Introducing Artist Dr. Michael Durst!

I recently had a contest in my Emotive Art group titled Art That Illustrates Appreciation. It was up to the artist to submit a piece that was voted on by Fine Art America members. Michael Durst won first place with his work, I Love You Darling!


I love the colors used in this piece and the feeling of love and appreciation. It really does capture the essence of what I was looking for in the contest.

I asked Michael to send me a biography. He is a very interesting artist indeed! Please find it below:

According to the Ico Gallery in New York’s Chelsea district, “Dr. Michael Durst is one of the most exciting South African artists to have exhibited in New York." Originally from the U.S. he has been living and painting in Cape Town for over 20 years. As a psychologist, Dr. Dust’s paintings create not only beauty for the beholder, but also a state of relaxation and healing. His work combines impressionism with fractal art, evoking an emotional link to the heart-thus the name he likes to call his art: Heartscapes.

Star Light Star Bright available  here .

Star Light Star Bright available here.

His exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Cape Town, the Netherlands and India have received rave reviews and gained Dr. Durst international recognition.

He loves to create art in two very different mediums: Impressionism and Fractal Art. His impressionistic work of the beauty of Cape Town--especially the Waterfront, Hout Bay, Table Mountain, ocean views, spring flowers, and the vineyards-- are breath-taking.

Durst's Fractal Art is based on mathematical formulas that produce order out of a world of chaos. What is created when chaos shifts to order, are beautiful “fractals” that have the ability to be explored as separate visual universes. Durst uses texture, pattern and colour to reveal the infinite visual depth and immense detail, inviting the viewer to plunge into an imaginary world of striking beauty. It seems that behind each curve and ripple lies a surprise, just waiting to be discovered.

In the last year, Dr. Durst has combined the Fractal art with painted images to create mixed-media "visions" of striking beauty. These works break down our sense of identity with intellect and form, and reconnect us to the sacred whole to which we all belong. He typically uses many different fractal sets and images, changing the light source, colour and perspective and then layers them into complex composite designs.

Two Hearts, One Soul available  here.

Two Hearts, One Soul available here.

Dr Durst is one of the best known artists on Fine Art America, having over 475,000 hits on his site and winning countless “First Place” awards in online exhibitions, competing with hundreds and in some cases, thousands of artists from all over the world. He has been named one of the "Impressionists of the 21st Century" and was voted First Runner Up in the ARTIST OF THE YEAR FOR 2018 by his fellow professional artists and international gallery owners.

He opened the DR DURST GALLERY OF ART AND ANTIQUES at 58 Loop Street, on the corner of Loop Street and Castle Street in Cape Town. The Gallery is located on the Second Floor on the Shark and Safari Tours on the corner of Loop Street and Castle Street.

If you would like to connect with Dr. Durst, you can find his website here. He can also be found on Facebook here.

Today's Spotlight and Interview: Author Lily McKenzie!

Today it is my pleasure to introduce author Lily McKenzie! She enjoys art, poetry and prose as well as fiction. A kindred spirit, to be sure! I was interested to interview her regarding her writing process and hobbies. Please find her interview below:

Freefall available  here .

Freefall available here.

1. Please tell me how you got started with writing and what you enjoy writing most.

I was a high-school dropout, and while I’ve always read a lot, writing wasn’t something I thought about until my mid-twenties. At that time, I went through a year-long deep depression that pushed me into therapy, and that’s when I discovered I had a writing self I needed to midwife. Once I earned a GED, I was able to attend college and my BA was in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I later earned two masters’ degrees as well, one in the Humanities and the other in Creative Writing.

Poetry was my foundational genre, and continues to be my favorite one. But I was adventuresome and wanted to see if I could include fiction in my repertoire. As you can see I was successful. I now have published three novels, with another on its way, as well as many short stories.

2. What inspires you to write?  Do you have a favorite place to write?

Reading well-crafted poetry or prose motivates me to continue mastering those genres. But I also have an inner need to write daily. It’s as important to me as food! I have numerous drafts in process of poems, non-fiction, and fiction that I rotate among.

As for a favorite place to write, I use a laptop computer, and I settle in different places in our house. I can’t sit at a desk to write. I need a comfortable chair and a window to look out of.

3. Are you involved in any other creative types of work/hobbies?

Don’t I wish I had more time for dabbling in watercolors and acrylics! Playing with color gives me intense pleasure. I’m not trying to be a visual artist, so that frees me to just enjoy the process and not get hung up on the end product. Our home is filled with my creations. Unfortunately, the business of selling books has stolen my painting and collage time, but I will get back to it. My art table is set up in the study I share with my husband and is ready any time I am.

4. What would you like your readers to know about you?

I’m intensely interested in our inner lives. Jungian psychology intrigued me when I was in my late twenties. I read every book I could find by Carl Jung and Jungians. I also have been in Jungian analysis and find that we are continuously evolving. I’ve kept a dream journal all of these years and look to my dreams daily for glimpses into my inner world.

5. Tell me about your most recent book and what you hope your readers will appreciate most about it?

The seeds for Freefall: A Divine Comedy came from a two-day visit I had back in 1998 with two of the three friends I’d travelled from Calgary to Toronto with in my late teens. I wondered what would happen if these four women had a reunion. Would the old bonds still be there and what would they discover about themselves and each other from spending time together? Freefall is a result of trying to answer those questions, but, of course, much more entered the narrative as I watched the story unfold. While the surface narrative is about these four females, the sub-narrative focuses on art’s role in our lives (the main character, Tillie Bloom, is an installation artist), female power, death, religion, and sex. Freefall zeroes in on a fundamental truth: We’re all in freefall, and that’s the real divine comedy. No matter how old we are, we’re still trying to “find ourselves” and discover what we want out of life.

If you’d like to get in touch with Lily, you can find her at her website, Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you, Lily, for being a guest on my blog. It was a pleasure to meet you!

Introducing Artist Laurie Cairone!

Eternal Optimism available  here .

Eternal Optimism available here.

I am currently featuring a beautiful piece of art in my art group, Emotive Art. The piece is entitled Eternal Optimism and it was created by Laurie Cairone. Her art is spiritual in nature and flows with a sense of peace and light. So I was immediately drawn to her creativity! I am always excited to introduce new artists and authors and Laurie Cairone is no exception! I asked her to write up a post about her creative process and background which you will find below:

I have created art intuitively for more than 40 years. Why Do I create art? Because creating soothes my soul and is a form of meditation for me. I enjoy working with Pastels, Watercolor, Acrylic, and Charcoal mediums. I also enjoy now learning and working with these mediums digitally in Procreate on my Ipad. 

My interests in the Universe,The Healing Arts,The Metaphysical World, and the Mind, Body, Soul Connection influence and inspire my art. I have also practiced as a Registered Nurse for over 30 years and hold a Second Degree Reiki Certification. Over half of my nursing career was spent in the specialty area of psychiatry, so I am very drawn to the introspective process. I believe that keeping our minds healthy with positive thoughts is a main ingredient to good health. 

I have always found Art to be a therapeutic, relaxing, creative process that soothes my soul. Creativity is a form of meditation for me that allows a way of letting go of the dust that builds up over time. Art can be a healthy form of distraction for us. Creativity can open the door to self-reflection that can aid in helping us gain clarity and peace over every day life. Drawing can be a sacred process of creating images from the heart. 

The creative process for me is often from a shape and a color. I seldom have a vision or sketch out what will evolve. I love to see what evolves and once I feel a piece is finished is when I name it. Here is where the introspective work arrives. I analyze my creation and look to the symbolism behind each color and shape and that is when the title hits me. Sometimes the title provokes much contemplation about a subject, so I will then write about the piece in my description. Sometimes the description to a piece is left for me to do a little more introspection before I can write about it. 

I have enjoyed the creative process since childhood and when I look back over certain times in my life, my work often reflects the joys and sorrows that we all go through at times. I will say that creating has helped me during some of the most difficult times of my life. I experienced a stillbirth full term many years ago and creating art kept me in one piece during that time. 

A percentage of all my sales are donated to Magnolia Pediatrics to help Dr. Linda Del Vecchio-Gilbert provide palliative care to children with complex, chronic conditions. You can learn more here

You can find Laurie and her amazing art here. Thank you, Laurie, for being a guest on my blog!

Spotlight: Strxia: The Odds Are Against Us by Matt Michel and Maggie Daniels

Strxia cover.jpg

“Harper Williams” is a fictional 11-year-old sci-fi book fan who is the representation of readers

of STRXIA: THE ODDS ARE AGAINST US. Below, Harper interviews Maggie Daniels and

Matt Michel, the authors of the book, by posing questions they frequently get from readers.

Harper: I read tons of books, especially science fiction like your book STRXIA: THE ODDS

ARE AGAINST US. What do you think sets your book apart from all the others out there?

Matt Michel: Great question, Harper. Certainly, the primary goal of any science fiction book

for children ages 8 to 12 is to entertain, so action-packed entertainment was our first priority.

However, we go one crucial step further by incorporating a few STEM (that stands for Science,

Technology, Engineering, and Math) principles along the way. The best part is, as an 11-year-

old reader, you might not even realize you are learning something! One of the physics principles

explained in the book is how a rocket works.

Harper: Whoa! Are you telling me I’ll understand how a rocket gets off the ground and flies

into space after reading your book? I thought it was a book about baseball.

Matt Michel: That’s right. It is a book about baseball. But it’s also about a parallel world

called Strxia. The world of Strxia is governed by the same laws of physics as Earth. When the

main characters in the book realize that their actions on Earth impact Strxia and vice versa, they

begin to learn how to use physics to help them save Strxia and win a baseball game on Earth all

at the same time.

Harper: What about the characters? I mean, most characters in the books I read are big guys

full of muscle and athletic talent. That gets old sometimes.

Maggie Daniels: I feel the same way, Harper. That’s why our main character, Seth Cox, is just

the opposite. He would rather be at home, reading on the couch and snuggling with his dog, than

playing baseball games. Intellect is our hero’s main talent, and only his brainpower can help

Strxia survive.

Harper: Seth seems cool. Is he the only character in the book?

Maggie Daniels: Seth has plenty of help from an interesting group of teammates. Each of them

has their own special skills… and vices. Alex is the only girl in the boy’s baseball league. She

is fearless and the fastest runner on the team, but she never has been able to quite fit in. Jared is

all bravado with the county’s best baseball arm, but he is an egotistical mess of a hothead.

Finally, there is Chase. Chase is always kidding around but is a superb mechanic.

Harper: Is something wrong with Strxia. Why does it need saving?

Maggie Daniels: Oh yes, Strxia needs help. An elite group of scientists called the Odds have

found a way to control odd numbers on Strxia. The Strxians actually have to pay money to use

odd numbers, and not everyone can afford to do so. So their world is slowly falling apart

because without numbers, it is really hard to learn. Just imagine a world with no odd numbers!

Harper: The book seems to cover a whole bunch of different things. Wasn’t it hard to write?

Maggie Daniels: Well, besides being my co-author, Matt is also my husband. He and I have

worked together coaching baseball, basketball, and robotics. My job at George Mason

University is to teach, carry out research, and write, so writing is a natural process for me. Matt,

on the other hand, is a “rocket scientist” and has a firm grasp on all the physics in the book. In

fact, he calculates, with aerospace engineering accuracy, all the numbers in the book so that even

the most discerning teachers and librarians are satisfied. Together, we created a book we think is

quite unique.

Harper: This all sounds really great, but I have to ask, how on Earth do you pronounce Strxia?

Maggie Daniels: The name of the book is a fun story, because we went through many iterations

before we created one we really liked. Try saying “Strick-see-ah” – that will get you really


Harper: If I have more questions, how can I contact you? Or if I want to buy the book, where

can I do that?

Matt Michel: We have set up a website for our book as well as author pages on Facebook:

View Matt’s page here and Maggie’s page here. Our book is available on Amazon.

Meet Artist Julie Turner!

wisteria dream 11 julie turner.jpg

I came across Julie Turner’s work while I was working on my art site. I immediately fell in love with her wisteria prints and contacted her about a feature on my blog. She happily obliged! Below you will find her biography:

Julie received her BFA from James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA). She spent her career working in the visual arts for various industries producing commercial art, technical graphics and multimedia. Concurrently she created fine art, representing many disciplines. Her most recent works are primarily acrylic on canvas paintings and digital art for print and home decor. Her style is a unique blend of Abstract Expressionism and Expressionism. Turner has exhibited in the USA: San Diego, CA; Las Vegas, NV; New York, NY; Alexandria, VA; and Bologna, Italy. Her artwork has been published worldwide and has been sold to many private collectors.

Although she’s skilled in many art disciplines: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, stained glass, jewelry, video, multimedia and digital imagery, she has a strong drive and passion for painting. She enjoys experimenting with difficult paint challenges and likes working with bold paint colors and varying degrees of paint thickness and layering. She’s inspired by love, family, friends, nature, music, dreams, astronomy and spiritual/metaphysical subject matter.

After I contacted Julie, I found that she and I share similar interests. Not only is she an artist but she has also written a children’s book. A kindred spirit indeed!

If you’d like to contact Julie, you can find her on her Website, Facebook, Fine Art America, and Handmade At Amazon. You can find Julie’s book here.

Dream 06 Julie Turner

Dream 06 Julie Turner