Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Perfect Inspiration

2014 Participating Artist

Steve Stento painted his first watercolor in 1995 and has been enthralled with the medium ever since. Steve’s primary color is to capture scenes of timeless beauty. His current body of work reflects the sights he encountered during a month long trip to Italy and a trip to the south of France. Steve finds the warm, vibrant scenes of life near the Mediterranean to be the perfect inspiration.

“Italy and France are places where art, history, and beauty are so pervasive in daily life that one’s creative soul cannot help but be stirred,” he said.

A native of Virginia, Steve studied drawing and design at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond before settling in Arizona. His work has been featured in The Artist’s Magazine, International Artist magazine, as well as Splash 7 and Splash 8, compilation books of today’s best watercolors.  

Steve Stento

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Old Soul

2014 Participating Artist

At an early age, Eddie Sparr gravitated towards collecting and recreating his collected pieces as works of art. Scrounging is what his family would call it. Throughout his life and travels, he scrounged and collected. Eddie attended college at the University of Northern Colorado where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic arts. This is where he learned to fine tune his graphic representation, which is very similar to his style of fine art; a collaboration of individual pieces to make a concise descriptive.

All of his artworks are compounded of found objects, mostly that of which are discarded. He partakes in much pleasure when he finds a discarded object that has character or a unique style. Many of the objects in his pieces were discovered from walking the railroad tracks. He would walk on an average day, three sometimes five miles. The pieces he would find all had a story at one time. Other objects that interest Eddie are that of decades past.

An old soul is how many of Eddie’s friends and family would describe him. Even his works of art which are futuristic in its subject matter have an aged distinction about them. His steampunk series is an obvious example of this, but actually his numanity and paperskin series, have parts in them that are not plastic, rather more of the industrial age like steel and other metals; more indicative of parts and materials primarily used in the 30’s.

Currently, Eddie’s inspiration follows the evolution of his simbots with providing them human emotions and skin, as shown in his paperskin series. In addition to creating playful works, he is also experimenting on shaping steel mesh and providing skin in the form of a hard coat that he invented, (which appears to have the characteristics of plaster, but not as heavy when dry). The art of invention and re-invention primarily make up his style. Eddie pushes the boundaries in art, and one day is driven to spread this approach within his community.

Eddie Sparr

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Timeless Quality

2014 Participating Artist

Maia Leisz found her own voice at an early age. An art teacher in high school once criticized her because everything she created looked like it was done by her. Believing that this was the whole point, Maia took it as a compliment. She went on to attend the Marchutz School of Painting and Drawing in Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. Not only did this provide an amazing opportunity to grow artistically, but she also made wonderful friends who became like family and greatly influenced her life.

Maia has lived in such varied places as the San Francisco Bay area, France, Northern Italy and England. She continues to travel and draws much of her inspiration from this. Maia’s art has, at the same time, both a strong energy and a very peaceful effect on the viewer. This seeming contradiction is what draws many to it and makes it stand out.

Her objective is to create art that has a timeless quality and will outlast any current fad or gimmick. Good artwork is comfortable in any environment. “I feel quite strongly that in a world in which many of our possessions are transitory, our art should be something that speaks of who we are,” states Maia. “It should tell the story our lives and be something that we hand down to future generations.” The overall purpose of her work is to make people happy and enrich their lives.   

Maia Leisz
Bella Vita Studios

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


2014 Participating Artist

As the daughter of a watercolorist and a photographer, Lucy Dickens spent most of her childhood exploring the outdoors. She has had the opportunity to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world. These experiences have instilled in her a great appreciation for nature and the beauty all around us, along with a passion for capturing these experiences on paper and canvas.

From an early age, Lucy was drawn to the incredible work of the great masters, especially the Hudson River Valley painters, such as Thomas Cole and Fredric Church. Studying these artists; their handling of oil paints and mastery of atmosphere and light, along with capturing a sense of the divine influences her work today.

Lucy paints landscapes because she’s drawn to moments that take her breath away. It’s those moments of beauty that cause her to feel, to reflect, and to give thanks; a scene that has a power, placidity and intensity that draws her in. There is a story in these segments of time, and therefore, a story in all her paintings. Lucy is a Fine Art Storyteller.

She mostly enjoys painting a series from her travel journeys, bringing viewers along on this journey with her through painting images and her written “story” accompanying each painting. Lucy strives to evoke feelings of serenity and grace, a scene to transport you to another place and time exploring the mystery within, to capture memories, and those fleeting moments of beauty.

Lucy Dickens

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Celebrating Women and Children

2014 Participating Artist

Bronze sculptor Paula Yates settled in Arizona in the early 1970s. After a long career in the banking industry, she discovered a love for creating sculptures in clay. Paula left the security of the corporate world to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Her passion for creating in clay is the force that fuels her work.

Paula's art celebrates women and children. Her women reflect a calm spirit with graceful movement.  The children are delightfully at play. "Happy" is a word often used to describe her figures.  Paula’s sculptures communicate a joyous celebration of life.

Inspiration comes to her in many forms. A magical childhood is reflected in her playful children and the women come from the adored mother, sister, daughters, aunts and many friends who have touched Paula’s life with joy.

Her bronze sculptures have been featured in galleries and her collectors include individuals, corporations and museums throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. She has received numerous awards of excellence in juried shows.

Paula Yates
Paula Yates Sculpture Studio

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Centers around the Stone

2014 Participating Artist

Cynthia made the decision to leave 30 years of the corporate world behind and enter the unknown to realize her dream of becoming a successful artist in metalsmithing. While living in Boston, she began taking evening courses at Massachusetts College of Art in metalsmithing. Her fascination for unusual stones, fossils and minerals prompted her desire to take this direction. As her creativity unfolded, her passion to fulfill her new destiny grew. 

The evolution in her life and art has brought together a full, rich canvas of experiences making her life today joyful, creative and spiritual. Experiencing the natural surroundings of Arizona, she uses castings from elements of the desert, or creates similar textures in silver and gold. Integrating traditional metalsmithing techniques with textile techniques became a way to express her designs in a more ethereal manner. 

Cynthia’s design process centers around the stone.  “Sometimes the stone may command a more elaborate setting to tell its story. However, there are times it’s really all about the beauty of the stone itself, and therefore, is presented with simplicity and elegance,” she says. Her design process is intuitive and spontaneous and has evolved along with her skills to create unique and memorable one-of-a-kind work.

Over the years, Cynthia has become a successful, award-winning artist and has exhibited in prestigious, nationally juried shows from New York City, Baltimore and Philadelphia, to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Cynthia Downs-Apodaca

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Art of Life

2014 Participating Artist

Betsy Halford is a self-taught, mixed media, assemblage artist. Her art incorporates found and repurposed materials making each piece unique. In addition to the found materials used in her art, she also includes oils, acrylics and/or wax.

Inspiration for her artwork comes from her life. Many of Betsy’s pieces are inspired by personal experiences, dreams and/or meditations, memories both real and imagined, as well as reactions to societal or global issues.

She have been collecting the materials for her artwork all of her life. Betsy started collecting these materials “treasures” as a small child growing up in South Carolina where she was influenced by her parents who were both passionate collectors. She continues to gather treasures everywhere she travels - from back roads to the city streets. Betsy keeps an open mind when looking for items that others have disposed of with the intent of transforming them into something wonderful.

Betsy Halford
Monkey Girl

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Global Era Sculptor

2014 Participating Artist

Born in Zimbabwe, stone sculptor Gedion Nyanhongo was born into an artistic family. He was influenced from a young age by his father, Claud Nyanhongo, a prominent artist among the "first generation" sculptors (the pioneers of the Shona Sculpture movement that began in the late 1950s). "I used to watch my father sculpt when I grew up, and although I was young, I remember loving it and knowing that it was what I wanted to do," says Gedion. After an apprenticeship with the internationally acclaimed sculptor Joseph Ndandarika, he embarked on a solo career in 1988.

Geidon has transformed everyday life into the enduring values that can help us all thrive in the global era of the 21st century through his sculpture. He celebrates love especially family love and the spiritual power it provides to promote peace in his art. His sculptures are made from enduring Opal Stone, Springstone and Zimbabwe (Nyanga) Stone.

Gedion has since exhibited his works in solo and group exhibitions at numerous venues around the world, including: England, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, South Africa, United States, and Zimbabwe. Two of his works are featured in a collection on permanent display at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and a Zebra in the Phoenix Zoo.

Gedion Nyanhongo
480 255-4184

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Simple Sophistication

2014 Participating Artist

Liliana Schuett is an artist in every sense of the word. She brings her fine art background to her designs with an end result that is far more than just jewelry. Every piece is a one-of-a-kind work of art. Liliana’s studio currently resides in Scottsdale where she gains inspiration and influences from the beautiful world around her.

Her jewelry is an artistic flare melded with simple sophistication. Liliana’s pieces are constructed out of crystals, glass, fresh water pearls, glass beads, and sterling silver. She creates jewelry that is playful and elegant, something for everyone.

She is an experienced arts educator providing art instruction in painting, drawing, printmaking and jewelry design. Liliana has worked as an arts administrator in California, Colorado and Arizona, and recently retired from the City of Goodyear. She has exhibited in the US including shows in Wisconsin at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts in Racine, and Seuferer-Chosy Gallery in Madison; Northwestern University in Evanston IL and Main Street Gallery in Scottsdale AZ. Her work is in various collections including Johnson Wax Corporation, Racine WI, Nitrogen Corporation, Milwaukee WI and Froedert Hospital, Wauwatosa WI.

Liliana Schuett

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Decorated Inside and Out

2014 Participating Artist

Christiane Barbato Sutherland was born and raised in the southeast part of Brazil, south Atlantic Ocean. Her parents were artistic, and Christiane recalls that her father—who did woodcarving as a hobby—made furniture for her dolls while she knitted their clothing. She was introduced to ceramics as a teenager and dabbled in pottery over the years while earning a master’s degree in business administration and working in the corporate world in South America. At the age of 40, Christiane decided it was time to do what she loves and makes her happy, so she turned her ceramics hobby into a full-time job.

Her pottery centers around tableware and functional items for the home. She uses tropical plants to inspire her and even print them in her creations. Christiane uses a water melon, a rock or squash as a mold for her bowls as well as texture from different continents. Most of her pieces are decorated both inside and out. Objects such as plant leaves or her grandmother’s antique lace often get pressed into the surface of wet clay to gain intricate textural designs; linen may be pressed into an item’s underside, leaving a subtle geometric pattern. Other techniques include integrating recycled glass for a colorful crazed—or cracked—finish, and incorporating thumb rests on the handles of mugs.

Christiane’s favorite color is turquoise and it's also the stone for Arizona, which is reflected in her pottery. She also utilizes off-whites, grays and blues. Glazes are lead-free and food-safe, and tableware is dishwasher-, microwave- and oven-safe.

Christiane Barbato Sutherland
Blue Door Ceramics

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ancient Art of the Kimono

2014 Participating Artist

Karen O'Hanlon is the designer of Chiyogami and Washi (Japanese Paper) Kimonos created in the same detailed fashion as full sized traditional robes. Each is unique because the kimonos have the appearance of fabric but they are actually paper. The high quality papers are made by master craft artisans in Japan using traditional as well as modern tools and techniques.

These exquisite and unique kimonos are made using Kozo (paper Mulberry) featuring popular designs from the Edo period (1600-1868). Each kimono presents the appearance of fabric but is actually beautifully patterned paper. Master craft artisans in Japan use both traditional and modern techniques to make the high quality papers. Karen uses two types of Kozo (paper Mulberry). One is Chiyogami which is decorated with brightly colored, woodblock-printed patterns. The other is Yuzen which are patterns based on traditional silkscreen designs derived from the silks of the Japanese kimono.

Karen crafts these works of art by first making templates of varying sizes for each pattern piece of the kimono. Each kimono is made by laying eleven templates on the patterned paper. She then cuts, folds, glues, and layers the pattern paper with precision. Due to the delicacy of the patterned paper, the same steps are repeated for the lining of the kimono. The kimono is made exactly as an authentic cloth kimono.

Each work of art reflects the theme of Karen’s collection which is to enrich the world with the unique influences of traditional Japanese paper art and to re-introduce the ancient art of the kimono.

Karen O’Hanlon
K.P. O’Hanlon Studio

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Storytelling Portraits

2014 Participating Artist

Since childhood, Kenneth Ferguson has had an interest in 19th century military history and the lifeways and material culture of this continent's First People; and these are the subjects he loves to paint. He usually describes his paintings as historical figurative. Others have called them "storytelling portraits." No matter the description, and whether the subject is an ancient Puebloan of the American Southwest, a Dog Soldier of the Southern Cheyenne, or a Dragoon of Napoleon's Imperial Guard, his stylistic watercolor paintings are distinguished by their deeply vibrant color, meticulous detail and attention to historical accuracy. Kenneth also enjoys depicting the world around him with his "Wee Beasties" series of small paintings of birds, mammals and other subjects from nature. 

Watercolor has been his preferred medium for more than 30 years. Early in his career, Kenneth began pushing the medium beyond the typical spontaneous, wet-on-wet approach to develop his own unique style. By using multiple overlays of paint and controlled washes, combined with dry brush and splatter, his paintings offer a distinctive approach that brings out unexpected brilliance in the pigments and permits a high level of detail. He then finishes the paintings with a clear, archival acrylic varnish that eliminates the need for glass. 

Kenneth Ferguson
Kenneth Ferguson Fine Art

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Countless Hours in the “Wild”

2014 Participating Artist

Linda Budge is a painter and an animal lover who combines her passions for art and living creatures to produce works that radiate empathy and painterly grace. Her extensive knowledge of animals and deep experience interacting with them, explains her uncanny ability to capture her subjects so accurately, and also helps to explain why her work carries such emotional power.

She has spent countless hours in the “wild” doing plain air painting, observing and sketching wildlife. Linda strives to know their expression, their attitude, how much space they occupy, what they eat, and how the seasons change their mood. “Yes, I love animals and birds,” says Linda. “Since I can’t commandeer Noah’s Ark, I can love them by painting their portraits and leaving a legacy of their existence.”

Linda’s chosen medium is oil paint and the animals that appear most in her pieces are dogs, burros and various birds, and the wildlife common to the western United States, like cottontail rabbits, desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and the desert gray wolf. Inspired by her lifelong fascination with animals and immediate access to a swath of picturesque terrain–the kaleidoscopic Sonoran Desert, Linda is often in compositional mode, taking to the wild with her paints and palette and portable easel. Her love of animals and intuitive relationship with them allows her to forge an emotional connection with her subjects, which comes across clearly in her paintings.  

Linda has won numerous awards for her work and pieces of her artwork can be found in the permanent collections of several libraries, museums, and corporations. One of her highest honors was a painting commissioned in 1983 by the State of Wyoming as a gift to President Reagan. The painting, of an antelope, hung for many years in the living room of the President’s California residence, and was then moved by the President himself to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley where it remains to this day.

Linda Budge
Wildlife & Animal Portraits

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Limited by the Constraints of Time

2014 Participating Artist

Roxanne Vise spent the majority of her childhood in California’s Napa Valley, where she acquired not only a love of the nearby ocean and wild spaces of the area, but also the free-spirited, intuitive approach that today infuses her art.

The relationship between abstraction and spirituality along with a penetrating sense of wonder of the natural world inspires much of Roxanne’s work. She rarely has a scripted plan for how a painting will be completed and lets mood, intuition and spontaneous gestures act as guides. Her materials include aspen leaves, beeswax, acrylic, oil stick, pigments and tree resin to infuse each painting with its individual energy, depth and luminosity.

Roxanne’s interest in subjects is only limited by the constraints of time. From exploring the idea of aspen trees - each connected through their root systems as one living organism; the infinity of the cosmos; the depth of the ocean; the small flower breaking concrete to reach the sun; to geometric blocks of color marrying ancient geological imagery with primitive gemstones - the textures and wonder of life and the interconnectedness of it all supplies Roxanne with inspiration to paint for more than a lifetime. Her current focus lies in three series: trees, landscapes and abstracted geometric images.

Roxanne’s work is exhibited throughout the United States. Her commissions include wineries and private clients. Her work is also featured as the poster artist for several events. Primarily self-taught, Roxanne freely explores new concepts, experiments and develops innovative techniques that characterizes her work. 

Roxanne Vise
Vise Studio