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 Ive 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 Hawaiis 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 lets not even talk about my (lack of) housekeeping! And that poor cat. Sigh...


-Name your three favorite makers/crafters.

Just three?! Gosh, I dont 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 Neubauers OPF Studio, the originality and business acumen of Kelly Rae Roberts and the charm of Middleburg Folk Art Studio). Oh, I guess thats 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 childrens 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. 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. Its 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!

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