When was it
that art became an important part of who you were?
JCT: Well my father
says I was born waving my hands about in the air like I was trying to paint
something. I've always drawn, sketched, painted, created. Its as
natural to me as breathing. I won a first place in the 12 and under
category of a local art fair when I was five.
It was a tooth fairy.
Did you ever
have any formal art training? Do you think that formal training offers any kind
of guarantees for success or is the lack of it a hindrance to an artist?
JCT: Formal how? Like college or art school or something? No. I am entirely self taught in that regard. I learn mostly by actual practice and
experimentation and from listening to other artists talk.
I did take art electives in high school, but it was entirely independent study. I'd sit in the back and do my own thing while the
other kids did still lifes or something. I had this teacher, Mark Snowden..I hope
someday he will find an interview or something I do and read how much I
appreciate him. He was the Jr High
art teacher. It was a very small
town and the high school and junior high shared two buildings so I was able to
scam my way into staying with him all through high school as well as junior
high. I didn't care much for what the regular High
School teacher was doing and I got along really well with Mr. Snowden, and I was apparently pretty far ahead of
most of the other kids. So the school board let me stay on with him. Thank goodness.
He never tried to stifle me, but he also never took my BS.
At what point
did you start to think that perhaps others might be interested in seeing and
perhaps even buying your art? What kind of art did you work on when you started
producing pictures that you wanted to display and sell?
JCT: I got into this as a profession far later than one would
expect considering my lifelong art leanings. I was in my 30's.
It just never occurred to me that someone would actually give me money for my
scribbles! I mean, how cool!!! I'm still
so honored and humbled by the fact that what is as natural to me as breathing
could mean something to someone else and earn me a living. I'm pretty grateful for this, really. I painted
a couple of horse with maiden pieces to use as promotional graphics for what
was then my main business ( which has since become more or less phased out as
the art business grew and took over). Someone wanted to buy the art..so I
painted more. It occurred to me that I might have a little
side line so I developed a website with the help of a friend and it all went
form there. Now the art is my main
income and passion.
What kinds of
mediums do you work with and why would you use one medium for a particular
piece of art as opposed to another medium? In your mind what determines how a
piece of art is created?
JCT: I work primarily in acrylic paints.
Most people think my work is watercolor at first glance, but its not. I do use watercolor on occasion for a special
effect or something I am going for, and I have a lovely little set of 12 tubes
acrylic is my first love. I also dabble in watercolor markers and
other stuff now and again. I use the acrylic because it is what I am
used to I suppose. I like the
vibrancy I can get with it that can so closely resemble oils, but without the
wait time of a oil. I have very
little patience, there are too many ideas all fighting in my head and if a
piece takes too long I burn out on it. I also like that acrylic can be diluted
with water to achieve a watercolor-ey like effect.
Its kind of the jack of all trades in terms of paint to me. And I love
to layer paints and stuff like that.
You cant really do that too much with watercolor. But there are certain effects one can get
with watercolor that you can't with acrylic and with other mediums that you can't
with paint etc...so I
use what strikes me as the most appropriate for the effect I'm after. How does a piece get created? I dunno...It hits
me like a ton of bricks, wont let me sleep till I get it at least sketched out.
If anyone has
ever been to your website and cruised through any of your galleries I'm sure that they have noticed that you have
a penchant for elves and fairies in your artwork.
What is it that inspires you to pursue these types of images and where do ideas
for new pieces come from?
JCT: I've always painted the Fae worlds.
Always. Like I said, when I was five
I painted a tooth fairy. Its what speaks to me. I guess I'm an Elf myself and it's a way of
relating to that realm. I see other worlds and other life around us
that is not on the main radar of most people, I suppose.
I sense life all about me, in the shifting of dry leaves on a street, in the
budding flowers on my rose bushes, in the mistletoe that grows profusely in my
Sycamore tree but not on ANYONE else's Sycamore trees on this entire street...I sense that and I paint it. I don't know how else to communicate the
existence of those things in a way that doesn't make people think I'm looney. I grew up
in a very conservative town and one just didn't talk about these things there,
so I painted them instead.
My ideas come from
own twisted little mind...lol..No,
sometimes I'll hear a word, or see something.
Just recently I was in a restaurant and there was this lovely harlequin pattern
painted on the walls..it sparked an idea. Sometimes I'll just be lying there trying to
go to sleep and a whole series of images will hit me and I literally have to
get up and sketch them out or I won't sleep.
look to other artists for inspiration in their own work? Over the years who
would you say has offered you glimpses of what you could achieve in your own
JCT: Sure we look to other artists.
I don't know of anyone that is not touched by at least one other artist. Sometimes
its someone contemporary, sometimes its a classic artist or older work. I think we
all strive to have our own styles, but there are always influences to our work,
Oh..the Pre-Raphaelites are a big influence as they are
for many of us, I think. Arthur
Rackham is a biggie for me, and of course Froud is like the Godfather of all
Fairy Art. Gotta give him props for
paving the way for us all. Amy Brown
and Jessica Galbreath have both been hugely supportive of my efforts and big
helps to me as I grew. Thanks
girls! I love Christensen and Craft and
about everyone. Nene Thomas makes me
want to bury my head in shame: she is so good....
As an artist
do you ever work on commission for someone else's ideas? How is this type of
work different for you than what you do to satisfy your own creative urges?
JCT: I do a limited amount of commissions, yes. The reason they are limited is because I will only
accept a commission if the client understands that I can't paint on command. The less
they tell me they want..the less their idea is and the bigger mine can be,
the better we will do. And that I am not a portrait artist. I can get the flavor of someone or something, but
not a mirror image. So don't ask me
for your great aunt Fanny as a fairy.
I can do a Fanny-ish image with wings and grey hair, but that's gonna be it. LOL...So my commission clients are generally people who
just love my style and want something special done just for them in my own
style with maybe a certain person or something in it that means something just
to them. But they trust my imagination. I had
accepted a commission from someone recently that I ended up not going over all
the specifics with for whatever reason. We just forgot or something. And she kept giving me ideas and specifics and a
list of the way she saw the image. I
just could NOT rectify what she was asking for with the picture I kept seeing
in my head. It was so frustrating because
I really wanted to give her what she wanted, but it was just not coming
together. I finally told her I could
not do her piece because it wasn't speaking to me..that I saw something totally different and that I
was going to go ahead and paint what I saw but she was under no obligation to
pay for it whatsoever. She ended up loving it and bought the piece
anyway. That's my piece Lishmar. So I guess my commissions are not really any
different than my own creative stuff, because I cant do it if it's not mine. Maybe that's
a failing of mine.
Does the area
where you live and work or your menagerie of animals play a part in the images
that you create?
JCT: Yes, a resounding yes. The first painting I did as a professional
artist was of one of my horses. And I continue to paint my horses ( I have
ten of them) frequently. They
inspire me in so many ways. I
personally believe horses are fairy creatures anyway, so it's easy to find
inspiration from them. I moved about
a little over a year ago to a property that was zoned for horses, but before
that the house we lived in was built on a fairy mound.
It was the only house for blocks around that was actually off street level. And my
plants in my garden would reach insane heights and growth! I was concerned when we moved that I would
lose that presence..that feeling of the fae folk around me, caring for
me and my garden and loved ones. But
I've since discovered that they've followed me, or at least some of them have. There is a huge old sycamore in front of my house. I've found
mistletoe growing in it recently..just since we moved here, it wasn't there before. And I've looked, and no other trees on this street..which
is full of the same type of sycamore, has mistletoe. Its them letting me know they are here.
Tell me about
your involvement with the So Cal Ren Pleasure Faire and how that came about.
JCT: The Renn Faire. Well...I had
made the decision to try my hand at being professional.
The first show I did after that was this traveling craft fair called The
Harvest Festival. One of the days that weekend, the
marketplace director for the Southern faire came into my booth. She introduced herself to me and informed me that
one of their artists was leaving for a year and they needed another one to fill
her spot. I was nervous.
Its a big commitment doing a Renn Faire, but I knew it was a once in a lifetime
opportunity to get in to a market that is highly coveted.
I went for it. I've been doing them ever since. The Southern California Faire is my 'home' faire. Its where it all started for me, but I now also do
the Northern California Renn faire as well.
And have been invited to participate in smaller venues also. I'm even doing an 11 day show at Legoland this
Do you enjoy
displaying your art at these venues and what kinds of feedback to you get about
your art from the visitors who stop by your exhibit?
JCT: Oh I LOVE the Faires.
I really do. I am a bit of a nomad
at heart but not enough to give up my normal life with my garden and horses and
pets and family and so forth. So these shows allow me to indulge in that nomadic
part of my nature. I enjoy the people, I enjoy the social life
after hours and I love the history and pageantry of it all. I get a
very good response. I always do
better than expected and I've gathered a big following and lots of new friends
through my artwork that way. I've gotten
licensing deals and offers for display space at other shows, etc. Its been a very valuable source of income and
exposure for me as well as something I genuinely enjoy doing. You always get your jerks..I like to say there is always one at every show..but
mostly everyone is very positive and fun!
Do you enjoy the business aspects of being an
artist or would you rather be painting somewhere?
JCT: That depends on
what part of the business aspects of it.
I love doing the shows etc..and that is part of the business side of it. I love the
marketing stuff..and finding new ideas etc..but when it comes to the accounting part of it..oh dear. I am just terrible at it.
I manage, but my husband and son know to steer clear of me when I am working on
the accounting which I do twice monthly.
I am so focused because I have to be that I will bite heads off if disturbed...
How are the many ways that visitors to your
website could own a piece of your artwork? I noticed that you have even had
some requests for your artwork to be used as tattoos.
JCT: Well...they can always buy a print or something from
me! That's the best way! But there are lots of other ways too. You mentioned tattoos.
I am always impressed when someone shows me a tattoo they got of my work. I also have
licensing deals with several manufacturers of various items around the world. There are stickers and magnets and keychains and
slate stones and cross-stitch patterns and more. There are also several books out now with my
everything that you've created as far as your art do you still get a thrill
either starting a new piece or putting the finishing touches on a work in
progress? Do you think you'll ever grow tired of what you do?
JCT: I hope I don't ever get tired of it.
I can't imagine that, really. But I have learned with other things in my
life that when I force myself to do things when I don't have the 'urge' I lose
interest in it after a time. I feel
trapped by it. So when I started this I told myself I would
NOT paint if I didn't feel like it.
I would not force the muse when she was not there.
And so far so good.
What was it
that inspired you to choose the name Toadstool Farm Art as the working name for
your art business?
name Toadstool Farm came form my old house.
I loved that house. It needed a name. It was this perfect fairy cottage in the middle of
the city on a fairy mound. The name Toadstool finally came to me, and it
was perfect. But the suffix
"cottage" or something didn't fit exactly.
With all the animals we had then we finally thought Farm was perfect. So
Toadstool Farm it became. When the art business started..it just
seemed to fit as the exact right name for a new fairy art venture. And there was no one else out there with any thing
like it so that was an added plus!
As a final
question is there anything else that you would like to let our readers know
about yourself or your art work?
JCT: I think you covered it pretty much completely...LOL.....
for talking to us and I hope that inspiration will always
be yours when it comes to your art work.