Friday, December 16, 2011

Creative Beast Interview - Faery Mysterium

Hello dear blog readers! I've been busy with quite a lot in the past week such as working on a wonderful interview to share with you today with a truly magical artist. It's been on my back burner simmering for awhile now and I am happy to say it's ready to be savored. I'm so excited to share this interview with you all!
***   ***   *** 
Interview with Michelle Van Fleet of Faery Mysterium

I first met Michelle at the Scottish Highland Games back in October when someone mentioned a vendor selling beautiful, magical faery chairs made of crystals and semi-precious stones. My dear boyfriend and I made our way to find this vendor and we were not disappointed!

Michelle had a unique tent and set up that felt as though we were entering a magical world and indeed we were. Several tiny and dainty faery chairs were laid out before us, each one more magical than the last! My dear boyfriend chose a chair to take home for a faery figurine he had brought back from a trip to Ireland and his tiny faery was soon ensconced in her new throne...
The faery usually sits inside his home but I shot the faery and her chair outside among my dear boyfriends many potted plants -
Photo enhanced by Michelle Van Fleet

We had an enjoyable conversation with Michelle who spoke with us about her chairs and how they are each made for a particular spirit. As she spoke about her creative work, I realized that she would be a great subject for an interview - an amazing artist full of creativity. I asked if I could interview her and I was so happy when she agreed! Thank you and welcome Michelle!

Michelle, Artist and Creator of Faery Mysterium
Who first introduced you to creating? Was it a family member - a teacher? How did that person influence you?

My grandfather, Fred Sersen, was head of the special effects art department at 20th Century Fox for decades. He was brilliant, won 2 Oscars for his work, along with a dozen nominations. Both of my parents were very supportive of my artist efforts. My grandfathers' paintings were hung throughout our home, so I grew up surrounded by beautiful art created by a professional, successful artist. That informed my notion of what was possible early on.

Your grandfather certainly had an illustrious career that can be found at IMDB, not to mention a Wikipedia page! It's wonderful that you had such a family legacy of creativity and support throughout your childhood.

What were your first creative actions that you remember? (Sewing, Dancing, Painting, etc?)

I loved to paint, to do collage and mosaic (assemblage at an early age!), draw with charcoal, create jewelry with beads. I had a little door-to-door business selling my necklaces when I was about 8.  I loved to dance to the Nutcracker Suite (who didn't??) and I was very fond of trying to create Haiku poems. And oh yes, mustn't forget to mention I was creating (and selling to my schoolmates) woodland outfits for those neon hair troll dolls. Clearly, I took after my grandfather in a big way, but I was coloring 'outside the lines' even then.

I love that you were an entrepreneur at such a young age Michelle! It reminds me that I made little things that I sold to some of my friends in school: embroidered key chain charms and book markers!

Do you have a favorite medium to create in? If so, what is it?

My favorite medium is always whatever is current for me. But I must say, this current assemblage work is really knocking my socks off. Each work is a whole new puzzle, with many layers and levels to experience within the process.

How do you feel when you are creating in your chosen medium?

Whatever I am attuned to, I am creating there because I am in harmony with that process and mode of artistic expression. That said, what this then offers is the opportunity to get into 'the zone', where one is existing outside of time and the inspiration is pouring through. Truly, the works that emerge from that space can feel as though they are beyond me, in a sense. There is no direct forethought, the piece literally morphs and emerges as it will, while I look to "feel" the placement, the stones, the colors, the curves. It is all about feeling your way through, not thinking what something should or shouldn't be. Very organic and intuitive. This is what I love. So in a way, it is my process of refining my being, my consciousness.
A scene from Michelle's workshop - a faery chair in process...

What is the greatest joy you derive from creating? Accomplishment? The process? Sharing it with others? Please explain…

First and foremost for me is the process . As I mentioned before, my artistic process is also a method of personal refinement. When I cannot 'see' what is coming into form, and yet trusting my process and going with the proverbial 'flow', this creates self-trust as an artist. The surprise and delight I experience with the finished piece further strengthens the concept of self-trust, which is applicable in all aspects of life.

This is also a collaborative effort. There really is a distinct being that is connected to each of these pieces; that is what makes them portals. The energetic tone that is created is what they respond to, and assists them to come through into this world we inhabit. I have had to learn to "listen" to their input. This I put in quotes, as it is a different sort of listening than we are use to. It comes through the mind of the heart. This sort of refinement is ongoing, and I thoroughly enjoy focusing there.

I do love to connect with those who enjoy my works, it often opens many doors and many wonderful conversations ensue. But more often than not, my pieces move along to their intended caretakers on their own and I never meet who receives them. So it really is the process and collaboration with the fae that spurs me on.

Accomplishment? I do love these whimsical little wonders, and have created quite a body of work to date (over 450, give or take a few...). But once they are ready to move along, it is on to the next. The greater sense of achievement comes through my own growth I addressed above, as well as sticking with this; keeping to my decision to have this really be the thing for me.

I have to agree with you on all the points you've made. I've learned that sometimes the materials know better than I do how to get to the end result of whatever I'm creating and though I may have a firm idea or plan in mind, my materials will do what they will and the end result will usually look MUCH better than I'd imagined. I also admire that you are able to let go of each chair as they are made - it's not always easy for artists to let their work go out into the world, especially such beautiful chairs as the ones you make! In regard to letting go of work created, I think this quote from a Pixar character says it best for me: "I never look back darling, it distracts from the NOW" ;)

Do you think a creative life comes from ideas, doing or being?

Yes, yes and yes. Creativity, in order to be fully realized, asks to be brought forward into 'being-ness'. We are all creative, we are all weaving stories in our heads every moment of every day! For me, it is to have a specific concept, with a desired result that the creator/artist has decided upon, and to then hold to that vision as it takes form. This is not to say the vision must remain static, not at all. My vision of where I am going with this body of work is changing all the time. And yet, there is a consistent thread carrying through in each and every piece. The actual 'doing' of the piece, the creation process, is what moves me along, and also develops these works. If all I was doing was thinking about and visualizing them with no 3rd dimensional creation, no growth would unfold. 

A creative life, in my experience, asks one to be able to turn on a dime and head off into uncharted territory, all the while certain that this too shall bear fruit. Or faery chair treasure, as the case may be.

How do you express your creative life? Is it integrated in your daily life or is it a separate part of your life?

Creativity is integral to my experience of myself. If I am not in one process, I am in another, of asking/pondering questions and looking for those unexpected possibilities. As a spiritual being, I am certainly what is called a 'contemplative', and this is also my creative method. I let my mind wander and open my self to the moment, the alchemy of what is before me. 

These works I am involved in, they are a collaborative effort. It is all happening between myself and the faery that will presence through it, as well as the person it is going to. Those connections are coming through all the time, with the nexus occurring at the time the piece is created. I am always swimming around in many levels of expression. In fact, I have to work every day at getting grounded.

Can you think of a time when someone else’s creativity fed you? What was that like?

Other's creativity feeds me all the time. I am always taking in all forms of art, as often as possible. I am a big fan of "". My own postings there are flux and flow, as my greatest enjoyment is the ability to tap into and share in the creations of others worldwide. I love your blog Monica for the same reason. It is just delightful to share in another's process, their take on things, and what emerges from that for them. I love that we are all so unique.

Thank you for your kind words Michelle! I do love your website - it's chock full of beautiful imagery that is inspiring for me as well =-)

What is the most significant creative event in your life to date? Was it a defining moment? Was it a milestone or a lifetime goal?

My most significant personal creative moment was giving birth to my amazingly wonderful son, and all of the moments with him that have followed since. To share so deeply in the the life of another, right from the beginning! This is an amazing gift and honor. Having a child changed me forever, opening my heart and my mind like nothing else. Again, this is a major creative process, ongoing and constantly shifting. He is not 'mine', just as the art works I create are not 'mine', but I do get to go along for the ride and it's fascinating and challenging and wonderful. Letting go while remaining present is an art form unto itself...

I often hear many mothers speak of their children as their greatest works of art and their biggest contributions to the world. It's great to hear you speak of how you 'let go' while remaining in the present - it is quite an art form to have that ability! There are a few mothers who have difficulty in that area...luckily, mine was not one of them ;)

How do you feel about working a ‘day job’? Do you feel your day job is in alignment with your life and your values? If not, does that matter to you?

I do work a 'day job', lol. I design and sell sofas and chairs for humans! How funny is that. I have been in retail for quite awhile, and learned how to design custom furnishings many years ago. I really enjoy that process as well. It is a collaboration with the home owners, to help them to reach their vision for their interior environment. So many people do not have the visualization ability that I am blessed with, so it is satisfying to be able to know the right questions to ask to help them express themselves effectively.

When I began this most recent journey, with Faery Mysterium, I gave everything a lot of thought. I have tried, with varying degrees of success, to express myself artistically over the years. How do I define success, you ask? I have always wanted to reach a level of actualization in my work where I am really, deeply pleased with it's ongoing progress and development. I have also always wanted to strike a chord in those who experience it, to effect them internally. I find I have created just that with this current effort, and it is just so funny to me. We often read how other's reached their greatest level of personal success by doing that which they love the most. Well, I can tell you that certainly holds true here. I certainly did not foresee the depth and breadth of response that has come forth from these works. Who know the world was waiting for little crystal faery chairs?  It is really great to experience!

Back to what I was saying. I looked very hard within, to target those beliefs and self made "rules" that had me bogged down from really flying. I wanted to avoid my own pitfalls this time. Having a 'day job' is one of my answers. I found that I did not do well with the stress that came with depending upon my art for all of my needs. So I decided I would work a few days, enough to pay the rent and buy the food, that sort of thing. The other days I work for myself, creating faery artworks! This balance has been great for me, and allowed me the platform to progress upon towards my eventual goal of working exclusively as a full time artist again.

What is most important to me at this time is balance, and a flow of success. I don't want to suffer for my art, I just want to keep it all moving along together as best I can and enjoy the ride. The journey is the whole thing, and being at peace with your choices is the ticket to having fun. 

I love your metaphor of the "ticket to ride" as you continue on your journey as an Artist! It's great that you were able to pinpoint what would and wouldn't work for you to be fulfilled as an artist and I love that you are able to have a day job that is in alignment with your creativity, not to mention a funny coincidence that you design furniture/chairs for humans as well as for faeries!

***   ***   ***

Thank you, Michelle, for taking time to be interviewed! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it! If you'd like to see and purchase a faery chair for yourself, or if you'd like to be inspired and see what inspires Michelle, you can find her at these sites on the internet:


Diana said...

Great article and what beautiful examples in the photos! I wish there were some for sale in her etsy store or website.

Michelle of Faery Mysterium said...

Hi Diana, Michelle here.... I do have some pieces for sale on my website, as well as some others coming that I have yet to post. Just scroll over the "Gallery" tab along the top, and click on "for sale" to see current available works. Were you looking for one of the pictured ones, is that what you meant? The azurite seat is still available.... You can purchase right off my site. If you don't see one that speaks to you, let me know through my guestbook, and I can notify you when I get the next group up.
thank you for your interest!

Kathryn Hansen said...

wonderful interview..I could feel Michelles enthusiasm in each question for her art and creativity!