I currently have 5 limited edition floral prints that feature daffodils in the shop. I’ve been making still life paitnings consistantly for the last 5 years, and have made at least one every year with daffodils (I don’t have prints available for all of them). I realized that this was the first year I didn’t make a daffodil painting for the month of March, however! My son was born in March and I had around 50 blooming in the back yard when he was born. The window in his nursery overlooked the garden and I always think of them as his special flower.
I can’t go back in time to make another painting, but I have drawn up ideas for a larger daffodil painting for a show at Harris Harvey in 2024. A year and a half is a long time to wait, so I also decided to add another limited edition floral print to the store and to offer a special discount for one month only.
New print release!
The newest addition to the store is a print from a painting from my “Creature Comfort” series of monthly miniatures. It’s titled “Sweetness of Spring” and includes a little bouquet of daffodils and one of my favorite things (cake). Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting has become my son’s offical birthday cake and we all look forward to diving in. It’s also the only time of the year that I can actually get him to eat carrots without any complainting.
20% off Daffodil Prints for the month of May
Order yours now through May 31st and you’ll get a special price on all the daffodil prints.
For the month of April, I have made a botanical painting with swallowtail butterflies. The two lovely butterflies in my new painting look like completely different species, but they are in fact both Papilio lowis (Asian Swallowtails). The great difference in appearance is present in the male and the female of this species, which is called sexual dimorphism. Often the male has brighter colors to attract the females’ attention, like this dark butterfly with iridescent blue/green scales; the males are also smaller.
Scientists attribute this to differing pressures on the sexes, but the reasons for dimorphism seem to be as diverse as the species themselves! In the case of this pair, the females mimic a type of poisonous butterfly, discouraging predators. The males meanwhile kept their brilliant iridescent colors, which apparently the females find quite attractive.
Inspiration from Art History
The inspiration for the composition on my botanical painting and the background goes back to my 14 years installing artwork for the Seattle Art Museum. I installed countless Chinese and Japanese scroll paintings, and even went to Japan a few times as a courier to oversee the installation of various asian masterpieces for the exhibition, “Luminous Jewels”. One of my favorite scroll paintings in that exhibition was, “Sixty-Four Butterflies and Moths”. The mass of insects flutter evenly throughout the painting, each with its own label. While this painting didn’t directly influence the composition for my painting, the delicate rendering of the butterflies always stuck with me. Thinking of this painting helped set the direction of how this painting would develop.
I hope you’re enjoy this month’s painting, and I hope you’re beginning to enjoy some warmer weather. I’m looking forward to the season when I see more butterflies outside the studio than inside it! Follow my newsletter to see the new monthly miniature and for exhibition updates.
Giving a pet portrait gift is surprisingly versatile, both for the occasion and for the type of recipient. Commission gifts fill fill about half of my commission schedule and they’ve been presented for anniversaries, Christmas presents, Valentine’s day gifts, birthday presents, graduation gifts, and retirement presents. I’ve made them as for gifts for spouses, siblings, parents, children and coworkers. It’s hard to go wrong when presenting a carefully composed portrait of someones special creature (furry, feathery and human variety).
From her to him, then from him to her!
This pair of portraits were completed over a year apart. Rachel contacted me seeking a portrait for her fiancé’s birthday of their dog Jefferson. He must have enjoyed receiving the painting, because soon after receiving it, Donte contacted me secretly to make one of Franklin, the newest addition to their family, for her. He gave her the painting for their anniversary. From her to him, then from him to her. Isn’t that just the sweetest?
The reference for my pet portraits are usually images provided by my clients. And the better the reference image, the better the painting will turn out. This terrier pet portrait is a wonderful example of that.
Tilly provided me with around 20 very high quality images and her vision of seeing Arthur in a red chair or on a red cushion. What made their images exceptional was great lighting and the angle she used.
Most of their images were taken outside, or with a very strong outdoor light source from a window as we see in the final painting. Good lighting is incredibly helpful in capturing accurate color, detail and texture in my subject. This is much easier to accomplish with dogs and horses than it is for cats and rabbits. But it’s a great example of how much a window can bring in the much needed light.
Tilly also captured Arthur from his eye level in most of the images. This makes for less distortion and creates a more intimate portrait.
You can see in the above images, how the original images are altered to design the composition. I work with background shapes and colors to compliment the subject. It’s also important to move the viewers eye around to each area of the painting, while keeping the focal point on the personality of the subject. You’ll notice that I moved the line of the chair from above, to below his nose, adding to the feeling of Arthur’s alertness.
There are slight changes from the mock-up to the final painting, but these are minimal. As I work, the colors and form of the subject come together and I allow intuition to guide my brush. My main goals are to create a beautiful work of art and to capture my subject. Though it’s very close to the photo, I always try to make it better than the reference if possible.
While painting, I also look at the other images occasionally to help double check for accuracy. I softened the contrast in his fur and made the background less saturated, which seemed to separate Arthur from his background and give him more dimension. It also made his eyes appear brighter not to match the background so closely. The final touch was to make sure to capture the little tuft of hair that stuck straight up in almost all of the other images (my client mentioned this tuft so I knew it was important to have it in the portrait).
“This is perfect! Thank you so much for working so hard on it, I’m absolutely in love- I can’t wait to see it! (in person)”
For inforamtion on pricing, gift vouchers and timeline for your own pet portrait, please take a look at my commissions page.
The inspiration for this month’s floral oil painting took me on a twisting but fruitful path. It all started with a recent class I took at the Kirkland Arts Center, Acid-Free Intaglio. I’ve been wanting to take an etching class for years, and I was thrilled to see that it was finally offered in a location near me. And even better, the instructor, Brad Taylor, teaches a way to etch with electricity instead of toxic acids (I highly recommend this class!).
Once I signed up for the class, I had to figure out what I wanted to make! And as I often do, I turned to art history for inspiration. I stumbled upon a plethora of woodblock prints made by Japanese artist Keika Hyakugiku, “100 Chrysanthemums from Keika”. You can see a few of them on the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives page. I love the contrast between the simple compositions and the complicated forms.
Letting Inspiration Lead You
I immediately began making sketches, one of which became this months painting. Three others, I plan to I plan to make paintings from in future (two larger works and another miniature). Funnily enough, none of these sketches was destined to become an etching!
To let inspiration take its own winding path means I have to let go of some amount of control. Part of creating art is to always be receptive to new ideas and accept that, like most things in life, ideas can change. I’m really excited about this new painting. I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of painting flowers! I hope you enjoy it, too.
The swallowtail in this month’s oil painting is a Common Rose. This red-bodied butterfly inhabits much of Asia, including Japan. Happily, this species is extremely abundant. The bright colouration and pattern of the wings are meant to indicate to predators (birds and lizards) that this butterfly is inedible. As a larvae, they feed on creepers and climbers of the genus “Aristolochia”, and they retain the toxic acids they get from these plants in their butterfly form. The colors are a symbol of danger to some creatures, but they’re dazzling to my eyes!
To see more of the paitning in this series, please visit my Monthly Miniature page! And sign up for the newsletter for a chance be among the first for an opportunity to purchase the newest paitning in the series.
Easter is just around the corner and I have several Rabbit Limited Edition Prints available in the shop. The connection of rabbits to Easter has always been a bit baffling to me, so I took some time this year to see what I could find out. Keep reading for information on the symbolism of rabbits through the ages and the origin of the rabbit as the egg bearer for this holiday.
Rabbit, symbol of fertility and rebirth
In European traditions, the Easter bunny is known as the Easter hare. The hare has been a symbol for rebirth and fertility and has been included in rituals and religious roles for thousands of years.
Archaeologists have found hares that were given ritual burials alongside humans in fossils from as early as the Neolithic age (10000 BC – 2200 BC), a. They have interpreted the burials as a religious ritual, with hares representing rebirth.
During the iron age (1200 B.C. and 600 BC) when hares and chickens first arrived in Britain, some archaeologists believe they were seen as creatures of reverence, not dinner. Many examples of burials from this time period have been discovered without any signs of butchery.
The Easter Bunny
It’s not too much of a stretch to find a historical symbol of rebirth associated with the Christian holiday of Easter. But the origin is believed to have begun with a German tradition in the 1500’s of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws”.
After reading dozens of articles and historical documents, the start of the tradition still makes no sense to me! Eggs were forbidden during Lent so they were a treat to eat on Easter Sunday. There was a tradition in Germany to hide boiled eggs on Easter. The closest I could find as to how the hare delivered the eggs, was a story passed on through folklore.
When a woman hid colored eggs in the garden for her grandchildren to find, they saw a hare hopping away from them and thought the hare left them. The adults loved this idea and ran with it.
Now hundreds of years later, the idea is still running!
Who knows how it really started, but the tradition of the Easter hare caught on in Germany in the and has continued to spread ever since. He works much like Santa and brings children eggs, candies, chocolates (chocolate easter bunny’s are also a German invention!) and sometimes toys – if they’re on the nice list.
Did you know angels walk among us? The model for my recent portrait miniature is proof. Leo’s mother assured me he not only looks angelic but acts that way too.
My approach to collaboration sets me apart
Trying new ideas and embracing the collaborative element of creating a custom painting are fundamental to my creative process. Alexix and I live around 2,500 miles apart and unlike many portrait artists, I often use images provided by my client. Many portrait artists will not work with clients images. Retaining that element of control is a part of their process. While I do sometimes take reference photos of both people and animals for my pet portraits, I’m always open to the idea of using my clients images. There’s something exciting about starting off the painting from the eyes of someone who truly knows and loves the subject.
Once I have images, the back and forth starts. I ask for as many images as possible then I see what inspires me. It’s useful to get a sense of the personality of the subject and to get coloring right. I then make several mock-ups for my client to look at. Even if there’s one particular image that stands out to me, I can make several variations by changing the background, contrast on the face and colors of the clothing. These details can completely alter the overall feel of the image. Then the client looks at the mock-ups and offers feedback or approval.
The Perfect Frame
In my first 19th century inspired mock-up of Leo, he wore a dark sweater and I used a simple frame. Alexix had two brilliant ideas: lighten the sweater to add to the angelic look, and go with a bold ornate frame.
We both started searching for the perfect frame online and she found this gorgeous gold sunburst one on Etsy. I made another mock-up of the paitning in this frame. It was perfect! She had the frame shipped straight to me. Once the portrait miniature was complete, he arrived in New York City, framed, wired and ready to install.
I truly believe that keeping myself open to new ideas makes for better paintings and ultimately, that’s what I want to do. I want to make great paintings, not good paintings. Contact me to start working on a custom portrait of your very own.
Thank you Alexix for the opportunity to paint your lovely little boy and for such an exciting collaboration.
Received and it’s wonderful! I’m so excited to hang our little sun king in the house. Your work is exceptional!
Once your Limited Edition Print arrives, it’s your turn to get creative. Whether your style is contemporary, traditional or anything in-between, there are many options. Choosing the right framing can feel intimidating, but try to enjoy the process and trust your instincts. Check out an article I recently wrote about framing limited edition prints. Continue reading for an in-depth look at one clients framing choices.
Audrey generously shared these wonderful images of her two framed Limited Edition Prints she recently ordered from my shop. I loved how they turned out and thought they could help inspire your own framing choices! If you’re in the Holywood, FL area, she recomends Nina’s Art and Framing.
What I love about Audrey’s framing
I worked in a frame shop all through art school, and then at the Seattle Art Museum exhibition design department for 15 years. I got to see and hear from the experts on how and why framing should be done in certain ways. Audrey’s choices reflect some of these ideas, and I think describing how will help others make their own choices.
The mat for a print serves two purposes: it can enhance the look of the artwork, and it protects the art.
The right mat helps draw the eye in and can add a bit of grandeur or drama to the overall presentation of your new artwork. Use a mat between 2″ and 4″ wide. As for color, I’ve always preferred a simple “white” mat. I feel that a white mat really brings attention to the artwork without any distractions. There are exceptions to this and that’s basically your personal taste and decorating style. If your house is overall more bold and colorful, then adding a pop of color in your mat might fit right in. I say try the white first, but ultimately, go with your gut.
And when I say “white” I mean the white that matches the color of the paper best. If you’re having your Limited Edition Print custom framed, don’t be surprised to have your framer pull out dozens of white mats to choose from!
As to the protective element of matting, keeping space between the Limited Edition Print and the glass is the main goal of the mat. A mat allows air circulation in this space and helps prevent mildew, mold, and buckling. It also keeps artwork from sticking to the glazing material and becoming damaged.
The hardest choice of all is picking your frame. This is where your personal taste and creativity really come into play. I often choose narrow, simple frames for matted pieces, which is very different from how I frame my paintings. I’ve had several clients that framed their prints in this way, using a narrow, simple frame with really lovely results. This choice will be the part where you look at lots of different options, and trust your unique style and taste.
Contrary to what I would normaly choose, Audrey’s frame choice is not narrow or simple, but I love it! It’s unique and has a lot of personality without being overwhelming. It brings my eye into the images and the pattern and texture compliments the the images in a subtle and appealing way.
Best of luck in your own art hanging adventures! Feel free to reach out via Instagram, or the contact form here on my website, whether you have a question or something to share. I love to hear from my readers and collectors, and fellow art lovers!
The most studied of all swallowtails, this iconic butterfly was the first to be given the name, “swallowtail.” It is the only swallowtail in most of Europe, and I’m guessing that’s where it gets one of its two most-used common names, “Old World swallowtail” (the other, simply “swallowtail”). But its actual habitat is widespread and extends across much of the Northern Hemisphere, including North America.
The painting includes both a male and female, the male with his wings folded, and the female with hers open.
This species feeds mostly on plants of family Umbelliferae. The giant cluster of tiny flowers were a bit intimidating to paint, but it was worth pushing through. I love the contrast between the cloud of flowers and the black background.
Though these flowers are not currently blooming, spring is just around the corner, so it won’t be long now. Stay warm if you’re in the middle of a snow storm! And cool if you’re in the middle of a heatwave! The weather’s been crazy this past week.
For the first time in a year, I’ve added added two new limited edtition prints to the shop.
Both of the new images come from paitnings in my monthly miniature series titled Creature Comforts and feature foods to brighten spirits in dark times.
My painting “Plums” featuring these golden orbs bursting with juice and flavor, along with one of my favorite visitors in the garden, Swallowtail butterflies. The bowl is from the collection of the Seattle Art Museum, where I worked as a mountmaker and made hundreds of mounts for the porcelain room. Though I was able to touch and document the lovely bowl, filling it with plums was all in my imagination.
The second of the new limited edition prints on offer is one titled “Simple Pleasures“.
Homemade bread has made a serious comeback over the last few years. I got a bit of a head start on the trend because I got a bread maker for Christmas just before the pandemic started. My husband is gluten-free so his intentions were a bit selfish but that’s OK–I love baking! Fresh bread and warmed up brie is such a simple, yet perfect combination.
This painting was created during the month of April, while it was still cold outside but signs of spring were starting to appear. Robbins and tulips were putting on a beautiful show and I brought them from the garden to the table to help enjoy the simple feast.
I hope you enjoy these two new prints available in the shop, and if there’s a painting you’d like to see offered as a print, let me know. I’m having two new prints added a year and will take your request into account when choosing the next pair to become available.