Thursday, November 25, 2010


Melbourne Australia artist Elizabeth Armstrong says that "color is her driving force".  A full time feltmaker and textile artist, she also teaches workshops and spends a great deal of time as an "artist-in-residence" in primary and secondary schools. Elizabeth uses pure wool Australian yarns, silk sourced from Italy and Japan as well as Soylux - a soy silk product.   She currently divides her artwork amongst whimsical dolls, beautiful wraps, intricate scarves, bold wall hangings and cushions. 

RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO:   Did you always envision a life as an artist?
ELIZABETH ARMSTRONG:  As a young person I thought that being an artist was such a wonderful romantic thing to do.  I never knew you could actually earn a living from it! I had planned a life in classical music. Circumstances changed and I am so glad - I still play but my life is firmly rooted in being a textile and mixed media artist now.

RWSS:   What was your first experience with felt making? 
ELIZABETH:  My first experience was looking at a chapter in an old book from the
1970's and just having a go. The results were pretty appalling now that I think about them, but it
didn't discourage me.

  Do you have a dedicated studio?
ELIZABETH:  Yes - I couldn't bear to be without it. It is every artist's dream to
have their own place to work  -  and I believe they are entitled to one.


RWSS:   Can you describe a typical day for us?
ELIZABETH:  My studio practice is based on breaking up the different activities I
have on the drawing board. So each day I do a little of each part of the process - lay out a new piece, felt another one, work out some new colorways write up notes or illustrate in the journal and do some hand and machine embroidery in the evening. In this way there are always several works on the go and I don't get bogged down in the middle of any one project.  I also photograph my work as it grows as well as recording the end result.  I never work for longer than 2 hours at a time because I think you
need to stay fresh in your approach. Going away for an hour and coming back has great benefits  - you can reflect on what you are doing or simply forget about it for a while.  These interim times are spent gardening and doing domestic tasks. 


RWSS:   Would you consider felt making to be more about the process than the outcome? ELIZABETH:   Felt making is very process orientated - the joy in making something progress from a pile of fluff to a piece of art is very exhilarating. If the outcome is successful then it follows a cyclic nature. You can't wait to go back to the beginning to start the fun all over again.

  Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating handmade felt so enticing?
ELIZABETH:  It is this most singular element to the process that has kept me intrigued - no matter how much sketching and planning takes place there is always something  - perhaps a colour or shape that just takes you by surprise and gives you a good shake!

RWSS:  Any indispensable tools or equipment?
ELIZABETH:  I would say the studio - the peace in working uninterrupted cannot be overrated. Top quality wool and a table at waist height.

RWSS:   Do you work strictly in nuno felt or do you apply both nuno and needle felting techniques to create your handmade felt?
ELIZABETH:  I use several different techniques to do my handmade felt. I am a wet felter and nuno is one of the techniques that I use. I do use the Babylock Embellisher to secure pieces together before wet felting them again.

RWSS:  Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?
  I would say that all my commission work is quite planned - with drawings, lists of colours and samples. This is mainly for the client who cannot get inside my head and needs more reassurance that I know where I am headed! I generally sketch for days on a particular theme and then just put it aside. A week or so later I will tackle the subject but without looking back at the journal. If I have anything worthy  in my head then hopefully it will develop naturally. Drawing is a great tool for clearing the head.

RWSS:  How do you know when to "stop" - when do you consider a piece actually finished?
ELIZABETH:   For the longest time my Mum has said " Now don't gild the lily".  The other one I like is " Just because you've got it doesn't mean you have to use it!" I think that more than ever I feel I am in tune with what I am doing and there comes a point when I know. When I feel I am struggling to move ahead then it is time to stop.  The other indicator is when I am hunting for "something" to add.  Clearly it is time to stop!

RWSS:   Some of your time is spent as an Artist in Residence at primary and secondary levels.  Your thoughts about the importance of introducing art to students in grade school?
ELIZABETH:  Absolutely imperative!  If children don't get exposed to artistic experiences then their opportunity to excel at such a subject is completely overlooked. How many artists have slipped through the system because there was a lack of opportunity? How many children have ended up participating in negative behavior because their form of expression has been shut down at an early age?

RWSS:   My greatest source of inspiration is....
ELIZABETH:  Color - how it makes me feel and inspires reactions in others.


Favorite quote?
ELIZABETH:  "Who, being loved, is poor?" Oscar Wilde

RWSS:   When do you do your best creative thinking?
ELIZABETH:  No particular time - mostly at night, listening to Bach or Handel and
just drawing.

RWSS:  What do you enjoy most about your work?
ELIZABETH:  The fact that I am lucky enough to do it.

RWSS:  Best advice you've ever received?
ELIZABETH:  Go and be an artist.

RWSS:  Best part of your day?
ELIZABETH:  Early morning and a cup of tea.

  Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
ELIZABETH:  GOLLY! There are so many! I would like a blogmeet where everyone I
have made close friends with online comes over to my studio and we just make art all day!
There would, of course, be great food and super coffee!

RWSS:   What is the one thing that people would be surprised to find out
about you?
 ELIZABETH:  My dream is to build a straw bale home.

RWSS:   Any words of wisdom?
ELIZABETH:  If you want to be a full time artist - don't go cold turkey and quit work tomorrow.  Plan for it and save for it. The first months are hard without a little behind you. Have a web presence and make it look professional. Start a blog straight away so that by the time you are working full time at what you love, people will know you.  Learn as many techniques in your field as you can. Avoid copying at all costs. Find your own voice - if you love it then someone else will as well.  DON'T BE AFRAID AND HANG IN THERE!

To view more of this talented artist's work, we invite you to visit Elizabeth's website Frost Fair or her delightful blog Studiofelter.

All photos are courtesy of Elizabeth Armstrong. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


 The Sketchbook Project: 2011

Anyone from any part of the world can be part of this project!

Your sketchbook will tour the country along with those of every other artist who completes the project.  The books will visit galleries and museums across the USA putting your art in front of thousands of people!  After the tour, all of the sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library where they will be available for the public to view.

Visit The Sketchbook Project 2011 Tour for more information.  Remember that in order to participate you must sign up by October 31, 2010! 

What a great idea!   What are you waiting for?

 Be Bold!  Be Inspired!   Be Creative

Monday, September 13, 2010


We're celebrating and you're invited!  Become a follower on Facebook or Twitter and you will automatically be entered into our monthly draw for free giveaways!

Saturday, July 31, 2010


California native Roxanne Padgett knew she wanted to be an artist when she did her first art project at age 4 - it was a mixed media piece with gumdrops and a dishtowel.  She has been teaching art to kids for over 30 years and has worked with the Museum of Children's Art for 13 years.  She says "It's rare when I don't have some kind of notebook or journal with me;  you never know when random acts of inspiration will happen".  Roxanne currently resides in Hayward, California with her husband and two dogs.


RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO:   Morning person or night owl?
ROXANNE:  I have become a morning person because of having to get up early to teach art in schools, so now it’s more habit than inclination. But I have to admit that I’m not very creative after 10:00 at night anyway. So, maybe I’m a day person.

RWSS:  Formal training or accidental artist?
ROXANNE:  I would say neither, really. I have always created and made things, my earliest memories are of the things I created as a very small child. It was always just what I did and still do.

      RWSS:  Do you have a dedicated studio space?
ROXANNE:  Yes, I have always had some place to work. When I was a kid, it was my bedroom closet. When my kids were little, it was the kitchen table and a shelf. Now I have turned the living room into a studio, and part of the garage and bits and pieces of space through out the house. I think every person should have a small private place that is dedicated to them, whatever they do, no matter the size of the space.

      RWSS:   Favorite quote?
ROXANNE:  I love quotes! I collect them and write them down in my journals. Many a journal page or a piece of art has been inspired by words. My favorite right now-
“Artists are people who play hide-and-seek, but do not know what they seek until they find it” H.W. Janson

      RWSS:    Best advice you’ve ever received?
ROXANNE:  Probably, it was my husband that suggested that if I organized my materials that I would have more time to create. That was over 20 years ago, even now when I get stuck on a project, I start to clean or organize my materials and then usually something will come to me. The other piece of advice is the one I tell myself everyday, you can’t get away from yourself now matter how hard you try, so don’t try, just let what is in you come out. And if the work is only interesting to me, well, I can live with that.

      RWSS:  We love the vibrancy and freedom that your journal covers possess – can you remember what prompted you to make your first one?
ROXANNE:  I have always been attracted and inspired by visual images. When I was 4 or 5 years old I began a systematic process of cutting out all the color pictures out of my parents Encyclopedia Britannica set and pasting them into my hand made books made from scrap paper. I always put the best picture on the cover. I did that for a few years until my Mom caught me and then gave me National Geographic to cut up. I just developed the process over many years. I love to add lots of color and layers of materials, paper, scraps, fabrics, sewing, painting, and drawing. I love to see what new ideas come from the layering process. Today, I rely much less on magazine pictures. But I still like to go through old mags and books and collect images, just a meditative process.

      RWSS:    Do you work with a planned course of action or prefer to be spontaneous when you create?
ROXANNE:  I do both. I usually start with a general idea in my mind. I can usually visualize the project in some form, but the important thing is to leave room for the unexpected, the stuff that you didn’t know was there. I think that is one reason why I never get tried of creating. I don’t want to totally control the process but I do think it is important to be able to know how to use your tools and materials and be able to react to what is happening.

      RWSS:  What is it about Frida Kahlo that inspires you?
ROXANNE:  What doesn’t inspire me about Frida? Her art, her passion, her personal style, I think she has become such an iconic symbol of the powerful woman artist.
Some people say that she started to do art because she was confined to a bed. I think she did art not because of her accident, but in spite of it, perhaps the accident was merely the catalyst.

      RWSS:    Who or what has influenced your style the most?
ROXANNE:  Colors in nature, art, books.

      RWSS:   Any indispensable tools or equipment?
ROXANNE:  Sewing machine, scissors, paint, stencils, water soluble crayons, camera, books, books and more books.

      RWSS:  You currently work for the Museum of Children’s Art.  Could you tell us a bit more about your role there and what it means to you?
ROXANNE:  I have worked at the museum for 13 years. I began teaching children art during the school day. Young children are creative and fearless and are a great source of inspiration for me. As children get older they start to think that they are not creative or an artist, that art is only for the special few who can draw. It is my mission and passion to keep students engaged in the creative process. I began to realize that the classroom teachers were no different than the students. They too, somewhere along the line decided they were not artists or creative. So, I shifted my focus to teaching classroom teachers how to teach art in their classrooms. And that begins by having them doing art themselves through professional development workshops. I think I can affect more children having art if more classroom teachers are comfortable with art themselves.

      RWSS:  Do you feel exposure to art plays an important enough role in grade school?
ROXANNE:  Wow, how much time to I have to write about this subject? When I went to school in the sixties & seventies we always had art once or twice a week, we even had an art teacher. I don’t think I could have tolerated school without art classes, it was so much a part of my identity, and I wasn’t very good at anything else, it was where I got my confidence. There is very little art in schools right now, testing and stats seem to rule the day. To have art in school is not just about making beautiful things, but is about the creative thinking process, problem solving, communicating and understanding the world. Having art in the school setting is not just about creating artists, but about creating well educated human beings.

RWSS:   What do you enjoy most about being a teaching artist? 
ROXANNE:  Sharing the creative process with others and getting them to believe that they also are creative, in whatever form that takes. Plus I get lots of inspiration when I watch kids paint; their combinations of colors are fearless.

      RWSS:   If you had to choose another career what would it be?
ROXANNE:  That’s a hard one, anything creative, a photographer, or a writer.

      RWSS:  Best part of your day?
ROXANNE:  Getting up in the morning to my first cup of coffee, thinking about all the creative things that I could do that day.

      RWSS:   What is the one thing that most people would be surprised to find out about you?
ROXANNE:  I love to dance to 70’s disco and funk music. I have also been known to don a sumo suit and wrestle with my sister.

RWSS:  Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day? 
ROXANNE:  I would love to meet Georgia O’Keefe; we would walk in the dessert and collect bones, sticks and rocks. We wouldn’t even have to talk much. But we would discuss the subtle colors in all that we observed. We would notice the day sky turning into evening, the visual texture of a cactus, the smell of sage brush… Maybe we would take photos, to be used as inspiration for a painting. She would take me to her quiet spot where we would meditate…………..ponder the stars.

            RWSS: I’d be lost without……….
ROXANNE:  My family.

      RWSS: Favorite dessert?
ROXANNE:  Vanilla Hagen Das with fresh raspberries and raw sugar. In fact my Grand Daughter calls me Raspberry MiMi.

      RWSS: Any words of wisdom?
      ROXANNE:  “Fear No Color
      Try something, even if you think it won’t work.  Be fearless, what’s the worse thing that
      could happen? In the end, it’s only a piece of paper or canvas or (you fill in the blank).

Roxanne is currently featured in the Summer 2010 issue of Sew Somerset magazine and
will also be one of the instructors at JournalFest 2010 in Port Townsend, Washington.  As a teaching artist, she offers fiber and visual journal classes for adults and has a great blog titled Art House 577

Sunday, July 25, 2010


What could possibly be better than Thr3Fold Journal Issue 4?  Why Thr3Fold Journal Issue 5, of course!

The fifth journal in the ever popular Thr3Fold Journal series is now available and as promised, does not disappoint!  Linda, Laura and Catherine have outdone themselves yet again!

There is a FaceBook Challenge, Diary of a Quilt returns and our favorite new section is called Felt It / Stitch It.  Topics include art quilts, printing, embroidery and needlefelting.  The 52 page full colour printed journal comes with an accompanying CD equally filled with informative articles, patterns, copyright free images and video clips.


To keep up with Laura and Linda Kemshall we invite you to visit their FaceBook page and become a fan!  Catherine Nicholls has a wonderful website called Corvid Creations that shares her textile pieces as well as her explorations in drawing and  mixed media. 

Be Bold!         Be Inspired!          Be Creative!

Friday, May 28, 2010


Alysn Midgelow-Marsden works with embroidered textiles using a wide range of contemporary textile and mixed media techniques.  Although she works primarily in metal shims, her work also includes dying, painting, piecing and burning fabrics and often features embellishment by hand and machine.  Author of 'This Lustr'ed Cloth', Between the Sheets with Angelina' and
'The Continuous Thread of Revelation', she also manages and directs the Beetroot Tree Gallery in Draycott, Derbyshire England.  


RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO:  Favorite place you’ve been or lived?
ALYSN:  I’ve not had a chance to live in many places or travel very widely as yet (one day …), but have found interest in all of the places I have been to, whether because of their physical looks or social history or the people I meet there.
Living in rural Wales was great, I still miss the sea and eventually would like to live next to it again wherever in the world that might be.
I am very much looking forward to a visit to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in December as I have been fascinated with ancient cultures for many years, the Maya included.

RWSS:    Best advice you’ve ever received? 
ALYSN: Never have 3 children (immediately ignored!)

RWSS:   Worst advice you’ve ever received? 
ALYSN: Never have 3 children.

RWSS:    Your roots in embroidery were encouraged by your Grandmother.  Is anyone else in your family artistic? 
ALYSN:  My mother has taken to embroidery since retiring, so something artistic must have been lurking under the covers there, one of my sisters is a Reader in Performance Studies and is a dance theatre performer and each of my children are creative in their own ways, though whether this influences their career choice, or is simply a pleasure for them in their lives, we shall see …


RWSS:  What inspires your creativity? 
ALYSN:  I think that I am most interested in attempting to visualize the emotions we have or the feeling in a moment or a place rather than the actual physical look of it. Several early paintings explored my feelings after the death of a friend. I remember having one of those ‘oh, yes’ moments when looking at the progression of Mondrian’s work from realism to expressionism, seeing how a series of boxes and lines in very simple colours could dance.

RWSS:    Are there any of your own pieces that you can’t bear to part with? 
ALYSN:  Most of them, usually just after I have sold them! There have been a few pieces with very personal imagery, perhaps invisible to anyone else, and I feel the loss of those when I think about them. However, the pleasure of knowing that someone loves the work enough to buy it is a compensation, and I am sure that they all go to ‘good homes’.


RWSS:  Any indispensable tools or equipment? 
ALYSN:  I guess fundamentally my brain and hands are the most indispensable, though the lack of a sewing machine and a computer would take some adjusting to!

RWSS:   Favorite medium to work with? 
ALYSN:  For a while now I have been concentrating upon using primarily metals and metal cloths which have lots of very interesting properties and I suspect that this will continue, but I never give up exploring alternative media and discovering which of these can add statements to the pieces I am creating.


RWSS:    What is the most rewarding part of being involved with and managing The Beetroot Tree Gallery? 
ALYSN:  There are various favorites. One is a personal satisfaction from having developed and grown a business through difficult times, in the challenging market sector of contemporary art. Another is being in a position to help other artists (including those who work for me at the Gallery) to sell their work and to develop their careers. Another is the pleasure of having been able to provide for the visitor an experience which they gained from, whether exhibitions, events, installations, workshops etc. or a piece to take home, knowing it will be appreciated so much more than a print off the shelf from a chain store.


RWSS:    What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?
ALYSN:  There are two very different aspects which I find exciting about the current world of textile art. First is the gradual acceptance of textiles in the fine art world as a valid art material for expression, and the understanding of makers using textiles as a medium that they should be taken seriously as artists in a wider context than the ‘ghetto’ of the textile only shows and exhibitions. Certainly at the Beetroot Tree we usually show textiles alongside other media, showing the diversity of expression between makers using the different media. Second is the continuing joy with which the creative textile makers, from hobbyists to professionals, take in exploring new possibilities and ideas from other art and craft forms or materials from sources as wide as  the natural world or high industry are taken up with dizzying speed and great resourcefulness. I personally do not think that there is another creative field which is as broad a church as the textile/embroidery arena.


RWSS:   Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day? 
ALYSN:  The difficulty of questions like this is that there are people from all walks of life and periods of history who would be interesting to meet, many I don’t even know names for such as the Miao maker of a ‘folded thread book’ which I recently acquired and am fascinated by, or the embroideresses of African Kuba cloths etc. People from times and places where a vision and skill has been developed to truly exceptional heights. If I restrict myself to living artists, I might choose two artists whose work could be seen as diametrically opposed, but both, I suspect create with both thoughtfulness and passion. The first is Andy Goldsworthy. I would love to talk to and watch and perhaps work with him as his work is apparently calm and simple, finding pattern and order in the natural environment or natural materials, drawing something of the nature of the material then juxtaposing the obvious and expected with surprising  structures or unexpected properties, though never creating jarring, unnatural or overbearing forms. At the opposite extreme, meeting Zandra Rhodes and watching her develop work for one of her wild and extravagant collections would be inspiring. Perhaps because I sit somewhere between these extremities, working with either would be a challenge and I am sure that I would learn a great deal from both.


RWSS:   What is the one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you? 
ALYSN:  Perhaps that I once wanted to be an engineer – this is not only surprising as something very different to the creative path I have chosen now but with my limited attention span for logical and methodical processes and following rules, it is a very good thing for the world that no-one relies upon my calculations!


RWSS:   Best part of your day? 
ALYSN: Ticking something off my ‘to do’ list as finished. I hate days when I feel that I have been working all day and achieved nothing, unless I have been able to spend a good run of time making in the studio without interruption – then that counts as achieving something as well.

RWSS:   I’d be lost without…
ALYSN:  The internet!

RWSS:  Can we look forward to seeing a new book from you in the near future? 
ALYSN:  At least three are in the pipeline, mostly in the planning stages – each very different from each other and each as exciting to me in their own right.


RWSS:   What would you like to be remembered for? 
ALYSN:  Inspiring and encouraging others to make the most of their potential, in life and creatively and for making artwork which endures and gives thoughtful pleasure to the viewers.

RWSS:   What would you do with a few extra hours each day? 
ALYSN:  I would get around to making more of the work that I imagine making as I make other work.

RWSS:   Your favorite luxury in life? 
      ALYSN:  Good coffee and red wine.


RWSS:   Favorite quote?  
ALYSN:  "An artist is not a special kind of person, but everyone is a special kind of artist". (Author unknown)

RWSS:   Any words of wisdom? 
ALYSN:  Create with passion, enjoy the process of creativity and quit worrying about the end of the journey before you are there.  (Does that count as wisdom?)

We are pleased to feature Alysn's book This Lustr'ed Cloth in our online store - it continues to be an excellent resource for textile and fibre artists.

To learn more about Alysn and her work please visit The Beetroot Tree gallery website.
All photos courtesy of Alysn Midgelow-Marsden.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Hosted by Linda and Laura Kemshall, Design Matters TV allows you to enjoy the inspiration of taking exciting workshops without ever leaving the comfort of your own home!

Covering all aspects of creative art and craft techniques, Linda and Laura will kickstart your creativity as they provide technical advice and expertise in quilt making, embroidery, painting, drawing, sketchbooks and more.


Available by subscription, Design Matters TV also includes printable worksheets, patterns and templates for projects in each show.  Not sure if it's for you?  No problem - free shows are also available to introduce you to the informal style and format of Design Matters TV.

Check it out here:  Design Matters TV  We think it should be called Must Have TV! 

Sunday, April 4, 2010


San Diego resident Jane LaFazio is a mixed media artist who usually works in paper and cloth.  Inspired by her surroundings and often the symbols of traditional folk arts, her work displays a common theme of texture and color.  Jane loves to teach, to travel and is a brilliant watercolorist - she will be combining all three loves in May of this year when she travels to teach in Orvieto, Italy.  We are fascinated with her original Rainbow Series of 'slow cloth' and hope you enjoy her work as much as we do!


RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO:  Did you always envision life as a full time artist?
JANE LAFAZIO:  No, I never even thought of it until I was laid off from my marketing job at an architecture firm in 1998.  I started painting watercolor in 1993 - I'd begun framing and selling my work and was just about to have my first solo exhibition and then I got laid off.  So I spent the next 5 weeks madly preparing for my exhibition and made the decision (leap of faith) to try and be a full time artist - for 6 months.  Now, 12 years later, I'm still a full time artist!  Of course, we've made lots of adjustments, like moving to a smaller house, cutting expenses etc. but I know I'm living the life I was meant to lead!


RWSS:  Do you have a dedicated studio space?
JANE:  Yes.  I turned a bedroom in our home into my studio and I love it.  It's crammed with materials and inspiration and with a sliding glass door that brings in light and fresh air when needed.  I love having a home based studio, it works perfect for me.


RWSS:  What inspires your creativity?
JANE:  So many things!!  Walks through my neighborhood, visits to museums, looking through magazines (I especially love Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts) and reading books by and about artists. I create my own art and I teach a lot to both adults and children, so I'm always on the lookout for a good project to teach.  It really stretches my creativity!  I get an idea and I have to work through it to make it succeed and to teach it.  These projects spill over into my own work.  And frankly, I love the thrill of a new technique!


RWSS:   You have the ability to create wonderful pieces in a variety of media- is there a favorite one to work with?
JANE:  I really love working in many different media.  I was the kind of kid that loved those kits from the craft store (with all the material provided in the box)...make your own plaster of Paris figurines, paint your own wooden Christmas ornaments, make a set of clothes pin dolls, needlework and embroidered pillow tops...I love it all and could seriously spend the day right now playing with one of those kits!  Now, of course, as an 'artist' I create my own original artwork, but the point is that I just love to make things!  So, back to your question.  I love my watercolor sketchbook, that's my art at its most paired down form with the simplest of materials.  I love to hand stitch - I started sewing on my watercolor paintings about 14 years ago before I realized I could sew on cloth too.  (Really.  That's how I began making art quilts).  And also, continuing from childhood, I love to cut and paste.  So...there you go!  That's why I work in such a variety of media, I really enjoy them all.  Anytime I can draw, paint, cut, paste and sew, I'm happy!


RWSS:  Are there any of your own pieces  you can't bear to part with?
JANE:  Two.  One is a body print, started in a workshop and finished on my own.  It's very personal, and I wouldn't part with it.  And a small quilt I did when my precious JazzCat was ill.  He's since passed away and the quilt hangs in our living room.

RWSS:  Any indispensable tools or equipment?
JANE:  Besides reading glasses?  I've got to have my sketchbook, pen and watercolors.  And needle and threads (I'm hooked on hand dyed perle cotton, size 12).

RWSS:   You created the Mundo Lindo program in 2007.  Would you tell us a bit more abut that project and its importance to you.
JANE:  Thanks so much for asking about this.  It is one of the things I'm most proud of.  In 2007 I saw a request for proposal for a grant to 'teach your passion' here in San Diego. I was lucky enough to receive a 2-year grant from the Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation so I could create, teach and provide the supplies for after school art classes.  The classes are free to the low income 4th & 5th graders.  After the grant ended at the facility where I was teaching, The California Center for the arts, Escondido offered me a job to continue on with Mundo Lindo, just as I had before.   Their education director had watched my Mundo Lindo kids for two years as the kids were totally engaged in painting, drawing, collage, building with clay, papier mache, sewing art quilts and puppets! I create all the lessons, which has let my imagination soar and I've watched the kids grow in art and social skills while making art.  It's a great program, and I'm so proud that I'm able to offer it to the children.
Mundo Lindo Beautiful World is the blog dedicated to the Mundo Lindo project.


RWSS:   The value of having a mentor is.......
JANE:  Well, I refer to Danny Gregory as my mentor.  I started reading and commenting on his blog, and he's so generous and so encouraging.  He posted some photos of a kids art class I taught (the lesson was on sketchbooks:  Leonardo DaVinci and Danny Gregory's).  Then I met him on a sketchcrawl in LA, then he included me in his book An Illustrated Life.  I'm so proud to be in that book!  He's just a great guy who has started soooo many people on the sketching path.
I also consider Pokey Bolton a mentor.  She's been so supportive of my art and her attention has really advanced my career.
And whenever I'm asked I try to be a mentor.  Whether it's teaching art, helping a student find their voice in art or helping an artist with marketing ideas or offering scholarships to my classes.  And I strive to be a mentor to all my Mundo Lindo kids!

RWSS:   Favorite quote?
JANE:  "Nothing is worth more than this day".  Goethe

RWSS:  Best advice you've ever received?
JANE:  Hmmm.  In my late twenties,  I was going back to college and my husband advised me against taking bookkeeping and filing classes and to take art classes instead.


RWSS:  Your thoughts on the importance of keeping a sketchbook or journal?
JANE:  When I teach my "Sketching & Watercolor:  Journal Style" workshop, I state at the start of the class that I hope they will fall in love with drawing, just like I have and will be inspired to keep a sketchbook.  For me, it's the act of drawing and painting that I love so much.  Drawing from life helps you become more aware of your surroundings, whether at home or away.  Drawing reveals what otherwise may be missed.  Sitting still allows you to be more aware of the sounds and smells and really see the random detail that makes up life.  Drawing completely absorbs you.  Your journal serves as companion and entertainment center. Drawing helps maintain a deeper connection to the moment, to time, to the world around you.  It brings your life into sharper focus.  It's an authentic record of how you see the world around you.  Working in my sketchbook is like a meditation for me.


RWSS:  You have had the opportunity to travel and live world wide.  Favorite place you've been or lived?
JANE:  Good questions!  My more recent travels have been to colonial Mexico, which I love.  the folk arts and traditions of San Miguel de Allende and Oxaca especially fascinate me.  Husb and I visited Tuscany a dozen years ago, and still rave about the experience - food, art, scenery- so I'm thrilled we're going back this year.  In Asia, I love Hong Kong and Thailand, though I have not been in years.  And New York, for the theatre, museums and excitement.


RWSS:  You will be teaching Bella Italia - a course on creating an illustrated travel journal in Orvieto, Italy this year.  Any advice on the basic essentials everyone should have to create their own travel journal kit?
JANE:  I have a pretty simple kit that's worked for me for years.  A Moleskine brand watercolor sketchbook, a superfine point Pitt artist pen in black, pencil, kneadable eraser,  Jiji waterbrush and a small plastic palette containing an assortment of watercolors.  I keep it in a bag, so I can just grab it.


RWSS:  Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
JANE:  Oprah - and spend the day being interviewed on her TV show.  Oops.  I suppose I should have said something deep like Nietzsche or Buddha.....

RWSS:  What are three things that people would be most surprised to find out about you?
JANE:  I was an international flight attendant in my twenties, I was a contestant on Hollywood Squares in the late '80's and won a car and I went tandem sky diving in the early '90's.

RWSS:  Best part of your day?
JANE:  I'm blessed with living a life I created.  I pretty much live life doing the things I love.  Making art, teaching art, doing yoga, a glass of wine at the end of the day with my husband.  All good.


RWSS:  Your favorite luxury in life?
JANE:  Facials, yoga, taking art workshops and fresh cut flowers.

RWSS:  I'd be lost without.......
JANE:  My husband.  The use of my hands.  My sketchbook.

RWSS:  What's on the horizon for Jane LaFazio?
JANE:  Career wise, things are going great. This year I'm doing lots of teaching and travel, like in Orvieto, Italy in May, Idyllwild Summer Arts Program in July, Art Unraveled in Phoenix, CREATE Retreat in Chicago and taping a DVD in August.  I plan on continuing to make art, teach and write articles about art.  And I would love to go on a yoga retreat!


RWSS:  Any words of wisdom?
JANE:  Learn to draw if you don't think you can.

Jane is an avid blogger who regularly displays her wonderful work and techniques on the blog JaneVille.  She has an instructional video titled The Small Art Quilt and is often featured in publications such as Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors.  To learn more about Jane LaFazio please visit her website Plain Jane Studio.

All photographs courtesy of Jane LaFazio - thank you Jane!