Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Featured Artisan -- Amy-Elyse Neer

Welcome back, today's interview is with


When and how did you first become interested in crafting?

I’ve always been painting and drawing and making things. I know it sounds the pat answer to say “I’ve always been an artist.” But I always have. I’ve always been happiest when creating. I think my first conscious thought that not everyone else could make things came when I was about 8 years old. That’s when I realized that other people thought it was hard or special to be able to create things. For me it had always been as easy and as necessary as breathing.

How long have you been creating your chosen craft?

Well I guess 1978 would be when I first decided painting was it for me. As far as the main thrust of what I create goes. I got interested in costuming and sewing in about 1982 or so, and started teaching myself lace-making about 10 years ago. Usually anything that interests me, I learn to do. But Painting has been a constant the whole time.

Incensed - Original Watercolor Daily Painting -

What are your crafting influences?

I like bright happy things. I like a lot of color and a hidden joke. Most of my paintings have some subtle joke to them. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s a private joke. Sometimes it’s in the choice of colors or the title. I like to think that my art gets across the joy I feel when I am painting. I think it’s a common misconception that art has to be about angst or overly “emo” to be important. I think it’s much more of a challenge to get people to smile. It’s easy to depress people, but to make someone laugh or smile, there’s a knack to that.

Does anyone in your family do a similar craft?

My mother is an excellent photographer, and she sometimes paints as well. Her style is very different from mine and we don’t always see eye to eye on things. She is my toughest critic. She encouraged me to create but was never shy about letting me know she thought I could do better. My dad is directly responsible for my need to have music while I work. He plays guitar and our house was always filled with music. I can’t concentrate on my work without something playing in the background.

Stardust,Original watercolor,gold,star,faded,denim,blue,yellow,sepia

What kinds of places have you displayed your craft in your life?

I first showed in a high school competition for a calendar to be published. I came in 13th(so I was the number one loser!). My first non student show was in the inland arts show in San Bernardino in 1997. Mostly I’ve been in juried shows. I am in a group show coming up, I’ll be on the digital screen and in the show catalog with “The Affair” at the Men as Object show in San Francisco http://manasobject.weebly.com/index.html

What else do you do besides create these beautiful pieces?

I like to cook and read. I am a huge geek about video games. I sew, make lace, and tend to our little cement farm (patio gardening). I also am owned, along with my boyfriend, Tony, by four insane cats (all of whom firmly believe there is a horrible monster living in the studio).

What is your favorite piece that you have created so far?

Let’s see, recently I am really happy with the watercolor kitties, and the geometrics, I also really like the way the incense burners and the wooden spools turned out. But overall I think “Candy Canes” is my favorite still.

Candy Canes  original watercolor daily painting holiday sweets

Why did you make that piece?

Light, color, reflection, brightness, happiness. The gloss of the sugar, the texture of the ribbon, and what could possibly be happier than candy canes? I couldn’t resist them as a subject!

What does it take to create pieces like that?

Like most of my “reflective light” work it takes a little time to work it out. This one started with “posing” the ribbon and candy canes. Then I took reference shots for the colors, and worked out the breakdown of what was where as far as shadow and highlight by sketching them. After I had it all worked out to my liking I transferred the sketch to the watercolor paper. In an effort to cut down on wasted paper, when I am using photo references I usually have them on my computer and refer to them from there. So after the sketch was on the work surface, it was me and my watercolors and my photo reference.

From there it leaves technical explanation… I mean, I’m just sort of “in” it. It’s almost like my brain turns off except for the bits that paint, then 4 or 5 hours later I “wake up” and it’s done. For the first few hours I can’t even “see” it. You know that expression “Can’t see the forest for the trees”? Well while I am painting and for the first hours after I finish all I can see are the trees. It takes me a while to see the forest. So right after finishing this one, all it was to me was blobs of cream, red, green and blue. After a few hours of not looking at it I was able to go back and actually see it the way you are seeing it. I was VERY happy with the finished work.

More Incensed original watercolor painting brass incense burner shiny

What is special about your pieces?

I think the happy makes them special. I love it when art makes someone smile. Other people have told me they can’t stop looking at a few of my pieces, which I take as a high compliment, that they are visually engaging and interesting. But I think the “getting the happy” across is what really makes them special.

What makes this kind of craft "good" to you?
Communication; I think better in color, light, shadow and perspective, much better than I do in words. I get to express the small perfect moments as I see them. Ten different people can draw a glass, but I am the only one who can draw it the way I see it. Communication is what makes it good to me.
Happy Tail, Original Watercolor,Cat,happy,kitty,joy,blue,orange
Keep up with Amy-Elyse and see more of her work at
Art Fire
Red Bubble

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