Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kindred Spirit: Athena Workman

I had the idea for Kindred Spirits at the beginning of the year and I dropped the ball. I really want it to be a monthly feature though because there are so many talented artists out there that I want to share.

I believe I found Athena while dropping entrecards. I don't remember exactly where and when but I do know that I adore her style. I wish I could develop one so distinctively my own that is still full of whimsy. I love that her work is lighthearted and whimsical without being trite. There is a certain sadness or loneliness yet it isn't depressing. It is a very interesting combination!
One of my favorite pieces of hers is "Tightrope" , I pine over it on a semi-regular basis! (And secretly hope that it is still available when I actually have the money to spend.) So without further ado, here is Athena Workman in her own words!

My name is Athena Workman, and like my bio usually starts, I'm a married (for eighteen years) mother of two girls living in Tennessee. I'll be thirty-nine in September (whoa), and I've been drawing for thirty-seven of those years. I was born in Huntington, West Virginia, and have also lived in Florida, Texas, and Massachusetts. One day I'd like to either finally permanently plant my roots back in MA, or in Pennsylvania.

I'm a pretty shy person, although weirdly enough, I'm a pretty good public speaker and am friendly/nice enough when people approach me. I think my introverted nature led me to draw the things I do. I've reached a point in my life where my older daughter is in school, and my younger daughter is finishing high school (she is homeschooled), and I'm searching for something to do with the rest of my life. I'm sort of, hesitantly, weighing finally going to school to get a photography degree. Sorry, but at this stage in my career, I just can't see myself sitting in an art class and being told what to do.

Some of my hobbies are gardening, experimental baking (meaning, baking new things and forcing my family to eat them), and usually, entering stuff in the state fair and winning as many ribbons as possible. I’m also mommy to three hermit crabs (Mesh, Mr. Man, and Lucky), two big old male cats (Ollie and Salem), and one dog (Pippi). Salem is the alpha male and keeps them all in line; i.e., terrorizes them.I started "Miss Millificent's World" at Etsy in the spring of 2007 (I also used to run "Groovin' Pop!", but I closed it this year) as a way to sell prints of my art, and my art-related jewelry. One of my resolutions for 2009-- which I've surprisingly kept up well-- was to concentrate more on gallery sales, and getting into more galleries and exhibits; my art seems to do MUCH better "in person". That in part led me to revamp Miss Millificent's World at Etsy ( this summer. I'd pretty much closed the shop for good, and around the same time I had to quit my job as a cake decorator because of carpal tunnel. Being in the midst of empty nesting, I was wandering around, trying to figure out a way to spend my time without spending any money. I got out all my polymer clay (from old, abandoned projects) and made a little cake. I was surprised, but pleased, to see that I could recreate cakes in clay, and it didn't kill my hands. I decided to revamp Miss Millificent's World, showcasing "bakery sweets" jewelry, odd and Day of the Dead jewelry, and some of my photography, which always sold better anyway. I will also be offering notecards as soon as I get my little photo area set up again for that.

All that said about the old Miss Millificent's World, I'm in the process of revamping my site ( so that if anyone wants to buy a print, they can do so through my site.

Drawing and art as a career came about the long way. Sometimes I like to compare myself to Beryl Cook, who didn't start painting until later in her life. While I did draw intermittently throughout my life, my main goal was to be a horror writer. I've been published about two dozen times, in magazines, ezines, and anthologies, and actually was getting really good reviews, but then I got a horrible case of writer's block. I remember writing the last story I had published, and it was like getting a root canal on all your back teeth. To this day, the writer’s block is still a little traumatic. So, I turned back to artwork as an outlet for my creativity, and I'm thankful that I'd kept up my skills all these years. I'm also thankful that getting into galleries and showing my work isn't *anywhere* near as hard as getting a story published (it took me nine years of rejections before my first acceptance!). If it was, well... I'd be locked away somewhere in a straitjacket.

Nowadays, I can't see myself doing anything else. And the pure joy I feel when I come up with a great idea for a drawing or series is only topped by when I finish a piece I truly love.

*Like I've said before , I love theoretical questions so I asked Athena the one I will ask of all my Kindred: If you could invite any 5 people (alive or dead) to your place for dinner, who would you invite and what would you serve?

Oh, this is fun.
1. Robert McCammon. He is one of my favorite horror writers, and just plain *writers*, of all time. I'd try to get him to spill all the details about his Matthew Corbett series.
2. Gene Hackman. My husband says GH is my "favorite old guy". I would totally gush over "The French Connection" and try to persuade him to go back into acting, because he can't leave it at that "Mooseport" movie.
3. My old friend Elsie. I knew her when I lived in Salem, Massachusetts, and she was the nursery teacher at our Unitarian-Universalist church (and she joked that that was the only way you could get her into church, heh), so she took care of my girls when they were little. She was also an inspiration to me to be a better person, to do better by the world. I still miss her, and would love to sit down with her again.
4. Mary Engelbreit. She was the first artist that I really noticed make it as someone who draws (that was actually before I knew Edward Gorey's name... before that, I just knew that I loved the cartoon that introduced "Mystery!"). I think it’s crappy that it’s not as respected as painting or sculpture, so I’d love to hear if she has thoughts on that.
5. Russell Brand. The guy’s friggin’ funny.

What would I serve? Well, you can’t go wrong with a chicken dish, usually, so I’d probably do something with sautéed chicken breasts, cheese and peppers. If someone’s a vegetarian, I’d make my husband cook. I make a blue ribbon parmesan-oregano bread, and since mashed potatoes are my all-time favorite food, I have perfected them. I dare you to challenge my mashed potatoes! For dessert, it’s a tossup between triple chocolate cake (whipped chocolate ganache between layers of chocolate cake, wrapped in chocolate sheets) or blueberry spiced cream pie.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Athena as much as I did and will visit her shop, blog and website! You never know, you may just find something you can't live without. I know I did!

Thank you Athena! <3


Athena said...

Thanks for featuring me! This was a lot of fun. :D

PJ said...

i checked athena's site out and i like her work. you reviewed it just perfectly. thanks for the new link.

Rose Works Jewelry said...

I had a lot of fun reading this interview - I won some of her charms not to long ago and I'm really excited to use them in some of my jewelry!