27 June 2011

A Portrait of The Artist: Red or Gray Art

Today, in A Portrait of The Artist, I am so happy to introduce Elaine Kean - a redhead with a touch of gray hair and this is where her store name comes from. In her stylish etsy store you will find radiant home decoration items created out of repurposed stone, cloth, paper and wood. Looking at her blog, you can tell right away that Elaine is a poet and a tender soul that can enrich your spiritual experience with a magic wand!

When did you first feel the need to be eco-friendly and how does this affect your daily life, apart from your creativity?
I was raised in an eco friendly home and over the years I have incorporated recycling into every day life. As an adult our wild garden has been a source of amazement over the many seasons we have lived in our home and raised our two daughters. I make use of a composter for all natural scraps from the kitchen which eventually makes its way back into the soil. Recent additions to the backyard include a rain barrel to capture and re use rainwater in the garden as well.

How long have you been creating before you started your etsy shop? How did you set your mind on creating eco-friendly items?
I have always been a “creative” person. My mother was an artist , my father a musician both instilling in me a love for all mediums. My etsy shop began as my children got older and I found more time for that creative spark that I used every day in the raising of my children , to come through in new artistic ways.

Eco friendly art is such a wonderful challenge, making a piece out of something else is really satisfying, I like the “story” behind each piece. As far as repurposing in my shop... not a scrap of paper or bit of cloth is thrown away... I make use of pieces in the wrapping of orders, happily use them on cards, in collages and whatever the next idea may be.

Ivory wrapped sienna and grey stones

For your works you use repurposed stone, wood, paper and cloth! Which one is your favorite material to work with?
Oh I am enjoying working with the stones at the moment. The feel of them in your hand, the weight and smoothness is very calming to me, the natural colors and shapes are inspiring! I relish finding just the right word to incorporate into a piece. These stone collages began just as the tragedy in Japan happened and my first few that I created were part of an artists group that donated all proceeds to the “Save the Children” fund.

But then to create paper cards is another special love of mine, such a dying art to hand write letters. I so enjoy creating a blank card knowing it will some day travel to someone who will hold it in their hand, reading words of encouragement, news, or just a hello…

You are a music & movement teacher for young children. Share with us how is the interaction with young children charging you and can we find traces of it in your art?
I love my job each day and find such energy and spontaneity in playing with children who in turn love you and think you are cool!! The children in my classes remind me that everything is possible and we are all unique in our gifts as well.

My art is pretty much a result of the quiet I enjoy when I am home from the business of a music classroom… so in a funny way it is an opposite reaction to my work at the school.

Painted heart organic

You mention your mother’s words in your blog, saying that nature holds a special place in all types of art. Do you believe that love and appreciation to nature are innate or they are nurtured?
Nurtured by example I think. Someone who uses nature in their art is such an inspiration to me, I am drawn to a natural palette. My mother created in all mediums and one was making pine needle baskets. The memories of her hand picking needles from the ground is forever ingrained in my thoughts of her. Being able to see a place for a raveling snip of cloth, humble twig or smooth stone in a piece of art is because of the way she was in my life! 

We are loving the poetics in all your photographs, yet you state that you are using a very simple camera. Can you lead us through the process of photographing your creations?
I use a point and shoot Nikon, no fancy lens or lighting. I always try to use places in my home that have natural light, picking the right time of day, simple backdrops, many times snapping many photos for a few usable ones. I enjoy the process of capturing images and of course feel like it is an art form of its own. I use images on my blog as the main part of a post, I am not a writer and felt from the beginning of my blog three years ago I would only use simple photos to create a gentle mood there.

Mobile paper bird
It seems that you are collaborating successfully in a number of creative fields. For your works you often use materials from other etsy shops and you contribute to several blogs. What is the secret behind a fruitful and inspiring collaboration?  
My blog has been a joy and I feel like I have made many online friends because of it. It has been my goal and practice over the years to show a genuine interest in the blogs that I visit by leaving comments. I usually create a project to be involved in, usually posting on separate blogs other than my main one.

For example, last year it was a black and white daily photoblog, in 2009 I took photos from my kitchen table by a window. This year I had a commitment to include links back to blog posts from a new space each week that touched me. I am enjoying this each Friday by displaying one of my trademark simple bird and include a word or phrase. It really can be a community of friends if you communicate with each other and enjoy the talent of so many bloggers!!

Follow along with Elaine from Red or Gray Art:
Etsy Store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/redorgrayart
Blog: http://www.redorgray.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RedorGrayArt

You can check out previous editions of A Portrait of The Artist here