Monday, December 13, 2010

December Artist of the Month

As the year comes to a close, looking back over our past posts with fabulous artists features, I'm happy to report that we still have more to share. So please stay tuned for future artist spotlights from the Westchase Artists Society.

Finishing up 2010 we give you Liz Rylan, the fantastically talented photographer. Now without further delay, here's Liz!

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself, affiliations, personal stuff

Liz: My artistic education and practice is basically divided into three parts: Interior Design, Photography and Watercolor. For the Interior Design portion, I studied for a Master's degree at Florida State University and for my Ph.D. at Virginia Tech. I have worked in the United States, and lived/worked in Europe for 11 years. While working with the Foreign Buildings Office of the U.S. State Department, participated in the design of U.S. Embassies for several Third World countries. In studying photography, I have studied with National Geographic photographers on workshops to Italy, Mexico, and Washington, DC. Also lead photographic excursions to Italy, Greek Isles, and Africa for destination photography opportunities. For watercolor, I have been priviledged to learn from Patricia Weaver every chance I can get. Have taught Interior Design at the university level for 12 years.

Question: Apart from creating art what do you do?

Liz: Enjoy volunteering at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This place is full of great people with huge hearts, and they do an amazing job of caring for marine animals daily. The upcoming movie called "A Dolphin Tale," has been filmed recently at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and will be in theatres in the Fall of 2011. This movie is based on the story of "Winter" a rescued dolphin that has lived here for almost five years. She lost her tail, learned to swim without a tail and also with a prosthetic tail. She's been an inspiration to many people. For all of us volunteers, watching the movie-making process has been a joy!

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?

Liz: Interior Design: The challenge and the delight of creating a workable / usable space that is also aesthetically pleasing. To be able to lift people's spirits as they see and use their space. To create a "stage setting" for daily life at home, work or play. It is truly problem-solving!

Photography: The joy of seeing beauty or anything fascinating and capturing it through my lens for others to view it as I see it. Really "editing the world" from my viewpoint: isn't that what we all - as artists - do?

Watercolor: Once I get past the fear of "messing up a perfectly good beautiful piece of white paper," I love experimenting with flow of colors.

Interpreting a scene, or one of my photographs, onto a two-dimensional surface, watching the colors blend and mix -- ecstasy!

Question: Describe your creative process.

Liz: For interior design, all begins with carefully listenng to what my client wants: the scope of the project, and expectations.

For photography, the art of seeing.

For watercolor, getting past the fearsome white paper.
Question: Top 5 books, movies, songs

Books: Lawrence Anthony's two books: "The Elephant Whisperer" and "Babylon's Ark"
Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible"
Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth"
Nelson DeMille's "The Gold Coast"

Movies: "Shakespeare in Love" "Overboard" "Slumdog Millionaire"

Play: Thorton Wilder's "Our Town"

Music: Classical: "Eighteenth Variation on a Theme by Paganini" by Rachmaninoff --- too short, but exquisite!

Thanks so much to Liz for your interview and sharing a few of your spectacular photos!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Artist of the Month

The Westchase Artists Society has a very diverse group of members, if you haven't already caught on to that fact by reading our monthly Artist of the Month posts. We hope that you enjoy learning a little bit about our members and what makes them tick. For the month of October the Westchase Artists Society's Artist of the Month is none other than Jennifer Joyner. So without any further delay, here's Jen's interview:

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself, affiliations, personal stuff.

Jennifer: I majored in English and minored in photography and theatre at the University of Tennessee. I studied with Baldwin Lee, a student of Minor White and Walker Evans. For most of my life, I have juggled three main loves - creating photography, writing poetry, and acting. Photography has always been with me, through everything. I've moved with my family from Florida to North Carolina and back to Florida again, holding "real world" jobs as a retail manager and as a corporate paralegal.

Question: Apart from creating art what do you do?

Jennifer: I'm a mom to two wonderful boys, Cason and Hayden, ages 9 and 7. They make me laugh - constantly reminding me not to take myself and life too seriously!

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?

Jennifer: I started acting and writing in 5th grade, and began photography in 7th. I always felt happiest when I was creating in some way. I think it was recognizing that I had a voice and could share my view of the world if I chose to.

Question: Describe your creative process

Jennifer: I try to photograph the truth of a subject, be it a person or a landscape. I also look for interesting shots out of the everyday things people may not notice. I once took a really interesting shot of a trashcan in Central Park.

Question: Top 5 books, movies, songs, groups, websites

Jennifer: Book - A Death in the Family, by Janes Agee; Movies - "Manhattan" "Breakfast at Tiffany's"; Groups - U2, Seal, Sarah McLachlan, Sting; Websites - and

Question: In 10 years I'd like to be...

Jennifer: Writing and photographing during the day, acting at night, and solving the world's problems in my spare time!

Friday, September 10, 2010

September Artist of the Month

For the month of September the Westchase Artists Society's Artist of the Month is Judy Freeman. Here's Judy's interview:

Question: Judy, tell us a little bit about yourself, affiliations, personal stuff.

Judy: I feel like my life began 8 years ago when we moved to Tampa. I had the opportunity to switch gears from a stressful corporate job as Vice President of Policy Administration with a large life insurance company. The change was life-saving. I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree but immediately took the practical approach and started working 9-5 jobs. Art was just a hobby for me back then. With the move to Tampa, I was able to leave my job and made the decision to try to live my dream and be a full-time artist. My concentration is clay, but I've always loved photography. I have a pottery studio set up in our garage, that I fondly call the garagio. I throw on the potter's wheel and handbuild, all from moist clay. Most of my work is whimsical and all of my work is full of color. I'm a member of Florida Craftsmen and am a full-time gallery artist at the Florida Craftsmen gallery in St. Pete. This is a major accomplishment for me and something that I worked towards for several years. I have work at an artists co-op called A Little Room for Art as well as Clay and Paper in Dunedin, as well as a few galleries around the country.

Question: Apart from creating art what do you do?

Judy: I spend an awful lot of time on the computer. I have three online shops, two on Etsy, and and one on Artfire at These online venues have made selling my own work so much fun. I ship all around the world, as a matter of fact, just this week I shipped a necklace to Norway and I'm working on a custom ceramic mug for a fellow in Australia. I've met a lot of fellow-potters on Etsy and the supportive environment has been wonderful. I have a blog that I update from time to time at Besides banging away at the keyboard, on the weekends my husband and I are out on the motorcycle. We belong to the Tampa Harley Owners Group, Cigar City HOG. I'm the chapter Photographer and have a blast snapping away from the back of the bike.

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?

Judy: It was always something that I loved doing even as a kid. I'd figure out art projects to do on summer vacations, put my dad to work scrounging up materials for me. I guess it's always been my passion.

Question: Describe your creative process.

Judy: A lot of what I do now is driven by special orders. The list drives my creative process especially at this time of the year. Gearing up for Christmas is so much fun when it's still in the 90's outside. Usually what happens to me is an idea will come to mind when I'm driving in the car or when my mind is just wandering. Often the ideas will be funny ones and I'll crack myself up. I always have a small pad with me and I try to jot the ideas down so that I can add them to my to do list.

Question: Top five books, movies, songs, groups, websites

Judy: I've turned into a lousy reader since I spend so much time on the computer. My favorite author of late is Clive Cussler, I love his mysteries, I also like Michael Crichton. Movies - My Blue Heaven with Steve Martin - favorite line - "You're so hot, you could melt all this stuff" cracks me up. Groups - I could see Eric Clapton over and over in concert, I love Al Jarreau, and Steeley Dan is the bomb and they're great in concert. Websites - Etsy of course - it's an amazing place to find just about anything that you're looking for that's unique and handmade.

Question: In ten years I'd like to be...

Judy: First answer, still having a blast with my art. Hopefully I'll still have the stamina for working in clay. It's a very physical art, lugging 50 pound boxes of clay, throwing, pushing, pulling, it's a day at an expensive spa without the high price! I'd like to still have our wonderful friends and enjoying life. You can't ask for much more than that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Artist of the Month

Drum roll please.......... the Westchase Artists Society is proud to announce the Artist of the Month for July is Bob Richardson. And now to share some interesting tidbits about Bob is the interview.

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself, affiliations, personal stuff.

Bob: I was born and raised in the Midwest, outside of Detroit in Dearborn Heights, MI. I have been married to Judy, my wife of 32 years and we have 2 grown children. I have been visiting Florida my entire life and actually lived in Sarasota for a few years when I was 6 years old. We decided to move to Florida in 2009 to be closer to our relatives. I have been very active my entire life, both personally and professionally. I am a strong believer that if you work hard, you play hard to keep balance. As a hobby, I collect neck ties and baseball cards. I received my first guitar when I was 9 years old and continue to play.

Question: Apart from creating art what do you do?

Bob: I graduated from college in aeronautical engineering and worked 2 years for Boeing. I discovered that I did not want to be trapped behind a desk my entire life and totally changed fields, ending up in the insurance business for the past 25 years. I am considered a turnaround expert because I help insurance companies expand their business when they can't. I have just recently completed a major expansion of a Tampa based insurance company and I am now looking to secure my next assignment. I have helped over 25 insurance companies in the past 20 years and generated over $4 billion in business.

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?

Bob: I have a very creative mind and wanted to express that in art. I began drawing when I was young and found out that I was pretty good at it. One thing led to another and I started to explore painting and photography. Painting is a great way to relieve stress.

Question: Describe your creative process.

Bob: I wish I had one, but I don't. Like anything, if I get inspried, I paint, however, my items have more of a 3D look. I use a lot of paint when I make a creation.

Question: Top 5 books, movies, songs, groups, websites

Bob: Book - How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci; Movie - Brubaker; Song - any James Taylor or Keb Mo song; Groups - The Beatles (I actually went to their concert); Broadway Play - Phanton of the Opera

Question: In ten years I'd like to be...

Bob: Enjoying time at our house in Key West with my own art gallery on Duval Stret and having a beverage at my favorite watering hole with my wife.

Bob, thanks for sharing and letting us get to know you a little better. Stay tuned for upcoming Artist interviews.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June Artist of the Month

For June our Artist of the Month that was randomly selected at the Westchase Artists Society's May meeting is none other than our fabulous President, Dean Mackey. Let's get right to Dean's interview.
Question: Dean, tell us a little bit about yourself, affiliations, personal stuff.
Dean: I started making paper airplanes professionally in 2000 at a kids event, Space Day, in Tewksbury, MA. Ever since then, I saw more and more creativity from people on the web, and decided to organize it all. Adding my own creativity to the mix, it eventually became The Online Paper Airplane Museum.

I decided to write my own paper airplane book, and after submitting it to various publishers, had to self-publish it. I did the same with my second book. Then last year I was approached by an Australian publisher, Hinkler, who asked me to write a book for them. Seems they were wanting to do a paper airplane book, but couldn't find an author. They kept running across my name on the internet, and after looking at my work that I had self-published, went with me. It came out last year and can still be found at Borders.

I have noticed lately that people will stand and watch my hands make paper airplanes. I will be making the planes, talking to folks, and then notice someone staring zombie-like at my hands. It appears that over the years of making planes, my hands can move quite independently of my brain, and the result is quite hypnotic. It is an unusual super-power, and I don't take the responsibility lightly.

Question: Apart from creating art, what do you do?
Dean: I like to garden, travel, read, taekwondo and riding roller coasters

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?
Dean: the smell of easy money, lack of hard labor, and the flexible hours.

Question: Describe your creative process.
Dean: For designing a paper airplane, I usually have in mind the end result that I want to achieve. Then I sit down with paper and bend it to my will, folding it until it submits to my superior intellect. I usually don't take no for an answer from a piece of paper, or even two pieces of paper!

Question: Top 5 books, movies, songs groups, websites.
Books - I enjoy series, like Doc Savage, Casca, The Destroyer, or most anything by Clive Cussler or Edgar Rice Burroughs

Movies - Megaforce, Rocketeer, Nightmare Before Christmas, or anything with John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in it

Songs - I like all kinds of music, but gotta love the '80's

Groups - Only one group really matters, the Westchase Artists Society, of course.

Websites - I found this really neat paper airplane website that encompasses what a website should be -

Question: In ten years I'd like to be...
Dean: ...Holding the Guiness Book of World Record titles for Time Aloft and Distance in paper airplanes, and working on the largest paper airplane in the world, preferably one that can carry a full-sized person.
...Thrown out of the White House at least ONCE for bad behavior.
...Conduct the first international paper airplane contest since 1986.
...Fighting off paper airplane groupies with a stick (the ones I don't like, that is).
Dean thanks for the interview. You've put a whole new spin on paper airplanes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May Artist of the Month

For our second Artist of the Month the name that was drawn out of the bag was Wayne Barrett. Wayne's paintings are a favorite and it's great to share some information about Wayne. So without any further delay, here's Wayne Barrett's Artist of the Month interview:

Question: First, tell us a little bit about yourself, affiliations, personal stuff.

Wayne: I was born in California, I am happily married, a father of three, and grandfather of two. I served in the Navy and the Army so I actually have two Honorable Discharges.

Question: Apart from creating art what do you do?

Wayne: Other than painting, I am also a musician. I play guitar, piano, and specialize on harmonica. I played with a blues band in California for a couple of yeas in the late 90's.

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?

Wayne: I have been into art longer than I can remember. I actually got a blue ribbon as young as Kindergarten. I read a lot of comics when I was young and discovered the work of Frank Frazetta. It was his work that first inspired me to become an artist.

Question: Describe your creative process.

Wayne: I'm not sure that I really have a creative process. The majority of my work comes from my head. I'm a dreamer, a fantasizer, so it seems I always have hundreds of ideas. For me it's a matter of weeding through those ideas for something to lay down on canvas.
Question: Top five books, movies, songs, groups, websites

Wayne: Books: Lord of the Rings, Grapes of Wrath, The Dark Tower series, The Crystal Cave, Crime and Punishment; Movies: Forrest Gump, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Godfather, Dances With Wolves, As Good As It Gets

Question: In 10 years I'd like to be...

Wayne: In 10 years I would like to be much more educated in the art world so that I can better sell and exhibit my work.

Wayne thanks so much for the interview!!!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Presenting... Our Artist of the Month

We're starting a new feature on the Westchase Artists Society blog, member of the month. This will be a way for our followers to get to know a little bit about our wonderfully talented members. Each month we'll be featuring a different artist. Our very first featured artist is none other than Toni Crosby. Here's our interview with Toni. Enjoy!
Question: First, tell us a little bit about yourself, affiliations, personal stuff.
Toni: Happily Single Artists, One adult child, no grand kids YET. Staff photographer at my local church, Hospice volunteer, photographer specializing in weddings, special events and website photography.

Question: Apart from creating art what do you do?
Toni: I am a licensed insurance agent. I like to make quilts, I like to bake banana bread sometimes, ride bikes and walk for exercise. And sometimes ride motorcycles just for fun. And I like to sew.

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?
Toni: Since meeting Robert Butler "The Wildlife & Landscape Artist" in 1982, he made me understand I am an artist too.

Question: Describe your creative process.
Toni: It starts with the three P's... Prayer, Preparation and Praise. My artistic talent is my gift from God... when I create it's my praise back to Him.

Question: Top 5 books, movies, songs, groups, websites
Toni: Movie - The Bridges of Madison County; TV - anything on HGTV; Songs - "It's Not Easy Being Green" by Kermit the Frog and "I Feel Good" by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

Question: In ten years I'd like to be...
Toni: The owner of my home and artist studio in Florida and working on a large White House Commission.

Thanks Toni for being our very first Artist of the Month!!! Please check out Toni's artwork at Ruth Eckerd Hall if you're there for a show in the East Gallery, through May, 2010 as part of the Westchase Artists Society group art show.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Westchase Artists Society at JCC

Yesterday, March 14, 2010, the Westchase Artists Society officially took up residence at the Tampa Jewish Community Center. Well not us physically, but some representations of our artwork now are residing at the JCC. Another venue that our group is really excited about because this, hopefully, will turn into a long relationship with the JCC for exhibition and sale of our members' artwork. Thanks go out to Mara Gessele and Dean Mackey for taking on the task of hanging the first show! We'll be having a reception soon to celebrate this new show. Take a look at Dean's video to get a preview of the show.

To visit the JCC in person:

Tampa JCC & Federation Campus
13013 Community Campus Drive
Tampa, FL 33625

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Perfect Day

It's a great feeling when a group project comes together and the end result is one that your proud of. The current group show for the Westchase Artists Society is a great example of many different parts coming together for a smooth fit and a beautiful outcome. On March 2nd everything worked in our favor, the rains came early in the morning, all of the participating artists delivered their artwork on time, and the hanging crew, Teresa Trubilla, Judy Freeman, Dean Mackey, Wayne Barrett and Craig Royal, worked incredibly well together. Special thanks also go out to the staff at Ruth Eckerd Hall, especially Lisa Taylor and the wonderfully talented artists that participated in this group show.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Busy Time

The Westchase Artists Society is buzzing with activity. Our current show that's running for the month of February at the Carrollwood Cultural Center is coming to a close at the end of the month. And, we're gearing up for our next show at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Our group has 17 artists represented in the Ruth Eckerd Show and it's going to be another fabulous showing for our group. We're all excited about the new venue and with the thousands of people that stream through the Hall for various events, shows and gatherings, it's guaranteed to be an opportunity to share our artwork with a broad spectrum of people. This show runs through the month of May so if you have tickets for a show at Ruth Eckerd Hall, be sure to wander up to the East Gallery.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For the Love of Art II

You are cordially invited to a "meet the artists" reception at the Carrollwood Cultural Center on Friday, February 19, 2010 at 6:00 pm. The show of collective artworks from the members of the Westchase Artists Society will run through the month of February. Refreshments will be served with accompaniment by Jim Burge and the Jazz Directions. Admission is free.

Participating member-artists include, Dean Mackey, Olga Fridella, Wayne Barrett, Teresa Trubilla, Craig Royal, Jennifer Lukas Joyner, Toni Crosby, Bob Richardson, Judy Freeman, Sonya Lorraine Whipple, Vanessa Montenegro, Kathy Caruthmel, Bert Caruthmel, and Joose Hadley.

Our group is very excited about this show and the fabulous representation of our members' artworks. The Carrollwood Cultural Center provides an abundance of wall space for hanging and a large venue for a big blowout party. We hope that you can join us on the 19th!

Carrollowod Cultural Center
4537 Lowell Road
Tampa, FL 33618
(813) 269-1310