Portrait Painting Commissions

This llama painting was a recent custom portrait commission.  He was hilarious to paint with those goofy teeth and fluffy mane.  Carson and his wife sent me these photos of the 8" x 8" painting hanging in their home in NY, along with a picture of Rachel unwrapping her gift.  She looks happy!

Below are a few more custom portraits I've made this Fall.  Each painting is acrylic on wood cradleboard, wired and ready to hang (each has a depth of 1/2").  There are a variety of sizes, ranging from 5 inches to 12 inches square.  Order yours here.

This little pug was a birthday present, commissioned for a woman in Ohio.

Brutus was painted for a Browns fan in Ohio, so the background contained the team colors.  

A local commission of a very playful pup! 

I really like painting on the wood for pet portraits, the smooth surface allows for more detail. Every portrait is drawn from a photograph and you can choose the color palette and background pattern to suit your taste.


Student paintings at Fall for Art

Rey Garza Real Estate's Fall for Art event took place the first Saturday in October.  The realtors graciously cleared out their offices, emptied the walls and transformed the space into a pop-up gallery. Realtor Camille Rodriguez Brigant is an avid promoter of local artists here in San Antonio. She and the rest of her team organized this art exhibition and cookout to engage the community.  This was my third show at the office and I am happy that they always include my students' work.  It makes me proud to have their talents recognized outside of the classroom.

Below is Raquel, with her paintings Justice for the 43 and Te Amo.  Hector is pictured with his artwork, Summer Breeze (far left), Lady, Dazed and Confused and The Player.  Also exhibited was the flamingo diptych by Rosa, Paradiso.  

Thank you to everyone, including fellow painters Rowena and Linda, who came out to enjoy the event sponsored by Rey Garza Real Estate.  Thank you Camille for being a great friend to the arts in San Antonio!


Fall For Art at Rey Garza Real Estate

Fall for Art, a pop-up exhibition sponsored by Rey Garza Real Estate, was held on October 3.  The invitational show featured a handful of local artists, both emerging and established.  I exhibited my colored pencil drawings, created in July while I was an artist-in-residence in Italy.  My husband showed a new woodworking piece, a detail of which can be seen in the image below.  It is a topographical map of Texas, routed in layers out of birch veneer plywood.  The show also included some of his birdhouse sculptures and several paintings created by my students at the Cisneros Center.

The event brought in many people from the neighborhood, and I enjoyed meeting other local artists and talking to the community about my artwork.  Thank you to Rey, Camille and everyone else at Rey Garza for supporting local art!  


A walk through Guardia Sanframondi

View from my apartment of the valley below Guardia Sanframondi
I spent the month of July on an artist residency in southern Italy, incorporating the local plant life into my colored pencil drawings.  Guardia Sanframondi, the residency location, is a small medieval town in the Campania region.  It is on the hillside, overlooking the valley below.  The rural setting is peaceful; the town is welcoming to foreigners and especially supportive of the arts.  Locals Clare, Carlo and Vittorio were especially kind to me and the other artists-in-residence, showing us around town and introducing us to some wonderful people and places.  Below is the entrance to the studio and around the corner, I followed these stairs to my apartment and garden.  The narrow alley opened up to a beautiful view of the valley, lined with plants both familiar and exotic.  There were usually a handful of cats lounging along the path home.
Most streets in the centro storico (historical center) are accessible only by foot, though I saw quite a few tiny cars squeeze their way down unbelievably narrow paths.  An earthquake in the 80s left a lot of the homes (along with a church) in this section of town structurally damaged.  There is quite a bit of reconstruction going on and plenty of affordable real estate being purchased and fixed by foreigners.  In fact, one of the artists-in-residence purchased a little one room house with a garden while we were there!
This is a view from the bottom of the garden, looking to the residency complex above (the stone and terra-cotta colored walls).  The apartment is the bottom two floors with the stone walls, with access to the tiered garden. The studio and a second apartment for artists is directly above on the third floor, with terra-cotta colored walls.  It was accessible from the street above, Via Filippo Maria Giudi. Homes here are laid out like labyrinths, connecting to one another and stacked into the hillside.  The garden contained three levels, filled with fig and olive trees, grape vines, passionfruit, star jasmine and flowering artichoke plants taller than me.  
 The wild artichokes in the garden were in full bloom and I used them in several of my drawings.
Many mornings, I passed this apartment with the partially painted yellow wall on my walk into town for espresso and a donut (bombolone).   
 The final night in Guardia Sanframondi was beautiful, spent with my friends and fellow artists-in-residence Crystal, Ingrid and Margaret.  We watched the sunset from Crystal's porch in the garden, had an impromptu art installation, sipped champagne and talked about our art and travels.  We experienced a lot together in one short month, and I am grateful for their friendship.  Later that night, our friends from the town joined us for a farewell party with tiramisu and tortes with homemade jam.  Grazie, tutti!  Alla prossima volta!


Artist Residency in Guardia Sanframondi, Italy

It's been one week back on American soil and I am finally adjusted to a regular schedule again. Getting home took two trips by car, one train, one bus, a mile-long walk with all my luggage from the bus stop to the airport followed by three planes...eventually I made it, safe and sound.

My month in Italy as an artist-in-residence at Terra Vivente Studios was inspiring & productive.  I chose this particular residency for the rural setting and garden access, which was a major part of my subject matter.  Guardia Sanframondi is a wonderful, small town in Southern Italy-having never spent an extended period of time in this part of the country, I was intrigued.  The town is experiencing an artistic rebirth, thanks in part to artist Clare Galloway.  Her positive, creative energy is perfectly captured by her motto, #livelikeahappyartist.  In the future, I'd love to return with Steven for a stay at her arthouse.  While on travel I met some truly incredible people from across the globe, from Scotland to England, Australia, Italy (of course) and even a few women from Texas! 

The residency fee paid for studio access and a place to live in the centro storico (historical center) of the town.  The apartment I stayed in was completely renovated, parts of it dating back 5oo years or so.  I shared a studio with French-Canadian artist Ingrid Tremblay, American artist Margaret Craig and Australian poet & filmmaker Crystal Davis.  We worked and traveled well together, sharing experiences and ideas. The studio was a light-filled space with tall glass doors that opened to a small balcony and a view of the valley below.
I had the chance to travel a bit on the weekends, and crammed in as much art history as possible in the few days spent in Venice, Rome, Pompeii and Amalfi.  Over the course of the month, I saw important works of Renaissance art and architecture, went to the Biennale in Venice, spent one of the hottest days of one of the hottest summers getting lost in Pompeii, slept overnight on a boat in Salerno, toured the 15th century Amatruda Paper Mill, drew until my fingers went numb, had my first Italian art exhibition and ate pizza like it was my job.
The internet in my medieval apartment was not working for most of the month, so I have a lot of blogging to catch up on.  I use this platform as a way to document my art, from ideas in my sketchbook to the finished image, along with important events and the things that inspire me.  My hope is that it inspires you, too!
 I'll be writing individual posts about the process for each of my drawings made abroad in July.  
They are colored pencil and graphite on 18 x 24" paper.


work in progress: sparrows

Today I tackled the sparrows in two of my drawings.  The key lines of the image were transferred from my cartoon using a hard pencil.  The graphite lines disappear as I add the colored pencil over top.  I really enjoy this part of the process, watching the image slowly come to life.

I'd like to finish these up by the week's end and have three more ready for the artists-in-residence show at the end of the month (6 total, maybe 7). Our exhibition is set for July 24th here in Guardia Sanframondi.

The drawing is pictured alongside the sketch & cartoon for the image.  I wanted it to echo the strong triangular arrangements of figures so prevalent in Italian Renaissance art, which I viewed recently in Venice.

I began sketching the above image after returning from Vatican City, the morning I left Venice-palms were everywhere, dotting the sidewalk along the way to the metro.
More progress on the other drawing I shared yesterday.  Below are some of the plants and colors inspiring my art here.  I start my mornings with a walk into town for espresso & on my way I pass the most beautiful gardens-plants growing out of corners, perched on ledges and spilling over balconies.

Three days in Venice

I spent three days in Venice to see the city and visit the 56th art biennale, All the World's Futures.  The residency director arranged for myself and the other artists-in-residence to stay in an apartment in the middle of the city.  This was my third trip to Venice, and by far my favorite.  I had an ambitious schedule of places to see: the art of the Venetian Renaissance in the churches and museums, the biennale and general sightseeing.  In addition to the biennale, I had the good fortune of viewing a special exhibit of Henri Rousseau at Palazzo Ducale.  My friend Crystal, an Australian poet and filmmaker, came along to shoot footage, navigate, and search out the best pastries in the city.  At the end of our first day, we stood on a pier and watched a storm roll in and out over the water.  The skyline completely disappeared at one point.
Day 2:  San Marco's square is so nice in the morning.  Peaceful and mostly empty, save for the pigeons. Wednesday was a little cooler thanks to the rainstorm the night before.  We were among the first in line to go into the church; being surrounded by floor to ceiling Byzantine style mosaics was a truly moving experience.  St. Mark's Basilica is the third building in this exact spot (the first burned down, the second was torn down).  

Palazzo Ducale is host to an exhibition of Henri Rousseau's art, titled Archaic Candor. In collaboration with the Musee D'Orsay, the curators set the artist's paintings (40 in all) alongside works by Kandinsky, Cezanne, Redon & even a portrait by Frida Kahlo.  My favorite room was the Jardin des Plantes, which contained many large paintings including Snake Charmer, Horse Attacked by a Jaguar & Merry Jesters.  Photos weren't permitted inside the exhibition space, so follow the links to learn more about the artist and his work. 

I find it so interesting that the artist never left France, yet created such imaginative worlds of tropical vegetation.  Rousseau painted captivating scenes that reveal something new the longer you spend in front of them.  

Panorama form the balcony at Palazzo Ducale, after leaving the exhibition.  White stone and pink Venetian marble were constructed in the Gothic style for the Doge's palace in Venice.
Next was a visit to the Gallerie dell'Accademia, a collection of artwork spanning the Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque and later 18th century art.  The Renaissance collection is really incredible; they have Giorgione's Tempest and Veronese's Feast in the House of Levi, two works that I focus lectures on in my art history course.  I still can't believe I had the opportunity to see them in person.

Veronese's painting is 18 feet tall and 42 feet long!  

The last destination in Venice was Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, to see Titian's Assumption of the Virgin.  The painting, measuring 22' 1/2" tall and 11' 10" wide, has hung in the same place above the altar for 500 years.  The light pouring through the windows into the space made it appear even more heavenly.  Also in the church was The Pesaro Madonnaon a side altar next to the pyramidal tomb of the great Neoclassical sculptor, Antonio Canova.
 Day 3:  We left Venice at 6 am & caught a train to Rome for a whirlwind visit to Vatican City.  The sunrise coming over Rialto bridge was beautiful.