After viewing all ten pages of Ren's shop, I read her profile and wow! Ren's inspiration fascinated me and her words are truly reflected in her art. After reading Ren's profile, I picked up my copy of Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching" and read:
Empty the self completely;
Embrace perfect peace.
The world will rise and move;
Watch it return to rest.
All the flourishing things
Will return to their source.
This return is peaceful;
It is the flow of nature,
An eternal decay and renewal.
Accepting this brings enlightenment,
Ignoring this brings misery.
While I started out trying to find out why Ren's shop was called Plastic Pumpkin, I ended up reminiscing about my long abandoned studies in anthropology and religion. I had to know more ...
NM: How long have you been making traditional Chinese brush paintings?
RA: I've been doing traditional Chinese brush painting for about five years now. I've been a sketch artist, acrylic painter and mixed media artist for over 20 years.
I've been doing art my entire life, even scribbled in my own baby book.
NM: How did you get into this style of painting?
RA: Chinese brush painting was taught to Taoist monks as a way of cultivating "Tao" (inner balance, inner peace, harmony). As a dedicated student of Taoism, and already an artist, it just clicked with me. It made perfect sense to try it.
Taoism, like Zen, often teaches concepts in paradox. Having a background in Eastern philosophy helped me understand brush painting techniques like having a brush that's simultaneously as wet as the spring rain and dry as the autumn wind.
NM: Did you go to school for art? If yes, what did you specialize in?
RA: I took many art classes in college, but the first time around I attended UC Berkeley and majored in English (focus on 19th & 20th century literature and poetry, and creative writing) with a minor in Anthropology.
I gave the corporate world a shot and was an editor and professional writer for almost a decade before I walked away and realized I had been denying something I was doing all along: art.
I have since decided to go back and refine my studies in art. My college counselor commented that many people say they should have majored in art the first time around. I said the same thing! Not that I regret my studies in English, but you know what I mean. I am currently pursuing a BFA in Art Studio, with the intent to go on to achieve an MFA. I am focusing on painting and printmaking. I guess I like to collect Bachelor's degrees. Ha ha.
NM: Do you paint full time?
RA: Absolutely. Every day. I often spend 10 or more hours a day at the studio. Some days I log 14. If I'm not at the studio, I'm doing advertising, planning, and writing.
NM: You currently have over 200 sales, how do you attract people to your shop? Where/how do you promote your shop?
RA: I use my blog, Twitter, Facebook, business cards, my main website, MySpace, Craigslist and anything else I can think of. I have a pretty big mailing list these days, which helps.
NM: What is your favorite item in your shop? Why?
RA: I don't really have a favorite. I see each painting as separate, one step improved over the last. I see them all as concepts or ideas that needed to come out and be expressed, and each is meant for someone special. You can always tell who it's meant for--they snap it right up. At art shows, they lock eyes on it and can't leave without it.
NM: Are your items available anywhere other than Etsy?
RA: Yes--I do have some on ArtFire (mostly the prints). Some of my images are available on objects at Zazzle. My main website will have a store finished soon. I've been on Lov.li and DaWanda for a few years, but the traffic there is slower. I also sell resin jewelry on Etsy at Plastic Pop.
NM: Do you have a blog? If so, please tell us a little bit about it
RA: I do a "Daily Musings" series; personal stories or reflections on Eastern Philosophy, sometimes humorous, sometimes serious.
My blog also has info on my upcoming art shows, featured paintings and featured artists on occasion. I am also planning a 30 Paintings in 30 Days project which will be featured on my blog.
NM: Is there anything interesting about yourself you would like to share with us?
RA: Hmm... I don't know. I've studied music extensively (almost went into music instead of art or writing.). I'm a published poet and writer. I teach Eastern philosophy, mythology and art classes through the University of New Mexico, Continuing Education department.
I love video games, clubbing, electronica/trance music, world foods, Chinese and Japanese culture and history, and indie films. I collect Chinese opera costumes. I currently also have an obsession with colorful faux Bavarian and German spotted mushrooms. LOL
NM: Thank you SO much, Ren, for sharing all this wonderful insight with us. Your work really is wonderful and you can tell just from looking at it that you really enjoy what you do.
Business/Shop Name: Ren Adams Art / Plastic Pumpkin Designs
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Website URL: www.renadamsart.com
Etsy URL: plasticpumpkin.etsy.com
Artfire URL: plasticpumpkin.artfire.com
Blog URL: plasticpumpkin.wordpress.com
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Ren-Adams-Art/124357617408
Last but not least, Ren has been so kind to offer NM readers a chance to win a 4" x 6" (valued at $5.00) Art Reproduction Print, winner's choice. For a chance to win, please visit Ren's Etsy shop, Plastic Pumpkin, and tell us what your favorite item is. Please provide the name of your favorite item and a way to contact you (Etsy username, Artfire username, FB fan page, email address) in the comments section of this post. All entries must be received by August 31, 2009, 6pm ET