nism: Hi, I’m Nathan Stapleton-McKinzie. I’ve always loved to draw and paint. I studied painting for a while in Carbondale, Illinois. From there I spent some time Upstate New York where I was represented by the Varga Gallery. At the moment I am working as a Freelance Designer/Flash Animator and living in the Windy City of Chicago. I love coffee and working on art late into the night.
Janice Hagey-Schmidt: From a young age I was going to the library checking out craft techniques. I used to paint metal shapes and glass bottles as a kid. Later I progressed to throwing pots and bowls on a wheel. I was thrilled with the use of underglazes on porcelain. And then… one day I took a metalsmithing class at a community college. I have been working mainly with metal ever since. But… I make my living as a graphic designer. Metalsmithing is my art.
Michele Banks is a self-taught painter from Washington, DC who specializes in the sometimes-maligned medium of watercolor. Although images of sweet landscapes and precious flowers may spring to mind when thinking of watercolors, Michele’s paintings are nothing like that.
She uses pigment, paper, and water to interpret and replicate natural phenomena. Just like the divisions of a cell, how water and paint behaves on paper can sometimes be predicted, but very rarely controlled.
Although Michele has always found science to be mentally and visually fascinating, she is not a scientist herself. Her corporate career was interrupted twelve years ago when her husband’s job moved their family to Bermuda. Michele started making collages and paintings, and sold a few through galleries on the tiny island.
Living in the tropics inspired her first conscious efforts at creating art, but really the urge had just been laying dormant for years. Michele clearly remembers decorating her first post-collegiate cubicle with collages created from comic books and bits of pretty ephemera.
Some of her artwork is still about collage making, but watercolors play an important role in those works as well. When a painting doesn’t work out, Michele tears them up, focusing on the colors and patterns, and reshapes them into a new piece.
Her favorite medium is watercolor because it suits her personality. Its properties require one to work fast, and to commit to brush strokes, while accepting the fact that complete control is simply not an option.
Her medical and biological themed work came about accidentally, while experimenting with various effects of watercolors and combining colors. A customer of hers remarked that one of her paintings looked remarkably like organisms under a microscope, “only friendlier.”
The idea of depicting natural processes and phenomena with watercolor was planted, and Michele ran with it.
Michele’s cell division and heart rhythm series are meant to be artistic interpretations of natural patterns and processes, that are literally at the root of life. Michele does not intend to make her paintings completely scientifically accurate, but she has found most medical professionals see something they recognize in her work.
Michele paints in a variety of sizes and colors. Her paintings are all one-of-a-kind original watercolors, not prints. Her bio-medical watercolors can be found online at her Maker’s Market storefront, and her collage work can be found in her Etsy shop. Michele also displays her work year-round at DC-area art fairs and craft shows.
The hubby and I recently relocated from our one room studio to a two-bedroom house. It is, for the most part, married bliss. There’s nothing like having more than one bathroom to keep a marriage strong. However, there is one major drawback to the home: plaster walls. Those familiar with plaster will know that it is messy at best, crumbling and cracking at worst. We’ve got a bit of both. Short of repairing the walls and throwing on some new paint, I don’t want to stick anything bigger than a nail in these 60-year-old walls.
So what do we do? I want to decorate, but I’d rather not hang heavy sconces and shelves, only to come home to a hole in my wall the size of Texas. Thankfully, alternative inspiration came to the rescue! We were at a TMBG concert this past weekend, and the boys from the band were handing out window clings. Remember those lil clingy bits of plastic we used to buy from school magazines and stick on the bathroom mirror? I grew up and forgot, but luckily there are enough people in the world that grew up and remembered.
I am absolutely in love with that birch forest by Wall Decors. It would look smashing in a living room or entrance hall. The best part is, like those old school window clings, they’re non-destructive and easily removed. So even if you don’t have a lick of patience for painting and gluing you’ll be able to get this mighty forest up in your living room with no hassle.
There’s another caveat to married life that I failed to account for: the mighty french rooster. Every Italian kitchen has a rooster, of some shape or variety, sitting on the counter. Our house is small, so is the kitchen. We need every ounce of space we can get. However, as a good Italian homemaker I can’t let my kitchen go chickenless for long.
Chuck E Byrd Wall Art to the rescue! This mighty rooster would be proud to grace any kitchen wall. The variety of color options ensure a proper match for even the most eclectic kitchen.
We’re still enjoying the “honeymoon stage” of our marriage, but I’m sure there are quite a few readers out there with little bundles of joy along the way. It feels like all of my friends are having kids, and I’m either running to showers or singing at first birthdays.
Wouldn’t that tree by Original Walls look darling in your little girl’s room? Not to be outdone, there are a plethora of boy’s options too, from full-blown motorcycles to monkeys swinging in the trees. We all eventually hit the age where we want to decorate and define our own space, and wouldn’t it be so much easier if the beautiful mural of a horse was easily applied and removed, instead of repainting the entire room?
If you’re looking for something a little more gender neutral, I’m a big fan of these lights by Pop Decors. They’re a bit unusual in the best way. I’m particularly keen on the two little winged lights.
Vinyl wall art compared to paint and stencil is considerably more time and user-friendly. I can’t paint a circle to save my life, but I sure as anything can put a sticker on the wall. Remember these work best on clean, even surfaces, and don’t like being put on and pulled off too many times.
If you have cracks in your wall or ceiling (like I do) be sure to repair those before putting up any paint or decals. This way you’re not avoiding a potentially bigger issue. I know it’s tempting, but even though it may be pretty, if it’s hiding a problem it’s only a big ol’ band-aid.
The Haunted Hollow Tree: This is an original mixed media of pyrography, water color, and casein paint.
Most commonly known as “wood burning”, pyrography is the traditional art of using a heated tip to burn or scorch images onto natural materials such as wood or leather. It is a challenging medium to work in because the permanent nature of burning requires constant precision and missteps are not easily corrected. It is very much like drawing in a sense, but done with a hot wire tip instead of a pencil. The different tonal values and subtle graduations are created carefully by varying the pressure and temperature of the pen tip.