Sunday, November 27, 2011

When it Rains....

I hope everyone out in Cyberspace had a nice, safe Thanksgiving.  I did.  Beautiful weather, which made for a perfect Jingle Walk with my daughter and her husband yesterday.  Got to visit some really cool shops in New Albany, Indiana, and tasted some fantastic wine as well! 

Last time I wrote, I told you all I had another portrait commission from the gentleman whose Pekingese I painted.  Well, since then I've received two more commissions--one for two pet portraits (does that count as one or two commissions if it's from the same client????), and another for a custom-designed pendant. Luckily the portraits are 8 x 10's, so I should be able to get them finished in time for Christmas and the pendant shouldn't be too difficult either. Ha...famous last words.  So..after recovering from an evening of wine tasting and yummy pizza, followed by leftover turkey and trimmings today--I actually managed to paint!  First, the people portrait: My understanding is that the original color picture was destroyed in a fire, and somehow the client managed to come up with a black and white version, and several smaller photos of his grandparents, which I'll be using to get the correct skin colors and hair colors.  The photos I do have to work from are fairly small, so it's difficult to see the eye colors, but the client has been very helpful in filling me in on that information.  This is only an 8 x 10, so it's a bit of a challenge for me to fit the subjects in that small a space.  I've opted to sacrifice the top of the gentleman's head in order to focus more on facial features.  The photograph below shows my first pass with putting color on the canvas. Everything needs adjusting at this point.  Lots of work ahead! 

The next photograph shows the pet portrait in progress.  The client provided some wonderful reference material, and again, this is just the first pass on the canvas--so I'll be posting both paintings as they progress.  This piece is 8 x 10 also.
Some of you might wonder why I'm doing 8 x 10 portraits, when it would be much easier to do the larger ones.  Well, portraits are expensive, and if an 8 x 10 is all a client can afford, I will do my best to make it work. Obviously you can't fit too many subjects on an 8 x 10 canvas if you still want detail in the faces, but I'm willing to do what I can! I think it works in this case....hopefully the client will be pleased as well!

So that's what I've been up to this holiday weekend!  I'll post photos of the pendant when I get it started...I'm still working out some details and searching for just the right beads. The client was very specific about what she wants and I don't want to disappoint! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Creativity Overload!

So, we're heading into the holiday season and I am already running into creativity overload.  I just finished the portrait of those cute little Pekingese, Lucky and Buddy--I have to say, I miss seeing their big brown eyes staring at me from the easel.  But, like children, I do have to eventually let them go--and my client was thrilled to finally get the painting in his possession.  And, lucky me, he has commissioned another portrait! Yay!  I will be posting progress reports on that as soon as I can--hopefully this weekend.

In addition to working on the portrait, I was busy making jewelry for the Trims & Whims show held this past weekend in Shelbyville, KY.  It was my first "jewelry only" event--although I did bring promotional material for my portraits.   I was very pleased with the event, and made the biggest sales of my short career as a jeweler, and even got another pet portrait commission out of it!  All in all, it was a very successful weekend for me.  I'm beginning to feel ever more confident about creating jewelry, and look forward to experimenting with different metals and wire techniques over the winter.  The necklace on the left is completely handcrafted, including the links.  It is made with 18 gauge copper wire.  The necklace on the right is also copper, and I made most of the links, with the exception of the small chain links.  The earrings are copper and brown jasper. 
And, of course, I had to make some Christmas earrings.  The first pair are sterling over copper wire with sterling silver ear hooks and Swarovski red beads. 
 Next, a pair of free form sterling over copper Christmas tree earrings, also with sterling silver ear hooks and red and green beads. 
Finally, a pair of copper wire Christmas tree earrings, also with Swarovski red beads.  If you'd like to see more of my jewelry creations, visit my Facebook page:  Wit's End Studio.  

And then, the other night I decided to play around with different links made from copper wire, and the end result was the bracelet below.  Again, all the pieces except the beads were handcrafted.  I am really having fun, and hope to continue making beautiful jewelry and portraits! 
And now, it's back to the studio.  I have a lot of work to do before the end of the year.  Check back when you can to see what's new at Wit's End Studio!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Celtic Jewelry!

Time has sure been flying by here at Wit's End Studio--it's been nearly a month since I posted anything.  I've been busy, obviously--creating some new jewelry pieces for two Celtic shows, and continuing to work on the pet portrait commission.  First, the jewelry:

The first piece on the left is made of coral fossil beads and copper wire.  Next is a Celtic lace bracelet. It is made of sterling over copper  wire and green glass beads. I may have posted a photo of the 3rd piece, made with antiqued pewter spacer beads and an antique pewter Celtic "knot" pendant.  The 4th piece here is my favorite:  made of green glass beads and copper wire, I also created a pair of earrings to match, along with a pair of Irish flag earrings, using Swarovski crystals in the colors of the flag and copper wire.
The final piece (below) can be worn as a kilt pin, or as a brooch.  The pin itself is silver-plated, with copper and ivory-colored "wooden" look beads. I'm afraid I was in a hurry when I took some of these photos, so you can't see the small details in the beads.  If you're interested in any of these pieces, or would like a custom made piece, just contact me at
The Celtic Fair in Eminence was a blast!  Although the weather was a little "iffy" the first day, by afternoon the sun had come out and came out again on Sunday, so it was very pleasant.  I had expected to see folks dressed up in kilts and Celtic costumes, but I was surprised at the number of people dressed in various Renaissance outfits, as well.  There were even pirates!  The food and music was great, especially a group called Mother Grove.  Check out their website for some fine traditional and "kilt rock." 
This past Thursday I participated in a small art show featuring fellow artists and Ireland/Scotland travelers Mary Yaeger and Sharla McClain, sponsored by the Failte Irish Imports shop in Lexington.  The show was held at McCarthy's Irish Pub, also in Lexington.  It was well attended and my only regret is that I won't be able to go on this year's trip to Ireland!

So now it's back to the studio. I'm still working on the Pekingese pet portrait, and once that is finished, I'll be concentrating on Christmas (ugh, I can't believe it's just over two months away!)--I've got some great ideas for Christmas jewelry as well as some mini paintings.  So check back every now and then so you can get a first look!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Works in Progress....Progress

Busy week here at Wit's End Studio.  Spent most of the day Saturday at the Lifebridge for Animals Mutt Show and Rover Run and had a wonderful time.  I saw some of the cutest dogs there--some available for adoption from the Shelby County Animal Shelter, others just hanging out for a good time, and the weather was perfect!

After that, I spent the remainder of the weekend working on the Pekingese commission.  I decided to change up the background from the solid blue to a more natural setting--I think it works much better. There is still a lot of work to do before this piece is finished, but I think it's coming along very nicely. 

I finished a couple of mini-paintings over the weekend too.  They are 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 except for the beautiful blue-eyed kitty on the left--that one is 4 x 4.  I enjoyed painting them all, but I think my favorite is the little piggies.

The next event for me is the Celtic Fest in Eminence, Kentucky.  I've got to finish up some jewelry pieces and several Irish-themed paintings.  I'll be posting pics of all that soon.  Meanwhile, back to the easel!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Two WIPs and a Cat!

Wow...the ol' brushes are really getting a workout these days. I continue to work on the commission of the two Pekingese, concentrating primarily on their eyes. The client wanted the dogs' tails more prominent, so that's what I'm working now.  Here's a pic of the Pekingese work-in-progress:

Also on the easel this week are a couple of portraits I plan to donate to the Shelby County No-Kill Mission. The first one is Cheyenne, a beautiful kitten up for adoption at the Shelby County Animal Shelter.  Isn't she adorable?  Bet she'd be nice and cuddly during these chilly September nights!

And finally, still a work-in-progress, is Woody, also up for adoption at the Shelby County Animal Shelter.  I'll post a pic of the completed painting as soon as it's done.

Meanwhile, if you're in Shelbyville this Saturday, September 10, I will be one of the vendors at the Lifebridge Mutt Show and Rover Run at the Shelby County Fairgrounds.  Lifebridge is another organization whose mission is to educate young children about being good pet parents.  The Mutt Show is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  I will be stationed in Floral Hall, and would love for you to stop by and check out more of my work, and enjoy the other events as well! Admission is free!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Art for the Animals

It's been awhile, but I'm once again participating in the "Art for Shelter Animals" project--a project where you create a portrait of a shelter animal and donate it to the shelter. They can do with it as they wish:  give it to whoever adopts that animal, sell it or auction it, and keep the money for the shelter. I also sell some of the portraits, with a portion of the sale donated to the shelter.  Since I can't possibly adopt all the shelter animals myself, this is my way of helping them--not much in the grand scale of things, but these days every little bit helps.  This painting isn't finished yet, but here's what I have so far:  lots of details still to add, but it's close to being finished.  I'll post specific information about this cat when the painting is finished.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on the portrait of the 2 Pekingese--and I'm working diligently on my Irish paintings too.  Sadly, Martin Driscoll, a painter of Irish scenery, whose work I recently became acquainted with and enjoyed immensely, died last week of pancreatic cancer.  Check out his work at the link above--reminds me of my trip to Ireland and how much I want to go back!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's on the Easel: Pet Portrait WIP Update

Been working steadily on this pet portrait commission.  The client sent me over a dozen photos of the 2 Pekingese, and I've been trying to create a piece that shows both dogs' personalities.  I've been playing with the background a bit...not sure this is the one I'll keep.  Mostly I worked on Lucky's eyes (the black dog).  Buddy's eyes are blocked in but still need quite a bit of detail.  I like to get the eyes done first; everything else falls into place more easily after that. I love painting portraits, animal or human, and working with the client to create a piece of art that captures the "essence" of someone very special to them. 

I do have to work on some other pieces, though--getting ready for the Celtic Fest in September, in Eminence, Kentucky.  There, I'll be showing not only my Irish-themed paintings, but some Celtic themed jewelry as well.  For more info, check out their website!

Meanwhile, back to the easel!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

WIP -- Pekingese pups!

Took a break from playing with clay and beads to start this pet portrait of two adorable Pekingese:  Buddy and Lucky.  I'm using acrylics for this one, and I've just blocked in the images, not worrying too much about details yet.  Painting a black dog is very challenging--if you really look at black dogs, they aren't completely black.  This  dog also has very dark eyes--but we also know, don't we, that black eyes do have color in them--ya just gotta look! 

This is just the first pass with color. I'll be adding more details and have asked the client for his input--after all, who knows the dogs better than the owner?  I want to make sure the viewer gets a feel for the dogs' personalities. I will be lightening up the background a little, too, so the black dog shows better. 

It's good to be back in the studio. I have so many ideas for paintings as well as jewelry--I can't possibly do it all. I need to clone myself--several times! 

Check back soon for progress photos and maybe some new jewelry pieces. I've been experimenting with the Millifiori technique with polymer clay.  Will post photos soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm wearing cupcakes!

The other night I was playing with my new stash of polymer clay, and ended up making these cute little cupcake earrings. Had to remind the hubby that, no, they are not little candies and eating them could be detrimental to his health (in more way than one....but I digress...)  For the first time out, I don't think they're too bad, but the important thing is:  it was fun! Now I've got all sorts of ideas for other types of jewelry--so check back soon.

One of my co-workers commissioned me the other day to make a bracelet for her niece's birthday. The niece's birthstone is the ruby, but since genuine rubies are expensive, we opted for red wooden and glass beads, and pewter flowers.  Because I was enjoying myself so much (and being the generous person I am), I made a pair of earrings to match.

While I was making the cupcakes, I also made some more beads--swirls matching the frosting on the cupcakes, in round shapes.  I tried to make milleflora beads, but they didn't quite come out the way I wanted. I went ahead and finished them, and someday maybe I'll use them in something....don't Japanese artists deliberately leave imperfections in their work because nothing in this world is perfect?  Works for me!

I had to cancel my attendance at the art show in Somerset, Kentucky this weekend. I have a pet portrait commission that I need to work on, and the deadline is looming.  And did I mention I have yardwork to do as well?  While I've been playing, the weeds and grass (which is now mostly weeds) have been growing like...well....weeds!  Time to put on my "rocket man" pack and spray! Normally I don't like to use chemicals, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I'm losing the weed war, and I hate to lose--and besides, watching me wander around the yard with a big ol' backpack full of poisonous liquid strapped on, I'm sure, is quite entertaining to the neighbors.  Or maybe just plain scary. 

Anyway, I'll be posting pics of my pet portrait in progress in a day or so.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hey, Mom--can I have an Easy Bake Oven?

I always wanted one of those Easy Bake ovens....ah well. Now I get to play with the grown-up oven!  Yep, tonight I branched out and experimented with making my own polymer clay beads.  I wasn't content to make simple one-color beads--nope, I jumped right in and swirled two colors together (well, non-colors, actually--black and white), and made bicones and ovals, not just plain ol' round ones!  And here are the results! Not bad for the first time out.  I didn't coat these--just baked 'em and sanded them. (Caution! You might want to warn hungry hubbies that the cute little round thingies on the baking sheet are NOT special candies made just for him!)  They're very lightweight, and easy to make.  I have all sorts of ideas, and I feel like I'm really creating jewelry now! Still working on technique, but definitely making progress.

Good to finally get some rain here, which gave me an excuse to stay inside and play.  I'll be starting on the pet portrait commission this weekend, and will post pics of the work in progress, so come back soon!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's hot--and these earrings are hotter!

These were fun to make--little swirls of copper hung from copper earring wires--like a little mobile.  Very light--you won't even know you're wearing them!

So did that sound like an advertisement?  I'm not a very good sales person--my approach is more like "would you like to buy some earrings?  Oh. Didn't think so..." and that's it.  I've never been very good at promoting myself--as an artist or a writer.  I'm still surprised when someone actually says they like what I've done, and even more surprised when they buy something.  I'm working on a better approach, but I keep thinking about how I feel when I walk into a store and a salesperson descends on me--and when I say I'm just looking, they shadow me, afraid I'll escape.  I prefer to take my time and look--and if I want information or to buy, I'll find the salesperson. And that's how I feel about selling my art. No pressure, just enjoy!

Heading back to the easel tomorrow--I'm still trying to finish up some mini-paintings for the God's House fundraiser on Saturday.  Wish me luck--40% of any sales goes to God's House USA.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lots of Yardwork...and a Pair of Earrings

I spent the morning working in the yard--cleaning the pool (something that never seems to end till after Labor Day), mowing, and other various chores.  Had a brief argument with the pool vacuum head and pole--the head refused to stay attached, and kept disappearing into the deep end of the pool. Found another pole in the barn, and that seemed to work. For now.  After a couple of hours doing battle with the pool, I came inside, and created another pair of earrings.  I have a bunch of mismatched beads and it seemed a shame not to use them. So I grabbed these and some copper wire and voila! 

I will be one of the exhibitors at a fundraiser August 6 at King Pin Lanes in Louisville (the Taylorsville Rd. location), 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.,  for God's House USA--a non-profit organization that serves as a sort of "Noah's Ark" for women/children in abusive relationships.  I will be bringing some of my jewelry and mini-paintings, notecards and maybe a print or two.  A percentage of any sales goes towards this worthy cause, so if you're free next Saturday night, come on by and say hello--you might find something nice to take home, too!

I'm still working on setting up my Etsy shop.  Look for the "grand opening" announcement soon. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

TGIF--and a Celtic Knot Pendant plus Earrings

So I'm up late, not really enough energy to go down to the studio to paint, but not sleepy enough for bed--so I decided to finish a necklace and earrings I started working on the other night. This one is made with brown jasper stones, antiqued pewter lace beads, and an antiqued pewter Celtic knot pendant.  I did a little experimenting--the figure eight links (near the top of the necklace) are made of aluminum wire--which is very flexible, even though I used 18 gauge wire.  It might actually be a little too soft--but it was fun playing around with it. 

Yesterday I received my John C. Campbell Folk School catalog, and oh how I wish I could attend one or more of their workshops. So much to choose from! I haven't given up hope--I'll be saving my pennies and maybe one day, I'll get to go!

Meanwhile, I've signed up to take an equine photography workshop in August, which I'm very excited about.  I love painting horses, and photography is my second what could be better?  I'll get to photograph some magnificent horses, and eventually paint them too!

On the painting front, I just received a commission to do another pet portrait--this one of two ultra cute Pekingese.  Can't wait to get started, and I'll post WIP photos when I do.

Looks like we might get some rain tonight. It would be great to have a break from this oppressive heat. I was about to do a rain dance!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Always after me Lucky Charms....

Hahaha...I used to love that commercial for Lucky Charms cereal. So tonight, I was too hot (after spending an hour or so cleaning the pool) to do much, but in keeping with my Celtic themed jewelry, I made these:  I call them my "Lucky Charm Earrings."  Not sure how lucky they'll be, but I like them and had fun making them.  These are green glass beads wrapped in copper wire. The ear hooks, 4-leaf clover and jump rings are also copper. 

I really like working with copper--it has a nice warm look to it.  I'll be adding a bracelet and necklace soon.

Meanwhile, check out my interview on the EBSQ blog!  EBSQ is a really nice website for self-represented artists.  They also have wonderful contests and I love their "artist of the week" feature.  Lots of wonderful art to look at, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Owl and the Daisy

I took a break from jewelry making today and worked on a couple of mini-paintings. I finished the little owl that I'd started last week, and then moved on to a daisy.  Whenever I see daisies, I am reminded of our beautiful Great Dane, Daisy, who moved on to the Rainbow Bridge several years ago. She was such a big part of our lives, though--just the word "daisy" makes me think of her!  Of course, we now have another dane who is just as big a part of our lives:  Max.  But I are the completed mini-paintings.

The purple coneflower is an older one--actually, until today, it was the only mini-painting I had left.  I'm not a big fan of making small paintings, mostly because it takes way more concentration and is definitely not good for the eyes!  But it satisfies my need for "instant gratification" whereas a larger painting takes me so much longer to complete!

The gallery where I show most of my work was HOTHOTHOT today.  Even with the a/c in the back and 2 fans running, the temp up front was 90 degrees! Yikes! Not very conducive for creativity, but if you're in town sometime, stop by and take a look at our art:  617 Main St., Shelbyville, KY.  Or check out our website, Shelby Artists on Main

On a side note, earlier this year I got hooked on CMT's Next Country Superstar, and the guy I was rooting for, Matt Mason, won.  Here's the video made the night he was announced the winner.  Keep an eye out--I think this guy is gonna be a hit!

Looks like the heat will continue here in Kentucky for a few more days...I hear the swimming pool calling!

Stay cool!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dragonblood Jasper...not as scary as it sounds!

I couldn't resist making yet another jewelry set--this one made of dragonblood jasper stones and sterling silver over copper wire celtic swirls.  I apologize for the poor lighting.  When I'm ready to sell my jewelry I will take better photos. But I was just so pleased with these pieces, I had to share.  The beads are a little more green/brown color than they look in the photos, and the bale on the pendant is plastic.  I was going to remove it and make one out of wire, but I was afraid I'd damage the stone--but at least the design of the bale matches the design theme of the rest of the set. I think my swirls are becoming more consistent--although I actually prefer the slight variations--I think that's what makes the pieces unique--they certainly don't look like they've been made on a production line.

I'll be taking a little break from jewelry over the weekend--time to get back to slinging paint.  And speaking of painting--I will be featured as a Blogger of the Week soon on EBSQ, so be on the lookout for that! As soon as I complete the interview, I'll post a link to the article. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Playing with Copper

I should have gone to bed early, but I was too excited about playing with the new wire I bought yesterday.  So here's what I created tonight:  a pair of 18 gauge copper wire flower earrings.  I made the earrings, the jump rings and the earring wire.  I was a little worried about making the jump rings--it's hard to make perfect circles, even using a mandrel--but I think I did pretty well.  I made two pairs of these, just because I liked them so much! I can't wait to try wrapping pendants, or maybe doing a focal piece out of copper.  Will post more pics when I do!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thunder, Lightning...and a Green Glass Necklace

The heat is excruciating, and now it's raining, so what better way to spend an evening than creating?  Whether it's a painting, a necklace, or a poem--each of us has something we like to do to relax--and for me, tonight, anyway, it was making more jewelry. I've noticed over the years that I tend to go in spurts--for awhile I might concentrate on writing. Then I'll move on to painting, or gardening, or reading.  It's impossible to do everything, although I'm sure there are people out there who manage to do just that. But me?  I tend to dabble, putting all my energy into one form of creativity and then moving on to another.  It used to bother me--trying to figure out how to find time to do all the things I love doing--painting, writing, gardening, photography--now making jewelry. I asked a fellow artist awhile back, who is a fantastic writer as well as a visual artist, how she handles the urges to paint one day, write the next--did she feel like she was neglecting one over the other?  She told me to "just go with the flow."  Whatever creative muse is pushing me at the moment, that's the one to follow, and don't worry about the others.  They'll get attention when it's time.  And so that's what I do now. If I feel like writing, I write. If the urge to paint is overwhelming, I paint. But I no longer feel guilty. Creative people just need to create, and I no longer feel I have to pick one and stick to it.  Maybe I'm not as good at one as I am the other, but does that really matter?  I think the point is to create, and be happy doing it.

So...tonight the urge to play with beads was greater, and since it was raining and of course I couldn't work outside--ta da!  The result? A new necklace and earrings.  This is from a pattern in one of the beading magazines I bought awhile back. I've made two versions:  one with turquoise teardrop stones and the other with green glass teardrops.  Easy to do.  I'm planning to make matching bracelets later.  Actually, I made a turquoise set several months ago, which my lovely daughter managed to confiscate.  One of the perks of being family, I guess...

I received an order from Fire Mountain Gems today, and can't wait to get started with the new beads and wire.  Lots of ideas, which I hope I can follow through on.  I'm still learning wire wrapping.

 I also bought some copper and galvanized steel wire--I love the warmth of the copper and I just wanted to experiment with the steel wire.  Should be interesting!

So here are the two sets of jewelry I made--same pattern, different stones.  Unfortunately, the photograph of the green bead necklace isn't as sharp as it needs to be. I need to work on better lighting.

Still working on mini-paintings, and several larger pieces to finish.  Peace!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Pair of Earrings and an Owl

Copper-colored wire flower
It's too hot to work outside today (and besides that, I don't feel like it), so I decided to get creative.  I'm getting some small pieces ready for a couple of shows coming up in August--will post more specific info when I have it.  Here are the earrings I made today.  I am still working on consistency with the wire wrapping and twisting, and I'm also teaching myself how to tie Celtic knots--which I plan to incorporate into my jewelry soon.  I'm excited about this new venture, and full of ideas. Look for the opening of my Etsy store soon!

2 x 3 acrylics
Here is the mini-painting I am working on--it's nearly finished.  I have several larger pieces in various stages of completion. I'm hoping to finish those soon.  Just not enough time for all these creative endeavors!  

I also need to get some sample pet portraits finished--I'll be doing a fundraiser  in September for Lifebridge for Animals and would like to have some new work to display.  Soooo.....back to the easel!