Sunday, December 29, 2013

31 Days of Thanks Day 10 Shows and Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

As I said in a previous post I loved drawing locomotives and railroad architecture. Living in Colorado I was in hog heaven.

We spent our summers exploring the railroads and depots of the state.

I came to love the vistas and the lack of "green" was ok too.

Through Michael working at Windstar I ended up meeting some folks working on sustainable agriculture, illustrated several books for them.

We lived up the valley from Glenwood Springs. This beautiful hotel is adjacent from the hot springs, we would go soak there. Our favorite time was Christmas Day. The ground would be covered with snow and we'd be soaking. The pools were huge.

Redstone Castle, about 50 miles from Aspen. Originally called Cleveholm Manor. In 1900,John Osgood became the 6th wealthiest man in America, making his fortune as a coal and steel pioneer in the West. Osgood developed the village of Redstone as a model company town, part of his sociological experiment implemented throughout his Colorado Fuel and Iron empire.
Monastery of St. Benedict, we lived just down the road for a while. It was a wonderful place to visit. The Maroon Bells are shown in the back ground.

The Hotel Jerome was a cowboy bar and flop house when we moved there in 1983. It was renovated and turned into a 5 star hotel while we were there.

Redstone Inn, near the Redstone Castle was our favorite place to go for Sunday Brunch even though it was 50 miles away!

Long story but this carousel was built for a park in Denver but now resides in eastern Colorado

Another view of the Hotel in Glenwood Springs

One of my favorite customers home.

My brochure, I called my studio Roaring Fork Renderings

One of the ski lodges in Aspen

Another Aspen House Portrait

I did shows in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Beuna Vista, Grand Junction, Crested Butte, St. George, Denver, Black Hawk, Central City, Georgetown, Evergreen, Durango and more.

At one of the shows I met the director of the Western History Collection of the Denver Public library and he arranged to have six of my railroad drawing purchased for the permanent collection. I was thrilled,

This is a brief description of the collection -

The Library collects works of original art and other illustrative materials of historical and aesthetic interest. This comprehensive art collection includes work by master artists who have made important contributions to the study of the West. Rare and important works by Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran and Alfred Jacob Miller figure prominently in the collection. Prints include fine examples of George Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio, as well as engravings and lithographs by Karl Bodmer, James Otto Lewis and Charles Bird King.

I was doing more and more "house portraits" for people from across the country.

I had some hair rising experiences while going to shows in the mountains. Like wandering in the desert then ending up in St George at 5 pm on Easter Friday only to have my car stop. Fortunately the AAA guy said there was a shop that worked on Volkswagens and he was still there, $25 and new fuel pump and I was on my way in 15 minutes. These experiences were all in a 69 Volkswagen bus that could often be fixed with a bobby pin and a piece of gun, unlike of 2003 bus that when you open the hood you can't even SEE the engine.

Another time coming home from a show and having to cross Independence Pass (12,000 + feet) It started to snow. Now this is a skinny road with major drop offs, so is really scary. In fact this was early in our marriage and I insisted on driving if we went over the pass so I could be on the inside and not have to look down the steep drop off. It was the beginning of me doing most of the driving during our married life.   Well I came around one of those sharp blind turns and came to a car that was sidewise totally blocking the road. I got out and helped them get unstuck. I thought it was odd that the guy never answered me if I spoke to him. As we were getting back into our cars I heard the lady yelling at him, "you can't drive you can't see!"   -    great, I followed someone  who was deaf and blind driving down the rest of the dangerous pass. We were the last people over then they closed the pass. the drive around is at least 100 miles if you can't take the pass.

Another time coming home from Grand Junction the engine threw a piston. This was before cell phones and I was 50 miles from the next town. I had no choice but to sit wait. A guy stopped and picked me up, dangerous but what could I do?  It turned out ok but......

And another time going to a show in Crested Butte over Independence then Cottonwood pass I lost the clutch and had to make sure I stopped on a hill so I could keep going again.

Loved living there once we got used to it but once you got a couple miles out of town you were literally in the wilderness, alone, for miles and miles, no gas stations, even if we would have had cell phones I'm sure there would have been no service. It was quite an experience living there, I'll never forget it.

Thank you Denver Public Library and Aspen for welcoming me!

- Jan Francoeur

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jewelry by Kathleen Hubbard

One of our newest and favorite jewelers is Kathleen Hubbard.

She is I a self taught metal-smith and has worked at it for the past 28 years. Being a self taught artist and designer her pieces have evolved over that time into a style of her own. Design is her passion.

She is constantly searching for new processes, materials, textures and elements and she gets her ideas for her designs from her daily life.

Over the past 28 years she has designed jewelry for celebrities and has had her designs appear in music videos and television series

We are thrilled to represent Kathleen in New Bern at Carolina Creations!

Click here to see more of her pieces and for the details.

- Jan Francoeur

Sunday, December 22, 2013

31 Days of Thanks Day 9 MJF and Aspen

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

I met and married my husband Michael. We were both hard workers and we both were ready to have an adventure. He accepted a job in Colorado and off we went. Right away I started getting involved with the arts in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Other than the Art Train I never really had my work in a gallery. I was in lots of shows but I was never really represented by a Gallery before the Prince of Peace Chapel. I was involved shortly after the gallery opened. They are still going almost 30 years later.

Tom Ward was and still is Co Chair of the Gallery there. He is also a very talented set designer. He was very encouraging to me about my work. At the gallery I always pitched in and helped with whatever needed to be done. I remember him saying "I wish the others were like you!" In other words I was no prima donna.

I was also represented by The Redstone Art Center, which was at that time owned by sculptor Eric Johnson and his wife Sherry. Eric is famous for his marble sculptures.

Shortly after we moved there I went to work for the Aspen Council for the Arts. This gave us access to many opportunities we never would have had. After leaving the Arts Council I joined the team at the Aspen Times and at first worked doing pasteup, then moved into typesetting. This was the beginning of pc's being used instead of typesetting machines. Working for a newspaper was so much different than working for a commercial printer. With the newspaper its here today and gone tomorrow. At Hamblin Co we might work on a job for several months.

Mary Eshbaugh Hayes was, and still is, writing for the Aspen Times, she was a mentor during my time there.

It was in Aspen that I started doing this more "flattened" style of drawing for certain things. This is a drawing I did for a wedding invitation. The wedding was held at the Wheeler Opera House, the large building in the background, the other buildings all had significance to the the couple, like the Historical Society, the Sardy House B and B, K's House and I don't remember what the other house was.

How I describe it is as if you are walking and stop in front of each building and look at it, rather than looking at the scene as a whole where you would see the buildings in 3 d.

This is a style I continued to use a lot once we moved to New Bern, which was also a precursor to the buildings I do on clay.

M and I were early on pc users. We got our first one with money we got for our wedding - it was a Kaypro and used CPM and 5 1/4" floppy discs! I just mention this is passing because like so many people computers and the internet play such a role in our lives today.

During the last year we were in Aspen I started drawing birds and adding color to just the bird - it was exciting to be doing something different.

We met a lot of interesting and influential people during our time in Aspen, most of whom I am not mentioning here. We learned a lot.

Thanks Aspen it was fun!

- Jan Francoeur

Friday, December 20, 2013

Slow Blogging

December is always our busiest time of the year, of course, so I often don't have time to do anything other than be at Carolina Creations or be home painting pottery or doing paintings for folks to give as Christmas gifts.

I finished the last drawing I had to do for someone yesterday and have 2 tiles yet to do!

The best thing about Christmas week is that families we haven't seen since last Christmas begin arriving. Being a fixture in Downtown New Bern since 1989 has allowed us to meet the kids, see them grow up, watch them marry, and have their own children!  It's been very gratifiying to see and be a part of.

I'd like to take this time to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for letting us be part of your lives.

- Jan Francoeur and Carolina Creations

Sunday, December 15, 2013

31 Days of Thanks Day 8 Drawing for Michigan and Lenswee County Historical Societies

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

Once I started using a Rapidograph I REALLY got into doing very detailed drawings. They lay down dense, even-flowing lines of controlled widths.

I became enthralled with anything that was complex to draw, including steam locomotives. I guess all the gears and intricate detail of them. Then I started riding them too and loved the sound and the history.

As I started visiting historic sites that had them in their collections I began noticing that the railroad depots that they were parked in front of had a particular "look" that I liked. That was the beginning of my love of drawing architecture.

I was contacted by the Lenawee County Historical Society, where my mother was a geneologist, and was asked if I would be interested in doing drawings for a calendar. So I did 12 drawings each year for many years, maybe 8 or 10, of historical buildings around the county. I got a lot of publicity, made some money and got a lot of exposure (in this case exposure was worth it - that's another story!). That was the start of doing commissions of peoples homes, which I still do to this day.

My railroad drawings caught the attention of the Michigan Historical Society and I did numerous drawings of railroad depots around the State for them, which are in their collection. And were featured in their magazine.

So thank you Lenawee County Historical Society and the Michigan Historical Society for supporting my work!

- Jan Francoeur

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pricing Handmade

Almost every day we are asked about the price of a piece we have in our gallery. Why it costs what it does, would you take $20 for for $30 item, if I buy two will you give me a deal?

One of the hardest things for an artist to do is to price their work. There are so many factors that go into it - the materials, the idea, the labor, the cost of your studio, advertising, shipping, etc as well as the skill of the artist. What price are people willing to pay?

Most of what we sell no one really needs, well that is unless they need something to lift their spirits. The things we sell are luxuries. You know we see all kinds of amazing things our artist friends make that we really really want for ourselves but we can't afford them. But that doesn't mean the price is wrong, the piece is not too expensive, it's just too expensive for me!

I know from experience what goes into a lot of the things we sell. For instance I've stayed up all night to get tiles done, I've had pieces crack in the kiln so I had to do them over. It took me 1 hour to do the first tile and 1 hour to do the second tile. (not counting the glazing and firing time) So when someone asked if they buy 2 can they get a better price - well.... no.  Then I think of the cost of our mortgage on our building, our employees, the packaging, the insurance, the electricity, etc. Etc. Like my friend says, "no I can't give you a better price."

I don't work in volume and neither do most of our artists. We and our artists carefully create our items, we take pride in what we do and they take as long as they take to make. We rarely have discounts or sales on things unless something is just not selling.

People think it doesn't hurt to ask for a discount, but indeed it does hurt. It hurts my feelings when I think of the time that went into that handmade piece.

We have had Carolina Creations since 1989 and need to make a profit to continue to be. You don't have to buy anything we sell, you don't need it to live but when you do, you support us and our artists and their families. You support ideas, passing on the joy, thought and caring that went into that piece.

So thank you to all of you that come in and say - this is the perfect gift for my friend - she will just love it!

- Jan Francoeur

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Paintings from Brenda Behr

Our friend and artist extrodinnaire Brenda just brought in these two paintings.

Cloud - image 9 x 12 in gold 3" plein aire frame $350

Roadside Poppies - image 9 x 12 in gold 3" plein aire frame $395
See them on our website by clicking here!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

31 Days of Thanks Day 7 Commercial Printing at Hamblin Company

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

One day I saw an ad for a job running a press at a commercial printer. I hand only run a tiny press at the Senior Citizen Job but thought it was something I could do.

I remember the day I started Andy helped me put the printing plate on the press, then he just stood there. I flipped the switch and he grinned and said "most people are afraid to turn it on!" I worked as a press man for a short while, when the work slowed down I volunteered to work in other departments - "I want to learn it all" I told Andy.

And over the next 6 or 7 years ended up working in every department in the plant, from paste up, to developing film, making plates, setting type and working in the bindery. These days the printers go from the computer right to the printing plate. So today when I complain about my ad not being in registration and the guy says "you don't know how hard it is" I say "don't get me started."

I did a few small drawings that were used in some of our printing jobs.

By working in all the different departments I did each job better. I saw how a tricky paste up job could effect the other parts of the job all down the line.

Working in the field of commercial printing has helped me in so many ways, from knowing how to reproduce my own work to designing my own ads and advertising pieces, and so on. I use the skills I learned there every day. 

Thank you Andy for giving me the opportunity to learn so much.

- Jan Francoeur

Sunday, December 01, 2013

31 Days of Thanks Day 6 My Folks

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

Even though they didn't think studying art would get me anywhere, my folks did support my decision as long as I went after a BA instead of a BFA. Meaning I would study other things in addition to art. Well thinking back, the art classes are the only classes I remember!

Neither of my folks were artists but we were told that my Dad was a concert pianist as a young man, and hated it, he was pushed into it by his mother. We never once heard him play and he never spoke about it. Makes me sad to think about it, knowing how much enjoyment I get out of doing my artwork.

My Mom was a writer, and like me, was not at the top of her English class, but it ended up being one of her passions and she was good at it.

Thinking about how they influenced me - most has nothing directly to do with art, more to do with life.

I was taught that the world owes you nothing, if you want to be something you need to make it happen yourself. It's not that they wouldn't help you if you needed it but they did not approve of anyone standing with their hand out waiting to be given things.

So I've always worked hard and have always wanted to learn as much as possible about whatever I was involved in.

Thank you Mom and Dad, miss you.

In my Day 6 post I'll talk about how going to work for a commercial printer helps me even today, some 35 years later.

- Jan Francoeur