Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy New Year and what inspires your art?

Well an entire month slipped by...rushed by...and we're already into the end of Dec. 2013. Not sure how that happened but although I missed shouting out Merry Christmas here-it was definitely on my Facebook pages and newsletters!

The rush is over and now is when I regroup, rethink, plan and relax (as much as I am capable of!)
I gave Steve his Christmas present (and the same to me) to enhance our artist rejuvenation..trekking poles! Yep- hiking poles to get us out of the studio and onto the many trails in our area.
It's been in the 30's but the freezing rains and snows across the midwest missed us and went north.

So what do you do with a new backpack and trekking poles on Christmas evening and the following day? You hike :-)

It's a good place for an artist.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday creativity

The packing, shipping and creativity continues on this dark, dreary, rainy day! The storms that have hit the midwest are rain events for us and that is good news on this Thanksgiving week! Not such good news for those caught in snow and ice and airlines schedules.
Our little Corgi, Rosie ate a ham bone and is now at the vet's undergoing a hydration therapy to see if it will work rather than surgery. So although I am making food for the big day, my thoughts are very much with a shortlegged dog!

We are finally finished with the shows at the Hunt complex!
Long days and some interesting temperature fluctuations made for a few tough days but that comes with the territory!

Sections of our booth the past two months!
We love to be face to face with people and that makes any phone or Internet contact more personal as we've met-makes a big difference!

A few more portraits coming soon-some I cannot show as there is always that possibility that someone may see their Christmas gift!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Oh yes, Christmas Portraits!

No doubt about it-Christmas is a motivating factor for people thinking about a portrait!
Below are two collages with quick glimpses of what this fall has been like so far...I am leaving out the ones that are gifts that could be seen!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The clean Art Studio fantasy

Creating my artwork in all its various forms from portraits to abstracts to silk art to stick horses (a volunteer fundraiser project) has left little room for putting things back where they belong and on my list today are the deceptively simple words "clean studio."

It sounds so simple to just put back the art supplies, yet in the midst of creating and running out the door, everything gets moved around, set down randomly, put in and out of car, not empty trash cans, clean up messes, and not return items to their designated spots....multiply that by the 27 straight days of shows that we have also been doing and those two little words become a HUGE item on a long list! So crossing off just this one thing on my list can be an all day event and I have just two days before the shows begin again!

Some of the silk work and the volunteer stick horses (amazingly time consuming!)
Some images of just a few of October's artwork!

Both Steve and I paint a lot at the shows while we are there but once back at the studio, I personally need an uncluttered space to recharge and be productive! 

So without any more the computer and into the studio to tackle...well at least my half!

Maybe I'll post a photo of "after!"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


We are asked constantly about the perfect art studio. The post before this showcased a few photos and the addition of a new building adding another 240 square feet to our current 720. That does not included 2 spare bedrooms now used for office space, sewing, storage and library! :-) 
So the perfect studio is the one that will work for you. There is also the old saying (one of my father's favorites) "A place for everything and everything in its place!"
I opted to put a Board on Pinterest to continue to showcase or art studios and surroundings areas hoping it will inspire artists to use what they have. You can see it all and follow it here:

LOTS of photos updated regularly...neat, messy, spring, summer, fall and with what you have. Don't let the lack of the "perfect studio" stop you from creating. Draw your inspiration from what you feel and see around you. We take regular "random driving" trips around our vicinity to snap photos, inhale the aroma of the seasons and in general-absorb your surroundings.

new studio coming along
See the rest of the story here:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Adding a new art studio

We're happy with our art studio.  In fact artists are always telling us how much they love where we are.
Late afternoon in front of Art Studio

As our art expands into new and different directions..what was big enough for two artists with full time art careers begins to take on a life of its own!

It's hard not to be emotionally attached to something you built with your own hands. We salvaged much from a 1910 house, Habitat for Humanity, thrift and salvage stores and with the help of friends and family and much sweat and patience, the 24 x 30 art studio with its 10 ft. high ceilings eventually came into shape! 
We started out SO neat! But the reality of loading and unloading vans, equipment, art supplies
paintings and then storage. Oh my. Storage! We have a pull down attic that can accommodate a lot but only those items we are not using regularly.
We were so neat in the beginning!

They say photos are worth a thousand words so maybe it's easier to show you what I mean!

But a solution presented itself ...we actually fought it for awhile...thinking just one more thing to fill up but scroll down to see the newest addition to our art compound :-)
Salvaged cupboards-I wish I had 5 more!

No, it's not moonshine-just Steve's secret oil medium curing on the front porch railings!

Steve's work table

Working on a silk scarf and oil painting at the same time!
Positioning and offloading the new building.
The newest building was brought here from just down the road-a 12 x 20 vinyl covered, insulated and wired building for a great price...I mean, how could we not?  The previous owner had even wired the building for 220 voltage to accommodate her kiln!  Well we won't be doing any kiln work anytime soon and there is some serious cleaning, fixing and painting to do but I am looking forward to moving supplies from the big studio to the shelves in the smaller studio....and will keep you in the loop of my progress :-)   I just hope it makes a dent in the large one!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pastel Portrait Special! Ends Sept 1!

I am so pleased to be able to offer this again to my collectors and newcomers!
You asked and it's back! This is my 4th annual Pastel Special!  It ends Sept 1 or before when the available number is reached.

This is my popular pastel portrait special that I offer each year about this time, to my collectors, old and new, prior to my Christmas portrait rush! Thanks to my wonderful clients, I have created fine art portraits of all sizes in oils, pastels, pencil and watercolor for 25 years! The past few years I have been giving back by offering a special opportunity for you to have one (or more) of my small (cameo) pastel portraits of or for someone special in your life. You would normally invest $275.00 for my pastels of this size. For the Special, each portrait is just $95.00! Pastels are beautifully soft, pure pigment and once framed, your portrait will last for generations!

The details:
To get an idea of what others have ordered for their Pastel Special, take a look at the portrait examples All are 9 x 12 pastel portraits created by me from your best "head and shoulder" photos of your subject.
You may order as many portraits as you wish but each portrait will have only ONE subject in it. The available number of portraits is limited! So if you have 3 children, or 2 dogs, or a child and horse, you will be ordering 3 or 2 individual portraits.
Framing in not included. Shipping is additional and very reasonable. Complete instructions for framing are included in every carefully wrapped package. You may also arrange for pick up of your portrait upon my completion in the Raleigh NC area!

How to order your portrait!
1.Click on the number of portraits that you wish. Total number is limited. Etsy will notify me.

2. Email your best photos to me at ipaintportraits [!at] Label each photo (you can send more than one of your subject and I will help you select the best portrait photo!) so I know who is who.
You may send old photos, recent photos, even black and white.

4. Upon completion, I will send you a digital of the finished portrait prior to shipping or pick up. Relax, I've done this for 25 years! If you feel something needs tweaking, no problem-it's YOUR portrait!

Unless I have questions, I will create your portrait within a 1-3 week time period! Because I work on the smaller portraits while also working on my large portraits, I find it easier to complete the cameos in the order in which I receive them :-) See my website at or find me (same name) on Facebook!

My Pastel Special allows you to give the ultimate gift to either yourself or a friend! Special ends Sept 1

Thank you so much!-Theresa

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The most often painted breed of dog? Labradors!

Face it. People love their Labrador Retrievers! Black, yellow or chocolate, they love them.They live with them, sleep with them, play with them and enjoy them! So perhaps it is no surprise when I share with you that Labs are the dogs that I create the most portraits of.
Enjoy a few recent ones that I have done!
Bailey 14 x 18 pastel

The Perry labs
Another "Perry" lab
Page Labs 24 x 30 oil

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Painting silk


So if you think that an artist just paints, well you might be surprised :-)
The fun of an Artsy Journey is just that: it's fun! For the past few months I've enjoyed various forms of silk painting with more or less a YouTube education. That in itself is another story, but I have played with some pretty basic tools to the more traditional dyes used by the professionals and have just scratched the surface. I think I know now,  how my painting students who come to me and say "I know nothing about painting" feel. :-)

Special markers on white silk scarves
So anyway I've played with resists, different dyes, washing, more work than a portrait!  You never know what I'll create next-keep watching!
Dyed with abstracts drawn by hand onto the scarf
Stretched, silver resist and hand drawn and painted
Same horses but with background dye added and silk salt for texture
Silk scarf embellished

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Painting Kids and Horses

There is nothing cuter than small children and their ponies forever that way in an oil painting!

And there is nothing quite as challenging as going back a year in photos and narrowing down 120 digital images (and not so great) to create one cohesive painting!
I do this the old fashioned way-no computer art, no photoshop, no sending it off to China...just a large sheet of paper, sharp pencils and lots of erasers! I work out the composition and placement and subjects until I am happy, flip over the 30 x 40 sheet of paper and cover the back with charcoal. Then I flip it back, tape it to the canvas and proceed to outline my original drawing in order to transfer the drawing to the canvas. Then, I paint!

At this beginning stage it is important that even the rough likenesses be "close". For some reason that makes everything come together easier and faster. Details are last! You can see the charcoal of what is coming (as in background and 4 dogs) and get a feel for it with these images taken on the easel in the studio.

So follow along a bit here and eventually there will be a completed memory in oil!

Starting to paint, roughing in the likenesses

Adding second child. There are 4 dogs to go!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Blackberries and Cobbler and...ART?

Blackberries and Cobbler and.... art?

juicy blackberries
It took me 30 minutes to collect 4 cups of blackberries. The old pasture was full of heavily laden bushes and the previous year I had vowed to cut trails among and around them in order to access the lush fruit.

Paths around blackberry bushes? For those of us old enough to remember Song of the South and Brer Rabbit, there is an apt line in the story where Brer Rabbit pleads with the bear "Please don't throw me in the brier patch! Please don't throw me in the brier patch!....." and the bear does, not knowing that it's the rabbit's safe hideaway.  I can tell you that IF you were able to get into these bushes, you would never get out...they were the thorns from hell and I picked them with gloves on!  I seem to have two varieties. One is now almost through producing. The other, the one with killer thorns and huge berries is in the midst of producing.

Rosie the Corgi following the path around the thorny bush

So why go to all the trouble to pick berries such as these, over and over when they are obviously a lot of trouble?

For the TASTE! How can it not be inspirational to head out on an early morning, before the summer heat sets in and, followed by happy dogs (who also like the berries!) spend a quiet hour communing with nature? I mean after all, plucking nature's free harvest is....liberating!                                                                                
Thorns from hell from a 10 ft high bush!
 But it was not just for the immediate gratification of eating the blackberries-it was for the later treat: Blackberry cobbler!

Now I confess that the image below is not mine but the cobbler is identical in looks and OH SO EASY!' What my mother used to make!

Preheat oven to 375.
4 cups black berries
1 TB lemon juice
1 cup flour (reg)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
6 TB melted butter

Lightly grease bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 pan/baking dish
Add 4 cups blackberries, sprinkle with lemon juice (1 Tbs)
In an medium bowl, mix sugar, regular flour and one egg until mixture forms a crumbly mix. Scatter over blackberries. Dribble melted butter over flour/sugar mixture. Bake 35 minutes until brown and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving! Sure you can add ice cream or whipped cream and it is good hot or cold!
Blackberry Cobbler!
And what does any of this have to do with art? Let's just say that cooking is an art so I have, in onefell swoop, captured ALL the sensory elements of art :-)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Debutante Stools

Imagination is both a necessary and yet freeing component of art.  Although I may predominantly be a portrait artist,  I love to PLAY in the arts.  One of the keys is to shed some of those rules, attitudes and inhibitions ingrained into art students at a university :-) Once that happens, imagination is freed and all sorts of wonderful things happen.

So below is one result of thinking differently...yes, this was purchased as a 2013  Debutante Stool by a horsey young lady and her mom...I simply added her initials and date at the bottom. Another stool, painted in  a black base with white abstracts also went home with a new owner but not at a Deb stool!

Interested in your own stool? Whether for your bar, a debutante or home decor-solid, sturdy or you can provide your own! Contact me through my website or Facebook!

I can go from simple abstract to stunning, actual goldleaf!  
Close up (w/watermark-not on actual stool)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Creating a large portrait of a child

I can't tell you the number of large portraits such as this one that I have created over the years! 

When the portrait is 24 x 36 or larger, and when possible, it's best that I take the reference photographs. From my experience, very few parents take photographs of their children the way that I do-they don't zoom in on the face, catch subtle expressions or the detail that I like when I paint the faces.

Oh they catch a lot of smiling faces or cheesy grins, but not those timeless  looks that make a portrait ...well, respond to them!

I deliver this one later this wound up a bit larger than the original 24 x 36 (no one has ever complained about that!) but no matter-they will love it :-)

It's all about the face, the pose and lastly the background-which is totally fabricated to bring the focus onto this charming little girl and her rabbit companion!

Now-off to cut the grass-people coming to the studio later today and it's already feeling like late June in North Carolina!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Artist's Life and Motivation

June 15, 2013 Artist's Life Blog

An impressive early summer storm rolled across the country with towering, angry thunderheads and gale force winds and left as quickly as it arrived just a few days ago. We had battened down the hatches-the animals, house and art studio were as secure as we could make them and when the storm passed in a matter of less than an hour, the change in the atmosphere was palpable!  Cooler temperatures combined with low humidity felt as though we had walked into a summer morning in the mountains and today, I am enjoying that now from the front porch of my art studio.

Storm front over the Art Studio

I have discovered over the years that Humidity affects my ability to work. Low humidity is invigorating and high humidity is a strength zapper. My "to do"list grows in proportion to the humidity!  I have been rising early (before 6 am) as I like to do and enjoy my coffee on either the front porch of the house or the studio. On humid mornings, I skip it. On these stunning mornings, surrounded by 5 dogs flopped around me on the porch (they have to be fed first or I will have no peace!), I not only have sipped away my coffee but hoed the garden beds, fed the ponies and chickens, raked grass for the chickens, filled the bird feeders, walked the pasture checking on the readiness of the blackberry crop (huge!) and then taken up my post at the railing looking for that elusive indigo bunting.

The Morning Sun

All of this is a prelude to the work that I know I must start today-a large 24 x 36 pastel portrait of a charming little girl whom I photographed a month ago. Time to get cracking. Today is the first Saturday in awhile that we have not been at a show, art classes, delivering artwork or in general having to "be" somewhere.
The beauty of being self employed is that what I just recorded for this morning can be enjoyed on any day. And we do just that. Motivation is not just one illuminating moment. It is a series of steps to get to where the artist begins to work. Procrastination is only a problem when there is no reason to get something done-no urgency. For the self employed artist, whose every bill must be paid with the earnings of art sales, procrastination is a temporary condition. For many of those who have always dreamed of being an artist, it is a lifelong procrastination. But earning a living as an artist is not for every artist and the happiest, I have found, are those who know themselves well enough to make that choice and feel good about it!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Lure of the Beach House

My client contacted me recently about a new beach house the family now had and asked that I create a pencil portrait of it similar to the one I did for him about 6 years ago :-).
So with rolling ruler in hand and a slew of sharp pencils, I went to work!
These are time consuming, logistical pieces that move right along when I turn on some music and get to work!
A digital image of a pencil NEVER does it justice-I just can't seem to photograph the piece to get the white balance and the subtle shading will not show up. So use your imagination and enjoy a rather amazing beach house off the NC coast ...the actual portrait is about 15" x 18" in size.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Making your own linseed oil

Flaxseed oil ripening
So sitting on the kitchen window and now outside on a bench in full sun are these quart size jars full of 100% pure flaxseed oil.
The whole process of turning flaxseed into linseed oil is a 3 month process which I have left mainly up to artist hubby, Steve Filarsky, to process (he loves that kind of stuff) He researched some old formulas and the smaller batches have been the most amazing linseed oil on the planet!
The luminosity from what we create vs store bought is stunning and that means, our oil paintings have an extra glow about them! Yes-linseed oil is an ancient time honored medium mixed into the oil paints or used as a final varnish. No yellow here!  There is something timeless and satisfying in making your own mediums and glazes and being involved with that part of the painting process. A full circle! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Completion of the oil Portrait going to Kenya

Ah, nothing is better than a completed, approved commission!
My 16 x 20 oil of the four Kenyan presidents, Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel ArapMoi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta who have held office since Kenyan independence 50 years ago.

My collector is from Kenya  and is returning later this month for the celebrations. Of all the mediums, oil is best suited for the rigors of traveling in  a suitcase on a long flight!

"Kenyan Independence Celebration" oil 16 x 20 by M Theresa Brown

Monday, May 6, 2013

Work in progress-the Kenyan oil

Progress continues! Well actually I am further along than this image depicts as I have since lowered the structures, added dates and tweaked the background-will finish off suits, etc today. The client has already seen the painting in person which is important if it can be achieved as there is NO way a digital or printed out digital of an art piece will look the same as the original. My clients are always blown away when they receive the "real thing." And they tell me so!

The completed portrait will go up this evening. In the meantime, I am sketching out the face of one of the boys for the large oil-impossible to see details of it on a soft focus photo but it is the thing photographers like to do to keep clients happy-just enough detail to know it is the subject but not enough to see any "HDTV" details.

The studio has been busy with a number of portraits on easels right now.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Work in Progress-heading to Kenya!

The fun of being a portrait artist is that I never know what's around the corner-no two portraits are alike! 
Recently a client came to me and is returning to her native Kenya for a visit that coincides with the 50th anniversary of that country's independence. So, we came up with the idea of a portrait of the 4 presidents who have held office during that time the addition of the Kenyan flag and several monuments. 
The only way to create this portrait idea and make it reality is as a collage...but the surprise was that it was flying to Kenya in a suitcase which nixed the first choice medium-pastel!

Now pastel can take a fair amount of abuse. And once it is framed and behind glass, it will be around for generations!  I ship pastels all over the world but I do not ship them with glass! 

So right now I am hustling! The only photos are random AP news footage that she had pulled off the Internet and since it is for her own enjoyment and as a gift to a friend, it's OK to use them. But that also means there are few good ones for our purpose! The hustle part comes with deadlines vs an oil painting.......of our most popular mediums-pastel, pencil, watercolor and oil...., oil takes the longest to dry. So today I am back out in the studio, trying not to procrastinate in what promises to be a sterling day outside....ah well, I'll just open up the studio doors!
Here's a peek:

The gentleman at the upper left is Jomo Kenyatta, the first president. The upper right man is his son, many years later who is the current president, Uhuru Kenyatta. And waiting to be completed (well actually they all are-this IS an unfinished oil!) is Daniel Arap Moi and  Mwai Kibaki.

The space between the top two figures will be filled with the Kenyan flag and two popular monuments-soft focus as the emphasis is on the 4 men.

Somewhere I have to figure out where to put the "50 years" that the client wants included.....the real fun of this at times is the "winging it" part! No photoshopping or printing on canvas for me. You can see the pencil lines on the gray background of Moi who is unstarted, but I will step back to see where I want to add the other elements and apply my 25 years of wisdom there! Now that's MY idea of freedom of art! Keep an eye out as I have several other works in progress without quite the tight deadline! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Silk scarves techniques

What a fun time I had recently painting on silk scarves! 
I took a class as frankly, I knew nothing about the techniques involved. I paint all the time BUT learning "how" to do a familiar task in another format is always a fun experience and the results are below!
The one on the left is an abstract horse design and the one on the right is is a flowered design. I would say it's time for an evening out!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chickens and bees and the Art Studio

Chickens AND bees :-)

I am guessing that not many artists' studios are surrounded by gardens filled with old roses, sunflowers, herbs and vegetables,  birds, bees and chickens AND ponies but if not, they are missing a unique opportunity to not only have first hand subjects to paint but to kick back and become one with their surroundings in a way that encourages creativity and thought.

The experience begins as the sun rises (this time of year) at 6:30 to peak over the tops of the trees to touch and warm the beehives (so the bees will wake up and forage!).  The wild birds have already been at full force however and the extra growth in the pasture next door has encouraged hundreds to roost in the wild plums....we sound like a bird sanctuary and can watch the sunflower seeds disappear as sand in an hour glass! 
The bees are new. It was not a hard decision to add bees to our mini farm.

I've often stopped at the bee displays at State Fairs and such and as everyone else, was intrigued with the glassed displays that allow you to watch the bees in action. And our studio is surrounded by wild roses, plum trees, our gardens and an assortment of tiny, beautiful little wildflowers growing throughout our yard. The decision came after some research and phone calls and a return call from a "Bee mentor" that kicked out butts into gear and a frantic scramble for hive supplies as the packaged bees were coming (fast) sort of made the decision for us :-) And for us, it was not about the honey. Lord knows there are plenty of honey producers out there. No it was about the pollination....and then discovering that hives world wide are declining. Maybe, just maybe, our one little hive can make a difference. 
Steve heading out with sugar water to fill the bee feeders

And we know one thing-they won't starve around here!
Blooming wild plum trees

The ponies make sure there are few wild daisies in the pasture but our "borrowed" pasture next door is now lush with wild plums, blackberries and thickets of high grass. The birds at our feeders have multiplied tremendously because of nearby cover that encourages their quantities :-)

It's been a cold spring and I am not sure if the roses will begin their early May parade but every year, the old roses are stunning.
Peonies in May
The May peonies are stunning as well with large cabbage sized pink balls of petals that I hope will prove appetizing to our bees.

Seven Sisters Roses growing around the perimeter of the herb and flower garden
Our herb and flower garden is next to the hive and last year our native plants such as Rubeckia, gloriosa daisies and coriopsis were stunning. Whatever bees were here before could not stay away from them or the Monarda. So in some deep inner core, we're feeling more than our visual connection with our subjects and surroundings. It's more of being one with where we are. We live here, our art studio is here and everything basic that has connected man to the earth is here. How much more do you really need?

Add to that, our Dorking hens (an ancient Roman breed with 5 toes) just laid their first egg yesterday! Time to build the nest boxes!  

Our first egg!
 HAPPY EASTER everyone!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Art of Chickens

The Art of Chickens   

(from my post in ArtsyJourneys) 

Artists seem to ponder the most absurd things sometimes.....take the chicken for instance-good for baking, casseroles, frying and yum-lots of eggs.That's about where most people end their thoughts about this versatile bird.
But sometimes the smallest and least conspicuous thing in your day to day world can have the most  interesting history, tantalizing colors and absorbing social scene. And the chicken has it all.
We just added chickens back to our mini "homestead" farm and art studio. We had them 10 or so years ago but lacked the proper fencing.....oh we had plenty of fencing and the bills to show it...just not the type to totally foolproof ranging neighborhood dogs. The numbers dwindled and we gave the last few roosters to a farmer.
Now I had chickens when my children were small-in fact in another life (it seems) I had a Grade A Dairy Goat farm licensed for making feta cheese. My chickens were the Aracaunas and other mixes so we routinely collected pale blue and green "Easter Egg" eggs plus the white and brown. So I am very familiar with the work and rewards of such a life :-)And it is hard to sty away from!
The first batch 6 weeks old March 1. 10 of them!

So the first batch we picked up locally and they are a trip. Alert, inquisitive-s a few very friendly ones, the others a bit stand-offish. Their treat is bread pieces. A mixture of Buff Barringtons, Speckled as well as purebred.

5 month old Dorkings
The next ones are also local-from a Dorking breeder outside Louisburg, NC. Ancient breed-pretty feathers-4 hens about old enough to lay...5 toes...originally brought over to the British Isles by Romans! Regal aren't they? 

Ah well, the kids interaction with a chicken is no problem! The youngsters below were at an art lesson at our studio and did not hesitate to walk in with the chicks and hold our gentle ones!

So as artists we find ourselves studying the colors.  As humans we find ourselves smiling at their antics.....listening to the multitude of sounds-clicks, murmurings, croonings that are unique to a chicken....and hey, who knows how we, and our many students of all ages,  will incorporate feathers and colors into our art?

I'll keep you updated!
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