Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Art 2

And the Christmas surprises continue!  I also have added a few of the abstract paintings that were sold.
"Storm Watch" 24 x 36 (sold)

"Olivia and her Horses" pastel 16 x 18

"Child with Standard Poodle" 14 x 17 pastel

30 x 60 mixed media "Race for the Triple Crown" (sold)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Christmas surprises! Blog 1

Williams portrait. Pastel 11 x 14

NOW, I can post a few images from our frantic month of December! So many collectors, so many hours...and I wouldn't have it any other way :-) On this page are just a few of the many...a good way to see the diversity! All portraits are different!

Mia, 16 x 20 pastel

Lydia 9 x 12 pastel
Ernie's Dad 16 x 29 Pastel

Saunders children 9 x 12 pencils

Ramsey Terriers, 11 x 14 pastel
Mixed breed portrait-Pastel 9 x 12

Yellow Labs of D. Perry 14 x 16 pastel

"Bubba" Chocolate Lab, Pastel collage 16 x 18

"R & M Drafty Achers" 14 x 24 pastel of mini team

Yellow Lab, pastel 9 x 12

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A girl and her mule

I loved meeting this family in October and photographing their daughter and her beautiful mule, Fancy! From that came my 24" x 26" oil portrait with their barn in the background. I didn't need to go to Florida in order to photograph their barn; her mom had an image on her cell phone. (ah, modern day wonders!) An earlier post had the painting in progress but now you can see the finished oil!

Morgan was showing Fancy and there is one thing about competitive showmanship classes-in that world there is just one correct way to present your animal!
Morgan with her mule, Fancy. 24" x 36" oil portrait

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Abstract catch up

We have been crazy busy and I was pretty surprised to see that almost 6 weeks had gone by since my last post!  Art classes, many commissions, shows...then it caught up with us around Thanksgiving and we both were zapped with some hacking, sore throat crud that we are still coming out from under!  But that's real life, whether you are an artist or a regular Joe :-)

Celebration of the Horse 12 x 24

Star Streams16 x 20

Heaven's Gate 16 x 20

Storm Watch 24 x 36
 4 of my abstracts sold recently and it was a lot of fun to see them go off with happy collectors :-) 

Now I am concentrating on my portraits and . delighted to have many to do!

I'll post completed, non-gift ones in the next few days. We have to be careful what goes up this time of year!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The cameo pastel

I love Fall! People are actually more organized...maybe because there is so much more (it seems) to do!

Lots of small portraits have been ordered from my clients right now so I am busy creating memories for many people. This time of year everything is starting into the secrecy stage :-)

 cameo pastel
 This cute baby was just 2 weeks old when her photo was taken as was her brother (who is now 2). I suggested to their mom to do separate portraits simply because each one at 2 weeks, put together, will look like a set of twins!

 cameo pastel
There was a little coordinating of clothes and colors of course-but all timeless!

Bella, cameo past

This small pastel was photographed on my easel but is a popular size for gift giving. They frame out to around 12 x 15 (with mats) Almost any kind of photo will work-even the old black and white ones pulled from a relative's album :-)
I call them "cameos"...the face (of a person) is usually around the size of roughly a saucer...then of course I add a bit more to balance the portrait and...Walla!, a cameo  portrait

So did everyone order pastels? No. Another popular medium is pencil. Yep. Soft, black and white pencils :-)

3 separate pencil portraits, cameos
I have combined 3 pencils together for display purposes but each one is a cameo. Pencil is super hard for me to photograph as you can see! Each background is white but the soft, subtle shades of gray get lost in a photograph! So enjoy by using your imagination!

Coming up later-more cameos featuring dogs and h

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Three Labrador Retrievers

Rex, Magnus and Ami
My 24 x 30 oil portrait of these three charming labs went home to their owner last night!
Two of the old fellows are pushing 14 but the young center Lab, Magnus takes care not to overpower his elders :-)

I took the original photos and then combined their images and personalities into one large oil that now hangs proudly over the mantle.

Originally the owners called me last year  but we were not able to get together until August. 

The owner of Ami said it best when he said, "This is frickin' awesome!"
Yep-does my heart good :-)

Dec. 6, 2012 update: Rex, the yellow Lab on the far left passed away Nov 25. RIP old fellow-you will be so missed by your owner.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Seattle and fish and babies......and art

Kennedy Hazel Boone
So here I am in Seattle Washington where my daughter gave birth to her first baby-little Kennedy Hazel Boone on Sept 9 at 7:30 am. 
Mom and baby are doing just fine after one of those dramatic ER c-sections that was not in the initial plans :-)

Actually I have been here since Aug 27, but baby Kennedy slipped on by her due date of Aug 30 and so I extended my stay in this beautiful area just east of Seattle.

Artists at their small stalls

Tempting local vegetables and flower sellers
One area I explored was an historic  place in Seattle long known as a market for fishermen and farmers and now including artists and musicians called Pike's Place.

In business since the turn of the century

The place was packed-seems it was also the location (and still is) of the original Starbucks-a big tourist draw.

me with the Needle behind me.
A visit to Seattle would not have been complete without a visit to the Space Needle.See it behind me? Yes, I did get much closer...we ate dinner there (a bit pricey) and while walking the perimeter of the observation tower later I looked below to see an artist painting a trompe l' oeil version of giant spiders!

So see? There is some art in today's blog :-).
I fly back to NC on Sept 17.
The life of an artist...never dull :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Felting? Clueless and loving it!

I put the following on my Artsy Journeys blog and copied it here. Enjoy!


Fiber art, felting and a drive way into the country!

So off I go to a Felting workshop with that most wonderful of feelings-clueless.
Yes, clueless. Meaning that I do not have a clue as to what to expect, what to do, how to do it or any preconceived idea of what is involved. I wasn't even sure what "felt" was. :-)

A collage of 7 or the 8 completed in the 6-8:30 class
A friend and I carpooled and it was probably a good thing. I am far from map illiterate-rarely use a GPS (ha ha-I am the type to first look at a map and then see if the GPS is right) so I drove in my little Honda Fit which lovingly gets close to 35 mpg (40 downhill with a back wind) and of course mapquest nor the instructor knew to tell us about the bridge out/detour. No big deal-lovely afternoon, nice drive and eventually we do reach our destination-a "Retreat" deep down  a half mile gravel driveway (this was not much more than a track) through beautiful woodlands and lo and behold, come to a charming house and cute art studio smack in the middle of Franklin Co, NC...and in essence (this is not a joke) in the middle of nowhere. One of those lovely wooded properties bought back when an access road was  the only way to buy ancient, overgrown farmland, replete with the remains of old homesteads. No fields-just lovely forest and, yes, that retreat feeling of crickets and tree frogs ...very loud tree frogs as evening approached :-).

What a cute concept by Debbie!

A lovely example by Sharon!
Anyway, we WERE in for a treat as 8 of us gathered together and our instructor (And Retreat owner), Margaret Hilpert of Cedar Cross Retreat led us through the steps. Now I had seen something on Facebook about felting a scarf and was totally baffled (and lost)  by the rolling, slapping, pounding, soaking of the wool (which is what felt is I discovered) but when actually DOING it, the procedures begin to make sense. 

I was not joking when I said rolling, pounding, kneading and eventually wadding up our creations and throwing them onto a towel on the floor. The word, "workout" comes to mind.
My efforts resulted in this tree :-)
In the photos you can see some of the results and they were lovely. Felting is an ancient art and everyone from the Mongolians to the Europeans understood the insulation qualities of felt...from yurts to felt boots, hats, wall hangings, etc. Personally, after making my small example, I would NEVER put it on the floor. LOL, in our art business no one wants to step on floor mats either (after being made and handpainted) so wiping one's feet on a work of art just isn't in my DNA.

Margaret had some beautiful examples of her work that she had later, upon finishing the felting, had embellished with additional needlework, "needling" (a cool punching in of loose fabric) yarn, glittery stuff and all manners of creativity.

Felting is considered "fiber art".  No longer a survival necessity, but a beautiful art piece for one's enjoyment. The creations seen on the Internet that artists are making are just amazing.  Supplies (just google it) for feltmaking are everywhere. In essence, it is a whole other art industry akin to jewelry making, pottery painting...Frankly I was happy to come away from the experience knowing a new, yet ancient technique for creating yet another form of beautiful art. Everyone dabbles in their chosen art field at different levels and I look forward to "playing around" with my piece when I figure out what to embellish it with...already I can envision using this new art in art journaling, perhaps in some many options!

To learn more about where we were and who we enjoyed an evening of camaraderie, art and beautiful woodsy solitude, visit

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Trio of Labradors! Following a work in Progress

There is no doubt that oil portraits "pop!" They are challenging in the sense that the artist (lol-me) has to work quickly to lay in the colors and work wet paint into wet paint to blend. Of course often I have to step back, let it dry before adding details.

Oil in progress Three Labs" 24 x 30
This large oil is a work in progress meaning, I'm just not done with it :-)

Although the owners handed me photos of their "boys", none were what I need for the "pop" factor. So I went back later and snapped quick photos with my old Nikon D70. Good for what I do so need to update to fancier more expensive models!

This is a large 24 x 30 oil and I gave them several choices initially. I like to do rough sketches so that the client gets a feel for what I'll be creating for them, and the actual size-a HUGE plus! Nope just sketches-no photoshop for me!

I usually wait and let collectors see the finished work but the dogs are completed enough for them to see what I first showed them in a sketch so after teaching a class this morning, I'll run down and let them have a peek!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Inspired by Nature and keeping it all simple!

Inspired by Nature and keeping it all simple!

I am one of those artists and art journal individuals inspired by simple pleasures :-) It can be as spectacular as our recent art show location near Boone, NC or the light bouncing off a hanging basket of flowers on my front porch.
My husband absorbing the wildflowers on top of an NC Mountain

An art or travel journal is supposed to be fun! It is not all about new techniques or the latest fad.  Make your journal as creative as YOU want to make it.

There are so many magazines now out there with a gazillion "do this" to be creative articles that it is easy to be overwhelmed. Remember that most of the authors are paid to come with new ideas! Do what comes naturally and creatively to you.  If a new method or idea "despires" instead of "inspires" then
wait for another day!

Traveling light-markers, white crayon, couple of brushes and water bottle! 
Often while traveling your supplies are limited by what can be easily carried and used. Stick with the basics and keep it simple!
Carry a camera (this from my cell phone) to catch a moment, then enjoy being in the moment!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Siamese cat!

One thing about animal portraiture and that is the wonderful array of both animals and their people that I get to know! Of course I often create artwork without meeting the animals (through their owner's photos), but listening to how the owners describe and talk about their pets is the key to painting them accurately!
It's not just the image. It's what is in the owner's heart that makes the difference between artists striving for photographic likenesses or photography vs "painting with your heart." There is a big difference in the final result!

I am a Siamese cat. Obey me!

When I posted this lovely Siamese, Cleo, on Facebook, I said "Dogs will do anything for their humans". And then I added "Owners will do anything for their cats!" In this 14 x 18 pastel that I created with PanPastels, I worked from the owner's photographs-not great ones-but I could compensate from her description of Cleo...her 14 year old Siamese let me re-phrase that....her 14 year old "boy", her pride and joy, her rock, her friend, her companion.....her comfort. 
And knowing what an animal means to it's human and loving them yourself is what makes the final portrait meaningful! Or as my client said:

"Can you hear me screaming joy??? I love it, it's my boy :) !!! Sitting up so proud and proper. It's wonderful Theresa
Yippee!!!! (biggest smile i've smiled in a long time and just what I needed this week! Woo hoo!!
thank you so much!"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Results from art Journaling class!

Collage of journals from Art Retreat!
The group of ladies had a ball at my studio!

Look closely and see if you can see the miniature journals they created as well!

Art Journaling is like mixed media-you can have as much or as little art supplies as you want...the more the better...the key is to have them at arms length (reach) so you can grab and create within seconds.....make it simple on yourself and the results will be more than you dreamed!

Want to know more? Pop over to my special site! on art journaling:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The artist and Art Journaling

My art isn't confined to paint and canvases! I love to create on another level and to enjoy a snippet of it, visit my other blog and see if you don't catch the "fever." :-)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Traditional art and the Portrait

Bogie and Ribbons 24 x 30 pastel
Among my clients, traditional art will always be the most popular when it comes to portraiture!

I just completed this large 24 x 30 pastel of an adorable Bichon and her late companion, a cute Schnauzer sitting on their favorite chair on the back porch of the owner's house.

Created from the client's photos and my visit to her house, it's always challenging to paint dark objects such as a wicker chair and black railing and not have it overwhelm the subjects. I kept the two dogs as the focal point by not cluttering up the background, softening what I did create and detailing them so that they would "pop" from the portrait. There was no photo of them sitting together like this...all of it is created from my personal, non computerized "photoshop" abilities the old fashioned way-by hand and brain :-)

The fun part is that she has seen it digitally (which I honestly hate to do) and the "unveiling" will be a treat as any artwork is far better in person than on someone's computer.

And finally, if I have one piece of advice for pet owners, make the time to take decent photos of those you cherish! Look for their expressions and try to capture it as best you can. The very best imagoes this family will have of their much loved pets will be from this pastel portrait. That makes me happy :-).

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Clutter Free mentality-a tribute to my dad

There was a time in my life where I thought that if I heard the phrase "A place for everything and everything in its place" from my Dad one more time, I would scream.  I had the usual teenage responses when caught in the act  ...."I know, I know" or "yeah, yeah"  and of course had the proper body language for it - rolling the eyes, stiffening of the spine, dismissive hand wave, looking bored, all while trying to emanate "cool". 

I don't think I ever knew if my dad was naturally neat or if his years in the military honed his skills, but the fact remains that his legacy is with me always when I am tempted to leave the yard tools out, not unload the dishwasher or more importantly for my art business, after using supplies in the art studio.

My dad's workshops, wherever we lived, had vast expanses of pegboard with items not only hung up but outlined with marker. His rationale, when asked, was that if there was an empty hook,  he knew what was missing by the outline and could look for it or  find the culprit who borrowed it and did not put it back. Nails, screws, wire, electrical thingies, all were sitting in clear plastic ("they don't break," he said) instant coffee jars on shelves. Everything had a place, and everything was in it's place.
It's hard to argue with that logic.

I think I rebelled for awhile. I am not anal neat. But I am, I discovered, anti-clutter. Weird. When it gets to the point where I feel there is too much clutter in every room, brain rebels and the "clean slate" mentality takes over and my family hustles. Ask my 4 kids who knew that if mom says she was going into their rooms the next day with a big black trash bag, ( after repeated, useless efforts to get them to do it themselves)  she WOULD fill it and she WOULD take it to the dump.  The amazing result of this happening, get this, one time, was that it never happened again (go figure).  After the first event, I would only have to give fair warning and it was like I switched on  hidden kid motivation motors and the room cleaning activity by four kids went into 4th gear.  They were too bent to the tasks in their rooms for me to see the eye rolling or hear the muttered comments, but I didn't care. Everything was going into....some place. 

The kids are all on their own now and there are only two people to blame if the clutter gets bad. My artist husband does not have my father's sense of cleaning up behind himself. He too has seen the results of my anti-clutter blitz. He may think that as a spouse he is exempt to my one woman war on "shit everywhere", but he knows better. Just like my kids, too much stuff means you don't really know what you have, even when it is gone.  And the Goodwill is all the better for it. 

Now let me clarify that it takes a lot to get me to the blitz mode. It is bad. It is 2 days of dirty dishes in the sink, paths through the studio,  unloaded art supplies from the vehicles from shows, classes, exhibitions.....all set inside the door like the area around the top of some attic stairs. When it is too cluttered, there is an area in my brain that is cluttered. Most importantly, it affects my creativity. There is something to be said for reaching for whatever supply you need and having it right there. 

Perhaps the one iconic moment that marked the end of my "oh it doesn't matter" attitude was searching for my car keys one day. My dad used to refer to such moments as  "the great treasure hunt."  When I found the keys where I had tossed them upon entering the house, it dawned on me as clearly as the sun outside that if today had taken twenty minutes to find this one item, I had probably wasted at least a year of my life, over time, trying to find something that had not been put back in it's place. It was one of those "Ah Ha!" moments. I could say that the apple didn't fall far from the tree, or I was truly my father's daughter but the truth was that I was tired of disorganization that affected my life. The car key problem was solved easily (and I might add for the whole family of driving teens) by putting a key ring hold by the front and side entrances to the house. Every time someone walked into the house with car keys, any keys, they were hung up in plain site. It worked.
I think it was like losing weight-once the first few pounds come off, the motivation to keep doing whatever you're doing, intensifies.   So I set about organizing everything, all the paperwork files for the business, appliance warranties, insurance papers, kids' papers...and the feeling of needing something and being  able to lay hands on it was.....miraculous.

Oh it creeps back and you have to stay vigilant. Yesterday I attacked the studio. It was actually unplanned. But I have a student art camp coming up soon and was not getting my act together to plan what I needed to do. My "list" was not growing. So one thing led to the other and I moved, tossed out, hung, secured, dragged and otherwise organized the art studio back to a positive, creative, "want to be there" space and I am happy. My brain is not cluttered in the art corner part of it and I am ready to attack my plans and organize the activities. It is a good place to be. :-)

Funny thing is that the trend today is to hire someone to unclutter your life, organize your closets, design the perfect clutter free environment, or join on line groups that make your lists for you .

But in the long run, you have to have the self motivation to do it yourself.
And it really is as simple as finding a place for everything and then putting it all back in its place.

Thanks Dad. You would be proud (mostly) :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Abstracting Realism

Theresa's 30 x 60 "Racing for the Triple Crown"
Of course I love to create my portraits! I've been doing it a long time!

But this journey into "Abstracting Realism" is merging what I see, know and have experienced into a unique world and takes a lot of energy! With the large paintings especially.......I feel the energy, use the energy, tap into the energy and when I am finally done, feel a little...drained :-) Yep, that's the word. Sounds dramatic, but that's the way it happens. Latest Abstract Realism painting above is a 30 x 60 in size.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Making the studio a retreat

New fence in front of studio
Today was one of those days where we were able to check off yet one more thing on our perpetual "to do" list!

And what we checked off was the fence in front of the Art studio! As with any big project we've put a lot of time and effort into our art studio. We spend a lot of time in here and we try to make it not just a place to work, but a retreat.  Visitors love the look and feel of our studio.

We built it a little over ten years ago from recycled materials gathered from a 1910 house being demolished, a warehouse of construction leftovers and good old fashioned muscle and help from family members! took us almost two years  because  we paid as we went along. No debt :-).

So today, we were able to step back and admire our new section of fence. It's the same kind of fence we have around our rose and herb garden. Tobacco stick screwed to treated wood...and the sticks, if not touching the ground, last as long as the treated wood!  We had to first tear down the picket fence we installed at the beginning as the invading wisteria (yes we stupidly planted it on purpose!) had started to pull it down. Putting up the fence was the easy part. Attacking the vegetation with chainsaw, clippers and Round Up, was a the hard part :-). Oh well the original concept was good...we just picked the wrong plant for an arbor!

Artists often need beauty and quiet times for inspiration.... it's a perfect place for many of our classes and our art retreats. Sure you can find the beauty elsewhere as an option. But being a part of it, nourishing it and reveling in it...well now, that's the artist's life!

Same type of fence around herb and rose garden

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Art Journaling and making the memory a reality!

 OK, I confess. I just copied and pasted this entry from my other blog into this blog but heck I can't improve on it anyway! And it IS a part of the day to day life of being an artist :-) 
I am very focused on paying my bills while creating the best art for my clients that I can,but this is a branch that is another creative path that I walk...the blog IS new...but it's still the same old me sharing all the aspects of an artist's life! Visit me as well at the link below!

My Art Journal page
How can you not be inspired by flowers? Your garden or a friend's? 
The Queen Anne's lace is blooming  everywhere now. The warm winter meant it all came about two weeks early. In NC they bloom wild alongside what we  call "Tiger Lilies" Somehow "ditch lilies" doesn't do it for me! I let a few grow randomly in my garden and love that decision!
Both types of flowers are a fond remembrance of mine of my sister and I riding our horses down the roads and seeing these same types of wildflowers growing alongside the  road in upstate New York!
So a combination of using leaves (yanked from my grass) as a stencil, lace, paint, spray ink, markers and my trusty gel medium, transposed my vision into a fun 9 x 11 Art Journal page of a few sentences and all things Queen Anne's Lace!
It's easy to paint the flower...just blop dabs of white paint in the general shape of the head of the flower!

The journal next to the Queen Anne's Lace in my garden

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making the News :-)

News - Wake Forest

On the road: Franklinton painting duo make art pay


Theresa Brown’s first career was as a dog trainer running a 100-pen kennel in Raleigh. Steve Filarsky was a sign painter from Philadelphia, specializing in gold-leaf hand-lettering on fire trucks and antique boats.
Now, the couple is married, earning a living as traveling portrait artists for the past 15 years, crisscrossing the country to sell their work at art shows and returning to home base in Franklinton in between. Making it work as a self-employed household has taken flexibility and business savvy, but both say it’s worth it.
“As times change, you have to adapt what you do,” Brown said. “The biggest thing is, yeah, you can do it, but it’s hard work.”

Filarsky and Brown are the featured artists at Wake Forest Art and Frame Shop for downtown Wake Forest’s Art After Hours event Friday. Shop owner Beth Massey recently commissioned a portrait from Brown of her own children, marveling over Brown’s ability to capture the essence of each child’s personality.
“You can make something look like a picture, but to capture how people in that family see that person is amazing,” Massey said.
The idea that you can’t make a living as an artist is relatively new – artists have been tradesmen working on commission for millennia, Brown said.
“Even the greatest of artists had to go, gee, I’ve got to finish this – I have bills due,” Brown said.
A life in art
Art show season is cyclical, so Brown and Filarsky have developed a lifestyle that follows the weather like migrating birds: drive the camper down to Florida for a month at a time for winter art shows starting in November, then head to the northern shows in spring and summer. It helps that they work well together; last Wednesday, Brown was scheduling art classes in Wake Forest while Filarsky set up their booth at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh.
The road to self-employed success was a winding one for both artists.
For Brown, the catalyst was a divorce that left her a single mom of four kids between the ages of 3 and 13. She needed money, fast.
Her three years of art school at East Carolina University had left her with the mindset that painting portraits on commission was somehow lesser, not truly “art.” She shoved those feelings aside and set up a booth at the N.C. Flea Market, “where most artists wouldn’t be caught dead.” The first weekend, she came up empty. Her second weekend, she netted $90. The two following weekends brought in $250 apiece, and she knew she’d found a viable career.
In the two decades since, she has illustrated books for New York publishing houses and other projects, but her focus is portrait-painting with a special niche capturing people and their horses or dogs. She first holds a photo session with a client to get natural, relaxed photos in the setting of their choice. She then creates a pastel portrait, with special care to capturing the spirit of her subjects.
Filarsky started out with an architecture degree from Penn State University, then moved to North Carolina to start a sign business in Wake Forest, where he met Brown while investigating the local art scene. He specializes in watercolor portraits, in addition to hand-lettering gigs from across the country.
Having a business-owner’s mindset is crucial to succeeding in a notoriously difficult field, Brown said. There’s no waiting for inspiration to strike – the work has to be done according to client specifications on deadline.
The couple is able to live comfortably; their house and cars loans are mostly paid off, and they used to maintain a beach getaway spot. Brown’s kids are grown, but the couple has two ponies, five dogs and a goat.
“When it comes to ‘making a living,’ you determine what you want,” Brown said. “Aim for what you want, and you can do it by hitting the right market. Luck doesn’t enter into it.”

Portrait of Massey children

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