Richard Stone: Lead With Your Heart to Move People

Rick Stone HeadshotRichard Stone is a visual artist, photographer, storyteller, and writer of both fiction and non-fiction. His creative career also includes working with IDEAS, a former division of Disney, as their StoryAnalytics Master. His work spans many media, from works on paper to acrylic on canvas to macro-photography. His writing includes a focus on storytelling, a children’s novel, and he is currently working on a new screenplay entitled “The Maggid.”

Your bio mentions that you work in 4 medium(s). Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

For the past 4 years, I have focused on macro photography of trees’ bark. I do all of my composition in the camera, rarely cropping images after they are taken, shooting RAW. Processing the images is fairly straightforward. I start out in Adobe Lightroom and do some simple adjustments to the image adjusting the exposure if needed. I then use the NIK software suite to do some sharpening, and some minor improvement of the color saturation.

RStone Lichen 3My preference is to print these images large—4’ x 5’ or even larger. There is something very exciting to see what was a 2” x 2” section of a tree enlarged to those sizes—very abstract.

In the past I have done a great deal of work using oil pastels on paper—building up images with multiple layers and then using tools to scrape into the surface to reveal earlier layers.

Have also done a great deal of brush and ink drawings—mostly abstract figurative. I’ve extended this approach by using brushes like brooms to paint abstractly on large sheets of paper, then have selectively have torn or cut out sections of the paper, cut the same shapes out of a piece of black foam core, and then married that with another image on the backside of the foam core creating an interesting effect dimensionally.

RStone painting 6 green leaf on greenFinally, have done a number of large works on canvas depicting leaves. The method—lay the canvas on the floor, and then using ketchup bottles filled with house paint (preferably semi-gloss). I compose by squeezing the paint onto the canvas.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

In my early 20s. I dropped out of graduate school in psychology after I had completed my master’s degree and took myself off to the Art Institute of Chicago.

How would you describe your spirituality?

Probably more Buddhist at moment, but still am engaged with Judaism—more through its storytelling tradition.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

For me, the process of photographing a tree is a profound experience that brings me deeply into communion with this other being, joyfully becoming a witness to its beauty.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

Martin Buber talks about 2 kinds of relationships we can have with the world. I-It in which the world has utilitarian value for us; and I-Thou, in which we meet the other as a sacred being and as it is. For me this is what photographing trees does for me. And every encounter in this way is for me a profound experience of the mystery of this life.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

RStone Gumbo Limbo Low ResAttending to small details often is what takes me into this kind of flow. It’s just about attention outside of myself.

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

I have collaborated for years on a host of creative projects as a writer, having written a screenplay and a sitcom with some friends. The collaborative process proved to be great fun, and a profound act of letting go of any attachment to anything. If one of us didn’t like something the other came up with it was immediately dropped until we could find something that we all could agree was funny—produced a better script I think.

In contrast I’m working on a screenplay right now solo—I think not until I get some others to read it will I know whether I hit the mark or need to go back to the drawing board.

How do ideas come to you?RStone Aphrodite Low Res

Little things often set them off. I was driving one day and stopped at a light and there was a big clump of pampas grass in the median. I immediately imagined that it was the hair of a creature whose head was just under the surface. That led me to imagine that all the trees are actually the tops of the heads of large creatures that became known as Treemungermen—the key characters in an eco-spiritual children’s novel entitled The Kingdom of Nowt.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

If it’s something that I become somewhat obsessed about and think about all the time, then I pursue it.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

Find your own voice—and I mean that for writing as well as the visual arts. And lead with your heart not your head. Things that are intellectually interesting but lacking heart rarely reach an aesthetic threshold in my book, and don’t move people.

Thanks Richard!

See his photos at www.richardstonephoto.com. Richard’s books The Healing Art of Storytelling, Stories: The Family Legacy, The Kingdom of Nowt, and The Patient Survival Handbook (co-authored with Stephen Powell) can all be purchased on Amazon. His board game Pitch-A-Story can be purchased at www.pitchastory.com.

If you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship, email me at vlowry (@) gmail.com. While I’m no longer recording new episodes for the Art as Worship radio show, I’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interview each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Namaste!

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Jim Duggan: I’m Closest to God When I’m Carving

Jim Duggan pic smJim Duggan has been carving ice in the Atlanta area for twenty years. He started his sculpting career after graduating from the Culinary Art program at the Art Institute of Atlanta in 1991, the first graduating class of the school. Jim worked with chefs who allowed him to study the field of ice sculpture. He soon left the kitchen to work full time in the art of ice sculpture.

 “I feel closest to God when I have a chainsaw in my hands and I’m cutting. It’s a spiritual thing for me and I meditate as I carve. I’ve been carving for so long now, I’m not thinking as much as I work. I tune everything out and reflect—I can really work through a lot of problems when I’m carving.” ~Jim Duggan

Listen to Jim’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Eight years ago, Jim founded ICE Sculpture, INC. He has provided sculptures to events hosting President Carter, President Bush, Snoop Dogg, The Thrashers, Tuskegee Airmen, Madonna, NHL All Star Game, and more. Jim’s favorite event each year is carving ice for Atlanta Motor Speedway and NASCAR.  He has also designed and created ice for two movies. Star Light Star Bright

Jim says, “Ice carving is a temporary medium and ice has a life of its own. There’s the production—the creative process where you create the sculpture. But once you set it out, the ice tempers and frosts up, then it starts to melt. As an ice carver, I’m creating something that I know is going to change. It should look best an hour after it begins to melt. I want guests to get the ‘wow factor’ as they walk in. As the sculpture melts, it starts to disappear. It’s turning back into water and the circle will begin all over again.”

Jim is a founding member of the Atlanta Ice Marvels. The team has twice placed in the Top 5 at the Ice Carving World Championships in Alaska. They are competing in the 2013 competition beginning February 26th.

He says, “My competitors are my teammates for the Alaska competition. It’s a tight-knit group. If one of us is having a problem, we help each other out. The ice sculpting industry in Atlanta used to be really cutthroat, but after we started going to Alaska, we saw that we need each other. No company can do everything. You might sell a job and need other companies to help you—people you can count on.”

AIM 5th placeFor the last ten years, Jim has taught the art of ice sculpture part-time in conjunction with the culinary arts program at Chattahoochee Technical College. When he has free time, Jim likes to carve woodcarvings for friends and family.

Find out more about Jim and his ice sculpture art at ICE Sculpture, INC. Like his page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Beth Tarkington: Get Out of the Way

Beth TarkingtonBeth J. Tarkington grew up and resides in the Atlanta area.  She earned degrees from the University of Georgia and Georgia State University with emphasis on drawing & painting and surface design.

After spending 16 years as a high school art teacher, she turned her focus to become a full-time ceramic artist. Today, she applies her painterly techniques on handbuilt clay forms to create one-of-a-kind pieces.

We Each Wear It A Little Differently

We Each Wear It A Little Differently

“I have a friend who says ‘Just get out of the way and it will happen.’ So, that’s what I’ve tried to do with my art.” ~Beth Tarkington

Listen to Beth’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

In her artist statement, Beth says, “There is a Greek word, Kairos, which loosely means: to be in the place you were meant to be, or where time and destiny meet. Within this search for place, I found a natural progression from painting and surface design into clay. My artwork has evolved as narrative handbuilt, one-of-a-kind pieces; conceived, designed and crafted entirely by me.”

Beth participates in juried and invitational shows and exhibitions around the country. Her ceramic pieces are known for their layers of color, rich textured surfaces and thoughtful narratives. Compositions often center on female figures framed by landscape, symbolic elements and occasional text.

We Have Grown This Way Together, Inseparable from Place

We Have Grown This Way Together, Inseparable from Place

She says, “The evolution of my spirituality has profoundly affected my art. My spirituality is a deep centering thing for me. I create art that talks about people and places in life — basically my own experiences because everything is autobiographical. People ask me, ‘Is that you on that piece?’ and I say, ‘Sure, who else would it be?’ I try to touch people from that place inside.”

You can find out more about her at www.BethTarkington.com. She is represented in the Atlanta area by The Signature Shop and Gallery.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Matt Moulthrop: What’s New and What’s Next

Matt Moulthrop picFollowing in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Matt Moulthrop turned his first bowl at the age of 7. Completing his BA at the University of Georgia and MBA at Georgia Tech, Matt tried his hand at work in the 9-to-5 world, but ultimately eased into turning wood as a career, making him the third generation of Moulthrops to carry on the craft.

“My spirituality is affected by what I see in nature. I work with wood that is unnatural or uncommon. Trees that have been diseased, are decayed, or may have been hit by lightning. I never cease to be amazed by what’s new or what’s next. It’s humbling to see the power of nature and what God has created.” ~Matt MoulthropMMouthrop 1

Listen to Matt’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Matt says that as a young adult, he learned that the artistry of wood turning comes not from the hand, but from the eye. Being able to “see” the shape of the bowl has been a legacy and a gift he has tried to improve upon with his vision and version of style, form, and texture.

MMoulthrop 2The artistry of woodturning begins with the wood. Matt says, “I read the log to see what is interesting in the pattern. The work is a revelation process — the challenge is to manipulate the material to best reveal what has been created in nature. I’m constantly looking for new colors or new patterns — anything that’s unusual.”

His works has been displayed in galleries and museums around the country, including the Smithsonian Institution, Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.; The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA; and The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA.

MMoulthrop pivy 1

Coffee table made from poison ivy vines.

MMoulthrop pivy 2Matt talks about one of his most unusual pieces, a table made from poison ivy vines. He says, “Poison ivy is kind of a vilified wood in a sense, but it is spectacularly beautiful. This table was one-of-a-kind. In my research to create it, I couldn’t find anyone who had done anything with poison ivy before. It was a tremendous challenge. There was a danger factor to both skin and lungs, but I had somebody help me who is not allergic and we took a lot of precautions.”

MMoulthrop PBS

As a child, Matt posed inside one of his grandfather’s woodturned bowls to show the scale of the art.

Find out more about Matt and his work at www.moulthropstudios.com. Watch a fascinating 15 minute segment on the PBS program, Craft in America, about Matt, his dad Philip and grandfather Ed — three generations of woodturners.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Melanie Rilling: Living with Intentionality

Melanie Rilling picJewelry artist Melanie Rilling was born and reared in Mississippi, where the very land seems to be steeped in the eccentricities and literature of the Faulkner and Welty tradition. Love of the written word was ingrained from an early age.

In her early thirties, when she came to Atlanta, she discovered a passion and gift for public speaking and began being the spokesperson for several organizations. The freedom found in these new surroundings led to more artistic creativity. Camera 360

“When I discovered working with natural stones in my jewelry-making, I found a connection with nature I had never imagined. The very act of holding these stones in my hands enabled me to see the possibilities of enhancing their natural beauty with other stones, crystals and metals. I found myself ‘listening’ to their beauty and power. It became a form of worship, taking something so perfect and working with its beauty to create something more.  Actually, I feel that if one lives with intentionality, everything takes on an element of worship.” ~Melanie Rilling

Listen to Melanie’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Camera 360While she will always be a storyteller and writer, finding the more tactile art of jewelry-making has enriched her life and her appreciation of the beauty this world holds.

Like Melanie’s Facebook page, MelRox, to find out more about her jewelry made from natural stones.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Mal McEwen: Everything Has Significance

Mal McEwen picMal McEwen is a north Georgia chainsaw artist with family roots in the area dating back to 1746. He has always enjoyed working with his hands and creating works of beauty, including being a mechanic, machinist and trim carpenter.

Mal picked up a chainsaw for the first time in 2002 and has never looked back. What started as a hobby has transformed into a livelihood, with commissioned projects coming from as far away as California. Known as the MalHatter (for the colorful top hat he wears while performing), Mal has carved from Florida to Pennsylvania to Washington State and many points in between.Malhatter owl

 “Through my spirituality and my art, I notice and get inspired by small things. It inspires me to watch ants do their job. From the little things to the big things, everything has significance. My best advice is don’t take the big things as being huge and don’t take the small things as being small. Everything has a purpose and meaning.”  ~Mal McEwen

Listen to Mal’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Always willing to give back to his community, Mal demonstrates at multiple local libraries each summer with the hope of inspiring children to follow their dreams. He has been commissioned for carvings at a number of public and private schools and is always a big hit with the kids.

Mal says, “I’m inspired by nature and by kids. There’s nothing greater than working with a child or young person and watching something spark in their head. I tell them, ‘You don’t have to be an artist. You can be Malhatter swan benchwhatever you want to be in life — don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. Try to be the very best that you can be.’”

In this world of mass production, Mal takes great pride in the fact that each piece is 100% American-made, individually carved, and is a one-of-a-kind work of art.

In May of 2009 Mal organized the first major carving competition in the Southeastern US. The Inaugural “Buzz in the Blue Ridge Chainsaw Carving Extravaganza” was a huge success — nine carvers showcased their talent and raised awareness of this up-and-coming art form.  With the success of the “Buzz”, Mal has gone on to promote other carving events in the Southeast.Malhatter in action

He says, “I’ve got the only job in the world that combines the speed and sound of motocross with the skill and accuracy of a brain surgeon. I’ve had no formal training at all, but I’ve worked with a bunch of talented chainsaw artists over the years. I learn from them and they learn from me.”

MalHatter mooseFind out more about Mal and his MalHatter appearances at www.malworks.com. Like his Facebook page, Georgia Chainsaw Artist, to see photos of his most recent art.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Virginia DuPre: Keeping Open to the Unknown

Virginia DuPre is an artist, art therapist and a former ordained minister.

She graduated from Candler School of Theology in 1994. While serving as an ordained minister, Virginia was a client of art therapy as a way of tending to her own needs and issues so that she could better help others. In 2000, she completed a Master Degree in Art Therapy from Vermont College at Norwich University and began helping people to heal, grow and expand spiritually through the use of art making.

“Making art has kept me open to the unknown — being willing to continue to grow and expand. Art holds mystery and that’s a big part of the spiritual experience. As long as I’m alive, I want to keep expanding into that. There’s something about the blank page and listening to the materials, not knowing what will come out of that process, that’s a way of practicing being open to the great mystery moving inside.” ~Virginia DuPre

Listen to Virginia’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Virginia works with adult individuals, couples and groups for art therapy and spiritual formation.  She says, “What I love about art therapy is that an image comes out of the person and is the source for healing and growth. The art, in a very concrete way, points people back to their own knowing.”

She makes personal art with found objects and recycled objects. Currently Virginia is making snake bone pendant necklaces — made from bones of snakes that were killed in farm management practices on a farm in South Georgia.

Virginia encourages others to connect to their creativity. She says, “Set aside time to play and listen to what wants to come up.”

Find out more about Virginia and her art therapy practice at www.virginiadupre.com.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Harry Boone: First Center Yourself

Harry Boone is a pottery artist. A native of Georgia, Harry grew up in the Atlanta area, attended Georgia Tech and served in the Navy. He worked in the building and development industry for 38 years.

Watching a potter work at his wheel while attending a North GA fall festival around 1968 sparked Harry’s fascination with wheel pottery. He started collecting pots that day. In 1985, he took a class and centered his first piece of clay.

“Early in my journey as an artist, I was working full-time in the development and building industry. I came into pottery class ten minutes late and strung tight. I wasn’t able to center the clay on the wheel — a crucial step before you can begin forming a pottery piece. My instructor came up behind me, put her hands on my shoulders and said, ‘Harry, you can’t center the clay until you’re centered within yourself.’ I’ve found that principle of first getting centered relates to everything I do.”

Listen to Harry’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Now, Harry spends several days a week either in class or working independently in the studio. He’s particularly interested in firing stoneware pieces in wood, salt and ruku kilns.

He says, “I think the best piece I’ve ever made came out of the kiln a few weeks ago — it’s a little teapot and it is absolutely beautiful. That doesn’t happen every time. Creating with clay is somewhat of a process and it’s filled with a lot of faith.”

Harry can be reached at haboone (@) bellsouth.net.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Patrick McDonnell: Art Helps Me Lose My Ego

Cartoonist and author Patrick McDonnell is the creator of the award-winning MUTTS comic strip. Syndicated in 1994, MUTTS now appears in over 700 print newspapers worldwide, and has its home on the web at muttscomics.com.

“My art and spirituality inspire each other. Being an artist made me start thinking about spirituality. When I read The Power of Now, it was the artist in me that understood it. Making art is a prayer and meditation — it helps me lose my ego. So art is definitely part of my spiritual process.” ~Patrick McDonnell

Listen to Patrick’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Patrick has received numerous awards for his art, including the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, and international recognition for his promotion of animal protection.  He has over 20 books in print including The New York Times bestsellers The Gift of Nothing, Hug Time, The Monsters’ Monster and 2012 Caldecott Honor book Me … Jane, which is a biography of the childhood of Dr. Jane Goodall.  In 2009, McDonnell collaborated with The Power of Now author Eckhart Tolle to create Guardians of Being.

Earl, a Jack Russell Terrier, was Patrick’s real life inspiration for MUTTS for 19 years. Patrick says, “I always felt if I could capture any of his joy of life in my comic, I was doing my job.”

Regarding the constant pressure of meeting deadlines, Patrick says, “When you do a daily comic strip, having faith is a big part of it. I have faith in the Creator and in the creative powers that something’s going to happen. I’ve always approached art on a faith basis — not to struggle with it, but to let it happen.”

In addition to his artistic commitments of his daily comic strip, books and the upcoming MUTTS movie, Patrick is a member of the national Boards of Directors for The Humane Society of the United States, The Fund for Animals and The Charles M. Schulz Museum.

Find out more about Patrick and MUTTS at www.muttscomics.com.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Matt Tommey: Crafting a Creative Life

Matt Tommey is a basketry artist, a musician, author and worship leader. His interest in fine craft and handmade baskets began as a teenager, growing up in southern Georgia. His passion for using natural materials began to center around the creeping southern vine of kudzu while attending Young Harris College in the North Georgia mountains and the University of Georgia.

“A few years ago, my wife and I made a decision to say ‘NO’ to everything that was not creative at its core. That meant turning down jobs and moving from Atlanta to Asheville. It meant crafting a life that sustains what we are called to do, as opposed to running after the frustrations of the day. I’ve crafted my life in a way that makes it easy to be creative — that meant saying ‘no’ to stuff that sucks my time.” ~Matt Tommey

Listen to Matt’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Now an Asheville, North Carolina resident, Matt’s handcrafted baskets are a whimsical collaboration of traditional Appalachian forms and wild, rustic, natural materials including natural vines (kudzu, wisteria, grapevine), branches (birch, oak, ash & poplar), long leaf pine needles and poplar bark. His interpretation of rib baskets and other traditional shapes offer a heartfelt nod to his roots in Appalachian basketry while offering a contemporary expression that is all his own.

Matt says, “Coming from a family of musicians and being a musician, I grew up with this idea of performing for God. As I’ve grown in my spirituality and relationship with God, the Lord began to draw me back into the woods. With my basketry, my relationship with God began to change from a position of performance to just being. Connecting with the solitude of the woods helped me to find a place of rest with my creativity. It’s in this place that I know that I’m loved and accepted beyond anything I would ever create. I know that I’m created in the image of God and my job is not to perform for Him, but to create with Him.”

Matt is a leader in the contemporary basketry movement, serving on the Board of Directors of the National Basketry Organization and as an instructor at schools, guilds and conventions around the country.

Through The Worship Studio and his book, Unlocking the Heart of the Artist, Matt encourages others to embrace their creativity. He says, “You are creative. The things that make you weird and unique are the very things that God put inside of you to express His glory on the earth — and for you to have a really good time in life. The abundant life comes when we connect to creativity and the greater spirit of God with our unique expression of creativity.”

Find out more about Matt at www.matttommey.com.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!