This week's artist interview is with Lesley Venable, altered artist extraordinaire! Lesley has an amazing talent for "putting stuff together," and that makes her art work so unique and amazing…one thing I love about altered art is that no two pieces will ever turn out alike. Lesley puts a great deal of thought into each piece she creates, so that makes it so meaningful. Besides the art that Lesley creates, another thing I love about her is that she's a great instructor. I love when an artist has the ability and the heart to teach what she knows! She has an amazing workshop coming up next week, but I digress and get ahead of myself…so here's Lesley:
How long have you been creative? Do you have any formal art background?
I have been creative as long as I can remember. My mother is a more traditional artist (oils, watercolors, and tole) and taught classes first in our home and then in a private studio setting and we were always going to museums so my exposure to art came very young. I did study fine art and photography in college but my degree is a business one. A career in banking and a not so good first marriage helped me to push my artistic side to the back burner for a while but once I found my creative voice again I've not let it stop talking to me.
How would you define your art style? What are your favorite supplies and/or mediums?
I would say that my creations lean very much to a vintage style whether it is by color or items used. In some way this style is involved in all of my creations which include collage, assemblage, books, jewelry and fabric with the colors, textures and imagery all from a time gone by. Favorite supplies….oh, there are so many things that I love to work with and they change daily but I would have to say that tops on the list are my fluid chalk ink pads followed closely by vintage images (tintypes, cabinet cards, postcards) and textiles (lace, fabric, millinery) then the mediums (gesso, resin, solder, gel medium, Pam Carriker's new Mixed Media Adhesive, sketch and wash pencils, water color crayons), old ledger papers with that beautiful writing, contact paper……it's so hard to just choose a few but those items I listed are what I go to when I need to get my mind started.
What is "altered" art?
For me "altered" art can be defined in a few ways. First, it is taking an item that was intended for a totally different purpose and altering it to serve another artistic purpose; for example using an old metal funnel as the base of a doll or the hat of a tin man or an old wooden shoe last as a candle holder. Also, it can be the actual altering of an old item such as taking an old book and creating niches inside the covers or inking/painting the pages and creating your own story in words or images on its pages or it could be taking an old piece of ceiling tin and cutting it into wings for an angel. Then there are the items you actually create yourself from salvaged pieces and parts of other items. For instance taking an old chain from a necklace or several necklaces and creating a "new" necklace. Altered Art allows you to color outside of the lines, to play and make mistakes because sometimes the mistakes are actually better and, most importantly, it gives you the freedom to take bits of information learned in different classes and use them together.
How do you get and/or stay inspired? What inspires you?
Most of my ideas come from a line in a book, a verse in a song or an image. Once the idea takes root and I start looking at what stash I have that might fit the idea it kind of snowballs into excitement. At that point it almost feels unstoppable. With that being said I also have those days where I just sit at my table and look around and not one idea pops into my head. At those times I just pull out a canvas or a piece of wood, or a tin and I just start painting it, gluing paper on it, sanding it, etc. Sometimes just taking that first step will be inspiring. Something that I think every artist should do is to try to do at least one little something every day that is artistic – make a flower arrangement, create an Artist Trading Card, do a simple collage, etc.. The more you stimulate your creative mind the more it will reward you.
What advice would you give someone who has never created altered art before? Can a beginner create altered art?
Absolutely yes a beginner can create altered art! Truly everyone that is creating altered art now was once a beginner too. <smile> Here is what I always tell my students at the beginning of a class – There are no mistakes in art, art should not be stressful, art feeds your soul, all of your creations are beautiful, they are all one of a kind masterpieces that did not exist until you created them borne from a single spark of imagination and inspiration. Try a couple of classes – online or at a retreat – take it for a test drive and see how you feel after you have created a few of your own masterpieces. Leave your preconceived ideas at the door and come in and play. You will love it!
Do you create full-time? What can you tell us about your creative life?
I work full time at what I have often called my "necessary job". You know the one that pays the mortgage, insurance and other bills. Creating full time would be my ideal and it is what I strive for but for now I am grateful to be able to do both. The two things that I struggle most with in my creative life are turning off my analytical brain and turning on my creative brain and having confidence in what I create.
You are offering a fantastic workshop that begins November 15th. Is this workshop for beginners and the more experienced? What can your students expect from the workshop? How long will the class materials be available?
The workshops in the bundles will, I think, hold appeal for both beginners and experienced artists.
The first bundle includes three classes: 1. Collage Backgrounds – Layering, Textures, Composition and More; 2. Embellished Tags – Using fabric, images, ephemera, found objects. Use your sewing machine or your glue; 3. Composition Journals – We will take a cheap notebook and create a beautiful journal for you to keep or give as gifts.
The second bundle includes those three classes AND 4. Mail Art – Creating unusual envelopes and mailers to send to your friends and family; 5. Fabric Flowers – Easy way to create fabric flowers to adorn your gifts, jewelry or other art projects.
Each of these classes will give the student a "tool" or two to add to their creative toolbox and priced as they are I am hoping to reach as many people as I can. This economy has been so bad and I really felt led to offer a bundle of classes that would allow people to make beautiful gifts for their friends and family while at the same time pricing them at such a low price that anyone can afford to take them if they want to. Bundle #1 costs $5.00 or Bundle #2 costs $10.00 – the decision is whether you want 3 classes or 5.
Anyone interested, can visit this link to sign up:
Do you currently sell your art? If so, please include links to your Etsy shop, etc.
I have just begun selling my art online. I have always sold vintage items but recently decided to sell what I create too. My shop name on Etsy is A Vintage Season and can be visited by clicking here: www.etsy.com/shop/avintageseason.
Do you blog and/or have you been published?
I do blog and try to post daily though sometimes I miss a day or two due to traveling. The blog address is: www.flatwoodsfolkart.typepad.com/lesley_venable.
If you visit be sure to "Join the Site" so that you can see when I update, have blog giveaways or post links to coupons for art supplies.
I have been published in Somerset Weddings, Somerset Gallery, and Sew Somerset and have been a guest contributor in a couple of books. Our artful traveling is done for 2011 but we will be in Ohio, Connecticut, California, Texas and Arizona to teach and vend. I love teaching at various art retreats and being surrounded by all of that creativity and like-minded souls.
Thank you Lesley, for sharing yourself with us! Best wishes on your new workshop and future ventures!
And, as always, thanks for stopping by!
Hugs and toodles!