Sunday, December 28, 2014

Making my Studio Cabin happen!

Happy New Year!
Wow-the deadline of Christmas is past and I can breathe again...just for awhile as not everyone had a Dec 25 deadline :-) I am always delighted to hear responses our clients heard when they gave a gift of a painting or portrait!

If you've been following my "Small Studio Cabin" odyssey then below is an update from my "artsyJourneys" blog   which is the same post but here :-) Next post will be some of the Christmas paintings I created that I can now share. 

Making my "Cabin in the Woods" happen!

In less than 3 short weeks, my "cabin in the woods"project-the smaller art studio-has seen a some changes. Once I committed to the idea and stopped waffling, things began to happen!

First, because the only convenient place originally to set the 12 x 20 shed down was at the 
renovations in progress!

edge of our dirt/gravel driveway, I knew I had to make another entrance opening.
I also needed more light-a door at the north end or bigger windows!

Bringing in a re-modeler friend who happened to have a spare 6 ft. sliding door, he and his crew made short work of the 10 x 16' deck and door installation!

I hired the neighbor's son to dig the "trench" to lay electrical wire. Our big studio is on a separate meter so it seemed logical to pull power from that. Brent had a lot of help from one of our chickens the afternoon he dug it!
Chickens are fascinated by any "scratching" in the earth.

Digging the trench from the big studio
Our remodeler came out the next day and he and hubby hooked up the power to the small studio and I was in business so to speak! Even the simple ability to turn on lights was inspiring :-)

The changes have been fabulous! Below is from just the day after Christmas when my youngest son and hubby (artist Stephen Filarsky) installed the sheetrock on the ceiling (the hardest part of sheetrocking!) as part of my Christmas present! It's already looking bigger and brighter!

Sheetrocking the ceiling

I'll add a small stoop to the door side-I might just close it off but in the summer I know an amazing crossbreeze can come through there so...still thinking!
In the meantime, my "Cabin in the Woods" is coming to life!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Creating my Cabin in the Woods

Creating My cabin in the Woods

Finding a spot to create. It seems to be a quest of writers, artists and musicians. Often it's a quest.  Maybe that's a good word for it.
I spend more and more time thinking about it-a cabin in the woods. 
I'm not sure why that dreaded "If only...." phrase has kept popping up in my mind but it has me daydreaming of a place to relax, unwind, meditate, recharge-every adjective that an artist needs in order to justify her creativity! Silly. I have a studio that is the envy of most artists. We built it 18 years ago from parts of a 1910 home being torn down in the area. It's 24 x 30 feet in size with 10 foot ceilings, beautiful reclaimed pine flooring, the old windows-it is stunning!                                                            

 And I know this! But in reality it is crowded! Oh it started off with SO much space but with 2 working artists that changed quickly
Even the shed we added behind it turned into a storage area. Oh and we have a woodworking shop..the downstairs filled  with tools and the upstairs filled with things we are storing but do not need. (easy with 4 grown kids who move around)

At the beginning.......:-)

And we have grown rose clippings from abandoned homesteads and they have grown and matured into a profusion of cascading color enjoyed by painters every WHY was I searching?
Seven Sisters roses cascading down the tobacco stick fence

Red Seven Sisters brought by mother as a cutting from her family homestead in Mississippi.

What am I looking for?

I lean towards mountain properties- a throwback I am sure of my New England upbringing where we lived in an 18th century farmhouse on 50 acre farm in upstate New York (next to MA and VT) and had unfettered run, on foot, skis and horses, of the mature forests and surrounding streams, farmland and towns. Our freedom included the glorious huge beamed barn with its many outbuildings and the secret hideaways within them all. Ah, such memories!

In my mind, my cabin retreat  has to have a stream, mature trees...and of course-a small cabin.  Again, I recognize this from childhood memories of running through abandoned farm fields and discovering, in the dark recesses of hemlocks and maples that bordered all the forgotten fields, streams that cascaded down rocks into small pools of cold, pristine water.  It was all very magical to a child of ten and I clearly recall the details of discovering Jack in the Pulpits, ripples in the water pools, crawdads under the stones, floating maple leaves and the cool tang of the hemlocks. And other than the delighted sounds of discovery by my twin sister and younger brother, the only other sounds were that of the waterfall.  The sound of gurgling water can quickly transport me to that spot anytime I hear it.

And on a bittersweet, yet telling note, the last family vacation I had with my twin sister was in the  NC mountains. Eileen and I were 28 and I had 3 children, the youngest just 4 months old and a too busy life and business when our parents rented a little summer house for us to have a vacation in for our upcoming 29th birthdays :-).  It sat in a valley with a little stream in front of the house. My 6 and 3 year old played for hours on end at the edge of the shallow gurgling water, building and rebuilding little stone houses. There had been no TV, no phone and we had sat on the front porch at night counting stars and waiting for the shooting ones. I had purposely left my guitar at home and brought my new hammered dulcimer. So our evening musical entertainment was the singular sounds of the dulcimer chords.
With my youngest in a backpack (or my mother staying and watching him) we explored caves, pastures, mountains, abandoned farms. We had bought Audubon books and learned the names of the wildflowers we were  discovering. The children were at that age where everything held wonder and my parents and sister enjoyed sharing all the wonders with them.  Something as simple as watermelon seed spitting contests and watching frogs hop held them in rapture. It was a good summer and even better memories. A year later my twin was gone and all that was left us were the memories.

So I sort of know WHY I am looking....maybe it's that I am searching for a bit of those memories I have just described. The point was I had a sort of an epiphany the other day.

After spending inordinate amounts of time on Craigslist, looking at properties that I could not afford, or cheap ones simply too far away (there IS a practical side to me!) and .....daydreaming, wasting an awful lot of time.... I shook myself clear of it. 

I already have a small "cabin". I am on a couple of acres of land. I have mature trees. I have deer and wildlife. I have a stone fountain I bought used 3 years ago and never used....hey, I can MAKE my own cabin in the woods and do it right here!

Bought from a friend whose mother had used it first as a pottery studio, then as storage (of course!) it was simply too good an opportunity to pass up!

So $250.00 moving fee later, the 12 x 20 building is finally deposited between our house, studio and pasture. It isn't very lovely but it was insulated, wired and covered inside with many grungy shelves and a linoleum floor. 

We are on 2.5 acres but the back is heavily wooded and alas...there was no way to get the whole shebang  to the back area.

At first the changes I did were cosmetic: cleaning the sides, painting the door and trim, replacing the screen door with a vintage door......then I cleaned and painted the grungy insides shelves, thinking of paneling or sheetrock but not getting beyond that.  Amazing what a little paint can do. 
But within a few months we were storing frames and paintings in it, stymied by the cost of running electric to the inside panel.

And then the epiphany happened and I made a decision-yep-just like that-
The frames and artwork can go where they belong-into the 8 x 16 ft cargo trailer used just for that purpose. I'll enlist the help of some friends who can make a few things happen....for starters, I want a sliding door off the other end...this one door opens into the driveway-and cannot be a major entrance easily. 
So I reasoned that if I bought property with a similar building on it, I would be facing the same economic and design challenges anyway so....what the heck!

So now I have my brain in to heat? Maybe a propane fireplace? Small woodstove?  Must think this through but  so many shelves are a bonus to help move my craft and silk work out of the main studio and into a smaller one.....let's see-add a small deck out the side where the sliding door would be, take that long unused stone waterfall..... are you feeling it now? :-)

What WILL the free range chickens think!?  Stay tuned for what starts to happen next!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

No doubt about Christmas!

Nope. No doubt about Christmas and Thanksgiving! They are here and have been creeping up for several months. But for us, that's a good thing! When one area of our art becomes overwhelmed, other areas have to flounder for a we opted to make December the month for a few of our popular art classes and then in January we're back in the saddle in that department:-)

In the meantime both Steve and I found ourselves in the NC State Fair in the Village of Yesteryear showcasing areas of our art that are not as big as the paintings and portraits.  That was the silk work I do and the sign painting that he's done for many years. Amazing how awed people were watching him hand letter a beautiful sign!
So for 10 days we were demonstrating and displaying our art. Long hours but we enjoyed the crowds and loved demonstrating in front of them!
Yep we had to dress Colonial times :-)

Steve attracting lots of attention!
So I'll bring in more detail later but enjoy a few of the closeups from a different artistic perspective!

The Terrier scarf

The owl scarf
The incredibly lovely Coachman Sign!

Theresa's black silk scarf from her block carvings
Steve's Singing Pig hand painted and lettered

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Inspirations and art!

So nothing like going to pick up paintings from a group show and find that one has been replaced with a nice check :-) Seems my "Tobacco Barn" sold at the month long regional art show at the Mims Gallery at Wesleyan College (NC). Very cool!

Tobacco Barn- A 16 x 20 pastel by M Theresa Brown 

So where do artists find inspiration? I took this photo frpm my photo after a huge thunderstorm had wreaked havoc on the area. I pulled by car over as to my right was the golden light of the sunset, and to my left was the dark, ominous gray of a storm loving east. But oh what it left behind! The bright arch of a half moon rainbow (which I could not capture with my phone camera) and the tops of these trees touched with gold. 

And finally, we returned from 2 weeks of shows in the NC mountains near the towns of  Blowing Rock and Boone. Who has not traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway and savored it's coolness and breathtaking views? Sometimes I think the mountains are in my DNA. I know they are in my ancestral past as well as my past (The Catskill,  Berkshire and Adirondack mountains of NY) The sea also calls to me but it is different. With the ocean it is the sounds and rhythms of waves and seagulls. Mesmerizing.  With the ancient Blue Ridge mountains, there is more-the winds, cool breezes, wildflowers and above all else, the stunning vistas where I stand and gaze at every detail of range after range of mountains. It is easy to get lost in them.  

I love being inspired!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Art Show Opening Tonight June 13!

              ART SHOW TONIGHT! June 13 from 6-9

Wake Forest Art & Frame Shop
Join us Friday for Art After Hours from 6-9 pm
Featuring artwork by M. Theresa Brown
About the Artist:
M. Theresa Brown is a long time professional portrait artist who specializes in realistic fine art portraits of people, animals and places in oils, pastels, watercolors and pencil. A multi-faceted artist she also has collectors for her abstract art pieces and fiber art. Together with her artist husband, Stephen Filarsky, they have worked together in the art field as Filarsky Brown Art Studio since 1994.
Theresa's portrait works as well as abstracts and a selection of her hand painted scarves will be on display through the month of June.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Art in pastels, silk dyes and gold leaf!

There is nothing more inspiring to an artist than to try new techniques or experiment with current styles, colors or sizes!
I am fortunate enough to be one of those multi-faceted artists who thrives on challenges. Portraits have always been and will always be, my first love, but it's the energy that comes from trying new ideas that energizes me!
So what have I been up to? Portraits of course, but so much more :-) The 3 below are a few recent portraits-all pastels.

Pastel 14 x 18

Pastel 11 x 14

Pastel 11 x 14
I have also been creating my silk scarves in new techniques and dyes as well as a very cool art piece using aluminum and gold leaf (courtesy of hubby, Stephen Filarsky of

8 x 54 scarf

These are soft pastel colors that come from a dye that not not need to be steamed or heat set-nice!

And finally I have the combined efforts of Stephen Filarsky  for our raised art relief.
(Sorry about the photo positioning-can't easily arrange anything on this blog!

8 x 72 scarf
9 x 12 metal relief
closeup of relief in metallic format

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sketching in Public

The weather in NC since Jan has been predictable. 65-70 on Saturdays and 35-40's on Sundays with snow, sleet and ice by the following Tuesdays. We have had thunder storms in the winter...and in NC that means, according to old wives tales, that we will have snow in 9 days. And it has happened the two times we experienced the thunderstorms.
The point has been that many of the shows we attend-art and horse shows- have suffered due to the weather. Let's face it-no one wants to go outside or even get in the car to go to any kind of event when the fireplace seems like a good place to be!

5 x 8 ink sketch of covered ring
Last weekend we were at a horse show in Wilmington, NC. We just went for the day although we arrived and set up the tent the night before. The weather was going to do just what I have said-change drastically by Sunday. But oh my the Saturday we had was AMAZING! 72 degrees, sunny and with a breeze swaying the spanish moss hanging from the oak trees. Too early for any bugs, no dust and a combination of both a covered and uncovered ring and lots of help made it a delightfully smooth running show!
So I did what I don't always get to do: sketch. Hubby, Stephen Filarsky painted, I sketched and totally enjoyed soaking up the vitamin D.
Horses at ringside
It's always a bit challenging sketching a scene live with people as obviously kids and horses do not stand still! So using a sharpie pen and 5 x 8 sketch pad I worked quickly, capturing what I could and filling in the rest after they moved.

The results are spontaneous, in the moment and a whole lot of fun!
And as soon as I find the photos I took of him painting on location I will add those!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring

It has been a long winter for areas unused to long winters. Spring has peeped out enough times to give us hope but then tucks her head back inside and the temperatures plunge (again!)

 Even the art studio struggles to get warm and with propane at record highs, we try to conserve and not have to buy a tank right before spring!

So my solution to the cold, the ice, the snow and the dark days was to create my own spring and I did that by bringing out my silk dues and creating my "Ode to Spring" scarf :-).

SO I have brought my as yet, non-blooming daffodils in my yard to full bloom in my silk piece-a nice place to be while waiting for spring :-)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Woman and her Beagle: a pastel portrait

I'm shipping out a pastel portrait this week and I must confess that I love it :-)

Now as you can see, it is of a beautiful woman and her equally charming beagle! Wow-the very first dog, my buddy, my confidant...was a beagle. I was just 7 years old and she occupied a time in my life that no other dog ever will. At 20, I honestly thought my world was going to end when "Tippy" passed. It was serious grief.

Ah but years later, and many four legged best friends later, I know of course that wasn't true :-). So I totally understood the bond between this woman and her dog!
Her mother commissioned it and sent me a huge pile of photos and ideas! After looking through them, I said what I say to everyone "Got it. Now just leave it up to me to choose!" So she did.:-)

The result is this pastel portrait-about 14 x 18 of Sarah and Bella and it will be the family's treasure for many years to come!

Of course, no one ever says it better than a happy client:

 Theresa....I have just had to retrieve the Kleenex box.....this is absolutely perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am blown away....

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Learning to Draw

Art is probably the ONLY subject (hobby, profession) where the average person has the attitude "you have to be born being able to draw" to do it.  Think about it-even in music the average musician learns a step by step procedure to reach a certain level of proficiency-same in ant profession from jewelry making to becoming a doctor.
This past weekend we had a group come to our studio for a "TREES" workshop and they had a blast! None were "accomplished" artists but they wanted to know "how to I draw a tree." What do I do first?
Steve demoed first with charcoal.

Oil Sketch and charcoal sketch by Stephen Filarsky
The key to learning to draw is learning to see and Feb 1 turned out to be a beautiful sunny day-not too hot (haha it IS February!) and not too cold.
Why a sunny day in winter? No leaves! Yep-just form, structure limbs and wonderful shadows.

Trees are very forgiving :-) A limb too high or too low, too fat, too skinny doesn't matter. It's not like a face or an object where the end result is usually to have it look like that object (or person) A tree is recognizable and not intimidating, so learning to SEE what you need to see to draw a tree can be employed with any other thing you would like to draw! 

I'll have some recent paintings I have completed up soon but below are some of the results of the TREES class. Enjoy!

And if you have a group interested in us holding one of our workshops either at our location, or yours, let us know!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Creating your own designs

Adding my designs to a silk/wool blend shawl
I have always carved. Mainly wood and even earlier-block prints on linoleum blocks. Both are time consuming and labor intensive-not problem normally to an artist but sometimes I just don't have the patience!
So with a "softer than linoleum" product on the market (for years apparently!) by Speedball, I started carving my own stamps to use on my scarves. To say it was fun was an understatement-it went fast, I was impressed and most of all I was enthused! My own designs-not mass produced ones from the craft stores....what's not to love? :-)
Using Speedball tools to carve away my design

A few carved in just a day (and used!)
I realize with the exception of the heart, these are all horses but that's where my passion lies when I am trying new ideas. Plenty of time to come up with other designs as I become more proficient!

Using the stamps with textile paint was a blast! I have a new batch of scarves to play with so I can't wait to try them but in the meantime I have two collages of what I worked on so far!

Our frigid temperatures have kept me off the hiking trails until today but the cold is coming back around and I'll be ready!

Overlapping the design in layers

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Working with Kids in the Arts

So below is from my Artsy Journeys blog and I wanted to share another avenue of creativity that I work: teaching art. 
I don't get too psychological about it because art for children is a fun world. But I have discovered over the years (lol-first with my own) that given "free rein" to create "anything" often leads to nothing at all. And kids are no different from adults in that!
The trick is to start with a plan-an objective-and an idea of how to get there.  With that big roadblock pushed aside, the way is paved for the artist (big and little) to explore the levels of creativity as they take that path. A new lesson, a new path. That's how it works :-)


Working with kids in the Arts

Everyone has ideas about how to work with children in the arts.  No other subject, like ART, has so many different opinions and ideas and confusion as to "what it is."How can something so fun be so confusing?

Artsy Journeys is more about art exploration than disciplined art yet they go hand in hand.The two work together. For instance, it takes discipline to sit down and create something in a journal or on paper. It takes discipline to go to the shop or read a "how to" book or article. It takes discipline to put away your tools, try something different or work till you feel you have completed your project.
Working with clay and armatures

Working with children is often about creativity coupled with "directional" discipline. Kids need and want direction. The ones that jump into a project without waiting for direction are usually the ones that soon start complaining about not being able to "do it." That can have a bit of a negative impact on those kids who are creatively following directions so when the kids start new projects, they get the best results by ...yep...paying attention to me before we start!

There's no secret to it-I keep it short and sweet. "Look into my eyes, let's go over the tools, now we'll look at the examples.......tell me what I just said."
3D sculpture with marshmallows and toothpicks
This works SO well-just as I did with my own children. I love the kids-love to work with them. They love to learn, But too much initial freedom  in the arts is confusing to them and actually gives them mind blank! In art we call it the "blank canvas" syndrom. Writers love to talk about "writer's block." It's all the same thing. We ALL need a direction to start!
When the child is given the required tools/materials for an Art project and pointed in a particular direction with a few guidelines, THAT is when the enthusiastic creativity begins to happen!
One of my "grown up" students with her Sculpey sculpture!
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