Friday, April 17, 2015

Color of the year

Each year Pantone picks a color of the year. This year they have chosen Marsala.

Here is what their website says about this color and why they chose it.

"Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.

The Versatility of Marsala

  • Equally appealing to men and women, Marsala is a stirring and flavorful shade for apparel and accessories, one that encourages color creativity and experimentation
  • Flattering against many skin tones, sultry and subtle Marsala is a great go-to color for beauty, providing enormous highlight for the cheek, and a captivating pop of color for nails, shadows lips and hair.
  • Dramatic and at the same time grounding, the rich and full-bodied red-brown Marsala brings color warmth into home interiors
  • An earthy shade with a bit of sophistication, texture is the story in print and packaging. A matte finish highlights Marsala’s organic nature while adding a sheen conveys a completely different message of glamour and luxury."                 
This season there is a move toward the cooler and softer side of the color spectrum. An eclectic, ethereal mix of understated brights, pale pastels and nature-like neutrals take center stage as designers draw from daydreams of simpler times. Remembrances of retro delights, folkloric and floral art, and the magical worlds of tropical landscapes restore a sense of well-being as we head into warmer months.

Many feel compelled to be connected around the clock because we are afraid we’ll miss something important. There is a growing movement to step out and create ‘quiet zones’ to disconnect from technology and unwind, giving ourselves time to stop and be still. Color choices follow the same minimalistic, ‘en plein air’ theme, taking a cue from nature rather than being reinvented or mechanically manipulated. Soft, cool hues blend with subtle warm tones to create a soothing escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.
Leatrice Eiseman Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute®
We got to meet Leatrice a couple years ago at a show in Las Vegas and hear her speak about the the Pantone Color Institute and how they go about choosing the colors, it was very interesting!
What colors "pair" with marsala?
Well they have come up with a selection of colors they call "plein air" which is perfect for us since so many of our artists are doing plein air paintings!

In some upcoming posts we'll show some pieces we have at Carolina Creations that will go with these  chosen colors, so you'll be right in style! But for now how about a beautiful painting by Brenda Behr?

Some chalcedony jewelry from Anna Balkan....

Hand crafted pottery by Geoffrey Lloyd...

Blown glass by Berni North....

In the beginning Pantone was primarily used in the printing industry to tell you how to mix a particular color. I worked in the printing industry in the 70s and early 80s and always had a deck of pantone chips by my desk. 

To read more about Pantone and what they do visit their website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I didn't discover until I was 40 that I was born to be self employed!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sallys Painting Party

We are having one of those paint and sip parties!

Field of Poppies
Sally Sutton Painting Party
Paint a field of poppies with artist Sally Sutton!
Thursday June 11 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Sip, snack and paint!
All supplies and snacks will be provided so all you need to do is be ready to enjoy some time with friends creating your own painting! Wear clothing that is casual or bring an apron. Cost $48  location: Francoeur Studio, 229 E Front Street, New Bern.  Register online at or call 252-633-4369. Deadline for reservations: June 7. Sign up early, space is limited!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Its been a busy week in New Bern

I realize I have been gone half of the year! Shows, vacation, picking up art, no wonder I am so far behind.
     But I'm slowly catching up.
     This week I finished 6 very detailed tiles to be inserted into a backsplash in a kitchen in our Downtown.

     I'm working on trophies for a regatta coming up. Spent two days painting on the porch of the Blades house, during the home tour. 

This was my view

I saw a bird land on this pillar, it would make a nice painting for an upcoming show - Flight - that opens in September at Carolina Creations.

I was painting this on the porch in between talking to people.

Almost got it done - the Jewish Temple, just down the street from where I was sitting (oldest Temple in North Carolina). When we moved here I did ink drawings of all the houses of worship in our Downtown, now I am going back and doing them all using just watercolor. In another post I'll show you the original ones along with the new ones.

Just have to finish the door.

Did 2 "Nothing is worth more than this day" wall hangings that people like to give for weddings, also a wedding platter and a bowl, several baby sets for the gallery, a special order piggy bank for a birthday and one for CC, a going away platter with a painting of a house, a tile of a wedding venue in Costa Rica, whew!

These don't have the clear glaze on them yet which makes all the colors brighter.

Wall hangings, they don't have the wires attached to them yet.

Lou and I have been adding new work to the website and doing a lot of shipping. It's fun to wake up in the morning and find that people have ordered things in the night off our website.

I still have a graduation box to do, a tile of First Pres, and test my glaze colors and glaze fit for the tiles for the benches, a postcard for an upcoming show, brochures for two upcoming workshops, and redo images for coasters. Hopefully I'll get this all done in the upcoming week so I can break out the oil paints and do some paintings while our town is so beautiful this spring.

But before I do anything I am going to go for a bike ride and shoot some more photos. Will post those later!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Metal and fused glass sculpture

One of the things people like about Carolina Creations is the fact that we have whimsical as well as serious art. One of our whimsical lines of work comes from the collaboration of two artists. Brenda Griffith, glass artist, and Todd Briske, metal artist.

We have carried their work for many years and are pleased that they are always coming up with new!

Briske fashions strips of aluminum metal wire into sculptures of people as well as inanimate objects.

“To me, it is almost like knitting,” Briske said.

“However, instead of using yarn, you are using aluminum metal strips which I can easily shape and mold using only a pair of pliers,” he added.

“I can remember that after our Thanksgiving dinner, my mother would be knitting at one end of our couch and I would be working on a metal piece at the other end,” he said, adding that aluminum strips are not only easy to shape but maintain that shape well.

Although metal art is not his only form of artistic creations, it is one that, as Briske said, “has really come to blossom in a relatively short amount of time.”

We asked Brenda how she got started with fusing glass. "I worked in a stained glass studio and retail shop when I was in college in Missoula, Montana during the mid-80’s. While I was there the owner went to a workshop to learn about working with glass in a kiln. She came back very enthused and energized and immediately started creating her own works in fused glass. I was excited by what I saw her doing, and she encouraged me to learn, too. 

Right after I got my kiln--before I even had a chance to fire it--I took off for graduate school in Chicago. I had a 1967 GMC Suburban with the back seat taken out that I bought from my parents, and the back held more glass and tools than clothes and other personal effects. I had a case of glass up against the back of the front bench seat with a rope tied around the seat and the case to hold it in place. The kiln, my work table, and boxes of tools (mostly for stained glass) and books filled up the back. I think I put my clothes in a pod on the roof.

When I got to Chicago, I had a one-bedroom graduate student apartment at the University of Chicago. I put the kiln in the kitchen and set up the bedroom as a glass studio. I slept in the living room on a pull-out sofa. My first year in Chicago was spent splitting my time between my graduate studies in linguistics and teaching myself to fuse and slump glass. I learned by trial and error with meticulous logging.

Finally I was making work I considered good enough to sell, and I joined an artists’ cooperative and participated in craft fairs. 

I did production work and had to fire 24 hours a day to get enough work done. Because there weren’t computer controllers, I would have to set my alarm so I could get up throughout the night to change the settings on the kilns. At the time I lived in a coach house above the garage of an old house. The kilns were in a little room under the stairs, so I would get up, put on a robe, and patter down the stairs to adjust the kilns, note the time and temp of each in my log books, and then shuffle back to bed to reset the alarm and do it all again.

It wasn’t bad in the summer, but in the winter the garage under the coach house wasn’t heated, and the mice would hang out in the kiln area to keep warm. So I would often go from half asleep to screamingly awake in seconds when one would run over my foot.

I loved cutting pieces and layering them to create new colors and shades—adding a dimensionality to my work that had been lacking in stained glass. The work also had a much greater instant-gratification component than stained glass did: Design the piece, cut the glass, put it together and into the kiln, turn on the kiln, and come back the next day to have it done! I used to be much more into instant gratification than I am now. I also think that because of my starting point--stained glass--I was predisposed to think of working with glass in terms of cutting pieces and assembling them. It felt radical and innovative just to layer them and skip the lead!

Through the years my technique has changed. Now I have moved completely away from cutting glass and fusing the pieces together. I got burned out doing production work with cut pieces--be they strips or circles or puzzle pieces--because there was no surprise or “Ah ha!” moment from them when I opened the kiln.

So I experimented and played, and for the past several years I have worked primarily with frit in a layering technique I call Morceaux de Verre, or morsels of glass. To create these pieces, I place four layers of various colors of frit and chunk on a clear blank and fuse them into a new piece of glass. Though I can create pieces close enough in look to resemble what a customer has seen before, with this technique every time I open the kiln, I get the thrill of seeing something new. 

Now, when I’m creating I crank up the music in the studio and do all the cutting for the blanks. Then I place the blanks on my work surface and dance, shake, and shimmy as I lay the layers of frit and chunk down on top of them. It’s a very fluid process. The color flow (flow from the way the frit was laid down—not from the way it flowed in the kiln as it doesn’t move much in the kiln except to settle down), reactions between the glass colors, placement and size of the air bubbles, etc., all add to the uniqueness of each piece, and I see something wonderful in all of them when I open the kiln.

And that brings up what I would call my favorite projects to work on: Projects in conjunction with artists in other media. There is no substitute for the creative zing you get from working with another artist as you pass ideas and designs back and forth. 

To see more pieces or to order visit our website.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

My next big project

This seems to be the year of clay so far, have not had time to pick up a paint brush to work in oils or watercolors even though I'm anxious to!

Last year when Michael was in the hospital at UNC I had a lot of time to wander around. In one of the courtyards I noticed this bench.

I thought it must have been made by our friends the Vegas, although I had never seen any with tiles. 

I contacted them and sure enough they had collaborated with an artist who made the tiles. Since I do tiles I had to ask if they would make me a couple.

Well they arrived this week and this is what they look like sans tiles.

Love them!

Since I generally work in low fire clay and these will be outdoor benches I had to look around for a stoneware clay.

I found this clay that I like, it doesn't have a lot of grog in it (sand) and it is pretty white which I like.

Since I haven't done my style of painting on stoneware, which is fired hotter, I don't know how my underglazes will react so I will have to test the glazes.

Also, because the tiles have to fit in this space I have to figure out how much the clay is going to shrink and how well the clear glaze that goes over it is going to "fit". In other words the clay shrinks when fired, so if the glaze doesn't fit the surface will crack.

The manufacturer of the clay always gives you an idea of how much it is going to shrink but it's a good idea to do your own testing.

So I rolled out some clay, marked it like a ruler and bisque fired it.

I can now use the clay ruler to figure out how big to roll out my tiles so when they are fired they will fit.

I'll also use this ruler to test my glazes.

I'll share my results in an upcoming post.

For this first bench (I have 2), I am doing to do one of my traditional waterfront scenes. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Artist Spotlight Donna Robertson

How did you get started as an artist?
I drew a lot as a child but never expected to be an artist.  As an undergraduate, I majored in English and always expected to be a writer..   (I'm not, but have a daughter who is...)
My mother-in-law taught me to tole paint when my children were small.  I took a watercolor class in an Art Ministry when they were in junior high, and I was hooked!  Won a ribbon in my first show from the Greater Kansas City Art Association; that motivated me.  I painted in watercolor for 17 years.

I suppose I really got started when my older daughter (also an artist) and I moved to Wilmington and had a gallery there for six years.  My watercolors started to sell.  I took a course in the French Impressionists at UNCW and after a visit to see the Monet- Renoir exhibit in Richmond, I switched to oils.  It was not too long before I had several galleries showing my work and I won many other awards.

Who or what has influenced you the most?

I think that Rick McClure, a teacher from Oklahoma, influenced me most.  I took at least five workshops from Rick when  we were showing at the same gallery in Wilmington.  I really love his work.  The other professionals I most admire are Richard Schmid and Mark Boedges.  I could not overlook Wyeth and Sargent.

Describe for us a breakthrough moment in your work:

I had a breakthrough when I began to experiment with watermedia, particularly inks.  I had great success with abstract waves done on very smooth paper.  But I found it very difficult to mat and frame under glass when I had to travel some distances with the paintings in the back of my car.  My galleries are spread over a large area.   And there is no question but that oils command a higher price.

As an artist, what is it that you love about what you do?

Painting is an absolute passion for me.  I love everything about it, particularly the color.  I get totally absorbed in my work and have no idea how time passes.  I love to watch people connect with the work and am privileged to see that happen when i am working in my daughter's gallery on the Outer Banks.  Art is a spiritual journey for me so those connections are spiritual as well.  I find most of my inspiration around the ocean, which is why I moved to this area.  I love to paint anything in nature and particularly love painting flowers.

If you weren’t a painter, what would you be?

If I were not an artist, I might have been a counselor or a manager in a Continuing Education division.  I have a graduate degree in that field. To some people, it seemed like a real sacrifice when I left that field.    But art makes me extremely happy, and you can't beat that as a reason to keep doing what you're doing.  It is a constant challenge to improve and do something new....who knows, maybe something great!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Artist Spotlight Jan Francoeur

This is the first in a series of interviews we'll be doing with artists. For this first one I've decided to interview myself!

How did you get started as an artist?

     I've told this story in this blog before but I was going to go to college didn't know what I would study, but knew I had to have a foreign language. They only taught German at my high school and I was not really interested in that, Spanish seemed to be a language I might be able to use more.
     So I signed up for an exchange program with another school, 15 miles away. We would be going there two afternoons a week and take 2 classes, so for my second class I signed up for art.
     I soon discovered I had no aptitude for Spanish but the art class changed my life!

     I went to Siena Heights College and got a BA in Drawing and printmaking. Throughout college I spent weekends going to art shows selling my work. 
     Then I worked in the commercial printing industry in the art department and began doing architectural renderings.

Who or what has influenced you the most?

     I can say a lot of people and circumstances have influenced me. 
     When I was young I loved the intricacies of steam locomotives, as I traveled around looking at them I discovered I really loved the style of railroad depots. That got me started drawing architecture.
     When we came to New Bern I was blown away with the color in the spring and it caused me to want to learn to paint.
     When we bought our first house in New Bern we wanted to put our mark on it and started working with clay so I could do a backsplash.

Describe for us a breakthrough moment in your work:

     Since I have worked in many different mediums I have had at lease one in each.
     One breakthrough moment came when I was at an art show and a young man asked me if I ever used a Rapidograph, I bought one and used one for the next 40 years.

     Another was when I was trying to paint after working in black and white for 20 years. I just couldn't seem to "get it". I saw other artists working wet in wet in watercolors but all I came up with was a mess. Then one day I thought, ok lets approach this like an ink drawing. I sketched out my idea and started coloring it in. So just changing my mindset did the trick!

If you weren’t a painter and a potter, what would you be?

     I might be a psychologist, I have always been interested in how people are affected by their surroundings, how they were brought up, why they do the things they do. But more likely I would be working in commercial art or the printing industry.

Where do you find your best ideas?

    Since I like to paint architecture all I need to do is drive around town!

What do you love most about being an artist?

    People often tell me that my art makes them feel good.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Funky Art at Carolina Creations

When we choose the work we carry at Carolina Creations we always look for the new and different, beautiful fine art and art that makes you smile.

We love it when we hear folks laughing at something they have read and REALLY love it when we hear them say, "I love coming in here it makes me feel good", or "I come here when I need a boost, I always leave feeling better, (And often leave with something in their hands!).

So in that regard we have a lot of bright and lively "fun" art, like....
Ceramic "rescue" cats and dogs.

Ceramic flip flops to brighten your wall.

Flea sculptures.

Gooney bird ornaments.

Crabs made from gourds, guitar strings, and bottle caps.
Just to name a few.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Painting at Carolina Creations by Sally Sutton

Our friend Sally Sutton has brought us some beautiful paintings for our Garden Show.

Sally splits her time between Pittsboro, NC and New Bern.

We are getting ready to set up some two hour "paint along" classes with Sally.

All supplies will be furnished, all you need to do is show up with enthusiasm!
More details on that later.

Sally paints every day, a lesson we could all learn from. 

When you only paint occasionally you loose your momentum. You learn a new technique, use it once and it works, don't use it for a while and it's gone.
Even if you can't paint EVERY day, at least set aside time to paint one day a week, you'll be surprised how quickly you progress.

Two things that we admire most about Sally's paintings...

her use of color and the movement in her work.

Here is Sally beside a painting she did for the UNC Cancer Hospital!