Rina Yoon’s Studio Tour

This week’s Tuesday Tours features the studio space of Rina Yoon, a Milwaukee based artist and Professor of printmaking at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I’ve had the pleasure of showcasing Rina’s work in two of the exhibits I’ve curated. Her beautiful figurative prints evoke a very ethereal quality. She says she uses the medium of printmaking, not only to make multiples, but to use the techniques as a way to build up layers, and through that process, create a type of meditation. 

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Rina Yoon 7Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I was born and raised in Korea. I came to U.S. when I was 17 and I have been here for 32 years. My primary medium is printmaking, particularly intaglio processes. I love the incised lines embedded in paper and the tactile quality.  Recently I have been exploring installations and working three–dimensionally.

Rina Yoon 2How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I have had the studio since 2000 and recently I did a major renovation to convert to live/work space.  It was difficult to be in the studio before and now I have windows to look outside and lots of natural lights. It allows me to bring studio practice into my daily life, moving seamlessly from the press to the kitchen, and to the garden.

Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
I don’t have any special rituals. After years of doing this, studio practice has become more about the discipline. I start my day with a good breakfast and sit down to work. I like to pace myself and to work steadily.Rina Yoon 6

Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working?
When I start a new image, I don’t listen to anything. In general, I prefer silence. But when I do more production work, like printing or making a plate, I listen to either NPR or TED Talks.

Rina Yoon 3Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
What inspires me is tending plants and vegetables outside. I used to have a large yard and I would spend hours tending the garden.  Now that I’ve moved to the studio, I only have a small container garden, but it is still very important for me to have that connection to nature.  Because Milwaukee has a very short growing season, it is more precious, and I try to be outside as much as possible.

Yes! Our winter was particularly long this past year. I’m savoring the summer.

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What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
My etching press.  Having moved the press four times was very difficult but it is nice not having to bring the plates back and forth between the studio and school.

If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
For a couple hundred dollars, I would add more track lighting.  My eyes are beginning to show signs of aging, so more lighting would be helpful.

Do you have other creative rooms in your home?Rina Yoon 4
I tore down all the walls in the studio.  It is designed so that I can look at my art from anywhere. My work table and the press are in the middle of the space and I walk pass them all the time. It is a constant reminder to keep me focused in producing work. Everything is in the open so I can integrate living and working.

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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
For me, I need to be able to look outside. Before the renovation, the studio had no windows. When I was doing a residency in Paris several years ago, I had a huge window in the studio. What a difference it made!  Sitting at the work table was pleasant and inviting. So my advice is this: Don’t save the best space for your guests, make it yours. Take the best space you have in your home for yourself.

Great advice! I know I always save the biggest and nicest room for guests. As our kids get bigger, the house feels smaller, and I’m rethinking saving these great space for the sporadic guest or party.

Where can we see your work?
I am going to have a solo show at the Elaine Erickson Gallery next March, 2015 and at the James Watrous Gallery in Madison in November, 2015.  Currently I am exploring combining prints, video and three-dimensional surfaces.  My website is: http://rinayoon.com/home.html.

Thanks for sharing your space, Rina! Your new work is stunning!

Tania McCartney’s Studio Tour

I was introduced to Australian author and illustrator Tania McCartney through her 52-week Illustration Challenge, in which people create a new illustration each week and post it on the challenge’s Facebook page. Tania set the challenge at the beginning of 2014 to saturate herself with as much artistic inspiration as possible, and she asked if others would like to join her. Now halfway through the year, there is over 2000 members! The 52-week Illustration Challenge has been so successful that Tania was recently invited by Arts Brookfield–one of the world’s largest exhibitors of art in public spaces–to curate pieces from challenge submissions to be used in an art exhibit March 2015 taking place in Perth.
Each week has a theme, so on any given week you can peruse the site and see hundreds of interpretations on the theme. It’s an inspiring challenge, both to get feedback and support on your own work, as well as to see the work of so many talented artists. Tania  writes for both adults and children and is the founder of Kids’ Book Review–the number one children’s literature site on the web. This week’s Tuesday Tours features her beautiful studio, which is full of light and color — I can almost hear the birds singing out her window when I look at the pictures!

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Tania headshot I - CopyTell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I’m an Australian author of both kids and adult books. I live and breathe books; I’d eat them, or even live in one, if I could. They’re my everything. I’ve lived and worked in France, England and China, as well as almost every Australian state, but currently live in Canberra with my gorgeous family—husband and two kids aged 11 and 14. I’m really fortunate to be a full-time creator, and I work from our sunny, quiet home.
My creative mediums are words, pictures and paper—all three a lifelong obsession. I drew a lot as a child and young adult, but writing took over in my adulthood. I’ve been writing professionally for over 25 years now, in varying genres from magazine feature articles to reviews, picture books, history books, and both fiction and non-fiction (adult, young adult, middle and junior).
Picture books are my deep obsession and are the reason I’ve recently returned to illustrating after a 20-year hiatus. One of my career goals is to illustrate some of my own picture book texts, and this is the singular reason I created the 52-Week Illustration Challenge—to hone my long-lost skills. Well, that, and the desire to immerse myself in beautiful imagery and reconnect with my heart and soul! My artistic mediums are varied but I’m quickly settling into two distinct niches—digital and watercolour/pencil/ink. I love quirky, whimsical pictures, and creating these has brought me untold joy. I would love to explore printing techniques next.

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How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?We moved into this house 5 ½ years ago, after four years in China. The silence was deafening! Part of the reason we chose this house was the quiet situation, the established garden, and the beautiful studio at the front of the house. It’s the most heavenly place to work in because it’s bright and sunny and overlooks our front garden.IMG_9373
In this space, I’m surrounded by things I adore—photographs, treasures from our travels, cards and notes from beautiful people, a divine rattan settee I snaffled in China for $100, a handcrafted paper mobile with a five-foot drop (created from my papery treasures), and of course, books, books, books. All of these things inspire and uplift me. I feel nurtured in this space and I know this brings out the best in my work. I’m not currently using the space for my artwork, but I hope to reconfigure things a little and change that soon, as I’m currently overtaking our large dining room table and the family has been very patient!

Probably because they get to live amongst all of your beautiful creations!

Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
I always have a coffee (barista style) or tea (Earl Grey with milk) and a large glass of water. I don’t eat while I work, and I need complete silence. I always work at my computer and rarely write anything longhand (seems I’ve lost that ability!).
I try to exercise (aerobics or yoga or walking) every day before I start working, and I always start my day with a green smoothie—it’s serious brain food, and fires my creativity. I’ve recently invested in a Varidesk—a desktop contraption that allows you to raise your computer screen and type while standing. I try to spend at least half the day standing, if not more. It’s vital.

I agree. I think the worst thing about being a writer is all the sitting! I’ll have to check into a Varidesk soon.

Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working?
I never play music! It distracts me, alas. I instead listen to the kookaburras or magpies carrying on outside my window.

Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
Only one is impossible! But my most precious and most inspirational are our travel photos (which I’ve printed as polaroids and collaged onto the studio walls). My kid’s drawings. Books. My wooden NYC skyline. My terrarium plant. The tiny, bronze See/Hear/Say No Evil statue. My paper mobile. My enormous tin flamingo.

Tania McCartney watercolourWhat’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?
Eeep. That question’s so hard! It’s more about creators than books for me—I have creators I’m in love with, and I simply adore anything they produce. They include Serge Bloch, Jen Storer, Blexbolex, Emma Quay, Suzy Lee, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Miroslav Sasek, Gus Gordon, Lane Smith, among countless others. Two of my favourite book series of all time would be M Sasek’s This Is… picture book series from the 1950s and beyond, and The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. Right now I’m actually reading more adult books than I usually do. On my nightstand are: Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang, The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester, Cook: from Sailor to Legend by Rob Mundle and Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock. I’m about to start the latest Jackie French middle fiction novel, too—I Am Juliet. Oh, and I simply love reading cookbooks.

IMG_9367 IMG_9362What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
My computer. It drinks in all my text and all my imagery (when I’m creating digitally) and it allows me to run my business (and my life) in a virtual way that means I can be home for my kids and still ‘travel the world’ with my interactions and my collaborations. It’s like a magic genie. Whack in some text and imagery—a year or three later—pop! out comes a book, delivered to your door in Real Life. Wonderful stuff.

week 25 dots Tania McCartneyWhat colors inspire your creativity.  Are those colors incorporated in your space?
Wow, great question. Colour absolutely inspires and affects my creativity. I love lots of white space, which I can then pepper with pops of colour. It’s interesting that my penchant for certain colours have changed over the years, as I’ve developed and changed. I also think we’re drawn to colour according to what stage we’re going through in our lives. As we reach middle age, we’re deeply drawn to creativity, and, sure enough, I’ve rekindled a love of yellow and orange of late, which are highly creative colours.
My all-time favourite colour is pale green (I wore it for my wedding—this raises eyebrows, but it was truly beautiful!) and I also adore duck-egg blue and snippets of red. My studio has little pops of multi-coloured fragments everywhere, and I can’t explain why, but this just makes me happy. And happiness makes for much creativity.

IMG_9368Yes! Happiness and creativity go hand-in-hand.

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Try to designate a space you can close off and call your own (ie: not the dining room table or a corner of the living room). If you can’t dedicate an actual room, perhaps consider making this space a corner in your bedroom, so you can still ‘close it off’ if you need to. Closing that door and immersing is so important because it not only limits distractions and puts you in auto-creative mode, it makes it clear to family/housemates/colleagues that this is important to you—that you absolutely need and deserve the time and space to create.

Great advice!  I know how much closing the door has helped me in my own work.  

a cover FINALAny news that you’d like to share? Where can we find out more?
I’m delighted to be releasing my thirteenth book this September (lucky 13!). It’s called Tottie and Dot (EK Books) and has been illustrated by my talented friend Tina Snerling. We’re also working on our next book, Peas in a Pod, out 2015.
I’m a National Library of Australia house author, and my next book with them, This is Captain Cook, will be out March 2015. It’s illustrated by another talented friend, Christina Booth. My next exciting project is one I’m writing and illustrating—it will be on Australian designer Florence Broadhurst. Other than that, I have another three picture books in production, a large publisher is considering my first illustrated picture book, and I’m continuing to work on both Kids’ Book Review (which I founded in 2009) and the 52-Week Illustration Challenge. I was thrilled to be asked by Arts Brookfield (Perth) to curate a public exhibition of Challenge artwork, which will be shown at Brookfield Place next March. It’s kind of huge, and it’s hard to believe all that is happening with the Challenge, after such humble beginnings. But then, such is the power of creativity! You can find out more at www.taniamccartney.comwww.kids-bookreview.com, and check out the 52-Week Illustration Challenge at www.facebook.com/groups/418616991575037.

Thanks, Tania! Good luck with all of your projects. I hope to make it out to Australia sometime and maybe even meet you, but until then, I’ll enjoy seeing your artwork on the Challenge page!

 

 

Page Remmers and WCAP Studio Tour

WPCA_Page portraitI met Page Remmers close to ten years ago at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Page came to UWM as a non-traditional student, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts after a successful career as a Speech-Language Pathologist. During her time at UWM, Page created beautiful hand dyed fabrics and fiber sculptures, but her dream was to open up a non-profit in her city of Waukesha, offering free art classes to middle school students. After graduation Page founded the Waukesha Community Art Project (WCAP), an after school program that offers a creative and safe place for students to express themselves. The tagline for WCAP is Make friends. Mark art. Make a difference, and that’s exactly what this envioment offers. Students that participate in the free classes at WCAP, like Rock Band Camp, Advanced Screen Printing, and Theater Improvisation, also share their art and ideas with the community, through a community component, such as performing in the open mic night at a local cafe. Since its opening in 2007, WCAP has been recognized as a community leader and given a key to the city–which is considered the highest form of municipal honor. In 2011 I saw first had what an impact this space offers to area teens when I had the chance to collaborate with them to create one of the illustrations for my book Squircle. I’m thrilled to feature their amazing new space on this week’s Tuesday Tours.

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WPCA4Tell us a little bit about yourself and your organization WCAP.
Waukesha Community Art Project (WCAP) is a nonprofit providing free arts after school programs for middle school students.  We were founded seven years ago, to provide middle school students a safe place to create art and connect with their community. We started with visual arts classes, meeting two days/week. This year we are providing classes in visual art, drama, music, dance, and creative writing five days/week. To help the students recognize their individual power to affect their world, each class/unit has a community component. This activity can include the students making something for another organization, performing a drama production, or exhibiting their artwork.

WPCAfree libraryHere is an example: Wood working Class–The students learn the skills and techniques of using wood working tools. They make their own creations using their new knowledge.  For the community component they decided to make Lending Library Boxes for other nonprofits. They practice their writing skills as they contacted the nonprofit of their choice to determine if they would like a library box. For each nonprofit that accepted a box, the students met with a representative from the nonprofit to find out how to design a box they would like. Then as a team they worked together to make, paint, and deliver the box.

Wow! What a great cohesive project. 

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Mud stencils

Using mud stencils to decorate the exterior

Mud stencils How long have you had your space and how do you think it affects the students’ creative process?
Although WCAP has been open for several years, we have been in our current studio/classroom for just a year. We started the program in a room At St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. They let us use it for free, which was awesome, but we needed to pack up after each class.  Being in our own space means, we can have our supplies readily accessible and the student artwork on display at all times. This new space also has the look and feel we wanted for our studio/classroom. It is a wide open space, with a lot of color and natural wood floors. It give us all the feeling that this is a place to make art.

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Knit Bombing in downtown Waukesha


KnitBomb4 KnitBomb3 KnitBomb2 Are there any kind of rituals the students do before they start creating?
Each day the after school program starts with snack and time to visit with friends to shift them from school to art making. After that we play a game. The games help us to get to know one another better,  laugh and relax, and warm up for art making. We end our daily ritual with a meditation/focus activity.

Is there anything you all like to listen to while you’re working?
When the middle schoolers are present, I hear them working together, supporting one another, laughing, and of course, playing their favorite music. Sometimes I close my eyes so I can take it all in and listen to WCAP’s mission in action.

WPCA_Squircle Banners

Applique banners created by the students

WPCA9 Is there any special item/trinket in your space that’s a source of inspiration?
The artwork that is the centerpiece of WCAP is the quilt that you (Andrea) made with the students for your book Squircle. It is near the front of our space, and it is usually the first thing people see when they enter. They all love it and when we tell the story of how the quilt and your book were made. People really appreciate how you included WCAP participants in Squircle’s creation, and all the skills they learned while working with you, like applique’, embroidery, hand sewing, and the process of building community while creating art.

That’s so nice to hear. I loved working with all the talented students on that project!

 

If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
Quality art supplies–we can never have too many!

Page at A@LWhat advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
I am going to change this question to “What advice do you have for people who want to make a space where teens/the community can be creative?” And my answer would be to hire excellent teachers that love what they are teaching. When something is taught with passion, students learn so much more than new skills or techniques.
They learn a new way to express themselves, interact with the world, and how to apply that knowledge to what they are learning in school and life.

Anything new coming up at WCAP?
WCAP will be open for Downtown Waukesha’s Art Crawls on the first Saturdays of August, October, and May. This coming Fall we will be adding Creative Writing and Dance classes to the Visual Art and Drama classes to the lineup of our after school programs for middle school students. Our website is www.wcartproject.net It is currently under construction, so there is only minimal information. Facebook is a good way to find out what we are doing www.facebook.com/wcartproject

Thanks, Page! I’m so impressed with the amazing space you’ve created for middle school kids to express themselves. Thanks for being such a positive influence in our community!

Evey accepts her PBS Kids Award!

My daughter Evey accepted a second place award for her book My Silly Sister Celi at the PBS Kids Write banquet. She loved seeing all of the other award-winning books and her silly sister Celi was thrilled that she was the star of a book! The winning stories will be aired on MPTV throughout the summer.

I encourage others kids to take advantage of this opportunity and submit your picture book. It happens every year and takes place around the country. The first place winners compete nationally. Kindergarten through 3rd grade students are eligible to enter. More information can be found at http://pbskids.org/writerscontest/

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CommuniTree’s award medal and stickers arrived!

CommuniTree book awardI was disappointed that I couldn’t attend the Indie Book Awards in NYC, but today I received a surprise in the mail–the Finalist Book Award medal and stickers for CommuniTree!

CommuniTree was created in collaboration with 686 students (K4 – 8th grade) from Dover School and Tippecano School for the Arts & Humanities, during a time when these two separate schools were merging together to form Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts. In an effort to take an active role in building their new school, students worked with me to develop a children’s picture book about community.

Tara Lazar’s Studio Tour

This week on Tuesday Tours I’m excited to feature mid grade and picture book author Tara Lazar who makes a comfortable space in her New Jersey home that gives her the ability to write books, blog about her experience as a writer, and encourage other writers through her created challenge PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)the picture book writer’s answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I found PiBoldMo a simple but brilliant challenge to create new ideas for picture books over the course of 30 days, although this is a challenge that can keep on going long after the month is over. This year was my first time participating in the challenge, and it yielded me an amazing trove of ideas that I go back to again and again, either to inspire a rough draft or add a new idea. Tara’s ideas have turned into a number of books, such as her currently available Monstore, as well as four new titles coming out over the next few years.skyberg-tuesday-tours-logo

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
My name is Tara Lazar and I saw ladies in half! Therefore, my creative medium must be…ladies??? No, sorry, kidding. I do that. Joke around, not saw things in half—unless you count words. Then, yes, definitely, I’ve been known to saw words in half and cobble them back together to create portmanteaus. I’m a children’s picture book author!

unmadebedworkspaceHow long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
My space doesn’t necessarily lend me creativity—it lends me comfort. It’s my own bedroom, which I’ve had for almost 10 years, since we moved into this house. But I believe comfort begets creativity. I sit upon my bed to write, with a comfy husband providing back support. No, my husband Alan does not sit behind me all day. I mean a pillow husband. My lucky husband actually has a home office! Yes, we both work at home. People wonder how we don’t drive each other nuts. A staircase separates us. And, there are picture books on the staircase! So I often get distracted on my way down to see him and plop down to read.

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Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
Not really. I’m not a routine type of person. I enjoy a mammoth mug of Earl Grey or chai from time to time, but I don’t need it like some people need coffee. Or donuts. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I do need donuts. With rainbow sprinkles.

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Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you reading/listening to now?AHHHHH! No! I absolutely cannot create while listening to music. Or games of Marco Polo, which is what I hear all day long because the community pool is right behind my house. Who invented this game? It’s positively maddening!!! When I’m NOT writing, I’m listening to classic rock, which is what they call Nirvana these days. NIRVANA is CLASSIC ROCK. mccartney8n-1What kind of wacky world am I living in? I’d also like to give a shout-out to Ed Sheeran. I adore him, my ginger god. I have been singing “Sing” for weeks now, much to the chagrin of my two girls. They love the song, too, but I’m woefully out of tune. I was actually dancing to the song in delia’s earlier this week, which greatly embarrassed my 11-year-old. I live for those moments. Right now I’m reading “Man on the Run” which is about Paul McCartney in the 70’s, after the breakup of the Beatles and during his Wings resurgence. “Band on the Run” is one of my favorite songs of all time.

miniaturebearIs there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I tend to buy trinkets AFTER I’ve begun writing something, for good luck. A tiny talisman. This is the miniature bear I bought after I began writing I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S, 2015).

How often do you rearrange your space to make it more functional?
Um, never. I just pile more things on the floor. Again, kidding. Sort of. I bought this funky mid-century magazine rack on ebay last year. It keeps some things off the floor. I also recently bought this antique curio in which to house miniatures. I had a glass menagerie as a child, and I’ve always been fascinated by tiny little things, but haven’t had anywhere to let them live. I plan to paint it cream and hang it on my bedroom wall.magrack

If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
I’d buy this art deco bookcase I’ve had my eye on. It’s tricky because I have a limited amount of space, but this bookcase has the perfect dimensions to fit between my bedroom door and my closet door, as long as I pick up the dirty clothing overflow.

A place for Tara to store her knickknacks, like the frog statue

A place for Tara to store her knickknacks

 

 

What colors inspire your creativity. Are those colors incorporated in your space? My favorite colors are turquoise and periwinkle blue. My bedroom is cranberry and cream. Makes sense, no? (NO.)

 

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
I think you can be creative anywhere as long as you’re comfortable. Heck, I’m at my most creative in a hot shower. I’ll be the first in line for a waterproof Mac.

monstorecoversmall Bear Book final coverWhat’s up next for you and where can we find out more?
My debut picture book THE MONSTORE is available now from Aladdin/S&S. Next up is I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK in August 2015, followed by LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD in October 2015. More books are on their way in 2016 and 2017…phew! My website is http://taralazar.com.

Thanks for sharing your creative space with us, Tara. I’m looking forward to seeing your new books when they’re released!

Kelly Light’s Studio Tour

After joining SCBWI I began meeting many artists and writers in person, but soon those connections began introducing me to an entire online kidlit community. Not too long ago, I came across the illustrations for Kelly Light’s upcoming book Louise Loves Art and I was captivated. The edgy black and white illustrations, with pops of color, paired with the funky look of Louise made me fall in love with the book. Plus, just like Louise, I LOVE art! I’m very excited to read the entire book (so far I’ve seen a few spreads) when it comes out September 9, 2014. Kelly is an artist who started out her career as a cartoon merchandiser. After taking five years off following the birth of her daughter, she decided that she wanted to go back into making art full time, but in a totally different way than what she’d been doing–she wanted to create picture books. Over the course of seven years, Kelly attended conferences, sent out postcards, and took illustrating classes before she had her first published book come out in 2010. Now she’s an in-demand author/illustrator who’s booked out for the next five years! Just as fun as it is hearing how Kelly’s hard work has paid off, it’s equally enjoyable seeing inside her studio where she creates her popular illustrations.

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KellyLight_portraitTell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I live in Long Island, NY and work in the attic of a Tudor home built in 1927. The typical Tudor house design has a peak at the top, which means my studio walls are all angled. This makes it almost impossible for anyone but me to stand up anywhere but in the middle. My husband is 6’3”, my daughter, 5’9”. I’m 5’2”. Perfect.
KellyLight_studio3I usually draw, doodle and sketch all by hand with a blue pencil on vellum. I scan in my drawings and then, in Photoshop, sketch some more in layers, just as if there were layers of vellum on top, until I refine my drawings. Then I will go to color in Photoshop.

For my book Louise Loves Art, I did the drawings mostly with a black prismacolor pencil and scanned them in. Photoshop is a wonderful tool that seems to have endless possibilities, depending on the experimentation of the user. It also has endless control Zs. I am working on a book right now, that needs me to turn my back on control Z and be loose. So I am doing sketches in Photoshop and all finals by hand. Sometimes, you have to change it up and be crazy. 

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process? I have lived here for 11 years. The first 3 years this attic was what I call, a “Johnny Bravo” room. For all of you young ins’–Johnny Bravo was Greg Brady’s alter ego on the Brady Bunch. He turned their attic into a swinging pad complete with beaded curtains, lava lamps, and shag carpet. That’s what my studio looked like. Complete with 1974 yearbook pages and a Seasons in the Sun 45 taped to the walls. My husband turned it into an art studio for me, and it changed my life to have a designated space for work. It separated my MOM work from my art work.

Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating? 
No. I wish there were. I go to the gym every morning, but that doesn’t help me work. I’m just tired and sweaty. It does help me keep the butt in the chair from getting bigger tho. 

I did learn to do transcendental meditation when I turned 40 (44 in 2.5 months but who’s counting?). I think meditating is amazing and helpful to deal with stress. I find that when I am engrossed in making art – I feel just like I do when I meditate. Not when I write tho – then I feel like I do when I am working out. Tired and sweaty.

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Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you reading/listening to now?
YES!! Music is everything to me. I need it. If I am in a great mood or need to clean or meet a deadline, I blast it. If I am in an awful mood, I sing. Typically I like old music. I like great singers. I love Gershwin, Django Reinhardt, and Billie Holiday. But I am also a nut for The Beatles and The Kinks. I never really tried audio books until this past year. I am really enjoying them when I have a large amount of art to get done. I have listened to The Book Thief, Austenland, My Years with Groucho, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, every single book by Jack Gantos, Dimension X-old sci-fi radio shows and now a book called Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart.  I’ll try anything, but it better hook me. I need to be hooked from the start. When I write, I need silence. KellyLight_studio12KellyLight_studio13
KellyLight_studio8Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you? 
I keep a few things right next to me. Gifts from some friends that were so thoughtful, they make me happy. A prayer candle to Saint Expedito–patron saint of deadlines, from my pal Susan, a print with a quote from Shakespeare from my beloved art director Alison, an old radio–I collect them and they are all over my house. I listen to AM radio–I’m nuts–I like the static. AND My very own Boo Boo Kitty. Boo Boo Kitty was sewn for me by my dear friend and author Heidi Stemple. I actually jumped up and down with joy when she gave it to me. I have a thing about Laverne and Shirley.

 

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What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio? 
My Cintiq. It is a computer screen with a pressure sensitive stylus so you can draw directly on the screen. The only problem is staring so directly into the light of the screen. It may be making me go blind–so I may start drawing on the wall and not know.

What colors inspire your creativity. Are those colors incorporated in your space? 
I love red. That paint color was not conducive to a small space like an attic. It would absorb all of the light. Red is all around my house, though. It pops up around the studio as well. The colors in my studio came from a piece of 1950’s fabric that I found with atomic symbols and tiki shapes. Turquoise , brown, sand and pink. It’s a nice calm color scheme for me to freak out in.studio-pets

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?  
There should be no other space that is you-er!!! I always love homes, that when you walk into them, they look just like the people who live there. Your studio should reflect your art! Your interests, your passions! I have a lot of crap. But boy, do I love this crap.

KellyLight_studio11What age did you become interested in art and who encouraged you to pursue your dream?
I knew at the age of four and a half that I wanted to be a cartoonist. I have had that singular vision for my life, other than a brief love affair with Broadway and Annie at age 9! I have always drawn and never considered doing anything else. My mom and dad were supportive and when I amazed them drawing “Tippy the Turtle” out of a matchbook when I was 10, they sent it in and I won a year of mail order art lessons!! They never told me to put down my pencil. They knew I had to draw.

Can you tell us about your new books and where can we find out more?
I am working on the promotion for my book release in September. It’s my first picture book as the author and illustrator–Louise Loves Art is out on 9/9! It is a book about a girl who needs to draw and express herself by making art. She says, “It is my imagination, on the outside.” She also loves Art, her little brother, who gets into some of her stuff. It’s already getting some lovely reviews and I’m excited to share the book and my love of drawing with kids everywhere!! I’m already working on Louise’s second book, out next fall, and illustrating a book by the fascinating author Amy Krouse Rosenthal called Don’t Blink! My website is about to be redone but will remain http://kellylight.com.  It’s where to go for all things me. I’m also on twitter @kellylight!

Thank you, Kelly for sharing your studio, which has loads of personality! I can’t wait to get my copy on Louise Loves Art when it comes out, and I hope to meet you in person one day so I can have you sign it.