Posts Tagged ‘tour’


Whether she is painting, drawing, or creating new handmade pieces for her shop, Panama artist Mayi Carles is making a name for herself. And today, we are peeking into Mayi’s studio for an interview and tour.

This girl not only has creativity oozing out of her bones, she has the brain to match (just read her answer to the first question for her impressive list of credentials). So, let’s get right to the Q and A…

-How long have you been pursuing work as an artist?

I was 2 years old in 1984, the year my parents framed my very first crayon doodle, which still hands in my mom and dad’s bedroom in its flashy gold frame. So you can say I’ve been making art even since I could. Now, I have a few career diplomas under my belt to decorate my studio wall and other fancy stuff. I studied Art in Scuola Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Italy; received a dual Bachelor degree in Communication Studies and Art Theory and Practice, with a minor in Art History from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; and a Masters in Art in Visual and Critical Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois. My exhibition curriculum includes individual shows and artists collectives in both Illinois and Panama. In 2009, I published my first book self titled, Mayi – a quirky autobiography. In January 2010, I was invited to join the Board of Director of the Bio Museum, designed by Frank Gehry and curated by Bruce Mau. In February, I quit my job to become a full time artist and one month later I opened an eco-friendly Etsy boutique. Today, my passion for creating and love for making is as present and prominent as it was at age 2, when I did that first doodle.


studio tour with christine brennan

Rhode Island School of Design graduate, Christine Brennan, creates whimsical, dreamlike paintings in her cozy California studio. Christine’s work has been shown in countless exhibitions and is in public and private California collections. And as if that weren’t enough, Christine also has a book, in addition to maintaining an online shop with more affordable works of art.

I recently had the chance to interview Christine and we were lucky enough to be able to take a peek into her studio as well, which is amazing by the way. I mean have you ever seen a fireplace in a studio before? Love it! Enjoy the tour…

studio tour with christine brennan

First, I have to ask about your studio. It is so bright and inviting. I am curious to know what do you like most and the least about your workspace?

I love that it’s about a 40 foot commute from home, with skylights and French doors that bring great light and a view of the garden. What I like least is that it can get really hot in the summer and takes a while to heat up in the winter.

How did you get started with your artwork?

I was lucky, after floundering around unhappily in school to find a couple of wonderful art teachers who really nurtured a love and predisposition toward art. I ended up going to college at the Rhode Island School of Design and pretty much have been at it ever since. While at Rhode Island School of Design I started off in the painting department but found that a bit restrictive. I discovered that as an illustration major they let you take lots of classes outside the department and still get credits. I did printmaking, ceramics, papermaking and even a bit of illustration.

studio tour with christine brennan

Do you work full time as an artist?

I have been a full time artist for about 5 years now. Before that I worked two days a week at HumanArts gallery here in Ojai a fine craft and jewelry gallery that has also represented my work for quite some time.

Working as a full time artist is a dream many of us share, but it can be difficult to achieve. What advice would you give to others who are beginning to promote their own work? Any tips you can share?

It’s good to have a back up plan, (waitressing, graphics, illustration), for me it helped to work in a gallery. I got to see the business from the other side. Now that I’m on my own one of the challenges is to get out into the world a bit. I meet with friend who is a glass artist once a week and we have a sort of work meeting were we might discuss what we want to accomplish in the coming week, write it down and report back a week later. Sometimes I find It’s very helpful just to bounce ideas off someone and to know if I committed to finishing x amount of work I have someone besides myself to answer to a week later.

studio tour with christine brennan

How much time per week are you able to dedicate to your work?

It varies so much I find it difficult to measure. Usually I work in spurts when I am in the studio doing just painting 3-5 hours a day, or just jewelry, or shadow boxes. Or it may be just doing the business end of things for a whole week. I often break things up quite a bit with hobbies (I garden and play the cello) so I am not forever just sitting in a chair.

Can you name your three favorite artists?

Oh I was afraid of this question! I don’t really have favorites. I find aspects of many artists work I really enjoy but never really label them as favorites. Here’s a try…..Balthus, Stanley Spencer, and for someone a bit more contemporary Amy Huddleston.

How about your three favorite makers/crafters?

(again yikes, but here goes) Elsa Mora, Margaret Keelan, and Carolyn Morris Bach

studio tour with christine brennan

Who or what do you draw the most inspiration from in your own work?

A good trip to the bookstore sometimes helps to just get out of the workplace plus there is no end to the great amount of books and magazines to inspire. I like to bring a tiny notebook to take any notes and sit with a cup of coffee. Also nowadays a trip into the city to go to museums or galleries isn’t a necessity to see great stuff, you can just go online and peruse the many fabulous blogs out there to see what other artists are up to. And never forget the power of a good hike and a bit of nature to inspire. It may not be what I paint but it sure feeds the soul.

studio tour with christine brennan

That’s it for the tour! Thanks so much Christine for a lovely interview.

Please check out Christine’s website, shop, and blog to view more of her work.


hazelnut cottage

Today’s last post of the day is a great one, I must say. I interviewed Jan Avellana of Hazelnut Cottage, a sterling jewelry shop and a blog by the same name, for the latest studio tour. When Jan isn’t working on Hazelnut Cottage or another blog that she writes for (which you will read about in the interview), she is busy being a mother to her two small children. Oh, and did I mention she currently hold two degrees (one in graphic design and the other, a Master’s, in education)? I don’t know how she find the time. Here’s the interview…


-How did you get started with Hazelnut Cottage?

Hazelnut Cottage has gone through many permutations over the years; graphic design, bookbinding, dried flowers, soap making and even potted plants (really)! The version of Hazelnut Cottage that exists now came into being when my second child was a newborn baby. I’d put him in his moses basket under my computer table and I’d alternate between nursing him and surfing the net, desperately searching for a way to work from home so I wouldn’t have to go back to teaching. I stumbled upon Etsy and found my calling and my tribe. I had been making jewelry off and on for the last dozen years or so, but Etsy made me realize that living the indie life was indeed possible.


-Is Hazelnut Cottage your full time job? If it is not, how do you balance both?

My full time job is being mommy to my two young sons, wife to my husband Steve and learning to be an almost growed-up person! But seriously, Hazelnut Cottage is my main gig for now, and I do put in full-time hours some weeks, mostly part-time hours the rest of the time. I am also the in-house graphic designer and contributing writer at Hawaii Traditions, a blog featuring Hawaii’s unusual local traditions, values and culture—stop by and say “Aloha!”

As far as balance is concerned, I have none! My self-care borders on atrocious (I am working on it), when I am busy with work for Hazelnut Cottage or writing for my friend’s blog I feel guilty that I am not more attentive to my children, and let’s not even talk about my (lack of) housekeeping! And that poor cat. Sigh…


-Name your three favorite makers/crafters.

Just three?! Gosh, I don’t think I can name just three. I adore the artwork of painter Joseph Blake, illustrations from Aliette and whimsical wire work of De Beaux Souvenirs. I connect with the spirit behind Crystsal Neubauer’s OPF Studio, the originality and business acumen of Kelly Rae Roberts and the charm of Middleburg Folk Art Studio). Oh, I guess that’s more than three…I could go on and on!

hazelnut cottage

-Who or what do you draw the most inspiration from in your own work?

I read lots. Esoteric books on art, on art and faith, on living a creative life. So writers and books and words, always words, inspire me…I am also a sea creature by nature, and prefer being in the water to being on land, so the bits of the ocean permeate my work and color choices. As far as my other artistic endeavors (I am secretly a painter at heart, or maybe an encaustic or papier mache artist!), I find that my children inspire me. When I sit down to paint or create, I have all these grand intentions of creating Serious Art, and what comes out of me are silly bits of candy colored childhood innocence…I realize that through my work I am attempting to capture the fleetingness of my children’s childhood, while redeeming my own less-than-perfect memories.


-What advice would you give to others who are looking to start a craft business or trying to promote themselves as artists? Any tips you can share?

I think, just begin. This is always a huge one for me. Just start. Try it. If it doesn’t sell, or you grow out of the media, allow yourself to try something else, to grow, to evolve to enjoy the process of creating rather than getting all bent trying to do everything ‘right’. I struggle with this every day! I think there is something very important about the idea of work as play. Hmmm…as far as promoting goes, I am learning everything by trial and error; advertise on blogs, kindly introduce yourself and seek out blog features, create, create, create and keep putting yourself and your work out there into the world. I believe the right people will find you at the right time.

hazelnut cottage

-What do you like most about your studio/ workspace? What do you like least?

What I love most is all of the natural light that floods my art studio. I love my tansu‘s (Japanese storage chests). Oh! And I am in the process of painting my bulletin board wall!

What I like least is my own slob-ness. I am a slob. It was a truly H-E-R-C-U-L-E-A-N effort to clean up my space for this photo shoot. I am still traumatized and in therapy because of it!

hazelnut cottage

How do you get any work done in your studio with such a gorgeous view (yes, the above image is the view from her window)?

Oh, HA, HA. I am the most disorganized creature, and quite easily distracted to be sure. It’s wonderful to be able to look out of my window and see the marina and a sliver of the ocean in the distance. I do try to be productive…writing lists helps (when I don’t lose them), keeping all of my orders on a clipboard in chronological order and inviting people over so that I am forced to clean up, and keeping my yummy artstuff in constant view to entice me to play—these are my secrets for artistic productivity and uh, organization!


Thanks for the tour Jan! I love Jan’s tips about starting a new venture and that view…wow!

To view more of Jan’s work, please visit her shop, Hazelnut Cottage, and her blog.


wakako_bymaxwangerPhoto c/o Max Wanger

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Wakako from Story Of, who is also currently showing her work on papernstitch. Wakako’s photography shop is different than most others, because each of her photos is accomponied by a short story or inspirational note. I love it!


And as luck would have it, Wakako and her partner Frido just celebrated their two year anniversary (congrats to them!) and had an absolutely stunning photo shoot with the talented, Max Wanger. So, a couple of Max’s photos made their way into the tour as well. Hope you enjoy the interview and studio tour….

wakako_ by max wangerPhoto c/o Max Wanger

- You currently live in Los Angeles, but are originally from Japan. Was that transition difficult for you? What are the main cultural difference in regards to art for Los Angeles vs. Japan?

My family moved from Japan to Los Angeles when I was 16. Not being able to speak the language was a huge challenge but living in a new country felt like an adventure to me. Everything from food, people to everyday rituals were so different in the U.S. compared to Japan. My love for observation definitely kicked in when I went through the drastic change.

What I love about Japanese design is that a lot of objects are designed to have a dialogue with their users. People build relationship with their tools and take care of things they own as a long-term commitment. I try to be conscious with what I buy and own and live with the attitude. On the contrast, I think of Los Angeles as a place full of optimism and cultural fusion. You can find a Taco track that serve tacos with Korean BBQ! I am also fortunate to have many creative friends in Los Angeles who are always making things.

Picture 12

- How did you get started with the Story Of? Have you always had an interest in photography?

I think I was born with a camera in my hand (just like a great commercial from Kodak:). I’ve always taken photos and loved the process of archiving memory. My passion of documenting the world around me became something more than hobby when I started attending a design school. Over many years my angles of photography has matured and today I am interested in capturing something that is beyond obvious and often invisible like an emotion or a story behind the moment.

STORY-OF is a thread of photography postcards that collectively tells a story of life. Each image is accompanied with a short episode that captures the essence of the moment. When I started to think of STORY-OF, I was looking for a way to document gems from everyday. I wanted a project that grows organically as I get older and helps me to stay tuned to my life. I also love postcards as a media to share my journey with other people as well as for them to be able to share their journey with their loved ones!

Picture 10

-Is Story Of your full time job? If it is not, how do you balance both?

I work for a design consultancy in Seattle, teach once a week at a design school in Los Angeles and am married to a husband who also works and lives in a design field in LA. So usually I spend my work days in Seattle and weekend plus Monday in LA and have a crazy commute between these two cities every week. The great things about STORY-OF is that this slightly out of ordinary lifestyle ultimately fuels the contents to be richer both philosophically and visually. I take my sketchbook and a camera to literally everywhere I go. I jot down thoughts and inspiring words religiously as it merges in my mind and share some of those thoughts on my blog so in a way I am always working for STORY-OF. I get my big bulk of production and administrative tasks on the weekend such as updating website with new contents, printing new postcards, and bookkeeping, etc.

Sometimes it does get hard to juggle everything (we only have 24 hours a day, right?). It has been great to have a husband who is super supportive and the work I do for all these avenues are all in a creative field so they seem to inspire each other.


-My absolute favorite part of your studio is this incredible type drawer turned wall display, which houses mini treasures. Where did you come up with such a great idea? And where did you find the drawer initially?

I have to be honest. This drawer was a brainchild of my husband. He had it before we met and now we share it to display our little treasures. It’s an old letterpress type drawer. You can find it on eBay! We’re thinking of purchasing more of these drawers and give them as gift.

Picture 8

-I love the fact that you have maps on your wall that show all the places that you have traveled to. What place has been your favorite so far and why?

My husband and I have a saving account called “Inspirational Investment” to fund our travels. Our philosophy is that just like we invest into our future with our 401K, we need to invest in collecting inspiration so that we can always spark new ideas when time arises. We just came back from Burning Man and added a new pin on Northern Nevada last night. My ultimate favorite is a trip we took to Yakushima (an island 500 km south of main islands of Japan) to visit my grandfather. It’s a very spiritual place and overgrown natural elements were so majestic that I felt very small and humbled. I think that the successful trip stirs inside of my spirit and helps me to see things with a new perspective and our one week stay on Yakushima island definitely did that.

wakako's_studio- max wanger photoPhoto c/o Max Wanger

-Your studio also doubles (actually triples) as a living room/ dining room space as well. Do you ever find it difficult to work and live in the virtually the same space?

We spend quite bit of time in this space. It helps that both my husband and I are in the design field and we live and breathe the life of being creative. We try to keep things simple and uncluttered so that we don’t feel claustrophobic and only display items we really love and adore. We also change the scene depending on our activities. When we have dinner, we put away all the work related items and lit candles, bring out nice linens, etc. on our table so that the space transforms itself. I find it difficult when I work for 10 hours at the table and dinner is served at a moment when I close my laptop. I end up not moving an inch from the chair! I need to get better in taking short breaks and walk away from the space time to time.

Picture 11

-What advice would you give to others who are looking to work more efficiently in a small space?

Less is more. Everything should have a place to be put away and be diligent in sticking with the system. (label maker is great for this!)

I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I use some of his theories to stay organized and not to get overwhelmed.

Surround the workspace with inspiration! And embrace the small space (I think it’s so cool to have everything within my reach!)


Visit Wakako’s website: Story Of to browse her shop and learn more. Thanks for the interview Wakako and thank you Max Wanger for letting us use some of the photos from your shoot!



I just want to pinch myself over the fact that I have this book: Cy Twombly A Monograph by Richard leeman! I think its best to start with a little background story…When I was in college, I was talking to one of my professors about my work at the time and she said, ” You should check out Cy Twombly. I bet you would like him.” I had never heard of him up to that point, and so as soon as I got home, I looked him up. I immediately took a liking to Twombly’s flowing, organic lines and gestural style. And so I began researching him more and more, and asked for one of his books for Christmas that year (I think it was 2 or 3 years ago).


The catalogue that I was searching for turned out to be pretty expensive and EXTREMELY hard to find, so I eventually gave up on it completely. Long story short- my very kind mother tracked it down and completely surprised me this Christmas with the book I had been searching for years earlier! I am so lucky.


Anyway, now that I have completely bored you with my story, it is probably time to talk about the actually book! Wow- it is well over 300 pages of full and filled with over 350 color illustrations, and of course,  pull-outs and text (biographical with loads of insight on each series). His hugely complex body of work is studied very closely by Leeman, the author. And serves as a document of the chronological progression of Twombly’s work as a painter, draftsman, and writer.


Not only would this book make a great edition to any book shelf or coffee table, it is a great read too- but a VERY lengthy one! It is currently one of my most prized possessions. If you are a fna of Twombly’s work, this is a must own monograph! And if you have some cash to burn, you can pick up a signed copy (only one available) for about $650! Note: At the time that I wrote this post I was only able to find two places that had one- two copies each for sale, and that is considered a lot based on when I was researching the book a while back.