I became familiar with Cindy Haase and her work as the result of a comment she left on my blog. I was really impressed with her fiber art and couldn't help but notice how she had grown as an artist since the first piece had been posted to her site. I knew immediately that I wanted her to be my first Guest Artist and she has graciously accepted.
I am honored to introduce you to Cindy Haase and I'll start by having her tell you a little about herself.
"I'm a full-time artist, loving life. I had a corporate career until 1992, and once I left I have never looked back. And I vowed that I would only wear pantyhose to weddings and funerals. And yes, I have kept that vow.
I'm a wife, a mom, and an involved grandma to my 3 grandkids who live just a few minutes away. Our family has a wicked sense of humor, and no matter what happens we find a way to laugh about it. It keeps us sane.
I grew up in Nebraska, but consider Colorado my home after almost 30 years. From my studio windows I can see the snowstorms come over the foothills and it still takes my breath away to see the beauty of it all.
Hobbies...hmmm, I love to read about Quantum Theory, Cosmology and Theology. I would have made a great scientist except for the math thing."
I am fascinated by some of the pieces you've created...and wondered if you've always had an interest in creating with fabric and what have been your greatest obstacles?
"I've always had an interest in creating with ANYTHING...pine cones, popsicle sticks, and gum wrappers were my media when I was little.
I purchased my first sewing machine when I was 16. Trading it in 35 years later for a high end model, I became a late-blooming quilter. First traditional quilts, and then art quilts and fiber art. As for the fiber art, I am self taught. For my colored pencil artwork, I'd say it's more of a self-directed study. I looked for people that were doing what I wanted to do and took classes from them.
Honestly, my biggest obstacle is focus. My mind never stops and trying to quiet it enough to physically focus on one medium, one project, or one idea is tough for me. I have these two things I love, fiber and colored pencil. When I focus on promoting my colored pencil, my fiber art gets put on the back burner and vice versa. I've had more opportunities to show my colored pencil work, so I need to work on those same opportunities for my fiber art.
Cindy, how has your art influenced your life?
"It's actually my therapy. If I don't do something artsy for a couple of days, I get REAL cranky. The fiber art gives me a chance to play and make things up as I go along...where my colored pencil work is very meticulous and the process is not as playful."
Your subjects seem to range from whimsical to geometric to representational...with such diversity in subjects and style I wonder, where does your inspiration come from?
"I think color or shape inspires me most of the time, then a concept or title evolves. Sometimes, a twist on a saying will inspire me first then the rest comes. I keep a sketchbook to help me if I feel in a dry spell for ideas.
I don't always feel I have to create something whimsical. As long as I get the sense of play from the process, I'm happy with the finished product."
Can you give us a little insight into the process that went into the creation of pieces we are showing here?
"Well, lets take the "Notorious Cat Rustlers" (pictured left and top). The original idea was "Date Night in the West", a piece for a local exhibit. It was going to be a cowboy and a horse. The cowboy was easy, he's modeled after my husband (glasses, mustache and all). but I couldn't draw a decent looking horse to save myself...so out went the horse. One cowboy was boring, and then an old commercial popped into my head about "herding cats". I immediately went to that special piece of cat fabric in my stash, and the cowboy became triplets. The title came near the end of the project.
One of the processes I use to create a more representational piece is called "thread painting". It starts with a simple pencil sketch on a piece of muslin. Then I fuse different fabrics to the muslin to create a value structure. The really fun part is using my sewing machine to paint with decorative threads like rayons and metallics. Sometimes I do a bit of hand stitching. In "Convergence" (pictured above) the brick grid is hand stitched with embroidery floss. I taught myself how to thread paint, but I know many fiber artists are creating wonderful pieces with a similar process."
What advise would you give someone trying to break into this niche of the art market and what is the one thing that you wish you had known more about when you were just starting out?
"My advise would be to do what you love. Always make sure it's a reflection of your personality, your unique view of life. Then get your artwork out there, anywhere that will hang it...coffee shops, bank lobbies, doctor's offices. Enter local shows, join a local fiber arts group, and get feedback. Look for a gallery that is fiber friendly. And always stretch and challenge yourself. If you started locally, then look for regional opportunities...and then get real brave and look for a national exhibit. It's like the lottery, the only chance to "win" is if you enter.
As for the second part of the question...I wish I had known more about marketing...pricing, press releases, mailing lists, creating a buzz about my work. I'm now learning how to do all of that. I just assumed that if my work was good people would flock to buy it, the work would speak for itself. But I'm learning to speak on it's behalf."
In closing...I want to thank you Cindy for participating in my first Guest Artist segment. It was nice getting to know you and learning more about your fiber art.
Just a few things Cindy didn't tell you:
- Cindy is a juried member of the International Guild of Realism, and was juried into IGOR's 2006 Summer Exhibit at Manitou Galleries in Santa Fe, NM.
- She currently serves as the national Membership Director for the Colored Pencil Society of America.
- Both her fiber art and fine art are on exhibition at the South Union Gallery in Lakewood, CO.
- Cindy also teaches workshops in colored pencil...the next workshop date is 4/26/08, you can check her blog for details.
You can see more art by Cindy Haase by visiting the links below.