Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Carolina Crew at Relay for Life

We were touched and honored that the Carolina Creations Crew walked at Relay for Life on April 25.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Memory Lane

While looking for books on my shelves for a friend I picked up a book by an acquaintance from our Aspen days.

I loved our six years there but life in the mountains at 8000 feet is rigorous to say the least. LOVED the summers when we could explore in the high country and do art shows throughout the region.

Winter was beautiful but our world became very small unless we were able to hop on an airplane. Other wise in the winter it was one way in, one way out. You had to carry extra clothes, food, water and chains, "just in case." You could be swept off the road and down a cliff with no warning in an avalanche or rock slide. One time I was the last one over Independence Pass before they closed it due to the snow, when they opened it back up they found a motor home that had gone off the road, and had slid 200 feet down the cliff, and the person was still in it. Scary.

So when I picked up Bruce Bergers book, Notes of a Half-Aspenite it set off a cascade of memories and got me thinking about some of the people we knew there.

One was an artist friend Connie Madsen. We were both members of the Prince of Peace Chapel artists. Here is a photo I just found online, I look so young!  I guess I was, it was 25 years ago.

 Connie's brother was the director of the St. Johns Art Museum in Wilmington. She came to visit once, wish she could see us now! That is Connie on the right, which one am I?

Another talented friend was Mary Eshbaugh Hayes, Photographer and writer.

I first met Mary through Tee Child and The Windstar Foundation which is what took us to Aspen, Michael was the land manager during what they call the "Camelot" days of Windstar. I later worked with Mary at the Aspen Times. She still writes a column for that award winning newspaper.

Boy one story just leads to another ... how I got the job at the Aspen Times was that I filled in for Tee Child doing typesetting, she then retired and I stayed on. I also did the pasteup of the newspaper. That was fun, we had all the pages laid out in a room and we would walk from one page to the next. Printing was a lot different then than it is today, pc's were just beginning to be used. We set type with a typesetting machine which spit out strips of type which we put wax on the back then stuck it down into position on the paper.

I met Mary at a party at Tee's house. How I met Tee and Bob Child was at Windstar. She and Bob owned property on Capital Creek between Windstar and the St Benedict's Monestary. Conservationists from day one, they did a lot for the community. I'm sure they would be shocked to see what the ranch was listed for in 2012. There is little available flat land in the Roaring Fork and adjacent valleys making this a very valuable piece of property. In our little valley were a lot of interesting people I may have talked about before. When we lived there some of the famous residents of the valley were Jimmy Buffet, Glen Frey, and Goldie Hawn probably being the most famous, John lived in Starwood, a high dollar development on the east side of the Roaring Fork Valley on the edge of Aspen.

For a while we lived on Snowmass Creek Road right across the street from Jimmy and Glen, at that time their houses were side by side. Snowmass Creek Road joined Capitol Creek Road. We rented that place for a short time, btw, if you are ever going to buy property in the mountains look at the property early in the morning and late in the afternoon before you purchase. Due to the narrowness of the valley right there we only had direct sun for about 5 hours a day. When we moved into Aspen we were on top of Buttermilk Mountain and had light as much as anyone did and certainly more than they have in downtown Aspen which is in the shadow of Ajax in the afternoon.

By the time you get to Windstar the valley opens up into Capitol Creek Valley. This is right on the edge of the wilderness. You pass the Monestary as you follow Capitol Creek Road it eventually climbs to the tree line. It ends in a spot very high near Haystack Mountain. We were told by Tom Crum, John's partner in Windstar, that that is the spot where John got his inspiration for writing Rocky Mountain High.

Another connection with Tee was that we both belonged to a Computer club that used CPM. Does anyone reading this even know what that is??  It was an early operating system. We had a Kaypro like the one shown here!

Going back to what I started writing about, I can't remember how I met Bruce, who prompted this rant, but I think it was through the Aspen Arts Council where I worked with Dutch Hodges. We were a two man band. He lived in this interesting little log house at the end of Main St. which I think is still there and I think he still owns. I visited him there one day, can't remember why now but remember the house was jam packed full of books. It was built in the 40's by famed architect Fritz Benedict who built many houses in Aspen and worked with and was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

We loved our time in Aspen, like I said, I could write pages of memories, people we met, amazing homes we were in, experiences we had. Even lots of VW stories, me driving through the mountains to do art shows, by myself, before cell phone days, not that they would have worked in some of the places I got into trouble anyway.

I talked about some of those experiences in one of my "thankful" posts not long ago. We've been talking about visiting Aspen again, doing a memory tour kind of like we did in Michigan last June. We'd like to get a little motor home, a Sprinter actually, and take some time off to go on a few trips. Our current VW is ok for short trips and maybe a week but it would be a lot more comfortable in something a little bigger. We really like to camp more than stay in hotels. Well camping like you park in a campground but you have your own bathroom, kitchen and bed!!  We like it because you have all your own stuff but mostly because you're outside more. I hate sitting in a hotel room but can sit in a campground with no problem.
So what does all this have to do with Carolina Creations and my artwork?  Well it's part of the fabric of our lives, everything that comes before contributes to who we become and influences what we do.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 28 Working in Series

31 Days of Thanks Day 28 Working in Series

When we lived in Colorado I met Darlene Wilson, who painted dogs. She's the one that really got me started working in a series. It is wonderful for many reasons. You get an idea and one leads to the next. Also because I do prints of many of my paintings our customers will keep adding to their series!

Once we arrived in New Bern the logical thing to start a series of was our beautiful waterfront since architecture is my favorite thing to paint.

Around New Bern was the first in my "Around" series.
And Around New Bern Too was the second
Around Jones County
Which lead the Jones County Historical Society to ask me to do an Around Jones County.
I have done a lot of work for Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer through the years so though I'd do Around Camp. This one took me about a year to figure out. I kept looking at the buildings, then one day it dawned on me that Camp isn't about the buildings its about the people and activities. Once I got that in my mind I was able to do it.

Other series I've done are my train series, herb tiles, New Bern ornaments and door paintings.

We've already talked about the lighthouse series, that one was a natural since we have 7 working lighthouses - so it consists of 7 pieces.

I talk about one piece leading to the next, the thing is I NEVER run out of ideas of things to paint, I only run out of time.

- Jan Francoeur

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A wonderful way to make a living

Sunday, April 20, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 27 Artists who inspired me part II

31 Days of Thanks Day 27

I've learned a lot from many different artists. Some by painting with them, some just by reading their books.

When we first came to New Bern I met Ruth Heppler and we painted together one night a week for several years. Eventually we got too busy at Carolina Creations and I didn't have time. I was working in watercolors while Ruth worked in oils but making time to paint each week was important and I continue to paint each week to this day. Not every day but every week.

One of the artists I know that does paint every day is Mike Rooney.

Carolina Creations was one of the first galleries to ever represent Mike Rooney. I still remember the first day he came in to show me his work. He was so nervous, shy, and talented!

Mike had been working as a sign painter and wanted to spend more time doing fine art.

After a couple years Mike was having great success with his work, quit his day job and began to paint full time.

By this time I'd become accomplished with watercolors and with my glazes on clay but was now interested in exploring oils.

So we hosted a 3 day plein air painting workshop with Mike and my exploration of oil painting began. These are a couple of the paintings I did after taking workshops.

My goal for working is oils is to loosen up!

Since then we have hosted several more workshops with him and at every one I learn something more.

Mike now spends his time traveling from Key West to Cape Cod, showing his work and teaching classes.

I went to Asheville to go to a workshop with Ken Auster. He's the guy that did all the chef paintings in Ruby Tuesdays. What I learned from him is that I don't know how to apply oil paint. "It's called painting not scrubbing." That might sound like a mean thing to say but it was and still is huge for me. I realize that is most of my problem with oil painting, I'm too heavy handed with the brush. So now whenever I start to work in oils I remember him saying that.

He is messy, I am too! He said 'all my clothes either have paint on them or will have paint on them,' I'm right there with him.

His paintings have a lot of drama, which I like, and he does a lot of architecture, which I love to do too. I still haven't loosened up as much as I would like but I'm working on it.

This is a painting I did when I came home from that thinking about some of the things he talked about.

Thank you Mike and Ken for your inspiration!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another Spring in New Bern

We never tire of our adopted town. We will have been in New Bern for 25 years the end of May and April is my favorite month. The first year we missed the beautiful spring flowers and were blown away the following year when we saw them all.

I'm sure along the way a few of these will become paintings!

- Jan Francoeur

Sunday, April 13, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 26 Our New Space

31 Days of Thanks Day 26

Not really having any experience or education in business, everything we've learned has been by doing, so we listen to advice and read everything we can.

One of the guys (John) we were buying radio advertising from (his retirement job) said that he had a business of his own for 30+ but the only reason he was able to retire was because he owned his real estate. We had tried to purchase a building in downtown 7 years before but the price and the appraisal did not match up, of course this was when our Downtown did not look like it does today. His comment got us thinking about it again in 2001.

The old Chinese restaurant/Metropolitan Club had been gutted (the peoples plan for it never got it off the ground) and sitting empty for a couple years. It was way bigger than we needed but the downstaris would be perfect for us.

Yes it looked a little scary but its a great space.

We were told that the people we were renting from needed the building we were in so we really needed to find a new place for Carolina Creations.

The people wanted way more than the going rate, it would need A LOT of money to renovate. So we started talking to a local architect about buying the place together. While trying to come to an agreement on the price, we met a neighbor on the sidewalk (Charles) and he said "you ought to buy that building", we said we were trying to but they wanted too much money and we weren't getting anywhere. He said "Make them an offer and say it's good until the end of the month."  So that's what we did, and they took the offer!

But then we lost the guy who was going to go in with us who would know how to develop the building into a commercial condo, which we knew nothing about.

While we were panicking wondering what to do another friend said go talk to M. Which we did.

Whew!! Yes he was interested so we bought the building together, we made it into a commercial condo, we own 1/3 he owns 2/3, and here we are 11 years later. It was a good move for us and, like with our last location, as our space grew so did our business.

We love our space!

Thank you John, Charles, Dan, Marvin for planting the seeds and helping us see them grow.

- Jan Francoeur

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hand blown glass at Carolina Creations

We always have a large selection of hand blown glass but right now we have even more!!

Just got new from Bernie, Michael Hudson, Paul Bendzunas, Brenda Griffith, Glass Eye, Ingrid Hanson. 
Glass blowing is an amazing art and we're honored to represent these accomplished glass blowers at Carolina Creations!!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 25 CRAFT

31 Days of Thanks Day 25

In 1998 we joined an organization that totally changed our business. We joined the CRAFT Retailers Association and met other gallery owners from across the country.

We had never before had anyone to talk to about our business who really understood the challenges of running a gallery featuring hand crafted items, made in the USA working with artists, and so on.
Craft Retailers & Artist for Tomorrow


Through the years these folks have become like family. We see each other as much as 5 or 6 times a year (unfortunately more than I see my own family). I ended up on the board of the organization and converse with one of the people I met through CRAFT every week on one issue or the other 16 years later.

Our group started a week long celebration throughout the US celebrating American Craft. This will be it's 5th year. It's called American Craft Week.
Our group presents educational workshops at shows across the country. I've done presentations on blogging and other topics, as well as set on panels addressing issues we all have running a gallery.

I helped set up our organizations website, wrote a monthly newsletter, and so on.

We would share artists with each other, be available to assist with issues, share rooms at shows.

I got a nice award from the group for my contributions.

So thank you to Sandra, Anna, Karen, David, Anne, Diane, Donna, Don, Deb, Laurie, Rani, Bob, for your ideas, commaradry, encouragement, selfless sharing, lending a shoulder, and everything else. You have all helped us make Carolina Creations better.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Love Oxide Pottery

This winter we met Joe Monk, Chatham Monk, and Justin Rice and just loved their work!

Their technique is called scraffito. Joe, Chatham and Justin work with porcelain. When the piece is leather hard they coat it with several coats of velvet underglaze then carve away everything they want to leave white.
They fire the pieces then apply a clear glaze and fire again.
Our pieces are all wired to be hung but they can also sit on the table, food safe.