January: Start the Year Off Fine

"Let It Snow" © Judy Lavoie
"December Snow" © Judy Lavoie
Based on the popularity of my new 2017 Calendar (still a few available @ $15), I am beginning a monthly Artwork Feature. The calendar features one of my paintings for each month, and, similarly, my blog posts will focus on one of my painting themes each month. This month it's "snow!"

Paintings of snowy landscapes are one of my favorite subjects. We don't get a lot of snow where I live in SE Tennessee, except in the higher mountains we view from our front porch. When there is any accumulation near the house, I can hardly wait to get outside with my camera. This month's featured artwork combines my love of snow with another favorite painting subject of mine, barns. The two barns shown in this artwork are on my neighbor's property, so they are very familiar and dear to me.

I painted "Let It Snow" as a barnyard scene in the midst of a snow storm. The horses are shown in and out of the barn, perhaps disturbed by the weather. The snow is wet and heavy, bearing down on the branches of the evergreens. The scene is grey and chilly.

The companion to this painting is "December Snow," showing the blue sky breaking through just after the snow has stopped. Near this sceond barn, some of the heavy snow has been blown off the background pines, and the sun is casting blue shadows on the snow covered barnyard.

I did each of these paintings in acrylics on canvas, measuring 20" x 16". They are simply framed in rustic grey barnboard, to accent the barns' weathered siding. Each original painting retails for $575, and I would sell the two together for $1000. Also available are open-edition prints on paper of each of these two paintings, sized to fit a pre-cut 8"x10" mat and readymade frame, @ $18.

If you are interested in purchasing any of this artwork or a calendar (while they last), please email me at judylavoieart@gmail.com. Thanks!

The "Big Time"

Yes, it's the Big Time for me. My award-winning painting, "In The Spotlight," is currently on exhibit in Clarksville, Tennessee, which is northwest of Nashville on the Kentucky border. But wait, there's more.... The hosting venue, the Customs House Museum, chose my painting to feature on the show banner which is hanging on the exterior of the historic building! I am surprised and honored.

My friend Mike, the subject in my painting and a native of Nashville, visited the exhibit with his wife Debra and sent me this great photo of himself with the banner.

The exhibit continues until February 3rd and is the last stop in the Traveling Show of the Tennessee Watercolor Society's biennial exhibition, so stop in if you are in that area. Visit their gift shop too, where prints of my painting are for sale.

Art Sale - 25% Off!

Need a special gift for Christmas or an upcoming event? Want to treat yourself to some fine art? Here's your chance... at a great savings!

From now through Dec. 31, 2016, any purchase of my artwork from the Tellico Art Center which totals $100 or more will automatically receive 25% OFF. Choose from original paintings in watercolor and acrylic, limited edition signed prints, open edition prints, notecards, mugs, mousepads and more. See my new 2017 calendar, with one of my paintings gracing each month. With a wide range of prices, you can cover everyone on your Christmas list.

The Tellico Art Center is at 113 Scott Street in Tellico Plains TN. December hours are 11am - 6pm Thur-Sat or by appointment. For more information, call 423-253-3003.

The gallery will be open and serving refreshments for the annual Christmas Candlelight Walk on Saturday, Dec. 3rd, so be sure to stop by.


My paintings cover a wide variety of subjects, but if I had to restrict myself to one, I'd pick dog portraits. Every furry face has its distinct characteristics and I love to hone in on each one's uniqueness.  I also know how much pleasure I get from seeing my doggies' faces in the portraits I've done, particularly those who have passed away, and it pleases me to be able to do this for others.
Maggie Mae

The eyes are particularly important in my pet portraits, since that's usually where the viewer's gaze is first drawn. One of the few pet portraits I've done which didn't have a strong eye-emphasis is my own Maggie Mae - I did her portrait when she was still in her "ADD" phase and never looked at us directly for more than a few seconds! (She's getting better now, at age 3).

As with most of my artwork, I rely heavily on photo references for dog portraits. My recent work, "Tyson," proved to be an unusual challenge. Sadly, the pit bull had died suddenly after being hit by a car, so I had to work from existing photos. Tyson's "mom" and some friends wanted to surprise his "dad," David, with the painting, to help with the loss of his beloved pal. The friends had commissioned me to paint their beloved dog Baron, a German Shepherd, several years ago. I was provided with several snapshots of Tyson, but, of course, none had actually been taken to capture the dog at his best; I had Tyson in a party hat, Tyson in a t-shirt, Tyson in the snow. Like most photos taken on smart phones these days, these were all low resolution images. So the details in the fur, the features, and the various textures - which I enjoy depicting - were not distinguishable.
Reference snapshots

I finally decided to use a photo of Tyson on a couch with his baby sister. This showed him in profile, sitting up straight and alert. Unfortunately, his upright ears were cropped out of the shot. Googling "pit bull photos" brought up images of this breed in many different colors of fur and various poses and viewpoints. I finally found a shot of another pit in profile which was good enough to help me fill in what was missing in the Tyson photo.
This was the photo I relied upon for the portrait.

I simplified the background for my painting, blending some warm grey mid-range tones which would work well against Tyson's white and brown fur. The photo of Tyson had good shadows in his upper body which helped me define his muscle form. I did the best I could at sharpening up his eye and detailing the nose, but had to settle for a bit less detail than I usually incorporate in my paintings.

The most important part, in the end, was that David was pleased with the portrait of Tyson, telling me "You did an amazing job - it's beautiful!" I hope it will warm his heart every time he looks at the painting.

You Can Own It Too!

"Barnyard Bouquet" is one of my paintings which several people have told me they would like to purchase. Too late now... the original was bought by my sweet friend Ginny and hangs in her flower-filled sunroom. By popular demand, I've just produced a limited edition of signed and numbered giclee prints, so it can hang on your wall too!

The new prints are on canvas, just as I painted the original, and they are museum quality. The reproduction quality is so good that the prints are hard to tell from original. They are a standard size, 11" x 14", and priced at $100, unframed. The sides of the canvas are black and the canvas is attached to the back side of the wood stretchers, so the artwork could actually be hung with no frame. But, for those who want a more finished look, ready-made frames are sold to fit this size at craft and hobby stores, or a custom frame with a white linen liner would look fabulous!

These days there are many ways to make reproductions on canvas and paper. I always have my giclees made by fine art reproduction studios. This way I am assured that the surface, the pigments, and the protective surface coatings adhere to high standards.

What is a "GICLEE"? The “giclée” (pronounced gee-clay) print represents the finest technology in digital fine art limited editions. The process began as an "iris" print, which I first used as a commercial artist back in the 80s for pre-press color proofing. But these early versions used inks which faded fast and they were not printed on quality paper, because they were meant to have a short shelf life... discarded soon after being viewed. As the Iris printing process became familiar to photographers and artists, the demand grew for long-lasting permanent pigments and high quality surfaces. Rock musician Graham Nash, an accomplished black and white photographer, spearheaded the drive to use the Iris technology for museum-quality reproductions in the late 1980s. His fame likely helped move the process forward, and Iris prints morphed into fine art Giclee prints. Nash's original IRIS 3047 graphics printer is now in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History! Nash Editions still offers fine quality digital giclee printmaking services to photographers and artists from all around the world.

I was attracted to giclée reproductions many years ago, when I first decided to make prints from my paintings, because this technology captures the detail and subtle color nuances of my original paintings better than other printing methods. A giclée exhibits the look and feel of the original painting, right down to the surface it is printed on - archival paper or artist’s canvas. The giclée ink is waterbased – like the watercolor and acrylic pigments I paint with. The giclée process is truly a high tech marriage of fine art, graphic art, and state of the art.

With many years of graphic experience (I could be considered a dinosaur in the field!) I make fine color adjustments to my own digital photographs until they match my original artwork. When the image is correct, the digital files are transmitted to a giclee printer, which is a very high-end ink-jet type of fine art printer. Giclée is a French word which means “squirt” or “spurt” and alludes to the production process, where the printer squirts approximately 4 million microscopic droplets of ink per second from each of its precision nozzles, creating a continuous tones of color. The name was likely chosen to make it sound exotic (makes me think of "Häagen-Dazs," invented in the Bronx to make people relate the ice cream to high quality Danish dairy products!). In the giclee process, each particle of color is defined by these microscopic droplets of ink (the droplet is four times smaller than a human hair). This allows for the capture of the finest detail from the original painting, with the highest resolution possible. Even under a magnifying glass, the giclée print looks like an original.

Each of my giclées is signed and numbered and provided with a certificate of authenticity.  A giclée should be handled as fine art; frame a giclée on paper with matting and glazing and hang away from direct sunlight or accidental exposure to moisture. A giclée on canvas can be framed without matting and glazing, like an original painted canvas. My canvas giclées have a top coating with UV protection, and the surface can, and should, be dusted as needed with a soft dry cloth. Giclée printing has become a fine art in itself, and art museums now recognize and hang artwork reproduced as fine art giclées.