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It’s all in the eyes…

A knight has his armor. A monk has his tricivara.  And a craftsman has his tool.

At some point in our lives, we develop a very special relationship with something of the  inanimate that far exceeds our expectations and crosses that invisible but clear, intimate line.  A trusted listener who knows our story because it’s part of it.

Paul ShampineFor me, the New Year marks a decade of an understanding with mine. Trust and sacrifice. A silent partner with battle scars of crime, passion and pain.  And, oh what they have seen, felt and heard.

A mile they say.  Well these border to border boys will spit you out at step one and tell none.
A tone signals the next adventure.  I glance down with clarity and sureness and see the hidden smile.  How?- It’s all in the eyes…

Don’t talk to strangers! – Interview with an Artist, part 3

“Don’t talk to strangers!”  In American culture, that’s what you typically heard from your parents.  So, when can you start talking to strangers?  Some, well, all of my best friends were strangers and I recently met some really nice

strangers that are showcasing some of my sculpture.  Ilsa Svendsen and Joseph Keller own and operate Garden of Ideas, one of New England’s finest nature destinations offering “beyond organic” produce, free range eggs and intimate woodland nature trails where your are guided by unique plant life and equally unique sculpture.

I share the grounds with some creative strangers including Sculptor Stephen Cote and Blacksmith Steven Bronstein. It’s a very special place to visit and to purchase locally grown organic produce from some great strangers:
For those of you that talk to strangers, here are a few great artists to get to know.
Carla Fache, Miami, Fl

Carla FacheWhen did you first discover your creative talents? I think that this is something you are always discovering and is endless. In my case, my first memories of recognizing I could do “magic” with common things, was when I was 5 years old and I discovered that I could use the flower’s petals as color painting and I started painting with them. That’s when the magic started…

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. The name of the painting was “blue sky” and a collector, in my first exhibition, purchased it. The next day, the same collector, came and bought me another painting, the biggest painting I had at that time. That was another of the signs that confirmed me that I was on the right track.

Who are your favorite artists? Salvador Dali,Mark Rothko,Frida Kahlo, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline,Roberto Matta,Gerard Richter, Joan MiróSéraphine.

Artist: Carla Fache
Title: De amor y de sombras
Medium: Mixed media on wood, 50×50 inches

Amanda Sage, Vienna, Austria

When did you first discover your creative talents? I was always into making things, but it wasn’t till i was 14 and didn’t have any money for xmas presents, so i painted on t-shirts for my family, which was the first time i really played with paint. I had always been into drawing, colored pencils, charcoal, etc… it was so much fun and a friend offered to buy one from me for a present for their father, this let off a light bulb in my head and from then on out I’ve made a living primarily from painting.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. My first real exhibition was at the Gallery at the Ernst Fuchs Museum in Vienna, Austria in 2001. It was a real success because I painted some life size nudes of his daughter and daughter in law who then organized the show, a few hundred people came to the opening. I sold a good amount of work and was told that i had to put a price on everything, but could keep my favorite piece, because selling as much as i could would help support me in producing more. I am so happy i did not sell that ‘one’ piece and is still the only piece that i have never put a price tag on. For some reason that story came up to that question.

Who are your favorite artists? Mati Klarwein, Dorothea Tanning, Banksy, Pietro Annigoni, Werner Tubke, Ernst Fuchs, Salvador Dali, Alex Grey, Rene Margritte, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Neo Rauch, A Andrew Gonzalez, Mars-1

Artist: Amanda Sage
Title: Sharing Rays
Medium: Acrylic, egg tempera, oil on canvas, 30×40 inches

Mark Van Wagner, Kauai, HI

When did you first discover your creative talents? At a very early age…. As soon as the tempera paints were introduced to me in kindergarten I was off and running. Back in New York my mother had some artist friends who entered me into my first group show at the age of five and remember going to the opening.  So, since I can remember, I’ve always loved doing artwork and thankfully my family has always been relatively supportive of it.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. It was going to be my first real pitch to get my artwork into an established and well-respected art gallery in Chicago. I had finally been able to schedule a studio visit with the owner, Nancy Lurie. I had been dreaming of getting into to her gallery for years and was really nervous of the visit. So there she was reviewing my work on the walls in my studio… after about 20 minutes of looking in silence she turned to me and said “I’m going to buy this one “Weed” and take it with me today. Bring those three (pointing to others on the wall) to the gallery next week and I’ll put you into the next group show”. I practically had a fucking heart attach….

Who are your favorite artists? Cézanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, Monet, Klee, Miro, Duchamp, Gorky, Cornell, Rothko, DoveRauschenberg, Johns, Richter, A Tapies Artschwager, Penone, Westerman, Golub, A.Neel, N.Jenny, P.Halley, Tuttle, E.Hopper, Turrell, Twombly, Kiefer, Pollock, T.Friedman and so many more….

Artist: Mark Van Wagner
Title: Drawing From Nowhere #21
Medium: Acrylic and sand on board, 24 x 32 inches

Eric Kaepplinger, Chicago, IL

When did you first discover your creative talents? I was probably 6 years old and I watched my dad draw a birthday card for my mom using only the crayons and colored pencils that my younger brothers and I had on hand. It was a forest scene with deer and squirrels, and I was blown away. I guess that’s when I discovered that there was such a thing as creative talent and that was way more important, I think, than discovering my own talent.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. In 3rd grade my friend Robby and I started a little art business, specifically selling caricature drawings of made up people for 15 or 25 cents a piece. I don’t remember exactly what the drawing was but I do recall having to replicate it several times for other customers in class. I think in total we made $3 which was pretty cool, and we bought some baseball cards with our loot.

Who are your favorite artists? Martin Ramirez, Adolf Wolfli, Henry Darger, Joseph Yoakum, Kurt Seligmann, John Himmelfarb, Frederic Remington, Max ErnstOlafur Eliasson.

Artist: Eric Kaepplinger
Title: My Chorizo Dreams
Medium: Digital collage of colored pencil and ink drawings mounted on a Masonite box frame. 30×40 inches

Kristen van Diggelen, San Francisco, CA

When did you first discover your creative talents? I have been aware of my creative talents for as long as I can remember, which means a toddler drawing with and eating the heads off my markers.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. I don’t really have a selling experience or a sold artwork that stands out amidst the group, however, each time I am utterly honored to sell a piece. It is also very cathartic, allowing me more space and funds to make new work.

Who are your favorite artists? David Friedrich, Sargent, Tiepolo, Julie Heffernan, Bernini, Turner, Vuillard

Artist: Kristen van Diggelen
Title: The Way of Negation (Battlescape #2)
Medium: Oil on canvas, 87×72 inches

Cause Partner

I recently had the pleasure of meeting gardening goddess, author and speaker extraordinaire Sydney Eddison – a golden-souled raconteur that has the presence of the Dalai Lama and the drive of her Jack Russell terrier Chloe.

Sydney Eddison Chleo Paul ShampineAs visitors and garden helpers milled about, I enjoyed a quiet moment at her kitchen table as she proudly displayed 30+year-old images against the current backdrop.  The conversation quickly turned topics from the garden’s evolution, to her late husband Martin and careers.  Discussing my current three-legged career state, Sydney confided in me that she confessed some concerns of her own regarding the late timing of her book writing career to her partner.  His reply to her was “now is when you have something to write,” implying that she has more to say now than she did before.  Somehow I think Sydney would have made as a significant contribution back then as she does today…she’s a terrier (Sydney’s new book).

I walked away that day with a reinforced value of my diverse career path and the validation of another friend, who was a business partner of mine and a terrific writer, with an equally diverse background. His name is Paul Tukey, and he is the founder of, my current Cause Partner.

From journalist, to landscaper, as a publisher, an author, TV show host, and documentary producer, Paul Tukey has landed on America’s lawns with, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting organic lawn care and ground maintenance programs as an alternative to dangerous chemical treatments that are still frequently used.

A percentage of proceeds from my upcoming solo sculpture show, October 17, Embyonic Armour will be contributed the Read more…