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Thursday, February 24, 2011

I can't get enough of these guys

13 Deer came to eat at the Sullivan Supper Club, then decided to bed down for a nap, and they stayed for 3 hours. I tried to sneak this picture out the sliding door, but was caught in the act.  Amazing to have such wildlife in our townhome area. They come throughout the day, dusk and night time. We have 3 families and one loner. Our newest members are ducks, they never seem to miss a meal.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spiritwood Music - Meet Pat and Donna Surface from Ely, MN

Donna and Pat Surface
Sigurd F. Olson was the Bard in the North woods of Ely, MN. Also keeping up with this tradition is Pat and Donna Surface of Spiritwood Music  in Ely, MN. Like Mr. Olson, Pat writes with depth and feeling, but Pat can sing and play guitar as well.  The Surface duo team is quite inspirational as Donna is a Performance Artist in Sign for The Hearing Impaired. Donna teaches basic signs during performances. Pat’s north woods music adds a spiritual  tone which he calls “Canoe Grass”, including Folk, Bluegrass, Swing, Celtic, Gospel and more. According to Donna; “Pat’s primary instrument is his amazing voice, he plays guitar and is a songwriter.” 
Donna-Performance Artist in Sign
Donna went to college in New York City for art originally, but decided to study dance as it had been a love of hers since the age of three.  She studied acting and followed her passion to London.  Donna became a professional actor in New York where she performed on stage, film, and TV for 10 years after returning from London.  She became very interested in body building after a car accident injury and ultimately was nationally ranked as a “Body builder.” Donna went back to college for fitness, and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health/Fitness Director. In addition to her accomplishments, she is a published author and wrote a book called “Burn Fat for Fuel.”  Donna moved to South Florida and swore she was” Going to die under a palm tree and never see another winter.” It was in Florida where Donna first met Pat and she never thought she would be seeing snow again.
Pat singing at a event
Pat was abandoned to the foster care system and finally adopted at the age of 3 and raised in Grand Rapids MN. He is called the “Gentle giant” as he stands 6ft, 8 inches tall and was a college all-star basketball player.  When did Pat discover the artist in him? The LaPlants (on his mother’s side) are award winning musicians and instrument builders. It was through their inspiration that Pat found his passion for music. Pat also draws inspiration from God, Family and God’s creation, The Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.  Their website is incredibly dynamic, you can listen to music and select by genre, artist, title etc. and read their full biography. Give a click on this link before you continue and see what I mean. www.spiritwoodmusic.com  They also promote their music at art and music festivals around the country and sell CDs and DVDs at concerts.  In addition to this they have hundreds of specialty shops around the country that sell their CDs.

Huge crowds gather in the street

Donna signing with kids
Pat and Donna have lived in Ely, MN with their son Trevor for 12 years and built their own home and named it Spiritwood. A name so powerful that Pat established  his business and named it Spiritwood Music in 1997. It has always been the wilderness and nature of Minnesota that has inspired much of Pat’s music. Pat's popular band, the Boundary Water Boys, is a group of accomplished musicians blending fiddle/violin, dobro, guitars, bass, acoustic drums and harmonies - all augmenting Pat's celebrated voice. Pat's dobro player has won 2 Grammy Awards and has been nominated 5 times. Pat's fiddle player is Minnesota Instrumentalist of The Year. Pat has won several awards, including The Telly. Their recordings are a world class collection of classic folk and original tunes done in their signature fusion style. In addition to several recordings in the folk genre featuring Pat and his guitar, Pat and the Boundary Water Boys have recorded numerous albums showcasing their eclectic blend of genres. Something for everyone. Huge crowds attend their concerts in Ely, so many that the City closes the street when they perform. Pat has traveled throughout North America and performed for schools, colleges, churches, festivals and benefit concerts. He has reached over twenty million people and sold over 300,000 albums.
In 2007, Pat and Donna launched their own non-profit organization which support the quest to conquer Alzheimer‘s Disease after Donna lost her father Rocco Michael Passaretti  to the disease. It is called the “Forget Me Not” Foundation.  Please visit www.spiritwoodfoundation.org  where you can make a tax deductable donation to help fight this disease. Every 71 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.
Apart from their own non-profit organization they also support many in the local community by doing benefit concerts including:
The North American Bear Center- (tribute song written by Pat- Makwa Manido)
The Northwoods Research Center-(tribute song written by Pat –Bear Walker-One Step at a Time)
The Will Steger Foundation-(tribute song written by Pat- Strength of Will)
Listening Point Foundation- Sigurd F. Olson
Dorothy Molter Museum- Root beer  Lady of the BWCA
International Wolf Center
St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Grand Rapids MN (Pat’s school growing up)
I had a few questions for this wonderful couple:
What is the most significant decision you ever made? “Choosing a Christian path, and leading with our Christian faith to become husband and wife”
What makes you laugh the most?  Donna says: “My husband-hysterical punny punsmith!!! He was born to pun, and Pat says I make him laugh as well.”
Who is your favorite musical artist? “Kermit the Frog- the Amphibian American artist.”
If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it? “We would donate a portion of it to the “Forget Me Not” Alzheimer’s non-profit foundation, help family and go fishing.”
Cunga Line

What words of advice would you have for someone starting out? “Stay true to your soul; take the art form seriously, but separate art from the artist. This is a tough business; you will be loved and then treated with indifference. But when you receive your affirmations pay attention as this is your message, your compass. Have quiet time to receive this guidance. If you stay in the belly of the beast you are literally consumed and your creativity is severely diminished. Accomplish something every day!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lifelike Pet Portraits Artist Janine Kyarsgaard

Janine Kyarsgaard Pet Portrait Artist
Janine Kyarsgaard is a lifelike pet portrait artist. She lives in Blaine MN, with her husband and “Kids” Tuff the Pug and Luna the cat. Her pet portrait work is “Realism, but I don’t worry about drawing or painting each and every hair. I enjoy using implied detail as much as carefully rendered detail to capture the true character an expression.” 
Janine’s passion is in her “Family genes” so to speak, as her Dad and Aunt on her mother’s side are/were both talented in visual arts. “I am formally trained in illustration, worked in the field briefly, and then stopped making art when “Real life” got in the way. After a 5 year dry spell the urge to create overtook me, so here I am making art again with the ultimate goal of becoming a full-time professional artist.”
Janine draws her inspiration from her own pets. She says; “They have such great personalities that I love to capture.  They can be such natural posers, however many times by the time I grabbed the camera they move! I am also inspired by everyday objects, the way the light will hit a plant, or silverware on a counter… just about anything can be inspiring if we take time to really look at it.”
Janine earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Minneapolis College of Art & Design.  She started with pastel far earlier than that, maybe around age 12 or 13. “My Dad helped me a lot; I remember him telling me some people had trouble drawing hands, or were afraid to draw them and I should look at my own hands for reference. Mostly it is practice, practice, practices. Her favorite animals to draw are “Lots of dogs and cats of course. Horses, wolves and big cats are full of beauty and majesty, but I often find that when I’m looking for something to draw I’ll choose a bird.”
How do you come up with your ideas?  When I don’t have a commission to work on, I like to look for images at the Wet Canvas Image Library http://wetcanvas.com/RefLib/.  It’s an amazing resource for artists!  I also keep a list of ideas to work on when I have time, so I might refer to that when I’m looking for a project.  I enjoy puns, so those are another source for ideas, for example Pugsy Siegel http://4pawsterity.com/gallery/item/352/asInline and Canine Miranda http://4pawsterity.com/gallery/item/353/asInline .
What skills do you find essential in your work? “Since I do portrait commissions, communication is the key. I need to be available to my clients, clear expectations- theirs and mine and open and accommodating to their wants and idea.”
How often do you work? “I make a concerted effort to work every day. Even if I don’t have a portrait on my easel, I work on pieces for my gallery and prints. Or even just painting exercises to learn new media and still keep my skills nimble…I’ve started a daily artwork blog to keep me accountable to create every day, even it it’s just a quick sketch.”
Where are you currently showing your art pieces? “I have been included in the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts exhibition in 2010, otherwise my work is primarily commissioned work in private collections. I have been researching juried art shows in a variety of galleries across the country. Stay tuned!”

Are you currently holding workshops or art classes? “I am not. Teaching does not come naturally or easily to me, so even though that is common activity for artists to supplement their income, I don’t see it on the horizon for me.”

Who is your favorite artist? “That’s difficult, there are and were so many… Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Degas, Escher,  Frazetta … just for starters.”
What is the most significant decision you ever made? “It’s more like a decision I didn’t make: I didn’t do nearly enough to promote myself just after college.  I ended up with my eggs in one basket, so when work dried up in one area I wasn’t prepared and I ended up seeking out “day jobs.”  If I had stuck with it, I may have been making art as a career for years already!  I try not to think about that with regret, though, since that’s not very useful.  Instead I use it as a reason to keep working at it now.
What is your favorite season in Minnesota and why? “Autumn.  My ideal weather is about 60 degrees and rainy, and I love going for a walk on a rainy fall day, when the brightest foliage seems to glow through the gray and damp.  The rain makes everything smell fresh and earthy!”

If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it? “Invest wisely to life off it, and spend my time making art and enjoying time with friends and family.  Any profit made from my work at that point would be donated to animal causes with maybe a little kept for “fun money.”
What makes you laugh the most? “I like British comedy, plus parodies and spoofs.  I also enjoy sort of dark or twisted comedy.  In general I try not to take life too seriously.”
What words of advice would you have for someone starting out?
Always keep in mind your target clients and ways to show them your work.  I’ve always believed in the saying “Luck is being prepared for opportunity;” act as if your next big client is just around the corner.  Most important is probably to be persistent and patient.”
Janine creates truly wonderful and thoughtful gifts for any occasion or simply to remember a loyal companion. Please visit her website at www.4pawsterity.com

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lottie's Trinkets - Meet Lise Spence-Parsons

Lise Spence-Parsons of Lottie's Trinkets
Lise Spence-Parsons is owner and creator of Lottie’s Trinkets. I had the good fortune to meet Lise at a recent craft show where she told me I had an “Accent. “  Lise specializes in unique, handmade jewelry, designed with quality semi-precious stones, glass, Swarovski crystals and pearls.
Lise is originally from the London area in the UK and relocated to the United States in 2002 for her husband’s work. (She has s bit of an “Accent" herself)  She says; “I am from an artistic family on my paternal side and most members of my family have an artistic passion of sorts.” Her family is small, with a sister and mother in the UK and some close family in Sweden.  Her husband’s family is small as well and also live in the UK , they are the only two that moved to the US.
Lise currently resides in Maple Grove, MN with her husband and two kitties. She spends most of her time at home doing domestic things and also running her business, which has been trading successfully since 2005. She says; “I use one of the rooms in the basement as my “Studio” and “Lottie Trinkets” headquarters. I dream of having a real studio and/or shop to make and sell my work, we shall see.”
Garnet Rings
Lise likes to call herself an “Art Jewelry Designer” she says; “ I work hard at developing my ideas and try to push boundaries just a little. I generally stick to necklaces, bracelets and earrings. I enjoy using all sorts of materials in my work and really enjoy recycling old antique and vintage beads and findings and make something new for someone to enjoy.”She describes her style as “European” and states “You can take the girl out of London, but you can’t take London out of the girl.”  She adds, “I would say I am eclectic and experimental with style and color combinations. To me it’s all about form, function and design. Each piece I design must be balanced in all aspects before it goes out for general review and sale.”
Sweet Treat
Lise’s artistic talents have always been “Lurking inside of her and burning to get out.” She recalls, “Some of my earliest memories are of myself are drawing, coloring and making things fit together. One of my best presents ever was a package of color cards and a pot of cow gum (glue) and a pair of scissors…..joy!”  She shared with me that she never formally studied art and merely followed her family’s art forms being practiced from painting and photography, to fashion design and music and that it is all second nature.  Lise was an accountant for 17 years in London and “The artist” did not escape until they came to the US to live. She became interested after attending a class with a friend where she learned to wire wrap beads. She said;”I knew I was hooked and Lottie’s Trinkets was born 3 months later.
Vintage Wood
I asked Lise where she draws her inspiration from?  “Inspiration comes in many guises, sometimes so subtle you don’t even realize it. However, most of my ideas come from reading books, I imagine a character wearing a certain item…sometimes it’s TV or on the street, you see someone wearing an item and think “yeah, I could use those beads I bought…”
Her ideas for her actual design of a piece can take a long time. “I like to lay the beads out and walk away, come back and look again, move some around and then take or add some others.  I can make pieces up and later break them down again to tweak as it does not hang correctly or the colors are wrong for each other.”
What skills have you found essential in your work?  “Skills required in my work are infinite, as I run my own business I am the designer, maker, supplies purchaser, marketer, accountant, booth agent, salesperson etc. However, one skill I have found invaluable is patience…it can be applied to all of the disciplines above. Another is to have a humor and be prepared to laugh at yourself.”
Sunburnt Blueberries
How often do you work? “I try to work most days, probably 30% of my time is designing and making the pieces, the remainder is looking/shopping/sourcing antique malls for supplies, book-keeping, locating and applying for art fairs and then general administration.”
Have you worked with any organizations to further your career as an artist? “I actually do volunteer my time to local charity groups for special needs kids in the metro area. I teach jewelry making for about 16 girls for a few Saturdays and other days throughout the year. This is my 5th year of doing this and I find it very rewarding and the girls love it!”
What advice can you give people just getting started? “This is a hard life and not an easy fix; do not expect results, sales/profits immediately. All art forms are competitive, but jewelry design is one of the most oversubscribed.  You have to be different, your designs unique and you must live the passion.”
If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it? “After doing all the normal family things, I would travel the world and experience different cultures. I’ve traveled a lot in my life so far and there is nothing that expands my mind more. I would also invest in myself and get that studio/shop and make my dreams come true?”
Lise ‘s website is www.lottietrinkets.com   it is linked to PayPal to facilitate payments. She also sells the same items on http://www.artfire.com/users/LottiesTrinkets and http://www.madeitmyself.com/user/lottiestrinkets.aspx

Monday, February 7, 2011

Our First Craft Show as a Vendor

Pat and Pam
On Saturday, my sister Pam and I attended our very first craft show as a vendor. It was held at the Maple Grove Community Center in Maple Grove, MN.  We wanted to take our first “Crafting baby step” to not only see how much work was involved in doing a show , but wondering if our “Stuff” would even sell.  So, here is our story and for you seasoned craft show people out there, you may even get a chuckle from our experience.  We both had a sleepless night making sure we had everything packed and ready to go. What if the alarm clock did not go off? Better set two alarms for a back up. Where will our booth be, and what crafters will be there?  Our husband’s  were so supportive and were just as excited as we were to have a successful day. They helped us unload the vehicles and found our spot #23 taped on the floor.   
There it was our 10x8 piece of carpet to create and build our home and live in for the next eight hours.  The adrenaline boost was exhilarating as we set up our tables, put on the tablecloths and began to unload our containers.  It was a mad frenzy all around us we were so pumped to get everything ready so we could see who all was there. (Note to self: Do not wear a fleece top or turtle neck and sweatshirt while assembling  your  booth or you will lose 10 pounds from sweating.)
We did it, we set our booth up within 45 minutes, and then spent 10 minutes moving things around, stepping back and re-checking it again. Yes, it was time for an open house at address #23 and we were ready for business. Both husband’s were so proud us and of course pictures had to be taken and then a kiss to thank them and off they went.
There were 50 booths, about half were handmade crafts.   Even though there was not a lot of traffic, at the end of the day, Pam sold 4 of her dried flower creations, and I sold 16 of my cotton washcloths.  The social aspect of the event was priceless, as we met so many people who were either beginners like us, or seasoned show attendees. Our customers were so complimentary of our work and it was nice knowing that our hard work paid off.
Roger Freind, sister Rose and Dad
These are a few of our neighbors who had the most visitors at their booth. Roger Freind made “No-Sew” fleece throw blankets.  Roger was supported by his sister Rose and his father.  I purchased a blanket for my new niece to give to her for her birthday.
Irene Simonson
Irene Simonson created cozy beds to spoil your pets, she call them her “Cuddle Bud Beds” Her website is www.petpizzaz.com
Randee Ward
Randee Ward was a big hit with her recycled and elegant flattened bottles  and decorative wine glasses. You can reach her at randeeward@yahoo.com

Michelle Ritacco and Cathy Sportelli
Michelle Ritacco and Cathy Sportelli owners of Music Designed for Kids. They create personalized CD’s and DVD’s for children.  Check their site out a www.musicdesignedfor kids.com 

Grandpa Jim
“Grandpa Jim “Wright sold homemade Maple Syrup tapped from the trees of Frederic Wisconsin at the Wilderness Fellowship Ministries camp. All proceeds go to support their efforts at www.wildernessfellowhip.com 
Brenda Stanton
Brenda Stanton is owner and creator of Driving Force Energy. I enjoyed sampling  her all natural, no preservative popcorn and energy bars. Brenda has very unique flavors and can be reached at www.drivingforceenergy.com
Pam and I rate our first experience as a  A+. We met so many nice people that were so passionate about what they create.  We were a sponge absorbing information and sharing what we have learned as well. We want to thank our family, friends and spouses for their support. We were inspired by our ladies at Creative Chicks CafĂ© to take that first step and attend our first craft show as a vendor.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wildlife in the back yard

We have so much snow this winter that all of the birds and animals are seeking food. We have always kept feeders out year round and suet as we love all "things" even the damn squirrels. Yesterday about 2:30 these three girls showed up. Early this morning my neighbor called and said "You have three deer sleeping under your pine tree".  They don't have to worry about being hungry anymore.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ice fishing on the Lake we grew up on

That's Pam under all the layers
Brian and AJ

Dave's in the fish house no picture of  him

Pam and Patty
Pam and her husband Brian went ice fishing last weekend on the lake we grew up on, Snail Lake. They loaded up their snowmobiles and became a taxi service bringing us back and forth from shore. I did not have a fishing license so my job was to skim the holes and watch for bobbers bouncing. My niece Kelly came with her boyfriend Clint. Also a neighbor Dave that lives by Pam and Brian, and a co-worker AJ. Although AJ caught the only fish, and it was a nice crappie, we all had a fun time. Thanks Pam and Brian for bringing back the fun memories of growing up on Snail Lake.