For my Weekly Give Back project, I have decided to change non-profits every 2 months. Each piece I create for that time will be earmarked for that non-profit, so no matter when it sells, $30 of the sale will be donated to that non-profit.
For March and April I will be earmarking pieces for Free 2 Teach in Huntsville. They provide free resources for teachers for the 3 districts within Madison County. I’m the daughter of two teachers, so teachers are near and dear to my heart. And what a year it has been for teachers! My husband and I decided to keep our kids virtual, and it has been tough for them. Their teachers have done an amazing job though, and I can’t thank them enough.
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.
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.
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.
Canson Mi-Teintes 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.
Stonehenge People are not really my thing, but Stonehenge paper is fantastic for people portraits.
Wood Panels 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.
Wood Panels 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.
Gel Medium 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.
Last year was rough. And so far 2021 isn’t starting out too great either. I have been thinking and reflecting about what I want to do with my art and my business–setting goals, figuring out what success means to me, and trying to understand where I fit in this crazy world.
One thing I know for certain is how important community is. How can I be more helpful? My idea is the Weekly Give Back. My goal is to create an original piece of art each week (or so!) and 30% of the sale after expenses will go to a local charity. Each original will go on sale Friday of the week for $100, shipping and tax included, and will be either 5×7 or 6×6. I will pick a charity for the month or quarter…haven’t quite decided yet. I’ll be sure to post which charity the funds are currently going to though.
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.