#ArtistofWesterly John Patsfield

The next artist in our series came to exhibit one of his pieces at our Pop-Up Museum on Art!
The Heart Sings
What kind of art do you make?
I love abstract art, and many of the pieces that I am most proud of would certainly fall into that category. I try to use many different styles (Cubism, Pointillism, Modernism, etc…) fused and layered to create my own unique expression. I have spent years trying to undo my own biases – For example, as a young man I could not stand the works of Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko…. And when I started to create my own artwork I wanted to explore what it was that I didn’t like about their artwork – To understand what they had done, and what value that it had… In doing works in their style (never to their level of proficiency, of course…) I began to see subtleties and nuances that I had never noticed – Techniques and tricks that they incorporated that make their work more than what it appeared to be when I was young. So I fold those ideas into my own style now – I try to do this as often as I can, and for that reason my style always seems to be in flux – growing and expanding based on which artist I am currently investigating.
What are the tools and materials you use to create your art?

I make digital artwork using only tools that are available on my iPhone / iPad. I limit myself to those tools because I find that in limiting myself to a certain set of options I can be more focused – i can search for work-arounds and for different ways to achieve an effect or a look. Very often someone will ask me what i used to make an image, and I will rattle off the names of 8 – 10 apps, and then I will go into the order in which they were used, and then layered, and then tweaked, and then adjusted…. And then I look up to see them staring at me a little bewildered because in their mind they had imagined that it was simple….. The assumption is that digital art is somehow like applying a filter in Instagram or Snapchat – But it’s not that at all. Its blending, and composition and color theory, and tone, and technique, and creating a style that tells a story…. It’s painting, it’s drawing, it’s everything from Dada to Neoclassicism with all of the stops in-between. I make some of my work available on Redbubble because the service makes it easy for people to be able to get the images in a variety of different products, and the quality of the products has been excellent (to date).

Where do you find inspiration?
It sounds funny to me to say that I find inspiration in the quiet moments – But it’s true. I’m a natural extrovert, by nature – I recharge in crowds, and I love nothing more than loud aggressive music… but when I am creating artwork – It’s the quiet times. It’s the friendships that I  have made, near and far – I like to create while I am reflecting on a concept, or an idea – I like to tap into the way that it feels to be lost  in thought. I hoe that when people see my pieces they are given a moment – no matter how brief – to just stop for a moment. To let the stillness settle over them, and to allow themselves to drift. There’s no grand statements to be found – there’s no answers given – it’s just a place to stop for a moment and consider.
How did you get started?
I started a website with a couple of friends that was funny and silly. It took photo’s of people and stripped them into crazy situations, added in strange elements like a dog wearing an old WW2 uniform smoking a cigarette, and an occasional squirrel that may or may not explode. It was just irreverent fun – but it was also really detail oriented. As my friends Jason and Scott got better and better at making their posts, I was trying to keep up with them, and looking for ways to make my pieces stand out. I remember making a piece one day and Jason saying, “This is art, John.” – and I had to look at it again to see what he was seeing…. The site was all about being funny and crass – and I had created something that was clearly not that…. I had made something that was beautiful. Shortly after that I started to try to create artwork to accompany the (terrible) poetry that I was writing. I created a new website for just that, and I did that for several years – Initially the focus was on the (terrible) poetry, and the imagery was secondary. Eventually that shifted and the words were less and less of the focus.
Aside from your main artistic talents, how else do you get creative?
I love to write (terrible) poetry. I have a career that allows me to be creative by allowing me to create posters and edit videos and compose small songs – I am a problem solver, which plays into my creative side and gives me an outlet to look at everything from a thousand different angles. If I am doing something – my creative side will come out…. If I am cooking, the recipe will be a guide, but not rigidly adhered to….. I will do a little of this, and a little of that – I will create something different which I will not be able to reproduce in the future. If I am walking I am looking at my surroundings and trying to frame them within my minds eye so that they are artwork – or components of a piece of artwork that I will try to make later on. If I am lining up my shoes on the floor and I see that another pair of shoes can be placed *just so* to create a memory and a moment – Then I will have to do so….
Is there a story you’d like to share or anything that we didn’t ask that you would like to talk about?
I have had a very hard time calling myself an artist. I see that label attached to some of the most wonderfully talented people that have ever graced our little blue planet – I see the care and the heart that they poured into their work – I see the effortless way that they just whip out a sketch that is lightyears beyond the skill and beauty that I can create. I see how their art has endured and traveled through time and national borders and human pettiness to bring light into the darkest places….. And that label – that moniker – that lofty ideal of “Artist” is so far beyond what I can truly call myself. I see them as divine – having touched the essence of creation – Messengers that shared a glimpse of the greatness and vastness of pure inspiration…… I struggle to see where such a term could ever apply to me –  to my work – to my processes. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t correct people if they choose to use it – I don’t argue or attempt to explain why I feel like the word is so much larger than I am….. I just blush a bit, and say thank you.
You can see more of John’s works in progress here, find his Instagram here, and learn more about him here.

#artistofwesterly Audrey Eberle

Recently, Westerly-Pawcatuck welcomed artists from all over the world to help create beautiful art on the walls of our towns as part of Bricks and Murals. The Walldogs, as the group of artists are known, devoted plenty of time and talent to this project. While our #artistsofwesterly project aims to mainly capture local artists, we thought featuring one of the Walldogs would be perfect since they created art locally that will stay in our town. We found Audrey Eberle, one of the amazing volunteers from Butler, Pennsylvania, to profile!

1. What is your background in art?

I have been involved in art my entire life. I focused on art in my schooling and have used art in my personal life, education, family, employment and community. It is very much a part of who I am, not just what I do. For the past 12 or more years I have been involved in creating the scenery, costumes, props and make-up for our high school’s theater productions. We do at least 2 each school year. I have also done murals at our Elementary school and several day care centers. We raised six children, so I have had ample opportunities to keep my creative drive engaged!

2. Which mural(s) did you work on here in Westerly/Pawcatuck?

I worked on the Medal of Honor mural and the Children’s Mural and prep work at the Knickerbocker Cafe.

3. What drew you to working on the Children’s Mural?

I was invited by Wendy Brown to be involved in the Children’s Mural. We had talked about it when we first arrived in Westerly and I loved the idea of that project. I love working with children! The concept of the mural captured my heart and I was excited for the opportunity! Working with Bethany Austin and Tyler Kay was a joy, as well as all the other folks who helped us there all day! I loved seeing that spark come alive when the children would put their paint & brush to the wall. Truly magical!

4. How did you become involved with Walldogs?

My husband & I , our son and daughter-in-law were involved in the project that came to our home town of Butler, PA in 2016. My son had learned about it from a friend and he & I signed up as artists and I was hooked! My husband joined us on the planning committee as well. We built the framed stands for the panel walls and worked on the logistics of making it all happen. Lots of hard work and loved every minute.

Coke wall 2016 Butler PA

5. What has been your favorite part of working with Walldogs?

I was embraced by the people and the idea of creating beauty that would draw a community together for a good cause. The opportunity to work with and learn from talented folks is priceless. We fell in love with Westerly-Pawcatuck and it’s people!!! It amazes me how strangers become family in less than 72 hours, but it is magic and it is real. It is a deep feel good experience.

6. Do you have other creative hobbies, too?

Too many to list! I love just about anything I can create with my hands! I do quilts, costumes, clothing, greeting cards & scrapbooks, bulletin boards and children’s crafts, home decorations, wedding planning and decorating, jewelry, sculpting, yarn arts, painting, drawing, illustration, writing, music, singing, motherhood and grand-parenting, and am currently taking a pottery wheel class, just to name a few. I love the process of creating!

We want to send a huge thank you to Audrey not only for participating in our mini-profile, but also for leaving so much beautiful art in our town! Make sure to check out her work on the Children’s, Medal of Honor, and Knickerbocker Murals!

Pop-Up Museum: Art

We’ve been all about adapting and expanding some of our existing programs with Studio Rhode Westerly, and that includes our Pop-Up Museums. All of our Pop-Ups have been documented using iPads, but for our September Museum, we went way farther: the iPads were a dynamic, hands-on, every-changing part of the exhibit!

Pop-Up Museums have put us in touch with very talented artists and craftspeople already, so it seemed like a natural fit to bring WAM’s new focus into it. WAM! is now about making mini-profiles of local artists and sharing them using the hashtag #artistsofwesterly, so creating a mini-museum and asking artists to join in fits well. Through this, we were able to meet artists and ask if they would be interested in being profiled. Stay tuned for the upcoming profiles!

Since “Art” is such a broad term, we didn’t want anyone to feel intimidated to display something. From there, I got the idea to let attendees create art on the spot if they didn’t bring anything to display. This started as making bookmarks with our Studio Rhode Westerly blog printed on one side, blank on the other, so that attendees could design a bookmark using colored pencils. That wasn’t so popular, no one tried it. The idea also morphed into allowing attendees to create art on the iPads. That was a big success, nearly every attendee tried it (I even had to run and grab more iPads from the charging cart.) We all used Tayasui Sketches and the Apple Pencil, plus some attendees also tried out the camera and a text app.

In all, we had 2 patron exhibitors, 2 staff exhibitors, and an item from the library’s collection. We had 10 attendees who came to look around and create art. It may not sound like a lot, but attendance at our Pop-Ups has been hit-or-miss, so this was a lot closer to a hit.

This event has inspired new program ideas. Since the iPads were so popular, we may consider hosting more programs where patrons can just play around and create art; no pressure, no formal lesson plan, just creativity. One of our attendees is a very talented digital artist who creates all of his art on an iPhone, and he was full of great app suggestions and program ideas. He may be willing to help us run programs, which would be hugely beneficial to our artisitic patrons!


Pop-In to Our Pop-Up

“Art” can be so intimidating. It sounds like something formal, something that has already been appreciated and given value by those in the right circles. That’s not the art we’re looking for at our Pop-Up Museum, nor is it the art we’re looking for, creating, and sharing with Studio Rhode Westerly. We’re looking at art in the broadest sense, we want to see what you think represents art! It might be a piece from an established artist, it might be something unexpected from someone completely unknown. It might even be a tool used to create art! We want you to bring it all to our Pop-Up Museum on Wednesday, September 27th.

Speaking of tools used to create art, we’ll have iPads on hand so you can try out some neat art apps. Our latest favorite is Tayasui Sketches, where you can play around with different brushes and pens to create something amazing. If you don’t have any art to bring in, you can make some here! You can also try out the camera to help us document the Museum for our other blog, Westerly Pop-Up Museum!

So come to the Auditorium this Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 pm to share your art or just see what others have brought in! We will also be collecting mini-profiles for our Artists of Westerly series, so you can get interviewed! We’re looking for all levels of artistry, even those who don’t think they’re an artist.

Our First of Many #artistsofwesterly

There’s always a thousand reasons to wait to start something, but sometimes you need to jump in! Our WAM! idea has evolved and became a project to document our local artists, both known and unknown, professional and hobbyist, advanced and beginner. Some entries into this collection will be photos with captions taken from brief interviews with the subject; others will be 5-minute interviews recorded in iMovie for more established artists to talk about their craft. While this seems simple (and puts a lot less pressure on our artists,) it is actually slightly more work for us in the background. I stalled right from the get-go, worrying about developing a list of questions to ask our artists while I was bogged down with other projects. I didn’t want to get out there unprepared;  I felt I needed that list of questions and sample posts as a security blanket before getting out there and asking people to get involved.

I was inspired during the opening reception for our library’s current gallery exhibit, Treasure through Time, which features unique items from the library’s Special Collections. I was talking to one of our dedicated volunteers, who used his artistic eye to help hang and display the pieces in the exhibit, but also brought in a stunning floral arrangement from his day job as a florist. I had to talk to him about the flowers, as they were arranged in such a unique and stunning way – I can’t say I’ve ever imagined that thistles, orchids, and carnations would look so great together. Our volunteer, Michael Barber, explained that he has a background in Fine Arts, and has been a florist for many years (on top of using his creative talents in many other venues.) This was it! This artist (Mr. Barber) and this work of art (the floral arrangement) would be our very first #artistsofwesterly post!


I now feel emboldened to collect more photos and interviews and document our artists! I think that the list of questions and example posts can come together after a few practice runs (maybe on my creative coworkers, who are #artistsofwesterly as well.) I will definitely try to feature Mr. Barber again as he has worked with so many mediums in so many different ways that he is a creative treasure trove!

The lesson here is that if you wait too long to be ready, you’ll never start. This applies not only to the #artistsofwesterly project, but also to that creative project you’ve been thinking of taking up. Jump into it – and then tell me about it so I can document it!

Be an Artist at Our Pop-Up Museum

We’ve been saying this a lot, but it bears repeating: everyone is an artist. Because of this, we want to give anyone and everyone a chance to exhibit at our next Pop-Up Museum: Art Edition on September 27th.

Pop-Up Museum came from an idea by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. Each one is a temporary exhibit made up by anyone who wants to participate. Each Pop-Up has a theme, so participants are asked to bring something that fits the theme. Our Pop-Ups are two hours long, so you can bring an item, make a label for it, mingle and look at the exhibited items, then take your item home with you when you leave.

We have invited members of WRAP (Westerly Regional Arts Partnership) to show off pieces, but we also welcome members of the community to bring in art that they have created, things they use to create art, a favorite piece of art – the possibilities are endless! Anything that represents art or fits the theme of art is welcome! We hope to display many different mediums and skill levels. It will also give all of the artists in attendance (both professional and casual) and visitors a chance to discuss their art and their involvement in the arts.

As with all of our Pop-Up Museums, we will document the items brought in on our Pop-Up Museum blog. We also hope to document the artists and visitors who come in as part of our #artistsofwesterly series. We will take photos and brief interviews during the event (Humans of New York-style) and see if anyone would be interested in our 5-minute interview series (a variant of original WAM! Talks idea.)

We’re currently brainstorming for some art-on-the-spot challenges that may happen during the Pop-Up, so even if you don’t have anything to bring in, you can create something to display while visiting the Pop-Up.

For more information on this or any other Pop-Up Museum at Westerly Library, contact Colleen at cwalsh@westerlylibrary.org

What is WAM?!

WAM stands for Westerly Arts and Media, which we hope to bring a focus to by featuring different artists or art forms. While it was originally planned to be a series of artist talks, it has been adapted into a series of 5-minute interviews and “Artists of Westerly” photo series (much like Humans of New York, but with an artistic twist.)

We will feature known local artists, up-and-comers, and average patrons who may have a secret creative side. Stay tuned for upcoming photos and videos, or keep your eyes peeled for WAM! representatives at Westerly Library and Wilcox Park events.

If you are interested in participating as a subject of a photo or video interviewing, or if you are interested in helping to collect or conduct these interviews, please contact Colleen at cwalsh@westerlylibrary.org