Friday, July 29, 2011

Feature Art Friday: Kelly Pavlik, the cat who earned his name

Meet Kelly Pavlik- a cat who shares more than a name with a professional boxer. It turns out, the feline Kelly Pavlik is as loyal to his hometown of Vilonia, Arkansas as the boxer is to Youngstown, Ohio.
If I have learned anything about cats in my lifetime, it’s that they always choose their people. You may think you are picking out a cat, but somewhere along the way they decide that you are theirs or that you are not. Good luck to you if their decision is the latter. Kelly chose his people, and they have clearly rescued enough pets to give him the respect to recognize it.

Like the fighter he was named for & unlike most other felines on the planet, he was loyal; appearing it the back door each day to wait for someone to bring him inside, until he decided it was time to go back out & attend to whatever business it is that cats have.
On the evening of April 25, 2011 Kelly Pavlik used whatever kind of magical cat sense they all seem to have & decided to stay in. On this particular evening, a tornado ripped through the sleepy little town of Vilonia & destroyed Kelly’s home. Everyone is alright- as alright as a family can be when a tornado comes to visit & takes your home with it as it goes.

When the tornado disappeared, Kelly disappeared for a few days as well- one more quality he now shares with the boxer, who wears the nickname “the ghost” so well. After two days he reappeared at the neighbor’s house, possibly because his 108 year old home wasn’t where he left it. 

We will certainly never know what that cat experienced during that storm & in the days following it, but as one of his chosen people explained so eloquently here & here, life-changing events teach us what is real & what is true. This cat chose his people & in return they chose for him the perfect name, although at the time nobody could have guessed how well he would earn it. Little Kelly Pavlik is a fighter.

Making art, especially painting pet portraits brings me so much joy. I also love being able to use some of that money to help homeless animals, but I honestly never realized how much it would mean to me to meet the people owned by the pets & hear their stories. Kelly Pavlik is a lucky cat- not just because he outsmarted Mother Nature, but because he picked such a wonderful family. Every cat should be so lucky.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gratitude & the family tree

I have such gratitude, especially for the creative bits of my life that continue to grow & thrive. I am so pleased with each new pet portrait commission, which is really where it all started… each time I get a new one, I smile. I dropped off a painting yesterday to a very funny lady who had commissioned her second portrait & I will never ever tire of seeing the faces light up as people recognize their pet in the painting. It causes me heart-swelling, sugary sweet gratitude that carries me around the rest of the day.

I love hearing about the pets & how it is the smartest dog or the best cat. It is especially fun when I get to meet the pet after spending hours staring at a photo while painting it. Once I saw a dog at the vet’s office & was confused because I couldn’t figure out how I knew the dog when I had never seen the person she owned before, until I heard the woman mention the dogs name... I had painted the dog, as a gift from the woman’s friend. Mystery solved.

So when I still feel such gratitude & happiness over that creative outlet, imagine how happy I was when I experienced this first: remember the family tree I finally posted on Etsy on Monday? I sold one, that very same day. That has never happened to me- what a nice surprise. A surprise that made my creative gratitude grow a bit more… not unlike that tree. And it seems as if the more gratitude I have, the more I find happening in my creative little life to be thankful for.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A mostly done 'to do'

The last two Mondays I have been blogging about a list of projects I need to finish- here is another update:

1. Commissions- 3 of the 4 are finished. The only one left needs some grass painted around the dog & the plaid border. Yeah, I said plaid border. These will be featured over the next few weeks as ‘Feature Art Friday’ posts.

2. Birds for Etsy- Listed on Etsy & shown here as well.

3. Family Tree for Etsy- listed here. I’m excited about this because it will make a very unique gift for people. I’d like to do others in different styles to add at some point… maybe on a different to do list!

4. Ron & Ralph prints- I really have to get busy on these this week. I only have 7 days left until I risk being pelted with tomatoes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

36 things list: make more mixed media projects

It's funny to me how we all made all sorts of collages & other mixed media art as children, but as we become adults even creative people sometimes seem to let that process go by the wayside. The first mixed media art I was really drawn to as an adult was by Cindy Wunsch, whose work I saw at Shorelines Gallery in San Diego, California. I bought a couple of cards featuring prints of her work & have them framed & hanging in my house. There is something that appeals to me about seeing a piece of art & knowing you need to look closer… seeing a bit of something else behind the paint & finding yourself drawn in to investigate.

Efforts at creating this type of mixed media shine a light on my love of process, of doing something repetitive that I can become lost in. Painting bits of paper with Mod Podge & sticking them randomly on canvas seems to take me back to childhood, at least in part because I always wind up with a thin layer of glue covering everything.

As much as I love that process, it is still a challenge for me to paint on the resulting paper-covered background. I’m very much a planner & have a hard time switching gears in the middle of a project. Just one more effort at creative growth, I suppose.

Another layer of Cindy Wunsch’s work that I love is her use of stamps, lettering & sayings. As a child I adored stamps, so any excuse to buy some as an adult will surely make me happy. I also love quotes- handy words strung together and carried around in your pocket- words that say what you mean, often in a better way than you can find. I tried this stamping process on my red bird mixed media piece (shown above) after realizing it needed something else to finish it… it turns out that a quote by Maya Angelou, added with a set of stamps I might have owned as an eight year old, was just right.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Halfway done 'to do'

Remember my 'to do' list from one week ago? Here is an update...

1. Commissions- 2 of the 4 are finished & delivered- the cat & the pig are currently living in their new homes. One dog is about half-finished & the other is much closer.

2. Birds for Etsy- Listed here. Hooray!

3. Family Tree for Etsy- This is the only one of the 4 items I haven't made any progress on, but I still have a little time.

4. Ron & Ralph prints for Etsy- One is almost finished & I have 3 left to edit in this series. They are going to be so cute.

So the magic of the public 'to do' list seems to be paying off- which is great because I have made some amazing purchases at the flea markets recently & I have a really itchy spray-painting finger right now. I can't wait to get those projects done & share them with you. I know, I know... one thing at a time.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Sherry & her secret blog"

One short year ago, there was a joke among my closest friends- it was about “Sherry & her secret blog”. I wouldn’t let them tell anyone I had one until it was going for a while I felt comfortable with it. It made a great joke, since the usual purpose of a blog is to be very public about something… and I wanted to, I just had to get my feet up under me first. So to begin with, I had a secret blog.

It has been a place for me to mutter about my creative process, remember things, hold myself accountable, ask you to hold me accountable & record my progress as a person who likes to make things & think out loud. I honestly didn’t think anyone would read it. (Other than my mom. Hi Mom!) I was really ok with that.

So imagine one day, about 6 months in, when I for the very first time decided to push that button on the behind-the-scenes dashboard that says “stats”. A little screen popped up: U.S. Canada. Germany. Australia. South Korea. Slovenia. South Africa. Japan. United Arab Emirates. United Kingdom.

Slovenia? Someone in Slovenia reads my blog? Maybe someone is as inspired by seeing bits of my creative process as I was after stumbling across my first creative blog. I still can’t believe anyone in any of these far-flung places would be interested in seeing photos of my half-finished paintings, but knowing that you do makes me happy. Over the moon happy, to be precise.

It has, artistically speaking, been a wonderful year & this little blog has been a big part of that. Over the last year, since hitting ‘publish’ on the first post, I’ve experienced an amazing amount of creative growth. Because of the blog I have started making things other than pet portraits, trying new things & adding different things to my Etsy shop. I started thinking outside of the proverbial box. Certainly I would not have had the confidence to apply for one of the instructor positions at ‘Painting with a Twist’ pre-blog.

The blog helped me become comfortable calling myself an artist, even if I don’t meet the predetermined criteria of some folks. I know it is a very big part of who I am.

So the blog has been a little bit magical for me. I wish I could explain why but I can’t…and although I’m certain the blog would still be written even if it was only mom reading it, it makes me happy to know that you are here. Yes, you. I’m looking forward to the next year & whatever creative magic it will bring. Hope to see you there.

Happy Blogiversary!

Image: M.Bartosch

Monday, July 11, 2011

How good is your aim?

Lately I have fallen victim to my habit of getting almost finished with things & then moving on to the next project. The last time this happened I posted a “To Do” list on the blog & suddenly found the focus to finish everything. It turns out that publicly posting a list seems to light a fire under me- maybe it is the potential for heckling, should I fail to complete it or it could be the aforementioned fire. As long as it works, I’m not going to question the rationale. So prepare a crate of tomatoes & start marking the days off your calendar. I may soon be giving you a prefect outlet for any pent up anger you have been carrying around.

So here it is… in no particular order:

1. Commissions- I’ve been working on 2 dogs, 1 cat & 1 pig (no, I’m not kidding) since mid-June. I need to have these all completed in the next 2 weeks. The pig will be finished this evening, with the cat running a close second. I’m halfway done with one dog & the other one is barely started. If I don’t report back two weeks from now that these are done, someone please throw rotten tomatoes at me.

2. Birds for Etsy- There is basically an entire flock of birds living in my art cabinet… cut from MDF, primed, painted, photographed, edited… I just haven’t listed them on Etsy. It seems mean of me- I’m sure they would prefer to be living on a wall in a house than in my art cabinet. I hope they aren’t afraid of the dark. Now that I write this I feel really bad. This needs to happen pronto. I’m giving myself until Friday on this one. Get the tomatoes ready & get your arm warmed up.

3. Family Tree for Etsy- Making the family tree for baby Gemma was so much fun, I decided to make a (much smaller) version to list on Etsy. It is also completed & photographed, I just haven’t listed it yet. I think these will make great gifts for weddings, new babies, adoptions…

4. Ron & Ralph prints for Etsy- These started as doodles, just me daydreaming about them. The first set are Ralphie waiting for dinner (so predictable), Ralphie doing yoga, Ron Burgundy playing in a potted plant (also predictable) & Ron taking a bath. The last one is my favorite- mainly because he is wearing a polka-dotted shower cap. Because a cat’s reaction to water in his ears would never be pretty. These are finished & scanned but need a good bit of digital editing. I LOVE them & can’t wait to see what they look like finished. I’m “painting’ the digital editing on my ipad with a stylus. So. Much. Fun. This will probably take until the end of the month… hopefully you will not have used all of your tomatoes on my by then.

So that’s the list & the approximate completion dates. Thanks in advance for your willingness to “assist” me with this process. Hopefully I won’t need it.

By the way- I probably should have asked this earlier… how good is your aim?

Image: Carlos Porto

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Quote of the Month:Louis Pasteur & the baby steps

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” –Louis Pasteur

It turns out that taking a million teeny tiny steps in the right direction will pay off. That’s the thing about baby steps. They are tiny. So small, in fact that you occasionally feel as if you aren’t moving at all & you will never make it around the curve because the movement seems so imperceptible… but that makes it all the more exciting when you arrive at a goal. Even a small one.

Historically, I have been the person who would automatically imagine all of the things that could go wrong. Don't believe me? Read this. As my creative life has grown I’m working my way out of that. One baby step at a time.

With each positive creative thing that happens in my life, whether it is finishing a new project, getting another pet portrait commission, my new job at Painting with a Twist, or selling something on Etsy, I see how having my “head on straight” has pushed me in the right direction. Just in time to make it around the corner & bump into my new friend, Chance.

Hi there... I was just talking about you.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Feature Art Friday: Sam

I received an email from a woman named Kristi, who wanted to commission a pet portrait of her dog Sam for her husband for Father's Day. Sam died recently & Kristi said that Patrick still misses him every day. I don't really know the Patton family, but I have very quickly become a fan. I'm actually considering starting a fan club for them.

Over the last 3 years, they have fostered over 100 dogs from kill shelters... giving them a second chance at life until their forever home can be found.

Over 100 dogs saved. Over 100 people finding the pet that becomes a member of their family- an addition to many happy memories as their children grow up loving & being loved back by this dog... an addition to the home of a retired person who adores the dog as much as the dog adores them... a dog who might not have made it, if not for the Patton family.

Over 100 lives saved... hundreds of lives changed... by one family willing to give these dogs a second chance. See? I TOLD you the Patton family needs a fan club.

You can see more of my pet portraits here.