The creative journey of an artist inspired by animals and life by the sea

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life with Dogs

I am always amazed at how dogs approach life. From the moment they wake up they are enjoying every moment, taking time for play and bonding. Then giving themselves the much needed rest they require. My dogs are my "fur kids" and the love they give me is unconditional. Yesterday, a friend told me she had decided to put her dog "Bo" to sleep. I have been in that same position with my dear dog Dante. After a wonderful life together, he could no longer get up and come to me and had lost the quality of life he deserved so much. When I looked into his eyes that last day, he told me to let him go. It was one of the hardest things to do in my life. I could never replace him, but soon I got Socks, then Ty. Now I am almost whole again...though a tiny piece of my heart is always with all my dogs. I cherish their memories and know they are over the Rainbow Bridge.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Slowly but surely

I finally finished a long awaited commission of a cute Pomeranian for a wonderful woman who is disabled. She has had numerous back operations throughout her life and has also suffered two strokes. When I meet people like Francis, I realize how lucky I am to have another income and also to have my health and the ability to create art. I am thrilled to be able to share my art with people, though I am also frustrated when I can't do it as much as I would like right now. I am on vacation from Lowes for a few days and so happy to be a fulltime artist! I spent today checking out a new art gallery and hope to get a little more fishing in before I am back to my regular schedule. I caught a big flounder surf fishing the other day which I returned to the surf, I just didn't have the heart to keep him!

Monday, June 8, 2009


I am not a faithful "blogger", I guess I am easily distracted!  The latest are the baby sparrows all making the leap from the nesting box I have outside my art studio window.  They have been making such a racket encouraging each other to make their first flight into the real world of a bird.  I can't seem to stop watching them.  My biggest worry is my dog Ty gobbling one up if they happen to land near him!  He loves chasing birds out of the yard.

I finally completed my Rottweiler oil portrait and am waiting for the frame to arrive.  The client loved the painting and is patiently waiting to for it.  I have decided to stay working at Lowes fulltime for now, I can't manage giving up all the benefits these days with the economy.  So, on to the next painting of a Pomeranian.  I am happy to have commission work. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Time Out

Been a while since I have posted!  I took the dogs to the beach on my day off...the weather was beautiful! Socks loves going to the beach, but Ty is always the first in the water.  If I don't keep him on the leash, he would have no problem swimming out to sea!  The riptides are really strong in this area called "The Point" on Emerald Isle, NC.  
I finished my drawing of Aunt Lorraine and shipped it off for her 80th "Derby" themed party.  I wish I could have gone, but couldn't swing it.  She loved the drawing and now has it hanging over her fireplace.  I have another portrait commission in the works of a Rottweiler.  The client and I decided to portray the dog in different stages of his life in an oil montage.  She lost him a few years ago, so I have to rely on her photographs.  She did approve this layout, so I am planning on working all weekend on it. 
Besides that, I have decided to go part time at Lowes to allow me more time to paint and complete commission work.  It has been a tough decision because of the income and benefits, but my husband knows I always follow my heart and dreams.  I am hoping all my recent advertising efforts and gallery exposure will bring on more work.  The life of an artist is not an easy one!



Wednesday, April 8, 2009


As artists, we are often asked by friends and relatives to make use of our talents for gifts and surprises.  I am a little pooped from working the night shift at my "other" job at Lowes, but am trying to keep at it here this morning by posting the start of a little 11 x 14 pencil drawing I am doing for my Aunt Lorraine's 80th birthday.  She lives in Colorado and is my Dad's only sister.  She is such a special person and I am very close to her, especially since my father passed away in 2005.  I am so happy to surprise her with a little drawing of her when she attended a Penn State horse show, probably around 1949.  My cousins found it and have organized a semi-surprise "Kentucky Derby" theme party for her in April.  This is the start of it, I hope I can capture her face!  I never seem to have problems with getting the likeness of an animal, but people are always a huge challenge for me!

I find it really interesting how both my grandparents had horses, my grandmother spent all her time riding the train up and down the east coast following the horse racing circuit.  My Dad rode horses with my grandfather and my Aunt was obviously a better rider than she ever mentioned!  I really do think that horses are "in your blood".

I also have a Rottweiler portrait commission in the works which I will post shortly.  Tomorrow, I am meeting with an advertising rep from a local publication here to discuss some additional print advertising I may do to stimulate more commission work.  My goal is to be full time at the art again soon....just keep plugging! 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Measure of Success

When I decided to become an "artist" in high school, I was very serious from the start.  I knew I was blessed with a talent and was lucky to have parents who supported and believed in me.  I always remember my father's advice when I told him at 18 that I was going to paint animals and also wanted to be a forest ranger.  He was concerned about my choices and we decided that Graphic Design would be the best decision in my chosen field.  He said...."You can make a living with that and will have something to fall back on hon"....

I remember like it was yesterday one summer setting my work up at a local horse show out of the back of my hatchback.  I think my parents were shocked that people were paying me to paint their animals!  I struggled through the years though, and ended up working at many other careers to support my painting.  My sisters joke about "Gail's resume" and the list goes on even today.  I don't like to talk about "my other job" with other artists or clients because you are often judged as a successful artist by whether you are supporting yourself solely with your art.   I have come to realize now, over thirty years later, that everything I have worked at and learned by trying to do my art has made me the artist I am today.  I was employed as a Product Researcher at The Franklin Mint and also worked in Visual Merchandising and Display at a major department store for many years.  I have worked as a Custom Picture Framer for years, worked at horse barns, run a boarding facility and broke my own horse.  

We recently moved here to North Carolina over a year ago and I am joining art groups, exhibiting in shows, recently joined a co-op gallery, advertising, and have been able to obtain portrait clients.  But, the reality of this economy and the need for affordable health care has forced me to again "expand" my resume.  I have been working at Lowes Home Improvement in the Home Decor and Paint departments for almost a year now.  I am often frustrated by the lack of time to paint and feel like I have signed my life away to the corporate world.  This can lead to not believing I am an "artistic" success.   But, I now realize that all these life experiences and knowledge not only makes me a better artist, but a better person.   I am now learning about color trends and decorating, meeting interesting people, making contacts and more in touch with the economy.  I am also not in a constant worry state about paying my bills and what will happen to me or my husband if we get sick.   

So, the roller coaster life of an artist goes on....I think my Dad would be proud of me for not giving up!

The posted drawing was done in college and was one of the first pictures I sold as an artist.  It sold at one of my first big shows on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Barter for Dressage

It was a beautiful sunny day today! I had a dressage lesson this morning on "good old Ben", nothing like a 22 year old schoolmaster who really knows his job!  I met my trainer and now good friend Jennifer Collins here in NC and fell in love with her methods of training and teaching.  She is a certified Lynn Palm instructor and travels to Florida often.  I was able to work out a barter for dressage lessons exchange with her that has been great for both of us.  I am painting her numerous dogs and horses and she keeps me in lessons.  I recently completed a watercolor painting of her two older dogs, a dalmation and a boykin spaniel.  My next portrait subject for her will be "Nick", a 23 year old gelding who has started to go blind this past year.  We want to portray and honor him as the horse that taught many adults and children the joys of riding a horse.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Letting go

I am often torn when the time comes to sell a painting or drawing I am really pleased with.  Such is the case with this drawing I did many years ago.  I have never wanted to sell it and at one time it belonged to my father.  Perhaps, that is why I feel the need to keep it.  Maybe I am afraid I may never create something like it again or lose the memories it holds for me.

Today, I took it down to the Co-op gallery I just joined called the Carolina Artist Studio Gallery and hung it on my display wall.  It now hangs with other paintings I have for sale.  In order to grow as an artist...I need to let go.