Friday, January 25, 2013

Interview with Mixed Media Artist - Jenny Cochran Hall

                                        Soaring to Success
                                             Interviews of Artists, Writers, and Photographers
                                                  Their work, creative space and techniques

                                    Interview with artist: Jenny Cochran Hall
1. Introduce yourself..  I’m Jenny Cochran Hall, an artist from the small town of New Albany, MS. My first love is painting with acrylic, but I also enjoy mixed media, sculpting, drawing, designing, crafting, and teaching art lessons. I work from my home as an artist full time.

2. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
My mother is an artist.  When I was a little girl she stayed home and did all sorts of little projects with me.  I’ve always loved art, and it is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do!
Jenny Hall

3. What are your fears?  How have you faced them? 
I do mostly commission work.  I’m very blessed to have enough commission jobs to stay very busy.  However my biggest fear is becoming a slave to my commissions.  I don’t want to only ever paint what everyone else thinks would be a good idea.  I’m trying to commit more and more time to learning what it is I really want to do so that I can slowly make the transition away from commission-only work days.

4. What makes you different…unique from others?. (see below- I answered these together:)
5. Any secrets to reveal about the tools you use or your techniques?  Tips or tricks?  
When I am painting what I love, it is bright, colorful, and cheerful.  I love to do a little research and include important documents, sheet music, and the “perfect” mixed media elements to make the artwork meaningful.  I love to paint portraits using unexpected layers of color that reflect the subject’s personality is some way.
 For years my relationship with God has been important to me, however it is only in recent years that I have started thinking about how I can use my artwork and my art business to reflect the hope that is within me.  I wish this is something I had started thinking about right from the start, but that simply isn’t the case.  Allowing God to shine a light into my art studio is a process I am learning.  Lately I have been journaling my prayers and pulling them back out when I am looking for inspiration!
6. What are your goals and inspirations? 
I want to grow and change.  I will hopefully always be able to work from home, but I want to step back and LOVE more of the pieces that I create.  To me, that means spending more time, heart, and soul on each piece of work. Hopefully as I shed the fear of painting things that will never sell, I will begin to grow a body of work that is a truer reflection of myself and I can begin to show in galleries or have my own :-)

7. Where is your creative space or studio?
My “studio” is a small extra bedroom at home.  I am so grateful to have a separate room, because it is wonderful sometimes to be able to shut the door and “go back” to all of the other wife and mom hats that I wear. Also that means I never, ever, (seriously never) have to clean it :-)

Jenny's Art Room

8.How much time do you devote to your work?  (Is it at same time everyday? Are you disciplined to go into your studio at 9:00am every morning?  Or do you wait until you are in a creative mood?)
I get up every morning and after taking my son to school I answer emails and respond to commission requests.  Then I write my blog post and start the next job on my list.  I also set aside time every day to painting whatever inspires me. 
NOT!!!!  Oh goodness I wish this was the case!  Every day is different.  I am still learning after two years of working from home how to time-manage, eliminate procrastination, and plan ahead so that I don’t have to make an art supply run every week.  It is a very hard thing for this little gypsy spirit to do! 

9. What are your “whispers” or callings begging you to do? 
I must paint bigger.  longer.  more intuitively.  That means I must get over my fear and TURN DOWN the commission jobs that will cut into the time I need.  It also means I have to learn to leverage my time by making prints!

on her easel in her studio

10. Do you keep a daily journal or sketchbook, or write in a diary?
I am incredibly scatter-brained.  My inability to stay focused is why I started writing my prayers in journal form. Lately I have been turning to them as a source of inspiration!

11. How do you market yourself? How do you plan to get “the word” out there?? 
Currently I post all of my artwork onto my website/  I repost these things to Facebook and Pinterest. Most of this artwork is already sold, but that is how I generate new commissions.  On the glorious occasion that I have spent a little time “just painting” I also put the artwork on Etsy (

12. What type of music (if any) do you listen to when you create?
When painting portraits I try to listen to something that relates.  Otherwise I listen to one of my stations on Pandora.  My favorite stations I have created are “Sleepless in Seattle”, “Harry Connick Jr”, “Contemporary Christian”, “Beatles” and “Jenny’s   
                                                                                  favorite Christmas songs”.

13. Who is your favorite artist?
Van Gogh.  Sorry that is such a cliche response, but I have a genuine affection for those sweeping brushstrokes. My first time in the Moma I cried.  After that I have a love for the “unexpected” artist.  There is nothing better than discovering someone you’ve known in some other context is a “closet artist.”  So many people say “I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler”  I love to meet the individual that then says “but who wants to draw straight lines anyway?”
Nest Necklace

14. Are you encouraged to follow your creative path by your family or friends?
Absolutely.  My family and friends are behind me every step of the way.  When I got married two years ago I was teaching art in public school.  It was my sweet hubby who convinced me that I could “take the leap” and pursue an art career.
A few students enjoying the Art Lessons

15. How do come up with titles for your work?
Oh I’m supposed to do that?  Hm.  Well, I spend a little time thinking of blog titles when I post my work, but that’s about it.

Jenny's Peacock - detail

16. Do you work on one project at a time ..or have several going on at a time? This depends very much on what I’m working on.  When I am working on commissions, I generally work through them linearly. However when I am “just painting”  I work on several things at once.

Jenny, Thank you for allowing  me to interview you.  It was a sincere pleasure to get to know you and your artwork. After looking at your blog, and other sites, I see you're  involved in not only your beautiful mixed media artwork, but designing jewelry and teaching some children's art classes as well!  You are one motivating and inspiring person!  Wishing you nothing but the best to come your way!!!  Joan

I owned an art school in Charlotte, NC for 18 years before moving to Jacksonville, FL., so it  thrills me when a classroom full of students, given one assignment, produces such a variety of ideas. …We are all unique, we are all special.  We all have a different path, a different way of approaching our art. That is exactly why I want to do these interviews, to celebrate what makes us, US!     If you are an artist, writer, photographer  and would like to be interviewed for a post on my blog, please contact me for consideration! Thank you for participating : )                                    Joan Carver       (e)       904-230-6155

Thursday, January 24, 2013

MY NEW BOOK - "Reflections of an Artist"


                  Reflections of an Artist

                         by Joan Gabauer Carver

                 New Book....     Just Published!  

         Just published a 56-page book chock-full of colorful, inspiring, original oil paintings. The book is compiled as a portfolio of work, to showcase my paintings from my Reflections Series. It also offers an introduction to the paintings, the meaning behind the art and a glimpse into my artistic life. So, the reflections are the subject of my paintings, but the book contains the emotions & feelings that becomes "reflections" of me, as an artist. 
         The artwork featured in Reflections of an Artist beholds the love and passion I have for the sea. My walks on the beach seem to nurture my creative process and enthusiasm.The waves, warm breezes and salty air seem to ignite the creative, spiritual side in me. It was natural for me to paint what I love and want to share it with others! 
          I take lots of photos, it is rare to see me without my camera.  Usually, most of my favorite shots become my most unique paintings.  I began to notice the reflections, shapes and colors on the water's surface.  Every shot I took was a little different and more interesting than the last.I was obsessed with the beauty of the water reflections that I saw through the lens.  In my paintings, I try to capture these swirls, ripples and dazzling soft shadows.  The water, though realistic, becomes an impressionistic painting, while gazing into the mesmerizing artwork, one could almost call it abstract.
           The paintings are a result of my process of texturing, pouring, brushing, with layers of mystery, sometimes containing words or a message beneath, giving the painting a voice, yet the works are enjoyed for their beauty.  My paintings can become dramatic and vivid, sometimes quiet and placid, displaying the energetic or serene feeling of the sea. 
           Contained in this "hot off the presses" book, you will get a close look at thirty of my original "water" paintings, favorite inspiring quotes, a glimpse into my artistic life, studio, favorite supplies, what's on my easel, and my furry four-legged assistants! 
           Take a sneak peek at the first 15 pages of Reflections of an Artist by clicking on the link.

                                                                         Thanks for looking!   Joan

Friday, January 18, 2013

From Across the Ocean - French Artist: Lalyblue


                                           Soaring to Success
             Interviews of Artists, Writers and Photographers
                           Their work, creative spaces and techniques
               Today's interview spans across the Atlantic Ocean to give 
                         you an opportunity to get to know French Artist:  
1. Let me introduce you to Lalyblue -- aka "Laly Mille". 
So, I’m Laly, I’m a French mixed media artist and I live in France in the Loire Valley near the city of Tours.

2. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always been creative, with a special love for drawing, writing and storytelling. But it has taken me quite a while to realize that I wanted to be an artist, that my deepest, most authentic self actually IS an artist. I did take drawing classes as a teenager, and I’ve always seen my mom with a paintbrush in her hand, but I was not raised to consider it as anything other than a hobby. Neither was she, until she discovered her true artistic voice about 6 years ago and finally dared to call herself an artist… (here is her blog by the way, she does awesome abstract acrylic paintings: So I guess that seeing her take her art seriously changed my perspective. And I started to listen to my own whispers, to the voice of this little girl inside of me who was craving for art so badly. She whispered, she spoke, she tugged at my sleeves and then she started singing at the top of her voice! And I listened. But it took some time before I finally found what I wanted to do. Art in France is spelt with a capital A, and to me it appeared like a very elitist, cold, adult world. I knew that was not the playground I needed! But then, out of nowhere (or not…) I discovered mixed media. And I bought Kelly Rae Roberts “Taking Flight” book, (, which was an absolute turning point in my life: it led me to start my very first painting, and then another, and then I never looked back! That was a little over 2 years ago…

3. What are your fears?  How have you faced them?  Or your plans of how you plan to tackle your fears.
When I connect to this inner child, this inner artist, this inner little fairy, I have no fears, I’ve always believed in magic… But when I start thinking like my adult self, that’s when fears appear. Fear of not being taken seriously in my country where mixed media is little known. Fear of not being able to make any money and having to go back to a regular job, and not having enough time to work on my art and be available for my husband and my kids, you know, all these tapes… But thankfully I’ve got enough fairy dust in my pockets for now!

4. What makes you different…unique from others
This is a difficult question! I have not painted for very long and it will probably take me some more time to figure it all out. But I think that my art expresses subtle, deep emotions, and a sense of wonder and fragility. And above all, it tells stories. Every painting has many clues hidden in it, a sort of “lexical field” that tells a story if you pay attention, if you look beyond first impressions. My paintings are often pretty large too, which allows me to work with lots of layers, textures and many details.
You can see most of my work on my blog: and I have very recently opened my Etsy shop at I also have a facebook page on which I share some of my art and some of my process. and zazzle store at

Laly, I personally ordered some of your beautiful and colorful notecards from your Etsy shop. They're so pretty they may never get sent out to anyone...I hate to part with them! I love them. LOL

5. Any secrets to reveal about the tools you use or your techniques?  Tips or tricks?  
I think most of my techniques are similar to those of many other artists, but I combine them in my own special way! One of the things I love to do is to write all over a painting when it’s almost finished… playful and risky! Most of the time I use a “white out” correction fluid pen and write whatever the painting is telling me at that moment, very spontaneously and fast… and with that kind of pen there’s no turning back! Another little secret is that I have always found and collected 4 leaves clovers. So when a painting is almost finished, I always incorporate one into it. I like to think of it as a way to bless the work before releasing it into the world and letting it have its own life. And I wish that the blessing extends to those who will see it and to the person who will one day welcome it into their life…

6. What are your goals and inspirations? 
I am now committed to taking my artistic calling seriously. So I really wish that I will be able not only to keep making art but also to sell it, maybe even license it some day! And the world of mixed media – not only the techniques but above all the spirit of it – has given me so much joy that I really wish I will be able to make it better known in my own country. I am aware that I am very lucky to speak and understand English, which has given me access to so many great resources! I would love to have the opportunity of writing a book some day, maybe in both languages!

7. Where is your creative space or studio?   
In summer, when it’s warm and there’s enough light, I often paint in my garage/basement with the door wide open. And the rest of the time (especially now that my basement is flooded…) I make the most of my kitchen table. But we have plans to turn our little attic into a real studio very soon.

8.How much time do you devote to your work? 
I lost my day-job 2 months ago, which has blessed me with the gift of time! Now I can fully concentrate on painting and working on the “business” side of the creative life. These days I am working a lot on my blog, my Etsy boutique, my facebook page, which is time consuming but exciting too! So I am not painting as much as I would wish yet, this is new territory and I know I’ll soon find a way to be better organized. But from the moment my husband takes the kids to school in the morning to 4:30 pm when I take them home, I hardly take a break!

9. What are your “whispers” or callings begging you to do? 
My “whispers” are telling me to work as much as possible on putting my art out there, which is not what I’m most comfortable with! I want to submit applications to some mixed media magazines, although we don’t have those in France, I want to work on a book project, and I definitely need to try and exhibit my art again!
About the Flying Lessons e-course I took: I had been reading Kelly Rae’s blog from time to time since I bought her book in 2010, so I knew about the e-course (although I didn’t really know what an e-course was). When I got her newsletter saying that it would be the last time she would be offering it, I didn’t even think and instantly enrolled. It is definitely one of the top 10 best decisions of my life! The timing was perfect, I had just done my very first exhibition, together with my mom, at the community center where I used to work. I knew I would soon be unemployed and was trying hard to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And I felt awfully lonely in the French art world and was craving connection with like-minded creative people (a huge bonus I had no idea the e-course would bring!)

10. Do you keep a daily journal or sketchbook, or write in a diary? 
Although I’ve always loved to write, I’ve never in my life been able to keep a diary. But last summer I started Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way and started doing my 3 daily “morning pages”. With the e-course I haven’t been able to keep doing them regularly but I really want to start over, this is such a powerful process.

11. How do you market yourself?
I have just opened my Etsy shop and have only listed originals so far, but I hope that I will soon be able to offer prints and greeting cards. I also have a blog and a facebook page. And I manage them all in French and English, which takes time. I haven’t approached any French galleries yet, the French art world being makes me a little shy… but I know I should try to push past this fear because I might be surprised!

12. What type of music (if any) do you listen to when you create?
I often paint in silence, or singing in my head. But when I put music on it’s often Alanis Morissette, her lyrics always find an echo deep within me. Her latest album speaks of the challenge of being a mom and an artist, of empathy, of fear… Love it. I also like to listen to quieter stuff like Loreena McKennitt, gypsy music, irish trad etc.

13. Who is your favorite artist?
I don’t have one favorite artist but some of my favorite mixed media artists are Stephanie Lee, Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Misty Mawn and of course Kelly Rae Roberts! I also really look up to Seth Apter and his energy in putting creative souls together. And if we go back in time, my favorite artistic movement was the Preraphaelites. Their paintings really tell stories, plus these guys were rebels!

14. Are you encouraged to follow your creative path by your family or friends?
Yes, I am so blessed in this regard! My mom is an artist, so we can share experiences, go to exhibitions together when I visit etc. And above all my husband/prince charming is supporting me 100%. He is a creative soul too (his thing is dancing, although he also has a regular job) so he understands me. We try to find a balance so that we can both live our passion. I think this is a very important thing to teach our kids.

15. How do come up with titles for your artwork?
It depends, sometimes the title is here from the beginning, sometimes it emerges along the way, and recently I also got my fellow flyers doing a little brainstorming for me!

16. Do you work on one project at a time ..or have several going on at a time?
Most of the time I have several, but I only work on one in a painting session. My paintings are often quite big so I can work on an area while another one dries!
Thank you Joan for this opportunity! This has been fun and I hope your readers will like it!

Thank You, Laly for allowing me to be the first to interview you.  It is a pleasure to get know you, and enjoy seeing some of your beautifully creative artwork. As I mentioned earlier in the interview, I own a few of your gorgeous note cards that I ordered from your Etsy Shop..I love           
                                               Best of luck to you with your art.  
                                                                   Thank you again, Joan

I owned an art school in Charlotte, NC for 16 years before moving to Jacksonville, FL., so it  thrills me when a classroom full of students, given one assignment, produces such a variety of ideas. …We are all unique, we are all special.  We all have a different path, a different way of approaching our art. That is exactly why I want to do these interviews, to celebrate what makes us, US! 
If you are reading the Soaring to Success Interviews and would like an opportunity to be interviewed and published on my blog, please contact me to be considered.  Thank you for participating : )          
                                                     Joan Carver       (e)       904-230-6155

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Interview with "The Spirit Dancer" , Amy Riddle

                          Soaring to Success
                         Interviews of Artists, Writers & Photographers
                     Their work, creative spaces & techniques

                         Interview with "The Spirit Dancer":                           
                                            Amy Riddle
Amy Riddle

Please enjoy my interview with inspiring, Amy Riddle...  
Hi, I'm Amy Riddle...some folks call me The Spirit Dancer. I live in Asheville, hippie-healing dream town. I have a Bachelor's of Science in Alternative Medicine and have taken several herb courses. I love my garden and I make my own medicines. Right now I'm working full time as an assistant to a holistic physical therapist. When not working, I'm working on my creative biz, Spirit Dancer Creations. I create necklaces with spiritual flair and recycled intention candles.

When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
I remember in 3rd grade at school we had to draw on a giant posterboard what we wanted to be when we grew up. I drew a picture of me painting and said I wanted to be an artist. As I grew up, I forgot about that. I am taking a painting course this year and I'm quite stoked. It's all new to me!

Was there an influencial person or an event that helped you realize you must follow your passion?
We would have to go back in time to the year 2001. What started out as what I thought was the worst year ever, ended up being my best year of self discovery. I went through a divorce which caused me to dive head first into “me”. I took a spiritual development class, discovering what was important to me and who I was. During that time my mom came to visit. She taught me how to make jewelry. I loved it because I could make whatever I felt drawn to. I started creating my own necklaces to empower me with this new found spiritual energy. Candle making followed a few months later. Through the years I've picked up other crafting passions like knitting and creating purses from old cigar boxes. I also create my own herbal remedies and flower essences. Painting is new to me, I started dabbling this past year after I picked up Kelly Rae Robert's book, Taking Flight.

What are your fears? How have you faced them?
The only fear I really have is the fear of never having my own business. I want to work for myself. I want to be my own boss. I'm tired of taking out other people's trash. I want to just be responsible for my own trash.
What makes you different...unique from others?
I'm a Reverend and I bless all of my creations. I feel each necklace, every candle has its own unique energy and I tap into that. I believe I give each piece an extra magical oomph.

Any secrets to reveal about the tools you use or your techniques? Tips or tricks?
My biggest secret is in my candle making. I use such a simple tool and I'm constantly amazed that folks can't figure it out. “How do you get those holes in your candles? Did you carve them?” The answer: ice. Here is my blog on how I create my candles...

Amy's candles with her favorite star mold 

If I really want to dig deep into my inner muse, I throw on my Sarah McLachlan DVD and it gets me going every single time. Some of my best inspirations have come from having that DVD on. Sarah brings out my creative goddess.

What are your goals and inspirations?  Where will you hope to be in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?
Right now my main goal is to become a Life Coach. I am so happy and relieved I've finally figured out how to bring all of my passions and talents together. I am in the middle of an Indiegogo campaign right now to raise funds for the tuition and trip costs. I'm so excited about this. Please check it out... . The campaign ends on January 14. Please share on your facebook, twitter, and any social networking sites. The more folks who see my campaign, the better chance I have of reaching my goal. I am manifesting my reality!
In 2 years time I see myself having my own business with many clients. In 5 year-10 years I hope to keep adding more of my passions to my Life Coach career. By then I would love to be teaching, in person and e-courses.

Butterfly tattoo representing her transformation

Where is your creative space or studio?
Ahhh! I don't really have one. It is driving me crazy. I have to use the living room for my creations. I have one table that I hide my supplies under and keep current projects on top of the table. I plan on moving to a bigger home this year and having my own craft room.
How much time do you devote to your work?
Hard to say. Since I'm still a full time employee, it varies. I go through kicks where as soon as I get home from work I'm working on my creative biz. Usually through the week, I don't have the time and energy. Fortunately, I have weekends off and sometimes I don't leave the house. I stay home and blog, update Etsy, plan, plot, create....

What are your “whispers” or callings begging you to do? What made you decide to take this e-course with Kelly Rae Roberts? What do you want to achieve?
As I mentioned earlier, I am going to be a Life Coach. I will also eventually teach. I took the Flying Lessons course to learn more about the creative biz aspects...I need my own website and I need to learn efficient time management. My surprise from taking the course is the community we now have. It's amazing and I can't stop raving about knowing so many crafty supportive souls.It has been a true blessing! That's how I met you!
I agree with you, Amy.  It was a pleasant surprise to find a wonderful community full of artistic, talented girls (that quickly became friends!!) giving advice, ideas, and support! That was my first online course, and it was a very good experience for me as well!

Do you keep a daily journal or sketchbook, or write in a diary?
Oh yeah! I love my journal. I always have it with me and colored pens. I encourage everyone to journal. It's super cathartic. My journal is one of my best friends. I can tell her anything and everything.
How do you market yourself? How do you plan to get “the word” out there? Is it working? Are you selling?
I'm always pimping myself out on business personal blog. Right now I'm researching craft shows for 2013. I LOVE doing shows and I need to put myself out there again. I used to do shows quite frequently when I lived in Florida. I've been in Asheville, NC for 3 ½ years now and it's time to get involved!

What type of music do you listen to when you create?
Chick voices inspire me the most. I love to listen to Florence + The Machine, PJ Harvey, Amy Winehouse, Sarah McLachlan, Delerium, Aimee Mann, etc. Lately, I've been listening to a mix of Muse, Radiohead, and Air.

Who is your favorite artist, photographer, author? Who do you admire and look up to?
Favorite artists...I'm attracted to faeries so two of my favorite artists are Brian Froud and Jasmine Beckett-Griffith. My brother, Lucas is an incredible artist, too. He has been drawing since he was old enough to pick up a pencil. I've watched his talent soar higher every year. He recently showcased his work in a comic book shop in our hometown, Metropolis, IL. (Yes, home of Superman..I'm so not joking.)
Favorite photographer?  Two of my friends..Kim Comer Jackson and Jen Coates.
Favorite author?  My favorite author is Charles de Lint. He writes fantasy and created two of my favorite charcters..The Crow Girls.
I admire anyone that lives their life passionately and with gusto!
Are you encouraged to follow your creative path by your family or friends?
Absolutely. My mom has always told me I could do anything.

More jewelry created by Amy

How do you come up with titles for your work?
I name my necklaces. The title either pops into my head as I'm creating it...or after I hold it, close my eyes, and it comes to me.
Do you work on one project at a time? Or have several going on at a time?
Way too many going on at once! I'm looking forward to the day I have my own craft room. Then I'll be able to spread all my projects out!

Thank you so much Joan!
Peace, Inspiration, and Love,
The Spirit Dancer   Let me inspire you.

"The Spirit Dancer"

Amy, thank you for doing this interview with me!  You are a very talented and inspiring artist.  Your story and goals are ones I’m certain you will obtain and more! I am thrilled to get to know you and wish you the absolute very best with your career in life-coaching and may all your dreams come true for you!   Joan