What a fun year it’s been at Pennello Lane! I’ve had such a great time talking to so many talented, inspiring women and learning a little about each artist’s individual personality through their words and images. I get such a kick out of it, and I hope you enjoy them, too!
I’m often asked how I find the artists that are featured on Pennello Lane. For this last entry of 2012, I thought I’d share how some of the stories from the past year came together, as I review the amazing artists I’ve been fortunate to meet.
Pennello Lane features creative Canadian women and my goal is to have every province and territory represented, so I do a lot of online searches for artists across the country. Hunting for a ceramic artist in Saskatchewan, I discovered Carole Epp and was intrigued by her range of work, from charming functional pieces to unique sculptural work. A search for a textile artist in the Maritimes led me to rug hooker Laura Kenney and her whimsical creations, and by searching with the keywords “abstract” “painter” and “prairies” I found Jan Corcoran of Saskatoon who, to my surprise, was planning to visit my city in a couple of weeks! Her interview was actually a very enjoyable visit over coffee.
Sometimes when I’m not even searching, I’ll come across an image that draws me in and I know right away I want to learn more about the artist. Such was the case when I spotted a gorgeous, organic silver ring by Melanie LeBlanc of Toronto, a beautiful green felted scarf by Jenny Hildebrand of Vancouver Island, and a seaglass necklace by Rachel McRory in Vancouver.
In the case of Brandi, Sheryl and Krista of the band Sidney York, I was just listening to CBC one day and their song “Dick and Jane” got stuck in my head! In another case of serendipitous timing, they already had an upcoming performance planned in my city, so I was able see them and take photos.
In an Etsy browsing session (if you know Etsy, you know how those are…. one thing leads to another and before you know it a few hours have gone by, right?!) I came upon the amazing photographer, Irene Suchocki. I was hooked with the first image I saw, of white horses running on a beach. By the time I got to her London and Paris photos I knew she had to be my first photographer interview.
The Chemainus Theatre brings in talented professionals from all over Canada, and has provided opportunities to meet fascinating women such as the lovely Alison MacDonald of Toronto, who spent the summer singing the part of the Narrator in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat,” and the award-winning playwright Lucia Frangione of Vancouver, who came to attend the opening of her play “Chickens.”
A few of the artists featured are women I have known for a while. I visit the Victoria Emerging Art Gallery often and wanted to feature its director, Ellen Manning, ever since I started doing interviews. In October she provided one of the most educational discussions yet. Jo-Anne Redublo, a software tester whose passion for creating desserts led her to create a catering business on the side, is one of my co-workers. Now and then I don’t have to look very far to find creative women… the first feature of the year was about the embroidered bags made by my niece, Robin Jones, and Carol Swinden, best in show winner of the 2012 Canadian National Quilt Show, is my sister.
Sometimes people refer creative women to me. I love it when this happens! After interviewing Caroline Larsen about her intriguing, woven art (remember her charming painting of William and Kate?) she told me about her friend Elly Green’s uber-cool design company, Clothing Brand Experiment. Another time, I mentioned to my friend Rita (who’s blog you really need to read, if you haven’t already) that I would like to feature a cake decorator and wouldn’t you know it… she happened to be friends with Candice Roach of Love Your Cake. My sister Valerie Jones Scott, a writer herself, suggested author Elle Strauss and mixed media artist Danielle Daniel.
Many of these women have incredibly inspiring stories. The vivacious and outgoing Maureen Washington surprised me when she spoke openly about overcoming self-doubt in order to become a successful jazz singer. Sharon Dudka persevered to recover from a serious brain injury so she could return to her love of creating jewelry. Deborah Danelley travels to Cuba each year where she teaches volunteer art classes in an underprivileged area of Havana. In my first celebrity interview, the inspirational Bif Naked discussed her health and personal challenges, fear, and how creativity helps her heal. I met Bif in person, and then we did the interview through a series of emails (which gave me surreal opportunities to casually mention to friends “I got another email from Bif today…”) I was humbled by her honesty and generosity, and her interview encouraged me to ask tougher questions.
Sometimes I meet artists in unexpected places. At a tea festival I came upon Maxine Munson’s lovely teacup candles. My favourite spa had one of Leslie Wiegand’s paintings and one of Jamie Hamilton’s Paper Thin Portraits hanging on the walls, and knew I had to investigate both artists further. On a lunch time walk in the summer, one of Lisa Hebden’s paintings caught my eye. We arranged a visit to her studio and had a chat surrounded by life sized paintings of swimmers.
One evening at a favourite lounge, Veneto, I realized there was a great example of a creative woman behind the bar: Katie McDonald, who enlightened us on the craft of bartending. At a conference where Katie was speaking, I chatted with fellow attendee – about knitting, I think it was. About a week later I exchanged greetings on Twitter with graphic designer Margaret Hanson only to realize…“oh, that was you!” …and an interview soon followed. At another conference I met Jennifer Lang, who happened to mention she was a mezzo-soprano. A month later I was enthralled as she told me all kinds of interesting things about the world of opera.
That same conference provided one of my biggest challenges. One of the keynote speakers was Erica Ehm. I knew she’d be a fantastic creative Canadian woman to feature on Pennello Lane! I seized an opportunity to introduce myself before her speech, and without really thinking, asked if I could interview her. Amazingly, she said yes, and then… “come and get me right after my speech.” In person? Now? Gulp. Ok! I quickly charged my phone, learned how to use the recording app, came up with some questions and dove in. I was a little intimidated by the fact that Erica is such an experienced interviewer herself, but her relaxed, down-to-earth presence put me at ease, and I was impressed by her candor. I must say, I floated out of that conference centre! What a thrill.
My thanks go to all these amazing women for giving their time and sharing insights into their creative lives. And I especially thank you, readers! There are so many blogs and web sites out there… I appreciate every time you choose to visit Pennello Lane, every comment, and every bit of feedback. I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, and hope you’ll stick around… there are some exciting plans afoot for next year!