Frequently Asked Questions
Sometimes the easiest way to discuss my work or my life as an artist is to answer some frequently asked questions. You might be surprised how often the same or similar questions get asked!
1. Faerie House Questions
It all depends… some structures, made on site can take just a few hours to several days to put together. Anytime I work with fresh flowers, for example, I have maybe 10 minutes to make and take the photos. These are by far the hardest pieces to make. Structures with more detailed windows and doors, for example, require planning and making the individual elements ahead of time and it can take several days just to complete those elements plus another day or two to complete the piece in the field. The most advanced houses, the ones made entirely in the studio, made for my collectors, can take a month or two to create… after all, I begin every sculpture with just a pile of twigs and bark and there are no blueprints!
I used to do this but I have discovered that everyone likes to learn and create at their own pace. This is why I wrote my BOOK which covers all of the basic building techniques and materials used to make these sculptures. Using the book as an instruction manual is better than a workshop because you can go at your own pace and design your house using the natural materials you have from your region. Plus I teach much more in the book than I ever could in a single workshop.
Yes, I will be offering my detailed, studio-built constructions for sale from time to time for my collectors. For now I will be selling them exclusively through my website in my shop. Please keep in mind that these are one-of-a-kind sculptures that sometimes take months to complete. They are not toys nor are they suitable for children as they are made from delicate natural materials. I sell only my best houses to serious collectors. Prices range widely depending on size and details/features and generally start at around $1000.
2. Environmental Sculpture Questions
Almost always I leave the piece in place after the photos are taken. It is often a deeply moving experience for me to do this. In a way it feels like giving something back, out of love, to this beautiful earth. Since I often do this work alone, off the beaten trail, so to speak, it is rare that others find the works because they do disappear back into the landscape rather quickly since that is where they came from in the beginning. My heart often feels immense, overwhelming gratitude when I am finished making and photographing a piece. I often pause just before I leave and give thanks to the Earth for such Beauty. Is this profound feeling coming from me or to me from the earth? Does it matter? To me it is all part of the wholeness of the process.
I do know of one piece however that got removed from its place by someone… that is OK too….I hope they enjoyed it!
I love working with ice. It was the first material I started to work with when I decided to experiment with environmental art. I had NO idea what to do or how to do it! Every time I work with ice I learn something new. For where I live the best temperatures to work ice seem to be between 24 and 28 degrees. Colder than that and things freeze too quickly. Warmer than that and they may not freeze enough. I found that working at night often was the key to the best work because the temperatures stayed relatively consistent and there usually was no wind. Wind is a big problem with most delicate environmental work and ice is no exception. As the structures build and develop there is more mass so the freezing of new ice to old gets easier. One secret tool is a folding Felco pruning saw… it cuts ice amazingly well and gets into tight places for icicle harvesting but it has to be used gently. Ice is sensitive to vibration and I’ve lost many a large icicle while trying to cut it.
If you live in a cold climate, just dress warmly and go out and start playing with ice…it is very satisfying to work with and when the sunlight hits it, it is pure magic!
3. Painting Questions
The shaped puzzles are very common now, but I was the artist who first pioneered the concept back in the day when I was working with an American puzzle company. We knew that people who love jig-saw puzzles like to have lots of small details to help them put an image together. I took the original outline shape of a familiar animal and worked out what the image would look like if it filled that puzzle shape alone. I then created smaller animals from that same real-world ecosystem to fit with the anatomy and contours of the large, original animal. To me, they were collectively representing the interwoven environment that they all shared together.
I really enjoyed making these paintings and they were very successful. A lot of companies soon started to copy the concept but mostly they seemed to just put animals inside the large outline any way they could. Also, it was right around this time that digital tools started being used more for commercial products and it was very easy for them to just cut and paste whatever they wanted into the image. My work was all done old school using real materials, relentless planning and careful execution all done on paper in watercolors. Each image took months to complete.
Why do you work in watercolor? Your images are so detailed and rich. I’m used to watercolors looking thin and pale but yours are not. How do you do it?
Thank you for asking! When I was first starting out, I tried many different mediums to see which ones felt the best to me. I have to say, I loved the simplicity and transparency of watercolors, but I was frustrated for YEARS until I learned how to properly manage the medium. I still make mistakes but the rich, deep colors are for me what I love most about the medium. Plus it is relatively non-toxic to use and portable for field sketching, which I love to do when I”m not making faerie houses or environmental sculptures.
4. Artist/General Questions
Your studio must be amazing! Can I come and visit sometime? Can I bring my daughter? My grandchild? When can I come see your studio? Do you ever have open house?
I get this question a lot and while I would love to be welcoming of my fans, the truth is I’m very reclusive and need my privacy. Also, I sometimes need to leave quickly to take advantage of good weather or other photogenic opportunities so planning for visits becomes a challenge. Additionally my studio is often not fit for visitors safety due to my processes and materials being rather un-tidy at times! If this policy ever does change however, I will announce it in my blog.
Yes, indeed you can! I am currently building a selection of images that you can order as prints thru my shop. As time progresses I will be adding more images and options. If you want one of my images from any of my books, or from any of my gallerys as a print, please use the contact form HERE to make your request.