A: When I’m working I’m usually at my desk surrounded by my watercolors and pens, a sketchbook, sewing machine and the fabrics I’m using if I’m creating a doll. I keep a stash of fabric with lots of textures and colors. My art supply bin that I use to hold brushes and supplies is always close by. My Mom minored in art in college and she saved all her art supplies, paints and tools. I’m always using the stuff that she saved!
Q: Do you remember a pivotal moment in your life that really influenced you as an artist?
A: I was looking at art schools during my senior year of high school. I remember seeing this installation by Jenny Holzer and thought the whole thing was pretty amazing. Whether it’s a classroom or my home studio, or a museum- if I have a space to create art and think about things, it’s a huge influence on me.
Q: Your Etsy profile mentions you moved from Maine to Arizona - that’s a pretty big move - both in distance and probably in culture too! Which part of the country do you enjoy more and for what reasons?
A: I love this question! My family moved to a small town in Maine from Southern California. My two brothers and I were fairly young and the culture shock didn’t even phase us. We were so excited to see snow! I moved to Arizona a few years ago to be close to family and to escape the winter. Arizona is much wider, perhaps more diverse culturally, but I do miss the fall in Maine- the colonial architecture-everything has a history.
Q: I always love learning about other plushie/art doll peoples’ creative processes - it’s so interesting to me. And I’m generally nosy when it comes to these things. :) How do you create? Is it a pretty structured process? Do you “wing it”? What inspires you to start something new?
A: I usually start with a sketch. If I have free time or I’m waiting for something, say at an airport or something, I’ll keep a sketchbook with me. It seems so old fashioned, but if I can get a few sketches in, it helps to keep the ideas going. I usually have to sit myself down and tell myself it’s time to work when I’m at home because there are so many distractions. Every time I think I have an hour to myself, I’ll tell myself that’s an hour to start something new. Sometimes another artist’s work will inspire me or a piece of fabric or a combination of colors.
Oh boy do I know about distractions and trying to be a good, strict boss to yourself. I'm not very good at it yet...
Q: Your use of color in your paintings is so beautiful! Same basic question for your art work - Do you see a work in its entirety in your head? Do you plan a piece step by step? Fill us in.
A: I usually don’t really see a finished painting in my head. If I’m working from a photograph or from life I draw the composition firsthand onto whatever surface I’m working on. I decide what I like about the photograph or object and I try to emphasize what will make it come together visually. If things get frustrating I try to remember what my color palate looks like. If it’s turning into gray mud I know I have to step back, clean it off and start over.
Ha! I fall into the "gray mud rut" too sometimes!
Q: I also really like your illustration style. Have you been in any publications you’d like to share with us?
A: I recently helped a writer friend with a blog entry for WorkAwesome.
It was a series of desk stretches and she needed some illustrations to go with each stretch. I’m also helping her with her wedding guest invitations. I created a small portrait illustration of each of the bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearer to be included on the invitation so guests can view who’s going to be
in the wedding.
Q: Do you create as a full time job?
A: Right now, I’m freelancing and creating as much as I can before I have to find part time work to support myself. I sing and play violin in a band. http://www.facebook.com/RiverasBand
I have a few of my dolls in a vegan café in Phoenix that also showcases crafts and art from local artists. Last week I set up a table at the First Friday art walk. Basically, I try to fill up my time with as much creativity as I can. If it doesn’t pay financially, it’s definitely worth it to me for peace of mind.
Q: Where would you like to see your creative self in five years?
A: I hope to gain a better feel for the art scene here in Phoenix. I’d like to see myself working independently as a local artist, within the community, even if that means having a day job on the side. I’ve met some really talented people on the east coast and here in Arizona. Things are starting to settle down. After moving around so much, I’m just realizing being a part of a local community is such a necessity for an artist.
*********************Sending much bliss your way, Jody! I know what it's like to live like a quasi-vagabond. And also what it feels like to think you've finally found a spot you'd like to settle down in for a while. I wish you tons of luck in your creative endeavors. I'm very glad to have "met" you and I look forward to following your work in the future!