Cynthia Houston | September Artist of the Month | Kentucky Fiber Artist

Were you always creative and what was your earliest creation?

Definitely! I was always creative. When I was very young I converted my playhouse into a studio with a sign that said “genius at work” just like in the Peanuts cartoon. However, I don’t think I ever created anything there. I originally thought of myself as a writer, sitting at the typewriter just like Snoopy, but I spent a day trying to do that once and realized I didn’t have it in me to be a truly creative writer.

I worked as a media specialist for most of my career which is an area in the Library that involves photography, video, websites, and digital imagery. So, even though technically, I worked in the library, I was always on the creative side of the building.

The earliest fiber creation I remember making was embroidering a pair of cutoff jeans. It was the late 60s and the first year girls were allowed to wear jeans to school; embroidered jeans were all the rage. I also embroidered my friends’ jeans as my reputation began to spread. I thought everyone knew how to embroider, but I was wrong.

At what point did you say, “I’m an artist”?

Not for a long time. I really considered myself more of a crafter. I actually never professed to be an artist until just recently, and I credit my friend Shanna Paul for dragging me out of the closet into the light.

What inspired you to become a fiber artist? (Is this the correct term to use?)

Fiber arts was a family tradition. My grandmother and great grandmother did all forms of fiber art including rug hooking, quilting, needlepoint, and embroidery. Our family dining room table was covered with sewing projects in the summer. Fiber art surrounded my childhood and I just absorbed it. As a graduate student I studied the rag rug weaving tradition and dabbled in weaving myself. Being a fiber artists was never a conscious decision, because it was such a part of my life.

What is your favorite piece (of your own) and why?

Actually my favorite piece is a very personal one — a digital photograph printed on fabric of my Husband Jim and daughter Ruth at the DuQuoin state fair; I embellished the photo with gold paint to resemble a “Madonna and child” portrait. I love their expressions and the smiles of the people in the crowd.

Do you harvest your own subject matter or how do you go about selecting the perfect fibers and other subject matter?

Right now I am doing mostly surface design using rust, leaves and plant dyes on materials. I do a lot of foraging for materials in my neighborhood and grow most of my dyes. Recently, Debbie Apple of River Cottage Farm gave me some indigo plants which I have just started to use to make my own Indigo dyes. The techniques I use to compose the plants on the fabric and activate the plant dyes create patterns on the fabric that have a very organic look and feel.

What inspires you, in general?

I am inspired by other fiber artists, especially those in the slow fashion and fibershed movements who use local textiles and natural dyes to create beautiful and functional wearable art. We seem to be birds of a feather in that we all love to study the colors in nature and gain so much satisfaction when we can transform nature into works of art.

If you could be an artist anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Because my work is so locally based, my art will always reflect wherever I am. I love this approach to art because it connects me to other people in the local fibershed who are committed to sustainable practices.

What is your dream for future endeavors?

I would like to use the basketmakers willow I am currently growing to create environmental art on a larger scale. I recently attended the National Basketry Association Conference in Bowling Green to learn how to weave dimensional structures. The basket exhibit at the Kentucky Museum is truly inspiring.

Who is your favorite artist? So many….Fiber/Environmental artist India Flint, Spanish painter, Francisco Goya (the Dog), environmental artist Patrick Dougherty, surface designer, Diane Erickson…the palettes of Shanna Paul, willow benders Beth Hester and Lynne Ferguson…I could go on and on.

What piece are you currently working on?

Right now, the dye plants are ready for harvest and the leaves are ready for printing so I am frantically dyeing fabric for pieces of wearable art that will be for sale at shows and galleries this fall and winter.

And…where can people find your work? Do you exhibit? Trade shows? Galleries?

My work is currently on exhibit the Downing Museum as part of the Interconnected Exhibit and the Ellis Walker Gallery. Both these shows close early September. I am a member of the Pushin Building Artists’ Studio and have work for sale on the Gallery Hops and Studio Tour. The Copper Fox Gallery in Leiper’s Fork, TN and the Crafts Gallery in Louisville have my work for sale. I also show at Tennessee Craft fairs and the American Handcrafted Market in Philadelphia.


Cheree Federico | Fine Art photographer, Bowling green, KY

Were you always creative and what was your earliest creation, in any medium?
Yes, I’ve always enjoyed creating. At an early age, I received a string art kit as a gift. Once I completed that pattern, I liked it so much that I would ask my dad to nail patterns to boards for me to (string) into pictures for gifts to give other people.

At what point did you say, “I’m an artist”?
I don’t know that I ever really had an “aha” moment for that. I spent several years in photography forums asking for, and listening to, constructive criticism. I suppose when I began getting fewer comments suggesting changes, I felt I might be onto something with my photography.

What inspired you to become a photographer?
As a junior high and high school student, I preferred photographing events over participating in them. I really didn’t know what I was doing with the camera at the time, but I knew I wanted to learn more. When I began dabbling in creating my own flower garden designs, I wanted to be able to take better photos of the plants. So, I bought a new camera and a few photography books and got to work learning all I could. I took a few classes along the way and practiced with my kids, my dogs, my flowers, and anything else I saw as interesting. Lots of inspiration!

What is your favorite piece (of your own) and why?
If you know me, you know I’m a butterfly fanatic. Several years ago, I spotted a quarter-sized spot of rust on the side of a building and was immediately drawn to it. The more I looked at the rust, the more it looked like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. Thus “The Butterfly Emerges” was created and it remains my favorite to date.

What is your favorite genre of photography and why?
Macro photography is my absolute favorite. I love getting up close and personal with my subjects and capturing what’s not seen with a general look. Whether it’s a flower, a butterfly, a human hand, or even a dog’s paw, there are just so many textures and details that come to the forefront with a macro lens.

What is your take on black & white vs. color photographs?
I’m rarely a fan of black and white photography. Especially when it’s my own. I prefer color because it’s actually what we see every day. Vibrant, yet warm color just gives a happy vibe. You can’t go wrong with that.

What inspires you, in general?
I’m inspired by brilliant colors and textures. I really get motivated and inspired when I allow myself to think of new ways to photograph what others would consider mundane and everyday objects.

If you could be an artist anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’m content to be at home, so I don’t think about going elsewhere for my photography, though I do think it would be fun to do some lifestyle photography in the streets of Italy or France. Those quaint cafes are always appealing to me when I see photographs of them.

Do you have a photographic series you are currently working on?
I recently worked on a few small series of images that combine the things I love most about photography – color, texture, small subjects looking large. I photographed succulents for a mandala series that I will likely add to in the near future and I’m adding to a teacup and kitchen utensil series as well.

And…where can people find your work? Do you exhibit? Local markets? Galleries? Website? Social media?
I currently have a solo exhibit at the Kirby Library in Bowling Green that will remain on display throughout August. I’ll have pieces in the upcoming Pennyroyal Juried Exhibit in Hopkinsville and the Glema Center Juried Photography and Art Exhibit in Madisonville. I have an online gallery where my work can be purchased (www.chereefedericophotography.pixieset.com). That gallery can also be accessed via my website and blog, www.chereefederico.com. Lastly, I can be found on Facebook at Cheree Federico Photography.

(Artist profile photo courtesy of Ella P. Photography)

ButterflyEmerges; Cheree Federico Photography; Kentucky Artist; Fine Art Photography

Conchs; Cheree Federico Photography; Kentucky Artist; Fine Art Photography

Forks; Cheree Federico Photography; Kentucky Artist; Fine Art Photography

Mandala; Cheree Federico Photography; Kentucky Artist; Fine Art Photography

Cheree Federico; Kentucky Artist; Kentucky Photographer; Bowling Green KY Photographer; Cheree Federico Photography; Fine Art Photographer Kentucky

Suzanne Menck – July Artist of the Month | Kentucky Water Color artist

When did your creative journey begin?

As I look back on my life, I realize now that I was always creating something, using anything I could get my hands on. It wasn’t until I was 12 or so that I started drawing and painting. From that point I spent my free time drawing, continuing after going to college where I began as a Medical Technology major. I always had my easel set up in my room which made everyone think I was an art major. After soul searching, I decided I was not passionate about Med Tech so changed my major to art. I graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Studio Art. Then life happened, I got married, had a family and put art on the back burner for thirty years.

At what point did you say, “I’m an artist”?

Five years ago, I heard God say it was time to face my fears; the biggest of which was to begin painting again. When I jumped into painting watercolors with both feet and loved the medium, that’s when I said, “I’m an artist”. I realized being an artist is not something I do; it is who I am. The thought processes and the way I look at the world are what define the term artist.

What mediums do you primarily use?

My primary medium is watercolor, but I’ve recently returned to painting in oils as well. I love all mediums and would gladly dabble in everything if I could.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I would have to say my greatest inspiration comes from my relationship with God. As I look at the world, I try to see it through His eyes. Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes it is sad, and sometimes it is dark and brutal. But it is always speaking, and I try to be His voice to tell the story that I see.

How has your artistic journey changed over time?

My artistic journey has been relatively short thus far, but I see the biggest change has been in letting go of the need to paint pretty pictures to receive approval from people. I tried to paint tight, exact renderings, hoping these happy little paintings would garner praise from family, friends, and the public. Although I can still paint happy little paintings, and I occasionally do, I prefer a much looser, style these days. I want my paintings to make the viewer have an emotional response, either positive or negative. If I can do that, I feel my work is a success.

What artist has had the greatest influence on your art journey?

I would have to say there are two artists that have influenced me the most, both are water color artists and both have challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. Lian Quan Zhen and Iaan Stewart, both fabulous artists with distinctly different styles and approaches to painting. Both emphasized the importance of simplifying shapes as well as using lost and found edges. Balancing light and dark and not being afraid to fail.

Who is your favorite artist?

Monet, hands down. I love the movement in his paintings, the color and brushwork are so alive.

How do you overcome roadblocks in your creative process?

When I am feeling stuck in my creative process I tend to walk away and do something else. Many times, I will mow my lawn and paint in my head where I try to work out the problems that I’ve encountered. Other times I will listen to music or watch a movie, anything to get my mind off the issue. Sometimes I have to abandon the painting and go on to something else, because it wasn’t time for that particular painting. I know that if I try to push through, I’m going to end up with rubbish.

What would you say has been your greatest struggle as an artist?

My greatest struggle as an artist has by far been overcoming the mindset that my work wasn’t any good and the need for everyone to like what I do. I finally came to the realization that the most challenging thing about being an artist is remembering that what I do is an expression of me and that is enough.

What advice would you give that you think is crucial for any artist to hear?

Never quit, make time to create, and fill up sketchbooks.

 

June Artist of the month, Jared Weaver | Kentucky fine arts

Were you always creative and what was your earliest creation?

I wouldn’t say I was always creative, but I have always been ‘different’. (That is one way people describe others whose creativity they don’t understand.) Both of my parents were creative. My mom was a painter- though she rarely showed her work, and my dad has worked with wood for as long as I can remember. I never had a moment when I realized that I was influenced by their creativity, but some of it was passed on. I enjoyed art and shop classes throughout my school years.

At what point did you say, “I’m an artist”?

I never saw myself as an artist until I was in college. I majored in horticulture and minored in art at WKU. Prior to that I never realized how much of a role art has played in my life. It was then that I realized how much I enjoy the creative process and was willing to call myself an artist.

What is your specialty?

I have enjoyed working in various mediums from photography to paint to wood to living trees over my creative life. If I have a specialty, it would be anything tree related.

What is your favorite piece (of your own) and why?

One of my favorite works is ‘Mother and Child’. It is a set of two pieces, one a large swooping piece of honeylocust wood that makes me think of a mother protecting her child, the other a pod carved from black walnut with a yellow wood bean, the baby, inside.

Do you harvest your own material for woodworking?

I harvest some of my own material and much of it is given to me. If someone is removing a tree, they are usually more than happy for you to haul off some of their waste. Many of the best pieces of wood for my work are not of any value for lumber or even firewood.

Do you have your own studio space? Home or elsewhere? Is it open to public?

If you can count a dusty, messy barn as a studio then yes! I work in a barn in my back yard. It is not open to the public, but if someone is interested in learning how I work then I would be happy to host a visitor.

Do you exhibit your work? yes

If so, where?

I enter my work in local art shows, such as ArtWorks, and some is for sale at Ellis Walker gallery. Some of my work is also on display at the Baker Arboretum / Downing Museum.

What inspires you, in general?

Trees! I am inspired by the natural world around us and how we can live within it. I am also inspired by good design and craftsmanship, especially in old tools and furniture. I really appreciate things that were made not to be consumed/discarded, but to be used and passed down for generations.

If you could be an artist anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

As long as I have access to nature I think I could be happy to work just about anywhere in the world. I had the privilege to see various parts of the world while in the Army and found them to all be inspiring in their own ways.

What is your dream for the future?

Well, I play the lottery a couple of times per year, so early retirement would be nice! I hope that my son will be influenced/inspired by seeing enough local artists’ works that he is able to appreciate the beauty that surrounds our lives.

Who is your favorite artist?

It depends on the day. Sometimes the unknown wood artists on Pinterest can be really inspiring. I’m a fan of weird and unusual as well as the classics.

What piece are you currently working on?

I have a large hollow stump behind my barn that has been waiting for a few years for me to do something with it. I have some ideas and doodles, but I never know for sure what my wood pieces will be until they are done!

Lynette Haggbloom, May Artist of the Month | Kentucky Fine Art

Q) Were you always creative and what was your earliest creation?

As a grade-schooler, I really loved art classes and remember that my art would get picked for the hallway hangings. My earliest memory was a drawing of two squirrels sitting on a log with a heart between them; my teacher was very complimentary. I lived an idealized childhood in a small western town.

Q) At what point did you say, “I’m an artist?”

When I lived in Arkansas I owned and operated two separate stained glass custom design studios and construction/teaching businesses. Customers regularly asked me for advice because I was “the artist.” I assumed anyone taking up an artistic endeavor would be an artist in their own right, but in reality, those professional relationships were the precipice of understanding my identity – not just as a business owner, but as an artist as well. After moving to Bowling Green in 2001 I completed my visual arts degree at WKU, which cemented the title “Artist.”

Q) What is your specialty?

Professionally, my expertise is designing and creating fused glass objects d’art. I’m lucky to have a spouse who is a fine woodworker and can build the frames I design for each piece. I also continue to create custom stained glass for homeowners, and I enjoy oil painting.

Q) What is your favorite piece (of your own) and why?

Favorite pieces of my art are the ones that make buyers happy and that sell at fair market prices. I especially like to know who buys my art and why. But today, my favorite piece of art is “Compressed” because it won Best of Show and First Place in Ceramics and Glass in the 2019 USbank Celebration of the Arts at the Kentucky Museum.

Q) Do you have your own studio space? Home or elsewhere? Is it open to public?

My studio is an apartment-type setting above my country garage where I have one room set up for glass work, and the other for painting. My studio is open to the public by appointment.

Q) Do you exhibit your work? If so, where?

Currently my work can be seen at the Ellis/Walker Gallery, 1545 Scottsville Road, Bowling Green, KY.Q) What inspires you, in general?My inspiration for my glass work comes from the night skies, our galaxy, astronomy and good design for my glass work. The light and shadow of people’s faces inspire my oil paintings.

Q) If you could be an artist anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

In the West, where my roots began and where my heart longs to be. I adore western art, the landscape, the mountains, the people, the color and beauty. I’m always inspired by the light of the atmosphere when I return home to Wyoming.

Q) What is your dream for the future?

I plan to create solid pieces of art, travel home and abroad, and continue to educate myself on style and design through visual opportunities in all realms of artistic creativeness.

Q) Who is your favorite artist?

All of the famous and not-so-famous artists of the past have a wealth of work to study, steal, and learn from, while contemporary artists are exhibiting such amazing talent in creatively genius ways, that I couldn’t pick just one.

Q) What piece are you currently working on?

I am readying a piece for the ArtWorks show this summer. The piece is an oil painting I’ve just about finished and has the influence of Alfred Henry Maurer (1868-1932) a realism painter who turned to cubism and fauvism, who strived toward pure colors, and painted women with long necks.

Q) You won the Best of Show award at the 2019 USbank Celebration of the Arts. Can you talk us through that piece of art and what inspired you to make it?

For several years I have been creating art pieces working with fusible glass, silver and other metals, designing with the atmosphere of life in the skies. Round heavenly bodies of mass and gas with fractures of pieces nearby inspired me to design a well thought-out, visually intriguing, and conversationally stimulating art piece for the discerning art collector. And, trial and error.

For more information, bio, and artist
statement, visit www.artnett.com.

Sheila Reeves, Photographer | Kentucky Artist

Our Member Spotlight of the Month is on Photographer, Sheila Reeves. Let’s get to know her!

Were you always creative and what was your earliest creation, in any medium?
I never really thought of myself as creative. I identified more with being academic and logical. However, I did enjoy creating music. I played flute in High School band. And I enjoyed sewing my own clothes, so I guess my creativity was there – waiting to be recognized and embraced.

At what point did you say, “I’m an artist”?
That has only happened recently. When I realized that my photographs could be more than a documentation of what I saw, that they could express what I experienced and felt, I began to think of myself as an artist. Also, realizing that what the camera captures can serve as a starting point has allowed me to say “I’m an artist”!

What inspired you to become a photographer?
Self defense! Let me explain. My husband, Alan, got into photography before I did. When we would go someplace, I found myself standing around waiting for him to “find the best shot” and I soon realized that I couldn’t beat him so I might as well join him.

What is your favorite piece (of your own) and why?
I don’t really have a favorite. Maybe the next one …

What is your favorite genre of photography and why?
I guess my favorite genre would be Landscapes. I enjoy capturing the beauty of creation and processing the images to express what I felt when I pressed the shutter. However, I also enjoy close-up photography because I tend to be tuned into the small details in nature.

What is your take on black & white vs. color photographs?
They both have their place, however, I usually prefer color.

What inspires you, in general?
I am inspired by the beauty around me. Travelling to new places gives me inspiration.

If you could be an artist anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Just one place? I don’t want to be restricted.

What is your dream for future endeavors?
I want to keep travelling and photographing the places I go for as long as my health allows. I haven’t spent much time out west, so that is on my bucket list. And I would love to go to the Galapagos!

Who is your favorite artist?
I don’t have a favorite one. I enjoy and appreciate many artists – photographers and painters!

Do you have a photographic series you are currently working on?
No, but maybe I should.

Where can people find your work? Do you exhibit? Local markets? Galleries? Website? Social media?
I have participated in ArtWorks exhibits and Sunny 16 Exhibits. I also participate in Celebration of the Arts and Women in the Arts. I have taken part in a couple of Holiday Markets and hope to continue doing that. I post regularly to Sheila Backfisch Reeves on Facebook, and I recently created a website reevesimages.com.

What awards or recognitions have you received recently?
I had some images selected for inclusion in the City of Bowling Green 2019 Calendar. I also had an image chosen in the top 250 in the “Altered Reality” category with the North American Nature Photography Association that was published in their “Expressions” Magazine. Most recently, I was awarded first place in professional photography at the Celebration of the Arts.

Laura McGee (Pushin Studio Artist) | Bowling Green KY Artist

Laura McGee has known she was an artist ever since first grade, when she drew a snail that her teacher said was terrific. She pursued her passion by studying botanical drawing, ceramics, knitting, painting, papermaking, printmaking, photography, quilting and weaving, to finally arrive at silk painting as her favorite medium. She learned surface design techniques from Roberta Glidden in Utah, Bonnie Bowen in New Mexico, and Susan Louise Moyer in California. Her designs are inspired by her travels in Germany, Greece, Italy and the Southwestern United States. She makes her home in Bowling Green, KY.

Terry Wilson (Pushin Studio Artist) | Bowling Green KY Artist

After 47 years as an environmental educator, Terry Wilson has retired and is devoting much of his time and energy to watercolor painting. He only discovered this interest a few years ago, after attending an informal workshop conducted by a good friend. With this new interest and his lifelong love of nature as a source of inspiration, he now is part of the Pushin Building Artists’ Studios in Bowling Green, Kentucky. In 2016, Terry won first place in the amateur watercolor division of the U.S. Celebration of the Arts, which is held each year at The Kentucky Museum. His winning painting, Mystic Waters, also qualified for the Jack Lunt Memorial Juried Art Exhibition. Since then he has won third place with other entries at the U.S. Bank show in 2017 and 2018. Having spent his professional life teaching about nature, he is now fascinated how watercolors, like water in nature, can behave in variable and random ways, and that makes it an amazing and exciting medium.

Jack LeSieur (Pushin Building Artist) | Bowling Green KY Artist

Jack LeSieur was raised in a haunted house in Brownsville, KY. He attended WKU for nine years studying everything from interior design archaeology and folk studies. He is currently employed as the director of the Downing Museum at the Baker Arboretum and also teaches a few interior design courses at WKU. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, horticulture, kayaking, taking photos, picking flowers, playing music, making art, and roughhousing with his puppy. A self-proclaimed “doer of all, master of nothing,” Jack enjoys working with a variety of materials, lending to a mixed media approach in creating. He typically adopts painting, drawing, stitching, and collage into his creations, or some mixture thereof. Jack creates everything from barn quilts to screen prints. He enjoys exploring topics in his work such as mental health, culture, heritage, sexuality, gender, and religion. Jack lives in Bowling Green with his fiancé, Brent, along with their parrot (Rubin), miniature schnauzer (Edie), beta fish (Beto), and a hoard of plants and books.