Guest Post & Giveaway: Art Appreciation Blog Tour with Dev Bentham, Clare London & Jordan Castillo-Price

I would like to welcome Dev Bentham, Clare London and Jordan Castillo-Price to Book Reviews & More by Kathy. Today is the second stop on their Art Appreciation Mini Blog Tour and they are chatting with us today about art and their new books.

Dev: So here’s a question – what kinds of art do you do yourself and how does that inform your artist characters. For myself, doing SOMETHING creative is critical to my sanity. Mostly I sate that craziness with writing, but when I’m not actively writing I find myself puttering about making ugly jewelry and bad quilts. I went through a phase of puppet making (I’ll attach the photo I sent around earlier). I made this little man years ago and was reminded of him when I read Sympathy because he took on a personality as I was making him and it would feel strangely violent to throw him away.

Jordan: It’s interesting what you say about how wrong it would feel to throw the little man away. I made some hard decisions recently when I moved, and I ended up tossing a lot of drawings I did in art school. Because really, how long does a person keep that stuff? There was nothing there I really adored, so I was able to get rid of it. I can’t say that about everything, but over the years I’m slowly winnowing down a bunch of work that doesn’t have much to do with my grownup life.

The abstract drawing is a quick thing I did when I was asking myself, “Do I want to throw away these oil pastels or not?” and I enjoyed drawing it so much I decided to keep the oil pastels! I liked how spontaneous it felt to do the drawing, though I don’t think I’ll keep it.

Conversely, I started working on a very slow and labor intensive embroidery project I started a few years ago and then set aside. The thing with slow and laborious work is that when it takes too long, it’s easy to fall out of love with it. Here, I think I’m not really into the colors anymore. They remind me of the room I remodeled maybe six years ago where it was supposed to eventually hang. But I might finish it out of stubbornness.

Dev: I love the pastel drawing, there’s something very fluid about it. But then I also like the embroidery. Oh so very many years ago I embroidered all my jeans–yes, I really am an old hippy. I hadn’t thought of those clothes in a long time, wonder what happened to them all.

One of the things I love about writing an artist character is that he can do what I can’t, translating mental images into physical form. My own artistic attempts are always somewhat disappointing. I simply don’t have the right skills. I wonder if the reason you feel freer throwing things away is that you’re much more of an artist than I am. I’m always amazed if anything I make turns out okay. On the other hand, I have all the kids old drawings in a box that’s buried in a closet, so maybe it has more to do with my pack rat tendencies than with anything else.

Clare: I agree totally with Dev, that I love writing about art even though I don’t have the talent myself. I know the saying is “write what you know”, but I extend that to “write what you imagine”, and “write what you wish to know”. All of those things can still resonate with the reader.

My books with characters in the art world reflect what I imagine is the passion and single-minded devotion artists have to their art. I was always told, if you’re going to be an artist (musician / scientist / vet / dancer etc) you’ll do it. In fact, you won’t be able to RESIST doing it! I believe that’s how art affects a person, and how you can tell if you have a real and committed calling to something. We all presumably know how it feels to HAVE to write – the words and characters demand it. That is our talent, and our outlet.

That said, I haven’t stuck with many other artistic projects in the past! I’ve made plenty of Barbie evening frocks in the past, for school fund-raising events, by hand because I can’t get to grips with a sewing machine. I’ve painted glass, I’ve designed album cover designs on to knitted sweaters, I’ve made velvet handbags and Alice bands and logo T-shirts. I hate to think that I CAN’T do something I admire – but in most things, I usually retire after a short time, a resigned amateur but content at having tried at least once :).

As we’ve said before, art is intensely personal. I’m most thrilled personally with my Sesame Street sweater that never fitted me, but was a masterpiece of template design, with Bert and Ernie on the front and Cookie Monster on the back! And I still treasure most a picture from one of my sons that shows the world as a green squiggly circle, with the family members perching precariously on the circumference :). Maybe I can sell it to the Tate Britain one of these days…


SYMPATHY by Jordan Castillo Price

Fear takes many forms. As a child, Anthony Potosi was afraid of the Hook House, not because of the cheesy stories his older brothers attempted to terrorize him with, but the startling presence of gravestones he stumbled across in the abandoned Victorian’s overgrown yard.

It’s been ages since Tony has thought about the old place. As an adult, he’s had to deal with more immediate fears. The fear that he’d never recover from the accident that killed his father and shattered his pelvis was at the top of the list. Now that he can walk again, though, the fear that his brothers are edging him out of the family landscaping business seems more pressing…until he’s called to make a drop-off at the Hook House.

While delivering the order, Tony finds ceramicist David Dean living there, along with several dozen eerily expressive clay figures he’s sculpted. David has converted the weedy lot to native prairie, and the dilapidated stone outbuilding to a pottery studio. While he hasn’t worked his alchemy on the family plot, it’s no longer quite as daunting as Tony remembers. It’s nowhere near as frightening as getting physical with someone for the first time since his accident, especially with a body he’d presumed was broken beyond repair, and especially with someone as captivating as David. Tony finds that learning to open up again to trust, desire—and maybe even love—is far scarier than The Hook.

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Helping teenagers is tough. They face so many dangers – peer pressure, drugs, pregnancy, STDs. As a trained social worker, Mike knows all about it. He’s taken a temporary job on the Oregon coast working with at-risk kids. But when he meets Gabe, the father of one of his charges, he finds himself in another type of danger – that of falling in love and getting stuck in a small, conservative town, not to mention living with an angry teenager. And yet, he’s drawn to Gabe in a way he never imagined possible.
Gabe, whose own father left before he was born, stays in a town where he no longer feels welcome. He’s living the life of a lonely artist so that he can be a father to his son, a bond that’s been threatened by divorce and Gabe’s public coming out. When he meets Mike, Gabe is bowled over with a longing so deep that he finds himself willing to risk everything.

There are plenty of dangers in a small town. When a gay kid gets hurt and they refuse to leave him to his fate, Mike and Gabe may be risking more than their hearts.

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Read my review HERE.


London art dealer Charles Garrett has devoted his life to appreciating beauty, both in art & in his companions. His fashionable life is rocked to the core when he discovers the body of a young artist, Paolo Valero, in a pool of blood in his gallery.

As Paolo’s mentor, Charles is haunted by the horror of his violent death. He investigates Paolo’s past & discovers a tangled web of motives & potential suspects, some closer to home than he ever imagined. He’s drawn to Antony Walker, an aggressive, handsome sculptor with unsavory ties to Paolo. Charles is unsettled by Antony’s forceful nature but irresistibly attracted to his passion. When the evidence points toward Antony’s guilt, Charles is thrown into emotional turmoil. Has he lost his heart to a killer?

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The contest closes on Thursday, July 25th at 11:59 pm EST.

Click HERE to see Monday’s post at Joyfully Jay.

Dev, Clare & Jordan will be stopping by The Armchair Reader on Wednesday.


Filed under Contest, Guest Blog

20 Responses to Guest Post & Giveaway: Art Appreciation Blog Tour with Dev Bentham, Clare London & Jordan Castillo-Price

  1. Nancy S

    I am more an arts & crafts person than a true artist. In other words I dabble at lots of different things but I guess I’m best at pottery. I can get lost working with lovely clay, could be why my pots are sometimes a little lopsided. Count me in on the giveaway please.

  2. Nancy, I think pottery is a wonderful medium for really feeling your way into art. Dev may be closer to this than I am, but I like the tactile sense of it. The art in Blinded by Our Eyes is actually sculpture, and I loved researching it for the book.

  3. I wish I could see that Sesame Street sweater!!!

  4. Allison

    Unfortunately artistic talent isn’t one I possess. I am okay at hobby things but drawing or that type of skill is sadly beyond me.

  5. laurie

    i am also more of an arts and crafts person. i love to do needle point and knitting. please count me in too!

  6. Maya

    I can’t draw a straight line and I really, really need to finish that quilt I started… But my passion is clay! I sink my hands into it and I feel like I’ve come home. I’m not terribly good (don’t have the opportunity to practice as much as I’d like) but I have managed to make a few pieces I’ve liked. My dream is to set up a tiny studio in a little country cottage with lots of pets around me. *sigh* My version of heaven!

    Please count me in for the giveaway! Thanks!

  7. Giselle Kay

    I love to paint, draw, and work with mixed media and printmaking. When I get frustrated or just hit a creative block I use writing to loosen up and get the creative juices flowing again. Kind of the opposite scenario. (-:

  8. Trix

    I can draw decently if I have all day to concentrate on the one sketch (and it’ll still look like a cartoon), but I don’t really consider myself good at it. I do regret not taking some studio art courses; should probably do that someday. (As a Muppet fanatic, I would also love to see the sweater!)

  9. I can’t draw ANYTHING, but I’m with you about clay. I love the wet, squishy, sexy feel of it. I took a pottery class years ago and toyed with the idea of buying my own wheel, but it’s quite the hobby to maintain.

  10. Book Reviews & More by Kathy

    I am an arts and crafts person. I can cross stitch, tole paint and make baskets. I am also a quilter and I stamp cards. I’ve also been known to scrapbook a little too. But I cannot draw, knit or crochet to save my life!

  11. Penumbra

    As a few of the other posters I’m more of a crafts person than artist. Although I do like to use Paint Shop Pro to alter photos I’ve taken so I suppose in a way that is artistic.

    Count me in please!

  12. People keep saying modestly “but I’m not really an artist”, and then they confess all the fab skills they have that other people don’t LOL. You’re all marvellous! we should open a craft stall….

  13. Gigi

    I have been taking pottery classes and have been thoroughly enjoying them. Kneading and forming the clay is just so relaxing. I love it!

  14. Sin Chan

    I’m more of an arts and crafts person as well. I like to make beaded animal keychains in my spare time.

  15. Urbanista

    I used to be a graphic designer, and would snarl if people called me an artist. Cause I’m not one: that’s not a compliment. I sometimes wish I was, but there is something a little frightening about that ars gratia artis compulsion that artists have. My mom, who is a painter, just bought $$XXX worth of water soluble oil paints. I squeaked, “you coulda bought an iPad with that!!!” WTF are water soluble oil paints anyway? Such a terrific waste of time and money–except. All of the artists I know love it, and have to do it. It’s a part of them. It completes them, makes them whole, and the rest of us can enjoy their (costly) efforts. I love looking at vernacular art, photography, and Etch-A-Sketch drawings.

  16. Judi P

    I actually haven’t done anything artistic lately… which I’m very disappointed in myself for. I used to draw all the time, and do things with my hands like lanyard and such but now… I hardly even do Graphics like I used to. I’m just.. in a slump I guess because no matter how hard I sit there and try to get the creative juices going I come up blank. It’s been like that for so long that I just kinda don’t bother to try. Same with writing. I used to write so much fanfiction… now the only fantasy worlds I get are from books I read. not so much the worlds I let my mind go to and write.
    It’s so frustrating but…. idk.. What I’ve really been wanting to do is sculpt again. I LOVED my Ceramics course I took. Maybe I just want to do that so bad that I can’t think or start to do anything else….

  17. Barbra

    I’ve tried watercolors, drawing, hand built pottery, jewelry making, calligraphy and…oh yeah, photography, but nothing really took. I enjoyed photography for years, but when my k1000 died I just couldn’t get comfortable with a new camera. I’m still looking for the right thing. 🙂

  18. H.B.

    I can’t draw to save my life and I’ve never tried any type of pottery. I can take decent pictures though and I’ve just started crocheting and I don’t think I’m too bad at it. My calligraphy isn’t too bad but it’s nothing as fantastic as my father’s, grandfather’s or uncle. I would love to try jewelry making though but I’m not sure how I’m suppose to go about that.

  19. Sadonna

    So not an artist but I love beautiful things. I just ordered a beautiful piece of glass from an artist at an art fair and I love the colors. I’m good at selecting beautiful things – including a supercool turkey vulture necklace that has moving parts that I got at the same art fair a couple of years ago 🙂 I have a friend who gives me all kinds of crap about the slightly odd jewelry that I can’t seem to resist at these fairs.

    I’m not a writer either, nor do I aspire to be. I’m content to enjoy the beauty that others create 😀