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Arts & Literature

Writing Group Based in Peachtree Corners Brings Romance to the Masses



Berta Platas and Nancy Knight (founding member of GRW) presenting during a workshop panel at the 2019 Moonlight & Magnolias Conference.

Escaping into a good book has never been more important than in recent years. During the slowest days of the pandemic, when restaurants, sporting events and other activities were closed, we turned to puzzles, streaming movies, binge-watching entire seasons of a TV show, home workouts and reading a favorite author’s work to pass the time.

According to Readers Magnet, a self-publishing and marketing firm, fiction writing remains the most popular type of book sold. At the top of the fiction list are romance novels, an estimated $1.4 billion genre.

Peachtree Corners-based Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) couldn’t agree more.

The non-profit GRW has more than doubled their membership this year with 180 serious, professional writers, nearly one-third of whom are multi-published. Members range from the self-published to New York Times Best Selling Authors.

Meet the authors in Peachtree Corners

Each month, romance writers from Georgia meet at the Hyatt Place Atlanta in Peachtree Corners. Beginning at 9 until 11:30 a.m., they enjoy coffee or tea, network and hear from an experienced author on a variety of topics. Inevitably, you’ll find many writers just leaving at 2 p.m. when GRW’s time to gather runs out.

HM Thomas, author of The Right to Surrender and What We Deserve at the 2019 Moonlight & Magnolias book signing.

“We’ve had many published authors — NY Times Best Sellers, USA Today Best Sellers — who come and speak to us on a craft topic like editing or strengthening character,” said Brenda Lowder, President of the Georgia Romance Writers Board of Directors and romantic comedy author of “Body Jumping” and “Sparks.”

Their most recent meeting, held Sept. 17, featured Sia Huff discussing “Stellar Scenes.” Topics in 2022 have ranged from social media basics and how to find an audience to adapting romance fiction to the screen and how to create “firsts” in a novel.

Moonlight & Magnolias

In October, GRW will host their annual Moonlight & Magnolias Writing Conference Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 20-23 at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta SW in Peachtree City. The three-day event, drawing writers from neighboring states like Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina, is jam packed with opportunities to learn and hone the craft.

Since its inaugural event in 1982, the conference has a long-established tradition of supporting and developing writers of all levels. While focused primarily on romance, writers of all genres are welcomed, respected and encouraged.

Thursday’s workshop features Debra Dixon on “Goal, Motivation and Conflict,” followed by an opportunity to visit vendors and socialize. Friday and Saturday include more than 25 morning and afternoon workshops on a wide range of subjects including titles like “Strength in Skirts: Creating a Strong Heroine,” “Writing Diversity throughout Genres,” “Villains,” “Tik Tok for Authors” and “Setting up Book Clubs and Get Your Book Chosen.”

Panel discussions will cover cold reads and industry trends, and provide an opportunity to learn from NY Times Best Selling Author Sherrilyn Kenyon, best known for her Dark Hunter series. Daily keynote speakers include Andrew Grey, Dahlia Rose and Melinda Curtis.

Moonlight & Magnolias Conference Chair and contributing author of “Love in the Lowcountry” Robin Hillyer-Miles notes that for authors attending each year, the highlight of the weekend is the Maggie Awards and the dance party that follows. The awards recognize published and pre-published authors of romantic fiction. Authors from as far away as Australia have submitted their work to win a Maggie.

Vicki Dabney, Robin Hillyer-Miles, and Pam Trouy enjoy a selfie at the 2019 Moonlight & Magnolias Conference.

Registration for the three-day event is $300 for members and $385 for non-members. That covers all workshops, lunch on Friday and Saturday as well as the Maggie Awards Banquet on Saturday evening.

“I’ve been to many conferences, and this one is the most fun,” said Lowder. “It’s a party atmosphere and people are just friendly and learning and looking to have fun. It’s joyous.”

What exactly is a romance novel?

According to Hillyer-Miles, GRW was at one time affiliated with the Romance Writers of America. Breaking away from that organization has allowed GRW to broaden their definition of what constitutes a romance writer.

“We’re able to expand our horizons a little bit,” said Hillyer-Miles. “Sometimes people who write novels with a romantic subplot might not be acceptable for RWA but is accepted for GRW.”

Most romance novels result in the main characters of the novel resolving a conflict for an optimistic conclusion. “A romance gives a promise that there’s going to be either a happily ever after or a happy for now,” explained Hillyer-Miles.

According to a MasterClass article explaining the genre, “Romance novels can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece, with five surviving stories centered on romantic love from this time. Samuel Richardson’s 1740 novel “Pamela” is also a precursor for the modern romance novel. In the nineteenth century, romance novels rose to prominence with the popular works of Jane Austen, whose novel “Pride and Prejudice” greatly influenced the genre.”

While a happy ending is required to be considered romance, the genre is inclusive of sub-genres that range from historical romance and suspenseful romance to the paranormal, science fiction and fantasy. The genre is also diverse with some novels focused on the challenges of young adults, multi-cultural relationships or LBGTQ connections. Erotic romance delves into more explicit sexual interaction and may bring to mind the worldwide best seller “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Members join for the community

Joining GRW costs $25 annually and members pay only $10 per in-person meeting or $8 to join the meeting virtually. Following their October conference, GRW’s next monthly meetings in Peachtree Corners will take place Nov. 19 with USA Today Best-Selling Author Ciara Knight and Dec. 10 with Tanya Angler, who Amazon describes as the award-winning author of “sweet contemporary romance novels revolving around themes of second chances and hope.”

For Lowder, becoming a GRW member eight years ago resulted after a friend encouraged her to attend a monthly meeting. She found the authors welcoming, uplifting and well-connected.

“Join for the warmth and support of the very talented writers in the community,” added Lowder. “The reason I volunteer is because the authors have been so supportive, warm and encouraging and it is a place that really nurtures growth.”

Learn more at garomancewriters.org.

Karen Huppertz is a freelance journalist, content writer and passionate volunteer with the International Dyslexia Association. She has worked with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the past 10 years primarily covering city and county government action. Her endlessly inquisitive nature about a wide range of topics, desire to understand the big picture and an impassioned aspiration to provide accurate facts shape her work. Originally from South Carolina, Karen has lived in Gwinnett for nearly 30 years. She is happily married and mother to two great young adults. Her professional career includes a marketing and advertising background while her volunteer career has focused on dyslexia, a learning difference making it challenging for about 10-20% of the population to learn to read. She is proud to have played a small part in Georgia’s recent legislation calling for teacher training in how to recognize and help dyslexic students. When not posting images from her nearby garden on social media or writing to meet a deadline, she can be found advocating to make literacy available to everyone.

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Arts & Literature

Artists and Creatives



Peachtree Corners is perhaps best known for its technology and scientific minds, but it’s a proven fact that science and art go hand-in-hand. So it should come as no surprise that Peachtree Corners is also bursting at the seams with creative people who produce art at all levels, across all art forms and in every medium.

From the visual arts to the performing arts, you will find painters, dancers, actors, musicians, and yes, even photographers, who are brand new to their craft — and others for whom it has been a life-long quest for creative expression.

Enjoy these photos taken by the members of the Peachtree Corners Photography Club, who are artists themselves, taking photos of other artists in Peachtree Corners!

The monthly meetings of the Club are open to everyone, from beginners to pros. For more information about the Club, go to their website at pcphotoclub.org.

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Arts & Literature

Wesleyan Artist Market Celebrates Its Silver Jubilee in 2023



Wendy King

This spring ushers in the 25th annual Wesleyan Artist Market (WAM), our favorite local fine art, jewelry and fine wares show. It’s set for Friday, April 28, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday, April 29, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners.

Enjoy scrumptious beverages and snacks while taking in the talents of 85 professional artists from all over the Southeast and 19 student artists. This two-day event is open to the public; parking and admission are free.

Engage with artists as you hunt for works that you’ll treasure for years to come. “Come to the Table,” Wesleyan’s hardcover cookbook with over 200 recipes, will be available for purchase. Proceeds help fund Wesleyan’s fine arts programs.

This year, your support will facilitate the purchase of a new truck for the marching band, the refurbishing of a Steinway piano, new chorus risers and upgraded lighting in Powell Theater.

From casual customers to avid collectors, WAM always delights. To preview participating artists, visit artistmarket.wesleyanschool.org. Cheers to 25 years, WAM!

Spotlight on three artists

Wendy King — Poppy and Jewel 

Wendy King
Wendy King

Inspirational jewelry that cuts the mustard

When Wendy King received a spherical, vintage charm containing a single mustard seed from her husband’s grandmother long ago, she had no idea it would be the catalyst for starting her own inspirational jewelry line one day, nor that it would have such a profound and far-reaching impact on others. 

In the 1950s and 60s, it was apparently customary to gift such charms, alluding to the parable of the mustard seed. Some were set in brooches, many hung on necklaces.

King found it was very effective to wear the sentimental trinket she had received as a reminder to walk in faith every day. She elected to sport the bauble on a stylish new bracelet and realized that women today would be more likely to benefit from continuing this tradition if the cherished charms of yesteryear with real mustard seeds inside were set in more contemporary, fashion-forward jewelry pieces. 

“A lot of the religious jewelry has a similar look. I wanted to elevate it, put a different spin on it,” King said.

She thought she could breathe new life into these vintage charms by using them to create contemporary jewelry pieces. “I went to antique stores, but it was like finding a needle in a haystack, especially to find them in good shape. That’s when I realized I’d have to make the charms myself too,” she added. 

Today, her Poppy and Jewel pieces are made with natural gemstone beads like white lace agate, amazonite, aquamarine, pearl, tiger’s eye, labradorite, hematite and river stone and her perfected bezels with metal finishes in silver, polished gold or antique brass. Each one contains a solitary, immortalized, goldish-brown mustard seed suspended in the center of a clear resin-filled charm. 

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King

It’s a powerful visual, to see how physically tiny a mustard seed really is. King painstakingly creates lovely earrings, necklaces and bracelets — vessels that spark the might of faith when worn.

Her jewelry line speaks with the promise that if you believe it, everything will work out for the best. Each distinctive piece comes with a card explaining the parable that inspired it. 

Faith can move mountains — pass it on 

Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” 

It’s a message that transcends all faiths and provides comfort whether you’re religious or not. We all go through low points when digging deep to find the strength to triumph is vital. 

Even the smallest amount of faith in an all-powerful God, or an ever-just universe, results in great things. Sometimes life’s tests may seem insurmountable: divorce, job loss, infertility, illness.

That’s when you must believe in your heart, without a doubt, that God or the universe is bigger than those mountains. It’s hard to do in our we-have-to-see-it-now-to-believe-it society. Enter Poppy and Jewel. Cue “You Gotta Have Faith” (George Michael, 1987)

King has enjoyed witnessing the organic growth of the one-woman enterprise she started in 2016 named after her maternal grandparents who planted the seeds of faith in her. The ripple effect of customers sharing her pieces is special.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me they hear stories that grip their hearts and give their bracelets away to comfort someone in need. Then I get an email, “Well, I gave another one off my wrist. I need to restock.” That’s what it’s for. You hear somebody going through a rough patch and you pass it on,” King smiled.

The evolution of an artisan

A bachelor’s degree in government administration didn’t exactly allow King a creative outlet. Nor did her 12-year stint as a fitness instructor at Country Club of the South. She founded Poppy and Jewel when her kids were still in school, and she was able to ramp production up or down as needed. “Now that they’re grown, I can devote so much more to it,” King said. 

Producing her pretty, handcrafted pieces took plenty of trial and error. “The first time I worked with the resin, I poured it, set the seed in and wondered why it was gooey. It took years of making charms that I can’t use. Those little boogers float around,” she laughed. 

Lately, King has been working with a company to replicate the vintage charm that started it all for her. They are three samples into tweaking a spherical bauble with a metal band around it that should be available in a few months.

Behind the scenes

Removing air bubbles in the resin, stringing smaller beads one by one with a needle and thread, perfectly positioning the seeds — it’s tedious work. 

If the resin mixture isn’t spot on and perfectly timed, it doesn’t cure correctly. It’s all part of learning what works. “I’m very methodical now. I follow the same steps every time. I don’t want any mishaps,” King explained.

This jewelry line is a true labor of love for King who has since fine-tuned her two-step resin pouring process. Still, every phase of a successful batch of charms has to be completed within a certain window. She purchases the bezels (the empty metal part), mixes the resin with hardener, pours it and positions the itty-bitty mustard seed in the center while wearing glasses and a magnifying glass.

King patiently allows it to cure, but she must also check on them at exactly the right time to be able to redirect any seeds that may have drifted. Once that stage has cured properly, a second round of resin is poured.

King prefers to work on small batches of about 100 charms at a time. “When inspiration hits, I’ll go to my studio down the hall and work while those juices are flowing and I’m in that creative mindset, whether it’s crack of dawn:30 or late at night,” she said. 

Shop Poppy and Jewel

Shop King’s handcrafted jewelry in person at WAM, The Red Hound in Norcross and Alpharetta, Under the Palm Tree in Dunwoody, and Josephine’s Antiques in Roswell. Electronically, visit her website, poppyandjewel.com, or Instagram account, @poppy_and_jewel. 

Customizations include requests for particular colors, smaller or larger sizes. Some people bring their own beads or a broken necklace to be used. If you find a vintage charm after rifling through your family’s jewelry boxes, you can have it added to Poppy and Jewel bijouterie. 

“If it brings a sense of joy or hope to somebody, if I touch one person’s life, then I’ll keep doing what I’m doing,” King declared.  

Shane Miller — Artist

Shane Miller
Shane Miller

Stumble into art

Maryland native Shane Miller did just that, and he’s been swimming since 2016. Miller transferred to Nashville in 2013. He always knew he’d do something creative full time, but he didn’t realize it would be painting until a chance encounter at an art crawl with Paul Polycarpou, then CEO of Nashville Arts Magazine, changed his instrument from guitar to paintbrush.

Miller had already hung up his physical therapist hat after six years in the field to pursue music. His father introduced him to guitar early. He took lessons at age 10 and was giving them by 15.

Strumming for a living wasn’t much of a stretch. For most, it would be a giant stretch. For musical Miller, easy peasy. 

Touring on weekends with an independent artist, his year in the life of a professional musician allowed more time for painting. Eventually, the music volume decreased as the painting volume amplified.

A natural knack

“I had a watercolor tutor in high school. Before that, I’d draw on the back of my worksheets in elementary school. I have a natural knack for it,” Miller stated. 

Miller clearly paid attention in watercolor class where he learned the fundamentals of color theory and composition. Through college and thereafter, he painted in his spare time.

After trying different styles, he settled on creating what most resonated with him: abstract, atmospheric landscapes influenced by tonalism like those one might recall from a reverie or a distant memory, using oils on canvas.

Miller took Polycarpou up on his open-door policy for local artists. The executive was open to critiquing artists’ work and had offered to introduce Miller to a gallery in town when he believed him to be ready.

True to his word, Polycarpou provided direction and in a short time, Miller signed with the Rymer Gallery. Others ensued.

Needless to say, the painter isn’t missing his regimented physical therapy days. He considers his flexible schedule a dream. “I’m happy with my career. It was an interesting road getting here,” he said. 

The sway of social media

Curating a cohesive Instagram story and posting regularly paid off for the promising artist. The platform revealed a market for his work. Miller was both astonished and assured by people’s readiness to buy paintings online.

“I’ve shipped work all over the world: the UK, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Germany — all through the power of the internet,” Miller said.

Studio space

Miller works out of his Germantown studio with soaring ceilings, a massive north-facing window and skylight in an old flour mill that’s been converted into a business collective north of downtown Nashville.

A believer in being disciplined, he reports to his atelier daily, inspired or not, “You have to be consistent with showing up. Diving in allows creativity to start flowing.”

The painter’s process

Miller finds inspiration in his travels. He doesn’t work from reference photos; he finds them restrictive. Surprisingly, he doesn’t aim to depict any particular panorama. He paints from his imagination.

More interested in expressing himself and capturing feelings, he seeks to take viewers on a spiritual voyage. “Painting is a subconscious process for me, like meditation,” he explained.

Miller paints bodies of water because, besides being visually interesting, they create lines leading the eye into the composition. It evokes turning a chapter, especially flowing rivers.

His monochromatic, non-specific landscapes act as a bridge to tap into emotions. He’s pleased when people feel like they’ve been to “that place” in any of his paintings. 

A prolific painter, his preference is to juggle about six pieces at once. “I paint skies on different days than the foreground, working in batches. I’ll mix a certain color and carry it throughout multiple paintings so I’m not wasting paint. It’s a nice way to streamline things and jump around through different pieces,” Miller said.

Stepping away frequently when working on multiples allows him to avoid tunnel vision, “I can always reassess the direction.” 

Most paintings are varnished once he’s done. He likes the subtle finish of satin varnish mixed with cold wax for a less reflective sheen.

Mystery blooms

“Recently I’ve been painting abstract florals. There aren’t many rules when painting florals,” Miller stated. One gets the impression he wouldn’t follow any if there were. He enjoys using brighter colors than he would in his landscapes.

Shane Miller
Shane Miller

“I don’t know one flower from the next. I just paint whatever shape looks great and my wife will say, “That looks like a lily.” For Miller, it’s about creating a composition that feels right.

A left-brained creative?

Miller has a penchant for numbers and organization. “I have systems to keep track of everything,” he said. His paintings have an identifier that correlates to a spreadsheet and an internal tracking system. He can trace any piece, whether it’s at the studio, at a gallery or sold.

Miller dove into the accounting cycle and relishes keeping up with his books. Documenting his endeavors makes him feel accomplished. 

A logbook holds records of the colors and dates of every layer of every painting — all steps taken to achieve the end result. These come in handy when clients request something similar to one of his older works.

“Painting is a very subtle thing, especially working in layers. It could be hard to recall every step,” Miller explained.


At shows like WAM, you might not find exactly what you’re looking for, but if you like his style, Miller can create a unique piece for you. One can request a painting reminiscent of a location — the Carolinas, a marsh, the coast or mountains — and any desired elements for the piece. 

Miller then gets to work. A 20% deposit gets the ball rolling. Within a month, one can expect to see photos and videos of a piece for final approval.

Shop Shane Miller Art

Meet Miller and see his work at WAM. So that buyers can purchase with confidence, he is responsive to inquiries from his website, shaneartistry.com or through Instagram @shane.artistry. 

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” — Pablo Picasso

Miller espouses Picasso’s sentiment. He feels painting or any creative outlet is an escape from the mundane and rejuvenates the spirit.

Jennifer Keim – JKEIM Fine Art and Lifestyle Design

Jennifer Keim
Jennifer Keim

Becoming JKEIM

Atlanta artist Jennifer Keim switches between oils, pastels and mixed media to best capture her subjects’ personalities. She’s been fostering her artistic talent since fourth grade at the behest of the late Jill Chancey Philips, a summer camp instructor at the Columbus Museum who noticed she had something special. 

Keim studied under Philips until earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drawing and painting at Auburn University. Philips owned the gallery and studio where Keim spent her young adult summers learning the business side of being a professional artist.

She credits her mentor for emphasizing grit and form. “It’s so important understanding technique before you can evolve your style. You have to understand dimensions, perspectives and shading to bring a subject onto the page,” she said.

Keim worked in advertising for practical reasons until a successful solo art show convinced her she could do art full-time. She felt “suffocated” behind the computer, so in 2007 she left graphic design for a career as a painter.

Art therapy 

An unfinished space in her home is Keim’s special place. Nails dot the walls where pieces have come and gone. Paint and resin splashes adorn the studio floor. Her beautiful work surrounds her on all sides.

Seeing how color and shadowing can bring the beauty of a subject up off the page has always intrigued Keim for whom painting is a creative outlet. “It feels good. If I’m a little cranky, my husband says, ‘You might need to go to the studio for a bit.’”

Off to the Races 

The jockeys and detailed horses of the pastel-on-wood Off to the Races series feature clean lines and vibrant colors. Keim captures the energy of the horse races. “My favorite part is doing the kickup,” she said.

Fun fact: Mud can splatter up to 20 feet behind a galloping horse. 

Starting with a pencil drawing is key as the nonporous wood allows for only one or two strokes of pastel. After 20 years of working with high gloss resin, Keim is still surprised by the chemical reaction that occurs when it’s poured over pastels on raw wood. It enriches the woodgrain, melts the pastels heightening the colors and creates an almost 3D effect.

The family is warned before a resin session begins with “Do not enter; mommy is pouring.” Then it’s literally off to the races. It takes two to three minutes to precisely mix the concoction of resin and hardener and another 15 minutes to pour the epoxy before it gets too sticky. 

Keim releases air bubbles with a torch and walks away for three days, hoping no bugs land on the curing resin. The finished pieces, with their glossy sheen and beveled edges, do not require a frame.

Generation Wild collection

An African safari in 2009 left Keim forever enchanted by the way of the wild — how the animals communicate, the smells, the circle of life. “It makes your heart beat in a different way. I still get chill bumps from it,” she said.

Capturing animals is all in the eyes in Keim’s view. “Start with the eyes. If you don’t get them right, you might as well start over,” she explains. “I have to feel like they’re blinking at me before I can move on.”

Fly Guys

“My Fly Guys collection started from my husband’s grandfather’s fly box in the studio. I was up late one night and started tinkering around with it. Creative moments,” Keim said. 


Whose Booze? It’s what Keim likes to call her set of four hand painted linen cocktail napkins with a hemstitch, each in a different color for easy glassware identification. They’ll be available at WAM for the first time this year.

Keim also makes tea towels, scarves that double as cover-ups and more. The painted fabrics are durable and washable.


Find Keim’s artwork and textiles at WAM, Marguerite’s in Brookhaven, B.D. Jeffries in Atlanta or visit her website, jkeim.com.

A day in the life

“I jump around like a ping-pong ball, which keeps me in the groove” is how Keim describes her workday. There are textiles drying on tables and on the floor, scarves on mannequins. It’s a carefully timed game of drying stations in anticipation of the next color. Snuck in between is a layer being added to an animal piece. 

She prefers coastal and mountain pieces in oils with visible palette knife blade marks. “I like to work with oil on linen or canvas with a venetian red backing. I was trained to emulate the masters,” she said.

Keim keeps a supply of canvases painted with a venetian red basecoat in all sizes at the ready, in case there’s something she wishes to paint immediately.


Keim completes commissions of all sorts. Even her textiles can be personalized. Pinpointing what the client is interested in comes first. Next, learning what the space is like.

She’s been known to bring an assortment of works to homes to see what size works best with the ceiling height and the environment. A 50% deposit gets a commission underway. 

The best part

Keim wants her work to incite nostalgia, cheer and joy. For her, the best part about being an artist is having people connect to a piece she was inspired to create.

“You’re getting a little piece of me in every one of my original works,” she said. “When all those happy moments combine, that really is magical for me.”

See you at WAM’s 25th!

I’m positive you’ll enjoy meeting these gifted artists at WAM. The show is the springtime indulgence we’ve all come to expect. Exhibitors are looking forward to meeting you and sharing their zeal for art with you.

Thanks for one exquisitely imaginative quarter of a century, WAM!

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Arts & Literature

Wesleyan Artist Market, Student Artists 2023 [Podcast]



On this episode of Peachtree Corners Life we take a deep dive into the world of young artists at Wesleyan School, featuring three talented individuals: Freddie Reinhard, and Anastasia and Juliana Lamas. From digital art to painted oyster shells, these artisans have created unique, inspiring pieces that showcase their creativity and passions. We explore their inspirations, hobbies, and future aspirations, as well as their involvement in academics and extracurricular activities. With the Wesleyan Artist Market approaching (on April 28,29, 2023), this podcast is the perfect sneak peek into the exciting works these artists will be presenting. Don’t miss this chance to discover the next generation of artistic talent.


Wesleyan Artist Market Website


freddie reinhard

Timestamp (Where to find it in the podcast):

[0:00:00] – Intro
[0:01:48] – About Anastasia and Juliana
[0:02:58] – About Freddie
[0:05:40] – Other Interests
[0:06:19] – The Creative Process
[0:10:50] – Presenting at The Artist Market
[0:12:34] – Inspiration
[0:14:35] – Difficulties of Mediums
[0:19:32] – Art Courses and Extracurricular Activities
[0:23:50] – Closing

Podcast transcript:

[0:00:00] Rico Figliolini: Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life. And I have some special guests today. We are a sponsor of the Wesleyan Artist Market, and the guests I have here are student artists that are going to be presenting at the show this April. So let me introduce Freddie first. Hey, Freddie, thanks for joining us.

[0:00:18] Freddie Reinhard: Hi, how are you?

[0:00:19] Rico Figliolini: Good. Anastasia and Juliana, left and right, respective. Thanks for joining us.

[0:00:26] Anastasia Lamas: Thank you.

[0:00:27] Rico Figliolini: Appreciate it. So before we get right into it, I just want to say thank you to our corporate sponsor, EV Remodeling. I say corporate, but they’re a neighbor of ours, right? They live in Peachtree Corners. Eli is the owner of the place, and EV Remodeling does design to build and renovation work, and they’ve been around for a while, and they do great work. So check them out at EVRemodelingInc.com. They’re our sponsor and a great supporter of ours, so we appreciate them. So let’s hop right into it. You girls are exhibiting at Wesleyan Artist Market this April. I wish I had the dates in front of me, but do you remember the dates, Freddie?

[0:01:07] Freddie Reinhard: Yes, April 28 and April 29.

[0:01:10] Rico Figliolini: Great. Thank you. Just testing you on that one. Right? So we’re featuring it in the upcoming issue of Peachtree Corners Magazine as well. So we have three adult artists that we profiled in the magazine. So check that out. That’s coming out. Hitting the post office, I think Thursday. Mailboxes this weekend, hopefully. So check that out. But let’s get right into it. Juliana and Anastasia do artwork on oyster shells and a little different medium, right? They’re in 8th grade and 7th grade, and they’re working together on this project. So why don’t you two tell me a little bit about what it is that you do.

[0:01:48] Anastasia Lamas: So we take oyster shells from where we vacation at Hilton Head Island, and we paint them with a lot of different designs to be used as trinket dishes and decorations and gifts.

[0:02:04] Rico Figliolini: We’re going to flash one on. So when you paint these, I’m assuming you paint the background white, and then you use colors. What mediums, what actually are you using to do this?

[0:02:15] Anastasia Lamas: So first we bleach them to get any sort of, like, black spots off, and then we use acrylic paint. We do a few coats of that.

[0:02:25] Rico Figliolini: So what got you into that?

[0:02:28] Anastasia Lamas: We really loved the style, and I actually used them as nutcracker gifts for my dance friends as well, originally. And we thought that they would sell really well at the Artist Market.

[0:02:38] Rico Figliolini: Cool. Here’s another one that let’s pop that one in there too. So how many varieties do you have actually, that you’re using?

[0:02:46] Anastasia Lamas: Probably at the moment, probably seven. Like, seven-ish.

[0:02:49] Rico Figliolini: Cool. Freddie, you’re doing different stuff, so tell us a little bit about some of your work.

[0:02:58] Freddie Reinhard: So I have a button right here, like college buttons. And this one happens to be for Wesleyan. So they’re for, like, game days, and whenever you just want to support your team. They’re very popular at big SEC schools, especially. And then I’m also doing dorm room prints, so you can put, obviously, your dorm room, bathroom, wherever you want to show your team spirit. And I’m also making sweatshirts that have, like, a teddy bear design on them, wearing jerseys for Ole Miss Alabama.

[0:03:29] Rico Figliolini: So what medium? I know you said I believe you said before we started rolling on this that you use digital. So it’s digitally done? So what programs are you actually working in?

[0:03:39] Freddie Reinhard: I use Fresco. It’s, like, from Adobe, and it just is great. Definitely my go to. It’s pretty simple. I have, like, a button machine, and you just print out your pictures, and a pretty easy job to get done.

[0:03:55] Rico Figliolini: So some of the stuff, like, for example, Auburn, this would be on a button I’m assuming .

[0:03:59] Freddie Reinhard: Yes, that would be on a button.

[0:04:01] Rico Figliolini: Excellent. So leave that up for a minute. Freddie, have you done the Wesleyan Artist Market before, or is this the first time, or how long have you been doing it?

[0:04:16] Freddie Reinhard: No, this is my first time doing it.

[0:04:18] Rico Figliolini: Really?

[0:04:18] Freddie Reinhard: I thought it would just be a fun way for people to wear my art. I thought it would just be cool to see people wearing it. And I’m going to college next year, so I’m like, what better time to make college pins? I can even make some for my friends next year. And I just thought it was something unique that I knew would probably sell well.

[0:04:35] Rico Figliolini: Cool. Now, you’ve been, I understand correctly, you’re an AP art student at Wesleyan School?

[0:04:41] Freddie Reinhard: Yes.

[0:04:42] Rico Figliolini: And you’ve done about three and a half years of art in high school, I’m assuming. That’s a lot of years of art for a high school kid.

[0:04:48] Freddie Reinhard: It is.

[0:04:49] Rico Figliolini: Is this something that you want? Where do you want to take this when you go to college?

[0:04:54] Freddie Reinhard: Well, I’m hoping to do something in fashion, and so all this art is definitely helping me just kind of know my style in general, and I just love art. In the first place, I would like to do fashion, and I’m sure that if these buttons sell well, I’ll probably sell them in college. Yeah. It’s just something I’ve always loved.

[0:05:16] Rico Figliolini: Do you want to do a career out of this? What do you think your major would be in college?

[0:05:22] Freddie Reinhard: Well, currently I’m majoring in Southern Studies, which is, like, I can study the art of the south. So I really would like to tie in my Southern culture with my fashion. Hopefully, I could go into something fashion related would be my dream. All of this definitely helps out.

[0:05:40] Rico Figliolini: Absolutely. All right, let’s go to Anastasia and Juliana. I mean, middle school, 7th, 8th grade. Is that middle school? Yeah, that’s middle school. You’re way before college, right? Why don’t you share some of the interests that you two have? I mean, is art part of that, or do you have other interests besides that?

[0:06:00] Anastasia Lamas: I’m a dancer. I really do enjoy making art outside of dance and school. And Juliana?

[0:06:08 ] Juliana Lamas: I’m a gymnast, and so I really like that, and I really like just being creative and thinking of new ways to make something.

[0:06:19] Rico Figliolini: So when you’re doing the oysters and that artwork, are you both working on it at the same time? Do you collaborate? Does one of you say, no, I don’t think I like that, or how does that go? And do you sketch it out before you actually put it on the oyster?

[0:06:35] Anastasia Lamas: Yes, we have designs that we know we’re going to do on the shells, and we’ll put on the shell and do them together.

[0:06:44] Rico Figliolini: Cool. I guess there’s always someone a little bit more creative than the other right in a pair. Does anyone want to raise their hand? Which one’s more creative?

[0:06:55] Anastasia Lamas: I think we’re both creative in our own ways, like, different parts.

[0:07:01] Rico Figliolini: And where do you get your inspiration for what you do? Like, the artwork that you put on the shells, how do you come up with that?

[0:07:08] Juliana Lamas: For some of them, so we play the piano. So for one of them that we made, we put piano notes on it. I actually have it with me. And then Anastasia really likes flowers, so we made some with flowers on them, and then we wanted to incorporate something from Wesleyan into them. So it says Joy on it. It’s the joy motto. And then we have the ones that have the crosses on them.

[0:07:32] Rico Figliolini: Okay. Got a bunch of them up there now. Okay, so let’s go back to Freddie a little bit. So, Freddie, where do you find your creative process, your creative space, physical space or mind?

[0:07:53] Freddie Reinhard: Yeah, honestly, I do a lot of my drawings during class, which isn’t a good thing. I call it the doodlebug. My friends know it as that, and it’s just like, I’m in class, I can’t think of anything but just, like, drawing something on paper or my laptop. So, sadly, to my teachers, it’s definitely in class. And then also, I’ll draw when I get home from school, or if I just have some downtime, I’ll do some drawings then, and I get a lot of my inspiration from Pinterest. I see all these cute dorm room stuff, and I’m like, I could do that, but I want my Freddie spin on it. So I’ll do bows often. A lot of people know me for my bows because I just have bows in all my artwork. I just have practiced my handwriting for probably, like, four years now.

[0:08:47] Rico Figliolini: All right, well, the Pinterest, I’m surprised, actually. My daughter uses it. She’s 24. So is that something that you use a lot of? Do you create boards and put up your stuff that way too?

[0:09:07] Freddie Reinhard: Normally I’ll just go on there. If I need a pattern for this cherry background, maybe I saw something with cherries, and then I was like, that’s pretty cute. Or if I just see fun colors that I could incorporate in my art, I’ll do that. Or if I just need inspiration for something, I’ll definitely go there, because obviously it’s Pinterest. They have everything under the sun.

[0:09:30] Rico Figliolini: Okay. All right. Juliana, how about as far as inspiration? I think you said your family goes to Hilton Head, or is that correct? So when did that start? And I guess do you beach comb? Do you go searching for the shells on the beach, I’m assuming?

[0:09:51] Anastasia Lamas: Well, our grandparents owned some condos up at Hilton Head, and they’ve been going there since before we were born, definitely since my dad was a kid.

[0:10:00] Rico Figliolini: Okay.

[0:10:01] Anastasia Lamas: And so we kind of got the inspiration for the shells there, and we ordered them from a lady who cleaned them for us, actually, at Hilton Head. And we also sometimes when we go to restaurants there, we’ll ask the cook if they can give us some of their old oyster shells.

[0:10:21] Rico Figliolini: That’s ingenious. That’s a good way of recycling. That’s good. I would never have thought of that. My creative process runs a little different, but that’s cool that you did that. Okay, so now that you have your process and stuff, do you know where you’re going to be doing it at Wesleyan? Where you’re going to be presenting your products and stuff? Whoever wants to go first.

[0:10:46] Freddie Reinhard: Where I’m presenting them, do you mean, like, in Yancy?

[0:10:50] Rico Figliolini: Yeah, at the show. Well, at the show. Well, I guess people can find you when they go to the show. But will you have a variety of things at the show, I’m assuming?

[0:11:00] Freddie Reinhard: Yeah, I’m going to have my stand is going to be very obvious, I think. My mom’s trying to plan, like, a huge pink bow above my stand. So if you need to look for it, just look for the pink bow. And I’m going to have about 400 buttons there, 100 prints, 100 sweatshirts, I think, so there’s definitely going to be a variety. And I’m also taking commissions for the, I obviously can’t do every college I wish I could, but commissions for smaller colleges like Sanford and wherever else, I’m going to do commissions. So whoever’s going there, they can get buttons or prints or whatever they want.

[0:11:36] Rico Figliolini: Cool. So they can order from you, and then you’ll ship it. You can ship it later.

[0:11:40] Freddie Reinhard: Yes.

[0:11:41] Rico Figliolini: And Juliana and Anastasia, obviously, you’re going to have tons of product too, I’m imagining.

[0:11:47] Anastasia Lamas: We’re trying to do maybe ten to 20 of each design, but we’re definitely going to have made more by the time of the artist market. So far, it should start. I don’t know about you, but I want to keep selling them after the artist market when she goes to high school. Keep doing them.

[0:12:09] Rico Figliolini: Do you have an Instagram account? Do you have a place where you show off your artwork online?

[0:12:16] Anastasia Lamas: Not really. We all have just our personal Instagram account.

[0:12:20] Rico Figliolini: Got you. Freddie, the same for you, I’m assuming.

[0:12:23] Freddie Reinhard: I’ve decided that if these sell well, I’m going to make an Instagram account. So however well this art market goes, will decide if I post these on an Instagram account or not.

[0:12:34] Rico Figliolini: Got you. Okay, so a little bit about you all personally? A little bit, I guess. Let’s start with Freddie. Do you have a favorite artist or filmmaker or author that you’d like to share?

[0:12:51] Freddie Reinhard: Well, I have, like, fashion icon who I’m just obsessed with, and she really inspires me. Just so creative and so cool. Her name is Rebecca Cohen, and she’s the owner of this brand that I love called Love Check Fancy. I’m sure they probably know what that is. And she’s so girly and feminine, and I just admire it so much about her. And she just made this huge brand that everybody my age and around my age loves, and I just want to be her when I’m older, and I just love her distinct style.

[0:13:28] Rico Figliolini: And that’s called love. What is that called? Love Shack.

[0:13:30] Freddie Reinhard: LoveShackFancy.

[0:13:34] Rico Figliolini: Cool.

[0:13:34] Freddie Reinhard: She’s the queen of the world in my eyes.

[0:13:37] Rico Figliolini: Really? Okay. I haven’t heard of that one yet. My daughter tries to keep me abreast of things, but that one I haven’t heard. What about you two? Julianna, Anastasia. Do you have any artists or brands or styles that you follow that you like?

[0:13:54] Anastasia Lamas: Nothing in particular. I’m a giant bookworm, so I read, like, a lot. And a variety of genres.

[0:14:02] Rico Figliolini: What’s your favorite genre? Top two genres, I guess.

[0:14:08] Anastasia Lamas: Probably right now, fantasy and romance.

[0:14:10] Rico Figliolini: Okay. And your sister Juliana?

[0:14:14] Juliana Lamas: For me, probably someone I really love and look up to is Selena Gomez, because I’ve been seeing it on Instagram recently. I think she’s really inspirational and stuff.

[0:14:26] Rico Figliolini: She was the actress in Wednesday, right? On Netflix? Or am I thinking of someone else?

[0:14:33] Anastasia Lamas: Yeah, Jenny Ortega.

[0:14:35] Rico Figliolini: Yeah, that was Ortega. Sorry. All right, cool. So what do you want to share that we haven’t talked about yet, related to the artwork and stuff that you do, process or anything like that? What’s the most difficult thing? What’s the thing that you’ve done that you thought was great and all of a sudden you’re like, yeah, let’s try something else, and you start from scratch again. Let’s start with Freddie. She looks like she already knows something.

[0:15:05] Freddie Reinhard: Well, I think you’re probably asking something a little different, but through this button process, I thought it was going to be so easy. I thought I would just be, like, clamp and it would be done. My palms were sore after I was doing it. It’s actually hard work. And my mom kept trying to show me how to do it. We failed at, like, ten buttons in a row. So that’s definitely a lot harder than I expected. This whole artist market, I’m excited for it, but it’s definitely a lot of work.

[0:15:33] Rico Figliolini: But I know, yeah, the button machines are definitely I’ve done that before for political things, it’s not easy. What about you girls? Have you had stuff during your process that you found difficult or had to start all over again on?

[0:15:55] Anastasia Lamas: I think it’s just a lot of time to paint the shells with so many layers and just letting it all dry takes hours. Just keeping on going and going and going. And we’re trying to make all of them perfect. So that just takes a little bit of extra time. And then also, since we’re kind of working together on this, we both have our own different styles, so we kind of intervene and we both like, oh, but I think it looks better like this, better like that, or whatever.

[0:16:32] Rico Figliolini: Did you ever decide to okay, this shell is mine. I’m going to put my initials on it because do you do individual shells like that? This one’s my creative thing.

[0:16:43] Anastasia Lamas: Not really. I really enjoy doing the cross oyster shells, though, so I usually stick to those.

[0:16:46] And I really like doing the notes, the music notes and the joy one. So we each have our shells that we work on.

[0:16:59] Rico Figliolini: Okay. All right, Freddie, when you’re doing the work that you’re doing, I know you’re using digital, so is that easier to do that? I mean, when you’re creating patterns and all that? I imagine some of the process is easier, but also that gives you a little bit more creative space, maybe.

[0:17:15] Freddie Reinhard: Well, I prefer doing lettering on paper. I still enjoy it because it’s easier to just erase things and clear. But if I could, I would definitely prefer paper for just doing my lettering. But for the pattern and such. Like the cherries, I just have to draw one and then just duplicate a bunch. So it’s way easier than if I had to do every single cherry. And then for these prints, it’s so much easier when I can just kind of just fill this hat in with one click instead of, of course, drawing in the whole thing. So in some ways it’s easier. Other ways I feel, if it was all handmade, if it was all made on paper, I think it would have more of like I don’t know, I feel like it has your hand more in it. As my art teacher would say, you could tell it’s from me because you could tell it’s drawn on paper. So that aspect I kind of miss, but definitely easier for math, product, to do digital.

[0:18:16] Rico Figliolini: Have you ever thought about I know 3D printing is like, the big thing now, and I’ve seen artists use 3D printing, actually. Have you thought about that?

[0:18:25] Freddie Reinhard: No, I haven’t. I know we have a few at Wesleyan, but I didn’t even get into consideration. That is a really good idea, that would be really cool. Maybe I will start trying to figure that out.

[0:18:36] Rico Figliolini: It doesn’t take much on some of that. Some of that is just fed these templates. But you can feed your creativeness into that template. You can customize some of these templates. So that’s just another avenue of art. Same thing. I guess for that you could 3D print shells, but then what’s the point, right? I guess those shells might have been out in the ocean for like, 100 years before they got to you or whatever. However long. So there’s some history to that, maybe even that’s unknown to anyone. Have you ever thought about doing your work, girls, on other materials besides shells?

[0:19:20] Anastasia Lamas: We haven’t really. We’ve mostly just stuck with the oyster shells.

[0:19:26] Rico Figliolini: Okay.

[0:19:27] Anastasia Lamas: Yeah, it would be interesting to see how it would work on other mediums.

[0:19:32] Rico Figliolini: Yeah, probably. Well, I’m assuming you’re taking art courses or you’ve taken art courses at Wesleyan?

[0:19:41] Anastasia Lamas: We were both in digital art last semester, and we both really enjoyed that.

[0:19:45] Juliana Lamas: I took it in fifth grade and 6th grade. Just normal art. And then I did digital art, and now I’m in technology class.

[0:19:57] Rico Figliolini: Cool. And are you liking it? Is it everything you thought it would be? What about Freddie? Freddie, what about you? I mean, you’ve been in three and a half years of AP Art course. Because of that, you probably have done different mediums, different subjects and stuff. How’d that go? And did that help with what you’re doing now? Any of that?

[0:20:18] Freddie Reinhard: Yeah, I’m going to have to think back to freshman year. I think it was 3D art, and I got stopped midway because of COVID. But I like that, it’s not my thing. I enjoyed it because it’s fun to do, but I don’t know, I just prefer doing things too deep. And then I’ve been on digital art as well, which I love. That was like so much fun. And so from then I was like, yeah, I think this is my thing. So I started getting into that. And I do some digital art on my AP Art stuff now. I don’t know, I’ll doodle on some of my pictures and I do a lot of mixed media, so that also helped with my creativeness, I guess. Too much to count.

[0:21:04] Rico Figliolini: And doodling in the classrooms. That helps, too, a little bit.

[0:21:09] Freddie Reinhard: Yes, definitely does.

[0:21:11] Rico Figliolini: Let’s make sure the teachers don’t hear that. I’ve covered quite a bit with you three. If you want to share anything else with the audience that will be listening to this, want to start that with Freddie and we’ll go the other way.

[0:21:29] Freddie Reinhard: I don’t have too much more to share, but I’d say to you two girls that you should definitely take AP Art because it is just such a great way to really learn your style and just do so much stuff you’ve always wanted to do. And it just helps with who you want to be as an artist, definitely.

[0:21:47] Rico Figliolini: Have you done any, the girls do dance and gymnastics. Have you done anything along those lines? I mean, that’s one creative aspect. Right. Have you done anything similar?

[0:21:57] Freddie Reinhard: Well, this year I actually did the musical for the first time. I’ve never done musical theater, but it was just me and my two best friends, and so that was just a great experience. Overall, we had the best time, and I’ve never been in an environment like that, and it was just so much fun. And then right now, I’m doing lacrosse, and in the fall, I do cross country.

[0:22:16] Rico Figliolini: Wow. Okay. Busy schedule. Sounds good. What about Juliana and Anastasia? It’s gymnastics and dance?

[0:22:28] Anastasia Lamas: Our main things are gymnastics and dance, but we do other sports too. She’s in the musical, and I do lacrosse and cheerleading and all that stuff.

[0:22:41] Rico Figliolini: It’s amazing how much activity girls have. I don’t know how, so what do you do to unwind then? I mean, you have schoolwork, you have artwork, you have sports. What is it that you do that’s not associated that way, to sort of do something different? Anything?

[0:23:03] Freddie Reinhard: For me, it’s honestly just, like I really get my energy from my friends, so I’ll definitely try to hang out with my friends in the little free time that I have, because they just bring me so much joy. And also hanging out with my parents since I’m going to college next year. I know I’ve got to savor these last few months, so I just make sure if I’m home during a school night, I’ll definitely go and just hang out with them and talk with them.

[0:23:31] Rico Figliolini: That’s cool. That’s a good daughter. Thank you. My kids do that. What about you girls? Juliana? Anastasia?

[0:23:39] Anastasia Lamas: Well, we try to do stuff as a family. Like family movie nights and stuff on weekdays and weekends when we aren’t super crammed schedule.

[0:23:50] Rico Figliolini: Yeah. Wesleyan kids, Great Atlanta Christian, The kids that I’ve interviewed and stuff always busy. Norcross high school. I don’t think any kids that I’ve interviewed have had more than a night or two free because of academics and sports and everything else. They’re there. But you know what? Your future is secured when you do that. I think you develop a different way of looking at life and become more successful that way. So glad you three were able to spend some time with me. This took a little time to get this together. Mostly my fault on the scheduling, but I appreciate you three showing up and doing this interview with us.

[0:24:32] Freddie Reinhard: Yeah, it was awesome.

[0:24:34] Rico Figliolini: Thank you. Hang in there with me for a minute. I just want to say thank you to everyone that’s been watching this. So the Wesleyan Artist Market is at the end of this month, and you just Google Wesleyan Artist Market, and you’ll be able to find the schedule and everything else from there. Follow them on Instagram there are going to be 75 artists from around the country there as well, besides the student artists. So there’s a lot of stuff, a lot of mediums. Check out the latest issue of Peachtree Corners magazine. You’ll see three of the artists of the 75 that will be there. It’s some good feature stories. And there’s a podcast interview also with Jennifer Keim, another adult artist that is going to be showing there. So thank you. And thank you to EV Remodeling for being a sponsor of ours. So thank you all. Take care.

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