This is my second year participating in 28 February Flowers, and I just love this challenge. I’ve been wanting to dive into mixed media, so my goal with these pieces was to explore mixed media possibilities and have fun. Everyday there’s a prompt, and some people create a daily piece of art. I ended up working on these in the studio, so I was always trying to “catch up” since I’m not in the studio everyday. I learned a lot through the process and have begun to incorporate some of what I learned into my next collection of pieces.
I split my time between art projects and design projects. If you’re local to Huntsville, AL, you’ve probably seen the Happi Pappi Beignets food truck at various events, including one of my favorites, the Monte Sano Art Festival. I had the honor of creating the logo for Happi Pappi. The logo is actually based on photos from the owner’s Grandfather!
Recently I worked with Happi Pappi and My Size Marketing to create a website for Happi Pappi. The look needed to be clean and professional. Most importantly it needed an easy-to-use calendar feature to showcase all of the food truck’s upcoming events. I came up with a simple design with lots of white space, an angled header element to showcase the logo, and a soft background element with a touch of powdered sugar. The photos feature great shots of the beignets and people enjoying the tasty treat at different venues.
The home page features a little about Happi Pappi, a quick look at the upcoming events, how to book the truck, information about Fundraising opportunities, and of course links to social media. There’s more detailed information on the site including a full calendar, booking form, menu information, galley, frequently asked question, and the Happi Pappi story. There’s also a page dedicated to Fundraising since they offer a fantastic program for schools, church groups, and nonprofits that make it easy for them to earn money at their event or function.
If you haunt Instagram, you’ve probably noticed different “art challenges” that pop up from time to time. Inktober in October is a popular one, for example. Well, I ran across one started by artist Amanda Evanston called February Flowers. She even includes prompts. Since flowers are on my to-do list to get ready for Panoply this year, I decided to jump in….even though I am a bit behind. I didn’t start until Day 8. I am gonna try and go back and catch up, but we shall see!
This is the first time I’ve tried an “art challenge.” So why now? Well, as I said, flowers are on my to-do list. I used to draw and paint lots of flowers, but I’ve been really focused on animals the last couple of years. I’m ready to switch things up. But I feel like I am out of practice when it comes to the blooming beauties! An art challenge seemed like the perfect way to get back into my botanical groove. The prompts help spark creativity. And since the idea is to make this a daily practice, it helps take the anxiety out of starting on a new piece. It feels more like practice. This gives me an opportunity to experiment with ideas. If I create something I love, bonus! But if I’m not crazy about it, I’m out a piece of paper and some art supplies. Time creating is never wasted. I always learn something during the process.
There’s also a social aspect to a challenge. The hashtags for this challenge are #28februaryflowers and #28februaryflowers2021. You can search on those tags and find SO many awesome and inspiring works. Sharing my piece and declaring my participation on social media makes me feel more accountable. And that helps me stay on track and do the work.
I get a lot of questions about how I create pet portraits, especially at art festivals. Here’s a handy dandy Q&A to help you decide if I’m the right artist for your pet portrait, how my process works, and some things to keep in mind when searching for a pet portrait artist.
Do I bring my pet to your studio or do you work from photos?
I get this question ALL the time. I work primarily in colored pencils, so my process is SLOW. No pet is gonna sit still long enough for me to do what I do, so I work from your photos. Usually I have one photo I am mainly working from, but I may use additional photos to get better views of the eyes, fur, etc. The photos don’t have to be of fantastic quality. You just need to like the pose of your pet in the photo.
Other artists can and do work from live models, so if this is something that’s important to you, be sure to check with them.
My pet’s fur is black, and I can never get a good photo! Can you help?
This is a very common problem. If you have photos, I can usually get what I need to draw you pet. Between years of experience of drawing animals and the ability to adjust photos in Photoshop, I can add in all those details that you see with your eyes but never seem to capture with a photo.
What does a pet portrait cost?
It depends on what style of portrait you want. I offer mixed media portraits in several styles starting at $95 for a 5″ x 7″ portrait. I offer colored pencil portraits starting at $185 for a 5″ x 7″. You can see the different styles on my website. I do offer payment plans.
How do I protect my pet portrait?
I use artist quality materials for my portraits. If you have chosen to frame you portrait, be sure to use an acid-free mat and UV filtering glass or acrylic. This will help protect your portrait from light damage. If your portrait is mounted to a wood panel and ready-to-hang, I have coated it with several layers of a UV filtering varnish. No matter how the portrait is finished, try to keep your portrait out of direct sunlight. This is true of most artwork and art prints.
How long does it take for you to create my pet portrait?
This will vary based on the number of projects I have going at the time, but in general, expect it to take around 4 weeks. If you have a tighter timeline, let me know when you contact me, and I will try and work with you.
How do we get started?
Email is the best way to contact me. Please include your photos, and if you know what size and style you’re thinking, that helps me too.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
When choosing an artist to work with, be sure to choose someone who’s style you like.
Most artists will require a non-refundable deposit for a commissioned work. That way if at some point through the process you are not happy with the piece, the artist still gets paid for the time he/she put into the piece.
Make sure the artist plans to send you progress shots.
Burger King has unveiled a new logo design and overall rebrand, the first since 1999 when they added that blue swoosh. You know, the same swoosh everyone had back in the late 90s/early 00s. The new logo looks a lot like the logo before the swoosh, and I am totally into it. It takes me right back to my childhood, when I couldn’t wait to be big enough to eat a whole Whopper.
The new look is what’s called “flat design”, and it’s a design trend that has staying power because of its simplicity and versatility. What I really love about the rebrand is that BK went all in. The colors are vivid, but at the same time feel natural. They make you feel cozy. The font is funky and retro, but still pretty easy to read. And the illustrations are fun! I love that they incorporated them into the uniforms.
And I love that they had all this ready to go for their roll-out so you can really see how the rebrand is gonna work in real-life situations.
My favorite little detail is the app icon. The buns with the K burger and the overall B shape is just darn good design. It fits with the overall look and stands out in an overly complicated digital landscape. The whole look makes me hungry for a burger.
Now…about the King in those commercials. I can only hope he goes the way of the blue swoosh.
Colored Pencil Works
When I going to create a 100% colored pencil piece, my subject helps determine what paper I am going to use.
Strathmore Bristol Vellum
This is my go-to paper in general for colored pencil. And I am equally happy with any of the series Strathmore offers including 300, 400, and 500.
If I am working on a furry animal, I love using Canson Mi-Teintes. This paper is aimed at pastel artists and has a rough and smooth side. I use the smooth side for colored pencils.
People are not really my thing, but Stonehenge paper is fantastic for people portraits.
I have drawn directly on wood panels with colored pencils as well. My favorite panels are Blick Studio or Blick Premier wood panels.
My subject and overall plans for what I want to do with a piece again help determine what surface I am going to work on.
Working directly on wood panels is one of my favorite options. Again, my favorite panels are Blick Studio or Blick Premier wood panels.
Strathmore Mixed Media Paper Series 400
I love Strathmore’s mixed media paper if I know I want to use colored pencil and washes of watercolor or acrylics. It is a sturdy paper that takes a lot of abuse.
Strathmore Watercolor Paper Series 400
Sometimes I used watercolor paper if I know the main parts of the piece will be paint instead of colored pencil. I like the texture the watercolor paper adds to the piece.
For mixed media pieces I use a gem mediums as my glue. Liquitex and Golden both offer gel mediums that dry clear and work well. You can also use this to seal your piece.
Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film
If I’ve created a piece on paper and want to adhere it to a wood panel, I use double tack mounting film. It is a giant, acid-free, double-sided sticker. It takes practice, so don’t try this for this first time on a finished piece. When I started using this method, I would actually adhere the paper to the board before I ever drew on it. I adhere the film to the wood first. I peel back one edge a few inches, and then I use a brayer to help make sure it is flat and smooth as I slowly peel back the backing. For the art side, I peel back the backing a few inches, line up the art, press it from one corner to the other, and then follow the same process…slowly peeling the backing as I press and use the brayer to smoothly adhere the art.
I only varnish pieces that are on wooden panels or have been adhered to wooden panels. I do not varnish colored pencil pieces I am going to frame. I use the gel medium to seal mixed media pieces I plan to frame.
I start with three layers of Golden Archival Spray Gloss Varnish. If I don’t want a gloss varnish, I then do three layers of whatever finish I do want. For some pieces, especially 100% colored pencil pieces, the spray varnish is my final step to protect the piece.
For mixed media pieces, I usually do an additional varnish step with three layers of Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS. This is a paint-on product that I thin with water. It also comes in various finishes. Whatever finish I finished with for the spray is what I use for this type as well, so gloss over gloss, satin over satin, etc.
My art is always evolving. I love trying new materials and techniques, but I have some mediums and brands that usually use. I am going to start with the various mediums that are my favorites. I’ll cover surfaces and varnishes in another post.
For a time I was creating only with Colored Pencils. You can really layer them and create amazingly realistic pieces. My favorite brand is PrismaColor Premier colored pencils. They have a buttery feel that is hard to beat and the price is reasonable. Admittedly I am having more trouble with my Prismas breaking, so I am experimenting with other brands. I am slowly adding in Caran d’Ache Luminance Colored Pencils.
As I’ve started creating more mixed media pieces, I have added in Acrylic Paint. I prefer the fluid, soft body style of acrylics. My favorite brands are Golden and Liquitex. Golden Fluid acrylics seems a little more “fluid” than Liquitex Soft Body, and the two brands work together well. I love Liquitex’s paint bottles. The tapered tip makes it so much easier to control how much paint comes out of the bottle.
NeoColor II Artist's Crayons
Neocolor II is a Caran d’Ache that I often use as a base under colored pencils and mixed media pieces. They are water soluble, so you can use them like watercolor pencils. However, they don’t “set” after they dry, so you can come back in and rework them, which can be a blessing and a curse. I love the color range. You can easily cover large areas of a piece and then work on top with colored pencils. You can use them as a wax resist if working with acrylics.
POSCA Paint Pens
POSCA paint pens by Uni are some of the few paint pens I’ve found that don’t clog up after you use them one time. They come in various thicknesses and colors, even metallics. They’re a handy way to add little details to pieces. They come in various sizes too, but my two favorites are .7mm and the .9 ~ 1.3mm
Pigment ink pens
I have several different brands that I use and have yet to find a favorite. Micron and PrismaColor make lovely fine line pens with archival pigment ink. Zig Writer is nice if I need a little thicker line, and it seems to be a little more forgiving when working with colored pencils.
Contact me below!
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There seems to be but one constant in life, change. Most of us don’t enjoy it…many of us try and avoid it entirely. But you can’t grow without change. I plan to take some time in January and reflect on what kind of art I want to make, where my business is going, and where I want my business to go. I’m honestly not sure what that means yet. I do know there will be some product changes. Material prices have increased, so I have to keep up.
So right now, I am embracing change and flexibility and whatever 2021 has in store for us. I will try and blog about my journey, but we all know I’m horrible at actually taking the time to write and document. I’ll add blogging to my 2021 goals – lol!
I do want to thank all you for supporting my business this year and in the past. 2020 has definitely been a piece of work. Without your support, I would be closing my studio. You have helped my business stay afloat and me doing what I love, and for that I am forever grateful.
I am so excited to be able to create my own stickers now! I finally took the plunge and purchased a Cricut machine over the summer. Now I can design, print, and cut stickers myself. And that’s just the beginning! There’s so many materials it will cut that I haven’t even begun to experiment with.
Currently I am testing the stickers to see how well they fair outside in the elements. It only took the Home Depot labels on my Behr paint samples a couple of weeks outside for them to be totally unreadable – OOPS. Thankfully the paint swatches were still grouped together in my bag-o-paint swatches so I could figure out which one we had decided on for the deck. Anyway, I expect these stickers to last longer. The vinyl they are printed on claims to be waterproof, and my printer uses pigment inks, so they should last a while. We’ll see though.
So be on the lookout for more stickers, an update on sticker durability, and new products as I figure out what all my new machine can do.
I have been working on a series of pet portraits for a client, and the last one was delivered last week. This has been such a fun project! Each piece is 5″ x 7″. My client wanted the pieces to coordinate, but still have their own distinct character. So each piece has different flowers, but I used the soft blue background and carefully repeated colors in the flowers to tie them all together. I’m very happy with how they turned out!
When my client got all the pieces hung up she texted me a photo and said, “You are awesome. Made me cry but happy tears. My girls look so good!”
Since this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, I am going to have limited open studio hours on Saturday, May 9th. I will be in the studio from 11 – 1. If traffic is good, I will stay a little longer.
Please remember that Lowe Mill requires everyone to wear a mask, and I will be requiring masks to be worn in my studio. I also ask that patrons not touch the art. I will be happy to show you prints, pendants, whatever you need.
Depending on how tomorrow goes and how the case rate for Madison and surrounding counties go, I will consider opening on Saturdays in the future. New hours will be posted on the website and on social media.
The state of Alabama begins reopening some businesses later this week, and Lowe Mill A&E will open on May 1 at noon. I have decide to keep my studio closed for now. However, I am available to meet you at the studio by appointment during Lowe Mill’s open hours if you would like to purchase something. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook to arrange a time.
Restrictions at Lowe Mill A&E are as follows:
- Everyone MUST wear a mask on the property.
- Someone in the guard house will be there to help direct you. The Smokestack Parking Lot is closed.
- There is no elevator operator on duty, so be prepared to use the stairs.
- Some stairwells have been designated UP and some DOWN. For example, stairwell #3 is up and stairwells 5 and 30 are down.
- Only 50 patrons will be allowed on the property at a time.
- Open hours will be 12 – 6PM Wednesday – Friday and 10AM – 6PM on Saturday
- Artists are not required to have their studios open, so be sure to check with the artist(s) you want to visit
MY AVAILABLE APPOINTMENT TIMES:
Wednesday – Saturday from Noon – 4PM. Please email me to setup a time.
For this piece, I started with a coloring page that I had drawn. I’ll try and step you through my process a bit. Unfortunately I didn’t really plan on writing this up, so I didn’t take photos this time, but hopefully this will help step you through my process and give you some new ideas.
MATERIALS: Strathmore Series 400 cold press watercolor paper, Golden fluid acrylics, Prismacolor colored pencils, Neocolor II wax crayons, POSCA paint pens, and Sakura Pigma black markers, carbon paper
STEP 1: If you have a printer that will let you print on card stock, you can print your coloring pages on heavy weight paper to give you more coloring options. However, this watercolor paper is too think for my printer, so I used carbon paper to transfer the owl and flowers. I tape down my paper, then the carbon paper, and then my owl print on normal copy paper. I use a pen to trace.
STEP 2: The first layer I did was a wash of acrylics. Browns for the owl, pinks for the flowers, and then blues and greens for the background.
Step 3: After I let the paint dry completely, I used colored pencils to add more color and details to the owl and flowers.
Step 4: I then added black outlines with the black marker, dividing up the background into interesting shapes based on color. I then added pattern to areas.
Step 5: Then I used the paint pens to add more details and patterns all over the piece.
Step 6: At this point I went back in with the acrylics and the wax crayons to add color and color washes to the whole piece, including the owl.
Step 7: I finished with some metallic gold on the owl just for fun.
In an effort to help everyone hold onto a little sanity, I’ve decide to start offering free goodies for you to download. I’m starting with coloring pages, but who knows what else I’ll end up adding!
Be sure to share your creations on social media and mail them to someone to spread some joy! And let me know if you have any special requests.
I can’t help but be influenced by our current situation. I saw a meme yesterday about how this has taken me back in time to being 16 – gas is cheap and I’m grounded! And sometimes that’s how I feel. My wholesale order is complete. I’m almost done with the one pet portrait I have to work on. What do I do now?
I’ve been doodling. Thinking. In the evenings I’ve been working on some small abstract pieces. I think I may take them up in size and see what happens. I keep going back to the idea of Journey. That sometimes you get lost. Sometimes you end up on a path that leads no where or that you circle around and around the same spot before you can move on. I like the idea of choice. I can choose the road less traveled, or I can take the straight and narrow road when I need to. This is where I am right now. It’s a different body of work for me, but these are different times. Right now these bring me a little peace and quiet. I hope you find solace in them as well.
I’ve worked from home since February 2002, so it’s not a new thing for me. However, I’ve had a studio at Lowe Mill for just over 5 years now, so not going to work for at least part of the week has been an adjustment. And now my whole family is working from home! It seems like every time I turn around it is time to feed everyone again – lol!
But overall, things are going well. This is our spring break week, so I’m trying to take a little time for myself. The boys start online school next week, and I think that will be an adjustment for all of us. They’ve been doing whatever their teachers sent them the last couple of weeks, but none of it counted for a grade.
I was fortunate and got a wholesale order from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center a couple of weeks before everything shut down. All my materials are here, so I’ve been working on the order. I’m hoping they get to open soon and I can deliver everything…or that they’ll want it so they can add it to their online store. It has been keeping me busy, and that has been invaluable!
I’ve also been doing a little abstract experimentation. I have really enjoyed being able to focus on my love of color and letting that element take center stage. I’m thinking of ways I can combine this with more realistic elements in the future, but for now, I’m learning.
I’ve also decided to start creating some fun pieces that return more to my graphic design roots. I’m not sure where this will lead, if anywhere, but it feels good to something positive and fun right now.
My home studio is definitely a mess with all the different things I’ve got going on, but it’s all good. I’m so thankful I have a room to call my own. A place that I can close the door, turn on some music, and forget about all the craziness going on in the world right now. I have no idea when Lowe Mill will open again. I miss my work studio. I miss my friends and fellow artists. But I admit, it is kind of nice to not have anywhere to go. To be able to spend time experimenting and learning. To work in my yard and spend time with my kids. It’s a brave new world for now, and we’ll be stronger for it.
Lowe Mill A&E follows Huntsville City Schools for closures due to weather…and other things, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. We are closed to the public until April 8th. If this date changes, I’ll post it here as well as on social media.
I am working in my home studio and will continue to post progress shots of pieces I am working on. I’ll get new pieces added to the site as well. My printer is home with me, so I can even make and mail prints if you want to order online.
Wash your hands. Stay safe!
Below is our current information from Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. I will post on Facebook when I plan to have the studio open. Please try and support your local businesses. Small business are impacted the most by economic disruption. Many artist have online shops. Buy a gift certificate and plan on using it later for a class or a gift. Shop local!
If you are planning to visit Lowe Mill A&E, here’s what you need to know about our community’s Coronavirus plans.
We want to let you know what we’re doing to make your experience here as safe as possible for you and our artists and makers:
1. If you don’t feel well, please stay at home. If you’re coughing or sneezing, or have had fever within the last 24 hours no matter the cause, please stay home. Please cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw it away. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer often. Please use social distancing and keep 6’ away from your neighbor.
2. Classes with artists. If you are currently taking a class at the mill, please check with the artists before arriving to ensure your class is still meeting as scheduled. We have asked our artist and makers to keep their social media up to date for information regarding their studio.
3. Art studios. We’ll continue to work in our studios going forward. Some of us may choose to keep our doors closed, but you will still be able to see us through our studio windows. If you need to reach out to us, please use the contact information listed under our name and studio number on the outside of each studio door.
4. Cleaning our space. We are sanitizing all stairwell handrails, interior ramp handrails, public door handles and push bars, basically all hand-contact surfaces daily.
5. Closing the mill. We follow Huntsville City Schools protocol. If they close, the mill will close. Please follow us on social media for updates.
6. We’ve had no reports of any Lowe Mill A&E artists, makers, or crew members being infected. We have asked that our crew, artists and makers please stay home if they experience fever or any Coronavirus symptoms. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and will let you know if anything changes. Thank you for your cooperation in keeping the mill a safe and healthy place.
“Goodbye” has been accepted into CPSA’s 27th Annual International Exhibition. This annual gallery exhibition is exclusively for works done in 100% colored pencil. This year’s exhibition is at the City of Brea Art Gallery in Brea, California.
I got the official email today that once “Goodbye” is received and appears in the CPSA exhibition this summer, I’ll have achieved CPSA signature status. After the banquet on August 2nd, I may append the initials “CPSA” to my name. I’m so excited!
Thank you to my fellow Lowe Mill artists for telling me, “Yes, it is done! Stop obsessing!”
A few weeks ago I had a tween purchase a piece of art for his friend’s birthday present. While I was at Panoply, I had a family come into my booth and suddenly one of the kids yells, “She’s the one that made my Llama!” She recognized my signature. It was so neat to meet the recipient of this little llama, and I was so honored that she liked it so much. Her mom took our photo together. It was a such a neat experience. And so nice to really see how art touches lives.
As an artist, it can be very hard to stay positive about your work. You are always putting a little piece of yourself out there for others to judge. And let me say, not everyone is very nice. Or even tactful. This was the perfect little moment for me to tuck away for my head and my heart for those days when I’m feeling down.
I am happy to announce that “Phased Out” has been accepted to Embracing Art XVII at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur, AL.
Celebrating the artworks of North Alabama amateur and professional artists, Embracing Art was the first exhibit the Carnegie held upon the opening of Decatur’s first art center. Featuring up to 100 original works of art, this exhibit is one of the most visited during the Carnegie’s exhibition year. The exhibit runs from March 19 – April 27t.
Judgement was included in the most recent edition of CP Hidden Treasures – Volume V. This soft back book features over 240 colored pencil works created by artists around the world.
The next piece in my “Vanishing” series is finally finished! I had a hard time deciding when this one was done. I wanted the cityscape to be visible, but not overbearing. This piece is 100% Prismacolor Premier colored pencils on Canson Mi-teintes paper. I used my heated board and Gamsol to help blend the colors. The size is 20″ x 16″ and its been carefully adhered to a cradled board. Once the weather cooperates, it will be sealed with a matte spray varnish.
Looking for something unique for that special someone? I have new Heart Art! And there’s still time to order a a heart with his or her favorite colors. Plus I can also customize “Heart Tails” with cats of different colors.
Special orders need to be in by February 2! Email me today!
You can also find hand drawn art pendants and penny tile charms. And there’s just a few cat stuffed animals in Valentines prints.