Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October, 2011 Artist of the Month

For October we have one of the first members of the Westchase Artists Society. Olga Fridella a wonderfully talented artist whose work is perfect for people like me, who love color. Olga's work is always a crowd favorite at any of our group shows. It's been a real pleasure getting to know Olga over the past few years and now with her interview, it gives us the opportunity to get to know a little bit more about Olga. So without further delay, here's Olga's interview.

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Olga: I was born in Columbia S.A. and came to this Country as a young girl. My cousin was doing an internship in a Georgia Hospital in Atlanta. His wife just had a baby and needed a sitter. Seeing the opportunity to come to the USA, I volunteered for the job, but...things did not go well with his American wife because of communication problems. A few months after I left the babysitting job I didn't want to go back to my Country yet, since I wanted to explore new things and learn the English language. I endured challenges on my way, but I had a goal to achieve.

Meantime during these months, I had met an older couple in the suburban neighborhood where I would run to after my cousin and his wife came home. They helped with my English and became my friends and confidants and suggested that I should move to a home for young girls. They knew of a place called Churches Home for Business Girls in downtown, they gave me the address. On a day off, I took a chance and hitchhiked to my destination. When I got there I talked to the lady in charge who accepted me immediately and gave me a tour. I was very excited to see this beautiful, huge, southern mansion with a wide staircase in the middle of the living room and I was going to live there with 130 young girls and 5 sweet ladies they called house mothers. They were in charge of everything.

Soon enough I moved. There were some rules to keep but it was great! I made friends instantly. While living there I took a Nurses Aide course at the hostpital and Human Relations, earned my certificates and started working at the Georgia Baptist Hospital to pay for my room and board. After 6 months I was fluent in English. I lived there for 1 year until I went back to my family for a visit. As I was going back and forth to Colombia and USA for a couple of years, I met my husband of 40 years in New York City. We lived in New Jersey until his early retirement. We then moved to Tampa in Westchase and have been living here for 14 years.

While living in New Jersey I took art classes from famous artists. I was a member of several art groups where I exhibited, won awards and sold many paintings.

I have always been restless...searching to learn new things so I took several semesters of non-credit courses, French and music at the University of South Florida. I practice martial arts, play piano, am active at the gym, yoga and swimming. I also manage to take care of my legally blind husband.

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

Olga: I think I've always been an artist. As a little girl I was already dabbling on the walls of my house and I got in trouble. Art was always in my mind.

Question: Describe your creative process.

Olga: My painting process is very simple. I just follow my instincts, but based on training, each painting is a puzzle and the task of the artist is to find solutions for his own puzzles. Not every painting I do is a success, but I love to express myself on canvas with colors and ideas. When I finish a painting, I hang it on the wall to study it and do my own critique.

Question: Favorite books, movies, website, groups...

Olga: I don't have much time to read books, but I just read the Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewsky. The movies I like: August Rush, Sister Act, Entrapment, and the new Dolphin's Tail.

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

Olga: Well... we make plans and God decides, but I would like to be happy and peaceful and of course still painting!

It's so much fun to read the monthly interviews, getting to know our members just a little bit better. And of course now that we know that Olga studies martial arts, puts a whole new level of respect out there. Perhaps a new action hero is in the future for Olga. Thanks so much Olga for taking the time to answer our questions. Stay tuned for next month's installment.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September, 2011 Artist of the Month

For the month of September the Westchase Artists Society's featured artist is Amy Lennard Gmelin. Amy's a relatively new member to the club and has managed to hit the ground running. Amy participated in our Summer Showcase at Great Art and Frame and even sold one of her fantastic pieces. So without further delay here's Amy's interview:

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Amy: I grew up in New York and New Jersey and now happily reside in New Port Richey, FL with my husband and son. For a long time I was a professional student but did eventually get a BFA in Photography from the University of Florida (GO GATORS). I quickly learned that a career in art does not pay the bills so I entered the healthcare field and that is my present occupation. When I'm not working I can usually be found in my spacious 6' x 6' corner of the garage. This is the first year that I have attempted to sell any of my artwork and so far so good. Some of my concrete sculptures can be found at http://www.etsy.com/shop/mysterystone and also at three different venues in the Tampa Bay area. My other loves besides family and art are in no particular order: eating massive amounts of chocolate, watching Dallas Cowboys football if they're winning, buying plants before the money runs out... etc. etc. etc.

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?
Amy: I can't think of what made me want to become an artist -- I think I've just always been one. I've always been amazed by the textures and patterns I see in everyday objects or nature, for exampe; cracks in the sidewalk, peeling paint on old buildings, or moss growing on rocks gets me every time. I'm one of those crazy people that picks up rusty pieces of metal in the middle of the road and I feel like I've found buried treasure -- it's all art to me.

Question: Describe your creative process.
Amy: I have tried many different art forms and media over the years from paint to clay to photography, but I have finally found my artistic soul mate in concrete. I create functional sculptures using ordinary grey Portland cement and sand purchased straight from the home improvement store. One of my goals in life is to show that concrete is not just for sidewalks and countertops -- it can take the form of so many unique and beautiful shapes, textures and colors. The pieces that I create are produced in many different ways because I love to experiment. At least once a day I think to myself "what would happen if I..." And so some of these sculptures are produced by pushing concrete into various molds (glass, plastic, cardboard, etc.) or by carving or chiseling a semi-hardened concrete block. I will then incorporate acid stains, colored sand, found objects -- anything that strikes my fancy at the time. I usually start out with a drawing or idea in mind and then end up with something completely different from my original plan.

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

Amy: I am not a big movie fan -- short attention span for anything on a screen -- so I'll go back in time and list "When Harry Met Sally" as a favorite movie. Love all different types of music: The Beatles, Third Day, Alison Krauss, India.Arie, the list could go on forever. A few of my favorite authors are Nicholas Evans (The Horse Whisperer), Alice Hoffman (Turtle Moon), and Sarah Addison Allen (Garden Spells).

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

Amy: Healthy and Happy

Wow! What a great interview. It was a blast getting to know a little bit more about Amy's process and inspiration. I for one now have a whole new perspective on concrete thanks to Amy. Stay tuned for our next Artist of the Month!

Monday, August 01, 2011

August Artist of the Month

For the month of August the Westchase Artist of the Month is Susan Whitaker. A new member to the club in 2011, Susan passed the "initiation" participating in our Summer Showcase at Great Art and Frame. So without further delay, here's Susan's interview:

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Susan: I've been married to my husband, Mike, for 27 years; and we have three grown children. Always creative and artistic, I majored in Business to develop my "practical" side. In 2007, after 26 years in the insurance field, I retired to take care of my mother. Also, my husband recruited me to work part-time in his business, where my job is to make up custom stains and tinted lacquers that we sell to cabinet makers and furniture refinishers. Florida has been my home for the last 34 years. It's the perfect place for an artist to settle! Although I enjoy many different hobbies, including sewing, gardening, reading, music and motorcycling, my favorite pursuit has always been art. I mostly enjoy working with pencils, watercolors and oils.

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

Susan: Actually I've been an artist my entire life. As a child, I entered and occassionally won school or community art contests. I drew my own paper dolls and all of their clothing and sent them to my cousins. I wrote and illustrated my own magazines and family newspaper. Using pencils or pastels, I drew everything from a buxom Jayne Mansfield to scragly wind blasted-trees. Art took a back seat during my career and child-raising years, but I took some lessons in watercolors and oils, and started painting a little during that time. I've illustrated women's club, community, and company newsletters, and designed T-shirts for family reuinions. Now I'd like to ramp it up and develop my painting style. That's why I joined the Westchase Artists Society - not only to learn from others and fine tune my craft, but also to acquire the discipline to apply myself to it.

Question: Describe your creative process.

Susan: I take lots of photographs, and in my head there is a storehouse of ideas for subjects and treatments. I learn from books and other artists' techniques and tips. I set aside an entire morning or afternoon create. Before starting a painting, I feel joy, excitement, and anticipation.

Before the painting is finished and in between painting sessions, I "visit" my painting until I see areas that need correcting or enhancing. I also look at the painting in a mirror, which immediately highlights erros in balacne and perspective. I stop when I'm as satisfied as I'll ever be with the painting. I also know when to just throw it out and start over. Even disappointments are exciting, because of what I learn in the process.

Question: Favorite books, movies, website, groups...

Susan: All of Jane Austen's masterpieces; I admire her wit and use of irony. Legal and courtroom thrillers by John Grisham, Steve Martini, and Scott Turow. Detective novels by Agathy Christie and Sue Grafton. Books about Florida, like the works of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Carl Hiaasen, adn of course, The Everglades, River of Grass, by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. Movies: Mostly drama: Dr. Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, (Oh yes, I loved that book, too!) Just starting to introduce myself to opera. I get DVD's of opera productions from Netflix or the library - so far my favorite is Carmen but I love Madama Butterfly. I don't like staring at a computer screen, but I do try to keep up with the Westchase Artists and Cigar City HOG websites.

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

Susan: Spending many more hours painting, with a website. Puttering in a fully grown garden. Cooking out with family and friends on a large deck. Relxing with my husband near the white dunes and sea oats at Siesta Key, walking barefoot in the sand and surf, breathing in the salt air, picking up seashells, and watching the sun set.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

June 2011 Artist of the Month

From the Westchase Artists Society's June monthly meeting our Artist of the Month is a new member, so this post will help all of us get to know Susan Hawley a little bit better. I hope you enjoy Susan's interview as much as we did! So without further delay...

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Susan: I grew up in Western New York as the daughter of a farmer and artist mom and one of 5 kids. Growing up on a farm and riding horses across the fields, I gained my love of the outdoors! I have been an extremely active person all my life - am a past professional white water river guide on the Sierra mountain rivers and have hiked and skiied throughout the Sierras and Lake Tahoe and Yosemite as well as the Teton mountains while living in Jackson, Wyoming (having skiied there over 80 days one year!). I have traveled to Europe and lived in Switzerland and then to Colomiba, South America and Mexico.

I am an entrepreneur at heart, creating Hawley Physical Thereapy in San Jose, CA and Lake Tahoe, CA. I have retired from P.T. and have recently moved to Tampa to be closer to my daughter and my 8 month old grandson. I presently own Spencer Morris Investments, LLC, a real estate investment company. I am a proud mom and now grandmom of 8 month old Xavier!

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

Susan: In spite of loving art of all taypes, I never thought of being an artist myself - not sure why - perhaps I figured I couldn't. I watched my mom paint in oils and watercolors but never thought of painting myself. Then, one Fall day nearly 4 years ago, as I was recovering from a near fatal car accident, I went for a drive to see the Fall colors - wandering and wondering what I was going to do with my life. I was feeling quite lost and happened on a small village art shop and gallery. As I lamented to the owner, she suggested I take a watercolor class that coincidentally was to start the next week! Well... I started... and haven't looked back since!

Question: Describe your creative process.

Susan: Wow! Well, my "process" is ever evolving as I paint more. I love taking classes, going to demonstrations, and just pushing myself to continue to try new things. I find that since I came out of my accident somewhat like a phoenix and since I picked up a brush, I see the world with a different eye - a new eye that enjoys shapes and colors and movement!

I take photos galore, read art books but my favorite is painting outdoors - en plein aire! Sometimes I finish a painting in one sitting, sometimes it takes weeks.

Hey - I just remembered - I, once long ago, enjoyed photography using an SLR! I supposed I pull on these experiences and knowledge base for composition/shapes and color?

Question: Apart from creating art, what do you do?

Susan: - I spend as much time with my grandson as possible.

- I work in my company rehabbing homes and happily am in charge of the landscaping - which I love to design and create!

- I volunteer with groups like Foundation for a Drug-Free World, Youth for Human Rights International and Citizens Commission for Human Rights

Question: Favorite books, movies, websites, groups:

Susan: Books: Harry Potter and Twilight Series, historical novels, some Sci Fi; Movies: Harry Potter, The Devil Wears Prada, Disney; Websites: see above groups; groups: see above groups plus Niagra Frontier Watercolor Society and now- Westchase Artists Society!

Susan thank you so much for taking the time to go through our interview!!! We welcome you to our group of artists and are happy that you made the move to Tampa.

Stay tuned for next month's Artist of the Month interview. Until then, if you're interested in attending a Westchase Artists Society meeting, we meed the 4th Tuesday of the month. Our next meeting will be at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center in the Community Room. Located just off Countryway Blvd. behind the fire station.

Friday, June 10, 2011

May Artist of the Month

For the month of May, 2011 the Westchase Artists Society's Artist of the Month is Vanessa Montenegro. Vanessa has a passion for art. She lives, breathes and eats art, and I mean that in a good way. Vanessa is a mover and shaker in the Tampa Bay art community and was a founding member of the Westchase Artists Society. So, without further delay, here's Vanessa's interview.

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Vanessa: During the day I am a graphic designer and illustrator. In the afternoon, I am an art instructor. Evenings, when it is quiet, I am an artist. I love art, as you can see. I always try to have pencil and paper or a camera with me. There is so much to capture every day. I have a soft spot for nature. It is one of the wonderful things about living in the Tampa area. On any day you can be in awe seeing a Great Blue Heron in flight or sunset after an afternoon storm, or you can explore a place like Rogers Park or kayak to Anclote Key.

In school, I majored in art. My goal was to do art restoration, maybe somewhere in Europe. I quickly discovered that I loved drawing, painting and animation more than restoration. While I was in school, the burgeoning revolution of digital art and animation caught my imagination. Remember the first time you saw Toy Story? I began to pursue graphic art, video, animation and figure drawing classes. I wanted to learn how to draw people, and learn how they move. A whole new world opened up for me. This is when I quit art school.

I come from a family of entrepreneurs and something must have rubbed off. My passion is art, but I love business. What is a girl to do? I quit art to study business. I loved it and earned a degree in Finance and International Business. Still, I couldn't help not wanting to do more art. So, I went back to art school and completed my art degree. Business and art were a perfect combination for me. Being my own boss is wonderful. I have been able to start my own graphic design company, teach art (see http://www.venessamontenegro.com/vm/art_classes.html), do commissions, and sell my artwork online at places like Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/vanessamontenegro) and galleries.

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

Vanessa: To some extent, I think I've always been an artst. I've been drawing since I was a little girl. One of my favorite aunts, a grand aunt to be exact, was a professional artist. She was an inspiration as an artist, but also a model that I could make a living as an artist. I went with her and my mom to museums, galleries and craft shows. If I was not drawing, I was tending to my little zoo of animals. I love animals. I had dogs, cats, birds, chickens, turtles, fishes, rabbits and any animal that needed rescuing. I thought of being a veterinarian for a while, but in the end I wanted to become an artist.

Question: Describe your creative process.

Vanessa: I am constantly doodling, taking pictures and writing down ideas. I have notebooks full of everything from sketches to stock market tips. Sometimes I just start playing around on a sketch pad or a canvas and see what emerges. When I have a commission, I tend to do a lot of research and sketches until an idea starts to solidify.

Question: Favorite books, movies, website, groups

Vanessa: Book: "Tell Me Where It Hurts" by Dr. Nick Trout (a day of humor healing and hope in the life of an animal surgeon); Movie: "Toy Story" (all Pixar movies); Websites: The Girl Effect - http://thegirleffect.org/ (love the cause, the message and the animation); Songs: By Moby and Coldplay; Groups: Westchase Artists and my running groups

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

Vanessa: Wouldn't it be great to be animating Toy Story 10? I guess it would be Woody & Buzz Lightyear's adventures in a retirement home, but still, it would be lots of fun! I love being an artist and entrepreneur. I'd like to see myself grow in these two areas.

Wow!!! Thanks Vanessa for sharing. It's always great to learn more about our favorite artists. Great interview. Be sure to check out Vanessa's websites. Stay tuned for next month's Westchase Artists Society's Artist of the Month.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Summer Showcase

The Westchase Artists Society is pleased to announce the opening of a Summer Showcase, the group's latest exhibit.

Exhibition Dates: June 3rd - July 5th, 2011

Opening Reception: Friday, June 3rd, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm

Location: Great Art & Frame Gallery, Westchase

9906 W. Linebaugh Ave.

Tampa, FL


Participating member-artists include: Wayne Barrett, Harvey Berman, Tony Crosby, Judy Freeman, Olga Fridella, Amy Gmelin, Joose Hadley, Jennifer Lukas Joyner, Bob Richardson, Vanessa Montenegro, Liz Rylan, Teresa Trubilla and Susan Whitaker.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April Artist of the Month

Yes, we skipped March. Lots going on got in the way of sharing the talent of our fabulous artists. Luckily, things are settling down a bit and we're able to share this month's artist, drumb roll please.... Joose Hadley. Here's Joose's interview:

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Joose: The artist becomes the eyes of the world. We see what others may have forgotten. We portray what others may desire. We define a reality which becomes a golden path to life: A journey which gives relief to those on an endless march towards the end. We give life to an otherwise drab existence and joy to a world in chaos.

Being from Northern California, I'm a country girl. I spent my childhood exploring the outdoors by foot, by bicycle and finally by horse. Since I went to a small 2 room school, I had no art program, but in high school, I took art classes every year. In my Senior year I was awarded the Bank of American Award in Art. I attended Sacramento State College, but like many artists, I lacked the confidence to major in art. I knew I had to make a living, so I went into teaching. For 15 years while teaching high school English, I'd paint at night after grading my papers. Eventually I decided to pursue my dream to do my art. So I quit my job, sold my house and lived the life of a vagabond: Bicycled through Australia and New Zealand, Ran a marathon in Tasmania, Rode round-ups in Nevada, wrote and illustrated free-lance articles for magazines, and started my own art business, "Joose arts." In 1989 I ended up back in Sacramento to marry my pen-pal, soul-mate and best friend, James. Since moving to Florida in 1995, we have done a variety of things, but finally in 2003 we opened our art and custom framing business in Westchase, (Great Art & Frame). In 2009 we fulfilled another dream which was to have a small farm. We found a place in Lutz and started "The Ark", where we raise chickens, rabbits, and fish (tilapia) and defy the Florida summers by growing a garden year round.

Every day, I get to work at what I love. The custom framing makes art and mementos look wonderful. Giving art lessons is a joy by giving someone else the opportunity to create beauty! When painting I love losing myself in the project. And whether it's art or a custom frame job, I always love to see the customer's eyes light up when they see what I've done. When working on "The ark" on my days off, I love gardening and caring for the animals. I could spend all day in the myriad of chores that present themselves when I walk out of the house. We rarely have anything go to waste, there is always something that benefits from our discards. I love knowing that everything we raise is healthy and made from our own hands.

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

Joose: when I was 3 or 4 I loved the colored modeling clay that I had just gotten for a birthday gift. While I was supposed to be taking a nap, I unwrapped the clay sticks and pinched off bits and smeared them onto the wood cabinet of an old Victrola on the table next to my bed, turning it into a splendid rainbow of colors. Unfortunately, my mother didn't appreciate my efforts to make it pretty... but that's continued to be my purpose throughout my life.

Question: Describe your creative process.

Joose: My creative process is to START... add changes... modify as needed... and stop. That's all there is to it! Of these steps, the first is often the most difficult. Life just seems to get in the way. Just like when I was a runner I found the hardest part was putting on my running shoes. Once that was done, the rest was easy!

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

Joose: I just finished Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth" which was as good if not better than "Fall of Giants" ...... :)

Wow! Joose, thank you so much for sharing. Fantastic interview!!!

Stay tuned for future Westchase Artists of the Month.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

February Artist of the Month

For the month of February our featured Artist of the Month is also our President and fearless leader for 2011, Teresa Trubilla. Teresa's nature photography is incredible. It's hard to imagine the patience needed to get some of the spectacular images. So without further ado, here's Teresa's interview.

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself, affiliations, personal stuff.
Teresa: I grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but moved to Florida over 25 years ago, shortly after marrying my wonderful husband, William Cawley. Bill has always been very supportive of my artistic efforts and together we have raised a kind and beautiful daughter, Kristina. The three of us share our Westchase home with an energetic Pomeranian named Buffy.
Question: Apart from creating art, what do you do?
Teresa: In addition to taking photographs, I love to read, to write, and to spend time with family and friends. I enjoy being outdoors and practicing yoga, but I am afraid I have not been doing much of that lately. I also work as a graphic designer handling advertising and marketing.

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?
Teresa: I fell in love with graphic design in college because it gave me an opportunity to work with words, space, and images on the printed page. While I dabbled in photography in high school and college, it was not until joining the Westchase Artists Society a few years ago that I found a creative voice for my love of nature. While growing up, my father taught me to appreciate the serenity that can be found in the woods and near water and that is something that I strive to share through my photography. I also find great joy in expressing myself through writing.

Question: Describe your creative process.
Teresa: Through my nature and landscape photography, I try to capture the clarity and simplicity I find outdoors and express the connection I feel with my subject... whether it is a flower or a bird or the mist rising off a pond. Taking wildlife photos is almost like meditation for me - it requires a patience that calms my mind and a stillness that nurtures my spirit.

Question: Top 5 books, movies, songs, groups, websites.
Teresa: Books -- I do not think there is a book that I ever "met" that I have not enjoyed. I just finished reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Girl Who Played with Fire." I am looking forward to reading the final book in this series "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest." I especially love to read crime/suspense novels. Movies -- I guess my favorite movies would have to be "The Guardian" and "Steel Magnolias." Songs -- I love so many types of music that it would be impossible for me to pick just one song. Groups -- The Westchase Artists Society, of course! Website -- http://www.photoshopuser.com/ the official website for NAPP; The National Association of Professional Photoshop Users. I love working in Photoshop and the site provides so much informative material and is a great resource when I have questions.

Question: In 10 years I'd like to be...
Teresa: More of what I am doing now, just with better equipment :)

Thanks Teresa for a great interview! Check back next month for the next Westchase Artists Society Member of the Month interview.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Artist of the Month

Photo Credit Patti Wooten Thompson

Photo Credit Patti Wooten Thompson

As we continue our tradition of featuring Westchase Artists Society members, Mara Gessele is our first fabulous Artist of the Month for the New Year. So read on without further delay.

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

Mara: I've been living in Tampa for the last four years. I grew up in the San Francisco bay area. After receiving my B.A. from the California College for the Arts I worked as a sculptors assistant and produced multiple jewelry art lines for various artists, for the most part of a decade before becoming a mother. After the birth of my daughter I started http://www.mom4moms.com/. I had a common issue amongst new moms. I wanted to stay at home to raise my child, but couldn't afford to do so. That's when I started my website. A portion of the proceeds purchased from my site go to charities to benefit mom/child related charities. I've also had featured "Mom" artists' pieces available for sale periodically. Recently I was fortunate enough to show some of my limited edition pieces as well as make some exotic head dresses to compliment Pamela Roehm's couture for the Chillounge Daybed Parade, as well as wicked Wonderland in St. Pete. The pieces were photographed by Patti Wooten Thompson in a fashion shoot and have now been printed in Vocess and Phassion magazines. the whole experience was very exciting. I even got to walk the catwalk at the Chillounge!

Question: Apart from creating art what do you do?

Mara: Obviously being a mom is the most important part of my life, but I always joke that I am a preschool teacher by day and an artist by night. I currently teach two-year olds at the Jewish Community Center. I love to explore nature and camp when possible. I've even dabbled into looking for fossils from time to time.
Question: What first made you want to become an artist?

Mara: Funny enough, initially as a child I wanted to be an Archaeologist which has heavily influenced my art. That aside my mom was a graphic artist for the government, Rand McNally, etc. in the 60's. I grew up doing art alongside her and going to her art openings. At an early age she taught me perspective, and I went through every art class for children three times over in some cases. I took classes from still life drawing to ceramics from the age of 7 on up. I never thought I could draw as well as my mom as hard as I tried (and I probably never will) so when I went to high school and they had a 3D art class where you could make jewelry, I knew I had my own niche. As my family reconnected with a family friend, a famous and amazing jewelry metal artist, D.X. Ross (R.I.P) who became my mentor and beloved friend, my future was sealed.
Question: Describe your creative process

Mara: I work in a lot of mediums and I love to mix them, especially when it comes to jewelry. I'll see a scrap of metal, wood, leather or a stone and it's like a shiny piece of candy to me. I'll think about what this item could have been in a different time or place. Usually I reference my research into various historic cultures and then fuse it with a modern twist. I'll put some sketches down into a book, start with that idea, and then go from there. I'm a big believer in happy accidents. I don't hold myself to stick to my sketches. I let the metal tell me what it wants to do and go from there. Most of my art is still heavily influenced by the San Francisco bay area and tends to be considered as gallery art jewelry.
Question: Top 5 books. movies, songs, groups, websites

Books - 1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (just a classic); 2. Gods, Graves, and Scholars, by C.W. Ceram (This book fed my archeological interest as a child); 3. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling (I love that she makes magic exist for children and adults alike) 4. American Radical, by Steven Nelson (This author was a friend of my grandfather's. The book is about the war they fought in together) 5. Skin and Bones, by Diane Corso (Authoried by my friend who based a character off of myself which was an exciting experience)

Movies - 1. Pride and Prejudice (With Colin Firth in it); 2. Harry Potter (Series); 3. The Mummy; 4. Bridget Jones Diary; 5. Nightmare Before Christmas
Songs - 1. Chain of Fools, Aretha Franklin; 2. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, K.T. Tunstall; 3. In Your Eyes, Peter Gabriel; 4. Do You Love Me, Nick Cave; 5. Cuts You Up, Peter Murphy

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

Mara: Exploring, learning, and creating. Living life to the fullest with my family and friends all healthy and happy by my side.
Mara, thanks so much for a fantastic interview!!! Stay tuned for next month's Westchase Artists Society Artist of the Month installment.