Jaime Haney, Artist

A while back I found Jaime Haney’s blog, which led me to her website, Jaime Haney Fine Art (www.jaimehaney.com) The first piece I saw was the one below. I was caught by the vibrant color and sense of motion, and reminded of another artist, Emily Carr, who also had that sense of motion. Painting fascinates me because I have no sense of color, but also because of how the artist can take something stationary, as in a canvas, and make it alive.

Mystical Mother Nature

I then watched Jaime take on the challenge of creating one painting a day for thirty days. I followed her progress, and then asked if I could interview her. Jaime graciously agreed, and what follows is that interview. I hope you enjoy seeing her perspective on the creation of art.

And I hope you take a few minutes to visit her website and look at her work.

Can you give me a little of your background and how you came to paint?

I’ve always loved to draw and I painted as a child like all of us but not once I got out of high school. Drawing was always easy no matter where you are, just grab a pencil and paper and start. So I always drew. I drew on everything.

In college, I was learning to be a graphic designer and that didn’t require any painting or painting classes, so I never was taught the “right” way to paint. It wasn’t until a few years after I had my son and had quit my job as an art director at an ad agency that I decided to give painting a try.

It started out first as painting in sketch books. My first official painting, which was on a piece of wood, was of an owl and painted with the intention of being a birthday gift for a friend.

I enjoyed it so much and discovered I had somewhat of a natural ability to do it that I decided to try and teach myself to paint the “right” way through books from my local library.

When you look at the world around you, what triggers the desire to recreate what you see?

The desire to recreate beauty is fueled by an unknown reason, it just seems to be in me. The same as recreating nature in my gardens… an uncontrollable urge to dig in the dirt and make something grow and thrive.

Regarding my subjects in painting or illustrating my world and thoughts, they are triggered by the sheer beauty or mystery of nature. That something may be a simple curve of a leaf, colors of a velvety petal or the many arms and fingers of the trees. Sometimes it’s the mystery of a dream or even just thoughts.

Tropical paintings

One painting a day…

You use acrylics in your work. What made you choose that medium and why do you prefer that over other mediums?

I like acrylics because they dry so fast and are easy to manipulate. I can use acrylics as watercolors if I so choose just by watering them down or using an additive (mediums). I also have the choice of making them more oil like with the addition of mediums and glazes. The ranges and uses of acrylics are many. The fact that they clean up easily is a bonus.

We talked before about a technique called ‘under painting’. It sounds like this is similar to plotting out a novel, where you create the scaffolding. Can you talk a bit more about under painting? Is it similar to sketching out something ahead of time, or is it more like laying down the basic color patterns you want?

Yes, underpainting is more like laying down the base of the painting for which I’ll build up with layers. The first base or underpainting may just be blocking in simple shapes of what I’m painting with a color that makes sense to what will be going over it later.

Sketching is generally done before the underpainting is blocked in. Sketching is used to layout my composition of the painting. Sketching isn’t necessarily done with pencils or charcoal. A painting can be sketched using paint as well.

An elderly friend of mine who painted for many years, no longer does so. When I asked her why she stopped, she told me she no longer felt the need to capture and own the life around her. She felt painting was a form of possessiveness for her, rather than recreating something beautiful for others to enjoy. What do you think about this in relationship to your paintings?

Well I think everyone has their own reason for painting and mine seems to change with time and the project I’m working on. Sometimes, it is simply to create beauty and/or mystery for myself to enjoy as well as others. Sometimes, it is a personal challenge to see if I can do it.

Others it’s almost an out-of-body experience. I know I’m painting, I feel the brush in my hand and the creaminess of the paint leave my brush and transfer to the canvas but I feel like I’m being directed by something else. Like the painting is painting itself. Time escapes, and I find it finished and wonder how I did such a thing.

I consider this a gift. I feel like not using my gift and sharing it with the world would be a mistake.

I love the paintings, and writing, of Emily Carr, a Canadian artist from the early 1900s. She said writing for her was peeling a sentence back to its bare essence and she felt that overlapped into painting. Do you think something similar must happen in order to recreate on canvas what your eye sees?

No, I believe anyone can create what they see with their eyes as it is a technical skill. However to touch someone, to convey your true meaning and to have it sink into the painting with feeling and soul requires truth with oneself and to let the process work (that and a bit of luck). To let go, let the painting evolve into what it wants to.

That doesn’t mean the viewer will know that truth. I’m of the belief that everyone will receive the work how they need to receive it. It’s not my job to make you feel a specific feeling with my work, it’s my job to just create it. to let it flow from me… It’s your job to take it in and discover what the painting is saying to you. I believe it’s different for everyone.

artist Jaime Haney painting in art studio

What do you hope people see when they look at your painting? Or in other words, what do you want your paintings to say?

Like I mentioned before, I really have no control of what people feel or see when viewing my paintings. That said, I do hope my paintings move them to a memory or thought that is significant to them. That the work evokes a smile or inspires wonder. I love to hear what people think of my paintings as far as meaning before I tell them what I was thinking as I painted it.

What do you think makes the difference between looking at a painting and looking at a photograph?

I think both can transport the viewer to another place. Both can invoke memories, good and bad. There is something about a photograph that for me is more telling in what it wants to convey. Maybe a flatness due to the camera being a machine and not the hand of a human. Perfection, again because of machine vs. human excluding distortion. I don’t really compare them, they’re so different and I feel both are equally an art outlet.

When you paint, are you aware of the emotional reaction you are trying to pull from the person who will eventually see the painting? Or is it more that you paint your own interpretation into the piece, and viewers then react to your relationship with the piece?

Hmmm… this is a good question. I don’t know the answer. I don’t think I’m aware of creating any emotional reaction into the piece. If that were possible, I probably would be doing it as much as possible! I feel like I keep answering the same way, but I truly feel the viewer consumes the work as it needs to be consumed at the time. They read into the work their own truths and those truths may be different at different times.

Is there one question you wish people would ask you about painting? And how would you answer it?

Well this is a hard one to answer because I can’t really think of anything that I wish they would ask. Technical questions are easy to answer, the harder ones are why did you paint this?

I don’t have a “main stream” style. I’ve often felt like I’m an outsider and I’ve never really fit in to anything (even artist). I don’t paint subjects or objects with the intention of “I think will sell”. So a lot of times my strange ones don’t sell. Occasionally, I don’t want to explain the real reason why I paint something as it feels very personal to me.

After saying that though, I do like it when people will ask “what’s the story with that one?” because when they say story, I feel the permission to embellish and add my thoughts of what I think the painting was telling me at the time. Because when you tell the average viewer the painting told me to… they kind of look at you differently or smile and walk away. But when I tell them the story of the painting they are more interested it seems. Really though, are they very different? I’m not entirely sure.

I’d like to thank Jaime for taking the time to answer questions, and to do so in such a patient and thoughtful manner. I love seeing the creative process in all its many forms.


An Interview With Gloria Two-Feathers

I was honored to be asked to edit a children’s book that is now published. Following is an interview with the author that I hope you will like. And for those in the area of Renton, Washington, Buck, the horse, and Gloria will be doing a book signing this coming weekend. The flyer follows here. I know this is long for a blog post but I hope you will take the time to join our conversation.

Now that you’ve been through the creating, revising, editing, and publishing process, what step did you find the hardest, and why?

For me it was definitely the publishing process. I chose to self publish. When I started that process I stepped into a whole new world. The self-publishing market is continually growing and changing. When you self publish it means you do everything yourself. I found this scary and intimidating. I do not have the skill level to do everything required to publish a professional quality book. It was not my intention, but I found myself creating a team to help me. My team consisted of a professional editor, illustrator, publisher and marketer.

My first step was getting my book professionally edited. That was when I found you, Lisa. As my editor you not only edited for grammar and typos; you recognized my voice and helped me develop my story. I loved working with you. Through your encouragement and skill you brought out the best of me and my story.


Gloria and I at an author panel

Then I hired an illustrator. He read the book and asked a lot of questions about how I pictured Tallulah, Buck, and Bird Friend. He offered suggestions and then produced the wonderful illustrations that are in the book.


I loved these illustrations – they’re in a similar style to my favorite books as a child – the Borrower’s series by Mary Norton

I met Joy Burke several years ago in a writing group. We became great friends and she helped me navigate the challenging world of self publishing. Then Joy launched her own publishing business, Crooked Tale Press, which provides services to help authors who wants to self publish. These services include book layout, cover design, ISBN number and uploading on CreateSpace and Kindle Books. I could have never done this without her expertise. The latest person to join my team is John who is helping me with internet marketing.


Great photo of Joy and Gloria

On a similar note, what was the easiest, and why?

The easiest for me was creating. In the Native American belief everything is connected. There are many worlds that exist – some of them visible and some invisible. But they are all real and we can enter them at any time. All my life I have often visited and lived in these worlds. Anyone who has meditated or communicated with a tree, or communicated with their dog or cat has entered one of these invisible worlds. Animal Communication is a big thing right now. The latest new thing on TV and the Internet is Inter-species communication. Most indigenous cultures around the world know these things are nothing new. They understand this is the way it has always been. Everything is connected and accessible.

My experience is when I enter one of these worlds through writing or storytelling my characters take on a life of their own and they pretty much tell me their story. I believe many others who write or tell stories have had this same experience.

Tallulah’s Flying Adventure teaches us to believe in our dreams and our inner courage. What was the inspiration for this story?

About twenty-seven years ago, I was sitting in a meadow after a Sweat Lodge. I saw hundreds of baby spiders in their web-sails flying across the meadow. I never forgot that moment when I had a glimpse into that mostly unseen world. I knew it would make a great story or a book.

Throughout the years I became a proponent of women’s personal empowerment. I have believed for many years that women have a very large role in what is happening in the future of the world on a global scale. And I feel it’s important to understand what personal power really means and what we can experience when we come together in community. I was drawn to develop and teach the programs, Gathering Your Medicine and Sisters of the Shield, as well as Energy Healing classes.

When I started writing the book, Tallulah presented herself and Tallulah’s Flying Adventure was created.

I’ve seen you captivate audiences with the oral storytelling traditions. Why do you think our love of stories is so deeply ingrained who we are?

I think storytelling is in our DNA. Stories have existed as long as humans have been on Earth. We use storytelling to explain the unexplained. As well as to entertain each other. Everyone has a story to tell.

Do you think society is losing that connection to stories with the advent of modern technology, or do you think technology makes stories more accessible to all?

I don’t think we will ever lose our connection to stories. I see modern technology as another way to access stories. Whether it’s listening to a story downloaded to your high-tech device, or a storyteller on the radio, or in movies, animation, or plays, or seeing a live storytelling presentation. It seems to me that there is something for everyone.

When we first met you didn’t think Tallulah would ever be published. Can you share how it felt to hold the story in physical form?

Ah, that seems like such a long time ago. I have to admit I wasn’t sure Tallulah would ever be published. So many times I had to turn to the book to keep believing and moving forward. When I finally held it in my hands it was one of those surreal moments and it was amazing! When I first saw it I thought , ‘My first born in the book world!’ I have to admit I teared up and held it to my heart. It will always be my first and I feel we grew up together. I love it.

While adults can enjoy your stories, too, what draws you to write for children?

Children are being raised in a world vastly different from the one I was raised in. It seems to me that young children face some of the same difficult challenges that adults face. To quote my Spiritual Elder, Paul Ghost Horse (Buck Ghost Horse’s son), ‘Our children come to the Earth with the answers we need inside them. We have to raise them in a way that they can give us those answers.’

If children can relate to a story where two completely different Beings, like a spider and a bird, who are naturally prey and predator, can be friends and allies, or a big horse who would usually never notice a small spider, can love and care for each other, maybe children will see the possibilities of their world a little differently. When Tallulah believes in her dreams, trusts Spirit, and develops her inner courage, it helps her see that no matter how young and small she is, she can make a difference in the world. And I think that is an important message worth sharing with children.


The stand-in for Buck, before getting dressed up for the upcoming book signing

What story would you like to share about the creation of Tallulah’s tale?

As I stated earlier the story pretty much wrote itself. It was me that needed to walk a mile in Tallulah’s moccasins. I felt very small and powerless in the big world of writing books and publishing. But I kept having big dreams. So I had to learn how to fly to live my dreams. I had to develop my inner courage and have faith that the Great Spirit had heard my prayers and would send me the help I needed. The Great Spirit did hear me. Spirit sent me the sense of Buck, the great storyteller and the Keeper of Sacred Life. Spirit sent me the wise Grandmother Spider, weaver of webs that connects everything together, in the form of you, Lisa. You soothed me, gave me direction, helped me find my courage and developed my skills. Spirit sent me Bird Friend in the form of my dear friend, Joy Burke, who flew into the adventure beside me, teaching me to fly and showing me the way. Joy helped me navigate in the dark and fought off the bats, that were my own dark fears. When the book was completed, she flew aerial somersaults and celebrated my success. And that is the back-story of Tallulah’s Flying Adventure.  For which I will always be grateful.

Thank you Gloria. And for those who might be around Renton, here’s more information. And Tallulah’s Flying Adventure is available on Amazon.

Gloria's Poster_contact

Interview with Author Lisa Souza

My last post was an interview with Mark Souza. This one is with his wife, Lisa, author of Beauty and the Bridesmaid. I’ve been lucky enough to read both Mark and Lisa’s books in early stages of development. This book made me laugh outright, which is no surprise because Lisa does, too. The thing is, the book hooked me because I’d laugh and then realize, ‘wait, this isn’t funny anymore, this is tragic’. What a roller coaster of emotion.

You have multiple writers in your home. What are the pros and cons of that?

PRO: Other writers understand the frustrations that come with the process: empty pages, dry spells, and of course the familiar ‘this is not nearly good enough’ feeling.

CON: Getting someone’s attention in a household full of head-phone-wearing laptop-gazers is useless. Don’t bother trying.

PRO: When stuck for a specific word, one can employ local talent to compete in a ‘find-the-word-I-need’ effort. Saves oodles of time digging through a thesaurus.

CON: It’s daunting living in the shadow of talented people. Therapy may be required.

PRO: Who better able to celebrate the joy associated with, say, a book sale or a good review, than another writer or two or three?


Multiple writers? Nope. Lisa taking a photo of Mark. With fans?

Is there a book out there that you wish you’d written? If so, what was it about that writing that pulled at you?

What an AWESOME question! We could start with the non-fiction stuff (Stephen King On Writing, Thomas Sterner The Practicing Mind) and work our way through the classics (The Handmaid’s Tale). But I can’t neglect fiction (A Wrinkle in Time) or every single thing penned by Martha Beck. And Dean Koontz writes such heroic characters – they make me feel lazy and un-evolved by comparison. Great writers create clever, layered word experiences. In The Husband Koontz tossed in a plot twist that caught me off guard despite a life-time of avid reading. What a gift.

Are there certain types of scenes that are harder for you to write than others and if so, why do you think that is?

I suffer from plot envy. Working out a clever plot requires so much mental gymnastics. It would be handy if I could conjure twisty, believable stories by ingesting copious amounts of cheese, but not so. I have far fewer problems writing angsty characters dripping with emotional baggage. They do say “write what you know.”

Lisa Souza 2

Wonder if these guys will show up in a book.

You also write screenplays. How does that writing process compare to writing fiction?

I thought writing screenplays would be far easier than novel writing – so many fewer pages needed! So much more white space! Instead it turns out screenplays are tricky word unicorns, unique creatures with distinct requirements. The format requires a tight, clean writing style, free of fluff and full of visual intensity. No long-winded descriptions in a screenplay. It’s a controlled environment, unlike a novel where you are free to flesh out details. Screenplays exercise a different set of writing muscles.

For example, you write with a particular actor in mind. Since you hope to capture their attention, you target your language and perhaps even the genre to attract that person. Awareness of budget plays a part, too. Is there a way you get rid of seven residual characters and still advance the story? Great! You just saved the studio thousands of dollars. Whatever the medium, though, it comes back to the empty page and the need to tell a compelling story.

It took a lot of encouragement and prodding to get you to finish your book. What were the biggest stumbling blocks, and how did you overcome them?

My older brother is a very successful writer. He’s also hugely dedicated to the craft. He has always worked harder and with more focus than anyone I know to make the written word his life’s focus. He told me when we were about five and three years old respectively that he would be a writer when he grew up. Well done, brother.

My husband is a successful writer. And a successful engineer. In short order he put together a very successful anthology of short stories and an award-winning novel. You, go!

And on a rational level, I’m overwhelmed with joy for them both, and hugely grateful to those who put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), creating fresh and new and vibrant for me to enjoy. Thanks, y’all!  But being sandwiched between talented people leaves me swimming in awe. And also self-doubt. And fear, let’s not forget terrible fear of not being good enough because what if I do not deserve to share the stage with those dedicated, talented writers??

But at some point a couple of things caught my attention. One: every human being has a unique and intriguing perspective, so sharing mine contributes to the rich literary bucket. Two: I’m going to die. I know. It surprised the heck out of me, too. When I truly accepted the finite nature of consciousness, I felt compelled to get something completed before some force – like a fast moving car – writes “The End” for me.


Love this photo. Wish you could hear her wonderful laugh.

And my favorite question – what do you wish someone would ask you about writing, and how would you answer it?

Would you like fries with that? (This is called ‘stalling’).

Gosh writing is hard. Writing QUESTIONS is hard.

“Does writing come easily to you, Lisa Souza?”

No, Lisa Stowe. No it does not. Writing is wonderful and complex and hard, like… like… like a very, very hard thing.

Beauty and the Bridesmade e-book

All the books by both Mark and Lisa are good, but this one is my favorite. It’s not what you expect.