Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Meet John

i've me wonderful friends through my blog.  and because they are my friends

i would like you to know them as well.   from time to time i will 

introduce these wonderful people.  as i thought of John, i realized 

that there were many things i wanted to know about him.

i decided to be nosey and ask him some of those things.

i am delighted he was willing to answer them.  

meet john arbuckle and for a real treat,

visit his blog.

ATC book holder john made and gifted me

Dear John,

It's been a little over a year that we met.  I am pleased that our friendship has blossomed.  During that time you have retired, started a thriving blog, branched out into not only creating art but teaching, will soon be published.  You are a strong voice in the online art community.  I'd like to know more about you as I am sure many others do as well.  Here are a few questions that might jump start some information you would like readers to know about you.  Please feel free to offer anything that comes to mind. I am thinking that the post will be an introduction to you, my amazing friend as well as spotlight some of your art.  What do you think?

First, I would love to just mention that I discovered Irene through her blog.  I read her story and that was that.  In 2012 I went to ArtFest and in a Lynne Perrella workshop I met Irene in person.  We were in a circle sharing while our gessoed papers were drying.  The heater had gone kaput and so we were waiting in a cool room with wet gesso. Irene sat opposite me in a circle of 21 people.  Each of us told our art story and when it came to Irene I quickly became fascinated.  Irene's story is one that I knew but I did not know this woman.  Come to find out I had heard her story on her blog months before ArtFest.

What were your first memories of being creative?  Did you have an early teacher who gave you positive reinforcement for creating?

When I was a child I had an active imagination.  I would make things out of whatever was available.  Play then was using your imagination whether it was making mud pies, building dams in the creek, making hydroplanes to pull behind my bicycle or making a skateboard out of a board and an old pair of roller skates, we did not have computers and video games.  We relied on what we could salvage and scavenger.  I remember making my own "boat" which was a pirate ship.  I lived in my imagination creating everything I could.

I actually came to art in a bizarre way.  When I was in high school I was in chorus and all my friends were trying out for concert chorus.  So naturally I tried out as well.  Being shy I took the route of a solo after school with the music teacher, Miss Harder.  My song was "Greensleeves".  You know....Alas my love..... When I finished singing  Virginia Harder turned to me and said, "Have you ever thought about taking ceramics?"  I did not get into concert chorus and rightly so.  I did take Miss Harder's advice and spent the most fabulous year in an art class.

That same year I dated a girl whose mother was an artist.  Many days each week I would visit the girl and her mother, Mrs. Rable.  Mrs. Rable taught me many things about abstract art.  I even created three canvases.  Two I actually sold and one who knows where that is.  When Mrs. Rable's daughter fell for someone else my art lessons ceased.  That was that!

three crazy guys

After teaching children for 30 (?) years, did you have a clear vision of what  the next path would be?  When I think of what you have accomplished in less that a year, the energy you put into your art and the focus by which you lead your life, I just have to know this!   To me your are, well, amazing.

Yes, I taught for 36 years.  During that time my art experience was mostly teaching art to elementary students once a week.  I scoured books and finally when the Internet came to be scoured the Internet for ideas to teach my students.  I always created a sample and that was basically my art experience for 36 years until three years ago.
Three years ago I decided I wanted to learn to draw.  I took a class at the Experimental  College at the University of Washington.  I found out that I could learn to draw and started taking on-line classes, one right after the other.  In my last year of teaching, I was taking as many classes as I could. 

My art focus was to make mail art to send to the artist friends that I was making.  Each week I would send off a postcard to about five new friends.  I have branched out from mail art, but I still love to create something and usually do send off a weekly postcards, most weeks anyway.  I also have a love for art journaling.  I spend my days full time now creating art.  It may be an ATC for the two groups I belong, making art to mail, or journaling.

My vision during my final teaching year was that I wanted to get better with my art.  My plan on retirement was to start a blog to showcase what I was doing.  My blog was launched on June 27, 2012 which just happened to be my birthday, the last day of school and the first day of my new life, retirement.

What is your favorite supply/technique right now?

I love working in mixed-media.  I have a passion for backgrounds and love to use tissue paper and papers that I make myself in my works.

Who are your art mentors?  Who are your favorite artists?

I absolutely love Georgia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Matisse, Rauchenburg, and Keith Haring.  There are many other artists that have influenced me as well.

I think that all my art friends are my mentors at the moment.  I am learning so much from each of them.  I am in two ATC groups, a gentleman's group and an international one.  Our exchanges invigorate me.

Did you have a preconceived idea of how you wanted your blog?  I love the stories you tell through your art.  Your story telling voice is strong, direct and clear.  Have you ever thought of writing some of your stories in a longer version?

I actually have thought about writing my stories in a longer version.  I have a bunch of children's stories banging around in my head.  One is about a seagull who makes some unwise decisions and is helped by a friendly soul.   I also love historical fiction and perhaps one day my stories about Dodge City will become something.  I have to get back to working on those.  I have left my blog readers high and dry.  Irene, you were a huge influence and got me started on that adventure.

red barn

What are some of the areas of art you would like to explore in the future?

I am exploring all the time.  I try new things continuously.  It keeps me excited about art and I find out what I like and don't like.  For instance, I like looking at encaustic and appreciate the work that goes into it.  However, I did not like the feel of wax on my hands when touching and working an encaustic piece.  So the three that I have done will most likely be my last.

I really want to get good at transfers.  I am pretty proficient at some and not so at others.  I keep trying.  Perhaps a class in transfer is the ticket for me.  I certainly love the journal transfer that you did recently.  I also want to make more journals in different ways.  I have an idea for plastic bags that I would like to try out soon.  So that might be my next direction.

Do you benefit from book vs in person learning?

I pour over art technique books and art picture books most every day.  I love taking classes as well.  So I would say both are beneficial to me.

Do you like creating in a group or alone?  Quiet vs music or sounds?  Private vs public creating?

I create best when I am at home by myself.  I forget to turn on music and so most of the time I just am in my own space and time.  I  create my art for myself but since retirement I have started two new ventures.  I have been an art docent in several elementary classrooms and I was asked to teach two workshops to adults in the fall of last year.  I taught a group of art teachers how to use gelli plates and in the second workshop I taught teachers how to make use of recycled materials to create journals with students.  I had a blast and now I am teaching art journaling in my home once a month.

When you create do you have a plan or do you start and see where the muse takes you?

I rarely have a major plan when I start a new work.  I might have a good idea of how to begin, the seed.  Then the piece just seems to take a life of its own until it is finished.

Do you like creating at certain times better than others?

I love the early morning.  I usually get up between 3 and 4:00 a.m.  I start creating after I have read the paper and read emails.  I work for awhile and then stop for breakfast and clean up.  Then by 8:30 or so I am at it full time until around 5:00 in the afternoon.

Are there other teachers you would like to learn from?

I take classes from Jane Davies and Orly Avineri.  I am going to two of Seth Apter's workshops in May.  I have taken classes from many different artists including Juliana Coles, Carla Sondheim, Lynn Perrella, L.K. Ludwig and Mary Ann Moss.

If you could go back, would you change anything about your art path?

I wish I had started art journaling sooner.  I love sending mail art to others and wish that I had figured out my art path years ago.  I feel like Grandma Moses, late to the party.  Better late than never though.

ok that's it for now. 

thank you for visiting today.
i appreciate your comments and continued 
support.  it was recently suggested that because 
there were some odd anonymous comments, i moderate
the comments that come in.  i am now doing that but 
have yet to get used to this new step.  therefore, some of
your comments are late to be posted.  i'll be up to speed soon :)


  1. What a wonderful post, Irene. And, thank you for sharing John, he is so inspiring. I will look up his blog ... immediately! Thanks again! ;o)

  2. This is SO interesting! Thanks, Irene, for getting John to 'spill the beans'!

  3. Oh Irene! This is wonderful! John is such a wonderful, kind and fun man. I met him through you. Reading this brings tears to my eyes. I am so touched to know you both. You have no idea how my art friends enrich my life.

    Love, Brian

  4. Irene, you are amazing! Thanks for caring to find out more about me. You are a true friend!

  5. Hi Irene- John is the greatest- what a nice piece. I understand you got my card stuck to yours- Maybe that means we were suppose to meet one another? I love your faces.

  6. Sending thanks to both Irene and John for this interview. It is always so wonderful to learn more about the artist behind the art. You asked the perfect set of questions Irene!

  7. Thanks from me too. Lucky to be in one of the groups with John it was nice to learn more about him. Being so far away I may never bump into any of you in a class or a workshop so all information is a bonus for me.