Exciting Announcment!

Lighthouses on The Mag Mile

I am so honored and excited to announce that I am one of the selected artists who will be participating in Lighthouses on The Mag Mile public art display from The Chicago Lighthouse this summer!  

I would like to thank my lighthouse sponsors Larry & Susanne Broutman as their ongoing support of my art is simply nothing short of incredible.

I can not wait to get started on this project.  I will be sharing updates of my process/progress over the next few weeks.  The design will include much of the artwork I have been doing for the upcoming Chicago Treasures book project Larry and I are working on featuring many children from The Chicago Lighthouse preschool.

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Always fun to work with other local artists and businesses!

Don't you just love when you find a local business with amazing staff, who are so talented, and you can work with them on special projects? I know I do.

And today that business is Cathy's Sweet Creations Bakery & Cafe. I have been going there for holiday treats for a few years now and always love their work. Earlier this week I had the idea to have some animal themed cake pops and rice crispy treats made up for the All Animals Great & Small - A TAGOL Exhibition opening reception tonight. So Cathy took my order and told me about how she has the perfect artist for the job, Erin.

 Bakery artist, Erin

Bakery artist, Erin

I went today and picked up the treats and they are so perfect! I could not be more impressed with how they turned out. Thank you so much Erin for having so much fun with this project - they are AWESOME!

I asked if they had any suggestions on how I could display them on the snack table at the event tonight and they told me of a few stores that likely sell stands. But then they also said I could take a piece of wood and drill some holes in it, then cover it in wrapping paper to make my own stand. I had all those supplies here at home already so that is what I did and now everything is set for tonight!


Thanks again Cathy, Erin and the team at your bake shop!!!

The last piece of the Puzzle!

I wanted to surprise my niece and nephew with a custom double sided puzzle based on their artwork for an upcoming gallery show themed All Animals Great & Small. 

My niece created "My Bailey" which was to honor the memory of her dog, using colored pencil and watercolor.  My nephew created "The Green Roar" dinosaur using pencil and watercolor. 

To go along with the puzzle I was also able to design a custom box cover.  While the company I ordered the puzzle from www.createjigsawpuzzles.com does have template options available, I wanted the box to feature both pieces of art equally and be my own unique layout to make these more special. 

I based the design on the prominent colors in the kids artwork and found a font that looked playful and fitting for the puzzle theme. 

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I submitted my order with the company - and got great support on the uploading of the large box design files from their customer service team.  A few days later I got the update saying the order had shipped and it was on my doorstep ahead of time.

I was able to give the kids each their own copy of the puzzle for Easter. I was so impressed with the quality of the puzzle.  The pieces are a nice thickness and have a great gloss finish to them.  All of the pieces go together nicely and its really cool to have the two puzzles in one. 

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I had one more puzzle produced so they could donate it into the raffle at the gallery show opening.  I knew they would feel so proud when they see tickets stacking up in their raffle box of folks trying to win their puzzle.

And here they are with the winner, our art guild founder and president, Ed Smith!  Congrats Ed!

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Life In The North Woods

It started out simple enough, come up with some ideas for the next gallery show themed "All Animals Great and Small".  So I did what I know I am supposed to do and began drawing small thumbnails.

Well actually that is not entirely true.  It actually started with planning to make a piece larger than I had done before.  You see I create everything digitally and then print the art onto canvas and my printer has limits on the size of the sheets you can print onto.  But then I found I can actually go longer than the standard sheets, I just had to a buy a roll of the special canvas and cut longer sheets and I could continue producing everything in house


So with that in mind I set the thumbnails to a scale that would allow them to be longer.  I based the measures off of actual artwork I had purchased and have hanging up in my home.  The plan was a 1:3 ratio.   And off I went.  Did I want to make a sloth, like my niece suggested?  Or something with dogs, cause I love them?  All could have been nice but I kept thinking of coming up with a way to include air, land and water animals.  And then I remembered that saying of go with what you know.  And I know about the North Woods from vacationing there over the years since I was a kid.  And that is when I began sketching the simple thumbnail where I could feature an eagle flying, a deer getting a drink, fish in the water and so on.

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Once I had this very rough little thumbnail, and even before I spent time refining the drawing of it I started playing around with color schemes and created a series of color studies.  Ten of them to be exact. I had a favorite or two but thought I would put them up on social media and see what friends/peers had to say. 

And before I knew it I had comments flying in with votes on the favorite color scheme. And some suggestions for making more than one and so on.


When all was said and done the results of the voting turned out like shown below.  Two of the schemed tied for first place with a close third and somewhat close fourth. 

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As I mentioned earlier a few of the comments said I should do multiple versions or maybe even a triptych.  And the more I thought about it, the more I liked that idea.  So at first I expanded this into a series of 3 panels now featuring a doe, fawn and buck.  But the more I looked that this combination of colors the more I realized there needed to be more harmony in them than that.  So instead I used the favorite color in the middle with a slightly darker sky.  The second favorite on the right and the fourth favorite on the right.  And now it looked like Spring, Summer and Fall. 

After that I got to work and started building in various textures, layers of colors and light. 

Until I finally had the three panels completed to my liking shown here:

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Then for fun I compared the original color study thumbnail, the cleaned up color study and the final image to see how true to the colors I remained.  And while there are a few deviations, for the most part I kept them awfully true to plan!

With the art completed it was now time to work on printing each panel onto canvas. For this step I included a two inch border of very dark brown around each panel.  This is what will appear on the sides of the piece once the canvas is wrapped around the stretcher bars.

panels printed and curing for 24 hours

The prints were setup for 10"x30" and once they were done printing, I have to let them dry/cure for 24 hours before I can move onto the next step.  I never like the waiting part but it's important for the longevity of the art later on in its life!

After the 24 hours was up, it was time to varnish them.  They each get 3 coats of varnish that is specifically designed for ink jet inks. 

You need to allow 30 mins between coats and then 2 hours after the final coat.  At which time you need to stretch them onto the canvas.

I use a great stretcher bar system called Simply Elegant, which I order from a company called Atlex. 

After I made pencil lines on the back of the canvas to ensure my artwork would line up on the face of the panel, I follow the steps to wrap them on the bars as shown here.

And then it's time to flip them over for the big reveal!

 The completed set of panels.

The completed set of panels.

After verifying everything looks good.  Then I flip them back over to put on the finishing touches.  The dust cover, hanging wire hardware, rubber bumpers and so on and off to the gallery they went! 

All Animals Great and Small

Opening Reception

Saturday April 14th, 2018 from 6-9pm

The Flower Of Life Art Gallery

1601 S State St, Lockport, Illinois 60441