Something Missing

Okay, so I have titled this blog post "Something Missing".  I don't really know why.  I always write a title before I start writing a post and for some reason these words just popped out.  Let's see where this takes us.

I have been very busy.  Fall is always tough because it seems to be my busiest time for shows and keeping my local shops stocked.  I have had some very successful shows in October and November and am now gearing up for the last two of the year in December. 

The first show in December is the Harvest Festival at the Pomona Fairgrounds on Dec. 5, 6 & 7.  It is more of a fine craft show in the terms that it is mostly for people coming to buy handmade gifts rather than fine art buyers looking to add to their collections.  Knowing this fact, I have been busy making as many of my gifty items as possible - bowls, plates, leash hooks and ornaments.  I will also have some of my reverse paintings available, though, for those looking for more of a one-of-a-kind item.

Three Hook - Dog

Red 8 inch Spirit Plate

8 inch tree plates 2

The last show for me this year is the Christmas Tree Lane tree lighting and Arts and Crafts Fair in Altadena, CA.  It is on Dec 13th from 2pm to 8pm in the Altadena library parking lot.  It is a fun one to end on for the season because it is outdoors, at night, with tree lightings, music, food and the warmth of other vendors and guests.

Then, I will finally feel like I can get working on what is missing.  I have ideas all the time.  I have thought many times this year about the direction of my art and I feel like I know what I want to create, but also know that it changes all the time.  The art pieces are wonderful and time consuming and thrilling to pull out of their final kiln firings and get them on their displays or finished for display and sale.

As a "selling" artist, though, I frequently spend time making smaller, more quickly "saleable" items in order to pay the bills.  I don't know any artist who has not struggled with the different pulls at our time, energy and skills.  

I am considering challenging myself in 2015 to accomplish more than I think I can. There is something missing in my work.  I am looking for more depth and dimension.  We will see if it can be found.

This piece here, "Chickadee and Seed Pods", is one of my latest large art pieces and I LOVE it.  I am hoping to expand on these techniques and details.  I hope you will stick around to see what comes next. Every new piece is a learning experience - finding what I like or don't like and seeing the possibilities of what can be done.

Chickadee and Seed Pods 1 with gradient background

Hot Dog!

You know, I always feel like I am having fun when I create a new piece or pieces of glass.  It gives me a high to see first, the drawing, then the first, second and third stages of firing the glass.

But the final image created in glass after the fourth firing is, of course, my favorite.  I am (almost) always thrilled with the image and can't wait to show it off.  

So, since I am a real animal lover, you can imagine how much I want to show off this new dog and cat paintings series that I am working on.  

Check them out --

Boston Terrior 2
Emily" -- Boston Terrior

Boxer 1
Rocky" -- Boxer

Shepherd 3
Greta" -- German Shepherd


Greyhound 2
Tulip" -- Greyhound

Pit Bull 3"Lucy" -- Pit Bull
(ugly reflection on the bottom section of this photo - must be re-shot)

Charlie 3
"Charlie" -- Kitty Cat

Each of the dogs is a  5-1/2 x 5-1/2" Fused Glass Reverse Painting.  The cat is 3-1/2 x 9-1/2".  They will all be framed in deep set black wood frames to set them off.  The originals will be available at my upcoming summer art shows in Big Bear on July 4, 5 & 6 and again in Big Bear on August 15, 16 & 17.  And, if I get my act together, they may be listed on my Etsy site. (Agh, I sure have been neglecting that poor little shop!)

I am working on getting some prints made so that these are available to purchase as cards and/or as framable prints.  These probably won't be available until the middle of July, though.  

But I think this whimsical style really lends itself to pet portrait commissions because I can really capture the fun and wonderful feeling dogs and cats give us every day.  So if you are interested, please send me a note and/or a photo for more information.

Hope you like them!  

Who knew?

Before I left on vacation earlier this month, I had several requests for custom orders.  It seems they always come in groups.  I let everyone know they would not be done until I got back from my trip and it all worked out.  I completed 3 custom orders this week.

-- A Red-Hatters pendant for my mother-in-law --
This is a reverse painted glass oval dome mounted on a hand carved and painted polymer clay setting.

I had also previously made a sign for a friend's business (photography) to hang up when she does art shows.  Another mutual friend ordered one just like it.
Sue Klump Sign 1

Barbara Jordan Sign 1
The first sign came out beautifully, but a hair dark.  So I tried to lighten it up in the second sign and it came out pretty darn light.  I like them both, but somewhere in the middle was what I was shooting for.

And the last custom order was for a guy who called because he wanted an anniversary gift for his girlfriend of a giraffe and a sloth together (pet names).  He sent me a link to some artwork he googled.  Who knew you could so easily find a cute little drawing of a giraffe and sloth together??  I adjusted the drawing a bit to fit my needs, clarify the faces a little and removed the clothing/glasses on the giraffe.  I painted it in my normal way and am very happy with the result.  This one was so much fun!
Giraffe and Sloth 5


Sisters Collaboration

My sister, Kristin Shields, is a terrific quilt artist.  She uses a liberated style to build her quilts and they are so much fun.  She was chosen as the Featured Quilter at this year's huge Sister's Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon.

Kristin Featured Quilter OregonThat is her - far left of picture in white shirt and brown hair - and a tiny portion of the folks that stopped by her space on Saturday, July 13th.

So, last year we had an idea - let's collaborate!  Our parents' 50th wedding anniversary is this year and so we decided to make a hanging for them.  I made a reverse glass painting of a tree with intertwining trunks and limbs and little birds all in the favorite colors of each of the family members (parents, kids and grandkids). 

I sent that up to Kristin in January and she ended up making a little quilt the same width of a close up of the two red birds (our parents' favorite colors) on a limb with leaves.  She used almost all fabrics she had died herself.

Kristin had both pieces mounted and framed together and the we presented it to our parents this past Tuesday while I was visiting them all in Oregon.

Glass and Quilt 1

Mom and Dad glass and quilt 1

This was a fun little project and it was exciting just sending off a tile and getting to see the finished project all put together.  Maybe we will try another pairing some time - have a little show of them - that would be fun!

Online Selling

I feel myself extremely fortunate that I have very sweet and loyal fans.  At my most recent art show in Alpine, CA, I had the pleasure of having some very enthusiastic ladies come to seek me out.

One woman had seen a piece that a friend of hers had purchased at the same show last year.  She was a funny and interesting lady who ended up buying 5 pieces!  She is a bird watcher as well as an adrenaline junky and we had fun talking about the motorcycle she is planning to buy.

Another lady I had met just a couple of months ago at the Circle of Art show in Borrego Springs.  She was there before I was and patiently waited while we lifted the sides of the EZ Up to let her see all of the new goodies I had brought to the show.  She ended up purchasing 2 pieces and custom ordering 2 more.

I just had a conversation about sales this morning with a friend.  You see, I don't offer pieces for sale on my website because since everything is one of a kind, it is very difficult to keep up inventory.  I would have to be updating frequently, or hold items at home that I want to sell online.  However, I have found that while people frequently look at my website, they very infrequently purchase anything from there - even my Etsy site.  Since I am out at shows about every other month or more, it just makes sense to bring all of the inventory to each show.  That way those "in-person" customers can see the full range of what I have available.  On Etsy, I tend to list items that I make multiples of (like my plant markers and greeting cards) but I have recently listed some of my other art pieces on there as well.  The problem with this is that many of those pieces are also for sale at the co-op gallery in Lake Arrowhead and if an item sells in the gallery, I might not be aware of it for up to a week.  Which means, if someone also purchases it online, I am in big trouble - only one item, two sales.  I am having to go and look at my items in the gallery much more frequently and hope that scenario does not happen.

I am wondering how other people may deal with this kind of thing.  I know that many artists are able to list and sell prints of their paintings online and then keep their originals for galleries and shows.  However, all I can do are some cards, not prints due to the nature of my art - it would take away from the fact that my art is on glass, not paper or canvas.  Suggestions or ideas are more than welcome!!

I leave you with photos of the custom orders just completed--

Acorn Nut 2

"Acorn Nut" - Acorn Woodpecker

Waterborne 1

"Waterborne"  Great Blue Heron


So, for 2013 I have started to go back to allowing myself a little more freedom with my drawings and paintings.  I will probably always be a fairly "literal" artist in that I don't "do" abstract art.  I can appreciate it and love the flow and feel of it, but am a more restrained artist myself.

But for the past couple of years I have been focusing on drawing birds and animals in a mostly lifelike manner.  Trying to get the colors right and focusing on the animal itself.  This year I am going to explore my own interpretations a little bit more and see what I can come up with. 

I still like to add in all of the detail, but I think it will be more in a fanciful and determined way.  My first batch of pieces (besides the large totem I am still working on) have come out of the kiln and been mounted and titled.  You can see that I have taken liberties with the colors and have been working on creating an atmosphere with each little piece by expounding on the backgrounds and settings that each bird is in.

Ground Cover 1"Ground Cover"

Blue 1"Blue"

Extended 2"Extended"

About Town Card Holder 3"About Town"  Business Card Holder

We will see where this takes me.  I will probably still do some realistic birds to please the audience (and stay in practice) but I am really liking the freedom of color, pose, shape, etc you see in these pieces.

Miniature Workshop

I have told you before about the great co-op gallery I belong to in Lake Arrowhead.  I don't think I have mentioned the wonderful artists that belong to it.  One of those folks is Jon Olson, a very accomplished painter who specializes in miniatures.  He does shows and gallery displays all over the world and is a fun and interesting person.  His wife, Natalie is equally fun.  So, when they announced that they were offering a free miniature painting workshop I jumped at the chance.

Although I don't have any formal painting experience and don't paint in the "normal" way on paper or canvas, I think I held my own.  I was a bit slower than the others so only got 2 paintings out of 3 completed, but I am pretty happy with the technique and the results.

We started with 3 canvases that are 2 x 3" of different kinds of paper and coatings and chose our reference materials.  He wanted us to try out different substrates to see what we preferred.  My favorite was the first one that I finished on Yupo paper.  It is very smooth and shiny and I am told the paint will end up scraping off if it is not allowed to dry and is sealed properly. 


I have never used oil paints, so chose to try my hand at them today and really loved the color vibrancy and feel of the paint.

The first step was to draw the sketch of what we were going to paint and then using a dark umber color (acrylic) we painted in the oulines and shadows of the piece.




I then dove into the oil paints and just started going to town.  The whole technique is to use the initial shadowing as a base to control the lights and darks.  So you paint in nice thin transparent layers of paint and build up color as you go.  It's fun to see the painting take shape as you add to it.




There are many things I would change or do better now that I have a little practice, but I learned quite a bit and had fun doing it.  Thank you Jon and Natalie!!

It's a jungle out there....

And it's also a jungle here in my studio!  I have been busy getting ready for my upcoming show tomorrow in Altadena at Christmas Tree Lane.  People gather for hot chocolate, coffee and to see the annual lighting of the beautiful trees along one section of road in Altadena.

The arts and crafts booths are all set up in the parking lot of the Altadena Library and while it is outdoors, there is a feeling of warmth and coziness all around.

I have been busy creating some animal pieces to display and sell --

Endearing 2"Endearing"  Young raccoon

Mates Box 2"Mates" Barn Owls Box

On Top 2"On Top"

Regal 1"Regal" Bald Eagle

Ursus"Ursus"  Brown Bear



Here are the photos of the other two finished whimsical little bird drawings I had done.

Fly Away Home

"Fly Away Home" 
This guy took the afternoon to just relax in his nest with a good book.  But he definitely has a good decorator - note the tassles on the comfy pillow.

Warm and Dry cropped
"Warm and Dry"
This adorable couple decided to go for a walk on a cool, drizzly day and you can see they are staying warm and dry together under nature's umbrella. 

Here it is mounted in the frame

Warm and Dry

Swing Time

I saw some art from an artist recently that I just loved.  It was a drawing of a bear with a little girl.  The artist is Graham Franciose and you can see his blog here.  And you can see other artists I love on my Pinterest Boards here.

I love illustrations like this and it got me thinking about my art.  I personally think that my style looks a little like carved stamp impressions.  The texture work that I am doing now has that etched/carved look.  And it reminds me of an illustration style similar to what Graham is doing.  

Now, I know it's not anywhere near the same.  The medium, subject matter, style, etc.  But similar to my eye all the same.

I decided to try my hand at some more whimsical/surreal styled birds.  The first image came to me at once.  A bird in a tree swing.  The original drawing took up the full page of my sketchbook.


I chose a long, tall dark piece of wood to put the glass on, so the finished piece had to cut off a little of the tail and a lot of the tree, but it still tells the story.

Swing Time

You can see how the drawing, while detailed, does not have the texture and depth that the finished piece has.  That is all done in the shading stage of my painting. 

Swing Time 3

I am having so much fun with these little birds.  They can be doing so much!  This idea came to me while running on my treadmill the other day.  It originally had a regular umbrella, but it didn't look 'right', so I made the umbrella from leaves and it works now.  A photo of this one finished will definitely become a greeting card.


This one titled "Warm and Dry" is in the first stage of painting in the kiln right now.  I painted this one on a large square (8" x 8") that I will frame when it's done. The birds appear to be floating in mid-air here, but rest assured, I placed them on a twig-lined pathway in the final picture.


This one is called "Fly Away Home" and shows my bird relaxing at home with a good book.  This is an example of the "reverse-ness" of my art.  You can see the title of the book had to be written in reverse so that when the image is complete and turned over, it is correct. 

This one is actually also in the kiln now.  This photo was taken before the nest was finished, but the final piece is a smaller oval and that portion of the nest and most of the leaves will not be in this finished glass painting so it didn't matter for now. 

Can't wait to see these last two designs "fleshed out" as well!