Artists Sharing Artists: Ruth Ju-Shih Li

I met Ruth when she and I were both artists-in-residence in Taiwan and I was so lucky to have her as my studio mate for those three months! Being Taiwanese-Australian, and having had spent time in Taiwan, she knew all the fun places to go and could speak and read the language; without her, I would of missed a lot of cultural opportunities that I’m so grateful I was able to experience. Even simply ordering dinner at a restaurant would of been a different (read: challenging!) experience without her.

In addition to being studio mates for those three months, she happened to also have a solo exhibition during our residency. I was able to help her install her works, learning more about her concepts and process along the way. Her fired porcelain works with imagined flower forms and bird parts are intimidatingly delicate and alluringly gorgeous all at the same time. But I really loved watching her build her ephemeral flower arrangements on antique planter tables over the course of a few days, after which they had water slowly dripping on them for the course of the exhibition, slowly letting them disintegrate. Her work is all about life, time and death taking inspiration from the natural world and the Garden of Eden. I really encourage you to watch the video below about her process of creating these time based pieces, it’s simply beautiful.

Artists Sharing Artists: Ruth Ju-Shih Li | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

About Ruth Ju-Shih Li’s Work: Autobiographical in nature, Li’s ephemeral installations act as a metaphorical meditation on the fragile paradox of life and death in relation to the self, extending onwards to consider the transitory nature of the human condition. Drawing on her personal narrative, diverse cultural and spiritual heritage, Li’s creations partake in the very living creative thought that underlies nature itself and sounds a note of the metaphysical, linking the individual and the universal on the bridge of the spiritual.

You can follow Ruth on Instagram and Facebook or visit May Space Gallery to view more of her work.

Artists Sharing Artists: is a series of posts where I share some of my favorite artists who are also inspired by nature and use their art to protect what they love. More artists coming soon…

Artists Sharing Artists: Susun Gallery

Susun and I go way back…. like waaaayyy back. We met in the early 2000’s when she first employed me to drive a 30 foot long trailer that was a mobile art classroom, into underserved communities of Watsonville and teach art classes out of it. That was an adventure in itself. But I also went on to teach through her art based preschool program and her after school art classes bringing ceramics into her programming. We’ve stayed in touch over the past 20 years as I went on to pursue my own studio art practice and so much of what I know about running an art business comes from her.

Her love of color is evident everywhere in her life, from every wall in her house, to her paintings, to her clothing. She inspires her students with her love of painting always finding clever ways to engage them into being creative. She has literally taught hundreds and hundreds of students in Santa Cruz County since she first opening Susun Gallery ArtSchool in 1987.

She moved to Hawaii a few years back and opened ArtSchool on the Beach, where you can sign up to paint on location with Susun and take home your painting as a souvenir of your time spent on the big island. Or if you’re a local, you can join her in her studio to paint, draw, and sculpt.

Always inspired by her surroundings, Susun explores every grain of sand, fills her paint cup from a waterfall, rubs red dirt and black sand into her paintings, and takes divine notes from nature. She channels the beauty of Hawaii through her paintbrush.

You can follow Susun on Instagram and Facebook or visit to sign up for an art class on the beach!

Artists Sharing Artists: is a series of posts where I share some of my favorite artists who are also inspired by nature and use their art to protect what they love. More artists coming soon…

Artists Sharing Artists: India Maya

I met Rakel (aka India Maya) in the little town of Todos Santos, where I’ve recently bought some property. We met through a network of local artists at events she was participating in and hosting at her home studio. She was also kind enough to allow me to use her kiln to fire the work I was making during our stay in Baja. As I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve learned a little about her Mayan heritage and how she uses locally sourced clays (mixed with a little commercial clay) to make and fire her pots and beads to produce her work in the traditional Mayan ways. The results are burnished surfaces and smoke markings that make her work beautiful to hold and to look at. Her work is literally connected to the land and spiritually connected to her heritage.

Pienso que cuando la gente quiere llevar un recuerdo de Todos Santos buscan llevar algo auténtico y único, es la razón por la cual me gusta usar barro local, es una forma de llevar un pedacito de Todos Santos a tu hogar. Afecta de manera emocional en las personas, les encanta cuando les digo que el barro es local & ellos mismos se dan cuenta de lo auténtico que es mi arte. Es una forma de expresar lo orgullosa que estoy de mi linaje indígena y también es una forma de dejar nuestra huella. Es importante mantener nuestras raíces y el arte que mejor manera de hacerlo atravez del barro.

I think that when people want to have a souvenir of Todos Santos they seek to bring something authentic and unique, it is the reason why I like to use local clay, it is a way to bring a little piece of Todos Santos to your home. It effects people emotionally, they love it when I tell them that the clay is local & they themselves realize how authentic my art is. It is a way of expressing how proud I am of my indigenous lineage and it is also a way of leaving our mark. It is important to keep our roots to the art and the best way to do it is through the clay.

Learn more about India Maya’s work with this beautiful video designed by creative hub Mi-Zo Exchange who also operate CASA MA in Baja Sur, where they design & produce one of the kind furniture in collaboration with local artists:

Want add her work to your collection? Visit these shops in Todos Santos, BCS:

Galería Saguaro | Hecho a Mano | La Todosanteña

To learn more follow @arteindiamaya on IG

Artists Sharing Artists: is a series of posts where I share some of my favorite artists who are also inspired by nature and use their art to protect what they love. More artists coming soon…

Artists Sharing Artists: Kristen O’Neill

I love being surrounded by Kristen’s bold brushstrokes of trees, filtered light and flowing water in my own art collection and I’ve been in awe as I’ve watched her work mature over the past 20+ years that I’ve known her. Full disclosure, she’s my amazing sister-in-law, and I’ve been so lucky to have another professional artist in the family; we bounce ideas off each other, critique each other and support each other. But besides all that she is truly talented and passionate about preserving nature so of course I wanted to share her work with you.

Wave, 40″ x 80″ Acrylic on Canvas diptych, 2017, $5500

Here’s what she has to say about her concepts of painting nature, “When I paint places that have been preserved, like national parks and trails, people say, ‘Oh, I’ve been there, that’s so pretty.” Now, I am taking this a step further. To challenge people and myself with questions like, “Is the forest beautiful after it burns? Are forest fires the enemy or a long-banished friend?” Currently I am learning from scientists, organizations, and tribal members about the world we live in. I am challenging my own notions of land use and forest management. I know that this new style of collaboration, diving into the unknown waters of knowledge and coming up with voices that need lifting, is more important to me than simply creating beauty for pleasure’s sake.” 

Want to see her work in person? A selection of paintings from The Oregon Coast series is currently on display at the Grants Pass Museum of Art or scroll down for a video where she takes about the process of making this series.

To learn more about Kristen’s work and opportunities for classes, check out her video:

To add her work to your collection visit: or follow her on IG at @kristenoneillart

Artists Sharing Artists: is a series of posts where I share some of my favorite artists who are also inspired by nature and use their art to protect what they love. More artists coming soon…

Artists Sharing Artists: Nikolina Kovalenko

I met Nikolina when I was an artist in residence in Stöðvarfjörður, Iceland. We spent a month there being simply wowed by the natural beauty of eastern Iceland. Nika created an amazing series of monochromatic paintings on aluminum panels in lighting speed all inspired by the landscape, waterfalls and bits of nature she found while hiking. She even attempted to learn a little Icelandic, while I was happy to be able to pronounce the name of our town correctly. You can see her works from Iceland here.

We stayed in touch over the years and I watched her paint her way through a South American backpacking trip with adorable alpacas and vast landscapes. She then launched into her current series of work, Utopian Reefs after becoming a certified scuba diver. She uses her art as a vehicle to educate and inspire others to protect the planet. I love following along with her travels, her art and her contagious optimism on life, so I had to share with you all.

Red Coral Reign | oil on canvas | 54″ x 80″ | 2020

Nika’s work stems from an interest in humanity’s psychological connection with Nature and strives to expose the consequences our everyday actions have on the environment. Her subjects range from global warming, deforestation and coral bleaching, to processing and interpreting visual landscape and cultural associations.

Learn more about her process and concepts for her latest series Utopian Reefs:

To add her work to your collection visit: or follow her on IG at @nikolinakovalenko

Artists Sharing Artists: is a series of posts where I share some of my favorite artists who are also inspired by nature and use their art to protect what they love. More artists coming soon…

Art + Computer Science

So many of you have complimented my website over the years and I can not take responsibility for it’s beauty and functionality, I owe that to Priscilla Cinque’s amazing talents. Her artful eye and incredible attention to detail has made mine and many others websites simply shine. And when something breaks (usually me touching something I shouldn’t of!), she’s the first one I contact to patiently help me fix it – seriously don’t know what I’d do without her!

So, when she FINALLY made a website for her own creative endeavors, I knew I needed to share it with y’all!

a sample from the ‘down to earth’ collection

Please follow the link below to explore the (of course!) beautifully designed brand new site that showcases Priscilla’s botanical illustrations, photo realistic objects and painstaking line drawings. As I have no patience or talent for creating this kind of detail, I am always impressed when I see these pieces emerge from her home studio. I’m so happy to see her sharing her artwork with everyone now. Please enjoy…

Priscilla Shih Cinque: meditations on form, color, light and shadow

Selling AND Buying Art at Open Studios

I was so fortunate to have many pieces of art find new happy homes during Open Studios Art Tour this year. Thank you so much to all of you who put your money where you mouth is and supported your local artists!

Selling AND Buying Art at Open Studios | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculptureWhen you are a participating artist in the tour it’s really hard to make your way around to see other artists studios but this year, my husband and I were able to sneak in a few studio visits one afternoon. While we don’t have the biggest budget to buy art, let alone the space to put it in, we also believe in supporting local artists. So many people think that art is out of their price range so I wanted to share the gems that we bought, all for under $200. Seriously. Under $200.

The koi fish and coral original painting was done by muralist Elijah Pfotenhauer, the rabbit print was done by muralist Taylor Reinhold and the small bowl was done by ceramic artist Liz Crain. I love the color and energy that each of these pieces add to my collection of local and global artists.

What did you collect this year at Open Studios?

Studio Visit: Kristen O’Neill

On our road trip to Portland last week, we were very focused on everything clay. And with a billion ceramic themed exhibitions happening concurrently with the NCECA conference, it was hard to imagine seeing anything but clay. But, we did take a side trip and visited my sister-in-law, Kristen O’Neill at her studio in Grants Pass Oregon.

Studio Visit: Kristen O'Neill | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

There was no clay to be found in her studio, but there was lots of inspiration and color. Her work is bold, with broad brush stokes and no hesitance of movement, yet it’s calming and familiar with a soft earthy palette that makes you really feel a space. And as calming as her paintings are, I know that she rocks out hard core while getting the paint to the canvas, bringing them to life!

I love that we get to ‘talk art’ when we’re together whether it’s critiquing each others work, encouraging each others endeavors or just geeking out on the SEO status of our art websites. She’s also the Administrative Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator and head of the Open Studios Committee at the Grants Pass Art Museum so I got to take a private tour of the current exhibit with her. So lucky to have artists in the family!

Studio Visit: Kristen O'Neill | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture
Coastal Mountains Near Scott Creek, acrylic on canvas, 12″ x 36″, $800.

“My paintings capture the emotional release, the beauty of the place, and allow you to reconnect to nature and experience your special place on a daily basis. Celebrate your love of nature! Stay close to it. Be able to show other people what you love, and perhaps inspire them to come on that next hike with you. Empower yourself and others.”

To purchase her work, visit her website:

Sharing Art: Liz Crain

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to drop in on artist Liz Crain and pick up a few of her ceramic pieces. We got to talking about clay, art marketing, upcoming exhibits and other artsy talk. It’s always great to touch base with other artists who are struggling with the same things you are and to celebrate in each others successes as well.

One can of Whup Ass and two shot up beer cans that appear to be made of rusting metal are actually hand built from clay. I got these pieces with the intention of gifting them but I have to say, I’m going to have a hard time letting these guys go.

sharing art: Liz Crain | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

More about Liz’s work…
Liz makes fool-the-eye ceramic pieces which seem like vintage, rusty, dented cans. Tea Cans, Canisters, Spice Tins and Beer Cans, all meant to be more than meets the eye. Visit her website and online shop to pick out your own pieces!

South County Artists for Open Studios

I keep asking you all to come to MY studio for Open Studios this year, but while you’re out there, here are a few of my favorite clay and sculpture artists in the South County area to check out too! See you this weekend!

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | South County Artists for Open Studios

Adon Valenziano Artist #162 Mixed Media Sculptures and Mobiles

Wendy Ballen Artist #203 Wire Sculpture

Liz Crain Artist #207 Handbuilt Ceramic Vessels

Elaine Pinkernell Artist #287 Textured Ceramic Slab Work

Karen Hansen Artist #292 Handbuilt Ceramic Sculpture

So get your guide, make your plan, hit the studios and BUY ART this weekend!

Need more info: