Artist Interviews

Featured Artist Interviews will be an integral part of this blog. To celebrate one week in the blogosphere, I offer the first one as a way to introduce the feature, and myself. The idea of interviewing myself comes from Alyson Stanfield, the ArtBiz Coach whose advice to artists about marketing is invaluable. More about my ArtBiz Art Salon group in another post.

Featured Artist: Michelle Davis Petelinz Company Name: Jordan's Treasures Website: Location: Raleigh, NC

What is your art form?
I am a mixed media artist working in polymer clay, acrylic paint, handmade papers, and various embellishments to create sha
dow boxes, masks, clocks, mirrors and boxes inspired by the colors, textures and symbols of Africa.

What inspires you?

I'm inspired by the natural world, by color interactions I see around me, by my desire to make the world a more beautiful place. I'm inspired too by women artists who create incredible work in a variety of media.

When did you decide to pursue art or did art pursue you?
I've been an artist for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of the delight I felt in opening a box of 64 Crayola crayons. That waxy smell still evokes the image of my round, blond wood table, little black chair, and a clean white piece of paper. Later, I loved painting fluorscent tempera (hey, it was the 70's, and black light posters were all the rage!). In college, I discovered acrylic paints, and still use them today.

How do you sell your work?
I sell primarily through art shows and festivals. I also have a shop on Etsy, and sold my first piece there, earlier this month. I have a website, but use that solely to display my work.

Do you title your work? If so, how do you decide upon titles?
I give my shadow boxes and masks African names. As I finish a mask, I choose a name which seems to fit the facial expression, embellishment or 'soul' of the mask. My "Ancestress Series" masks pay tribute to the strong, Black women who have come before me, and guide me along my artistic journey.

If you weren't an artist, what would you be?
I would teach in an elementary school. I'm fortunate to be able to do a bit of that as a part time art teacher. If I couldn't do that, I'd fulfill what my mother often predicted: I'd be a librarian. To be surrounded by books would be a great joy!

What other jobs have you had which have aided you on your artistic path?
My first job after graduating college with an Art History major and Studio Art minor was in the textbook publishing industry, in the design department. It was an excellent professional start; exposed me to the world of commercial illustration, photography, and taught me the now-arcane skills of typefitting and manual page layout. Later, in management, I directed the work of illustrators and designers. I found I needed a creative outlet, and turned to jewelry design. My painting took a back seat at that time, but resurfaced again once my son was born. The "job" of motherhood tested my creative abilities in many ways! My company came about because I wanted something for his nursery which I couldn't find, so I created it myself.

At the art supply store, which section do you go to first?
It depends upon what's on sale! If I'm just browsing, I'll go to the art books section, then to the paints and markers--love all that color!

What new technique or art form would you like to learn? Do you have plans to do so?
I've always been fascinated by blown glass, especially the work of Dale Chihuly. I love raku pottery, and find the work of Joseph Woodford inspiring. I recently met potter Charlotte Munning, and purchased a piece from her to add to my raku collection. Could I work in glass or raku? They're out of my comfort zone, so I have no plans to do so now, but they're always in the back of my mind.

Where do you want your work to be a year from now?
I'd like my work to be featured in galleries, and I'd like to have a magazine article done about it, too. I'll be working toward these goals with my art marketing salon group over the next few months.

If you could do anything, and knew you could not fail, what would you do?
I love to ask this question of people who I'd like to learn more about! My own answer has changed through the years. Right now, it would be to open a free art school for African American girls, where they would be encouraged to develop and express their creativity in whatever medium they choose. The school would have a gallery to exhibit and sell their work, and all proceeds would be given back to the school, to provide even more opportunities for them to grow and blossom into creative, productive young women.