22 March 2011


The title of this post is appropriate in more than one way.  For one, these paintings were my very first commissioned set and for another, they are US Army themed!

My friend Kristee has one of the handsomest little boys in the world and his daddy is proudly serving in the US Army.  The nursery in their house was pretty neutral and Kristee hadn't yet settled on a theme, but because one of the very creative ladies she works with had painted an American flag stool for the room with "Digi Camo" on the legs, she had a pretty good idea of where she wanted to go with the design.  She contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to create an Army themed set of 8x8's and I jumped at the opportunity to FINALLY have a chance to do something by request.  (Since, you know, it's a really good challenge.)  Anyway, I got right to work with sketching but was quickly halted when I realized I knew next-to-nothing about the Army and therefore had no idea what to paint.  Thank heaven for the internet!

I pretty much stalked the Army website and other helpful sites for any information I could find.  After all, I had to paint something that correctly represented the Army; colors, designs, vehicles, and all.  It took a lot longer than I intended it to, but I was finally able to come up with something that I knew would work.

Now, I'm well aware the Army doesn't take green gear and equipment into the brown desert all that often, but an all brown set wouldn't have been that engaging.  Anyway, I'm actually quite proud of these paintings.  The little jeep is by far my favorite though.  It took quite a bit of research to make sure I had it right (the number on the front is even a legitimate number from one I found in a photo).  Oh, and all of the pockets and badges on the handsome officer are correct too.  He's even wearing a miniature painted version of Kristee's husband's beret!

But my favorite parts are the tiny snake and itty-bitty scorpion!

: )

Unfinished business?

I love castles.  There's just something so mysterious about them that I can't help but imagine what life must have been like for the royal (and not-so-royal) inhabitants.  I think I've only been to one legitimate "castle" (and a few palaces), but I do like to pretend I have a pretty good idea about what the ideal fairy tale castle would look like: extensive grounds, fantastic heights, nooks and crannies, and PLENTY of mystery.

I don't know what inspired the idea for a castle painting, but I had purchased a very big (16x20) canvas and I just knew it needed something a little magical.  I love what I've come up with, but I haven't yet decided if it's done.  I mean, really, really done.

Here it is (as it exists right at this moment):

My Mom thinks it needs a dragon.  Not the dangerous fire-breathing behemoth one would expect with a fairy tale castle but probably some pleasantly plump purple reptile with the most precious set of wings you've ever seen.  I don't know that I think a dragon is what it needs, but I DO think it needs some proof of life.  I was thinking I'd just add a little robin read-breast to the stone bridge, or maybe an uninhabited medieval picnic just to the left of it.  Maybe, maybe not, but I have a feeling I'll definitely be coming back to this piece.

: )

20 March 2011

I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!

Alright, I will admit that for most of my life I have loved fairies.  When I was younger I was completely convinced that they existed and as I've grown, that belief has become more of an extreme fondness.  There was always something so magical about the idea of tiny winged people hiding just beyond our vision that I couldn't get enough of.  It all started with a woman I've fondly referred to as Aunt Marilyn (though we're not related) for as long as I can remember.

Aunt Marilyn lives in a little red house buried deep in the redwoods of central California and whenever my family would drive out to visit she'd have my brothers and I out in the trees searching for leprechauns and fairies and other magical creatures that supposedly lived beneath the ferns.  Now that I'm older I know the real reason she sent us searching was to get us out of the house so she and my Mother could talk in peace.  However, my introduction of the world of the fay has taught me so many life lessons that I have to believe Marilyn saw something greater in sending us out to find it.  Fairies taught me to dream and set goals and search unrelentingly until I find what I'm looking for.  They have always been a source of creative inspiration for me and I have no doubt they always will be.

There were times when I even built (or tried my hardest to build) suitable fairy houses nestled in the roots of trees using pebbles and twigs and discarded maple leaves.  I was convinced that if I made a house nice enough then a perfectly lovely fairy would move in.  Well, I don't know if there ever were any tenants in my sorry little buildings, but that never stopped me from continuing to try and design the very best structure I could conceive.  That may just be where my desire to paint this set came from.

Here's what I came up with:

In case you're wondering, I named the fairy Fiona.  It was the first name that came to mind when my Mom asked me.  Obviously the painting style is different from the previous two.  I was trying to see if I could do something that was more realistic and I think it turned out okay.  In all honesty, this was the most difficult painting I've done so far.  It was really hard for me to remember that it was okay to make mistakes because I could just paint over it.  After a little over 20 hours of work (from design and conception to final product) I sighed with relief to see that I hadn't made a total mess of things even though I had expected to.  I can't even tell you what it felt like to see it finished.  Just...really good.

So, I've decided that I might be okay at this whole painting business.  Now hopefully my luck, skill, imagination, and desire hold out.

: )

19 March 2011


In case you're wondering I did spell the title "Sheps" on purpose.  (It's pronounced exactly the way it's spelled....)

So, when I moved back to Montana, I found out that my Mom had been showing my jungle paintings to everyone she could get to and as a result she had decided I needed to paint more.  I wasn't interested initially (believing my luck with the jungle paintings to be a fluke), but I let her take me to Michaels to buy more canvas and lots more paint and brushes.  I also snagged a huge sketchbook because I tend to do better with painting/drawing/designing if I can sketch it out before hand.  Well, we got home and I immediately set to sketching.  I kinda already knew I wanted to do something funny with sheep (because they're the second best animal in the world...next to giraffes and kitties) but my first sketches of the sheeps heads were looking a little martian (meaning they looked exactly like the ugliest alien face you've ever seen ever.  Not even joking, it was tragic.)  This ugly (tee hee hee) fact caused me to have a tiny little breakdown (because I have issues with perfectionism) but because of a little persistent niggling by my parents I finally worked out a style I could live with.  From there I just copied my design onto the canvases and got to painting.

Here's what I came up with:

I don't know about you, but I think sheep are hilarious.  Plus, there are A LOT of people out there who can relate to "black sheep".  That was the premise behind the whole design.  It's sort of an, "it's okay to be a silly black sheep because you'll have a ton of fun" type thing.  I don't know.  The little black sheep is making it okay to be totally yourself all the time.  Maybe it will get hung up in a little persons room and they'll be inspired to be themselves always, no matter what.

Anyway, as a side note (in case you haven't noticed yet) I like to do images in sets of three that have to be hung in a specific order.  I prefer it that way because I think it tells more of a story, and I'm sure you can tell by now just how much I love a good story....

: )

17 March 2011

All because of a baby

So.  If you'd have asked me last year if I had any interest (or skill for that matter) in painting, I would have laughed a little and said, "no".  I'd barely studied it in school and let's just say that my talents were a little lacking.  Quite frankly, I was rubbish.

Anyway, life has a funny way of getting me to take chances on things I would usually scoff at.  Hence this blog.  Last year I found out my brother and sister-in-law were expecting the arrival of a tiny hungry human and I knew I wanted to give him something no one else could.  I racked my brain for a long time trying to think of anything I was good at that would be an appropriate gift for a baby.  Almost immediately blankets were out because I've got these fingers that just refuse to hold onto tiny needles without impaling themselves and crocheting something wasn't going to work because, well, I have a cat....  So, I reluctantly settled on painting.

Suddenly, I was flying by the seat of my pants (which had somehow become hooked onto a light-speed rocket to Jupiter...or so it felt like....)

I had absolutely no idea what my next move should be, so I did the logical thing and trolled the aisles at my local craft store.  Unfortunately, all this did was make me feel completely inadequate so I quickly grabbed some paints, brushes, and squares of canvas and high-tailed it out of there.  (I'm not saying craft stores are intimidating or anything, it's just they're filled to the brim with too much awesomeness and sometimes it's a little hard to handle.  Truth.)

Anyway, I made it home relatively unscathed and set to work.  I knew the theme for his bedroom was going to be "Jungle", so I used that as my starting point and, after calming down a little, I began painting the animals that I thought would be the cutest (ps Giraffes are the best animal on the planet ever...next to kitties).  Here is the result of my nail-biting experience.


To be totally honest, I think my heart was beating 150 times per minute while I was painting because I was so scared to mess up.  (I know what you're thinking.  Why didn't I just realize that paint is paint and if I screw it up I can PAINT over it?  Well, I didn't think things entirely all the way through, that's why.  But I've gotten over that now so you can just stop thinking that!)

So, now I've decided that I can paint and I can make cool stuff for even cooler kids.  Oh, and obviously I blame my nephew completely for helping me realize that just because I don't think I can do something, that doesn't necessarily mean it's true.

; )