was. She was a visual artist but her folks made her go to a four year college. “They were worried for me,” she explains.

When asked if she’s do anything else for a living, she admitted that although art is her passion, she is also interested in health, fitness, yoga and nutrition. Her bottom line is that she has no interest in working for someone else’s business.

At age 39, she’s already thinking about her legacy. Her Big Dream? “Make a bunch of money and have a farm for animal rescue. Then leave something behind that will outlast me.”

To me, Deborah sounds similar to several artists: passion and altruism, first, and money enough to live on but not a life of excess, second. “Money is the hard part. I am kind of a pimp when it comes to selling my work. There is only one piece I’ve ever made that I won’t sell, but everything else is up for grabs.” When asked what the one piece is, she gushed, “A painting of my cat. That’s the one.”

Deborah is also quick to add that the work she sells she refuses to give away. “People don’t value or respect what we do. We should be paid more (than most think) because there is no formula. We need to show them, teach them, to respect the artistic process. Invite them into the studio and hand them a brush and say, ‘Go ahead. Paint,’ and then they’ll know.” She also admits making a living and being a success as an artist is an imbalanced system. “Just because you’re good doesn’t mean you can make money. But I’d kill myself (if I tried) to work for somebody else. There is no point in living if it means nothing to you.”

Although non-artists and people who haven’t found their truth may find Deborah’s statement to be grim, it is one that has come up continually through the Votre Vray project. Many women agree to do “it” (meaning your truth/passion) without concern of others’ opinions, guarantee of income or censorship of your spirit. I asked Deborah if her parents have come around, she said, “Yeah. Dad got a painting I just did called ‘Sisters’ of my nieces for Father’s Day. He was so overcome with emotion that he cried. I was a bit in his face and said, ‘Now? Now can I be an artist?’” Evidently, he considered it a rhetorical question, and so do I. Deborah Argyropoulos IS an artist, through and through.
Deborah Argyropoulos can be reached at: dmcart@mac.com
She would also like you to know that the above image is of "Sisters" and measures 36" x 48" and took about 140 hrs to paint.

Failure - Not an Option

An excerpt of an interview of Carla Sanders, www.CarlaSanders.com, by Mel. Edwards for the Votre Vray Creative Women project.

When Carla Sanders began following her truth, her husband was afraid for their future, and he said, “You can give it a year and then you’ll have to admit you’ve failed and you can get a job doing something else.” Sanders knew he had done his job for years with plans of retiring and handing the earning reigns over to her when the time came. He never banked on her choice and wasn’t prepared. It came down to Carla having to select her passion or give up her spirit by doing something else. Her spirit won, even if her marriage didn’t. “I like the line that Tom Hank’s character says in Apollo 13, ‘Failure is not an option.’ I’ve adopted it as my motto.”

I asked if it was scary for her to honor her truth. “Yes. If I said it wasn’t I’d be kidding myself. I’m mature, in my 50s, and I’ve been doing this for a long time now. Some busy years, and some light years when no one sees me. Is that fear?” I offered that her slower years maybe she was filling the well. “Maybe. That’s it. I need to fill the well.”
Still, Carla likes to keep her work around her, “to prove I’m an artist. Once I had a business card, and a one woman show, I still didn’t believe it inside. I had to learn it from the inside out.”

It also helps that Carla has had plenty of others support her path. “The director of the Temple of Women is my biggest collector. I have a lot of friends who support me, and my greatest feedback comes from people who are not yet my friends (strangers) who say, “You don’t know what you’ve got.” It is all important, regardless of how it landed on me. Still, the sincerest form of appreciation is when they pull out a checkbook.”

How does she stick with it now that she’s an adult orphan, and her marriage is gone? Sometimes it is a fight through a thicket with a machete or it is like rising to the surface for air as you challenge yourself. Sometimes it can be very fragile, with everything seemingly stacked against you. I just know now that it (my truth) is written on my heart. I have something treasured to give and what I offer means a lot to them (her customers). My work has transformed, inspired, healed.”

When she falls down the rabbit hole, how does she climb out and get back into her groove? “I give myself permission to create really shitty art. Some pieces I’ve just made (in silver) are going back to the refiners. I just work in fits and starts. Then, it just happens because you’re in the flow somehow.”

Carla also is willing to share the flow of her passion in other ways with women artists. “I’d love to see…love to hear, what you perceive your struggles are right now, and hear your triumphs. They go hand in hand.”
Readers may reach out to Carla through her blog, and view a 39 minute video of her titled “Love Medicine” located in the upper corner of her front page of her website. Tell her Mel Edwards’ Votre Vray sent you.

Driven by the Beat of Passion

An excerpt of an interview of Joey Wester of www.jdwdesign.com
by Mel. Edwards of the Votre Vray Creative Women project.

What would you do to get a shot at following your truth? Would you risk being arrested? Joey Wester of JDW Designs began her career with such a risk. “I snuck onto a major movie and television studio lot in Culver City and asked some of the master artists working there if they’d like to see my portfolio. I was so lucky the owner wasn’t around that day. After most of them rolled their eyes, one agreed, and he liked it. They weren’t hiring, but a few weeks later I got a call. I was the first woman they’d hired in seven years!”

Chutzpah is Joey all around. Other than covert self-promoter, she was in a rock band as a drummer for thirteen years. “I say, let people know who you are. See who bites.” It obviously worked in Culver City.

Now Joey works for herself. Her former employer was great in giving her exposure to the world of possibilities, and her pieces are in prop houses ready to be picked up by film and TV studios looking for art, but she seeks more. It is no surprise that Joey works on all kinds of subject matter and mediums including charcoal and pencil (many images of rock and roll figures in her online portfolio), florals, portraits, abstracts. Regardless of the piece,“I aim for balance and to keep it interesting. If I accomplish what I set out to do, I can step back and say, ‘Oh my G-d, that’s really cool.’ But if I’m frustrated, I can end up with a mess. You can just look at it and tell. It shows.”

Being a gutsy artistic woman can have its downside. When I asked who has encouraged her to move forward in her creative path, she admits, “Nobody specifically. They’ll just say, ‘That’s nice. That’s cool,’ but most of my friends don’t even ask about my work. No significant other ever has shown an interest.” So how does she keep going? “I don’t really think I have a choice. I have no time when I didn’t have a pencil in my hand as a child. Once you’ve found your passion, know you’re given it for a reason. You should do it. You have a responsibility to do so. It would be a shame not to use it.”

And it would be a shame to not know Joey Wester. Check out Jo and her work at: http://www.jdwdesign.com/

Friday, July 18, 2008

Author’s Balanced Routine Yields Success

An excerpt of an interview of Linda Seger from www.LindaSeger.com by Mel. Edwards

When does an author become an artist? After the first book is published? The fourth? For Linda Seger (pronounced SAY-er) it was after her sixth book. At that time Linda read Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird and fell in love with the playfulness of Lamont’s author voice and the rhythm of her language. Seger began to use Lamont’s style as a reference for putting more of her own voice into her writing. “Voice was the focus of my seventh book. It became more fun, playful, bold.” Perhaps Seger’s writing voice was previously accustomed the dry academic writing required in higher education, since she holds not one but three master’s degrees and a PhD. Even with these degrees, Seger had to work hard to become more emotional and spiritual in her writing and change her platform from screenwriting coach who “passes on information” to a woman who truly “writes books.” No matter the reason, Seger is now free of those binds and the limitations of a solitary platform, with her eleventh book due out in February 2009. “I have eight books on screenwriting but three spiritual books now, too.”

When asked if she could think of herself doing anything else for a career she admits she’s looked at everything else. “No. It makes my stomach hurt. I can’t imagine (doing any other career).” Seger believes creative people “bring creativity into the way you do everything in life.” She should know, as she works on a short film headed for Sundance, slogs through two to three scripts per week by other screenwriters, and does her own research and re-writes for a book and fits in kenote speaking engagements as time allows.

Seger credits her daily routine for her success. “In grad school creativity is a two year process. I had to learn to how it worked, not be scared, get rid of the mystery in creations. I learned how to meet the muse and get her here, with the expectation of ‘You have to be here at 7 the next morning.’ I don’t get blocked, but it doesn’t flow all the time either.” Although Seger is also a a multiple project personality, she knows balance in work and life. “I don’t work too hard. It is focused. (My day) is a natural flow for me. I remind myself, ‘This is supposed to be joyful.’”

To learn more about Linda and her work, please visit: http://www.lindaseger.com/bio.html

Mel's Votre Vray to Attend Upstate SC Women's Show

August 22-24 at Carolina First Center (formerly the Palmetto Expo Center) the world of women's products and services will be at your fingertips and Mel will be there!
(One of the special guests is Lisa Rinna, who Mel used to watch on Days of Our Lives, many moons ago. )

Come meet Mel, and if you're not part of the Votre Vray Creative Women's project yet, you can sign a release form and answer the six interview launch questions on site.
Mel. will also have poetry chapbooks and cd's for sale, and will be available to discuss bookings.

Exhibit hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday

For more information, visit: http://upstatewomensshow.com/

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Big Dream in Multi-colored Animal Portrait Wrapper

Excerpt of interview of Kim Santini for Votre Vray Creative women project by Mel. Edwards.

For Kimberly Kelly Santini, it is all about community, connections and canines. Okay, all animals are dear to her, but Kim certainly knows her puppies! In October 2006, Kim of http://www.turtledovedesigns.com/ set out to try something new. Instead of her over-sized animal portraits and being identified by a company name dedicated to her beloved rescued feline, she was going to try out new techniques on a smaller scale with a set subject: dogs. She decided that creating five new paintings, about 4 inches square, per week would do the trick. She also attached her vision of promoting canine rescue and love to her art. Kim laughs that she thought she’d do it for a year, but now she admits she had enough material and ideas to keep her going through September 2009! The work from this project can be followed at http://www.paintingadogaday.blogspot.com/. When asked if she ever veered away from dogs, she admitted that the subscribers can handle a little variation, but in the end, mutts to purebreds are what it’s all about. “Before this project, about 80% of my portrait work was of dogs, and Dog-a-day had a nice ring to it. I also wanted to try new things instead of working on just one portrait for weeks, so this met my needs.”

Frustrated artists, who think you must have huge blocks of time to do your art, think again. “I used to be guilty of the mindset of needing at least 8 hours to work on a piece, and then realized it was a rule I was making for myself. It took a little while to get there, but now I know better.” During the school year Kim gets up to six hours per day of uninterrupted time to paint, but summers whittle her minutes down to about two hours a day when her children are at the Boys and Girls club, or late nights once the kids begin to settle in the for the evening. Still, she has no regrets and her kids are used to it.

In fact, when she isn’t in the studio and puts on make-up because she wants to add a bit of personal sparkle, her kids ask, “Are we going somewhere?” Kim laughs again and says, “They know that when I’m in the groove, I’ve got my good music going, the right shoes on and chocolate on hand, I’m going to paint. Lipstick days are pretty out of the ordinary for me.”

What keeps her going besides music, good shoes and chocolate? Peer support. “Find a single mentor or a group of people knowledgeable of your medium. It is key to have someone you can ask, ‘What do I do if…’ and someone who you can share your work with.” Some supporting groups on the ‘net have been very helpful to her including: http://www.equineartguild.com/, the http://www.canineartguild.com/, and http://www.wetcanvas.com/.

Kim also suggests that artists be open to new ideas, always wanting to expand their capacity for earning and fulfilling their own dreams. I asked her what her Big Dream was, and true to color, Kim said, “Mel, I have it. I don’t think it gets much better than this.”

Mel headed to Recording Studio

Now hear this, Mel Edwards, Renaissance woman is finally going to the recording studio!

That's right folks, the week of August 4th I'll be at a local recording studio making my first cd of poems, stories, and some content from the opening of the Votre Vray play. I have more material than can possibly fit on one cd, and I won't know until I'm in-process what will work together and what will need to be cut away before the final version is put out there, but that's what creation is all about for me -- trying, re-doing, and re-tooling again and again until I say, "Okay, that's enough for this piece. Time to let it go," even if the piece doesn't match some preconceived ideal.

The good news is most of the pieces will be available for sale within a few days from iTales.com where, like iTunes, you can pay per download to get the exact content that you want. This will make my work more immediately accessible for those who are interested in hearing my work but can't get to one of my gigs.

To learn more about me and my work, please visit my website: www.meledwards.com

Until next time,
(you know what I'm going to say....)
Keep Creating!

Nicole B. Schmidt is Green Over Art!

Partial interview of Nicole B. Schmidt of http://www.nicolebcreative.com/ for the Votre Vray Creative Women project.

One of the key questions the Votre Vray project asks every interviewee is how they feel about being called an artist. Some embrace the concept, and others balk at nuances the term brings up for them. Nicole B. Schmidt is one of the later.

"I have two conflicting ideas when I think of the term ‘artist,’” says Nicole. “The first is the stereotype of the flighty, all over the place but not necessarily responsible type. The second is of someone who has the innate ability to be creative, outside the parameters of society or original intention.” Nicole then goes on to state she’s not sure she’s earned the right for the second definition yet but she’s working on it by getting away from traditional 2D and formulas such as copying the masters. For her, “It is more about the experience than the end product, let it evolve, go through the process instead of dictating to the piece, ‘You will be…’”

I asked if her new creative direction causes her to fear putting herself out there. “Oh yeah! The new direction of my work is more commercial and there is still an elitist view of who has made it in the world of art,” much like A-list stars in Hollywood. “You need to be in the scene to make it big, if you don’t fit that image, you won’t make it.”
Does she want to be “part of the scene”? Nicole laughs and says, “I want to make a sellable product. Every piece is not a child of yours. It is your work that will replenish itself. Let go of what you’ve made (sell it) and create anew.”

And create, Nicole does. When she was little her mother had to create a rotation system of the pieces on display on the fridge, keep it up a week, and replace with her latest work. She went on to take AP art classes in high school and some of her paintings are still in her parent’s home.

What does she advise to new artists? “Find yourself in your art. If you’re in it for money, find your direction, find what you really love – a subject or a medium – and see how far you can push yourself in that.”

What is Nicole’s latest artistic aim? “I am working on creating a line of art that is completely eco-friends – renewable materials, looking at dyes and milk paints – and making it affordable for younger people who want to feel good about purchasing something beautiful that is also a green product. I will be successful it I can create a modest living making art that others can enjoy too.”

I’m willing to bet Nicole will do just that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Divine Answer to Artist’s Dream!

Profile of: Connie Logan, www.cplogan.com
based upon interview by Mel. Edwards, for the Votre Vray project

If you live in Greensboro, NC, you might know the matriarch of painters, Connie Logan. Founder of Artstock, a local art tour now in its 11th year (with tours taking place in October), mother of three, and painting teacher of several local artists, Logan is a powerhouse not to be equaled.

Some may find it cliché, but Logan credits G-d where credit is due, including, telling her “Now is not your time,” when she first began to ask, “When do I get to do what I want?” when she ached to create instead of sitting on floor playing Legos with her sons.

1987, she took her sons to a Lenten service where the priest told the congregation, “If you want to identify with Christ in a small way, give something up for Lent.” She gave up television, and while she sat in a room apart from her then-husband, so he could watch TV, she prayed for strength and asked what to do with herself. She distinctly heard G-d say that her time had come. So she began painting two hours a day, and hasn’t looked back since.

She advises, “If you’re going to be a writer, write. If you’re going to be a painter, paint. Build a body of work.” By 1993 she had done just that, and while living in Budapest, due to her husband’s job, she not only flourished in her creation of works that honored her new home, but she gained a rare opportunity to have a showing at the Budapest National Opera House! “People came in tuxes, and I hired a quartet to play on the marble landing, with a gilded entrance. I had 35 pieces in that show.” It was a defining moment that changed her life.

When she returned to the States, her marriage ended and against the advice of “everyone” especially those who said she “couldn’t” do it, she had a studio built in her own back yard. She gave the workers all her savings and said, “This if for labor, and this is my credit card to (this building company) and when that maxes out, I have one to this building company.” In the end it took four credit cards and plenty of negotiating rates, and transferring balances, to created a studio $40,000. Due to her savvy, Logan paid no interest and the debt was gone within a year.

Although she continually teaches and encourages others, she also keeps balance by painting (or doing art- related tasks) daily. Logan states, “Follow your passion, what you truly believe in, even if you’re not good at it. You just require the desire.” She says she’s worked with several painters and taught them the techniques, the concrete side of painting, and their passion and commitment has carried them forward until they became good at it. Logan says painting gives her a stronger sense of self, and she believes everyone wants to know their purpose in life. Painting helps her identify with the Creator, as creating any art can do.

Logan is no longer scared to put herself and her work out there, and that she “really can’t” envision herself doing anything else. “This IS what I envisioned,” she states, adding, “Money isn’t what is going to motivate an artist. Self-fulfillment is.” She should know, as do her sons, and her students.

Avenue Q makes Peace Center Attendee Nearly Pee Pants from Laughter

OMG! Last night my darlin' hubby and I attended the opening night of Avenue Q's national tour's run at the Peace Center in Greenville, SC. For those who don't know anything about SC, remember that Bob Jones University is in town and most politicians are Republicans. Those who don't know the show, one of the main characters is Rod, a Republican, whose roommate is trying to get him to realize he's gay. Yuppers! What a show for this town! Sometimes I wonder how the arts community and the religious and political communities mesh around here.

What did the audience think? The guys who sat behind us are planning on telling one of their colleagues that his new nickname is Trekkie but not telling him why or what it means. For those who haven't seen the show, Trekkie's motto is "The Internet is for porn." I feel for that colleague of theirs, but I really am laughing my butt off at the guys who are going to start calling him that. You go, guys! The older couple that sat beside me were pretty quiet, but at intermission the wife took a call. I heard her say, "Yes it is, but we're adults. We can handle it." Her husband waited for her to finish and said, "Nice speech." They didn't even grumble when I cheered during the final number when the puppets and players sang about all the things that are just for now --- including George Bush. In my life, that's a major victory to not be scolded for such honesty.

What did hubby and I get from going? Well, we bought the original cast recording, laughed until I nearly peed my pants (that's what I get for drinking a big ice cold fruit slushy drink before the show and not leaving my seat until it was over), and we dubbed it a perfect night. I can't recall that last time I said that.

Oh, and adults who were raised as Sesame Street fans, as I was, will LOVE the puppets and the set. I said, "This is the closest I've even been to Sesame Street!" and I giggled as my husband looked at me like, "Awwww, ain't she cute...a bit soft in the head, but really cute."

WARNING: Do NOT bring kids to see this unless you really want to explain all of adult language, the sex scene that still has us making comments (since the puppets are basically heads with hands), and spend a good part of your life telling them they can't sing the catchy lyrics or say the four letter words that popped into the script.

Still...if you live close and can afford to attend: DO IT! Also call the box office. I read a blurb the other day that two hours before the show some tickets were going to be available for $25 each, first come-first served, limit two tickets per person. With that option, there is no reason to miss it!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Telling the Truth ...One Artist's Perspective

The main focus of Votre Vray is for each person to find his or her creative truth, and to USE IT to be the best person you can be and live the life you were created for. Sian Lindemann gets that, so much so that she wrote her own version of what truth meant in her work here:
Go to www.thenationalnetworker.com
Lindemann says, "This month's article in Arts and Entertainment Department is a pretty radical turn from the content I normally write....but its powerful...and revealing about my nature as an artist, and as a human being...
Sian Lindemann"

I certainly did enjoy it and learned a bit about Sian and her work.

Sian will be interviewed for the Votre Vray project later this month. Until then, check out this artist, her website and Keep Creating!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

NoHo Gallery LA featuring Votre Vray friend Joey Wester


There is a Free Reception on July 16th, 6:30 - 10:30 at the NoHo Gallery LA and one of our interviewees is the featured artist! How cool is that?

NoHo Gallery LA
5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 761-7784
Show Dates are July 5th thru July 26th

Gallery Show: 'Visions'
A group show of existential, surreal and lyrical artworks featuring the multi-faceted talents of Joey Wester.
Group artists include Ayers Baxter, Renate Dartois, Delphia, Kate Devine, Sandra Cooper, Thurayya Hernandez, Rachel Weissberger, Rene Vasquez and more… Show Dates: July 5 - 26

This night should be an adventure ! Come have some food, wine, listen to live acoustic music, meet some cool people and grab some culture ! Life is short ! Come on out and play !

Joey Wester

Friday, July 11, 2008

30 Fabulous, Funny and Talented Women Artists' Interviews Coming!

Woo Hoo! I've had the incredible pleasure to meet and interview thirty women artists already -- with specialties ranging from the folk tradition, to multi-degree holding visual, performance and wordsmith artists with every modality that one might imagine. This time next week I hope to have most (if not all) of their introductory profiles here.

Until then, spread the word about the Votre Vray project. Invite friends, women you admire, and past enemies too ('cause it's not too late to fix our karma).

Subscribe to the blog, and place a link to this blog on your website. The bigger buzz we create with the project the quicker several things can happen:
1. Participants get recognition for their work from new audiences.
2. Participants get a shot at making new artist friends.
3. Votre Vray can become a published book.
4. Mel can visit your town to do the one-woman Votre Vray: Your Truth is Your Way, Women Artists production.

Oh! Catch this! Britt Menzies, creator of Stinky Kids, (a.k.a. Miss-I-Love-You [her husband says she tells this to every women artist she meets on her creative path]) has volunteered to either be by my side when the book gets published and I have a book signing and/or be on hand opening night of the Votre Vray play! How cool is that?

Love Britt's idea? Well, so do I! If you're one of the women who participate in the interview process, you too can join us for both events. In fact, if you want to have me come to your community and do a special presentation of the play, let me know, and I'll be happy to see what we can work out.

Remember, Votre Vray is not just about us as individuals finding our paths and learning who we are through our creative selves, but also concerned with spreading the words: Support Women Artists who follow their truth! That means you, girl!

Please, dear friends of women artists, do the following this weekend:
1. Tell ten friends about Votre Vray
2. Subscribe to the blog -- 'cause 30 artist profiles will be going up in the next week and you don't want to miss it!
3. Start planning to have Mel. come to your town to do the Votre Vray play.
4. Plan on showcasing your talents at a Votre Vray event or sending treats/information for goodie bags to be given to play attendees. (...and go to StinkyKids.com and tell Britt you love her and her idea!)

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hyster-Sister Rant ~ a poem by Mel Edwards

Hyster-Sister Rant
by Mel. Edwards

Why did you think the only connection we could have would be spawn?
Does offspring = purpose?
Is my childless life without meaning?

180,000 hours, at least, I’ve been a substitute parent.
That’s 1000+ kids, at least one hour per day, times 180 school days a year, divided by 24 hours that birth parents own the role, totals out at 7,500 hours.
That translates to 20.5479425… years of parenthood, not of twins, triples or even quints but up to 31 angels at a time.

So, now that you’ve got that, let’s get down to the real.
You, woman, are not a wife/mother/sister/daughter/girlfriend FIRST.
First, you are a person who wants, needs and, dammit, desires.
Don’t categorize me by my role in the lives of others,
or yourself for that matter.
Learn the size of my brain, my heart, my vision
for a world where anyone
any single or trans/inter gender/image/size/color/age/brain
Can do whatever art, career, quest that
elect to shout, sing, dance, hobble,
toil, think, mumble, wobble and wail about.
Don’t tell me I need to be a wife/mother/sister/daughter/girlfriend so I can fill ancient rolls that you think my gender requires.
Instead, stop that babble of shoulda, coulda, woulda and SIT down.
I said,
SIT down,
not for minute, an hour a day
but until you’ve had all the stories your heart can hold:

My story,
Your story,

Then get UP, sister, and spread

My story,
Your Story,
knowing the vision of our world has come,
and help the poor bastards
that don’t know it yet.

Monday, July 07, 2008

New Votre Vray Website Launched!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls of All Creative Ilk,
The fabulous graphic designer Duwan Dunn has created a website to behold! (And it just happens to be mine.)

Please visit my new website: http://www.meledwards.com/ [Also loads as: http://www.votrevray.com/ or if you prefer the proper French spelling: http://www.votrevrai.com/. Tried to cover all my bases so that if you can't recall Votre Vray, you can at least find me.]

I'd love any feedback you can offer, and of course, if you need a creative writing coach, a poet, or a storyteller: Call on me!


Novel Illuminates Dangers of Avoiding a Creative Life

Vianne Rocher wanted a fresh start, and moved several times since the end of the events in Chocolate, only to land in Paris, her childhood home. Now, she is known as Yanne, and has traded her colorful shoes and clothes, the same ones Anouk was embarrassed by in their former communities, for black, sensible footwear. Yanne has learned to blend in, to be the helpful assistant in a shop, and got in with the landlord, a wealthy, helpful sort who wants to be the knight to save her from her life of poverty. However, there are complications, including Yanne’s youngest daughter, who does not communicate through any means other than sign language. But that is the least of Yanne’s worries. Her biggest problems stem not from the identify thief in her midst, but from her loss of self. In an effort to provide a safe life for her girls, Yanne has sacrificed her soul, and only if she can regain it will she save them all.

Although this is the main plotline of Joanne Harris’s long-awaited sequel to Chocolate, entitled The Girl with No Shadow, the story is a common theme in my life, and in the lives of creative people everywhere, including several of the artists I’ve interviewed for the Votre Vray project.

I was once told a quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, that goes something like this: If you bring forth to what is inside of you, it will save you. If not, it will destroy you.
So often, as creatives we sacrifice our skills for the security of a regular paycheck, a stable residence, a relationship…or something we feel we have been missing in our quest to create. Occasionally, what we trade for is not our greatest desire, but what our loved ones, or society dictates to us as fundamental in a normal, productive, adult life. In exchange, we give up a part (or all) of our most essential elemental make-up, and in doing so, we become ill, angry, and sometimes feel like we are dying.

What will it take for us to listen to our hearts, minds, or souls?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Four Women Artists Worth Knowing

Hello, and Happy July!
Most of us get a three day weekend coming up, and since you have time to sit back and relax a bit, why not meet an artist?

The Votre Vray interviews are moving along fast and furiously, with about 30 slated to be completed by July 11th.

Here are links to a few of the fabulous women I've had the pleasure of speaking with in the past week:

Carla Sanders is an artist who focuses upon shamanic and erotic sculpture, painting and silver work. You can't be more pro-feminine than this! Visit her at: www.CarlaSanders.com

Janet Perry, master needleworker and author who has her own designs (and promotes needlework of others through her shop as well) in spite of the fact she is battling MS.
Janet can be reached at: http://www.napaneedlepoint.com/

Violette, a sassy, spunky, Canadian folk artist with a genuine love of color and glitter. See her art, van, and watch a video
of her house (as was featured on the TV show Weird Homes). Violette's site is: www.violette.ca

Tisha DeShields, wanted to have a legacy all mothers could pass on to their children filled with memories and love, so she created belly castings that can be decorated and personalized for each child. You've got to see: www.OriginalBellyWorks.com

Keep posted as the first wave of artist profiles pop up as the holiday weekend nears, and continue through July 18th.

Until next time, keep creating!