Friday, July 30, 2010

Art week day 4: juvenile probation and top-heavy hearts

Yes, I know it’s upside down. No, it isn’t supposed to be.
Yesterday I used up all of the profanity at my disposal, and I know lots of profane words. I used to be a juvenile probation officer. Hormone-riddled, angst-filled teens taught them to me, occasionally offering compound versions to which my response, “I know what those mean separately, but what to they mean when hyphenated?” was not met with any appreciation. I often thought that many of those kids had a much better grasp on the English language that given credit for… it was no easy feat to make complete sentences from profanity, conjunctions and punctuation. That’s pure talent, my friends.

So when I tell you I used up all of my ‘grown up words’ you now understand the gravity of the situation. It turns out that little homemade clay hearts are top-heavy. (Of course they are. Stupid hindsight.) I’m sure there is a fantastic metaphorical life lesson here, but I couldn’t be bothered with it after discovering that none of the seven little hearts I made have any interest in facing heavenward.

I had fun making the shadow boxes, even though it is 100 degrees outside this week.

six little top-heavy hearts...

I love the sea turtles!

Lori, here is the cat photo I promised you. :) I said yesterday the cat had stripes, I suppose these qualify more as swirls.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Art week day 3: Kathy Griffin made me cry

I didn't take many photos yesterday. I would like to blame the dying camera battery and the 'photo-bombing' cat, but the battery is rechargeable and Ron Burgundy has always liked to show up unexpectedly in photos. It's one of his favorite tricks. I just didn't often find myself reaching for the camera.

We watched 'Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List' last night and she talked about her dog Chance dying. He was 13. She was really sweet about him and she focused part of the show on her search for another dog once some time had passed and she felt that she was ready. I'm awfully sorry about her dog but I'm so thankful that she is so dedicated to saving shelter dogs. She had a dog trainer bring her 3 that they thought might be a good fit with Pom Pom, her lab... and I knew which one she would pick the moment she met them all. His name is Larry and I hope he is very happy in his new home.

I also hope someone somewhere saw that show and started a discussion with their family about saving a dog or cat. It really is the best feeling in the world.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Art week day 2: hearts and mud pies

I allowed myself to forget how much I loved taking my first pottery class until I started playing in this air-dry clay on Monday. Making something beautiful from a blob of mud is so satisfying and the act of squishing the mud in my hands makes me feel like a kid again. Mud pies anyone?

This project with the hearts is making me happy- it’s one of those that began as a small idea and has grown exponentially. Just wait and see- I suspect these will get gradually more meaningful and complex.

The art with the birds is an effort at mixed-media collage. I only know enough about this process to be dangerous at this point… it has been a learning process and the next one will occur in a different order. The subject matter is cool- I like that the birds are in flight.

The method of paint application used for the sea turtles is new to me and I could use some practice. It comes from the book ‘Acrylic Revolution’, which is an encyclopedia for acrylic artists. I could write an entire post on this book- I’ll make a note of it when I use it for something in a project.

There are two other projects I started this week- I’m starting my very first ever art journal. I have all of the pages ‘watercolored’ and I’m getting ready to start the collage and edge treatments.

There is also a cat painting… NOT a commission, just a random white cat with multi-colored stripes.

The commissions are still hiding under a blanket in the hall. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Art week day 1... unfinished art 'hide and seek'

What is it, you ask? I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out. What I would like to know is this- why is that my mother’s hand holding my little heart sculpture, when I distinctly remember photographing it in my own hand?

When I went into the studio Monday morning, the first thing I did was remove all the commissioned pet portraits. I can’t take a 5 day vacation from them when they are all staring at me, now can I?

I put them in the hall.

I continued to try to avert my eyes and fight off the urge to apologize to them every time I walked by.

I covered them with a blanket.

The prospect of hanging out in my studio for 5 days and just making whatever I want had me so excited that I immediately started 5 projects. A gnat on methamphetamines has nothing on my non-existent attention span. Here are photos of a couple of the projects in process.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Anticipation and the paint brush thief

This is Ron Burgundy. If there is such a thing as anticipatory stardom, he has it. There have been lots of anticipatory feelings around here this weekend… not much painting but lots of anticipation.

Here, Ron Burgundy anticipates the opportunity to steal his favorite paint brush, which he hopes to spirit away to some corner where he can contentedly chew on the bristles in peace. I feel quite certain that he spends at least part of each day thinking about this paint brush. Ron has good taste and unfortunately only goes for the best paint brushes, so the door to the studio stays closed when I’m not in there. I’m contemplating buying him a paintbrush of his very own for Christmas. This will be more likely to happen if he stops causing property damage in my house, which does not lead me to have warm and fuzzy feelings about him. Today’s score: Ron Burgundy 1, ficus tree 0.

Friday, there was anticipation surrounding a book that finally arrived from Amazon… ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. I’ve been reading her blog for months and finally treated myself to the book. There were two avid readers in my office when the book arrived and when I opened it, everyone put down their coffee and applauded. That’s what we bookish types do when a cool new book enters the room. We cheer for it and pass it around and someone reads random bits aloud. If books had self-esteem, this one should be feeling pretty good about itself right now.

The weekend started with a surprise party, where anticipation almost seems to hang in the air- as if you should be able to reach out and touch it & there actually be something there to feel. The party was for ‘Gram’, the grandmother of one of my friends. Gram is unbelievably creative- I really wish I had known her my whole life. Here’s a direct quote, “I recycled before recycling was cool.” Priceless. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Next came the anticipation of a car purchase. It wasn’t a car for me, but because I was along for the ride, I’m claiming vicarious anticipation.

Lastly, I have felt lots of anticipation surrounding ‘Art Week 2010’. If you are wondering why I gave it a title (albeit a boring one) with the year in it, that is to encourage me to make an annual event of it. A friend asked me Saturday, with a twinkle in her pretty blue eyes if I would be posting photos of what I work on this week. Why yes… I will. Now who is feeling the vicarious anticipation?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wesley: A yorkie, a palm tree and decision-making envy

I met the person owned by Rosieday in the parking lot of an art supply store to deliver the completed art. It didn’t surprise me that Lili drove a teeny tiny convertible because she loves the beach, and I immediately had a mental image of Rosieday in the passenger seat (buckled in, of course), with the top down. Maybe on the Pacific Coast Highway, miles away from a rainy parking lot in Arkansas. Lili reported that she was taking the pet portrait immediately to show her friend Charlotte… who loves the beach as much as Lili and, as I soon learned is clearly a very well-organized dog person.

By the time I made it home with a load of canvas an hour later, I had an email from Charlotte inquiring about commissions for a Christmas gift. She not only attached photos of each dog, but she also knew exactly what she wanted each dog doing in each painting.

In less than one hour, Charlotte found her favorite photo of each of the dogs, looked at my website, decided on sizes, chose backgrounds, decided what each dog should be doing and emailed me.

Did I mention that there were 4 dogs?

I am still somewhat astounded at her ability to make such quick artistic decisions, or any decisions for that matter. Seriously. I’m overwhelmed when I have more than three options for anything, including what to order for dinner in a new restaurant. You should have seen me when it was time to buy a house. Charlotte clearly has my respect with her snap decision-making on the art.

I think I hear the Jimmy Buffett music cranking up again.

Back to the art supply store for more canvas.

To see a photo of the pets featured on my blog or other pet portraits, please go to my Meow Bark Art website.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Enjoy the Process

Only two more work days until something I am very excited about… so excited, in fact that I am trying to figure out why I haven’t done this before… I’m taking an ENTIRE week off from my professional job to make art. (Disclaimer: I do take time off before Christmas each year to finish all the commissioned pet portraits that go out as holiday purchases, but I’m not taking off for commissions… actually quite the opposite.) I’m taking off just to play in my studio and make some of the projects I have been carrying around in my head.

I love doing commissions & pet portraits are always entertaining- it makes me really happy to meet people who love their dogs and cats enough to have them painted, but I am really looking forward to painting something and having no idea how it will turn out. It is a fair bet that at least some of the art I create next week will be of the canine and feline persuasion… but it doesn’t have to look just like a pet in a photo. It may, in fact be pink and have wings. I don’t know just yet.

The only other guidelines I am giving myself besides ‘no working on commissions’ is that I want to try some new mediums or techniques and to simply enjoy the process, with little concern for the outcome. That’s the theme for Art Week 2010… ‘Enjoy the Process’…

I can’t wait to see what happens!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Tiffany Trio

I’m planning a series of ‘Work in Progress’ posts, but because I figured out the Facebook fan page before I figured out the blog, you may see the progression of the Tiffany Trio there, not here. This painting was a challenge because I was working with six photos- one of each pet and one of each of their favorite toys. I'm not sure why, but painting a tiny stuffed pirate really cracked me up.

Technological babysteps...

Meow Bark Art blog, meet Meow Bark Art Facebook.

Facebook, meet blog.

You two have lots in common- I think you’ll get on famously.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rosieday the Beachbum

This pet portrait was commissioned last November as a birthday gift by a self-described procrastinator.

If I remember correctly, I had less than two weeks to complete the painting.

When I saw the photo of the dog and Lili suggested a beach-themed background I couldn’t say often does one get an opportunity to paint an Old English Sheepdog on the beach?

Anyone else have Jimmy Buffett music playing in your head? Just me? Ok...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


My name is Sherry Williamson and I am an artist who specializes in quirky and colorful pet portraits. This postcard hangs just outside the doorway to my studio and I think it is a perfect description- it really is my favorite place.

I really enjoy every aspect of the creative process, from hearing about the pets to picking out colors. If you love pets and/or creativity, this is the place for you!

I plan to post 3 times each week.

Monday: Art in Progress- which will involve a snapshot of what was going on in my studio over the weekend, and maybe some in-progress photos of specific projects.

Wednesday: Musings- these posts will be different items each week… maybe something that inspires me creatively or how I manage my studio time while working a full-time professional job elsewhere, maybe observations on the world. I think it’s reasonable that I get one day to ramble.

Friday: Feature Art- These posts will include photos of completed commissions and maybe stories about the pet in the portrait or the people owned by the pet. I meet the most amazing people and hear the best stories. Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do this… how lucky am I?

This is all subject to change.

Depending on my mood.

You know how artists can be… *sniff*

Comments are welcome! I would love to hear about your pets or what inspires your creativity.