Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Call For Artists!!!!

I am really enjoying the Friday Feather Artist interviews....I hope you are too!!!  I am learning (by making mistakes of'course) how to organize my "line up" of artists and doing my best to adjust to the bumps in the road along the way.  With that said, the artist I had lined up for this week had some urgent matters to attend to and can not complete the interview by Friday....which is completely fine because we all understand how life can throw you curve balls.  So I am learning that I need to have a few interviews completed and ready to post in case this happens, and, well, I don't right now so we will be skipping this week and in the meantime I will be completing more interviews so that they are ready to go.  With that said, I now would like to ask you to please nominate an artist that you admire and include a link to their blog or website.  You can do that in the comments or you can E-mail me at: Harmonypyper@gmail.com.

You can choose them because you love their work, their story, their smile....whatever it is, it counts!!!!  I can't wait to see the names that pop up and then I will contact the artists and let them know that they have been nominated and we will hopefully get to learn more about them.

So here we go......

Be Well.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Feature Artist: Cathy Bluteau

Cathy is a self-taught artist experimenting primarily in mixed media and any and all types of mediums.  She is mother to a teenage son and wife to a wonderful husband.  Cathy manages her time between a full time job, a blog, and an etsy shop called  Cathy Michaels Design.  Little known secret is that her shop name is a combination of her first name and her son’s first name.  The shop is stocked and restocked often, based on her latest creative obsession.  Cathy also develops and creates online workshops or e-courses  which she offers through Creative Workshops.  Here she teaches and shares her techniques in journaling and doodling and drawing.  She has been published in many of the Somerset Publications including, Artful Blogging, Somerset Life, Art Journaling and Sew Somerset. She has also been a featured artist on many blogs including Spoonful and Crescendoh where she writes a heartfelt piece for Jenny’s Art Saves feature. You can preview more of Cathy’s work on her blog at http://cathyb.typepad.com as well as in her shop. Cathy loves to hear from her readers so let her know what’s on your mind.

Hi Cathy!!!  Thank you so much for being here this lovely Friday.  You were so kind to move up a week and get me your interview answers quickly.  I told you I would give you "Bonus Points" so please readers (all of you;) leave a nice comment for Cathy after you are done reading her insightful and inspiring interview.  Let's get started....

When did you start doing art?

Like many artists, I have been creating art for as long as I can remember.  And for the years before that when I was too young to do art myself, I spent time watching my mom create things.  I remember making paper flowers long before there were as many beautiful papers as there are today.  I would use anything I could find to make these flowers – if a magazine had a page with beautiful colors I used that as my paper, if I found paper that had a nice texture but was white I would dye it pink. Anything to make things beautiful enough to inspire me.   If I wasn’t working with paper or colored pencils I was sewing, if I wasn’t sewing I was writing poetry and stories – there was always something.

What is it about your art process that you love?
There is nothing else that I do in my life today that brings me to the same place that creating art brings me to.  When I create I really live in that moment, I live in the now.  The “now” for me is a very relaxing, very peaceful and calm, and very exhilarating place – a place I want to go to everyday in everything I do. 

Can you share one of your favorite techniques with us?     
Well I love to get messy and most of my techniques, especially as they are being developed tend to be very messy.  When I work I have to have everything I need around me and that may be many things until I figure out exactly what it is I want to do and what it is I am going to use to do it.  I love layers.  I love the look and the feel of layer over layer in a piece of work.  Most of my journal pages start with a very rough coat of gesso followed by a very rough spritz of paint.  From there I add the main or central piece of the project – the “thing” that made me want to start a new page.  Sometimes this is a picture, sometime just a color.  Once I’ve added this focal piece I work around it adding more color and more often than not, more bits and pieces of paper.  These other bits and pieces usually complement the central theme either through color or style or sometimes just because it feels right.  I may stamp or doodle in some of the blank spaces and then I always add some shadow to that central piece of the collage.  I usually add a final coat of gel medium and then I will probably go over the page again and add more color and more bits of paper.   I often make it up as I go along just with some intuitive sense that tells me what to add.  That’s why it a real challenge when people ask for my techniques.  When I develop my online workshops for example I always have to work backwards from a finished piece to get understand how I got there.  I can’t develop my workshops by starting at the beginning and working to the end – that’s just not how my mind works (lol lol)!

In your Art Saves story on the Creshendoh website you tell a moving story about how Art helped you during a difficult time in your life. Can you tell us why you think art is so healing?

There is no question in my mind that art is healing.  It is somehow related to what I was saying about the fact that creating art allows me to be in the present moment without any distractions from future or past thoughts.  It’s as if your mind is at its calmest and quietest when you create.  And because of this your subconscious is left free and open to work through any troubled parts in your life without you even being aware.  It seems to me that if you leave your mind in this state long or often enough, resolutions seem to form on their own and then seem to move, very quietly, to your conscious mind offering you answers to your problems.  For me this is really healing – and it is a very soft and gentle way to heal I think. 

You have been published numerous times, what tips can you share with us that may help artists get published?
Two things – the first is don’t give up, keep submitting items.  The second and maybe more important tip is always make sure that the work you submit is of the highest quality of your capabilities.  Don’t submit anything that you don’t feel absolutely great about or that you yourself do not absolutely love!

Can you share some business advice that may help artist sell more of their work?
It may seem like a strange response but I would say that what I have learned is that the best way to be successful in your business is to be honest with your customers and true to yourself.  For me integrity and sincerity are really important in business and perhaps even more important in the art business.  For example, I don’t think I have ever wanted to sell a piece of art solely because I wanted to make a lot of money.  I create and sell art because I want to know that other people “get” what I am doing and love it as much as I do.  If I look at it from a business point of view I understand that no one buys art because they “need” it.  Art is an emotional purchase.  You buy art based on some sort of emotion – either the piece makes you happy, makes you  smile, makes you think – whatever it is it evokes an emotion.   It is that emotion that drives you to actually make the purchase.  And that works for me because I could never say I need to make money and then create a piece of art, the art always comes first and then I hope the money follows.  I think that it is really important to have integrity with regards to your art.  I believe customers sense that integrity and sincerity and that makes for loyal customers who stay with you as your business grows.

What do you know to be true?
What a great question!  This is what I know to be true:  I know that passion is a powerful driver.  I know that I choose passion over all else.  I know that passion will drive me to where I want to be.

Oh my goodness, so many good points here.  I can completely relate to that feeling of being present with a calm mind while doing art....it's my best time for mindfulness.  Also, I think your advice on wanting to sell art because it is so rewarding to know that someone else, "gets it" and not only because you want to make money is a wonderful perspective.  Integrity and Sincerity are two words I am going to carry with me this weekend.  Thank you so much for taking the time (and I didn't give you much) to give us such authentic answers.  Remember, Cathy gets bonus points for acting so quickly so please everyone leave a positive message for Cathy in the comments.  To learn more about Cathy visit her website and Etsy page here:

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!!!

Be Well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mindfulness and Donuts

Last Friday I attended a day-long Mindfulness workshop directed at professionals that want to use the techniques in their practice.  I maintain my Occupational Therapy license by attaining continuing education units and I was so excited to go to this workshop not only to use with clients but also for my own personal development.  So I was all ready to give you an in-depth summary with powerpoint and maybe some animation and video (ok, maybe just bullet points) but instead I thought I would share a story.

My oldest has inherited the "Worry Gene" from my side of the family (sorry Son), this is a tough gene...it creeps up on you, moves into your brain and gets really comfortable....I'm talking Lazyboy recliner and a bowl of popcorn comfortable.  If it's left alone it will put on the marathon channel (probably Godfather I, II, III, IIIIII...how many are there?) and camp out for years.  So on Saturday night as I put my boys to bed he says to me, "Mom, I have this thought stuck in my head.....we all have to die someday." To which I said, "That's true honey, but we have so much time so let's just enjoy it as much as possible."  And he replied, "But time goes so fast."  Now all this talk really pulls at a mama's heart and the familiarity of this line of thinking makes me ache deep down inside, so I pushed back the tears and stroked his forehead (much like my mom did for me) and I tell him to try what I learned in my Mindfulness workshop.  I tell him that we have to train our thoughts and that we can only have one thought at a time so we can choose to make it a good one.  When the ones that make us sad and worried creep in we need to start our breathing.  Breath in slowly through our nose to a count of 4 and then out through slightly pursed lips to a count of 8 and then smile.  It's amazing how the smile works!!!!  It feels silly at first but it releases chemicals in our brains that give us happy, calm feelings....fake it till you make it....it works!!!  I then told him that between his breaths, with the smile on his face, to repeat, "Right now everything is good."  We practiced a few times and he said it helped.  He then asked me, "Mom, do you think we are all here for a reason?"  "Why yes Buddha Son, I do."
My youngest son, in the lower bunk, then let out a big sigh and said, "Mom...." so I kneeled down and leaned in really close to get ready for his existential question and he said (again with the sigh), "Mom, I just don't know what kind of donut to get tomorrow....there are so many good choices."
Yes there are son, yes there are.

Be Well.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Feature Artist: Rachelle Panagarry

Rachelle Panagarry has been making art for as long as she can remember.  She would sit and doodle in her bedroom for many happy hours when she was a young girl.  She loved to make and draw and just create anything.  Through school she was always artistic and went on to study Art and Design at college at age 16.  Through this "general" art course she discovered the joys of print, paint, sculpture and figure-drawing amongst many other media.  She eventually chose a degree in Fashion Design.  During the first year of her course she discovered that she was expecting her son so she took a break from her courses to concentrate on being a Mum and raising her son.  Her art went on the back burner for the next eight years.  It was eight years after having her son that she decided to take on another degree, this time in teaching.  This led to a degree in Printmaking with Qualified Teacher Status.  She has been teaching for the past 10 years.  It  was only recently that she has again rediscovered her PASSION for art and just being generally creative and although this has come about through illness, it is a POSITIVE and HAPPY experience.

Welcome Rachelle....I am so happy to have you here to start back up my Friday Feature Artist interviews after taking a week off with my illness.  I actually found your blog a while ago and I was pulled in by your art AND your story about dealing with illness through art.  I really like to highlight the healing properties of art so let's get started with your interview....

On your blog you mention that you put art on the back burner for 8 years when your son was born, what got you back into art?

It was only really in the last twelve months that I have revisited my art.  It was when I became ill with complications from my pacemaker and had to take the time off from work, that it gave me the time to do something.  I felt that it was time to do something for myself, to get back in touch with ‘me’, or at least the artist in me.  Although it came about through illness, it really was a blessing.

How did you balance doing art and raising children?

This one can be tough at times, I have four children, two teenage step-children, a teenager of my own and a three year old.  Now the teenagers have pretty much flown the nest apart from visits in the holidays, it’s just my Little Miss at home now.  Fortunately, she LOVES to get creative too.  I found that by setting her a little work area next to me, she would sit happily sticking and painting with me.  I got her a set of brushes and paints and a journal and she plays along.  In a way she has been inspiring, just to watch how she approaches making art without too much thought or worry.  I also try to take an ‘art date’ every now and then at the local art gallery, we try and make it into a fun outing for her and at the same time, I get to see the art.

You mentioned that you started your blog through illness, can you tell us a little about that and how art has helped you through the process?

Back in 2000, I was fitted with a pacemaker, totally out of the blue and it was a real shock as I’m sure you can imagine.  At the time, I was in the final year of a four year Art/Teaching degree, which sadly I had to take a year out of for the surgery etc.  The following year, I got to return to the course and complete the year.  It was in this year that I had to design a show for my final assessment.  For a while I struggled with what to do but eventually my tutor said that I should try and make it personal to me if I wanted to get the most from it.  So that is what I did, my whole degree show and was based on my shock at having the pacemaker.  I would say the thing that helped me the most was the journal or sketchbook as we called it.  It was here that I poured out my feelings onto the pages in drawings and writing, I was able to free myself of all the stress that I had obviously been carrying for twelve months.  It even made some of my tutors break down in tears when they read it.  I still say to this day that it healed me.

It was because of this experience ten years ago that I took out my art journal again this time. Art has been my sanctuary really, it’s been somewhere I escaped to, even whilst in the hospital (yes, I did take my paints and journal!).

(Han Holbien)

What other artists have influenced your art and why?

The artist that got me back to thinking that I could maybe do something with my art was Suzi Blu.  It was actually one of her YouTube videos about believing in yourself that really fired me up.

Besides Suzi, I really love classical artists like Picasso, Modigliani and Hans Holbien, I put this down to having a very inspirational History of Art teacher in college.I am also inspired very much by traditional African and Indian art and textiles, I joust love the use of color and how they represent the human figure.

What is your process for creating art and what do you do if you feel blocked?

I usually start by putting on some music, then I settle down and start.  I don’t have a studio yet, I work from our dining table (much to the amusement of my husband).  I always start with a background, usually collage made from scraps and leftover bits of paper.  Then I work on top of that.  I don’t often start with an idea, I just like to ‘go with the flow’ and see what happens.  I like to use acrylic and water-color paints, stamps, brayers, anything really.  Experimental is my thing and if it doesn’t work, then I paint over it and start again.

Sometimes I do get blocked, when this happens I like to flick through some art books or magazines, or I do something completely different like go for a walk.  I find it’s better not to worry about it and just wait until it’s ready to happen again.  I find a little doodling helps too.

You are my first "international" Friday Feature Artist!! Do you notice any differences between the art and art blogs between the United Kingdom and the United States?

It’s funny that you should say that, but yes I do.  I think the US blogs tend to lead the way with new art techniques, and fun ideas.  I put this down to the fact that in the UK there aren’t so many places for art retreats, or art workshops and a lot of our art supplies tend to come from America too.  I think the UK bloggers do have a great style though, very unique and usually with very traditional crafts and art.  There is a real trend in the UK right now for handmade and crafting in particular, we have even had some tv shows on it – now that’s progress!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and how will you get yourself there??

In five years time I want to be settled in my new career of being a full-time artist ( I currently work full-time as a school teacher)possibly teaching in workshops in the US.  I would like to be making some art every day in my home studio.  I’d like to have had a gallery show and be planning for another, and to be selling my art in my Etsy shop and on my blog.  I’d love to be published in Somerset Studio (something I’m working on right now) and to be a licensed artist.

How will I get there? Well, I think it has already started, my blog has been a great link with like-minded souls around the world and the feedback has been very positive.  I was lucky enough to be published in Suzi Blu’s book just recently. ( a total dream come true)  But to really ‘get there’ I’m committing to making art every other day at least, I’m going to continue blogging (even when I have to go back to school) and sharing my art, and most importantly (along with the hard work) I’m going to really BELIEVE that it will all happen.

What do you know to be true?

That I am an artist, it is who I am.

Thank you so much Rachelle for taking the time to answer my questions.  I could really relate to your story about how art healed you when you were going through your illness.  I know it has been essential to my healing process and I think there are many others out there (possibly reading right now) who feel the same way.

To learn more about Rachelle and see more of her vibrant art work please visit her blog and website:


I'm off to a Mindfulness workshop today...very excited...stay tuned for a blog post about my experience.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!

Be Well.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sneak Peek

I am sick again, but this time it is a different kind of bug....The Photography Bug!!!  Have you heard of this one?  It keeps you up at night, it makes you stalk people, the only way to "cure" it is learn more and more and more about it (and that might not be a "cure" more like an epidemic).  Tongue and cheek aside, I'm obsessed.  But come on, how can I not be.....look at the adorableness that I get to stare at through my lens (and cuddle during breaks).  Below is a peak at my first Newborn photoshoot, and only I would pick the challenge of twins, ha.  How beautiful are these boy/girl twins???  Make sure and go all the way to the end because a) I saved the best one for last and b) There is also a sneak peek at who tomorrow's Friday Feature Artist is.  Yes, I am SO happy to announce that my weekly feature has returned.  Thank you for all the kind words and encouragement when I wasn't feeling well last week.  It helped so much to rest and take care of myself (and do art in bed) so that I could recover!!!!  Now enjoy the cuteness........ 

Did you "ooooo" and "ahhhhh" the whole time???  These babies are so sweet!!!

Here is another "peak"....tomorrow's Friday Feature Artist comes to us from "across the pond".  She is my first international Friday Feature Artist!!!  Rachelle Panagarry's story of illness, health and art is very inspiring!!!  I sure hope you will come back tomorrow to read more.

Be Well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

World Peace

On Saturday we went to our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.  The sun was shining bright and with my health restored and my sister visiting I was feeling so light and happy I thought I might just float away into the bright blue sky.  But I didn't....and thank goodness or I would've missed the beautiful moment below.  As my boys headed off to their age group areas where they all tackle each other for plastic eggs and sugar coated cookies (because cookies need more sugar), my sister and I stayed with my little girl (below on the left) to witness her first Easter Egg hunt.  And boy was she ready....we literally had to hold her back.  Now my girl is a tough cookie, but let me now tell you the sweetness that happened below.....

My beautiful little girl was going for the bag of fruit snacks (and let me tell you, she loves her fruit snacks almost more than she loves Elmo....almost) at the same time the other little girl was going for them.  Well, my aggressive assertive girl got there first and grabbed them, but then she looked at the little girl's face and handed them to her.  At this point we all started gushing, my sister, the girl's mom and I, "Oh, that is so sweet.  Such nice sharing!!!"  BUT it wasn't over.....

Then the flower-dressed girl turned and put the fruit snacks in my daughter's bucket!!!  I think the whole park full of people paused as we all GASPED at this stunning exchange. 

World Peace people....World Peace!!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hanging In There

Just wanted to check in and let you know that I am gradually getting better.  Every day I spend a little more time out of bed and this morning was the best I have felt in a long time.  I was able to get out yesterday and take some pictures of my wonderful family.  I can not say enough about my husband who has been taking on SO much with me being sick, oh and still trying to work....don't know what I would do without him!!!  Here are a few pictures from our afternoon out....love the signs of SUMMER!!!

Be Well.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Practice What I Preach

Life got a little hectic the weekend when I ended up in the ER on Friday.  I took a turn for the worse and my wonderful Dr. called to say that my culture (pee, sorry TMI) showed a bacteria that was resistant to most pill form antibiotics so I needed to head into the hospital for iv antibiotics, ugh.  With 3 kids and no family near-by my hubby had to stay home with the kids while I drove myself and stayed in the ER...alone.  Let me just say that it's not a fun place period and even worse when you're alone.  However, it does make you realize how strong and capable you are, even in the darkest hours.  So when you're alone in the ER what do you do?? Watch trashy reality TV!!!  The wedding show I watched was actually pretty entertaining and all my aching head could handle.
After a few hours I was able to go home so my hubby and the kids came and got me.  What do you do when you're sick and can't cook?  Get trashy food through the drive-thru.  Oh, well, can't be perfect 100% (or even 50%) of the time.  So I spent the weekend in bed doing this....

.....doodling, and......


....and of'course sleeping.  So, I have decided to "Practice What I Preach" here on this Health and Art blog and take a week to recover.  As hard as it was, I have decided to skip this week of the Friday Feature Artist.  I have a couple wonderful artists lined up but do not want to do them or you a disservice by rushing my questions.  Plus, I need to rest my body and mind so I can heal completely.  I will be doodling and drawing in bed, using my art to heal.  I hope you have a wonderful Art-filled week.  Will Be Back Soon!!!

Be Well.