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Interview with jewelry artist Beverly Ash Gilbert
Beverly is a bead artist living in the Pacific NW. Her work features the use of color and free-form style and a number of her pieces have been accepted in national competitions: Absolutely Beads and Bead Dreams. She teaches beadweaving, wireworking and metalworking workshops in shows and venues across the US and internationally and is currently writing her second book.
1. When did you start beading?
In 2002, I was a mom of 2 very young boys and feeling as if I had nothing to show for my time - I needed to find activities with immediate gratification! A sympathetic girlfriend took me to a bead store one weekend and it was love at first sight... the colors, textures and ability to make something that I could wear that night - intoxicating!
I began with stringing, immediately veered off into wirework, but craved the ability to pull together color in 3 dimensions. I was introduced to seed beads in a class at a local bead store and never looked back. I taught my first beadweaving classes 6 months later.
2. What is your creative process like?
I live within the creative process - am driven by the designs, ideas and possibilities that fill my head and thrive on the fact that they are always changing and evolving. Once my pieces are nearly completed and I see how they are going to look, I start to loose interest and am ready to move to the next idea. I have to force myself to finish. And I can't stand reproducing, which is why I tend to like freeform work better than structures or patterns. I almost always start with a color combination I want to play with and sometimes I sketch ideas in my notebook. But after that, I let go and see where my beads take me.
3. What inspires you to create?
I am driven by color, how different colors play against each other, how a single color can be given depth by including shadows and highlights. I love making bead soups - the beader's equivalent of a palette of paint. My designs and preference for free-form beadweaving is all about playing with color.
4. How do you create color combinations for your jewelry?
Color inspiration comes from all around me - nature, magazine pages, other art-work, fabrics, scarves, flowers. I have a wall with photos and bits of colorful things that are inspiring. Sometimes there is a specific color I want to work with and need to find other colors that will look good with it. Still other times I am working on a project with nice colors, but it looks flat and I need to find something to give it life.
I think the best tool for working with color is the color wheel. There are lots of wheels on the market, most designed for painters who are interested in color mixing (red + yellow = orange), but not as useful for those of us pulling existing colors together. So I designed a color wheel system, Eye For Color that focuses on color combinations - to help people visualize what colors look good with each other.
Once I know what colors I am going to use, I create mixes that include dark shadows and bright highlights. I also make sure to pull the colors together by transitioning with color, value and saturation. Here is a sample of how I go from inspiration, to defining the colors on the color wheel, to bead soup.
5. We see that you teach classes all over the country - you must like teaching.
Teaching is my passion - I especially love to nudge people into self expression with freeform style and working with color. So many of us are shy about working with color - afraid that what we like, isn't "right". I love watching students grow throughout out a class, until by the end they are bursting with color-confidence and creative energy!
One of my all-time highlights was when a woman burst into tears in the middle of one of my Color Workshops at the Art & Soul Retreat. I raced over to figure out what was wrong and she told me that in all the books she had read and classes she had taken, she had never understood color as well as she now did after only a few hours of my class! Another highlight was a little 2nd grader during an art lesson telling me I was a genius - you can't get much better than that!
It took me a long time to find my artistic voice - and when I did, I dove in head first. It has pulled me through the ups and downs of life igniting a flame inside that I didn't even know existed a few years ago. I am continually learning, experimenting, stumbling and inching forward on my creative journey.
Thank you, Beverly! Best of luck to you!
|Beverly Ash Gilbert, Puget Sound region, Washington, USA|
|Eye For Color: Interchangeable Templates & Color Wheel System, GilbertDesigns, 2008||Beaded Colorways: Creating Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes, North Light Books, due in stores 2010|