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The Story behind “Serenity”

Is there always a story behind a painting?  Well, no.  Sometimes paintings come just from my soul eyes.  Sometimes they are a direct commision piece, such as a pet portrait, or even a full on portrait, which I do sparingly.  Dogs don’t complain if they are old in the painting.  Rest assured no person wants to see what they actually look like!  (At least most).

But in this case, there is definitely a story.  I think it is an interesting one, so I’ll share it today.  Several years ago I went a garage sale and found a pack of 3  twelve by 36 canvases.  I bought it.  Once I got it home I began to wonder if I could paint watercolor on the canvas, as I had not yet ventured down that road.  Sitting on my couch, gazing out my window I noticed the color of the lake.  The color of the sky. and the colors in the mountains.  I thought, “I’ll just paint one of those canvases, sort of like an experiment, to see what watercolor would do on the canvas.  I painted what is now the center panel of the finished painting.  Once I finished that canvas I set it on an easel in the living room so I could look at it.  Once there I realized I really needed more. I wanted more of the lake.  So I pulled out the second canvas and working with the first one at the top of my table I was able to merge the colors and textures into a single image.  When I was happy, I screwed those to together and put them on the easel to consider.  Once there, it took only about 10 minutes to decide that I really needed to expand the sky.  The sky I was looking at at that moment was building in a rather stormy sunset.  I went back to the studion immediately and repeated the merge process so colors moved together in the sky.  Once dry, I screwed that one on top of the other two and put it on the easel.  Voila!  I had a finished piece…out of three!  I added more stability to the backs, ensuring they were now ONE, and ordered a frame.

And there you have it. The story behind “Serenity”.  Missing your view of Eagle Nest Lake? Missing the mountains that surround it?  Missing the spectacular New Mexico sky? It will hang like a window on your wall.  Need a payment plan or want to make an offer?  Just reach out and contact me.

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Custom Pet Portraits Preserve Precious Memories

I have been doing pet portraits for about 30 years.  Like most things, it started with my pets.  Then when family members saw what I had done, they wanted portraits of their pets.  My Dad’s cats.  My sister’s dog.  And it spread from there.  I’ve lost count of how many I have done, but I can say they are hanging in homes across the country.  As time went on I expanded the media I employed.  First it was all watercolor.  Here are some the earliest ones:

This was my first one.  My two cats, Jessica (the grey

Jessica and Gizmo stole my chair

one) and Gizmo (the Tabby).  I really loved those two.  Jessica was with me for 24 years.  Two weeks after Jessica crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Gizmo passed.  He died of a broken heart.  I realized just now I did a second painting of them.  It is the second one below.

Playing Hide and Seek

They were always chasing each other around. When they weren’t napping, that is.  When my parents saw these, they wanted one of their cats.  They were the funniest pair I’ve ever encountered and capturing photos became the biggest challenge.  They were litter-mates and always together.  Cutie Pies.  I called this “Better Water Here”.

Better Water Here

 

 

As I mentioned, they it was my sister.  She was crazy about her rottweiler, Rip, and when she lost him, it was time to paint my first dog.  Fortunately she had quite few good photos, and she mailed them to me.  This is the result:

Krissy’s Rip

 

From this one, word spread.  I began to take orders from her friends, and my friends, then friends of our friends!  Since then, I’ve done portraits in Acrylic, Soft pastel and Scratchbord (TM).  Scratchbord portraits are some of my favorites, but are best with the pet is white, or mostly white.  Here are a couple of samples:

Ceasar: Ink and Sratchbord Black Pet Portrait
Little Bear: Ink and Scratcbord Black Pet Portrait

So, what is Scratchbord? It is actually white clay, baked on to Masonite, then coated 32 times with black India Ink. The manufacturer is Ampersand.

So that is how I buy it.  I then use a tiny knife, steel wool and various other specialized tools, to scratch through the ink, down to the white clay, leaving as much ink as is needed to create depth and texture.  Then I use ink to paint in features such as the eyes, and the pinks and blues visible in Ceasar (the cat).  I’ve done hundreds.  I have never had one rejected.  I know the owners love their paintings as much as I love to recall the antics of my cats when I look at those paintings.

Most pet portraits take a few weeks to complete.  Pricing is based primarily on size, but if you want a scratchbord piece remember it is really only good for white or mostly white animals.  I can use paper, canvas, panel/wood for watercolor, oil pastel, soft pastel or acrylic.  You can view how various media look on the pet portraits page here.

I need 5 or 6 photos of the pet.  You can choose to have me paint a particular photo that you love, or ask me to paint a composite with fully realistic impression of the pet.  I require a 50% deposit, with balance due upon final acceptance of the piece.  You can contact me with the form below to get a quote.  Standard sizes are 8 x 8, 8 x 10, 10 x 12, 10 x 10, 12 x 16, 12 x 12, 16 x 16 or 16 x 20.  I can go bigger but it starts getting expensive and takes up alot of wall space.

Save those precious memories!  Order a Pet Portrait!

[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” /][/contact-form]

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New Ideas for Gift Giving

Yes, I know.  I’m not the most prolific poster.  While I’ve said it before, I am trying to be more diligent on that score.  For this holiday coming, I’ve set up a page of smaller, less expensive works that fit well in the gift giving genre.  In addition, I’m working on more!  One of my new products are small boxes that are perfect for dried flowers or even wooden utensil storage.  I make them out of wood, then paint them with acrylic paint with some of the images I’m best known for…flowers of course.  There is only one left at this juncture, so I am making more as fast as I can.  They are very

Sunflowers Squared Box

affordable at only $30, so they have been selling quite quickly..almost as fast as I can make them.  So, check out the gifts page. You may just find the perfect gift for your loved ones.  Let me know if you have questions.  Just leave a comment here or fill out my contact page.

 

 

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A Gallery Owner’s Guide to Framing: Why it’s framed…or Why not?

I wrote this for my newsletter and it got alot of attention…so it is for you: (PS, wrote this a few years ago, but i guess i never hit “publish” because it was still in my drafts…oops)

We’ve all been there. We find a great little piece and think “I love it, but I don’t love the frame.” The Gallery owner may say, “No Problem..I’ll take it out” or…No Can Do.” Why? What’s the difference and what can you do about it? (This custom frame job would make me reluctant to unframe!)

First, “why can’t I buy that without the frame?”. I’ve heard the question enough, I know a good percentage of you ask. Most of the time, the answer is simple. In many cases, shipping or packing a piece of work without framing may significantly increase the likelihood of damage to the piece. Take a pastel, oil pastel, or traditional watercolor, and taking the piece out of the frame, and in this case, the glass, put’s the piece at risk. Pastel is loosely affixed to it’s media, usually an archival “sanded” paper. It is framed substantianlly away from the glass and the mat. This is done to prevent static electricity from pulling pastel from the paper and sticking it to the mat and glass. Taking it out of its frame requires great care in packing and shipping (read: $$). Not that it can’t be done….just that it takes much more care in packing. Similarly, oil pastel works on paper require framing behind glass, because they never really dry. Shipping without adequate protection increases the likelihood of smudging. Traditional watercolor (on paper) is susceptible to damage from moisture and scratching.

That said, there are still ways to avoid the dangers and get the frame job you love. The first possibility is to take the whole piece to your favorite framer and have it unframed, and reframed by a professional. Why go to that expense? If your piece is not a “stock” size, then cutting mats, mounting, spacing and framing can make the most prolific artist shudder. I seldom frame my own work. I’m the professional at painting. Let the framing professional do the framing. I tend to wind up with bloody fingers and great stress. If, on the other hand, your piece is a “standard” or “stock” size, it may be as simple as picking up a precut mat and frame from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. So, what is a stock size? 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, 9 x 12, 11 x 14, 12 x 16, 16 x 20, 18 x 24 (all in inches) are standard stock sizes for most pre-made frames, many premade mats and many pre-packaged paks of glass and foamcore.

If your original is 15 1/2 x 22 (a standard 1/2 sheet of watercolor paper) or other non-stock size, you may find it difficult to do it yourself. The warehouse stores (like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s) are often a less expensive option, though they won’t offer as wide a range of high quality framing options as most professional frame shops. Personally, I use the services of Jim and Lisa Cox, (yes, Jim is an excellent artist) at Taos Do It Yourself Picture Framing, in Taos. No, you don’t have to do it yourself…but they’ll help you if you’re so inclined.

What about those new watercolors on canvas? Those oils and acrylics on canvas…all with painted edges, unframed? They are actually suitable as they are..and often hang that way in galleries and homes, and museums. Unframed canvases don’t work in your decor? Ask your frame shop about “floating Canvas frames”. These frames, are as high quality as any other wood moulding, will “float” the canvas in the frame, allowing those painted edges to be seen while giving a more traditional look to the piece. More and more artists are moving to the canvas, with new canvas being “watercolor ready”. I love it. I love that the canvas can take layers and layers of watercolor, that I can finish it with protective, invisible, non yellowing varnish, and that there is no glass or frame necessarily reguired, saving me and my customer LOTS OF MONEY! If I can save $200-$400 in framing, just think what you save when you buy it! Plus, remember those standard sizes above? Most stock canvases are in those sizes as well. It’s not until you get into large, custom stretched canvas that you get outside those sizes.

So…next time you feel prompted to ask about that frame, consider this article..What is the medium? Are you shipping it? Can you get it safely home? But by all means, ask. I’ll answer your questions and help you choose the best course.

Angel Fire ArtSpace,
3469 Mountain View Blvd, Suites B2-4 Angel Fire NM
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Painting Bliss

That’s my excuse. For not posting, that is. I’ve been in painting bliss, letting the strokes wash away the stress, the fears and the frustrations. It would not have been fun to post anyway, based on where my head was.

And so, I painted, and painted and painted. I’ve finished 17 and number 18 is in process. I have plans for 6 more. I won’t start posting them until June 15th in preparation for ArtsFest, so you’ll just have to wait and check back. Sunflowers, poppies, hibiscus and landscapes. Spring, fall and summer. Maybe I’ll relent and post one or two before then. There are so many new pieces my little studio is bursting at the seams with color and life.

Thus, I’m posting from the gallery. And hoping someone will walk through door with the hope buying a treasure.

Angel Fire ArtSpace,
3469 Mountain View Blvd, Suites B2-4 Angel Fire NM
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Arghh. Computer Problems-AGAIN!

Brother. What a nightmare. After all my fights with Dell and Vista I thought all was humming along smoothly. That is, it was, until I decided to install my wireless trackball and keyboard. I fought with it for two days (should have been plug and play, mind you, and they both work fine on the xp machine at the gallery.) sigh.

First, I went toLogitech, and made sure the software I have was current. It was not, so I downloaded and installed it. No change. So I called. No help. I kept banging on it. Then I went to Dell support. I paid for extended warranty service. Not so much service. I didn’t buy the Logitech devices from Dell, so even though it’s a windows error, no service.

Finally, I went to my support team (iyogi.com) and they worked at it all afternoon, remotely controlling the laptop, but alas, no luck. They sent the issue to “their research team”. I’m supposed to hear back from them on Wednesday morning. Good grief. Guess I should start saving for a MAC!

The good thing is that while the IYOGI tech was trying again and again and again to install the trackman and keyboard, I was painting. How awesome is that! Still, here I sit with the laptop on my lap, instead of on the stand I moved into the studio to support it and the two wireless devices. Best laid plans. I’m off for 10 days. I don’t intend to let it distract me from relaxing!

Angel Fire ArtSpace,
3469 Mountain View Blvd, Suites B2-4 Angel Fire NM
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New Studio and New Paintings

It’s been a bit since I posted because I was working like mad in all my free time (of which there is very little) to finish the new studio and move in. So, bruised and banged, still getting paint from my hair, it’s done and I’m in. It feels so good, I don’t want to leave it and don’t look at it on days I’m headed to the gallery cuz if I do, that’s where I’m drawn! So, here are some pics for you:
this is looking from the dining room, down into the studio. Sorry it’s a little dark, the light from the windows confused the camera!

This look in from the master bath, which is on the same level as the studio (three steps down from the rest of the house.)
and this is standing in the corner by the first window, looking back toward the stairs and the dining room. I’m particularly proud of the way the rammed earth wall with the engraved zia came out painted. I didn’t know if would work, but I love it!

here is a painting I just finished:

It is 30 high and 24 wide, acrylic and gold on canvas. “A River Runs Through It”.

And this is what you see on my table in the studio photos. It is a diptich..two 36 x 12 canvases, and also acrylic. I hope to finish it on Sunday…or maybe I’ll take it to the Visitor Center and finish it on Saturday. We’ll see.

I’m going to call it “Transitions: Self Reflection”

So, you see, I have been busy! In the meantime, John and I celebrated 21 years of marriage, and I was re-elected the board of the Chamber of Commerce. That’s enough for two weeks!

Angel Fire ArtSpace,
3469 Mountain View Blvd, Suites B2-4 Angel Fire NM
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Bleary Eyed & Sore Feet!

What a BLAST! Last night’s Powderkeg final concert: The Long Run: Experience the Eagles
and all I can say is WOW! They are AWESOME. Close your eyes and you don’t who is on stage…The Long Run….or The Eagles! My feet didn’t remember that we’re not 17 anymore and this morning, they know it well! OWWWWWWW. That’s what I get for dancing in 3 inch heels. But WOOOOW was it FUN!

I was too busy dancing to remember to take photos…though I’m sure they’ll be popping up online somewhere! I’ll certainly press hard to get them back to Angel Fire! Based on the response in the tent, I doubt that will be too far in the future!

So, now I’m smelling coffee and planning how I’ll continue the painting I started last week at the Visitor Center. The image in the header is the one I did there two weeks ago. 12 x 36 watercolor on canvas. The one I’m working on is 18 x 36, acrylic and its Sunflowers. Only just begun and BRIGHT. I’m contemplating what I’ll do with the background. hmmmm. Better go get more coffee first. While the rhythms of “Hotel California” hum in my head. Ahhhh. It doesn’t get much better…sore feet included!

Angel Fire ArtSpace,
3469 Mountain View Blvd, Suites B2-4 Angel Fire NM
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