Art Perspective: Veronica Adams

I believe my mother’s artistic gifts and my father’s ability to make things grow manifested itself in very unique and different ways among their six children, but my sister Veronica’s abilities revealed itself very early on in her life. Here’s her perspective on her talent.

C Dyann: How old were you when you picked up your first paintbrush?

Veronica Adams: I imagine I was probably in elementary school  when I picked up my first paintbrush.  I don’t exactly remember the first time painting, but I did a lot of drawing with my brother, Mark. I really loved the Marvel and DC comic book series. I was fascinated by the colors of the comic book covers. I was mostly inspired by the colors red and blue, which I find myself using a lot in my own artwork.  But my most memorable experience with creating art was going to an appointment with my Mom. I just remember the nurse or secretary showing me how to draw a stick figure.  After that, I was hooked on drawing and coloring.

I became more interested in painting when my parents bought me an oil paint by number kit for Christmas when I was about eleven years old.  I was a little intimidated with painting, but to my delight the picture turned out beautiful.

C Dyann: What  advice would you give your younger self right now?

Veronica Adams: I would tell my younger self to stop being such a perfectionist about my artwork. I would tell myself to just have fun with art. I remember always getting frustrated if my art didn’t look exactly like the object I was painting. I would drive myself crazy with the self-critique of my artwork. You know, I still have to catch myself now when I am creating.  Yes, I want it to look great, but I need to allow my artistry to shine through.  That is still a struggle to this day!

C Dyann: Describe your style and your biggest inspiration.

Veronica Adams: I think that my painting style is photographic. I paint from photographs, so I emulate what I see in photographs, but I try to put my own expression of the subject in my paintings.  My biggest inspiration, I would have to say is the human figure, period. I love to paint faces, I love to paint movement of the body, such as a basketball player, a singer, a child tying their shoe, etc. The human figure is by far the most inspiring subject for me to paint.  Music, sports, and working with children are my greatest loves of life.  I draw inspiration from these three things, as well.

C Dyann: What’s behind the themes in your artwork?

Veronica Adams: The themes of my artwork come from  things that I love;  music, sports, and children. I get inspired by music. I love to listen to old R &B tunes when I’m painting. The music helps me to visualize and create.  I love basketball, jazz, R&B, inspirational music, and working with children.  I try to incorporate these themes into my artwork.  I have experimented  in the past with portraits of prominent  people in society such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.  I also created a portrait series when I was at UC Berkeley on famous musicians.  Marvin Gaye has been a recurring subject in my artwork because he is one of the most famous R&B icons of all time.

I have been flirting with the idea of writing and illustrating a children’s book, so I painted a picture of my daughter tying her shoes. One day I will get to the story behind that picture!

C Dyann: Do you have a routine that gets you prepared to create?

Veronica Adams: My routine that gets me ready to paint is actually just listening to music, or watching a basketball game on television. I kind of like to be doing something while the television is on, or while I am listening to music. I don’t like to sit idle; I feel like I am wasting precious time. When I start painting, I sometimes stop to sing one of my favorite tunes, then I am able to focus on one particular aspect of the painting.  Singing helps me to step back and focus on light and shadow, or the proportions of my figure.

Ronnielaartista

C Dyann: Is painting your only medium of expression?

Veronica Adams: Painting is not my only medium of expression. I also sing and write song lyrics. I’m working on reading and playing music on the piano.  I really love singing.  It is very freeing to my soul.  All of my tensions and stress are released when I sing a song by my favorite contemporary artist, Anita Baker. I also love songs by Barbra Streisand, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Hall and Oates, Fleetwood Mac,  Sade, etc.  I have a wide variety of tastes on my playlist.  I am an alto, so I love singing songs by artists that are in my range.

One day I was playing around on my guitar with some easy jazz chords, and I just developed some lyrics.  I just kept fooling around with it for about a week and before I knew it, I had a song.  Within about three months, I wrote lyrics for twelve songs.  I am currently working with a musician to develop one of the songs.  I love it, but it’s very time consuming.  It’s also a little frustrating not having the ability to write music notes fully.  But I love the process of songwriting as much as I love singing.

C Dyann: If you could become famous for your most cherished medium of art which one would it be and why?

Veronica Adams: I would love to become famous for painting portraits.  Painting portraits is what I love to do most.  I get a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that I created something beautiful to look at.  A lot of people marvel at my work, and I marvel at them marveling at it.  I sometimes feel like what I created was not that great, because I am very critical of my work.  But when people say what they love about it, then I start to see what they see.  It sounds crazy, but I need time to accept it for what it is and then cherish the fact that I created it as a means of my expression.

C Dyann: Where can we find your artwork?

Veronica Adams: My artwork can be found on Etsy.com.  My shop is RonnieLaArtista.  I also have a website that I am in the process of building:  ronnielaartista.com.  Please check it out!!

Art Perspective: Amy Cousin Jewelry

Absolutely love this artist and person – instant connection.

C Dyann: How did you get started with Amy Cousin Jewelry?

Amy Cousin: After the birth of our third child, I gifted myself a jewelry making class and tried my hand at wirework, pearl knotting, and bead stringing. The wire got me! I just loved the way you have to connect with it, respect it and work with it.
Around that same time, we opened our book and gift shop. I put the jewelry I made on display, and they sold pretty well. Then people started requesting custom pieces designed with gemstone energy connections in mind, which is an aspect of jewelry design that has always been important to me. So my jewelry really started out as a sideline item in our first shop in Minneapolis, MN. When we moved to South Carolina in 1999, we took the shop with us. A customer showed my jewelry to the owner of a boutique in Charlotte, NC, and she asked me if I would be interested in selling my jewelry there. That was a thrill! I wanted to keep my jewelry associated with our shop, so I named my line Sirius7 Jewelry: Sirius, because the name of our shop was Sirius Mind and Body ; and 7 for the number of members of my family and because I had a tendency to wrap my wires in series of sevens. I shopped my jewelry around and was able to place my work in 10 boutiques, galleries and spas in seven states (there’s that seven again!). I continued to make gemstone energy-based jewelry for our shop but didn’t focus on that element as much for the other venues.
In February 2012, we closed the physical shop and moved back to Minnesota. I also separated my jewelry line from the shop, rebranding it as Amy Cousin Jewelry.

C Dyann: If you had to name one person whose style you admire, who would it be and why?

Amy Cousin: Just one? Oooh, that’s so difficult – there are so many talented jewelry artists out there that I admire. One of my first influences in wirework was Dana Kellin. I admire her not so much for her style, but for her (company’s) wire workmanship. Beyond that first jewelry making class, I was pretty much a self-taught jewelry artist with a lot of trial and error! Her work reminded me that striving for quality in your wire work is just as important as being able to create intricate/fancy designs. I constantly seek to improve my skills and expand my knowledge of techniques. Having said that, I also appreciate that sometimes marks on the wire are signs of handcrafted work, and I have been known to leave them.

Rustic Abacus necklace on thorn

C Dyann: Who is Amy Cousin and what makes her excited about getting up every day?

Amy Cousin: Ha! Amy is a many-hatted, multi-hyphenated being: In a continuously revolving order, I am a jewelry artist creating eco-friendly & intentional treasures; a writer; a blender of amazing fragrance oils; a wife; a homeschooling mom; a former-insect-eater-turned-vegan; an app enthusiast (some would say app-obsessed) ; an aspiring DIY-er who calls both Minneapolis and New Orleans home. Books, coffee, and spicy dark chocolate put a smile on my face.

Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, to put it into practice and to share it with our children. That makes every day exciting and joyous. I’m not saying I wake up each day singing to the birds and twirling through the house as I plant a good-morning kiss on each family member’s forehead – that is so not me.

C Dyann: What do you like about social media?

Amy Cousin: In general, I think social media is pretty awesome. I’m always exploring ways to do more (especially for my business) through it. I love having the ability to meet or reconnect with interesting people, wonderful customers and talented artist around the world. You and I met through About.Me and I am so happy that we did! I’ve reconnected with friends from nursery school (I kid you not) and extended family. Many of the elders in my family are social media savvy, which is cool. About 17 years ago I spoke to an author of an insect recipe cookbook, and then we lost touch – turns out we’ve been just 1 degree of separation for a few years through a facebook jewelry artists group. So now we have more interests to share.

From a business standpoint, social media has been gold. Our shop was in a college town, and before social media platforms got hot, I had to work very hard to maintain contact with our student customers as they graduated and moved on. By the time we closed the shop, I had put several social media platforms in place and have been able to stay in touch with almost all of my brick & mortar customers, as well as reach new customers. Right now, Instagram is my favorite platform. I use it to share what I’m doing with my jewelry from start to finish. It’s affirming to see how many people are interested in the process of designing and creating my work. And of course my website is the most important platform for purchasing my jewelry.

C Dyann: How would you define your jewelry style?

Amy Cousin: The description that I frequently use is :
I have a blast creating handcrafted, intentional jewelry from threads of reclaimed precious metal wire, ethically sourced gemstones, and up-cycled treasures.
It’s quite the truth – I absolutely adore making jewelry! The whole process from designing to picking the beads, wire and elements is an incredible dance. The word that keeps coming to me when I think about my jewelry is treasure. I make each piece as if it is going to be an heirloom, a treasure passed from wearer to wearer, collecting a history from the moment is was made to the moment the current wearer receives it. Each piece of my jewelry has a story, that begins with the metals and the gemstones I use. For a while I tucked the intentional part of my jewelry away, but that was a big mistake. The gemstones have an energy and lore that attracts people to them (you don’t have to be into that sort of thing to appreciate their lore). The metals carry the (positive) karma of being reclaimed rather than continuing to scar the earth to get at them. I often incorporate upcycled elements like an orphaned earring or vintage beads, especially when in custom pieces.

C Dyann: What do you consider your favorite accessory?

Amy Cousin: Earrings are my favorite to wear and to create. I like to make myself a pair based on my latest favorite gemstones as well as whatever energies I want to connect with. Right now I’m wearing diaspore (a color-changing gem), amethyst and moldavite (some say it’s a meteor, and others say it’s the product of the impact of a meteor). My most cherished piece is a bottle pendant that was a push gift from the birth of our first child. I wear it on a chain that I made from more of my favorite gemstones, and a few that the kids chose for me. I carry my favorite fragrance oil in it.

You can visit and shop with Amy Cousin at Amy Cousin Jewelry, or if you would like to know more about Amy visit her on about.me