Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Artist of the Month - Cia Williford

"Conversation with a Bee" by Cia Williford
I met Cia in the Life Book class that I am taking online with Tamara Laporte. I was immediately attracted to her soft, positive images that she creates. After talking with her (in the online world!) I see that her beautiful images match her lovely personality.

Cia lives in Northwestern Pennsylvania in Greensburg, close to where I grew up in Pittsburgh.  Cia has quite a colorful palette of talents.  She's a children’s writer, a web designer (specializing in small, affordable sites for other creative people), a miniaturist, and a mixed media artist.

"My Yin My Yang" by Cia Williford
 When I asked Cia to share a little about each of her talents and how she got into them, here's what she had to say:

"I've been writing since I was in third grade. I wrote a limerick in class ("There once was a mouse named Lee, who happened to drink some tea..."), and the teacher praised it quite enthusiastically. I was hooked, lol. I won a couple of poetry awards while in college (including a statewide competition), and interned for a regional magazine during my senior year. From there, I segued into doing marketing, public relations, and business communications as a career. So yeah, I've been writing all my life.

The art...well, that's another story. I never played around much with art or crafting of any kind until I was well into adulthood. And then, three or four years ago, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. (This was just after we lost my mother, who had herself been suffering from vascular dementia for the last eight years of her life.) So, of course, my sister and I were reeling. We brought Dad out to live near us in an assisted living facility. At the time, his Alzheimer's wasn't too bad, so we wracked our brains trying to come up with a project we could do with him that he would enjoy. Someone mentioned building a dollhouse, which sounded perfect to us (Dad was a retired Master Carpenter and Master Locksmith). So, we did. We built a dollhouse with my father. And then we donated it to the assisted living facility to be auctioned off and the proceeds to go to the resident's activity fund. Dad was quite proud of that.

Long story short, making the dollhouse unleashed a whole new world of creativity to me. I went from making dollhouses to making miniatures (which I still do), to making mixed media art. It's a passion. And with my father's illness, it's also my stress-reliever therapy."

Dad working on our dollhouse project.

One of mine: a fairy dwelling. (I even made the stained-glass window!) 

You can see more of Cia's miniatures at her Etsy shop Briarwood Studio.  She even creates mini books and cards.

"A Witch's Grimorie - Raven" by Cia Williford
 Cia loves to write children's stories and is a big fan of fantasy. She has had short stories as well as poems published in well-known children's magazines such as Highlights for Children, Hopscotch for Girls, Boys Life, and Fun for Kids. Her dream one day is to both write and illustrate a children's book. I think her soft and beautiful artwork would be perfect!

Cia is a self taught web designer and specializes in developing web sites for creative people. You can find out more information about her web design, view her portfolio and pricing on her website Briarwood Studio.  Cia's marketing background and sense of creativity give her a special edge over other web designers that may just have the technical expertise.

"Not all web designers are created equal, and if you're into art or some other creative endeavor, a web designer focused on creating a business web site is going to totally miss the mark for you. You need someone who understands how important it is to build your personality and your art into the site, as well. That's what I do, with both web sites and blogs."
"My Blue Angel" by Cia Williford

"Blossom" by Cia Williford

I really enjoy looking at and admiring Cia's artwork. She has that special talent of creating eyes that seem full of kindness. Cia uses watercolors, pencils and crayons more than any other types of media. She does supplement with acrylics, markers and various embellishments. 

I asked Cia what inspires her to create and what her most favorite and least favorite parts of creating are.

"I have a need to put "good things" out into the universe. That may sound silly to some, but I see so much negativity in the world that I try to combat it in my own small way. My work is predominantly happy and hopeful, which isn't really trendy right now, I'm afraid, lol. But it's what my heart tells me to do."

Most favorite:

"The act of creating something, whether it's a poem or a painting, is such a joyful experience. There's nothing like it. And then to be able to share that with's like giving and receiving the best gifts in the world."

Least favorite:

"The cost of supplies, lol. Art supplies are not cheap."

I think we can all empathize with Cia about the cost of art supplies.  And they are so addicting!

Because Cia isn't busy enough, she has also started a Mixed Media Art Directory. The Mixed Media Art Directory is an all-encompassing directory for links related to mixed media: art and artists, shops and supplies, methods and mediums, blogs and web sites. What a great idea! I asked Cia how she came up with this great idea:

"Besides enjoying making art, I'm enthralled with seeing what other artists do. I just love creative people! I found myself collecting hundreds of links for web sites, blogs, and groups that I wanted to remember and revisit from time to time, but with no real way to catalogue them for easy retrieval.

I had run a directory once before for children's writers and I thought this might be the perfect way to handle all of those web sites. So, first I did it for purely selfish reasons, lol. But I think, if we can grow it properly, it can be a huge resource for all of us in the mixed media arena. I'm excited about it. It's new, but I think it has great potential!

I would just like to encourage people to add their web site and blog links. I'm adding links all the time, but I can only do so much in a day. It would be a huge help if people would add their own. It only takes a minute and is easy to do. Plus,  there is absolutely no charge to list your site(s)!"

I already added my site to the directory and explored a few of the other amazing sites. Make sure to pop over to the Mixed Media Art Directory and add your site today!

"Listen" by Cia Williford

 So where is Cia going in the future?

"Ideally, I would like to find a way to marry my writing and art into one complete package. If that turned out to be a book for children that would be icing on the cake.

I'm also contemplating doing some workshops on online promotion for artists. I know a lot of people who have blogs and web sites, but have absolutely no idea what to do with them, or how to get them noticed. Page rankings? Reciprocal links? SEO? They haven't a clue. With my background, I think I can provide a good class."

What are your dreams for the future?

"I'm a Pollyanna, an eternal optimist. I'd like to grow old gracefully, but never grow up. I have a childlike wonder about the universe and its inhabitants . . . and I'd like to keep it that way."

If you'd like to learn more about Cia and her many talents here are her links:

Thank you so much for joining me for this month's artist of the month post. I hoped you enjoyed getting to know Cia.

"Grow everyday." by Madi


Kim said...

Fabulous interview!! I already know Cia and this fantastic interview says it all. Not only is she an amazing artist but she is an amazing person and friend ♥ Now I get to go explore your beautiful blog too!! ♥

stacie said...

Hi Kim, Thanks so much for stopping by! I really enjoyed getting to know Cia and her art better. So many different talents.

Elizabeth said...

Fabulous interview with Cia !! I love meeting people with lots of talents and many interests. Lets me know that I am not alone with my art ADD!! LOL!!!
Her directory idea is a winner and I think that she should definitely pursue a children's book!!!

thanks so much for sharing her with us!!!

stacie said...

Thanks for stopping by Elizabeth!