Mary Ann Van Soest is one of those wonderful people who is both an artist and a Patron of artists, as you can tell by her studio photos below. Mary Ann shared this information about herself: I have not been formally educated in the field of art. Mostly self taught by choice. Had sewing class, music class and 4-H from an early age. Was tailoring clothes by the age of 12, working for a produce market by age 14 and running a produce stand by age 16. Owned a real estate office and had 33 good years of sales. But I always wanted to go to art school. Not in the cards for me. In 2009 I went to the International Quilt Show on a whim and, wow, I found a way to express my art. The art quilts fascinated me. There are no limits. The last three years being retired gives me all the time I choose to create. It has been fun and I look forward to growing as an artist. As you can see I am a little driven. When I choose to do something I go full speed ahead. I am close to Chicago and I may just try the Art Institute some day and go to art school after all. My best friend is a 90 year-old artist who has given me a lot of direction in the last 3 years. Life is good.
1. How do you find/make time to be in your studio?
I usually try to be in the studio at least 4 times a week. I start to work(I call it playtime) by 9 am, break for lunch, and continue until 3 or 4 pm.
2. Describe your studio in 5 words.
Big bright comfortable work space.
3. If you could pick only one thing from your studio to represent your art practice what would it be?
I would pick my hutch which is by my idea wall. In that space I have art from my friends, pieces of my art I choose to keep, carved birds, a collection of blue mason jars, books, pottery and whatever I like at that time. It is a easy place to rest my eyes during the day and remember who I acquired those items from or when I made that special piece. Great memories that inspire new art.
4. What is the best/worst space you have ever had as a studio?
Hands down the furnace room where I started out. No windows and plain ugly.
5. What would make a “dream studio” for you?
I am in my dream studio now. Last year a family member moved into our guest room for 4 months. That had been my studio. When they left I stayed in the large bright room I have now. 22 by 20 foot open space with lots of windows, cabinets for storage and a sink for clean-up. This space has evolved into a great working space. A happy place to create.
This is one of three beautifully color-cordinated Fiber BONUSES donated by Mary Ann for Foto/Fiber 2012. Items in her BONUSES may include hand-painted fabric, snow-dyed fabric, batiks, beads, fiber cards, thread. See more details about her Fiber BONUSES on Mary Ann’s blog and on Facebook. Foto/Fiber 2012, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, opens February 15 at 10 a.m. Central. Mary Ann has also donated a gorgeous art quilt for a drawing when we reach our goal of $7000.
6.What would you advise someone setting up a studio for the first time?
Think it through first. Imagine it in your head. Find the arrangement and style that is comfortable for you. You can always move things and change it out.
7. Any unique features/pets you would like to share?
My large window area that looks out at ground level is special to me. Deer, birds, the neighbor’s cat, some Canadian geese and squirrels have all looked into the window when I am working. Always something interesting to see out there.
8. Any new exhibit or project we should know about?
I am part of a show coming up this summer, Under Indiana Skies. I am creating pieces for that now. I just finished the first art quilt, Sunrise, for that show. Five more to go. I use a photograph or a painting I have done to inspire the art quilt. The 2 pieces will be hung side by side for the show. Another show in 2013 that will be a botanical theme. I have just started to plan that one. Both shows will be at the Wells Center in Lafayette, Indiana.