Monday, August 18, 2014

Ballerina in Black

As a follow up to my last blog, I finished up one of the two ballerinas I was working on!  The grand plan was to create one ballerina in white and one in black, so I started on the ballerina in black and had a fabulous time with her.  While I did a hybrid of brush and palette knife with my last ballerina, I decided this time to attempt this one completely using palette knife.

For those of you unfamiliar with palette knife, it is the metal tool all the way on the right in the picture above.  Whereas brushes are made of bristles and create smoother, flatter texture generally, palette knife is made of metal (and sometimes plastic), and is sans bristles.  It allows you to scoop up more paint off of your palette and generally results in looser, more expressive strokes on the canvas and creates a lot of texture.  The only downside is that the paintings stay wet for a long, long time.  When I finish a painting with a brush, I avoid touching it for a couple weeks but I don't worry about it too much.  That said, with palette knife, it's critical to move the painting to a place where nobody will encounter it or touch it for quite some time!

Ballerina in Black is a 24"x36" oil on linen.  What do you think of the palette knife technique?!  Let me know! I'd love to hear from you.

Hope you enjoy and are having a very happy Monday so far!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ballerinas in Process

Happy Monday!  This past week was a little rough as I came down with the flu!  I had no idea you could get the flu in the summer but apparently you can.  Oof!  Well, I'm feeling better, which means back to work.  I had such a good time painting my ballerina, that I decided to try to paint a couple more!  I sketched them out, although I think I am going to change up the ballerina on the right...I don't like that her foot isn't totally showing and I'm not sure she's zoomed in enough like the ballerina on the left.  Right now, the plan is to make ballerina's outfit on the left dark, and on the right white.  We'll see how it goes and if that holds true in the end.  As an artist, sometimes you go in with one plan and end up with something totally different!

Off to the ballet (in my mind, that is)!  Hope you are having a spectacular day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Every year, my family and I go to Sunset Beach in North Carolina for a week at the beach.  We have been going as a family for about ten years now, and it has a special place in my heart because it is where I got engaged and also where I won my very first painting contest.

This week of vacation is also the source of my parents family Christmas card, which is always at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville restaurant down in Myrtle Beach.  We take the 45 minute drive down to watch the fireworks, walk around the shops, and snap the yearly shot.  My husband and I are on the left, parents in the middle, and brother and sister-in-law on the right.  This year, my sister-in-law's sister (middle right) joined us as well, which was a fun addition.

It's always inspiring to go down to the beach, since I can see God's handiwork in a new light.  Check out this rainbow!!!  I've never seen a full rainbow, and if you see in the upper right hand corner, you can see a faint double rainbow.  Amazing!

Finally, here's a (slightly blurry) shot of the Calabash Creamery, our favorite ice cream shop at the beach.  The ice cream is amazing and worth the line that typically loops all the way around the shop!

Okay so back to painting!  Check out my most recent piece, a shot of a ballerina in mid-leap.  I got the inspiration for this piece after I visited the Kennedy Center to see the ballet.  I find it amazing how beautiful and graceful these ballerinas are all while knowing the dedication, strength, and hard work they had to put in to look so lovely.  Enjoy!

Hopefully you just had a great vacation or are about to have one!  Either way, have a happy Monday (one day late!)!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hairspray...An Artist's Windex

Anyone who's seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding knows what I'm talking about for the title of this post.  Gus, patriarch of the family, believes that everything from wounds to cars can be fixed with the power of Windex.  So when I ended up getting ultramarine blue paint on my beloved lemon yellow wing back chair, I just about cried (although I think my husband cheered...haha!).  What do I do?!  Well, after a quick google search, I discovered quite a few people mention using hairspray.  Okay, I'll try anything, I thought.  And guess what?  Hairspray is an artist's best friend.  Check out the steps below to get oil paint out!

The culprit, wet corner of painting

The victim, yellow wing back chair

Step 1: Take a dry, white rag and blot any excess paint off (if stain is still wet).  Do not smear around, simply blot, and when rag is saturated, move to a clean part and blot again, until rag no longer picks up paint when blotting.

See the blue spots?  That's from blotting, then moving to a clean spot until no more paint is picked up from the blotting process

Step 2: Spray hairspray onto clean part of rag, or directly onto paint spot

Step 3: Rub clean part of rag (with hairspray on it), over paint spot.  Similar to Step 1, but in this case, you can rub instead of blot.  This step can take awhile, be patient and rub in different directions to really pick up the paint.  If you see the paint begin to spread around, stop, and go back to Step 1.  When rag is saturated with paint, move to a clean section of rag and repeat.  Be liberal with the hairspray, but try to keep it in a concentrated area around the spot.  Each time you move to a clean section of the rag, apply more hairspray.

Step 4: Slowly but surely, the paint will disappear, and you will end up with nothing but a wet hairspray spot.  If you are dealing with clothes, stick them straight into the washing machine.  If you are dealing with something that can't be laundered, dampen spot with water (unless dealing with a material that water stains, such as silk).

Step 5:  Blow dry until hairspray spot is gone!  If you find that the area is tacky from the hairspray, wet again and repeat Step 5.

Voila!  No more stain!!!!!!!!!!  I can't believe it!

Okay, so what if the stain is dry?!  I tried this on a dry carpet spot that fell victim to orange paint, and I can say that the results are similar!  You may have to work at it a little more, and you may not be able to get every ounce of stain out, but never fear, you can make it better at the very least!

Happy painting...brush in one hand, hairspray in the other!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Derby Day!

Derby Day, 24"x48" oil on canvas

I went out of the box and tried something different...horses!  I've never painted a horse before, but after seeing several wonderfully talented artists do their rendition of horses, I figured I would give it a shot.  It was a fabulous way to break the mold from doing cityscapes.  Like most pieces in general, it required a lot of concentration and it had its challenges, but it was a ton of fun!  Since the horses were in motion, racing down the track, I had to blur the background and their legs, something I hadn't done before.  Thankfully, the technique is surprisingly similar to the way I paint water, so it came naturally!

While I wish I was also congratulating California Chrome in this blog post on the Triple Crown, I will say that I am so impressed by his two victories and overcoming the odds!  

Hope your Monday is going great and that you have a day of victory!

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Work and Inspiration!

A couple weeks ago, I taught a class of fourth graders at a local elementary school where one of my best friends teaches.  While I don't typically teach classes, I had a really good time flexing those muscles and ended up being inspired by these kids!  Being that it was the end of the year, I tried to keep it light on the lecturing so we could get to the actual painting.  I taught about three kinds of painting: Abstract, impressionism, and realism, and then the kids got a chance to practice one of those for themselves.
Last night, my friend Natrisha came over with a bunch of thank you cards from the kids, and one of them even gave me their piece that they created, which had me totally floored on the day I taught.  You can see it in the picture above, it's an abstract sunrise.  How cool is that?!  I love the geometric shapes and his use of color...this kind of brilliance belongs in a gallery!  Aren't kids so creative?!  Nothing else hampering their creative spirit, no fear, nothing holding them back!!!

Cottage on the East End, oil on linen, 12"x36"

As for me, this is my latest piece, a fun Cayman cottage that I did using both brush strokes and palette knife.  Palette knife is a lot of fun, as they are basically just dull knives in different shapes and are designed to pick up a lot of paint.  It forces you to paint more quickly and less meticulously than with a brush, so the appearance is more about the color impact and less about detail, although do not be fooled, you can get plenty of gorgeous detail.  My inspiration to begin painting, Howard Behrens, was a palette knife artist.

Lastly, in my spare time this past week, I started a project as a gift for my mom.  While I can't divulge what it is quite yet, it involves sewing and cutting fabric.  I'm no seamstress, so while this is already considered a challenge, it's even more so when your dog decides to lay on the fabric.  Look how unfazed she remains as I attempt to make cuts.  The end result?  A dog shaped pattern as I finally just had to cut around her.  I'd move her, but she's just so cute!!!!

Hope you all have a GREAT fourth of July week and enjoy some awesome fireworks!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Art Scam

About once per year, I get an email regarding a classic art scam.   The other day, I was thinking about how it's been about a year since one of these emails has come across my inbox, and wouldn't you know, the next morning, I wake up to one waiting for me.

While many of you coming across this are not artists, I think it's important to make mention of this in my weekly blog in case anyone is googling an email address and is curious about whether or not someone is legitimately interested in their work or if it truly is just a scam.

They often go by different names, but in this case, his name was Barry Dominican (Ha!  What a name.  Hi, I'm Bob American.  What, my name doesn't sound real?!) and his email is from a legit gmail address, mrbdominican1@gmail.com.  The email goes as follows:

Hi,My name is Barry Dominican.  
I lived and worked in Hawaii for 21years.I'm in the process of moving to Germany 
to expand my business field.  
I just bought a house there and I'm interested in collecting some artworks for some spaces within my house to make it unique and beautiful.  
Can I have a few images of your recent works?  
I won't mind having your website so as to explore more into your works.I look forward to hearing back from you soonest.

Notice the good, but not great English and how generic his email is?  Also, note that he's moving...another classic red flag.  Of course, just to weed him out, I oblige him, and give him info about the pieces he is interested in (usually whatever couple of titles he chooses to grab off of your website, attempting to seem even more legit).  And then, it comes out:

Glad to hear back from you and thanks for the details.  

The price is okay by me and I'm interested in the immediate purhcase.
Could you send me your full name as you want it written on a check and
your mailing information so that I can have my company cut out a check to you.
You don't have to worry about shipment, my Mover will handle it.
I hope this goes well with you.
Till I hear again from you.

Two big red flags.  Number one, he wants to send a check.  Classic, classic red flag! They often will overpay, and ask for a refund for the overpayment.  Meanwhile, you're transferring money to their untraceable account and the check he sends you bounces.   Number two, they have a mover pick up your stuff.  Obviously, they don't want you to have any info on them besides an untraceable email account, routing number, and fake name.  The movers never come, and you are scammed out of your money.

If you are reading this, do not give out your contact info!

So what do you do if you get an email like this?  You can always just delete it, but if you aren't sure, first, explain that you only accept PayPal or some other method of secure payment.  Second, explain that you do your own shipping and that you need his physical address.  Whether you choose to explain that it's because you smell a rat is your choice!  Either way, I haven't heard back from the usually quick responding Barry in over 24 hours.  I'm shocked!  Kiddddiiiiing.

Anyway, again, I realize that this isn't necessarily relevant to everyone reading, but thought it was really important to put this guy's contact info out into the world so other artists do not get duped and end up losing out on their hard earned money.  Not to mention how incredibly disappointing it is to think that someone wants your work and then actually doesn't.  Talk about getting upset and temporarily raising the blood pressure!  I know I need to stop and pray for these guys, although my human instincts sometimes take over, wanting to find them and wring their necks instead.  Serenity now!  Ha!

Hope your weekend went swimmingly (I say that as a pun as I got to go to the pool TWICE this weekend!), and that your Monday is filled with ethical, kind, and well-meaning people (aka, no art scammers!).

Until next week!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Inspirational Blog!

Where I dream to be some days!

In life as well as in business, there are good days and bad days and days in between.  Since painting is my full time job, I relish any business wisdom I can get, especially when it comes from those who have made their way through the art world.  Maria Brophy manages her husband's art career in which he paints surf boards.  His work is really fun and they have utilized a lot of different tactics to get his work out there.  

I really enjoy reading Maria's blog, and so I've reprinted an especially inspirational one about how to avoid tolerating the negatives in our lives that can weigh us down.  This is great for artists and non-artists alike, which is why I've chosen to share it here!  Hope you enjoy!

Reprinted from Maria Brophy.com, a blog that helps creative entrepreneurs design the career and lifestyle of their dreams.  Visit at http://www.MariaBrophy.com - See more at: http://mariabrophy.com/stuff#sthash.dE8Mlnzy.dpuf

Tolerations weigh us down; they keep us stuck and prevent us from getting on with our life and moving forward.” Peggy Porter

I stumbled upon a great article by Peggy Porter about how tolerating big and little things in our lives can drain us of our good energy and keep us from moving forward.

It reminded me of a decision I made a few years ago not to tell nay-sayers my big dreams

I grew tired of people telling me that I “can’t” do something.  The final straw was when a close friend, a chronic naysayer of anything good, attempted to crush a dream of mine.
I had enthusiastically told her about my wild idea to create a television show based on the happenings in the surf art studio of my husband, Drew.
You’ll never get a show going about Drew.”  The naysayer said, cooly.
But other people do it, even a skateboarder who’s still in high school.  Why not us?”  I said, defending my idea.
Because you don’t know anything about tv.  You don’t even know anybody in Hollywood.”  The naysayer rested her case.
She almost had me.  There was a split second where I agreed with her – what the hell did I know about producing a television show?  Who in the world did I think I was?
But then I came to my senses, and I made two decisions:
1.)     To stop spending time with naysayers; and
2.)     To only share my big ideas with people who think big
Being the stubborn Slovakian that I am, I refused let her get me down.  I began a three and a half year quest to get my show on the air.  Now, The Paint Shop is enjoyed by 3.5 million households, and that number grows every day.
There are roadblocks and attitudes that we should never tolerate, if we are to be happy, thrive and do what we were meant to do in life.
It’s easy for people to get under our skin, put us down, and convince us that we aren’t good enough to carry out our dreams.  After all, we have our own doubts, anyway.  It’s hard enough convincing ourselves.
Below is my list of the top offending tolerations and roadblocks to happiness and success.
NEGATIVE PEOPLE:  It’s very important to clear out the negative people from your life.  Their feelings and thoughts are contagious. Your life is too precious to pollute it that way.
If you have family members that you love that are negative, than limit your time with them.  You can still care about them and check in with them every now and again, but keep it to a minimum.  That way you can’t be affected by their darkness.
MISERY:  Unless you are a certified Psychiatrist, you can’t help people if they aren’t willing to help themselves.  You know that friend of yours that always has things going wrong?  Deep down inside she enjoys the drama.  Don’t get sucked into it.
DREAM CRUSHERS: These are the people who stomp your new ideas!   They may be well meaning, but they don’t know what they are talking about.
Be polite, but replace your time with them and spend it instead with like-minded folks who will uplift you and your ideas and who want to see you grow.
COMPLICATED LIVING:  Don’t tolerate being shackled to big bills for materials things that don’t matter.  Over-extending yourself keeps you from getting the real gold.
There are big things you want to do with your life!  Write that book, produce that video, take a year to explore Italy.
If you have a large mortgage or car payment, and you over-spend, you are not in a position to take risks where it really matters; investing in doing what you love.
It’s easier to take risks when you have less to lose. Keeping your expenses and your obligations to a minimum allows you to be open to doing that which is important to you.
My big project this year is our television show.  It is actually costing us money to get this on the air.  Production costs are very expensive, and until we get picked up by a major network, we are footing the bill (with some help from sponsors).
If we had a large mortgage, a swanky art studio space and big expenses, we wouldn’t be in a financial position to take a risk with this project.
By keeping our expenses low and not spending like crazy, we are able to take the risk to invest in our future without starving.
JUDGEMENT:  Don’t tolerate being judged by others.  You are perfect just the way you are, skinny legs and all.  There are 6 billion people on this planet, and we all have a different point of view.
At the same time, allow others to have their own opinion and accept it, even if you don’t understand it.  You will form tighter relationships with family, customers and neighbors taking this approach.
ROADBLOCKS:  Tolerating roadblocks can really slow us down – some are big, some are small.  Examples of roadblocks are:
  • Using outdated equipment that causes inefficiency;
  • A broken lightbulb, making it hard to see in your workspace;
  • Lacking technical knowledge on how to get something done but putting off learning it;
  • Keeping a bad employee, accountant or attorney that you can’t get the nerve to “fire”;
  • An old website which looks like it was designed when Pat Benetar was popular!
Make a list of all of the roadblocks that are keeping you from getting things done, from being efficient or doing the best you can in your life, and then one-by-one, eradicate them!  You will be energized and free for more growth.
So I have to ask you, what have you decided to stop tolerating in your life? Please, share in the comments!
Maria xxoo
- See more at: http://mariabrophy.com/philosophy/stop-tolerating-what-holds-you-back.html#sthash.saP3ihXC.dpuf

Monday, June 9, 2014

Animal Planet

In the art world, some weeks are crazy with events, meetings, etc., and other weeks are for keeping your nose down in your canvas, or the less savory administrative work.  This week was a mix of keeping the business up to date as well as actual painting.  I am finishing up a couple of embellished giclees, another "Capitol Glow," and one of the cherry blossoms that I did about a year or so ago.  It was funny to compare my last original of the Capitol that I completed against the Capitol Glow giclee, the original is a 24"x36", which is a pretty decent sized painting, but it looks so small in comparison to the giclee, which is a 32"x48".  Either way, I love painting big pieces, whether it's the original or an embellishment!  

In other news, I've come to find that my boxer has learned new ways of getting my attention.  In the past, she's basically just howled at me like a wookiee from Star Wars.  Once she realized that I found it more amusing than attention grabbing (usually I respond to the noise with, "She said what to you?  Stop.  I can't believe it!"), she has decided to get in between me and whatever I'm doing, especially if I'm having an administrative day.  It's almost like she senses how I'd rather be at the canvas (or playing with her). 

I attempted to sit on the floor to keep her company.  It's like she instantly knew I was on gchat instead of staying on task, which meant I must have time for a walk!

Sitting on the couch instead of on the floor, followed by 11 year old dog jumping on the couch, hovering over the computer on my lap.

 In my household, we have a rule that we don't really seek out getting animals, but we won't turn away one that ends up on our doorstep.  That's how I got a cat when I was a child, that's how we adopted our neighbors dog in high school, and how we ended up with Wrigley.  So come to my surprise when I'm eating lunch with my husband, that we see a bright green bird on our deck.  This was no ordinary native bird.  This was a pet parakeet.  Given that a pet parakeet in the Mid-Atlantic has the survival skills of a pomeranian in the wild, we spent several hours capturing it, and taking it to various shelters until someone would take it.  For the first time, we didn't take in the animal on our doorstep, but does a bird really count?!  He was so cute, but it was obvious our pup was getting jealous of the attention we were bestowing upon it, and it was obviously someones pet!  Thanks to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter for having a cage on hand and taking him in.  We named him Tom Haverbird, after Tom Haverford, our favorite character on the hit NBC show Parks and Recreation.

Makeshift bird cage = Amazon box with holes poked through.  See Tom trying to break out above.

Okay so that's about it for this odd week of animals and embellished giclees.  Hope you are having a great Monday and enjoying the gorgeous weather!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Framing Fun

So the fun for this week is less about painting and more about framing!  Since I think that a frame is to art what jewelry is to an evening gown, I needed a little assistance in being able to pick out the right frame for a painting, for both myself and for customers.  Cue this frame kit, which includes a ton of samples of various widths and colors.  Gone are the days of holding up my paintings to a computer screen or dragging wet paintings off to a frame shop.  Woo hoo!  I've used it already and  it's been absolutely wonderful!

It comes with a travel bag, so if you ever need any assistance in picking out a frame, let me know!!!

Hope you are having a happy Monday and that you enjoy the heat this week.  I love hot weather so I will be certainly enjoying this!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Painting vs. Artist

Capitol at Midnight, 24"x36" oil on linen

Well, it's Wednesday and not Monday per the usual blog entry, but it was my goal for this post to be about the painting I've been working on this past week and I can say I successfully completed it.  Yay!  

Just like any project, sometimes a painting just flows, and other times, it's more of a process.  On occasion, it's a battle royale.  Cue this painting.  If you've been following my work, it's evident that I've painted different variations of the Capitol on multiple occasions.  So even though this is right up my alley, I found myself at 11 p.m. on Monday stuck on this painting, specifically the water for whatever reason.  It just wasn't gelling, and it was literally fighting me.  I pushed my chair out and threw tons of paint onto my palette, determined to get it completed, and when I would step back and it would look like a mess, I'd scrape it all off and start over again.  There is nothing more disheartening then scraping off paint you thoughtfully put onto a canvas!!!  

After hours of battling, and a mini meltdown, I finally feel like I won.  I am happy with the way it turned out, and I realized after putting my brush down that I was painting so intensely, I was absolutely covered in paint.  I looked like a two year old who had gotten into a box of markers.  I am a messy painter anyway, but even a couple days later I am still finding traces of evidence of this painting even after multiple scrub downs!  Ha!

Well, it was all worth it, and just part of the painting process.  I hope you get joy out of it as I definitely have a sense of accomplishment!

To celebrate finishing up the piece, it was summer pedicure time.  My mom came over and we beautified our toes just in time for flip flop season.  Since my girly pup didn't want to be left out, we painted her toes light pink to match her tongue.  Nobody call animal control on me, it was just for fun once!

Hope you have a great week and that your projects go smoothly!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fun Week!

Happy Monday!  While I did start a new Capitol painting this week (I hope to have it up next week, at least that's the goal!), I also did a few out of the norm things that were pretty fun!  On Tuesday, I ran my very first class to a troop of Girl Scouts.  They are working on their painting badge, so I taught them a little about light and shadow, and we had a great time painting a branch of cherry blossoms.

It's so amazing how you can have more than a dozen girls painting the same picture with the same colors and every painting turns out different!  Some girls did darker blossoms, some had larger blooms, some were more abstract, some more representational, all were gorgeous though and we had a great time!!!

On Thursday, I had so much fun accompanying an interior designer I have worked with, Christine Wiott, at the Clifton Tour of Homes (there she is on the left in the picture above).  She decorated an entire home (as well as designed the pavilion you see above), and it was featured as the first tour along the route.  I had seen pictures which were just gorgeous, but to see it in person was amazing.  Christine did the greatest job.  Beautiful floral arrangements, paint choices, draperies, you name it.  Christine's use of color and texture is just astounding.  This lady has some great taste (and if you're in the market for any level of redecorating, be sure to check out her recently relaunched website:  www.clwiottdesign.com).

And not that Christine had much to do with it, but look at that Chevy in the driveway outside the home!  LOVE THAT!  What a fun day!

Okay so I'm holding myself to it that next blog will be the finished product of the Capitol.  I'm working on it...wish me luck!

Monday, May 12, 2014


I love Chinatown...I love the vibe the Verizon Center brings on game day, the people waiting for the bus to NYC, the beats of the drummer outside the metro, and my ultimate favorite, Matchbox pizza (yum!!!).  So as usual, I was inspired to paint this fun, lively place.  It turned out pretty fun and I really enjoyed creating it.  Right now it is at The Cooley Gallery, hope you enjoy it, and be sure to check it out there if you want to take a look in person!

I hope you are enjoying your day, it's supposed to be in the mid-80's today, joy of joy!!!!!!  I love warm weather!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Thinking Outside the Box...

One of my absolute favorite things as an artist is to see artwork hanging in its permanent home, so I'm really excited to have had the opportunity to snap this picture of an embellished giclee of the Capitol after we hung it up.  I love how perfectly it matches the living room furniture with the beige and navy blue accents, and how the frame complements the gorgeous crown moulding.

Since I offer to frame pieces in addition to creating them, I often get the question of what size to create, what style to frame in, etc. etc.  Since this is quite subjective in nature, I can give my opinion, but I typically offer up a couple questions to narrow down the field.  When looking at artwork, here are a couple great questions to ask yourself:

1. Where would you like to put the piece and how much space are you working with?  
This piece above is a 36"x54", which is quite large, and is a perfect size as it is hanging in a large living room with ample wall space.  When you walk in the front door, the piece is visible from the foyer, which makes a larger piece even more enjoyable as it can be appreciated from the moment you walk in the door.  So when considering a piece, consider the angles and distances at which the painting can be enjoyed, as it may make you realize a larger piece is the way to go!

2.  How large are you willing to go?
I typically paint larger pieces, because I paint with a lot of detail which can be appreciated better in a larger size.  While you do need a certain amount of space for a large piece, it's important to remember that if the work is a centerpiece, any room with sizable wall space and enough room to step back from the painting can handle a piece larger than you would think.  Notice how in the picture above, there is no need for sconces on either side, as it's large enough that the curtains frame the piece on either side without totally overwhelming the wall.  Any smaller, and it would have gotten lost on the wall without something filling the space on either side.  Also, notice how the room is light and airy, and the furniture is classic but neutral, which can easily handle a colorful, larger piece without overwhelming the room or making it appear busy.  It becomes the focal point and complements its surroundings.  The point of all of this is to just remember not to be afraid of a big painting!  You'd be surprised how much wall space you actually have!

3. When considering a frame, consider the painting, but more importantly, what does the space look like?
I get the question, "How would you frame this?" a lot.  This is almost an impossible question to answer, as picking out a frame can sometimes be like picking out a paint color.  Very few people will pick the exact same one.  In the example above, Heather, who I created this for, really wanted a rich looking, but not ornate, white frame.  Her vision was absolutely brilliant.  Look how it pops with the moulding and yet blends with the beige and off white furniture.  It is perfect in the space, and makes the Capitol itself come to life.  Great job, Heather! While there are certain frames that I might not recommend because it might clash, if everything in your room is decorated in dark woods, go for a dark wood frame.  If you decorate with lots of polished metals, go for a silver frame.  The possibilities are endless, so I always say, stick with what your taste is, and then we'll find a frame to complement the painting according to your taste!

Design and art go hand in hand, I hope on this sunny Monday this helped to inspire you and your space!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lincoln Memorial

After painting the Capitol many a times (I'm not sure there's a more beautiful building in all of DC), I found this gorgeous shot of the Lincoln as the sun was setting, and just knew I had to paint it.  It was a fun, quick (okay not really quick in artists standards, but it just moved faster than normal), albeit large painting (it's a 24"x48"), and it's just a fun shot and has a slightly different feel.  Maybe it's all the primary colors?  It just feels fun and vibrant!

Right now this piece is hanging at The Cooley Gallery, and the funny part is that at night, the picture takes on a whole new feel, as the trees and foreground disappear and the Lincoln Memorial and sunset pop out front and center.  Most artists cringe at bad lighting around their painting, and yet this painting has a personality all unto its own whether you have the best lighting or no lighting at all!  How often does that happen?!

Hope you are having a wonderful Monday!  I can't believe Spring is in full bloom!  I hope you are enjoying the gorgeousness that is the great outdoors!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tribute to Howard Behrens

Hope you had a wonderful Easter yesterday!  I had a wonderful day of church and house hopping (our whole family lives in the area), and passed out about 8 p.m. ha!  

This past week in the studio, I finished up reworking a Cayman cottage scene.  Once it's dry, I'll post a picture of the finished product!

Courtesy of HowardBehrens.com

In other news, this week was a bit sad as the man who inspired me to begin painting, palette-knife artist Howard Behrens, passed away at the age of 80.  When I was in college, I tacked prints of his gorgeous Italy scenes all over the concrete walls of my room, and they helped me to escape the stress of school when I gazed at them. 

After the school year ended and I came home for the summer, I had the opportunity to take over my brother's room and redecorate.  I really wanted the same feel as my dorm room, so I decided to attempt to capture a large scale Italian scene in the same vein as Howard.   Why I thought I could paint a large scale mural when I had never picked up a paint brush I have no idea, but I chalk it up to a God-given inspiration.  That started my love of painting, and now my full-time career, and I have Howard's beautiful artistic ability to thank for spring boarding that.

Bellagio Deja Vu Courtesy of HowardBehrens.com

Howard's paintings are absolutely incredible, and his use of palette-knife (read: metal knives instead of brushes) create a gorgeous texture that can only truly be appreciated in person.  While Howard was internationally known and loved, he was born and raised in the DC area, and he lived in both Potomac and Reston later in life.  His love of travel and passion for the impressionist masters of old led him to paint incredible scenes of the Mediterranean, Mexico, Italy, and beyond.  I personally loved his Italian scenes, specifically that of Lake Como, and because of his scenes, I found my way to Lake Como twice in the past few years.

My dear friend Susan and I both in Europe separately for work, and met up in Lake Como together!

Howard Behrens worked for the U.S. Government Printing Office for 17 years, all along the way painting at nighttime.  Slowly his paintings became world-renown and he was able to focus on it as his full-time job.  His hard work and dedication to his work inspired me that you could pursue your passion while working a 9-5 job.  I have no idea how he managed this for 17 years while raising four children, as I did it for about five and I can tell you it is quite tiring, and that's without kids!

While he lived close by, I was never able to meet him, and while I got close a couple of times, he was unfortunately very ill by the time I had a close enough connection.  I was sad to hear about his passing, but I am so grateful that God made his work cross my path, as it has shaped my life's work and was the vehicle by which God showed me part of what I was destined to do.

I hope you have an inspiring week and that you think about who in your life inspired you!

Monday, April 14, 2014


Recently I blogged about a painting I completed of Villa Monastero, which was inspired by a photo that I took while in Lake Como last year.  It just so happened that as we were walking back to the ferry to hop back across the lake from Villa Monastero, we stumbled upon this little restaurant with a classic Fiat 500 parked in front.  While the Fiat 500 has recently revamped its look and made a comeback within the past few years, the old Fiat 500 from five decades ago remains an icon of classic Italian cars, so it was the perfect shot to take with the car centered around all of the old buildings and historic landscape.

This picture isn't quite a miniature, but given the size of the Fiat 500, I decided to create this as a smaller work, being a 5"x7" oil on canvas.  I hope you enjoy!!!

Monday, April 7, 2014


Last year my husband Patrick and I went to Europe, where we took more pictures than I could possibly have imagined for the purpose of painting (check out a few pics in my blog here).  We had a wonderful time and while it was a complete and total whirlwind, it cemented my love for Lake Como, which if you've followed my blog at all, is a recurring topic of conversation.  I would LOVE to go there for a longer period of time instead of just a few days to really soak in the culture, food, and scenery.  It is really just one of the most majestic places on the planet.  Since coming home, I have painted a few of the pictures that we took there, one being of Villa Monastero, located on Lake Como in Varenna.  This scene is a 24"x36" oil on canvas.

Villa Monastero is now a convention center and botanical garden, and is also often used as the backdrop for fashion magazine spreads (not surprisingly).  The day we snapped this picture, it was a fair bit cloudier, but the flowers were just as amazing.  Funny thing to note...the sign behind the yellow roses is actually for a bathroom...ha!  We need bathrooms this beautiful in the U.S., wouldn't you agree?!

I hope this reminds you of your happy place, and if you are ever making your way over to Europe and need a great suggestion on a stop, shoot me a message and I'll tell you ALL the places to go and see in Lake Como!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Embellished Giclees: Before & After

For those of you who are unfamiliar, an embellished giclee is when an image of an original painting is printed onto a canvas, and is then embellished with paint by the artists hand.  In the end, the product is something that looks similar to a real painting, at a fraction of the cost of the original.  In addition, most giclees are run in limited edition, meaning that only one of a certain number will be created (in my case, usually 50).

The best part of an embellished giclee, though, is that it can also be customized to fit the needs of the home it will hang in.  While I usually embellish the same image in similar ways, I on occasion get a request to change up the colors slightly.  This was the case for my last embellished giclee, which was requested in warm tones with a sunset scene and calmer, reflective water.  See what a difference in mood the same scene can have in different colors?  I really love the way this one turned out, and think it's neat to have created something new and unique from an image that once looked so different.

And as an FYI, I am able to turn any original that I have created into an embellished giclee, so please let me know if you see an image you'd like to see turned into a giclee for your home!

Monday, March 24, 2014

There's Still Time! Check Out Pieces at The Cooley Gallery

Don't forget!  If you haven't made it out to The Cooley Gallery, there's still time!  My pieces will be featured until the end of March, alongside ceramic artists Bradley Birkhimer and Kurt Tetter.  See details below!

The Cooley Gallery
12 S. King Street 
Leesburg, Virginia 20175
Gallery Hours
Wednesday 12-5pm
Thursday through Saturday 11-6pm
Sunday 12-4pm

Parking can be found along the street or in parking garages on either side of S. King Street

There are great shops and restaurants along S. King Street, so be sure to bring your walking shoes and empty stomach!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Commission Time!

Commissions are an important aspect of my life as an artist, and I really enjoy them as they often stretch me since I'm creating a painting from an image that someone else selects, and often tweaking it once the image is picked out.  Recently, I created the scene above for a family who recently had their dining room redecorated by incredible designer Christine Wiott.  They have a beautiful Tuscan style home, filled with warm tones.  So when we had settled on an image to paint and I was asked to warm up the tone of the painting, I quickly realized what that meant.  No blue.  Now, that's not inherently that big of a deal, but I very quickly realized that I don't think I have ever painted a picture without using blue!  Even in my sunset pictures and night scenes I still manage to throw blue in there.  So this was to be a fun challenge, and was it ever. In addition to warming up the tone of the image, I was also asked to add in extra foliage and flowers, which you can see especially in the pots on the terrace.  Since I love Italian scenes, this was a really fun piece to paint and felt more like something I would just create on my own (maybe with a splash of blue, though! Ha!).

The outcome is a 24"x36" oil on canvas, framed in an antique silver and espresso frame.  Stay tuned for a picture of the piece on the wall!

Interested in turning your own photograph into a painting?  Drop me a note!