Friday, June 25, 2010

An Interview with a Creative Few: Phyl Quance

I know so many creative people and talking with them about their projects often inspires me to try new things. So I've decided to introduce them to you all in a format that I like: an interview.

Phyl Quance is a life-long artist who hasn't ever stopped creating. For years she made clothes for herself, for her kids, knitted and painted. She's held a number of jobs over the years, including working for the Louisiana State Senate and at an advertising agency.

These days, she lives in Wauconda, Ill. near her two daughters. She enjoys hanging out with her dog Tess, who is deaf, playing music and renting movies.

“Sometimes at night, whenever she’s in the mood, Tess and I will sit on our respective couches," said Phyl.  "The TV will be on and I’ll be doing something or another and we’ll take a few minutes out and blink at each other back and forth. Silly, huh? But I love it. She sits, and grins and blinks. That’s how we communicate."

Phyl, whom I know as Aunt Phyl, is my grandmother's big sister. I never knew her very well growing up, but then we became friends on Facebook. She posted these beautiful, quirky paintings, knit creatures and talked about practicing ragtime music. What incredible talent exists in my family that I never even knew about!

Aunt Phyl was one of the reasons I started this feature. I wanted to talk to her more about her creative process, and learn more about continuing to grow as an artist throughout your life.


What do you create?
Well, I've been creating one thing or another for as long as I can remember.

I was a very shy kid - spent a lot of time with coloring books, paper dolls (making my own clothes for them), and besides my two best friends, the pencil and paper was my other best friend. Later, the piano moved in, at first under protest, but for an extremely long time it has been the best stress reliever I've ever had and such a good friend.

Music. I have started playing ragtime again. I used to play Scott Joplin at a catfish house in Louisiana. It was a night job after the Senate got out, during the interim. I have been told by several professional musicians that ragtime is difficult to play, including one big-time piano teacher who couldn't play it.

For some strange reason it's not difficult for me (except that octaves are a little harder to reach than they used to be.) So, I figured I'd take it up again and be ready just in case a market pops up. I'm ready!!! (Or will be soon!)

Besides, even a market doesn’t pop up, it's happy, fun music to play. And we all need that so much nowadays.

Other stuff. Lately, I've been making a bunch of different things: knitting, crocheting – little amigarumi critters, just finished an afghan I'd started years ago, hats, market bags, blah, blah.

I used to sew - taking a hiatus, along with computer graphics. I used Illustrator and Photoshop, but my new operating system won't take Illustrator anymore – bummer.

Now, it's drawing and painting after hundreds of years. The reason, other than completely enjoying making them - is trying to make a living in these days.

How did you get started?
Other than escapism as a kid – necessity. Money was always a problem, and I found it much cheaper (back then) to make my clothes - and my kid’s clothes. Dadden Quance (my grandmother) was a seamstress at one time, and she made all of our clothes when we were kids. She always tried to get me to learn to sew - but dummy me, I wasn't interested at all.

Then, I got married, and pregnant! And it definitely became a necessity then. That's when I learned. Once I got started, I really got a feeling of accomplishment and enjoyment! I do remember when I'd made a really special dress, I took it and showed to Dadden – and she told me I did a great job. Imagine how proud I was!

What inspires you?
Well – that's hard. Getting started is the hardest part for me. You know, the blank-page syndrome. Once started, the ideas slowly start coming.

Another hard part for me is knowing what direction to go. Either serious: pastels, watercolor or (seriously wish-I-could-do) oils, or the ridiculous: caricatures or mixed media. The kids think I have a quirky side. I think the words "skewed" and "off-center" were used!

How do you market your work?
Obviously I have no marketing skills! I have tried craft shows without much luck. Everything wound up as Christmas and/or birthday presents.

Phyl is planning to start an etsy account soon, but until then, if you'd like to order one of her creations, leave me a comment and I'll put you in touch with her! Thanks Aunt Phyl!

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