Sticky Fingers and Hairstyling – Summer Bliss


Summer’s here, officially, today is the second day since my kids have been out of school. I’ve been forced to set my art aside and spend some quality time with them. So far we have played dance dance on the xbox, did some lame exercise because it was too hot out then ate freezies. One trip to the dirt bike track in the late afternoon then the grocery store to stock up on frozen yogurt (except ice cream was on sale).

Now it’s day two and I was woken up to sweaty kids clad in only their underwear trying to tickle me. Then a full movie day (because it rained). After too much icecream and chocolate milk, freezie packages stuck to the floor and a few sticky faced kisses now I am getting my hair done by my  youngest daughter. She has a habit of banging the brush on my head then tearing it through bringing tears to my eyes. But hey, she’s stopped talking and folks, in the 48 hours since school let out for summer I don’t think this child has stopped talking once.

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Featured Artist Interview – Matt LeBlanc – Abstract Artist and Supreme Marketer


Today’s featured artist is someone I am very excited to share with you! Not only is he an amazing artist but he is an artist that promotes himself like no other. He’s also a good friend of mine who has taught me so much throughout the years; I feel very proud to know him.

 Let me introduce Matt LeBlanc, an abstract artist from New Brunswick, Canada.

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1- How long have you been an artist?

Unofficially, I would say all my life but I only started officially a little over 6 years ago.  The first year was a bit slow but then it picked up really quickly and I never looked back.  I now have a fan base of over 25,000 people and sold over 2,500 pieces in all corners of the world.  I’m so grateful to be able to do this everyday and make a good living out of it.

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2- What made you choose this as a career?

Never in a million years did I think I was going to grow up and be an artist.  I always envision myself being on top.  Being on top of a big corporation and being the boss.   I studied business at university and went on to work for a fairly big company.  I started at the bottom and made my way to the top.  After ten years, I finally got where I wanted to be and I had the ‘now what” feeling.  Luckily, I had started painting on the side and my passion for it was growing by leaps and bounds.  The day I realized that I was meant to be an artist is the day I realized my dream was so close to me.  Six months after, I left my day job and fulfilled my dream.

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3- Were you always a creative person?

Since a very young age, I’ve always tried to approach a project or a situation with a creative angle.  I feel that being creative is what will give you an edge on your competition.  This can be applied to any business and especially when you deal with the marketing side of your business.  You have to set yourself apart from the others.  Creativity will give you an edge.  I always tell other artists to be creative outside their canvases.

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4 – What motivates you as an artist?

The drive to succeed and the drive to be creative.  I constantly create new projects and that motivates me.  A few years ago, instead of doing a typical art show, I’ve decided to create an evening of art and entertainment called FUSION.  That show has been selling out at 500 tickets for the past three years and it’s becoming one of the most popular shows around.

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5 – What is your greatest accomplishment since you began your art career?

I consider every battle an accomplishment.  If I were to pick one it’s probably the fact that I was able to build my business from nothing to where it is today.   It’s not everyone who can quit a very good job and not have any financial stress.  I consider myself very lucky but I’ve also worked my tail off the past six years to be in this position.

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6- Do you have any regrets or anything you would change if you could?

I have no regret because I make my own decisions. I made a few bad decisions over the years but I like to call that experience.  I don’t regret anything. Surely I could say that I should have started painting earlier in my life even if I’m still quite young but I believe that things happen for a reason and it was probably not meant for me to start earlier. I was able to work ten years in marketing and that is helping my art business tremendously.

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7 – This year you started a Foundation called Mado’s Gift, can you tell us a little more about that?

Ever since I started creating art, I started supporting various charities.  I always had the attitude that I was given a gift of a talent so why not put it to good use.  After raising over $75,000 for various charities during my short art career, I’ve decided to focus on something that was dearer to my heart.   I’ve decided to raise funds in the memory of my sister that I lost to cancer.  I basically work with kids to do art related projects which we in turn sell and give all the money back in forms of gifts to kids with life threatening diseases.  So essentially it’s like kids helping kids.  It’s a beautiful concept.  In less then 8 months, we have raised over $10,000 already.  It’s so much fun and kids are so creative.

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8 – You have so much going on all the time, what do you do to relax and unwind?

I actually get all of my big ideas when I run or lift weights.  It’s a way for me to disconnect but also to re-focus on my business.  I don’t think entrepreneurs ever fully relax and unwind … do we? 😉

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Here are a few places you can find Matt’s work

http://www.mattleblancart.com/en/

https://www.facebook.com/MattLeBlancFineArt

https://twitter.com/mattleblancart

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/MattLeblancArt

We Finally Have A Gravy Boat


You know when you go to dinner at someone’s house and they pull out all these fancy dishes and platters. There is something for everything they are serving. Everything seems to match and you walk away thinking the food tasted better because THEY are better.

Not at our house, at our house the butter is served on a plate or better yet, from a margarine container. The cups won’t match and if the plates happen to it’s because we pulled out the ones that have chips and cracks on them. Good luck finding a matching utensil and the ketchup bottle is there for all to see. No, in our house fancy is like a swear word.

But as our kids are growing we’ve been trying to change that. We bought some white platters and matching bowls a year ago; this past winter a whole big set of fancy utensils and finally, the biggest luxury item of them all, a gravy boat.

What does that mean for our family? I’m not sure, cheese on a platter and toothpicks in the meatballs won’t change the fact that when our six year old farts at the table everyone giggles. But at least we finally have a gravy boat.

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Gravy boat photograph curtesy of https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/vintagenancy

She Watches In The Dead Of Night – A Visual Story


She watches in the dead of night, like an owl, her eyes sharp with intent. She watches so she can learn, the truth, the ugliness of it. She is freeing herself while keeping watch, she is freeing herself of the burden, of the lies, of the fear. She dares not to blink, while her eyes adjust, to the painful truth, she dares not to breath, as her breath hangs heavy in the night air. She whispers goodbye, to deaf ears, to empty hearts, she whispers goodbye and finally, lets go. Tonight she holds no regrets, no fears, only hope for now she must tread lightly towards dawn’s breaking light, again alone.

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Kid’s Art, Messiness and A Beautiful I Love You


My youngest daughter loves all things art. If I turn my back for too long she will scam my paintbrushes, pencils, markers, and paper, anything she can get her little fingers on. One day I was really busy with commissions and packaging, I left my paints out on the table to be put away later. She decided to help herself and took a little piece of canvas I had laying there and made a painting. A six-year-old painting can be quite a mess as I am sure you can imagine. She had paint on the floor, the table, the tea towel from the kitchen (in her misguided attempt to clean it all up) the paintbrushes tossed aside, paint tubes knocked over and dripping. So basically a complete disaster. When I came across this I just about lost my mind, as I went to call her down from her room to ask her what she was thinking getting into my stuff, (there have been enough warnings over the years) I saw a white envelope sitting on my desk. Inside the envelope I found this painting. 

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Keeping Your Children Safe and Out Of Trouble – An Artist and Mother’s Account


If you have read any of my blog you will notice that my favourite subjects to write about are my art and my children. With four kids of my own and two step kids it does lead to a lot of writing material. The current ages of my kids run from a 6 year old up to a 19 year old. So there have been a lot of different issues to contend with as a mom.

 

So far I have been lucky in that my children have not screwed up too much, except for one incident which we will get too in due time. I managed to keep my oldest in line enough that he made it to adulthood relatively unharmed and somewhat balanced. I only ever received two phone calls from a principal, one because he bullied a boy on the bus in the misguided effort to impress a girl he had a crush on. The other because he got the brilliant idea to give the middle finger to a police cruiser from the school bus window. He was pretty shocked when the cruiser pulled the bus over and had “words” both with my son and his friend, the second culprit. But aside from those two incidences he has been a relatively good boy.

 My youngest son however, who just turned 9 seems to live at the principals office. He has done everything from telling his teacher she wasn’t the boss of him, that only mom was the boss, to giving his principal the middle finger, to drawing happy faces on the walls of the school bathroom in permanent marker, to an outburst during an assembly that centered around the topic of Respect. At the end of this assembly the speaker asked the kids “so, did we learn anything here today?” To which my son blurted out, loudly of course “nope, nothing at all.” Apparently he thinks he’s a comedian, but his comedic ways have landed him in the principal’s office like it’s his second home. He’s actually a funny kid who seems to hold no fear for anyone in charge, which scares me and causes many, many sleepless nights. But his stories, of which there are many can be saved for another day.

 No, today’s story centers on the first time any of my children have truly shocked me. You see we have two teenage girls, my daughter who just turned 16 and my stepdaughter who will be 16 this summer.

When they were 14 they had a sleep over with my stepdaughters friend from the city. They approached me the next morning to ask if they could go hang out in the small town we live near. Of course I said no, what would be the point in going and hanging out except to get into trouble. There just seemed no reason, they had no money to spend, it was too cold to go play at the park so what else would there be for them to do but “hang out”. So instead they asked if they could go for a walk around our little neighborhood. We live in the country in a small village that is surrounded by farms. So to this I said yes, of course you can go for a walk. Here is where I failed as a parent; there was a barn up the road from our house that apparently was frequented by the local kids as a “hang out”. I had no idea they spent their time up there, when they said, “go for a walk” I took it at face value. These are kids that have never gotten into any real trouble you see, in fact I will go so far as to brag and tell you they care about school, their marks and their future. So they decided this day to go hang out at the barn up the road. They climbed up into the rafters and talked and laughed and joked around. However while they were talking they also took out two lighters and proceeded to light little pieces of straw on fire and then throw them out the window down into the snow covered ground below. I’m guessing you can imagine what happened next? And you would be right.

One of the pieces of straw went unnoticed, landing below them in a stack of hay where it lay smoldering. This barn was all but abandoned and had been filled to the rafters with old hay. Hay that had been left untouched for years. It was the friend that noticed the flames, as they all had their backs to it. The barn was actually on fire! They jumped down and attempted to put out the fire with snow first, then by stomping their feet into the flames. But for each little fire that got smothered another one would flare up. When it started really spreading they decided to go for help. As soon as they ran out of the barn into the road the whole thing went up in flames. I cannot tell you how lucky we are that this didn’t end in worse tragedy for this dried up barn all but exploded with them just a few feet out of harms way.

This has been by far the worst thing we have had to deal with as parents. It has left these girls with a huge burden; they feel guilt towards the farmer, who didn’t press charges. Only asked that they help in the clean up of the debris. Guilt towards the homeowners who’s siding got melted from the heat of the flames. Guilt towards my husband and I because our insurance premiums rose due to the pay out for the melted siding.  They have had no social life to speak of since the incident, no cell phones, no computers (except for the use of mine for homework). Their life consists of doing homework and going on excursions as a family. It’s a harsh lesson I wouldn’t wish on any kid or parent. Even the kids you think won’t screw up have the potential to truly shock you and you really can’t take your eyes off of them at any age.

Did any good come out of this? I doubt any of my kids will ever play with fire again; this was a traumatic event for the whole family, right down to the littlest one. I also think my teen girls have lost that “it could never happen to me” mentality that most teens have which may save them in the future.  They also don’t seem to take things for granted anymore and have since learned the true value of money. This incident threatened to ruin us financially, if it weren’t for the good hearted nature of that farmer who wanted no money, no charges laid and was satisfied with their sincere and tearful apology.

I just hope my girls pay it forward if they ever find themselves in a position where forgiveness is needed. That they will never forget that farmer’s big heart and forgiving nature as they grow up and move through their own lives. And that they never take their eyes off their own children. 

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Featured Artist – Meghan Deinhard – An Interview About Her Love Of Life And It’s Joyous Adventure


Today’s featured artists name is Meghan Deinhard, she’s a quirky and fun loving photographer and artist who sees beauty everywhere and believes “life is a joyous adventure”. With that kind of mindset who can help but be inspired by Meghan and her amazing artwork.

Here is her interview.

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How long have you been an artist?

 

I’ve been a fine artist for about 20 years, I got my BFA degree in 1995, but I consider I did “art” before that.  I was an actress and costume designer in my teens, 20’s and 30’s.   

 

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Where do you find your inspiration?

 

I get my inspiration from the world around me.  Everyday moments.  I am a very visual person and when something strikes me as interesting or humorous or marvelously beautiful I take a photo (or zillions) of it.  That’s one part of the inspiration.  The other comes from inside me when I am creating on the computer or in a studio.  I play… with ideas, color, texture, light, shadow, positive and negative space… whatever seems visually exciting to me in that moment. 

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What are you working on right now?

 

I’ve been going in an abstract direction lately.  I take one of my photographs and goof around with it in Photoshop Elements.  I am no pro at PSE, but learn something new every time I do a project.  It’s a blast!  I find a photo that wasn’t very successful on its own and see if I can transform it into something filled with color and texture.  Often you can’t even see the original image when I’m finished.  It’s like an adventure of discovery.  The other thing I’m excited about is my new blog… it’s not just about art, but about finding happy moments.

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What obstacles have you faced in your career as an artist and how did you overcome them?

 

I didn’t believe in myself or my artistic abilities enough to try to make and sell my art, or earlier in my life become a professional actress.  I think artists are very vulnerable and I had a lot of knocks when I was young.  It has taken me years to trust that I am a pretty great person and it doesn’t really matter if others don’t like my art, because I do!  It makes me happy to make it and happy to look at it.  As for how I overcame this?  Lots of self help books and meds… just kidding, sort of.  I do take meds for bipolar disorder, and I’ve done a lot of inner work.  But I think what it boils down to is trusting that life is good, and we are born to thrive and express our own unique energies.

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What is your favorite subject matter?

 

My first thought is nature.  Mother Nature is the ultimate artist and an endless source of inspiration.  But, I think what really informs my art is the interaction of me with my daily environment.  In 2011 I carried a camera with me everywhere I went. Each day I took at least one photo and posted the best reflection of that day on Facebook with a unique and descriptive caption. I now have a fascinating visual autobiography of my year.  What I learned is that life itself, inner and outer, is art; and hidden within every moment is a miracle… you just have to pay attention and look for it.  Then as artists we make those moments visual… or as writers, verbal…  I guarantee you there were only a fraction of images I posted that year that are “saleable”, but the true artwork was the story the year of images and captions told.  People watched me go through the death of a cat, finding a new kitten, online dating, finding the love of my life and getting engaged to be married. 

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Besides your art what else are you passionate about?

 

Riding on the back of a motorcycle with my new husband!  And enjoying his ranch in McCall, ID where we go during the summer (we were married in a magical glen on the property last July). 

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Do you have any tips or insights you would pass on to an emerging artist?

 

Don’t compare your work to anyone else’s!   I never thought I could be an artist because I can’t draw well.  Pfft…  silly me.  Here I am now with a degree in ceramics and a burgeoning portfolio of photographs and abstract digital images.   Just keep doing art and try not to judge it.  It’s one thing to toss out something that doesn’t work, but constantly criticizing your work is a shame.  Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder… and if nothing else, if it makes YOU happy, you’ve added joy to the world.   

Oh and if you are a digital or photographic artist…. back up often on an external hard drive!  😉

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Blog:  http://firebonnet.com

Art Gallery:  http://firebonnet.artistwebsites.com/index.html

All of my other social media connections can be made from either of these places.