Monday, November 26, 2007

My First Step

For me, the photograph is the most important step because it determines how great a portrait will be. Before I even start sketching my subject, I carefully study the photo I've been given. I have a mental checklist of things I look for:
  • Detail
  • Clarity
  • Color
  • Expression
  • Lighting
  • Sizing
  • Positioning
If I find that the photograph doesn't work, I either ask my client for another to replace the first, or for more photos for detail. Sometimes I even take the picture, or work with several photographs to get just the right look. Once I've sketched my ideas, I present that for approval. Usually it works out, but sometimes changes are necessary. Its all part of the process.

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Turn!

Since finishing my mom's bathroom with its gorgeous view, a few of those privileged to actually see it in person have been wanting to see my room as well. Why? Because if the artist's work is nice for a bathroom, then its reasonable to conclude that the artist's main living space is equally as nice. My problem? There was nothing there for anyone to see.

I took the opportunity between clients to make a few changes in case another room-viewing request came along. I am completely enamored with Indian, Arabian, and other Eastern cultures, but I like Spanish architecture as well, and wanted my living space to reflect that. How could I blend these different cultures and make it look awesome? I found an article in a magazine that featured Alhambra, a building which is in Spain that has all of the cultures I love made into one. I immediately fell in love. It was exactly what I was looking for!

I studied everything about the building and even incorporated some of its unique architectural designs into my work. Its coming along very nicely. You can see one part of my completed project -- a new and improved fireplace on my closet door. Not much I can do with the doorknob. The tilework is based on tiles found in Alhambra, and the woodgrain reflects the main pieces of furniture . The vase is based on this vase...much cheaper too. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. More on what's happening at home later.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Original Subjects!

My latest portrait involves a particularly special couple. Not only are they my brother and sister-in-law, they are the subjects of my very first portrait. As seen to the left, my amazing artistic skill and phenomenal photography talents were still developing. I've slightly improved since then. At the time I was so proud of myself and of the painting that I submitted it into an art exhibit and later gave it to the couple as a gift.

I've been working on this latest portrait since May 2006, and my dad was critiquing it for me through its progression. Since he was no longer around, I've literally avoided doing any work on it, and focused on other clients. I finally reached a point where it became necessary to complete it. I think even my dad would be satisfied with the results.

Jenni and Ulysses, professional wedding photographers in New York, celebrated their wedding anniversary this month. I thought the timing was great for the unveiling. Happy 18th!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Scene

In late July, I was approached by a friend of mine who wanted to get a portrait painted. The portrait was for her sister and brother-in-law--also friends of mine--who were moving to another state. My client/friend wanted this picture to be a great conversation piece and something that they'd love. Another criteria was that she wanted it to be big!

I was just too excited! The photo she provided was of the couple during their engagement. It featured them gazing into each other's eyes. The picture was slightly faded, but my graphics program quickly fixed that, and the true reference picture was ready. My client/friend also requested a scenic background, which was also featured as a framed picture behind the couple in the original photograph.

To the right you'll see the finished product -- an original 22x28 portrait of my friends. I really enjoyed during this for them. Feel free to click the image for a more detailed view.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Sketches!

I've often been asked if I do other artworks besides paintings. My answer is "Yes". I meet a lot of people who are more interested in sketches than paintings at first. I like to think that they're finding out if the artist's work is up to their standards, and that's understandable since they are the ones who have to live it. More often than not, clients who commission sketches return for paintings if they're pleased and will recommend you to others.

In early May, I was contacted for portrait information for a gift. This potential client wasn't interested in a painting or a gift certificate, but a sketch that included three people. The challenge of it was that the three people were on three separate photos. For each project I take on I use a graphic program to get the overall composition right. I may even change the lighting and flip the direction a subject faces. Sketches are different from my portrait paintings because they aren't as detailed, come only in black and white and my style is unique. As you can see, I leave a portion of the subject undone. My client was really happy with the end result and so was her mom! They're even talking about future projects with their family and friends. I look forward to working with them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My New Category!

In the beginning of May 2007, I received an email from a man with an interesting request. He would soon be celebrating his first wedding anniversary and wanted to give his wife a unique gift -- a portrait. He told me that he was known for his fantastic gifts. What made this portrait so unique and fantastic was that it was of his beautiful Siberian Husky, Lexi.

Now I'd never painted a pet portrait before. Hadn't even drawn an animal in years, but I told my client that I'd be happy to take on the assignment and have it delivered in time for his anniversary at the end of the month. I was nervous, but so excited! I did a search for pet portrait artists to find examples of what a typical pet painting would look like, its sizing and other info, and saw that the majority of pet portrait artists come from the UK. I knew of one artist in particular who I admired very much. Her website features a forum and even before-and-after demos. I emailed her for a little information, which she gladly gave to me, and I joined the forum to ask the other artists a few questions. I met a lot of friendly and extremely helpful people who were very willing to help me with my assignment.

As is my custom, I kept my client up-to-date with photos of Lexi's work-in-progress. I do this because if any changes are necessary, I can easily make them. Everything was going so smoothly and doing a pet portrait was so much fun! A few of the artists at the forum even asked me if I'd do another pet portrait. The answer to that: if requested, sure!

In the end, Lexi's portrait was gorgeous! The painting was delivered on time, and the couple loved it -- particularly the wife. I'd like to thank them for adding a new category to my portfolio: Pets!

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Adventures in Advertising: Part II

Well, faithful readers, I couldn't let one person's rejection stop me. That same week, I thought about the type of people who could be interested in owning something as unique as a portrait: parents, couples, professionals...brides. There are websites designed to help the wedding party find whatever items or services needed to make their event an unforgettable occasion. They list everything from Beauty & Spas to Wedding Supplies. These websites are extremely convenient, and go a long way in helping a bride get more ideas for her special day.

Louisiana is no exception. is a website that caters to the brides of New Orleans. The site started because one New Orleans bride understood how stressful it was gathering all the vendor information and other details together, and so a little organization was needed. It now has a comprehensive and rapidly growing list of local vendors that make a bride's dream day come true. It also has a forum feature so that prospective or former brides can exchange ideas or ask questions.

The site administrator has generously agreed that I could be listed with the vendors! But would a bridal couple be interested in my services? I'll have to wait and see. The picture above was an engagement gift to a bride-to-be. "Admiring and Adoring" is a reproduction of John William Godward's "Youth and Time", circa 1901. Personally, I would love to have my and my fiance's portrait displayed at say--the reception. In the meantime, my portfolio has to be updated specifically for this category. My best friend has graciously agreed to model for a bridal pose. Her photo shoot is scheduled at a future date, but the finished product will be amazing. If you're engaged, a newlywed or have a special occasion coming up, feel free to contact me about your free portrait consultation today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Adventures in Advertising: Part I

In the last couple of months, I’ve been involved in the business of promoting my artistic skills. Advertising is new to me, so research was needed in order for this to be a success. One of the ideas mentioned was to find a local business owner, and offer a free portrait in exchange for displaying the completed work. Although I’ve read conflicting thoughts on this marketing strategy, I thought I’d give this interesting idea a try. After all, who turns down a free portrait?

A frame shop was the perfect place to start, and we have a nice one in our small town that boasts of having works done by Louisiana artists. Perfect! My presentation was very important—this was not unlike a job interview. My personal appearance was professional, my business cards were at hand and my portfolio was ready. The image on the right is one of the paintings featured. I speak to the general public on a regular basis, so I was only slightly nervous.

Well, I gave my presentation to the owner and was shot down approximately 5 seconds later! Reason being: The shop has no insurance for that. I explained that the portrait would belong to the owner and therefore did not need to be insured unless desired. I was told “no” again. Reason being: If the shop owner did it for me, they’d have to do it for everyone. WHAT?! That’s ridiculous! If you own a frame shop in a small town, especially if you advertise LA artists, why not support the local artists? I didn’t understand, and frankly, I still don’t. Needless to say, I politely thanked the shop owner for their time, and distraught, discouraged and disappointed, I went home.

Being turned down, especially with such a lame excuse really upset me. I tried not to take it personally, but in reality it was personal. That frame shop lost any potential business I would’ve thrown their way, either by the advertised portrait or if a client asked about framing recommendations—which often happens. You can guess who won't be getting my endorsement. More about what happened the next week later. Currently, I’m extremely reluctant to try that particular advertising tactic again. No one likes rejection. What was I going to do now? How was I going to find clients? Who would be interested in having portraits painted? Craigslist ads made a nice jumpstart. I’ve answered a few inquiries and hope that interest climbs. If you’ve seen my ads or have a few marketing suggestions, drop me a line!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My Love Letters

Spring is only hours away, but in my case it's only steps away. All I have to do is go to my mother's bathroom. In my Feb 2007 post, where you can see me hard at work, my project at the time was a mural that was based on Jean Honore Fragonard's beautiful work. Because I was doing two walls, I chose two of his paintings to work from, "Love Letters" and "The Swing".

I wanted this mural to look and be fantastic, so I did a lot of research. A lot of research. One of the techniques I read about was using an overhead projector. Where could I get that piece of equipment? Two words: Ebay, baby! I was so excited when my package arrived that I got started right away. Step 1: measure the wall. Step 2: print the desired (and scaled) image on transparency paper. Step 3: chalk an outline of the image that's projected. Simple!

The projector made the work go easier and so much faster. Only the top half of my mom's bathroom has a scene. The bottom half that you see is the "garden wall" complete with cracks. This particular mural even has an special feature--a trompe l'oeil (trick the eye) effect. Visit my website's mural section to see it and more.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My February Project

In recent months, I've been so preoccupied with building my website, revamping it and promoting my work that I've actually neglected painting! Who knew time could fly so fast? In keeping with my temperamental nature (see Jan 2007 post) I went from no painting to wanting to do something new, exciting and big -- a mural!

The last mural I completed was the largest project I'd single-handedly taken on. That was a learn-as-you-go kind of project, which is a better way to say that I didn't know what I was doing. It was based on a gorgeous bathroom I saw online. "Outdoor Pathway", (to the left) a 57x74 mural on canvas, took about three weeks. While I'm not totally happy the results, I am content. I may do it over someday, but for now, well...I'm still a little proud of my accomplishment.

The location I decided for this latest undertaking is my mom's bathroom. It was decided over a year ago that it would be updated, so this was the perfect opportunity. Now what to paint? The mural had to be balanced with the decor of the bedroom, which definitely has a European feel, so I focused on paintings by European artists. My mom also appreciates scenes found in toile fabric. Jean Honore Fragonard was my ultimate choice. I'm more prepared for this project. I've read books, practiced techniques, searched forums and studied nature itself. And you know what? I'm happy with far.

Friday, January 26, 2007

My Third Attempt

When I was a little girl, my friends from Sesame Street taught me how to paint a flower. My first attempt was a simple daisy. I was so pleased that I printed one on almost every piece of paper handed to me. I loved flowers. From there I turned to another PBS program: Bob Ross. He was going to teach me how to paint roses, my second attempt at flowers. Well, my roses looked nothing like his, and I concluded that he was no Elmo! I hated flowers and wanted nothing to do with them or Bob Ross EVER!

I am called, what people term, a temperamental artist. I looked that up to see if that was true and here's what I found: “Excessively sensitive or irritable; moody. Given to changeable emotional states, especially of anger or gloom.” What?!? That’s not me! In fact, I’m the exact opposite! Easygoing, laid-back, happy and peaceful. I go with the flow! Temperamental? HA!!

*Ahem* Getting back to the original discussion, I had said I wanted nothing to do with flowers, and I carried out that statement. Imagine my surprise when I get a commission to do a floral. A huge bouquet of magnolias. Was I up to the challenge? You bet! I tried the graph method since the canvas I was working on was large. This was my third attempt at flowers and I wanted the proportion, color and overall design to be just right. There were slight mishaps along the way. If I was irritable or moody, it was directed toward the painting and it worked to my client’s benefit. I won’t deliver a product until I’m satisfied. Needless to say, the “Magnolias” were beautiful. I love flowers!