Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas! Onwards 2008!

Well, for an artist business that works solely on commission, 2007 has been a busy and rewarding year. Rewarding financially and rewarding in the knowledge of the joy that I create with my art for both me and for my clients!
The activities of the season have been a combination of mother passed away this year with me at her side and as I walked away from the hospital in those dark, early morning hours last February, I knew that another era had passed. So this Christmas, I find myself thinking "She would like this" or "She needs this" and just as suddenly making the connection that it didn't matter this year...but I shake off the doldrums, for with every sad thought is the reality of people delighted with what I have created for them. Today O know that my clients excitedly await the "reveal" of a Christmas Eve or morning portrait. I love it!
And with that thought I wish a very Merry Christmas to everyone! And let's make 2008 a year for dreams to come true!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pastels, horses and more

Hope Thanksgiving was good for everyone! We've been busy with the Fall shows and now of course, Christmas!

included some recent portraits in this post.
This lovely young lady and her mount posed for me at the UNC shows in Raleigh NC so I could create this pastel for her family!
The challenge is creating the colors of a clipped horse (in this case, a dun) with the range of colors available in pastels. Oils can be mixed but pastels must be lightly layered to come close to the necessary colors :-).

Both of the dog portraits were created from photos supplied by the owners. It is always satisfying to create something for posterity. Both animals had passed away and these will be gifts!
Stay tuned for more Christmas portraits!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Duke Charity Horse Show

Well it is that time of year again and we are set up and flourishing at the Duke shows in Raleigh NC! Beautiful, crisp fall weather has perked the colors of the trees and although we need rain badly, the weather can' t be better at the moment! The explosive Grand Prix is Saturday night and a glittering assortment of spectators will be out in full.

And of course, with our booth set up at the doorway and both Steve and I painting, we have encouraged all of our clients to stop on by!

Now I must confess that as I write this, it is 8 pm, cold, dark and I am in front of a fire while Steve is at the show :-) But hey, that's life! Our home is about 30 miles from this show so unlike Saratoga, NY or Blowing Rock NC, we are close enough to commute and not camp.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pastel portrait of Little Girl

I am trying to be good and stay up to date! Hard to do when so much is going on but this is part of running a business!
This session will be brief. I have a son going off to Marine Boot camp tomorrow and spending time with him has been on my list of priorities!

This pastel portrait of a young girl was created for clients of mine and is the second I have done for them. Many families have me create a portrait of each child as they reach a certain age. Others have a portrait created of all of them at the same time with their varying ages. It just depends on the client. There is no "right" way!

As usual, I apologize for the bluish tint in the photos that I put up! My husband edits the ones for the website but frankly, I am thrilled just to get them up :-).

Remember to keep our troops in your prayers. I do not care what your political convictions are, we have men and women serving this country and they deserve our respect and admiration. Don't let politics leave you kicking the dog!

Visit me at

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beginnings of Christmas

We stay busy year round! But admit it, there is something about Christmas that makes all of us think that NOW is the time to pick up that present or item we have been thinking about all year long! And my clients are no exception :-). NO problem! When they call me with the nudge of "OK, I need to call her this week!" I am perfectly happy with that! I work great with deadlines. I LOVE deadlines. I work

great in public, late into the night, first thing in the morning and everything in between. To be successful at art in any form, you HAVE to value your clients' needs and expectations. The funny thing is most clients will preface a deadline request with "I don't want to rush you" and rest assured, they do NOT! My normal reply is to laugh and assure them that deadlines work for me :-).

The pencil collage above (sorry for the blue cast) is the second one that I have completed for a client with her horses. I leave space around the images and add the names onto some area of the halters and as she adds more horses, she brings the portrait back and I add the new horse. I have done the same with people's dogs and it is a loving tribute to the many animals wh share or have shared one's life! People? Of course! A collage is a grouping of subjects that are relative to the message an artist is sending. Many chidren create them at school using magazine tear outs and they are a telling visual image of what that individual is thinking of him or herself :-). A collage may have a set of grandparents in the center and around them are their lives condensed into a number of visual images (a garden , the beach, a family tree, a job, travel, a funny episode, a hobby, etc.) TIme consuming for me BUT an heirloom that is enjoyed by the family for many years.
The pastel of the horse is a good example of taking a busy photograph and reducing the subject to it's important essentials. The background is muted and soft, the subject is crisp and focused.....the perfect ingredients for a successful portrait of any subject!
I have just completed 3 weeks of straight shows so within a few days I will post additional images of completed portraits. A few of them are horses and their owners of course but several are clients returning to have a portrait created of that second or third child!
And maybe I'll post that 40 x 80 oil of the family which is very near completion. A long time in the "doing" but the end will be worth it...not quite there but there enough to see what I will be altering and changing!
Until next time!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fall is "sort of" here!

A recent commisssion of a proud mom and daughter! Dad is a smart man as this will be a Christmas present! This pastel is approximately 18 x 24.

Recent fun! (see below)
Custom painting the Trail of Painted Ponies! As a woodworker (I have carved large Victorian rocking horses)
I have been selling these on Ebay since I actually do not have room for them in my booth at shows. So they have been a nice creative outlet for my art. I'll post a few more finished examples later.
This one is part of my "Wild Ponies of the Outer Banks " series. Check out the web site for the prints-very popular!

OK. We still have drought and heat BUT the good news is that the heat is staying below 90 degrees and the nights are now down in the 40-50 range, Do-able!

Working diligenty while also at the NC State Fair with a portrait booth. Steve and I alternate up to a point. This year he is spending more time there :-)

So what is happening in my art world? Commissions of course!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Work and more work!

Dummy me misplaced my password (almost a first) , obviously found it and despite the fact that my blog is in sore need of an update, it does not mean I have been idle!

Now I will need to come back and post new images but in the meantime I can tell you that it is lucky that man invented air conditioning! Record heat here in NC and it was with blessed relief that we headed up for 2 weeks of shows in the beautiful mountain town of Blowing Rock, NC. The old grounds are located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and the scenery is spectacular!

Actually Steve went first with the camper and I followed later. But I am working diligently on a large oil in the studio that cannot be easily transported and could not stay too long. Besides, at this particular show, it was Steve's beautiful plein air paintings that they lined up to purchase. No matter. We have the same checking account :-)

Now I have mentioned the Corgi, Rosie. She is easy to travel with and taking her away from home lets the other 4 dogs (non-Corgies) get a break from her. So she gamely hiked with us on a non show day through well maintained horse trails. I will include some links later as anyone or group can go to the grounds and keep their horses there and use the trails all through the mountains.

I returned to 104 degrees and it was hard not to turn around and head back! Images will follow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Returning to the rest of the story

I have artist friends who create wonderful art and write enchanting blogs. Even after a show or an event, they continue in creative mode as if no event had taken place.

I think I am jealous!

I returned home late on the 11th after leaving a week of shows behind and after meeting a client outside of Clifton, VA. And although I would love to just walk into my studio the following day and begin to create, an actual ART business just isn't run that way (alas!)

Tuesday morning comes early and with it a sorting through the piles of mail. Bills here, Taxes there, checks over here, online bills, phone calls to return, the list to go over. Appointments, who to arrange a meeting? Who to send an image to, sorting through who handles the camping at the next show and what prints to ship to clients.....and that is before lunch! Physically there are drives to the bank, the Post Office, the grocery store, unloading the car...Steve is at the Keswick shows with the van and camper.

It is good to know that nothing extreme happened while I was gone :-) so one must always, while noting what did not get done, note what DID get done and balance it out.
My point being, when I paint, I paint! When I work, I work. Dispersed between painting sessions is the constant marketing, the constant emails and phone calls, the whole panorama of running a business....and I would not have it any other way!

Yes, I am still, at times, jealous of those artists who seem to have not a financial care in the world, whose only thoughts lie far removed from business.....but then I remember my art history and easily relate to those artists through the centuries, who, like me, needed to make a living and were fortunate enough to be able to blend and train their skills and talents into a profession that has endured for centuries!

OK. Adding to my blog can be crossed off my list!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A morning snack

A client asked me to post this image of a pastel that I created because she "liked the mood." She said that it reminded her of her own daughter. That's what is nice about creating an image that causes a response in a person. I think that many times, despite what art critics think, the average person wants something on the wall they CAN relate to. Something that stirs a response, a memory, a feeling.
A statement? If a memory or a scene "speaks" to you, it IS making a statement :-).
I'm in Upperville, VA at the moment, listening to much needed rain on the roof of the camper. It took us two hours to set up yesterday evening and we watched the clouds roll in from tropical storm Barry. I understand that further east it is really coming down.
No one wants a hurricane but it IS and always has been, Nature's way of replenishing the water supply!
OK. I will be working on a client's oil tomorrow (if it is not raining) and will try to take some photos of a work in progress!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pencil Portrait of Baby

Well, less you think I have been idle.......the past couple of days I have completed 4 commissions: 3 pencils and a small pastel. I will post the other 2 pencils after figuring out how to alter the white balance. As you see, the pencil is dark and was obviously worked on white paper..... !
The pencils are very popular and in an investment range that everyone can afford. This client (as the others) emailed their images to me.
Originally, in the client's photo, this little guy was in a hammock on his side, so as an artist I just altered a few things, adjusted his position and wallah! A beautiful heirloom from a candid photograph

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pohicke Bay, Potomac River in Virginia

Lovely, huh? One big advantage to camping is being able to hike trails and capture an image like this. Beautiful May weather along the banks of the Pohicke Bay of the Potomac. Easily reachable from the campgrounds of the Virginia State Park. Geese were nearby and HUGE fish were swirling around the banks among the tops of submerged trees. A great spot to unwind.
No (sigh) , I have not painted it yet....I have to make sure the commissions are completed first!
Since arriving back in NC on Tuesday, I have been kept busy with the usual details that come with running a business!
However I am not too busy to realize the weather is warmer, the wild roses are blooming......... and it's time to go paint!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Secretariet and Ponies

There is something about being in a camper listening to the rain on the roof that makes for a sound night's sleep!
All day yesterday and last night the rain fell steadily and the riders and their horses bore it with good humor. We are beginning to think that "Saint Clements" was the saint of rain :-)
I have spent some productive days with my pastels and completed two more commissions.
The lovely aged gelding to the left is "Pinky" a grandson of Secretariet and as red and gorgeous as his grandsire. It is an 18 x 24 Pastel.

(Collection of Mike Seagrove)

Since we wil be on the road all day tomorrow, I decided to add this pastel which I completed in Saratoga as well.
Peyton and her pal, Lone Star were at the Rosemont Show in Virginia where I photographed them for their portrait.
(Collection of Melinda Smith)

Many artists tell me that they cannot work in public, but I find that I can easily slip into a zone when I am concentrating and "working in public"
doesn't bother me.

And the speed in which I work is two-fold. First of all, pastel comes easily to me. I am a drawer and pastel is just an extension of that ability.

Secondly I cannot procrastinate at a show! I can't clean the house, work in the garden, feed the goats or ponies, wander off on another other words, I keep my nose to the grindstone! So it is not speed as much as the ability to concentrate and stay focused when I am creating artwork! Until next time!

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Child and her Pony and MEMORIES

Wow, it has been raining and COLD here at this show in upstate NY so yesterday I completed a PASTEL commission of a child and her pony while staying warm and dry in the camper. Steve manfully worked on his horse show paintings despite the lack of gloves (I am not kidding here) and when I took a break from my work, I'd bring him some hot coffee.

Two weeks in a hotel would have been a very tiring proposition and Steve and I have an wonderful advantage in that one of us can man the booth while the other works elsewhere (or sleeps or eats or goes to the laundromat!)

The order came in last weekend and the client will collect it this weekend. This is the completed 16 x 16" pastel. On another, smaller digital camera, I have some "in progress" shots that I hope turned out considering the light (or lack of) and will see about posting them later.
The face of the child is from another photograph and I dropped her hands, lowered her heels, removed Mom (it was a candid photo from a leadline class several years ago) and created a neutral background. This is a pony worth it's weight in gold....what other pony could be dressed up and taken door to door trick or treating at night as they do each Halloween?
Many of my portraits begin with a memory....if the client is fortunate, there is a good photo, but many times there is not, and it is up to me to bring out the details of my client's memory of that day, that event, that is SO rewarding!
Cloudy today but I may be able to work outside at the booth. People do love to watch and I am more productive actually.....stay at the easel longer! I have a small pencil of a child and a small pastel of a mixed breed dog to complete before we return to NC on Monday........brrrr, gotta turn the propane heat! higher!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

a PENCIL a DAY! (in public)

Yep..all you need (I am constantly telling parents and artists) to improve your ability to see and draw is a #2 pencil and a pad of drawing paper!

I tell budding artists that they should ALWAYS be carrying those two art supplies around....and there are several good reasons why!

1. A small 5 x 7 sketch book
is handy and portable. When out with friends or with parents, sketch something...anything...a salt shaker, a leaf, a dog, a friend, a fork...the point is small sketches teach hand and eye coordination. There is NO substitute like the real thing. The ability to see perspective can take an artist further in an art career than anything else. Even a career in computer art is enhanced by knowing the basics...why? Because Photographs are often distorted!

2. The next benefit
of carrying these two art items around is that YOU are "Working in public." Do you really think that the average person is going to come up to you or a child and look at a sketch and say"That's awful!"? No. The perks are increased confidence, increased ego and of course, increased skills!

3. Parents of kids take note! Let your kids SELL their artwork!
$1.00 or 2.00 or even $10.00 or $15.00. The point is, they must learn to VALUE their abilities EVEN if a sketch took 15 seconds! Got it? NO freebies to classmates, neighbors, etc....well maybe Grandma but no matter your age, do NOT value it by how little time it took!

Get a sketchbook, sketch simple items daily for 2 weeks, date each sketch, and resketch a couple of your earlier ones 2 weeks later. You WILL see an improvement in speed and perspective...and by this time your nervousness at sketching in public (the mall, a restaurant, recess, on the bus, car, etc.) will also be fading!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A quiet old Lab

Everyone knows such a dog or has had such a dog! This commission, finished at these shows, emphasizes the older, quieter Lab......the ones that lay down by the fire or greet their owners sedately.......yes they exist and the keys to capturing such a dog's image correctly are the eyes and the ears!
This lovely old girl was a seeing eye dog, retired early because of occassional but unpredicatable seizures. But her "dad" loves her!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Finishing the OIL commission

Despite my earlier attempt at procrastination, I later buckled down and finished a few strokes to the background to consider this commission completed :-).

Well, it certainly is not a clear image (sigh) and has a bit of glare but be assured that this 30 x 40 oil is now ready to be sent as a digital (better of course!) to the client.

The past few days as I have worked on this oil outside. The days have alternated between sunny, bright blue skies interspersed with the coolness that the fast moving clouds bring.

Tomorrow is also a "free" day but we come to these shows to work and be seen so sometimes the quiet days are actually the best for meeting people. Things are not so hectic and I can run to a stall and photograph an owner and horse when the call of competition is not so strong!

I have not been in this area since I was a kid and there is a bit of the Rip Van Winkle effect still
hovering in my head! It is a nice journey to visit the past...and then it is equally nice to return to the present!

Creating a Living from ART


Beginnings are too long aren't they? Let's condense and jump to the present, today, and simply let you know that I am in New York at the St. Clements horse show with my husband Steve (also an artist) in a 15 x 15 tent with dozens of paintings on display!
Steve is a plein air painter and has quite a following among his collectors. I am, by nature, mentality and discipline, a portrait artist .

So, with our Corgi, Rosie in tow, we are camped out the grounds in beautiful Sarasota Springs and enjoying a non-show day. Been here since the 7th and will leave the 21st...long show but we are collecting orders both at the show and over the Internet :-).
Watch for examples of what we are doing here later today....too nice to sit here any longer!

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