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.

See the Show Winners

The 2016 Tennessee Watercolor Society Exhibition winners are now posted on the organization's website, so if you didn't see the show in Knoxville you can have a look here. Click on any of the images for a larger view. I am proud to be included with my painting "In The Spotlight," which you can read about in my previous blog posts.

Judy and "In The Spotlight" at the Knoxville showing
My painting was also chosen as one of 30 in the Travelling Exhibition. In order for the Exhibition to be enjoyed in other parts of Tennessee, the Traveling Exhibition brings award winning paintings and others selected by the juror to six additional public venues around the state. The schedule for this show is:
  • JULY: WKNO, Memphis; 7151 Cherry Farms Rd., Cordova TN
  • AUGUST: West Tennessee Regional Art Center, 1200 Main St., Humboldt TN
  • SEPTEMBER: Pryor Gallery, Columbia State Community College, 1665 Hampshire Pk., Columbia, TN
  • OCTOBER: Association for Visual Arts, Chattanooga, 30 Frazier Ave., Chattanooga TN
  • NOVEMBER: Sycamore Shoals Visitor Center, 1651 W. Elk Ave., Elizabethton TN
  • DECEMBER/JANUARY: Customs House Museum, 200 S. Second St., Clarksville TN

Hoorah - I Won!

I am delighted and proud to announce that my watercolor "In The Spotlight" has received a top award at the opening of the 35th Biennial Juried Exhibition of the Tennessee Watercolor Society! My painting received the "Beauty of Watermedia" cash award, which is funded by donations made by the Society's members over the past 2 years… $1150 in cash - whoopee! My award was the third place; the two lovely paintings chosen for 1st and 2nd received $1200 purchase prizes, which means the businesses which donated those awards also get ownership of the winning paintings. I get the $$ and get to keep my painting, so that's fine with me! The show of 55 selected watermedia paintings premiers in Knoxville, the major Tennessee city closest to where I live.

Judy with Juror John Salminen

The juror for the show was internationally known and published artist John Salminen. In his statement about the exhibition he said: "My final choices were difficult. When selecting paintings for the exhibition I looked for work with a combination of compelling content and evidence of well-developed technical skill. I felt that the selected paintings were strong in their ability to draw my attention and to maintain it." Jurying a show is admittedly a subjective process, and Mr. Salminen remarked at the awards ceremony that when artists don't get into a juried show they usually conclude that it was an ignorant juror! He encouraged artists not to be discouraged, but to continue to enter other shows. A work once rejected is often chosen by another juror. He said then the artist thinks that juror wasn't so ignorant!

This exhibition includes works from exceptionally talented watermedia painters, working in both representational and abstract styles, from all around Tennessee. Many of those artists have won awards in national and international art shows, give professional art workshops, have hung in museum shows, and have been published. Some of the gorgeous paintings which I thought would get the top prizes didn't win any award. So I am truly honored, not only to be included as one of the 55 paintings in the show, but to have also been chosen for such a high award among such talent.

The art show is being held at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, and runs through June 24th, 2016. After that, 30 paintings selected from the Main Show will travel to 6 other locations around the state through next January. The Emporium's regular hours are Mon-Fri 9-5. They will also be open for the First Friday Artwalk on June 3rd until 9pm, and Sundays, June 5 & 19, from 3:30-6:30 PM.

The Tennessee Watercolor Society's website will have this exhibition online and currently features the paintings from past Exhibitions.

My Painting is Accepted!

I am happy to share the news that my new painting "In The Spotlight" has been accepted into the Tennessee Watercolor Society's 35th Exhibition! The show juror is noted watercolor artist John Salminen, and he has chosen 55 paintings from artists all around Tennessee for this prestigeous show.

As a statewide organization, the Society moves the Exhibition to a different location every two years, and this year it takes place in Knoxville. It will be hung at The Emporium, 100 South Gay Street (the main downtown street). The show opens Saturday, May 21 and runs through June 24, 2016.

The selection process was done by digital entries. The juror will judge the actual paintings on May 15th for awards and for inclusion in a traveling show (a smaller selection of the exhibited paintings which tours the state for the rest of the year.)

I am proud to say that I am a Signature Member of TnWs. My artwork has been accepted for the past 4 biennial shows as well as for the traveling shows. Previously two per artist could be accepted, but only one of two entries is allowed since 2014, giving more members a chance at a slot. Here are my watercolor paintings previously chosen:

2008 - Out to Pasture
2010 - Nature Paints a Picture and Decadence
2012 - Jerry Van, Music Man and Jesus Saves
2014 - Elles Tobacco Planter