Hi Everyone! I am so excited to have Laurie Speltz as the guest artist for my Innovative Corner. She has so much to share that it will be a two day article with two separate giveaways! Please join me so you can learn more about Laurie and The Creative Coach.
It is interesting how two artists can be in the same industry for years and their paths never seem to cross. That is how it was with Laurie and myself. I have just gotten to know her better over the past few years since I started working with Stampendous. It has been a pleasure to get to know her better because she just has a infectious personality that is motivational! She always has innovative ideas and ways of implementing them into the decorative painting industry. I can truly say I have never seen her without a smile on her face and she is always excited about something new she is working on.
While I did not know her personally, I have always admired her innovative ideas and the way she has broken down painting into such simple steps that anyone can paint with her stencil techniques. She is the one who started the step by step stenciling process that allows an individual to basecoat and build layers with each stencil. Just brilliant! Her stencil line and style has now expanded to included not only decorative painting, but also mixed media and paper crafting as well. It is my pleasure have this interview with her and I hope you enjoy getting to know her through this article!
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I have always been an overachiever. I was the kid who played and was a letter winner in multiple sports, played in the concert, jazz, pep and marching bands, sang in the choir, participated in talent shows, science fairs, speech contests, found all kinds of clubs and committees to be on and was editor of the yearbook. I taught myself to play guitar and banjo. I played the French Horn and Trombone (both valve and slide). I wanted to be in jazz band and a French Horn didn’t fit in. So that meant I needed to learn to play something that would fit in.
I have always loved all types of arts and crafts since I grew up in a family of crafters. As a kid I did all those “Draw Me” talent test ads for the Art Instructions School. I never sent them in but loved when a new one was in a magazine. (Did you know Charles Schultz started by taking that course and later became an instructor for them.) My Mom was the queen of DIY before there was DIY. I always knew I wanted to be involved in art in some way. I only had one semester of art in high school since it didn’t fit in with the college prep course schedule. So even though I really loved art, I didn’t have a portfolio to submit to a graphics art school.
Because I also loved the sea and science I went to college as a biology major with every intention of becoming a marine biologist. My plan was to go to school for 2 years in Iowa and transfer to the University of Hawaii to finish. I also had a love of the game of golf and played all 4 years of college on the golf team. (I taught myself that too.) Our family’s joke is that my sister worked her way through college and I played golf. We were the first women to receive scholarships. I ended up changing my major to education. After that experience I really wanted to become a teaching professional golfer but reality meant I needed to get a real job when I graduated. I used my teaching degree and my professional art career path eventually started in a classroom as a K-12 art teacher. I taught for 7 years but I didn’t really love it so I changed careers and became a sales rep. I built my business skills by becoming a sales rep and buyer for a sporting goods company. That experience allowed me to design custom clothing and apparel. The quest to continue to explore my artistic talents finally landed me in the arts and craft industry.
How did you get started in painting?
My sister and I wanted to start some type of craft business. We loved painted signs and cut outs we saw at craft shows. I said to myself one day, “I think I could do that.” So I started my journey to become a self-taught decorative painter. I gained most of my painting knowledge by reading magazines and books. Hours of trial and error followed to develop my skills and style. My basement and the kitchen table were my studios. Having a teaching degree helped me to be able to break skills down and develop my own philosophy and style of creating and teaching decorative painting and art. We did craft shows while we were still learning everything the hard way. I am lucky to still have all my fingers trying to cut bunnies with a jigsaw while my sister held the board in place. We had a large stack of bunnies and thought we were doing well. The vibration sent them tumbling and broke off all the ears. Thus, we discovered the use of glue and fabric bows. We sold every one of those “unique” rabbits.
I wanted to do more with my painting and wanted to start teaching some classes and sell our patterns. We opened a very small retail store. We were new to the neighborhood and didn’t know who are neighbors were and took baskets of nuts with a hand painted nutcracker as a Christmas gift to all our neighbors. Believe it or not the antique store next to us was owned by the editor in charge of all the craft magazines for Better Homes and Gardens. She came down to the store and asked if I would like to do a magazine article. I did that project along with many others and had many other wonderful experiences with Better Homes and Gardens. My second article was chosen to be the cover of the Halloween special interest publication. It was then I was hooked and publishing was to become my main focus. As of today, besides magazines we have done over 60 books and hundreds of pattern packets.
How did you come up with the title of Creative Coach for your business?
I had done a lot of coaching while I was teaching and continued to coach college volleyball while I was working for the Sporting Goods Company. I chose the name because that best described what I was doing, coaching people through the creative process. I have expanded on that idea over the years. We created workshops we call Creative Coach University, that challenge students to take the basic principles of a lesson and step out of the box and try additional alternatives to the problem presented.
My sister and I are it as far as the business is concerned. She helped me start this and even worked extra jobs every time we needed money for a project. That allowed me the time I needed to design and learn. Thus the family joke continued, she worked and I got to play in paint. Today however I work the extra job to reduce costs on insurance and she stays in the office. Paybacks?
We wear every hat you can think of. My sister Sandy was an accountant and was CFO of the Des Moines VA Hospital. She was ready to move on and had no desire to become a director of the hospital which was her only step up. I was ready to move on too so we decided I would start our business before we got any older and reality would set in and we would realize the real risks we were taking. We believed the worst thing that could happen is that we would have to go out and get “real” jobs again. She is the office manager and does all the accounting and books. She also packages all the stencils, patterns and other product we offer. I do all the creating, teaching, marketing and most of the manual labor. We compare our relationship similar to Walt and Roy Disney. I come up with all the crazy ideas (Walt) and she tells me a hundred reasons why we can’t do it (Roy). I am the ultimate believer that all things are possible, she is the realist who analyzes everything. In other words we are the perfect combination for a business. It takes a lot of time and energy to get some of my projects up and running. I only pray that one day we will have a success to make Walt and Roy proud.
At conventions and workshops we often have good friends help us in the booth. These great friends are gluttons for punishment and return year after year. The fact we have a lot of fun together off the floor is beside the point, they contribute to our success in a very big way.
People think we have this large crew of people working with us. The fact is we work 7 days a week and sometimes very long hours. We work till the jobs get done. We have done more all-nighters than we ever did in school.
Do you have any tips or techniques that would help the viewers paint your projects?
If you use stencils work hard at perfecting your shading and highlighting skills. When using the stencils, learn to load your brush and apply your paint efficiently and consistently. Use good brushes and try different ways of applying the paint. Sometimes I pounce the paint, sometimes I use a circular motion, and sometimes use a pounce and pull method. It depends on the stencil and the area that I am trying to use.
I want to also share my You Tube video with all of you where I go into all the basics of my basecoat stenciling techniques. Simply click on the photo below to view the video.
Today I want to give away a set of Four Stencil Brushes valued at $26.60! All you have to do to enter is to comment here or on Debbie’s Facebook page at Debbie Cole Designs! The winner will be announce on her page on Monday to give everyone a chance to enter.
Thank you so much for joining us today for this article. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and Laurie will be having another exciting giveaway. Hope to see you then!