featured artist: Amy Abshier-Reyes

i was running behind schedule on my weekly featured artist, but have decided to post them now on saturdays instead of mondays. i know that i miss blog updates from my favourite blogs on the weekend, and having something longer that i can come back to and visit is always helpful.

{yeah, i know it - i'm hooked.}

anyhow, i stumbled across this week's featured artist while i was searching through listings and listings and listings of talented painters, and amy's work jumped out and bit me. for some reason, her style reminds me a bit of julia from red otter - classic, simple, almost victorian, elegant. like a fairy tale!

i've just started painting with watercolour again, but i hope that eventually i can make it look as easy as amy does; and as good!

- enjoy. xo

Name: Amy Abshier-Reyes
Location: Kansas City, MO

01. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a painter/illustrator and a whole lot of other things besides. I grew up in a rural community in Texas, graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute, and moved around a lot before deciding to move back to Kansas City. I show paintings at various galleries in the US and sell small paintings and prints on Etsy.

02. What first made you want to become an artist?

I've been making art since I was a little thing--always drawing, painting, making up stories--you should hear my mom go on and on about it!

03. Tell us a bit about how you first discovered painting - what were some challenges that you encountered and how did you overcome them?

I've always loved painting, and I painted with whatever materials were at hand: finger paint, watercolors, acrylics. I didn't properly learn how to paint with oils until college, though, and that opened some huge doors for me. It's my favorite medium now. I still encounter challenges, though! Feet are some of the hardest things to paint and make them appear believable.

04. Where do you draw your inspiration & motivation from?

I love old illustrations from the 1800's up to the 1960's, old snapshots of ordinary people, dreams (I have crazy, vivid dreams). Sometimes it's just a word or phrase that conjures up images, or something I saw from the corner of my eye. I'm always alert and open to inspiration--it comes from all over and can hit at any moment.

05. Apart from creating things, what do you do?

I'm a mom and a wife and, for a regular paycheck, I work in an auction house. I love to read. I love music and I collect records (my husband and I met working together at a record shop).

06. What's your favourite item in your shop?

It's hard to say--some of my favorite things sold long ago. I'd have to say my oil paintings--I list a new one every so often and they're so different stylistically from my watercolor pieces, that they make a nice contrast. Hmmm, now you're making me think...

07. Can you name a few undiscovered artists that you'd recommend to the world?

My friend Rachel Stuart-Haas is incredible--I love her paintings. And Amy Earles' illustrations and paper dolls are amazing. And I love Elsa Mora's work: she makes beautiful cut-paper pieces, jewelry, illustrations--so many things! There's so many talented people I've discovered through Etsy--it's really wonderful and inspiring.

08. What's something unique/interesting about you that you've always wanted to mention in an interview but never found a way to work it in?

I have a tendency to get easily obsessed with little things, whether it's collecting, or painting, or books. I find something that just *sparks* and I have to learn everything I can about that thing or idea; explore it fully, talk about it at length. Thankfully the obsession never lasts too long!

09. What is the best advice you have ever received?

Ooooh, so much. But here's one of the best:
I'm afraid of a LOT of pretty mundane things--I just get anxious very easily. And years ago a good friend said to me,"What are you so afraid of? What are they gonna do---take away your birthday?" That idea is so silly it makes me less anxious and able to deal with things that I might normally shy away from.

{check out more of amy's work at kansas city's blue gallery, her blog, on flickr, and of course, on etsy.}


quelle surprise!

what a great way to finish off a productive & busy week... thanks to lambert for including my electric bluegaloo clips in his treasury - please feel free to visit it and leave a comment.

here's wishing a belated happy thanksgiving and productive black friday to all of my american readers - now get out there and kick-start that economy again!

{what kind of goodies did you find?}



november essentials

some days, you know, you just need to get yourself somewhere warm and cozy to relax and unwind with a glass of wine and a good book. you need a place that hints of lavender and sandalwood incense, warm and musky and relaxing. especially on cold grey days like today, you need things like this.

images from sandbox studio


share the love

my favourite outfits are all determined by the accessories that go with it. shopping for new finds on etsy is difficult becase there's so many gorgeous listings and styles!

however - in the spirit of being decisive, here are two of my top favourite christmas wishlist combinations for today.


01) wine red shrug by larimeloom
02) stacker rings by indiayluna
03) burgundy indian silk top by retroreprohandmade
04) petite nouveau earrings by artemisia designs


hello weekend

so along with trying to build a database in MS access today {UGH}, i've been doing some a-shopping online. kal barteski put up a gift guide for people, and i think that i'ma do the same... particularly since i've been inspired by many things tonight - both for me and for others.

does anyone have any recommendations? what are you most excited to give someone this christmas?


manicotti faux-pas

I've possibly just eaten the blandest manicotti in the world. There was no party in my mouth, and even if there was... nobody would want to come. The ricotta tasted like nothing, the tomato sauce was apparently just for moisture purposes, and the whole manicotti experience was just disappointing.

If my manicotti were a house party, it would be one of those parties where nobody is really talking, and Low Rider is playing softly in the background. Disco lights are on and spinning, but people are quietly eating chips and drinking non-alcoholic beer, just looking at each other from across the room. There's no manicotti lovin', no manicotti joking... nothing.

Just Low Rider, disco ball, and bland, bored people.

That's my lunch in a nutshell.


a note from the author of the book i'm currently reading...

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

Complicating matters is the fact that the price and abundance of food are not the only problems we face; if they were, you could simply follow Nixon’s example, appoint a latter-day Earl Butz as your secretary of agriculture and instruct him or her to do whatever it takes to boost production. But there are reasons to think that the old approach won’t work this time around; for one thing, it depends on cheap energy that we can no longer count on. For another, expanding production of industrial agriculture today would require you to sacrifice important values on which you did campaign. Which brings me to the deeper reason you will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. Unlike food, these are issues you did campaign on — but as you try to address them you will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems and will have to change if we hope to solve them. Let me explain.

After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact...

for the rest, check out Michael Pollan's Open Letter to the next Farmer-In-Chief from the New York Times. after that, you can see Obama's response here.

could it really be true? hope for change?


luh-luh-lovin it

just came across these prints by jess gonacha and i'm in LOVE with them. i want a gocco machine. (are they machines? presses?) all the cool people certainly seem to have them so, by default, i should get one too. i want in the gocco club!

in other awesome news, the toronto one of a kind show is quickly approaching. have bought my tickets and am now just looking at which day i'd like to book off work to go.

you know you're ready for the OOAK show when you have:
- comfy (yet stylin) shoes for a day full of shopping? check.
- scoured the OOAK gift guide? check.
mapped out locations of all my favourite artists? ... well, sorta. i'll see 'em when i see 'em.

in the meanwhile, you can see their super cool felted stuff here, gorgeous photographic lanterns here, super-delicious wine jellies here and gorgeous/unconventional/work of art candles here)

good times. let the countdown begin!


what a view

hello alberta. you and your mountains and countryside are awesome. i'll most definitely be back for more.


jet set

am in calgary for a conference until sunday. will try to post, but no guarantees.
...am enjoying the rockies (from a distance!)


(photo by Randall Quon)


featured artist: jared may

this week's featured artist is another oldie-but-goodie. if i could singlehandedly pick out one photo to showcase as representative of all of an artist's work, the below picture would be, without a doubt, the one i would choose for jared may. it's as if it's his brand photo ... the one that everyone can recognize him by. his own little (prettier) nike swoosh.

i had first found his shop on etsy last year when this photo was featured on the front page treasury - and fell in love instantly. from there, i'd go and look in his shop on a regular basis to see what new photos he'd recently posted; the style, richness and warmth of all of his work is so characteristic of the feelings it emotes. rich and saturated, jared's work always elicits a tangible physical reaction that can vary from calming to brooding to hopeful. (for proof, see here, here, or here.)

{not to mention, he's got a series on dandelions - and i love dandelions!}

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm Jared. I teach math at an alternative high school and use photography as my primary means of artistic expression. I also draw and paint a little bit, and I like to pretend that someday I'll write and record a really cool record. I suppose I'd also like to write.

I'm fickle.

02. What first made you want to become an artist?

Honestly, I think I'm just trying to add my own bit of beauty within the much larger world of beauty I see around me. I suppose artistic expression is essentially just one person sharing their own viewpoint with others. I feel fortunate that I see so much beauty all around me, and I just love that others enjoy seeing what I have to offer.

03. Tell us a bit about how you first discovered photography - what were some challenges that you encountered and how did you overcome them?

My mom put a camera in my hand when I was eight. I don't know that I've encountered too many challenges. I've taken thousands of bad photographs, if that counts. When I used to shoot film, I had a couple of photo shoots where I returned home to find that there was absolutely no film in the camera. That was heartbreaking. Thank goodness for digital cameras.

04. Where do you draw your inspiration & motivation from?

I am constantly inspired by beauty all around me. Sometimes I forget to look, but honestly there is beauty everywhere, if you learn how to look. I am inspired by other artists, by wonderful books, by people, by nature, everything.

05. Apart from creating things, what do you do?

As I mentioned above, I teach math. I'm almost done with my schooling that will allow me to be a principal if I choose. I'm not sure exactly what I want to do with my career, but I love teaching.

The most important thing in my life is my family. My wonderful wife helps me out with my Etsy shop, handling most of the shipping duties. She also works in education. We have three boys, and the four of them are the joy of my life.

{bet you didn't know that this isn't jared's first appearance on wunderbug!}

06. What's your favorite photo that you've taken? Why?

My favorite photo changes all the time. One that I come back to a lot is Windblown Grass. I keep it in my Etsy shop even though it almost never sells, just because I like it so much. It captures everything I love about Kansas - a powerful thunderstorm, wild grass, and the energy brought through by the wind. Every time I look at that photograph, I feel like I'm standing in the breeze right before the storm hits, which is one of my favorite things about living in the midwest.

07. What undiscovered artists would you recommend to the world?

My mom just opened an Etsy shop, as a matter of fact. She takes photographs of pets and creates beautiful works of digital art. Check her out at http://CherylMayPhoto.etsy.com

08. Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.

Right now I'm re-reading
Jack Kerouac's On the Road, which is even better than I remembered. Off the top of my head, I love the Lao Tzu, the Dhammapada, and any book that helps me prepare for my next national park trip. I'll use up my fifth book slot by mentioning that I'm planning to pick out a Dickens work for my next novel, once I finish On the Road.

My favorite films include
It's a Wonderful Life, Harvey, A River Runs Through It, The Horse Whisperer, and just about any Hitchcock film. Musically, lately I'm obsessed with Alison Krauss. Before that, it was Coldplay, then Jack Johnson, the Shins, and Medeski, Martin and Wood. I look forward to whatever's next.

I don't have five web site suggestions. I spend a fair amount of time (and money) at Amazon. I'm a sucker for going through and rating everything I've ever seen, heard, or read. I'm also fairly well addicted to
Flickr, but nothing tops Etsy for me.

09. What's something unique/interesting about you that you've always wanted to mention in an interview but never found a way to work it in?

This one stumps me. I lived in Seattle for a little while, and I don't think I've ever mentioned that before. Not sure how interesting that is, but there you go. I missed the thunderstorms. A lot.

10. What is the best advice you have ever received?

Enjoy all things now while you can. Life moves quickly and this too shall pass.


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