Horror Flicks and Billy Goat Chips: A Day in the Life of a Cosmically Down to Earth Guy from the Middle West, Collinsville artist and poet Terry Pierson

I met Terry Pierson a couple of years ago when he showed up in the front row of a Creative Writing class I was teaching at Southwestern Illionis College on the Belleville campus.  Strangely and serendipitously enough, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen him though.

“Hey, I know you,” I said after taking attendance. ” You are the painter guy from the Joan Baez concert. . . sitting one seat over in the next row.  I remember because you had paint on your jacket and a sketchpad. You were also the dark figure following on the sidewalk just past the Metrolink station.”

In the course of that conversation, we agreed that the concert had been a memorable one, each recalling the moment in the encore after hearing one of our fellow concertgoers shout, “Take it to the full moon, Joanie!”

And take it to the moon she did.  Continue reading


Pastel, Petals, and Channeling Van Gogh: The Emerging Works of Mallory Maves

Today’s artist’s interview features yet another blossoming talent from the Woesthaus night school of play and painting, another new friend and true kindred spirit, already drawing near and dear
to my heart. . .who like myself also too, has come to embrace a passion for
petals and pastels.

I met Mallory last spring. . .when the snow was thick on SWIC pavement. . . and we all propped our canvases close to one another trying to find some warmth in the midst of those Midwestern crows and cornfields. 😉

Mallory was the quiet one who smiled all the time. . .with a painting style very much like the artist
herself, overflowing with an abundance of warmth and sensuality.

You could just stand and watch her dab and dance around the canvas all day. . .her energy is so
inspiring too!

So on with the questions now! Just sit back and enjoy the wild ride!  (and do try to forgive this spacing format.  i am not sure how these line breaks happened with wordpress. . .can’t seem to delete them either.  very mysterious!)


1. Introduce yourself…Tell me about your background.

What events led up to your life in art-making?
I don’t quite remember when I first became interested in art. I was home
schooled from 4th grade all the way through high school, and we always had art
classes with friends.  I remember I loved copying photos because I loved drawing
peoples faces. I would try to get my drawing to look just like the photo, and I
would always get so mad if it didn’t look just right.
I didn’t really start getting into the “artistic” side of drawing until I
started college at Southwestern Illinois College. I have loved every single art
class I’ve taken at SWIC. I really wanted to branch out and learn what I could
do with different medias, so I took as many art classes as possible. I loved
drawing, which I knew, so I took every drawing classes possible including the
studio classes. I then went on to design, photo, ceramics, and painting. I feel
like every art class I took influenced how I perceived my drawing later. I
graduated SWIC 2011 with a double associate’s of AFA and AA.
“Rose”  and “Van Gogh’s Shoes” oil on canvas, Mallory Maves
2. How do you get your hands and feet wet and dirty? What media / material & process do you like best, and why?
I prefer to draw, I use mostly graphite and charcoal, I’ve never been a
huge fan of color pencils. I like to make things as big as possible. When I was
younger I would work on things 8×10 or 5×7 because it was faster to finish
and easier to get done. Now that I understand the amount of detail that can go
into a piece just by upgrading the size to 30×36 or even larger, it makes me
feel that the time that it takes to fill the space is worth it just so I have
the perfect ending to my journey with the piece.
I feel like drawing is a very controlled art which I like, but painting is
what I really let loose with. My friend often says she loves to watch me paint
because I make such and mess around me. Splatters of paint will speckle the work
space around me, and the clothes that I wear, she just thinks it’s so

Mallory's palette

3. You know, Hemingway wrote a whole book around his experiences trying to feed himself in Paris as a starving artist. ..Do tell about your experiences.   How and what DO you feed
I’m almost like a Rothko who only ate cheap Chinese or nothing while
working on a piece. I will go days without eating while working on a piece, not
because I can’t afford it, but because I can’t pull myself out of the “trance”
it has me in. When I do emerge to eat it’s a quick cheap meal that I can quickly
eat before starting again. I also like to drink wine while I paint. During the
“fasting” time I “feed” myself with music, and books, and sources. It is
important to be educated in the world around you so that can convey itself in
your art.
4. Now that you have some food in your stomach, tell me a bit about your process.
Do you have a ritual to get things started?  Comfort stuff. . .listening material?
Just like Audrey Kawasaki I do everything on my floor. When painting, I sit
on the floor in my room and prop my canvas up on the wall. For drawing, I like
laying my drawing board with paper on top right in the center of my floor
and kneel over it, it feels natural to me. I hate easels, I hate standing, and I
even hate sitting in chairs. When I do art I feel like I need to be at one with
myself and the best way to do that is to have no distractions, just me and the
I feel like music and art go hand in hand alot of the time. Music can be
very influential in the artistic process. I will listen to things based on my
mood or the mood of the piece. I normally loop the same albums over and over
depending on what the piece is making me feel. A common CD is “Lungs” by
Florence and the Machine, I could have the CD on repeat for hours and still not
get tired of it. Other that that I will listen to Bjork, Radio Head, TV on the
Radio, and sometimes even Ke$ha (just for fun).
5. What inspires you most?
People! People’s bodies, People’s music, People’s emotions, People’s
thoughts, even the decomposition of a person,  anything that has to do with
someone can and will inspire me. I’m working on a series right now completely
inspired by the expressions on woman’s faces after they die. Although from the
outside this sounds like a graphic horrific task I find the decomposition of the
body to be beautiful when painting. There are so many colors and so many things
the paint can do.  Each “dead woman” will tell a different story just by
the expression in their eyes and face. I’m hoping this will draw in the viewer
and create a thought process to discover the poor soul’s story. Make
people wonder what happened?
I have two oil paintings I am working on in the series, neither of which
are finished. By the time I am done I hope to have 15 drawings and
6. How have you evolved in your process?  What learning experiences have had the biggest
ALL learning experiences have an impact. I have found painting, photo,
ceramics, even make up design to help me with my drawing and vise versa. The
number one thing I would tell anyone that helps is take a design class if
someone is able to. It really helps with a persons artist vocabulary,
the composition of a piece, and even dabbles a bit in color theory. Other than
that I really feel in is important for a person know history, literature, even
biology, everything in life that can be leaner can also be conveyed into an
artistic experience.

"Silence in Film," oil on canvas, Mallory Maves

7. If you could do dinner with any creative person , dead or alive, who would it be and where would you go to dinner?
Mark Ryden hands down! Ryden is a pop-surrealist painter who first started
out in the 1990’s, his work is just breathtaking. He uses his intellect to
create these beautiful paintings of dewy vixens, and random symbolism. I
would probably take him to sushi? Ryden had a solo exhibition in Tokyo in 2003
so I feel like sushi would be a good fit to his interests, plus I just love

8. What would you order and what questions would you ask?
Tamago, Inari, Salmon, Tuna, maybe some spicy crunchy tuna rolls? And a
good white wine of course!
I would probably ask him just how he does it? How does he make an image
that evokes so much feel using every day items, such as meat? I would want to
who what his inspiration is as well. Why dose he create
such ridiculous worlds?
9. Now that you have made your marks, pass the torch. ..what advice do you have for emerging
Go to school, and finish college. I LOVED every college art class I ever
took!!! Also, listen to your teachers! My teachers would drive me so hard to get
more out of me, and although it gets hard to listen and even go to class at
times, they know what they are talking about. Artists especially young ones
often think we don’t need help, but that is not the case, there’s always room
from improvement. So If a teacher says get an artist statement, make one! If
they say go home and drink a cup of tea then draw the leaves at the bottom DO
IT! They know what they are talking about and it’ll make you a better artist in
the end.
The only thing that is kind of controversial that I myself find does not
work for me is keeping an artist journal. I love writing, but I HATE drawing and
planning things out before I start them, I love to just dive in, but every time
a teacher has asked me to do one I’ve done it.
10. For your burgeoning fan club!  Please tell us where we can find
you online.

Right now the only
place I have my art up is my own private facebook. I’ve thought about making a
SLART page or a fan page on facebook but I’m afraid of any backlash or people
not understanding my art.

Maybe once I begin school at SIUE this fall and bulk up my portfolio
alittle more I will think about  making my art public.

Looking Over the Shoulder of Lucien Freud, an Interview with Emerging Artist Lauren Mormino

http://www.etsy.com/shop/MoreMeKnow?ref=pr_shop_more  (See more of Lauren’s work on Etsy!)
I  first met Lauren Mormino in a painting class last semester, one that was offered at the southern Illinois community college where I teach English 101 and Creative Writing as well.   This was also a section wherein many of us were returning to work with a beloved and trusted instructor (our own fearless expressionist mentor extraordinaire and zen dude, Dave Woesthaus) and as  you might expect, most had already bonded and built a tight little community so naturally the “new” students seemed a real curiosity. 

Balloon Faces by Lauren Mormino, acrylic on canvas

I remember immediately being drawn into Lauren’s world initially in seeing her self-portrait work.  These faces and figures were really raw and vulnerable. . .and I was impressed by the artist’s bold strokes, her brave demeanor; she took a lot of risks, ones that many of us might habitually shy away from. . and they always paid off. 
Lauren was the queen of happy accidents I might add. . .always in full playful mode, splashing and mucking about with mixing color and applying bold strokes of it.  It was a joyful experience painting near her and seeing her process unfold.  I loved how you could literally look over one minute and take a mental snapshot of a specific image and in five minutes, that image had been replaced by something entirely new and engaging.  It was especially fun to watch her work collaboratively with her good friend and fellow student,  Jesse White.

Lauren Mormino and Jesse White, acrylic on canvas

The color and narrative is just so vivid here, isn’t it?
I will say that Lauren’s critiques of my own work were usually spot on and I loved that she could just walk over and point out what the piece needed next. 
It’s been a real joy getting to know Lauren this past year.  And I am delighted to share her with you too now!

Lauren Mormino

So here comes the interview.  Prepare to be amazed and delighted in viewing this work.  Personally I always find myself staring at these pieces forever, trying to find all the layers of color; at the same time I am also drawn to the narrative lines here.  What is it these faces are trying to say to me?  What are the secrets behind the eyes, so blatantly frank and yet so hard to pinpoint or define?
Question 1:  Do you have a ritual to get things started? Music stuff. . .listening material?
What inspires you most?
My pieces, as you’ve seen evolve overtime, sometimes
gradually, sometimes drastically. I paint with music and in my space I blare the
music and sing along it helps me get into my zone, or autopilot as I call it. I
don’t think I just do. I could stare at the faces of strangers for hours trying to draw or paint
them to their likeness but, some people just aren’t willing!
I usually take photos and photoshop the color scheme I want and then sit
with my lap top and canvas I really don’t know what my process is. I just do it.
How have you evolved in your process?
What learning experiences have had the biggest impact?
I first started seriously painting my junior year of
high school; my first couple of paintings had awful perspective and just weren’t
very good but my first success happened with an accident. So I incorporated
sewing and it turned out in my favor. It’s safe to say that’s how most of my
work is. “happy accidents.”
“Planar.  Picture.”  acrylic on canvas, Lauren Mormino 2011.
If you could do dinner with any creative person, dead or alive, who would it be and where would you go to dinner?  What would you order and what questions would you ask?
I think I would love to go to dinner with Lucian Freud.
But I would rather have him take me home so I could watch him paint. I have a
giant book of his art work and am fascinated looking through it!
Now that you have made your marks, pass the torch…what advice do you have for other emerging artists?
Don’t worry if nobody likes your work. If you’re proud, keep going!
For more of this amazing work, please visit Facebook.com/MoreMeKnow

Finding Inspiration through Friends, Telemann, Chopin, and Dragonball Z: Interview with New Zealand Artist Zenobia Southcombe

“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my
world. ”
Leo Buscaglia

“A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away. ”


Inspiration can come from as close as a freshly plucked garden flower or in this case flung from as far as a continent on the other side of the stratosphere.  Recently I’ve been enjoying the act of building community  and catching creative sparks from across the globe though swapping blogs and sharing stories with Auckland artist and elementary school teacher, Zenobia (Zee) Southcombe.

So here, gentle reader is your fodder for today.  Sit back, enjoy the works and join me in getting to know a little more about the many charms of my new friend, Zee!

1.      Introduce yourself…

Kia ora! My name is
Zenobia Southcombe, and I’m an artist & teacher from New Zealand. When I’m
not making art I am learning, reading, teaching, gaming, blogging, cooking,
drinking tea, eating, meeting friends or watching TV. (Sometimes I am doing
these while I am making art as well).

Just a few of Zee's charms. . . 😉

2.      What inspired you to become an artist?

From a young age I
had wanted to be an artist – not a famous artist, mind you, I couldn’t handle
that much attention, I’m way too much of an introvert for that! – but able to
make art as a ‘job’. I followed through with this throughout highschool, and
began a Bachelor of Visual Arts, but withdrew before the end of my first
semester because I am not a huge fan of post-modernism (feel free to try and
convince me otherwise!). So I went into teaching, which I absolutely LOVE,
finished my degree, began teaching, and dropped the dream for a while. One of my
students once asked me what I wanted to be when I was little. I answered
“Artist”. Hmm… so why aren’t I? Then I got started again and couldn’t

Zenobia Southcombe, "Wistful" 2011

3.      What media / material & process do you like best,
and why?

Pen & Ink! I’ve
always admired the ink & wash technique (also called sumi-e) of Zen Buddhist
art, and I’ve always loved drawing. So it was a no-brainer, really (having said
that, it took a good 20 years to drop the paintbrush and pick up the pen so
maybe not).

Zenobia Southcombe, detail from "Sun Splashes"

4.      Tell us a bit about your creative process…

Since I’m a
part-time artist, I first have to take over the dining table so I have my space.
I then put on Bach / Chopin / Telemann or Dragonball Z and get down to it. I
carry a sketchbook and a camera with me to capture the creative moments I get,
or to note down research that applies to my subject / technique /

Zenobia Southcombe, "Magnus Monster"

Generally, I work
from reference photos, so sometimes I’m sitting on the computer for ages trying
to find that ‘perfect photo’. However, with the ink wash technique it’s more of
a compositional challenge.

Zenobia Southcombe, "Barnacle Geese"

5.      Where do you feel most inspired?

Mission Bay, or at
my artist friend Jane Thorne’s place. She’s awesome.

6.      What sets your work apart from others in your

All my works are
originals, and I try to make it affordable for the average student, starving
artist & general public to have some original art in their lives.

I always try to
show some emotion and character in my drawings, and I really enjoy doing custom
artworks for people, be it a portrait, idea or otherwise. My work covers a range
of subject matter, that still link together with the ideas of freedom &

Zenobia Southcombe, custom portrait

7.      If you could meet any artist, dead or alive, who would
it be?

Hmmm… a toss-up
between Monet and Turner. My two absolute favourite artists ever. Although I
would also really like to meet some of the Zen Buddhist artists.

8.      If you could ask this person any question, what would
you want to know?

Easy –
can I watch you paint?

9.      What advice do you have for emerging

Make art that you
love. Your passion for the media, process, style and technique WILL show
through. Persevere in your dreams, and try to make friends along the

Zenobia Southcombe, "Zee on the Road" ink and acrylic on paper

10.  Link love – where can we find you online?








The Big Idea
Profile (for the New Zealand Creative Community)


Zenobia Southcombe, "My Life in Charms" ACEO, ink and watercolor