I love painting ornaments. I've done glass balls in the past, but have moved to mostly wood slices in the past two years. I'll create a glass ornament on request, although I love the look of the wood slice ones now. Just about any nature themed subject might find its way onto one of my ornaments. Here's a peak at some of this year's designs.
The back of the ornaments is just as important as the front. I take as much are with the back of the ornaments in designing and painting text and images. I also leave some of the backs blank for personalization. I can add a name or a particular saying.
Pet Portrait Ornaments - I do quite a few commissioned portrait ornaments. I've done dogs, cats, horses, goats, mules, and pigs! It's always an honor to do a memorial ornament for a beloved pet.
This year I've also started creating ornaments that celebrate New Hampshire. I love living in this special area that is about 45 minutes from the sea coast, 90 minutes from the white mountains and 45 minutes from Boston. My Mt. Washington Summit ornaments are very popular and I am working hard to keep them in stock. Congratulations to all of you who have climbed that iconic mountain! I also love to paint New Hampshire's native wildlife and birds. I have so many wonderful memories of vacations in New Hampshire's great north woods and lakes region.
My ornaments are available in my Etsy shop (Link below) and at the Village Bean in Windham, New Hampshire. You can also email me at email@example.com or post a comment here. Thank you.
I've had so many people ask about my process for nature journaling that I thought it would be a great idea to do some tutorials in my blog. I love journaling and keeping track of all the animals, birds and plants that I see in my backyard and beyond. It's a wonderful way to learn about and honor the natural world. Since I started journaling I find that I notice more of what is going on in nature. I think it has made me realize how precious and beautiful our earth is and how much we need to pay attention to the natural world and protect it.
I tend to do most of my journaling in the spring and summer because I get so busy in the fall with portrait commissions and holiday ornaments. In the winter I'm hiding indoors, but a lucky glance out the window may reveal owls or foxes or even deer. Someday I’ll challenge myself to journal at least once a week for the whole year!
For this first post, I’ll tell you about the materials I use. It doesn’t really take much to create a nature journal. A stack of copy paper folded into a book and a #2 pencil can work in a pinch, but here are my favorite materials.
A CHRISTMAS FABLE has been published and is available on Amazon. It will be available on Barnes & Noble's website soon, and I will have a limited amount of signed copies. You can comment here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for information or to reserve a signed copy.
This project was a labor of love by the author's, daughter and granddaughter. I was delighted and honored to be a part of this book. Joan Carter always loved to read and write. She wrote A Christmas Fable later in her life and read it to her family on Christmas Eve. After she died her daughter and her granddaughter, Debbie Ryan, decided to have the story published in her honor. When Debbie was trying to find an illustrator, a dear mutual friend introduced us, and the rest is history, as they say. I loved the story and Debbie was looking for an artist with a love for nature and a style like mine. We clicked and the book became a reality for Debbie and her family. A wonderful way to honor her grandmother.
I learned so much doing this project. The illustrations had to adhere to very specific requirements for printing. I had to keep to a very strict size keeping in mind such printing terms such as bleeds and gutters. I had to be sure not to get any important figures too close to the edges or to the middle, and I had to plan a quiet area for the text. I truly loved working on these illustrations, but as an animal artist one of the biggest challenges was the people. The first few pages of woodland animals only were a breeze (well, sort of!), but eventually I had to sit down and do people. One of the things I did was to rely on family photos for poses and scale, etc. I was even able to add a tribute to my beloved dad by using him as the model for St. Nicholas. He would have loved that.
Here's a look at my process for creating each illustration. Debbie gave me a page by page break down of the text and some suggestions for what the illustration should show. I started with a quick sketch based on Debbie's information which I refined and changed as I worked. I drew many of the figures separately so I could move them around the page and change the relative sizes. When I was happy with my initial sketch, I transferred it to carefully sized watercolor paper. After making any last minute changes I took a deep breath and started to ink in the lines. Once that was done, I used making fluid to cover the figures so I could be bold and quick when adding the background washes of forest or desert and sky. After letting all of that dry, I peeled off the masking fluid and painting in the characters. The whole project took many months.
Debbie and I were so thrilled to have this book ready for the holiday season. It would make a lovely Christmas gift for a special child in your life. It's available now on Amazon and will be available at other retailers including Barnes & Noble very soon. Debbie and I have a limited number of signed copies. If you would like a signed copy, please comment here or send me an email at: email@example.com. THANK YOU.
One of my favorite things to do as an artist is to spend the warm days of spring, summer and fall working in my summer studio (our screened porch) watching the birds and animals in the backyard and recording them in my journal. I use pens and watercolor to make the entries. Almost anything I see can be a journal entry…simple things like a hummingbird at the feeder or exciting things like the visit of a fox or owl. I also record events from walks and visits to other areas. Beavers, Great Blue Herons, Loons have all made it into the pages of my journal. I'd like to share a few of my favorite pages. In future blog posts, I'll share more including tutorials on how I create a journal page.
Baby Red Squirrels, May 8, 2020
In the spring, my journal pages are full of babies. I was walking down the driveway with Sketch and saw three tiny baby reds on a big pine tree. I grabbed my camera and watched them scamper up and down for the longest time. I even saw them going in and out of a hole in the tree - their nest , I assume. I kept my eye on them for days after. I last saw them in the backyard trees, and I hope at least one of the occasional adult red squirrel I see in the yard is one of these little cuties all grown up.
Bunsen, Hobbes and Sketch - my studio help