Artist Interview-Donna Jeanne Koepp

My biggest breakthrough came when… Pursuing art all my life, I never have trouble jumping in to anything that interests me. From Macrame in the ‘70s, Stained Glass in the 80’s, Sculpted Dolls in the ‘90s, Needle Felting currently and always painting and drawing have kept my right brain active. My day job for 30 years as a Project Estimator for a large local general contractor certainly weighed on my left brain pretty heavy. About 20 years ago, I thought if I could just carve out an hour a day for art, I would be happy. After reading The Artist’s Way, I started getting up at 4am to do Daily Pages which is a stream of consciousness way of journaling and starting your day. After awhile I found myself just complaining on those pages. So I started journaling by painting and collaging. The journaling finally fell away, but the 4am ritual stayed. It’s amazing how much you can get done in a short amount of dedicated time. I’ve since retired from my day job and I sleep in until 5am, but I still start my day in my studio I fondly refer to as White Wolf Studio.

Another breakthrough for me was being invited to show my work a few years ago with Wedge Outside the Box and Wild Women Artists as I feel someone is watching and acknowledging.

Who are your heroes in real life?  A real life hero to me is Lorie Line, acclaimed international pianist born and raised locally. I worked with Lorie for a short while as she pursued her music degree at UNR. She left our firm and moved on to Minneapolis with her husband. She carved out a niche with her music and I believe she is one of the world’s largest independent music labels. She is proof that pursuing passions works. Put her name into Pandora for a flavor of her amazing music.


My other local real life hero is Carol Pallesen, calligrapher. I’ve taken many calligraphy classes with Carol, and her dedication to teaching beautiful writing and historical context is amazing. Her studio Silent Hand Scriptorium has sustained itself over the years because of Carol’s dedication. I’ve traveled with Carol to conferences and classes. And I’m so lucky to have her as a local resource.

One other hero is Marti Bein, artist. She is an old high school buddy who also forged a career in art and curates many shows around the region. Oh and Mary Lee Fulkerson, who said to me, “What if?” If I ask myself that consistently, I will never run out of ideas. I guess I have many real life heroes.

How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your creative pursuits

I carve out time in the morning, as I mentioned, when the house is quiet and my inner critic is not awake. I also make creativity a priority. Learning to live in an artistic way is helpful too. Many people don’t like to call themselves artists, but everyone is. From what we decide to wear everyday, to what we decide to make with our hands, all are creative pursuits.

What are your other passions?  Since retiring I searched for a volunteer activity. I learned about Knitted Knockers from a colleague and I’ve been knitting these amazing breast prosthetics ever since. It’s a great way to knit and help women at the same time. Our group has grown to about 10 knitters, crocheters and craftswomen. We’ve also added Teddy Bears, blankets and other items for charity. Fiber art is a passion and I’ve taught myself many from hand sewing, knitting to tatting.

I love to go on drawing/painting outings. Urban sketching in downtown or nature painting is all fun and keeps me in practice. Latimer Art Club holds Paint Outs every month.

I paint pet portraits in watercolor. I love animals and they always find their way into my sight and artwork.

Teaching is also something I really enjoy doing. I taught stained glass way back when, construction estimating at UNR and currently I’m teaching Needle Felting and Watercolor Journaling at Copper Cat Studio.

My husband and I RV several times a year. We golf, he fishes and I spend a great amount of time with my Scottish Terrier, JoJo.

I do have two part time positions with the American Institute of Architects Northern Nevada and a local architectural firm. Both jobs are so fun and keeps me connected.

What’s next for you?  Hard to say what’s next as I suffer from Multiple Muse Disorder, which many creative people do. I love to learn and as hard as I try to refrain from new pursuits, I’ve learned to roll with it. But showing my work, teaching and practicing my art is my focus.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I’m pleased to be showing with Wild Women Artists and our next show is just coming up.

July 19th Reception 4-8 and July 20th Show with Demonstrations 10-4 at TMCC Red Mountain Building in the Student Gallery on the ground floor

I’m also teaching my next Introduction to Needle Felting at Copper Cat Studio July 24th 11-2

Thank you so much for your interest. I really appreciate sharing my artistic journey with you.




Artist Interview-Janis Bryn McCubbins

A garden stake & sound advice from Janis Bryn McCubbins

My biggest breakthrough came whenMy biggest breakthrough came when I had been working as a production manager/bookkeeper for a graphic designer in town and he was no longer able to keep me on salary. I had just taken a class in glass fusing and really enjoyed it. So much so that my husband has recently turned a concrete pad in our backyard into a small art studio for myself and our two children. I had purchased a small kiln and was making glass as a hobby. Not but a couple of weeks after being let go, I was asked if I wanted to participate in a local art show. I still to this day have no idea who or what perpetrated that invite. I was not even thinking of selling my work at that time, but I assumed it must be the direction I needed to turn so I  gave it a whirl. It turns out that I had a very successful first event, so I decided to dive in and begin putting an effort into selling my work professionally.

Who are your heroes? My real-life heroes would be the unsung men and women getting up each day to take on tasks that no one gives any thought to. Raising children with developmental, social/emotional, or health issues. The teachers, caregivers, community service and non-profit workers that do thankless tasks. Those simply trying to make this world and the future better despite little to no funding nor recognition. We have so much that needs attention and it’s not being taken seriously. It’s those doing the day-to-day tending that I honor.

How do you balance day-to-day responsibilities with your creative pursuits?  I am beyond fortunate when it comes to being able to balance my life. My husband and I have made choices to allow for that, but I have managed to create opportunities for myself so that I have been able to work from home for the past 20+years. It’s enabled me to volunteer and be there for my kids as they grew and now I am able to turn that attention to other volunteer endeavors. I generally work in my studio in the mornings or on my online presence for my artwork and then spend the afternoon doing either my bookkeeping or transcription and audio captioning work. Having the bookkeeping/transcription work also fills my time when the art side is slow and being a freelancer in the bookkeeping and transcription allows me the opportunity to schedule art shows, custom/commission work and gallery/shop visits whenever warranted.

I love embroidery, so I have been integrating that into my glass work as I am able. I recently learned how to create pine needle baskets and love that it embodies the stitching. I’ve been beading glass cabochons or pendants that I fire and then weaving miniature baskets around them. That’s been very rewarding and checks off all of the things I enjoy creatively. I also love to knit and was fortunate to find a group of likeminded artisans who meet monthly and we knit breast prosthetics for women who have had mastectomies. My mom is a breast cancer survivor and it’s rewarding to be able to do something I enjoy and help others at the same time. I’ve made a lot of really good friends through this group and we now support other causes in addition to the Knitted Knockers Organization. I also meditate and enjoy reading, walking/hiking and spending time with my family.

Anything else you’d like to add? I am hoping to continue developing as an embroidery artist. I love designing the hats and totes and other items. I feel as though I have more control over the medium. It’s been a real joy and connects me somehow to my childhood. I’ll be featuring a mix of my glass and embroidery, along with the pine baskets at Artown’s Art in the Garden, held on Saturday, July 13th, from 9am – 4pm at 1280 Monroe Street in Reno. We have a variety of artisans who each donate 20% of their sales proceeds to The Friends of Washoe County Library. Last year we raised over $5,400.00.

I love giving back. I think it’s important to find something that fills you within to the extent that you are a better version of yourself and are then able to show-up for others.

Janis Bryn McCubbins

Creative Places-Copper Cat Studio

During Reno Open Studios last October I was fortunate to meet Katie Packham, mosaic artist and owner of Copper Cat Studio.

What inspired the start of your business?

I’ve always been creative, enjoying and excelling at many different art forms from a young age. It’s when I got to college that I was hesitant to make a career out of it. I got a degree in interior design because it was creative but also included a lot of problem solving and project management. I’m very right/left brain equal. I did that for many years and was able to nurture a mural business on the side for about 9 years before delving into mosaics. That is what ignited the passion to make me quit my day job 11 years ago.

My biggest breakthrough came when…

My biggest breakthrough to the path I’m on now is when the mosaic supply company where I taught class for years offered to sell me their business. It was mainly an online business but there was local clientele and I quickly found running it out of my home studio wasn’t going to work. My first move to a public location was in a cute boutique location in Midtown. It was immediately apparent that the space wasn’t big enough for how the business was evolving- mostly workshops, and so when my rent significantly increased after a little over a year, we moved into our current location. I guess that was a huge breakthrough too. I was really upset about the rent increase, but it ended up being the catalyst for the exponential growth we’ve experienced in the last year and a half. I couldn’t be happier with where we are right now!

How do you balance your creative pursuits with your day-to-day commitments?

I would say finding that balance in my day-to-day commitments of running a studio, workshop space, retail front and yoga studio is tough. My time for my own creativity has definitely suffered. I have created a space where others come to nurture their souls through the arts. I feel like I’m finally on the right track and am starting to get in the groove after the move a year and a half ago, so that I can find that bit of creative nurturing I need as well. I love the bustle and energy of a busy studio, but find that I really appreciate those days where it is quiet and I can just mosaic all day without interruption.

What’s next?

I’m not sure…I’ve learned to let the universe guide me. I know that sounds cheesy, but I’ve found that if I lay out some intentions and not try to be too specific with details, the right opportunities pop up at exactly the right time. I am enjoying what we are doing currently but it’s always evolving. The diverse workshops we offer are hugely popular but it’s a lot of work. I see myself simplifying in the years to come and concentrating on just mosaics, yoga and Reiki and other healing modalities.

Anything else to share with the readers?

Just that with our crazy lives, it’s important to take care of ourselves. Whether through yoga, meditation, creativity or getting out in nature…whatever nurtures YOUR soul, we have to fill our own vessel before being able to give to others.

Copper Cat Studio

300 Kresge Lane, Sparks, NV 89431


Tessera Glass

Author/Artist Interview S.L. Dearing

I met Shannon through her Etsy business, Underdweller Treasures. I needed some swag for an upcoming author event. Not only did she meet my deadline, but the treasures she crafted for Ever After were a big hit.

Describe your day job.

My day job LOL. I am an Office Assistant and receptionist at a marketing firm in Century City, CA. It is part-time, but I am blessed in that I can do marketing for my books and side business, Underdweller Treasures.


Tell me about your latest book.

My most recent release is a two part collaboration with three other authors (Magen McMinimy, Jax Walsh and Jean Michaels). It’s called The Similayer Project and it is a post-apocalyptic, contagion, survival story loaded with intrigue, romance and everything in between. It is also formatted as a normal timeline, so it’s not a collection, but rather a fully fleshed out book that we all wrote. It was a huge undertaking and I have to say I’m super proud of it!

Who are your writing role models?

My biggest influences are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, JK Rowling, Robin Jarvis, William Shakespeare, Magen McMinimy


How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your writing life?

I can’t say I’m always successful with that. I try to manage my time as best I can, but I drop the ball a lot. That is life. As long as the most important aspects of your life are intact, it’s okay. So that means, sometimes writing falls to the wayside, and I try to do it when I can.

What are your other passions outside of writing?

Besides, family and friends, I have a side business I mentioned above, Underdweller Treasures. I make jewelry and swag, and I really love that. My sister taught me when I was in my twenties. I read, love movies and music. I’m trying to learn some new languages and would like to learn to play the banjo.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Oh, wow, I guess be patient with your favorite authors. Writing can be a slow process sometimes. As a reader I know it’s frustrating to wait for the next book, but it is a long process. Other than that, find your passion, try to make it your life’s work, and if you can’t, make sure to take time out to enjoy. Oh, and remember, there is no shelf life to dreams… you can always find a new one.

Links to S.L. Dearing


Facebook Author Page:

Facebook Lia Fail Page:



Twitter page:



Amazon Author Page: Author Page: Author Page:

Rising Indies United:

Rising Indies United (FB):

Twitter page:

Underdweller Treasures page (FB):


Twitter page:

Artist Interview-Kelly Burr

I met Kelly Burr at the Copper Cat during Reno Open Studios and I was impressed by her warmth and energy.  

 What are some of the challenges you faced transitioning your artistic work into retirement?

The challenges….OH the challenges. The biggest challenge I’ve had so far, with the exception of my body cooperating with my need to work, is the feeling of “ not contributing to the household”, so finding a way to balance that, has been interesting. Because my “retirement” was forced upon me after my accident, I didn’t have that lead time one takes, before planning such a big change. But, I’ve adapted, and I’m learning to work WITH my body’s schedule, and not against it. My days are random as far as what I can do, but we are making it work.

Kelly included one of her art magnets along with her business card.

What advice would you give someone at a similar place in her journey?

The advice I would give is just to embrace your new place…like anything else in life, it’s an adjustment and you’ll need to find the right balance for YOU, but I promise, once you arrive, you’ll feel amazing, energized and ready to take on the world.

What are your other passions?

I was in the catering/event planning business for 40 years, with my last few years being an executive assistant to a fairly famous( in my neck of the woods) Chef, and I love to plan elaborate parties and cook awesome meals…I just don’t want to do the cleanup!

What’s next for you?

Hmmmmm….what’s next? I’m hoping to be able to teach more, do more private lessons. It’s so cool to watch students, of all ages, learn and create something in THEIR vision, not mine. I love sharing my art and I want others to be as joyful as I feel when I make something!

Anything that you’d like to share with our readers?

EVERYONE has creativity, in some form. I can’t draw, or paint a “picture”. I cannot crochet, knit, spin or weave. I can’t do metalwork, woodwork or blow glass…Find YOUR thing. Study it. Experiment with it. PLAY WITH IT. Let your mind wander. It’s ok. In fact, it’s essential to happiness. You know the old saying…All work and no play, make us ALL very dull people. Go out and be shiny!!!

Website info: Coming soon…

Facebook:  Mai Whey Art Studios


Reno Open Studios-2018

One of the things I enjoyed about taking my kids trick or treating was catching a brief glimpse into my neighbors’ homes. Some doors opened to elegant entryways set with tile or gleaming hardwood. Others displayed a cozy family room with a fire crackling in the fireplace. I always wondered how the story carried on after the door was closed.

Reno Open Studios  also offers visitors the opportunity to peek behind the curtain to see magic at work in studios not usually open to the public. Since 2009, the first weekend in October is a citywide open house for visual artists working in media spanning from glass to gourds. Even if you only have time to visit a couple of studios, it is well worth the effort.


When: October 5th-7th

Where: Throughout Reno, NV-Check online brochure and map for details.

Need to know more? Check out

Art Open House

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

What do Froggie Beads, Meridian Press prints and Wine-ing Cats have in common? Besides being featured on Create on the Side, they’re also part of the creations available from the talented artists featured at Reno Open Studios.

Wine-Ing Cats Reno

Wine-ing Cats by Michele DiFonzo

This year 31 visual artists, coppersmiths to photographers, open their studios to the public.

Best of all, Reno Open Studios is arranged in a true open house format.  Since the studios are located throughout Reno and Sparks, you can easily manage to visit a couple of studios between your usual weekend errands.  Or better yet, grab a friend and make a day of it.

Reno Open Studios-Dates and Hours

October 6th, 7th and 8th, 2017-Note some studios are not open on Friday. Check the website for details.

Hours 10:00am to 5:00pm each day.