Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Guest: Sally J. Smith

What a treat to have Sally J. Smith riding in the convertible with us today! I discovered her art in the pages of Faerie Magazine a year or so ago, and went immediately to her blog to view more. Now I stop by once a week just to add some whimsy and wonder to my life.

I wanted everyone to enjoy her amazing creations.  Sally would like to give away one of her brand new 2010 calendars from Promegranate to one lucky commenter today!

Please welcome Sally, everyone!

Hi Everyone,

I'd like to thank Michele for the invitation to ride with you for the day! The weather is fine, the breezes are perfect and it's time to hit the road, so let's go!

You'd have to drive a very long ways to find me and my work. And once you got close, you'd still have to get out of the car, hike a wee bit and then still you might miss them. But writers are details people so I know you'd all see them soon enough.

I make Faerie Houses and Environmental sculptures (which I call "Eartherials" ). I began this work in the spring of 06 when I hit the wall after almost 20 years of a relatively successful career as a watercolor painter and illustrator. I had never found myself to be at a loss for inspiration previous to that year, but in the fall of 05 after returning from a lifelong dream trip to New Zealand, and doing a series of paintings for a one-woman show, everything just stopped for me painting-wise. After 6 months of drought I knew I needed professional help and the Benevolent Universe provided me with a wonderful art coach who helped me discover that what I really wanted to do with the next phase of my life was to work outdoors - to literally get off the 2-dimensional world of paper and out into 3-D, full sensory immersion in Nature.

The leap was terrifying. It still is sometimes especially financially. But the work itself seems to just "happen". I can't explain it. I am one who always used to "see" things in nature; shapes, patterns, glimmers of Otherworlds... so when it comes time to make a sculpture, I let the materials "speak" to me. They always have marvelous stories to tell and directions to give me and before you know it... there is a sculpture...and I am just as astonished as anyone to see it there.

I work in all seasons here in the "north country" as this part of very upper New York state is called. Winters here can be long, grey and cold. But Oh the ice and snow do magical things... and I love working with ice.

People DO take a second and third look when I am out IN the lake in my waders and dry suit walking in 32 degree water when it is 10 degrees out and collecting icicles along the cliffs, but we all know that the harder the journey the sweeter the view .

And a fully working hot tub to come home to is as essential a component to my work as is my digital camera!

Then spring comes and my eyes are overcome with the riot of colors from all the flowers... 
and the fragrance is nectar for the Soul ! 

Everything lightens up and we seem to go in endless circles from one heady experience to the next!

Spring gradually flows into summer and all the deep green places in the forest beckon. This is the time of year when several days in a row can be devoted to certain sculptures so more elaborate creations can emerge from the Otherworlds into this one.

All too quickly the first hints of crimson appear in the hills and soon the entire landscape is ablaze with the final rush of wild, jubilant orgies of color and light

This is the time of year when I have to work at an absolutely frantic pace. The full-on autumn season lasts for only 3 weeks here so there is no time for anything but creating and shooting the photos. All else is secondary

And finally, the frosts come and the cycle re-sets itself and begins all over again...

but even in the dark days of December, there is much beauty.

I've been doing this now for 3 years and I still feel like a raw beginner. But I love it. I love the technical challenges because they exercise my left brain, and I love the inspirational challenges because they open up my right brain. For me, the biggest final hurdle is now learning how to marketing the work. I've discovered the world of self-publishing and have had my own blog up for over a year now [] and it has been really rewarding to see how the work does seem to touch many people from all walks of life and from all over the world. Last year, I had a huge opportunity to be one of the main designers at the Vermont Flower Show. Here is a short clip I made of the display area. It was a monumental amount of work but very rewarding to see the faces of the kids and the kids-at-heart as they walked throught the "Enchanted Forest". I've also been especially lucky to have been picked up by Pomegranate publications and they are producing a line of cards and calendars with my images. I am now in the final stages of preparing to find a gallery to represent my work to the world. (If you know of one in your area that you think would be perfect, please contact me, thanks! ) I find that I alone can only do so much, and at the end of the day, my "job" really needs to be at the creative end of the process rather than at the marketing end, which is why I want to eventually leave that to the professionals. I am more comfortable out in my beloved woods and gardens anyways.

For me, taking this leap was one that I really had no choice to avoid anymore... my connection to the painting had been severed by forces that would not re-open those old doors no matter how much I begged... thank goodness! Now, after 3 short years of experimentation and whole-hearted giving myself over to the journey of discovery, I have a rather substantial new body of work that I am very proud of ... and I'm just getting started! It is very hard to shift gears like this, especially when one has had a modicum of success and is somewhat "known" in other professional circles... but sometimes we just get pushed out of our nice comfortable niches and we have to learn a whole new discipline - because it is what our Soul wants to do. So if you have reached the end of your creative journey with one form, maybe it is time to let that go and try something different... you never know where it might take you!

Here is something to think about... what secret longing do you hold in your heart and wish you could try but have never let yourself dare to do? Why not give yourself permission to go for it and give it a try for just ONE day, then see where that takes you. Just one day... anyone can do that ! Make a date with yourself and then don't be late... let the longing in your heart lead the way and be open to the magic and mystery that will undoubtedly unfurl itself before you... then jump in and GO !


Musings by Mimmi said...

These are AMAZING!!
I have never seen your work...and I am so missing out. You are super talented. I am off to check out your blog and website...

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous pictures !!!
"make a date with myself"... got to think about it !!

ForestJane said...

Wow, the pix today have absolutely floored me. ;) We used to make little fairy houses in the sand, at summer camp, but nothing near as exquisite and elaborate as these.

Did anyone else have to use their mouse pointer to trace the lines on that yellow/green maze looking one? *g*

Angie Peters said...

WOW!! Sally, your art is absolutely breathtaking! I've never seen anything like it.

And your story about following your heart was so inspirational. What I've always wanted to do, but have always been too scared, is to write romance fiction. I dabble here and there, but am too scared to really commit and see whether I really can craft a novel.
Your post - and your art - has inspired me to give it a real go.

Laurie G said...

I'm totally in awe of your talented eye and corresponding talent in capturing the moment!! These photographs are simply amazing!. I love the ice castle!! The ice sun! BEAUTIFUL!
Very inspirational message ..I hope we can all take it to heart!
I'm going to your website...
THANKS for sharing!!

MAGolla said...

I always wanted to live in a fairy house and you have so many to chose from!
I'm so glad you found your 'true' calling.

Keri Ford said...

This is amazing. So very cool. I don't know what to call them, but they're beautiful!

Michele Hauf said...

Hee. I knew people would love Sally's work! Doesn't it make you want to go out and put together a faery house? Or maybe make like that cat and just sit and admire the beauty around us. Sigh...

Welcome to the convertible, Sally! Hope you have a fun ride today!

amy kennedy said...

Oh Sally, this was a perfect way to start my day. What beauty and magic.

And I was little, we had a large front and side yard, but our back yard was very small and and filled with plum trees and a small man-made pond with a statue of St. Francis. My Mom and I would always "look" for faeries back there. I still believe they lived there.

Thanks for sharing your amazing work.

JC Coy said...

Wow, amazing art. Off to check out your website.

Sally said...

Dear Riders,
Oh you are all so kind!! I never expected there would be so many positive and powerful responses! Thank you thank YOU!

Angie I hope you really do jump in.. there is a great book out there that I can recommend to anyone who is feeling the fear. It is " Fearless Creating" by Eric Maisel. It was one of his students who helped me. Go check out his website too. this guy really knows artists and what keeps us from living our creative dreams.

Forest Jane... did you "walk" the "Dandilinth" with your mouse? I'm glad... that was what I hoped people would do !!

To anyone who used to make Faerie Houses as a child... I'd like to make this humble suggestion.. go make some more! Take a little person with you if you feel self-conscious about doing it alone... there is something very freeing and nourishing about making these little creations. Go try it! The Faeries love it when we enter their world more sincerely.. which we do when we are in a creative mode. Give it a go and have FUN !!!!

lisekimhorton said...

Oh My! Sally, what a wonderful post and what superb pictures. The beauty and the whimsy and the sentiment have literally, made my day - and perhaps more. Your journey is thrilling to hear about and a serious affirmation of all seekers' dreams. I feel as though I've been given a veritable Faery one-a-day dose of enthusiasm and drive to pursue my own dreams. Thank you so much for sharing and may your path be filled with continued wonder and satisfaction.

Helen Brenna said...

Sally, welcome! What gorgeous art and what a breath of fresh air! I so hope you're able to make a good go of this and will keep an eye out for the right galleries.

I've always wanted to write fantasy. Maybe it's time for me to jump in and GO!

Unknown said...

These are amazing, gorgeous! I've never seen anything like this. Wow!

This is way cool! Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos!

Dottie :)

Unknown said...


Sally, thank you soooooooooooo much for your fantastic post. It is the most inspirational thing I've seen and read for a long time.

Michele and I wrote a faerie anthology together. It was terribly fun. I've always had a weakness for the wee folk and I so admire your ability not only to SEE the beauty but to take the chance to capture it for others.

Thanks for joining us. You've made my day a little better.

As for what I'd like to do and haven't...I've a dream to do a pictorial book about wild horses. I'm going to take a stab at it this fall, but I have no idea what I'm doing. Still, I believe, as you do, that sometimes you just have to jump.

GunDiva said...

Sally, my husband "dabbles" in art and his most frequent subjects are faeries. As I was looking through your pictures, I could place each and every faery I've ever seen him draw in the homes. The ice sculpture was amazing, but I'd be hard pressed to find a favorite. Like everyone else, I'm off to check out your website and blog. Thank you for sharing your beautiful art.

Michelle - you done good :)

Lisa Hendrix said...

I've seen a few fairy houses before, but nothing anywhere nearly so lovely.Thank you so much for sharing these and your story.

Debra Dixon said...


Your art is fabulous. I'm so glad Michelle lured you over to share with us.

Deborah Brown Smith said...


This is magical. Thank you for putting fairytale dreams into an ordinary day.

Sally said...

Hello again Everyone,

I am so delighted that you have enjoyed this work! You all have been an incredible boost for me too! I can't tell you how many times I've doubted myself and have wanted to quit. And you can only imagine the looks on peoples faces when I try to answer their question: "And what do you do?" I usually say I'm a "sculptor" and leave it at that... if they press, I say and Environmental sculptor... but just imagine trying to keep a straight face when you try to tell people you make Faerie Houses!! lol...

I'm so grateful to you all... you've given me a wave of encouragement that I will take and use to try to make even better creations now going forward... thank you so very much to all of you... you are a wonderfully supportive group... thank you !!!!


susan said...

I am totally speechless over the pictures and how wonderful they look..I kept thinking any minute now some little guy would open the door and say hello. I showed it to my husband and even he liked it all. What a great thing to do. I know you sure do have the talent. Have a good day and welcome to Riding With The Top Down blogspot. susan L.

amy kennedy said...

GunDiva, I love it that you coud envision your husband's faeries living in Sally's faery houses.

And I love it that everyone is so inspired by you, Sally, to just do their dream.

I feel as if I have started my dream, but am I giving it everything I can? Hmmm.

robynl said...

Words that come to mind after and while viewing your work are:

awesome, fantastic, mind-blowing!!!
you are one talented lady.

I love the pictures and what awsesome cards/calenders they will make.
I, too, am checking out your web site.

Pamk said...

wow those are amazong photos. espcially the ice castle. Would make a great art on my walls at home.

Estella said...

Absolutely amazing work! Thanks for sharing.

Nalini Singh said...

How incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Sally. I'm off to find out how to order your calender :)

catslady said...

It's all been said and I sooooo agree - just gorgeously amazing!

I ♥ Book Gossip said...

Skydiving and backpacking is something I really want to do before the age of 30. If I'm not brave not I'll never be.

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

Michele Hauf said...

Sally, I think I read on your blog that after you've created a faery house or piece of art, you just leave it as is, so someone wandering by might find it. I wonder if you've ever returned to a house to see if it's still there? Crumbling? Maybe a small resident has moved in? A family of mice or birds?

Unknown said...

Sally, my daughter and I have talked about nothing all day but your fantastic creations. I just can't tell you how they've inspired us to do more...bigger...better...more...well
okay...crazy. But what a great crazy.

Thanks MiHauf, for inviting her.

Laramie Sasseville said...

Fabulous! Your houses could inspire a few fairy tales...

Anonymous said...

I had such fun showing these lovely works of art to my daughter! I also enjoyed the opportunity to talk with her about doing what you love and following your heart. She is 7 years old and I always want her to know that magic is as real as you believe it to be and that we can be anything we want when we grow up.

Thank you for the inspiration and for the stunning art. I'm off to find the blog:)

Anonymous said...

My daughter and I just visited the blog and watched the video from the flower show. Kenz really liked the fairy castle and the sky walk-ways. She wants to know if you have ever seen Tinkerbell and the other fairies from Pixie Hollow?

Yvonne Lindsay said...

Exquisite work.

Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us. Your work was a feast for my imagination.

Sandra said...

What gorgeous work. I had to call my teenage kids down to show them and they loved it too (and they're not easy for me to impress)

Ann said...

How beautiful! I love to take pictures in nature, but yours go waay above and beyond anything I have ever thought about doing. You are a great inspiration(but that does NOT mean I'll be in the lake in waders in 10 deg. weather) Beautiful work!

Sally said...

Dear kind readers,

I am so humbled by your outpouring of support... thank you so much !! I especially loved to hear that so many of you have shared the images with your children...that means a lot to me as I really want to try and reach kids to help coax them back out of virtual-land and out into nature before it's too and using their imagination more creatively is something our kids desperately need now.

For anyone who is interested in having custom prints made, just email me. I work with a fabulous printer who can print on canvas. The image is wrapped around the frame inside the canvas so the whole piece just pops off the wall... very eye-catching and different. I can print any image you see on my blog... in high resolution, of course.

Thank you again to everyone who visited today.. your enthusiastic comments have really fueled my creative juices and I'm going to get out and keep going... thank you so much for taking the time to write to me !!!

Many Blessings your way,


M. said...

Stunningly creative. I think I like the pebble- and leaf-media best.

Unknown said...

I am totally in AWE. What a fabulous way of looking at the world and seeing whimsy and possibility everywhere!

I'll come back to these photos again and again. . . I have already!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely exquisite photos.

Pat L.

Genella deGrey said...

The pix really stir the imagination!
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Love, love, LOVE your work!!!

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Lisa said...

I am in awe! I do little fairy gardens among my flowers, all bought, and while I think they look “cute”, you are inspiring! Bravo!👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼