Brooke Gaar-Bever: The Five Question Interview

Brooke Gaar-Bever is the owner, creator of OtherPeoplesFamily! She collects found photos in antique shops, flea markets, etc. and turns them into black and white watercolor images and portraits. Her paintings are inspired by these photos, as well as people and places which interest her. She lives with a disability called hEDS and uses painting as a form of physical therapy.

Brooke lives in Taylor with her husband Nathan, and a pack of sweet senior dogs.

1. Why did you move to Taylor? 

We moved to Taylor in 2013 because of our love of 100+ year old houses. Taylor had quite a few to choose from in our price range, so it was a good fit.  

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I’ve always had a love of museums and the visual arts. In college I studied art history and restoration and was classically trained as an art conservator. Due to a medical condition I can no longer perform art restoration, but I started to paint 5 years ago as a form of physical therapy. My inspiration comes from found photos, books, and film. My favorite recent series is of Appalachian serpent handlers.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

In the past five years, I learned that family doesn’t have to be blood-related, it’s okay to take time for myself, and I don’t always have to be in control, (still working on this one!).

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I read one book a week and have a different theme each month. My current topic is injustice within the criminal justice system. This week, I’m reading the autobiography Solitary by Albert Woodfox, who spent 40 years in solitary confinement. 

5. Cake or Pie?

I really like cake, but I LOVE homemade vegan cherry pie!

Shop www.otherpeoplesfamily.etsy.com
Instagram @otherpeoplesfamily

Ashley Smith: The Five Question Interview

Ashley with “Hunter T” and “Poe”

Ashley Smith and her husband Kyle opened The Clever Tiger on June 14th, 2018. Their vision is to serve, inspire, and lead in the  growth and sustainment of the art community. In less than two years it has become a natural community hub for art events and art activities for adults and children.

Ashley is a painter and ceramic sculpture artist. Her husband Kyle is a custom framer and woodworker. They live near downtown Elgin with their three daughters.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I grew up in Elgin, moved away, and then moved back 2 different times.  In total, I have lived in Elgin for about 20 years but only started getting to know the community after opening the local gallery.  Before this, I spent so much time commuting that I was never able to spend time enjoying Elgin.  As a child, my parents commuted to Austin for work, I went to primary school in Round Rock, and as an adult, I traveled to Austin and San Antonio for work and college. 

“Good Witch” 18×24 Acrylic on wood

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

Creating is the one talent that I have always been confident of.  Before creating art full-time, I helped create products, projects, business plans, etc.  I find that teaching actually propels my creating by forcing consistent practice and designing lesson plans for a variety of ages and skill levels.

“Lit” 12×16 in. Acrylic on canvas

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Children are the most creative souls around and if we do not nurture this creativity, they are in danger of losing it. 

If you tap into your deepest emotions and “failures”, creating leads to inspiration and deeper thought for others.

You can only grow if you push boundaries and try something you never have before. 

“Thom Yorke” 4’x4′ Acrylic on wood panel

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Currently, I am working on  a painting series of old Elgin, Texas buildings, a new portrait series, and beginning work on my next solo exhibition (re-defining the works of masters.)  While painting, I mostly listen to Thom Yorke, Mars Volta, and anything that help tap into the vibe of the specific piece.  

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie. I prefer homemade pie to any cake in existence. I love making apple pie, and wish blueberry was much more prevalent.  

@artby_ashsmith
theclevertiger.com
@theclevertiger

Lee Charlton: The Five Question Interview

Lee Charlton is the artist/owner at Felting Farmer Lady where she creates sculptures with wool, spins, and knits. She also sells hand-dyed fibers, roving, and handspun yarns for other fiber enthusiasts.

She lives on a small homestead farm in Central Texas with her husband and a host of critters.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Bastrop County in 1985 along with a group of friends when we found a most beautiful spot of land in the western part of the county.  It just happened to be in the Elgin ISD.  We raised 3 children here, all of whom attended the Elgin public schools.  In 2005 we bought a sweet little farm just south of Elgin which we share with 2 sheep, a pig, 3 donkeys, an old bull, 4 dogs and a cat.  The farm welcomes all sorts of visitors and especially the grandchildren.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I am not one that holds still well and love when my hands are busy.  Taking wool and creating beauty just fills my heart, it’s plain and simple.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I have always done crafty things but until I retired in 2011, had never attempted an art form that needed to be developed over time.  In the last five years I have learned to keep at it over and over and over again until what is in my mind communicates with what my hands create and the result pleases me. I have learned how to run a small business, all sorts of social media promotional stuff that is a pain but necessary and tackled creating a website which I am quite proud of.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Hmmm, I have to divide my time between creating product for my on-line business (I sell wool to others who do needle felting and spinning so process a lot of raw wool by washing and dyeing) and my own creating.  Needle felting is creating sculptures with wool.  I also spin yarn, knit and most recently, have dived into botanical printing. Botanical printing is a process that draws out the tannins from leaves onto wool/silk and cotton fabrics.  I use natural dyes to modify these prints as well.

This time of year I am busy planning upcoming workshops, doing taxes and all the fiddly stuff one has to do. I have several large projects swirling in my head that I want to tackle this year.  Spring will be a lovely time to get started.

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie! A good apple pie is the essence of life.

feltingfarmerlady.com
@feltingfarmerlady
Facebook

Emma Clark: The Five Question Interview

Emma in her home studio

Emma Clark is the artist/owner of Ferret & Fern where she creates nature-inspired illustrations and handmade accessories, responsibly crafted to minimize environmental impact.

Keeping with her love of nature, Emma tries to source her materials as responsibly as possible. Using ethically sourced fabrics, or second-hand fabric from clothing, fabric, and remnants when she can find them. 

She makes her own natural dyes, sourced or grown locally when possible, and also uses non toxic printing inks.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Elgin initially because we could afford a place downtown, being able to walk to shops and bars was really important to me. Having lived here a while though, I realise how much Elgin has to offer in the way of community and life style! Small town life is definitely the way forward 😊

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

This is a hard one… I don’t think I could name any one thing, if I don’t create anything I get itchy and anxious. I find the process of creating intellectually challenging and incredibly rewarding. Making something beautiful from a simple idea is the best feeling! 

Turmeric Dyed Organic Silk Scarf

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

How to open myself up to people to build new and better friendships. That owning a dog is just as amazing as I thought it would be! That I make art for myself and not for others.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Original art for “It’s Hot in Texas” print

 I’m making a crochet cardigan, I’m reading a book called Overstory, and watching Carnival Row and Picard

5. Cake or Pie?

Cake vs sweet pie – cake! Cake vs savoury pie – pie!

ferretandfern.com
Etsy shop
@ferretandfern

The Company of Women

We are not all here for this shot, but from left to right are; Emily, Stacey, Martha & Emma.

I can’t beleive it’s been a whole year! This weekend She Creates Union participated as a group in the Elgin Art Studio Tour. This time last year Emma and I were hatching an idea for a group for women makers and artists whose sole function was to fully support each member creatively while helping each other navigate branding, social media, marketing, and general business best practices.

I remember talking it up with Emily (www.paintbrushprintcompany.com) while were both doing demos that weekend at G&M Drygoods.

Community

While there are groups like BossBabesATX that organize events and meet-ups in Austin, we were interested in forming a more intimate community in our small town just 19 miles east of Austin and the neighboring towns like Paige, Bastrop, amd Lexington. We particpate here in local events and will be expanding our efforts later this year to markets in Austin and Pflugerville.

Since we formed SCU we have participated in one large festival, an art studio tour, and a couple pop-up shops. We meet once a month and talk about things we’ve been thinking about doing, things we’ve done, and generally cheer eachother on.

Whether at our monthly meeting or via our Slack channel, there is always some nudging, sometimes gently, sometimes not, eachother to raise our prices. We generally suck at pricing our work, but we’re getting better.

I recently saw this quote, “You’re priceless, your work is not.” I cannot find where I saw this yet, but wil link when I do.

Always Learning

To say we’ve all learned a lot in the past year would be an understatement. We are constantly investigating and learning as individuals and bringing our acquired knowledge to the group. Sometimes these fact finding misssions look like sitting in a sales tax class, taking an online course, or visiting a craft market or festival. It’s all learning.