Featured Artist Mick Theebs

Artist Mick Theebs
Artist Mick Theebs
Mick at work.

Artist Mick Theebs: A Jack of All Arts

This past week I was able to have a discussion with local artist Mick Theebs to discuss his works as well as other aspects of his life. His website ALSOTHAT.com showcases his works as well as several other artists. I had the recent pleasure of exchanging words with him as he is a member of the Guild and become more familiar with him. 

Coastal Arts Guild of CT: At what age did you start to get involved in art?

Mick Theebs: I’ve been writing fiction and poetry for most of my life. It’s something I’ve always been compelled to do, I guess. I can’t really ever imagine life without it.

Visual art, on the other hand, is a much more recent passion. I would say I started painting only four or five years ago, at most. That would put me at around 20 years old. Even then, my paintings were small and rudimentary. Only very recently have I started to take my visual art more seriously. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m enjoying myself.

CAGCT: What were some of the factors that got you going in art?

MT: I can’t say there was one thing that made me realize I wanted to be an artist. It was kind of a gradual thing. I always thought it would be fun to be a painter. One day I finally pulled the trigger and bought some art supplies. It’s hard to explain in a concise manner, but I believe art (writing, painting, music, performance, etc.) is the most important thing humanity has created, as it allows us to explore and document both our material and immaterial experiences. Imagine how ugly and boring the world would be without art!

CAGCT: On your website, there is both photography and visual art. Do you prefer doing one over the other?

MT: I prefer visual art, hands down. I originally purchased my camera to take high-quality photos of my work. I definitely enjoy taking photos, but I think there are bigger barriers to development- namely the price of quality equipment, which keeps me from honing my skills as much as I would like to. Plus, I find the experience of creating something with my own two hands more immediate and rewarding.

It's All In Your Head by artist Mick Theebs
“It’s All In Your Head” by artist Mick Theebs. 

CAGCT: Which piece of art of yours is your favorite and what was the inspiration behind it?

MT: I have two pieces that are very dear to my heart: Kiss and Isabelle. These were the first two pieces I painted that made me stop and say “I think I might be a real artist now”.

I wish there was some deeper meaning or inspiration that I could point to, but there isn’t. I was noodling around in Photoshop and ended up creating designs I liked then decided to make paintings based on those designs. These two paintings are the direct result of that process.

CAGCT: When you are not creating art, what may someone see you doing on a day like this?

MT: This may sound boring, but I don’t really do much besides making art. I try to spend time with my family and with my beautiful girlfriend, Kat. I try to engage the art community by attending events and visiting artists in their studios. I run ALSO THAT, which is in a constant state of improvement. I work on my fiction and poetry and have recently started branching out into script writing with a few close friends. Fit all this around a 9-5 office job and there isn’t much time for anything else.

CAGCT: What is your EDSFTG (Every Day Should Feel This Good) moment?

MT: Whenever I have a full day to myself, I try to set a few goals. Get some writing done, do a little painting. Read. Exercise. Do some website maintenance. I’ll write my tasks down in a little notepad and cross them off when I complete them. I would say my EDSFTG moment is when I get everything done and still have a little time to myself to relax and unwind.

CAGCT: If you could be any person in the world for a day, who would it be?

MT: Somehow this is the hardest question. I feel like Jerry Seinfeld has a great life. I don’t think I would mind being him for a day. If I could be anyone living or dead, I would have to say Pablo Picasso, just so I could know what it feels like to be a genius.


You can follow artist Mick Theebs on Twitter @MickTheebs or @ALSO_THAT or read more at ALSOTHAT.com

A Gift for Artists not on their List (But Should Be)

Gift for Artists
An gift for artists that isn’t paint?? Why didn’t I think of that??

When you are wracking your brain for a gift for artists in your life, here’s one you probably didn’t consider, but should.

Buy them a membership to their local art guild.

Why?

1. Community. A membership to the local art guild is a gift for artists — and everyone else in your community. Supporting the arts in your community increases tourism, boosts the economy and raises property values. (Americans for the Arts.org)

2. Cost. Guild memberships are relatively inexpensive. Our annual, individual membership is just $35.

3. Resources. Artists can often feel and act as solitary creatures. Yet creativity feeds off of other creative sources. Some of the best resources (grants, arts partnerships, showings, marketing) comes from groups like the Coastal Arts Guild of CT.

buy-local4. Support. The membership cost supports arts programming, yes. But more importantly, the membership says: “I support YOU as an artist.” Many artists don’t join a guild because they don’t feel “good enough.” A membership tells them: these are your people! Join them!

5. Convenience. It’s easy to purchase the membership online. Right from the comfort of your pajamas or mobile device.


To purchase a membership for your artist, click here. Join them in a family membership, and you can even purchase a “patron” or business membership for yourself.

Enjoy the season and remember to shop local and handmade, whenever you can.

 

 

Painter Karen Essig in the Natural World

Sailboat by Karen Essig
Karen Essig CT painter
Painter Karen Essig, a Coastal Arts Guild Member,  depicts her New England home and neighbors in landscape, portrait and still life through watercolors & oils.

Guild member and painter Karen Essig will not be found painting in her studio all day. In fact, the room where she most recently used as her studio is now a spare room for her grandchildren.

Like many artists, Essig works full-time. She is a nurse.But her practical life has not stopped Essig from pursuing her dream one. She paints copiously.

“When I was young I would love watching my Mom paint pictures in her spare time. She is a very talented artist, and  I hoped her talents would rub off on me.  I started playing around with a sketch pad for fun as a young girl, and  I painted my first oil painting at the age of 16.”

Sailboat by Essig

It wasn’t until she was 50, that she started working with watercolors. She had found her medium.

“I had always worked worked in oils. It wasn’t until the last 5 years that I really expanded into watercolors. I love it.”
As a painter, Essig has enjoyed dozens of commissions over her years paintings, including children’s portraits as well as 15 paintings for the Hershey Hotel when it was remodeled.

As a lifelong New Englander, Essig said she is affected by the beach, the sea and the natural world.

“I am intriguied by nature and colorful subjects,” she said. “I like to paint realistic images. I have done everything from scenery to portraits to still lifes.”

Contact Karen Essig for commission portraits or to view a gallery of her latest available work.

A beautiful gift: Connecticut artist notecards

Tango: Mark Hannon

We’re proud to present a beautiful packet of Connecticut artist notecards, now available for sale here on our site.

The work of eight of our members are featured on the cards, including information about the artist and their work.

The work reflects a life in Connecticut by our coastal artists. The artwork represented includes watercolor, printmaking, mixed media, photography and poetry/collage.

The notecards are 4″x6″ and blank inside, with plain white envelopes.

Connecticut Ar Notecards

Suzanne Coiro – An American Watercolorist

Coastal Arts Guild of CT member Suzanne Coiro uses watercolors to create beautiful and representational visions of the natural world. Coiro is an American landscape and seascape watercolor painter based in Stratford, CT and formerly of Queens, New York.

 

Landscape by Suzanne Coiro

 

Throughout her life she has continued to refine her skills as a fine artist, but Suzanne began her artistic career in the early 1980’s as a graphic designer, designing corporate marketing materials primarily for the legal field. She received her initial training at Stony Brook University, Long Island, School of Visual Arts, NYC, and Parsons School of Design, NYC. She decided to close her personal graphic design business in 2007 and now devotes her time exclusively to painting.

 

 

Members of the guild enjoyed Coiro's discussion of her work at the guild's April meeting.
Members of the guild enjoyed Coiro’s discussion of her work at the guild’s April meeting.

Although her true love is the ocean, you will often find Suzanne at the beaches of Stratford and Milford, sketching dune grasses and the rocky shoreline of Long Island Sound. She will sometimes explore a floral or architectural subject.

Coiro's painting "Sunflower" was selected to be included in the Guild's notecard collection
Coiro’s painting “Sunflower” was selected to be included in the Guild’s notecard collection

Coiro is currently a member of the board of the Coastal Arts Guild of Connecticut, holding the office of Secretary since 2004 and in previous years when it was the Stratford Arts Guild.
If you wish to contact Suzanne to schedule a meeting to preview her work or to commission a work, email Coiro at s.coiro@sbcglobal.net.

Featured Artist Amy Oestreicher

Amy Festreicher 2015Amy Oestreicher is a mixed media artist who lives in Westport, CT.

Amy Oestreicher is a 28-year-old artist, musician, teacher, actress  composer, dancer, writer,yogi, foodie, and general lover of life. 

Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others.

Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and dozens of solo art shows.


CAGCT: Did you study art?

AO: I learned art accidentally on my way to healing and don’t have much formal art training.

However, I plan on studying more of the technical aspects of art, such as figure drawing, to have a wider range in my work.

Being a self taught artist, the idea of drawing the human body always has intimidated me – we all have an inner critic! However, I used figures in my work over and over again throughout the years in order to process what I was feeling after nearly 30 life AND body-altering surgeries.

   Amy Oestreicher 2015 trees

After every surgery, I would wake up with a new anatomy – a bag here, no belly button here, this missing, that added. It was very dissociating and made me feel like an alien to myself. I drew the figure to find wholeness with my body again, to accept it, to show the different “selves” of me, to love it as my own.

Now, I am very fascinated with the figure in how it relates to the world, nature, and the flesh. Seeing my “figures” look more and more body-like reassures me – it lets me know that I am starting to feel human, starting to accept my body for what it has been through, and call it my own.

CAGCT: Who has influenced your work?

AO: Originally, painting… was an amazing way for me to express what was too overwhelming, frustrating and scary for words. Whatever distress I was feeling, whatever uncertainty I wrestled with, once I put my brush to the canvas, something felt released – my sadness was still there, but at least I could feel it. And so for a long while, my sadness inspired my painting. YET, it would transform my painting. …

… Of course, my latest inspiration has been … my fiancé – who will become my husband in a few weeks. Basically, life inspires me – the fact that life always gives us second chances – that it’s never too late to grow, learn, evolve, and continually change.

Now that I’ve learned more in the art world, I find my romantic whimsy in Chagall, the art therapy part of my work portrayed in Frida Kahlo, the collage part in Matisse, and the abstractions in Kandinsky.

Artist Amy Oestreicher 2015_X

CAGCT: Where do you work?

AO: I work in a studio in my basement that used to be an old storage room.  I tend to work with a lot of layering and mixed media materials – anything from tissue paper to fabric, buttons, papers, or toilet paper (I created much art in hospitals and was very limited with materials!).

The process really depends on what I am sensing within. I love playing with textures, colors and shapes and allowing them to form the sadness, frustration, joy, or whatever inspiration I am feeling at that moment. I love acrylic painting, mixed media art, collage, clay sculpting – anything that I can fully immerse myself in and grasp a sense of who I have become, and discover my interior world.

The best thing about my studio is how it envelopes me – the space is relatively small, and there are shelves on every side, so the shelves of supplies form a circle around me, like my copic markers, stamps, cigar boxes and paints are all surrounding me with love and support, giving me a big bear hug. If I turn around, myself, in a complete circle, all I see are my art supplies. No windows, nothing but art. I always feel like a kid in a candy store when I’m down there.

Amy Oestreicher_Kid Today

CAGCT: How has your work changed over time?

AO: As a self taught artist, I first started to paint to express what I was feeling. It was deeply personal, unstructured, free form, and uninhibited. Now, it is still abstract and personal, but more artistically refined as I have discovered my artistic voice and learned new techniques.

Only lately have I started making my passion a business. I started blogging daily just as a way to document all of the painting I was doing. Soon, I amassed a large social media following, and now have people waiting to see what I’ve created every day! I just opened my first Etsy storefront and am selling motivational prints of a painting that I first made in the hospital, with plans to donate some to foundations and hospitals. I’m also selling cards of my work and mixed media pins – I do sell my originals though it’s sentimentally difficult for me! My art is currently in seven galleries in the area, with the latest in a museum that I always loved as a child.

Amy Oest_2015

 

Visit Amy online at Etsyher website, and Facebook.

A good look at “Barnwood”

Erin & Vin Scimeca of Barnwood & Bangles

At our June meeting, we got an up close and personal look at our members, Erin and Vin Scimeca’s work. They are the owners of “Barnwood and Bangles,” a custom furniture and home decor company, with items made from reclaimed wood and other beautiful recycled items.

Upcycled furniture vintage Connecticut

Erin and Vin both have “day” jobs, but you can see they are really dedicated to the work they are doing “on the side”… it’s visible in everything they have done in their own house.

The wooden flooring in the kitchen is gorgeous and completely redone with recycled palette wood.

They hosted a holiday pop-up shop in their space with great success.

They’ve built a beautiful seating area in their Lordship-area backyard, including a “stargazer”… reclaimed from their daughter Kate’s old bunkbed.

Brand and Bangles Stargazer converted Bunkbed Arts Guild
You have to take a good, close look at just about everything in their family room… because it’s probably been handcrafted by the couple: everything from the bar to the long table and bench, from the reclaimed wood coatrack. In fact, the whole, amazingly beautiful room was once a garage!

Erin and Vin will be bringing Barnwood and Bangles to our August show Artists & Artisans in Paradise, but I’d recommend you connect with them soon. Their work is sure to be big demand before you know it.

Fire and Paint: The Art of John Houle

John Houle Burnt Offerings 2015

A first place winner at the Elements of Nature Art Show, John Houle’s pyrography is instantly recognizable for it texture and technique.

“I believe art should … make a statement about who we are and about our passions. Pyrography, scrimshaw on wood or woodburning, as an art form is timeless and yet very unique. Our ancestors used burnt wood (charcoal) to depict their everyday lives on cave walls before there were other media.”

John Houle Timber Wolves

John Houle, the artist behind “Burnt Offerings,” depicts animals active in nature, as well as familiar markers of a natural landscapes, such as mills, lighthouses, and trees in his work. The subject matter and the media are intricately intertwined.

“The use of Birch wood with its tight grain, allows for intricate and extensive detail and texture. The marriage of the two mediums, pyrography and acrylic wash, greatly enhance the creation allowing you to touch the scales of a bass striking a plug, feel the plumage of a preening bird or touch the rocks beneath a wave washed lighthouse.”

Houle’s work will be available this weekend at Artists and Artisans in Paradise, August 30th at Paradise Green.

Stonehill industrial decor influenced by family

Stonehill Design: Cylindrical Honeycomb Light
Stonehill Design’s Cylindrical Honeycomb Light

Fairfield-based designer and artist Jason Aleska of Stonehill Design has mechanical handiwork in his genes.

“My grandfather owned a tool and die shop which eventually evolved in my father’s business, Advance Heat Treating Co. in Fairfield, CT.

I was always fascinated by the amazing machines they had in the shop, like the Bridgeport Milling Machine, a relic we still have to this day…”

Aleska gives old items a new lease on life, upcycling rustic and vintage industrial pieces such as fans, rotary phones, radios, space heaters and more.

The new items become fanciful, mechanical and are, in fact, still useful. They are also one-of-a-kind lighting and decor, fabricated by hand in his workshop.

“These men, using these tools were able to provide for 3 generations of our family. They instilled in me an appreciation for quality workmanship and a respect for the time it takes to do something yourself.”

Come and meet Aleska and see his beautifully crafted work Sunday, May 3rd at the Baldwin Center in Stratford.

 

Alicia Nicole Designs and those Stunning Handbags

Alicia Nicole Designs: Green Floral Clutch
Green Floral Clutch by Alicia Nicole Designs

At the CAGCT’s Spring Arts & Crafts Market you can meet Alicia Meredith, the craftswoman behind the simply stunning, original handbags, pocketbooks, scarves and clutches.

Although there seems to always be a wild rush for a designer name, the next step up from “must-have” is “one-of-a-kind.”

These handbags and accessories are individual pieces of art. We are thrilled to have Alicia back for this show and can’t wait to see her newest work.

Want to know more? You can RSVP for the show here.