4411_Ardmore_4 SM

Gift of memories

Commissioned portraits need not be of people or pets. I was recently contacted by good friends to create a gift for neighbors who were moving away, a portrait of their cherished family home as they were preparing to move elsewhere. A portrait is a reminder of a what a moment in time looked like, but it is also a reminder of what that person or place means to the viewer. In this case it is capturing 20 years of warm family memories from holiday gatherings to skinned knees to bedtime stories, now a moment in time ready to be hung on the wall of their new home.

"We wanted to let you know that the owners of Ardmore were thrilled with their print!!! She was in tears when we gave it to her. 😊 She had always wanted to have one done. To say the least, it was greatly appreciated they loved the details on the planters and the pillow. After 20 years of memories, they will cherish it for a long time."

– Desty

Thank you to Desty and Connie for the commission!


Painting 4471 N Prospect

I walk a lot - for exercise and sanity - long walks through my neighborhood in the mornings before work. There are certain homes that tend to draw my attention over and over, for various reasons. There's one I love, way up at the top of my walk at the northeast corner of Shorewood, Wisconsin - I've photographed this home over and over.

The house is so pretty - fresh white paint and dark trim - the graphic quality draws my eye. Add to that the fact that in the morning the sun blasts through the tree in front of the house to throw a cacophony of dappled light effects onto the house. The view is stunning, day after day, and I have often thought I'd like to try painting that scene. Over the last week I finally took on the task and above is the result.

The work is digital, I painted it using software on my tablet. I've moved to digital - originally for storage concerns. However, I've really grown to love working digitally, for many reasons. First of all, unlike traditional watercolor I can make endless changes and edits. Second of all, digital format offers a whole new realm of techniques to be learned and mastered - a whole new set of fun creative challenges (woot!). Also, I can take my tablet with me anywhere and as long as I have power to charge it, I can paint and paint and paint. And finally, there's the original reason for choosing digital - storage. After 10 years of seriously pursuing a painting career, I have an attic full of canvases in various states of done-ness and twice as much as that in art supplies. It's a problem. Digital fixes all of that.

Anyway - hoping to keep this going for years to come! 😀


Accepted into show

"Congratulations! Your artwork, America, has been accepted into in the 41st Annual SECURA Fine Arts Exhibition at the Trout Museum of Art, from June 5 – August 15, 2021. You were 1 of 117 accepted artists from the total 354 applicants. We are very proud of the artwork for the exhibition this year. It is a true reflection of the artistic talent Wisconsin has to offer."

Yahoo! See y'all in Appleton this summer! 😀

Golda Meir-M sm

Progress on MKE Progess

I've been working on the MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College) commission project for the past few weeks. My concept is a multi-canvas installation, portraits of Milwaukeeans of note throughout history. I envision the installation looking as if these portraits were collected over time - each one framed differently from the next and grouped together in on a single wall.

The working title is "Portrait of Milwaukee Progress." My plan is to create 11 separate portraits so I can embed the letters M K E P R O G R E S S one by one into the background of each portrait.

The biggest part of the project thus far has been the research - how to choose who to paint? I'd like to be inclusive of a variety of identities, but that can get tough when you're digging through the internet looking for stories about folks that lived generations ago. Regardless, the group of eleven likely subjects is taking form, and I've started sketching.

Shown here is a preliminary sketch of Golda Meir - one of Milwaukee's most consequential daughters, having served as the prime minister of Israel from 1969-1974.

The Family Farm small

MATC community arts commission

Well, this is cool news! A couple weeks ago I was informed that I was selected (along with 13 other local artists) to create a piece for the community arts project at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). This week - I also found out that they would like to buy one of my recent works for the same installation! So TWO pieces will be installed at MATC this summer. Yahoo!

The piece they are purchasing (shown above) is a recent work, a compilation of portraits of multiple generations of my mother's family in Medford, Wisconsin, called "The Family Farm."

They have also commissioned me to create a new piece, which is in production now. My concept is a series of portraits of historic Milwaukeeans of note - people who have made significant contributions to the social fabric of our city. I am still working on the final selection but contenders include Josette Vieau Juneau, Lloyd Barbee, Father James Groppi, Golda Meir, Vel Phillips, Charles Whitnall, Mayor Frank Zeidler and others.

I will be working on that piece, working title "Portrait of Milwaukee" over the next few months and the unveiling is currently scheduled for August 2021.

Yay! Thank you to MATC!!

More posts on this topic


Quick sketch of a tiny bird

Yesterday at the end of a long work day, I came across a photo of a tiny bird - an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher - that was so bursting with color I was inspired to do a quick sketch on my tablet. I forgot how much fun a quick doodle or sketch can be. I'm going to have to do this more often!


"Remember the day..." Installed in Shorewood

The Shorewood murals have been installed - yay!

A few months ago I was chosen along with 10 other local artists be part of a beautification project for the Village of Shorewood in Wisconsin. The concept, called "Signaling History" was organized by the Public Art Shorewood committee, and focused on decorating the metal utility boxes located at each intersection with a traffic light. The commission required that each work should incorporate the history of Shorewood, but otherwise the artists were free to create whatever they wanted. We were all provided access to the local historical society and archives to research Shorewood history.

Since my work of recent years has been inspired by antique family snapshots, the idea of incorporating photos of previous Shorewood generations dovetailed nicely into my area of interest. The corner I was working on is the site of two Shorewood elementary schools - Atwater Elementary Public School and St Robert's Parish and Grade School. My brother and I attended St Roberts, so I was very excited for my work to be installed on this corner.

At the historical society, I found a number of inspirational images. I took photos of at least 100 images, and when I got home I compiled several of those to arrive at the final composition. What made the cut were two class photos of Atwater school children from the 1950s plus an adorable photo of a young boy with his teacher that became the focal point of the piece.

The drawings are not meant to be portraits of specific people. My intent in using old photos as inspiration is to capture a particular time and/or place and to elicit a feeling or mood. I often will make changes to further this affectation. For this piece, I put some of the children in school uniforms and I also added some children of color to the design. These details are not true to the historical photos I was working from, but I wanted to be inclusive of the children of both schools and to also reflect the multicultural nature of Shorewood's current population. To place the composition on this specific corner of Shorewood, I added sketches of both of the schools into the background.

The signal box I was assigned had two flat adjacent sides so I decided to create a continuous composition that wrapped around the corner. In order to draw the eye from one side to the next, I added a device of colorful balloons blowing in the wind. I did the entire project in a digital format, from my iPad. This is a new technique I've been developing which worked perfectly for this project since the final murals were to be digitally printed onto  substrate and then adhered to the utility boxes for installation.

The final work is meant to elicit the celebratory and nostalgic feelings of being a young student on the last day of school. The work is entitled "Remember the day...". Below are a few site photos.

A big thank you to Diane Buck who told me about this project, to the Village of Shorewood, Public Art Shorewood and the Shorewood Historical society. And an extra special thanks to Confluence Graphics in Shorewood - the printers and installers of the murals. The color turned out just as I'd envisioned it, and the join at the corner is barely perceptible. Awesome job!

For those who live in the area and would like to view this piece in person, it is located on the southwest corner of Maryland Avenue and Capitol Drive, in Shorewood, Wisconsin. And don't forget to drive through the village and check out the other artists' work as well. Each intersection with traffic lights now has a mural installed on the utility box! 😀


Beautification of Shorewood Village

I finally completed a commission today - this has been 3 months in the making.

I was selected along with 10 other local artists by the village of Shorewood, WI for a neighborhood beautification project. We are decorating corner utility boxes with paintings inspired by the history of the village of Shorewood. The corner where my work will be placed is at Maryland Avenue and Capitol Drive, the location of two elementary schools - Atwater and St Roberts. My brother and I attended St Roberts, so I was really hoping to get this particular location. Anyway - I've been working on this for months and finally submitted the final piece today. This should be installed in the next month or so. Yay!

The piece is called "Remember the Day..." and the images of the children and the teacher were inspired by 1950s era Atwater class photos found at the Shorewood Historical Society. Also pictured in the backgrounds are the two schools located on that corner.

Maybelle in the sun

Digital Painting as a solution to storage issues

Artists who have been working for any length of time will eventually run into an issue with storage. Art supplies, sketches, half finished work, and unsold work - it's a lot of stuff all needing careful handling. Having just combined houses with my new husband and dealing with the inevitable storage challenges that have ensued, I'm left wondering, where does this end? Does any artist ever sell ALL their work? Will I ever have enough art supplies? There's an awful lot now, and if no changes are made, the volume will continue to expand. Golly, that's a sobering thought.

Digital vs traditional

My day job is in graphic design so I am no stranger to using software to create images, so what about going digital? I'll admit, I've never taken digital painting seriously as a fine art medium. Nothing compares to the immediacy of paint on paper, plus painting takes me far away from my work-a-day activities, even if it's only to the next room.

Question: is a painting created in a digital medium given the same credence in the art world as painting in oils or acrylics? Speaking as an art consumer, I've wondered about this question before. If an art piece blows you away, does it matter the medium? Or will the most amazing digital artist in the world still be perceived as a few pegs below a middling oil painter, just because the world at large would (right or wrong) attribute more skill and dedication to the artist working in the traditional medium? And in this same vein, what is the relative value of a limited print made from a digital painting versus buying or selling a one-of-a-kind original work? Not sure there's a definitive answer to this. It is likely a shifting paradigm.

It all begs the question: why do I paint? Is it to make money (ahem, what money?) or gain the esteem of the art world at large - or is it how the act of creating makes me feel? And if it's more about how I feel, then why on earth am I amassing so much stuff in my house?

Pixels take up no shelf space.

In 2019 I invested in an iPad and a digital pencil and downloaded a number of different painting and sketching apps. I am still squarely in the experimentation stage, but I am really starting to have fun with this. The multiple software apps I've been trying out are all incredibly deep - so many options to explore. Hundreds of different brushes, pens, pencils, different settings for each, even different kinds of surfaces to paint on. Oooh (clapping in excitement) lots of new stuff to learn!

Below are some of my first digital works. I can say that the rush I get from creating on the iPad is every bit as good as the when I work with traditional mediums. I can sit anywhere and paint with my iPad - curled up on the couch, on vacation, waiting for a train - wherever. The practice of painting digitally informs my traditional work - it's all a study of color, line, form, composition, volume, etc., doesn't matter the medium. And working digitally means my ongoing storage problem has begun fading away in a pixelated haze. iCloud, here I come.

I don't foresee giving up traditional painting - that has its own rewards. But digital painting solves a lot of issues and is remarkably convenient. Who knows, maybe I'll end up creating a series of prints or greeting cards, or something else for sale.

Anyway, who cares? It's fun.






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