Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Best Gifts are Handmade Ones

Best Selling Stickers 
I'm really excited to showcase a few of my new Etsy Shop additions on my blog today.  I have several new sticker designs to show you but also I have added 4 separate book marker designs to my shop.  I'm just having so much fun creating these new designs based on my original artwork. 

Here I am making more stickers to add to my inventory.  These two stickers, the chickadee and the calf licking its nose happens to be my current best sticker sellers.  I'm sure as I add new cute designs this might change but for now I'm hand cutting these stickers so I'm ready for future sales.

I have 2 new bumble bee designs that I have come up with.  All these stickers average between 3.5-3.75 inches and are printed on glossy sticker paper. 

I'm super excited about these two new stickers.  The hummingbird is actually from a pen and ink sketch that I did several years ago that I call Resting Hummingbird.  Here is a picture of that original artwork.  With the help of Photoshop I isolate the drawing from the watercolor background.  Then there really is no limit to the compositions that I can come up using this little bird.
Seeing Double
This second new sticker is actually a composition based on my most recent acrylic paintings that I can "The Prologue" and "The End".  These pieces are painted on 10 x 20 stretched canvas and are going to be featured in an upcoming solo show that I am doing in March 2018 called, "I Dare You Not to Smile".  I will be blogging more about that show in the future but it will be hosted by the Boulder City Art Gallery in Boulder City, NV. 

Using the second painting, I took some Photoshop liberties to duplicated the cow.  This just made a really fun sticker. 

 Finally, let me show you these super cute book markers.  I have always loved book markers and so it is just a natural for me to transform my original artwork into this practical gift option.  They are 100% handmade by me and laminated for durability.

Currently, I have 4 designs that I have come up with.  I'm pretty partial to the cow but that stack of sheep still makes me smile.

All these items are available on my Etsy Shop so head ON over there and check it out. 



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Original Art Can Make the Perfect Birthday Gift

I have tried now for the past couple years to create a special piece of birthday art for my grandchildren.  I've now decided to try to include my grown children in this tradition.  Today is my son Jason's birthday so I will start with the piece I made for him yesterday and then share a few other pieces that I have done in the past few months.  

Jason has just started to once again be careful with what he is eating and regularly exercising.  I had to make his birthday art reflecting this fact.  The adorable bunny in the corner is from my original color pencil artwork that I call "Don't Forget Your Vegetables".  The beets, turnips and cupcake are also drawings out of my sketchbook.  I added additional royalty free salad graphics to finish off the background.  That picture of Jason I found on his Facebook page is a real hoot and fits perfectly into my composition and with the magic of Photoshop, I can create a one of a kind birthday greeting.

The second piece I want to show you is for my little grandson, Noah who turned 5.  He loves the video game, Minecraft so I went to work figuring out just what I could create.  I knew I wanted to include his little stuffed enderman doll in the picture because he loves to take a nap with it.  I jokingly call it a spider and he is always correcting me on the point.  I drew my grandson, a sword and his little stuffed buddy in my sketchbook.  I used colored pencil to complete the sketch.  I then scanned that sketch into Photoshop and added the royalty free background, TNT and the pig to the picture.  This turned out so cute that I actually had it blown up to a 16 x 20 poster at Sam's Club.  You should have seen his eyes when he realized he was on a poster.  I also made him a sheet of personal stickers.  Here is how his birthday card turned out.

Hunter also has a November birthday so I had to work on a design that was special to a 1 year old.  I was informed he LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so I knew I needed to add Mickey in there for him.  When he was born last year I painted him a special elephant floating with balloon painting to decorate his nursery room.  He still has a number of elephant themed things so I grabbed my sketchbook and drew both a stuffed elephant and his sweet little face.  I once again used colored pencil to finish off the sketching part.  The rest of the image is from graphics that I used in Photoshop.  I think this turned out super cute!

Finally comes my two sweet September granddaughters.  Their birthdays are just 2 years and 1 day apart so I decided to make their art very similar.

Katherine turned 5 and is the owner of a giant doberman named Odin.  I sketched a simple likeness of both her and the dog and colored them in using Photoshop.  The bees and the purple flowers are also part of my sketchbook.  The rest of the composition comes from royalty free graphics.  I printed out a 5 x 7 image and matted it so she could frame it in her room.  I also had the image printed on a small tote bag using the print on demand services of  It turned out GREAT!

Sweet little Jenna turned 3 and she has a GIANT great Dane named Bane and yes the dog has one blue eye and one brown eye.  Both sketches turned out amazing and the girls love their personalized tote bags.

Brad and I have a total of 9 grand kids so just keeping up with their birthday art is a challenge but I'm loving the creativity that Photoshop allows me and all the GRANDMA points I'm scoring.    

To end this blog post, I thought I would show you one more commission artwork I finished this year.  This is a transaction that took place on my Etsy Shop back in May for a woman that lives in Canada.  Here is the 8 x 10 colored pencil commission piece I did using a few reference photos she sent me.    This piece features two curly haired sisters and their doberman puppy.  I believe this is going to be her brother's Christmas gift.       

Saturday, December 2, 2017

My Favorite Framing Supplies

Most often you will find me of a morning, sipping my coffee and writing away at blog post, planning a blog post or doing social marketing.  These posts are most often motivated by my most recent artwork, fresh off the easel or a new Etsy Shop listing.  I guess my literary juices get flowing best as the caffeine reaches my brain receptors.

This has been my morning ritual for a number of years and I am pretty much a creature of habits.  Recently, this routine has been somewhat stifled as it seems that I have encountered some some sort of Bluetooth interference at most of the local McDonald Restaurants.  This interference is between my iPad and the wireless keyboard.  It just will not work most mornings.  I never had a problem before, but now I can rarely use my keyboard during what is my most creative time.   It is extremely frustrating and I guess I'm going to have to contact McDonald's Corporate Office to try to get to the bottom of of my technological snafu.  So here I am, at nearly 7 pm struggling to pen coherent sentences so that I can publish a new blog post.

I hope you will suffer with me because I feel this blog has some really good information that might be useful for new artists.  I personally have noticed an increase in the number of new artists that come up to me and ask me about where I get my supplies of matte boards, cellophane bags, d-rings and hanging wire.

Finishing off your artwork properly is almost as important as the creation of the artwork.  You can't expect to fetch the highest price, impress the juror and a juried art show or get the attention of a gallery director if you have not taken the time to finish your masterpiece properly.

So, I'm going to provide a link and a little information about a number of my favorite framing and finishing off supplies that I use.

1st....Is the all important D-Ring.  Do yourself a giant favor and do not use those screw eyes on the back of your canvases.  They are just canvas punctures waiting to happen!  D-Rings are much neater and less damaging.  They lay flat to the canvas and hold your artwork very securely.  We attach the D-Ring about 1/3 way down and screw it directly into the canvas itself.  This allows me to switch frames out easily without having to rewire them for vertical or horizontal orientations.   I like ordering D-Rings from Amazon.  I can get a package of 100 medium size rings for about $10. 

D-Rings for Hanging

2nd.... is the hanging wire.  You can purchase small spools at the most stores in the picture hanging section, but I paint a lot and I absolutely hate the strand wire that isn't coated.  The strands always stick out and cut you as you try to twist the wire to secure it to the D-Ring.  I love this spool of coated wire I purchased back in 2014.  850 feet of pure loveliness.  The strength is good for all my hanging needs and the vinyl coating is the best.  This is also an Amazon purchase and while it is an investment at $30 it is well worth it.  You will have enough wire to hang your creations for many years.

Hanging Wire by the Spool

3rd....Black Finishing Fabric....This is a tip that I'm not sure you will find anywhere else.  I started covering my canvases with brown shipping paper to give it that finished off look that you get when you having a piece professionally framed.  The problem with paper is that it tears easily and when you are an artist, you know that you are often "schlepping" artwork from one gallery or event to another.  You are going to put a large tear in that paper at some point and time.  Paper wasn't a real solution.  An artist friend of mine said that she started using the upholstery fabric that is used as the black liner under sofas and chairs.  I ordered about 3 yards in a bag for what I remember to be $10-$11 dollars.  It came folded with large creases and was relativity thin but as I used it for the first time, I was reminded of  another product that we actually already had several large rolls of in our shed.  That was the weed block landscape fabric that you can buy at the nursery or home improvement store. It is strong and looks great attached to the backs of my canvas.   Here is a picture that I took off of Amazon to show you what I am talking about.
4th....Mounting Strips-the next important art supply that I use is for mounting my sketches and color pencil works to the matte board.  Any artwork that is on paper needs to be securely attached to the cut matte board and you don't want to use regular tape.  Tape will damage the artwork and contains acids that will discolor and destroy the paper after a few years.  These acid free archival mounting strips are the perfect solution.  I cut one strip into 4 pieces and attach the artwork into the plastic strip with the sticky part facing upward.  I then can lay the the matte board down over the strips.  They are hidden from view but are there holding your art securely in place.

Mounting Strips for prints

5th....Matte and Backing Boards w/ Cello Bag- This is great deal on Amazon.  I love that you get the whole set for right at $2 each.  You just can't beat that.  You can find this price in both Black and White mattes and the smaller sizes are even less expensive.  I keep an inventory on hand of 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10 & 11 x 14 mattes in my studio.

Mattes, backboard & cellophane bag

6th....Cello Bags in Greeting Card Size-  I love putting my art on magnets, stickers and greeting cards.  I find it enjoyable putting it all together and feasibly it makes sense because you can actually sell enough of these smaller, less expensive items to really add up.  I also love that I have things I can use as marketing tools and give away as gifts.  Here is the link for the greeting card size resealable cello bag.

Greeting Card Cello Bags- Resealable

7th....Adhesive Tape Glider- I love this tape applicator.  It really is more like a strip of glue than tape and does a great job.  There was a bit of a learning curve when it came to loading each new roll but I now have that pretty well mastered.  I use this on my greeting cards, attaching the mattes and back boards on my pencil artwork and to attach the black landscape fabric to my canvases.  I buy the refill rolls at Michaels or Hobby Lobby always using a coupon for my purchase.  I go through a number of rolls a year so I make sure I always have 2-4 rolls on hand or I start to get a little nervous.
Adhesive Tape Applicator Gun

I hope you found this blog helpful.  Leave a comment if you have questions or just wanted to let me know you appreciated the information. You can check out my artwork on my website at