Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Latest

Wow! It's been a whole week since my last post. Shame on me! In my own defense, I have had a ridiculously busy week.

First of all, I finished a collage commission. I cannot post the picture, because it is a gift. So... The client and recipient will remain anonymous for now. Actually, I probably won't post the collage, unless the client suggests a posting. It's a very personal piece.

I'm also working on a portrait of a dog. This commission is also a gift, so once again, the client and recipient will remain anonymous. With the client's approval, the finish will be posted, though.

I also will be beginning on another commission soon. I need to call the recipient to set up a photo shoot, which is an option for those of you looking for a portrait, but don't feel that you have the right reference photo. I will be taking my own reference photos for this piece, which is exciting.

I still have not heard from the Wildlife Art competition, but that is to be expected. The judging of entries is occurring now. Results will be mailed on August 4. So, I should know how my pieces were judged in the next few weeks! I am keeping my fingers crossed for a positive outcome.

Well, I cannot supply any cool art pictures for you, because all of my current projects are top-secret. However, I have provided visual stimulation above with an adorable photo of my golden retriever, Sunny. Golden retrievers somehow find the cutest napping positions. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hunts Pond Camping Trip

So.... Tom and I decided to go camping this weekend to test out all of the new camping gear that we bought. We took a half day on Friday and drove through the countryside to Hunt's Pond Campground in New Berlin, NY. The directions were pretty complicated and we took a few wrong turns into the countryside. I have to say that I really enjoyed the drive to and from the campground, despite getting lost at times.

The drive to New Berlin was very similar to the area where I grew up, except there were occasional Caution! Horse and Buggy signs for the Menonites in the community. We passed one farm that had about 5 or 6 Amish-style buggies parked near the barn. I loved peaking at the farms as we passed by. Sometimes, a border collie would run toward our car. We even saw a Great Pyranees dog guarding a chicken coop.

We finally got to the campground just before it turned dark. Luckily, I have a very smart husband who bought easy-to-assemble camping gear. It didn't take us long to set up our tent and gear. We even cooked up some delicious hot dogs from the local food co-op. They were a bit pricey, but they tasted like gourmet meat from a special smokehouse. Mmmmm....

Which reminds me, one of my favorite things about camping is the food. We bought lots of special treats. We woke every morning and cooked up local farm eggs and fresh bacon. We snacked on trail mix with peanut M & M's and ate protein bars. For dinner, we ate the yummy hot dogs and canned veggies. For dessert, there were S'mores and toasted marshmallows. Tom has perfected the s'mores building process. He managed to get the chocolate to melt just right.

During the day, we relaxed in a hammock and read some books that we brought along. We probably would have gone swimming, but we were not familiar with the area and the pond that we were camping next to is not safe for swimming. The bathrooms were also quite far and there were no showers. So, we took care of business in the woods. I had forgotten how to pee in the woods. I was completely paranoid that one of the high-schoolers at the next site would travel through the woods and catch me with my jeans down. Scary!

The first night, we couldn't figure out how to get the camp fire to catch. We spent the evening in the dark with a couple of jar candles. We got to the site rather late, so we went to sleep early. I sat in the dark while Tom left to get drinking water. The dogs were so spooked that Sasha lifted her paw to hold my hand. She was shaking. So was I. Hee, hee.

That reminds me. This experience was fun for the dogs. Sasha has a prey drive and spent a good amount of time stalking a chipmunk whose sole mission was to taunt her. She would be sleeping and it would run in front of her like a cartoon character. She would tangle herself in the trees attempting to chase the little critter and he would chatter to her from the tree.

By the second night, Tom had read his camping book and figured out how to feed a camp fire. We had an awesome fire to build s'mores. As the sun went down, we read books, ate snacks, and played some Friends trivia until it was dark. At sundown, we let the fire go out and climbed into our tent. I forgot to bring a pillow, so I propped my soft suitcase up under my sleeping bag. It helped with my comfort level a lot. In the middle of the night, I woke to Sunny vomiting several times in the tent. He had eaten bark scarps off of the ground and it caused him to vomit. He's ok and we cleaned up the mess.

The next morning, we made our farm breakfast and packed up. By 11 am, we had all of our gear loaded in the car. We chatted with the warden before we left and told him that we had a great time. Then, we headed back to Syracuse. I enjoyed the trip back so much. We passed the same farms and the sun was out full force in the sky. The people who lived in the rural towns were out and about doing farm chores and going for walks on the dirt roads. Most people waved when we passed in our car.

Living in the countryside is awesome. The pace is so much slower and people seem so much happier. There are no grouchy jerks in SUVs honking their horns at the farm animals in the road. This trip totally recharged my batteries. When I came back to my house, I felt lighter and more refreshed. Tom and I plan on camping more often. This was an awesome experience!

Monday, July 23, 2007

NY State Wildlife Art Competition Entries

Posted above are the two pieces that I entered in the 2007 NY State Wildlife Art Competition. The competition is held annually and accepted entries are displayed in the Horticulture Building at the NY State Fair. A jury reviews my printed samples of artwork. In two weeks, I should find out if my work was accepted.

Last year, one of my sepia wildlife sketches was accepted into the competition. After seeing my work on display, I learned a couple of lessons... My piece was 8 x 10", so it was barely visible next to the 11x14" and 16 x 20" color paintings surrounding it. This year, I entered larger color drawings. Color will tend to pop more on the wall than a sepia drawing. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the jury approves.

Friday, July 20, 2007

NY State Wildlife Art Competition

This morning, I casually was surfing the internet. I figured that I would check out the NY State Wildlife Art Competition website, since I knew that the entries should be due soon. Since I have been on vacation, I had completely forgotten about the looming deadline.

Low and behold, I discovered that the deadline is....gulp... today. Oh my goodness! I scrambled to fill out the entry forms and fill out mailing envelopes. I glanced over at my printer and... gasp! The printer ink light is blinking! It appears to be out of ink and I do not have any refills. Crap.

I decide to attempt to print anyway. The contest requires a printed entry form and large digital images of your entered work for judging. I don't know how this happened, but the printer managed to print two, 8x10" digital prints on matt paper. The images were clear and not streaked. Yet, the printer preferences still state that the ink is low. Normally, the printer would turn my images blue or another strange color in this state. Thank goodness that things worked out.

I ended up sealing my entry and rushing to the UPS in my back yard. I cannot even begin to tell you what a lifesaver it is to have a UPS store within walking distance of your yard. Of course, we were out of stamps in our home, so the UPS trip was a necessity. When I got to the store, the clerk commented on my handwriting. She thought it was a font. Ha! I get that a lot. I had a very thorough second grade teacher who expected perfection in handwriting. Always the overachiever, I delivered with penmanship that looks like type.

I had ended up using a return envelope that was pre-paid for another contest. I had never used the pre-paid envelope. When I paid for my current mailing, I realized that the price of postage has increased. Unfortunately, my package was sealed, so it was too late to fix the postage on the return envelope. I am keeping my fingers crossed and am praying that the return envelope will make it back safely. I will have to email the contest director just to make sure. I am praying that the package will return with two big acceptances!

More Progress on the Cat In A Box

I've been working slowly but surely on the "Cat In A Box" portrait. Right now, I'm refining the details in the background. More detail has been added to the wood floor and the cardboard shipping box. So far... I am pleased.

I've been working on a collage commission, which I cannot post (it is a gift) and am still trying to organize my house and catch up with business. Next week, I plan on posting even more progress on the "Cat In A Box".

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On The Drawing Board - Cat In A Box

Yes! I have finally posted actual artwork. The piece above is called "Cat In A Box", because... well... it's the wittiest title that I can come up with at the moment. The kitty is named Kiwi and belongs to my in-laws. She is a silver tabby and the reference photo was taken when she decided that a mailing box looked like a comfortable location for scoping out the kitchen.

The drawing is rendered in pastels and right now is in the beginning stages. I am laying down the "undercoat" of color. Things won't begin to look realistic until I can add more dark and light values. At least, I am keeping my fingers crossed that things will look realistic. You never can tell what will happen with a drawing until you jump in.

It's been a few weeks since I have worked on pastels. This piece is a fun piece for me to get my feet wet with. I'll post my progress as the piece comes along...

Updates Coming Soon! In The Meantime... News.

Sasha in PA. She is such a beacon of light : )

Lately, I think my golden retriever has one facial expression... tired. The poor guy is older and hasn't been doing so well health-wise, so I can't blame him at all.

I didn't want to neglect my blog, so I thought I would inform everyone that there will be updates on projects soon! Since the pet expo, I have been busy with upcoming projects and attempting to get my house into a semi-clean state. Between travel and vacation, my house looks like a filthy swamp. Rest assured, it is starting to look better.

I'm also working on a collage project. I haven't collaged in years but have always found it therapeutic. When I was in the SU Illustration program, most of my work was actually in collage. What happened? Why did I give up on collage? I'm not sure. I think I felt like I neglected my painting skills in school and wanted to fine-tune my drawing and painting abilities. I had a nagging obsession to draw photo-realistically. I channeled my obsession into my livelihood and can finally say that I am happy in my job. Yeay!

To get back on topic, a relative has asked me to help with a collage project and I jumped at the chance. I had begun scrap-booking over the past few weeks and was filling a photo album with collages of friends and animals who have meant a lot to me. This project is perfect for my obsessive collage hobby. I am seriously considering adding collage as a permanent portrait option. I work digitally and by hand. So... The reason why you haven't heard form me in a few days is because I have been gathering collaging materials. Most are buried in my attic.

I also am going to begin a portrait of a silver tabby. It's on my studio desk, I just need to start drawing. Once I finish the drawing, I will post an "On The Easel" picture to give a preview of the work to come. Gosh, it's been ages since I've posted new work. I really need to start working on new drawings.

There's more to come and I promise that I will post pictures! In the meantime, I have posted pics of my dogs in Pennsylvania. I was in Pennsylvania, visiting my in-laws last week.

: )


Monday, July 16, 2007

Pet Expo Recap

What a weekend! Saturday, I ran a promotional booth at the NatureTyme Dog Days of Summer Pet Expo. I couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. After a week of intense heat and humidity, it was refreshing to sit under a tent with mild temperatures and a cool breeze. We even managed to escape a rain shower!

The pet expo was held from 10 am to 3 pm. I kept my booth very simple. I set up framed samples of black and white, sepia, and color portraits. One of my portraits was laying flat on the table. The frames were quite heavy and were toppling over in the wind. I didn't want to risk breaking the frame by standing it up. I also provided plenty of business cards and brochures.

I received a lot of friendly visitors and provided a sign-up sheet for my mailing list. Most of my visitors were of the canine variety. I was in dog heaven, seeing as many different breeds as an AKC dog show. Of course, there were several golden retrievers visiting my booth (and reducing me to a gushing mush).

This reminds me, if any of my blog readers would like to sign up for my mailing list, please feel free to send me an email at mia@goldenillustrations.com. It doesn't need to be elaborate. You can just say that you want to sign up for the mailing list. I do not share your information with third parties. The purpose of the mailing list is to provide email notification of upcoming shows, news, and discounts. I haven't run many sales in the past, but this year I will be running seasonal promotions. There will be a discount for people who order their Christmas commissions early.

Speaking of discounts, any person who attended the Pet Expo will receive a 20 percent discount on a commissioned portrait. This is my way of saying thank you for visiting my booth. Nature Tyme employees will also receive a discount. The Nature Tyme employees were kind and very helpful throughout the event. I encourage anyone in the Syracuse area to visit the store. The staff helped me set up my booth and checked to make sure everything was running smoothly. They are very professional and carry top holistic products.

I've posted a picture of my booth above. It was a simple set-up, but it allowed me to interact freely with visitors. To everyone who attended, thank you for supporting local holistic pet businesses. I hope to work with you soon! To the NatureTyme employees, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.

: )


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pet Expo

Wow. It's been a while. I don't have a decent excuse as to why I haven't blogged in weeks. I was hit with nasty spell of illness. I'm still recovering.

Enough of my horrible excuses, though. Back to business. This Saturday, Nature Tyme in Syracuse is holding their annual Dog Days of Summer Pet Expo. The expo runs from 10 am to 3 pm at the Nature Tyme store in Syracuse. It will be outdoors with a tent. Bring your pets and say hello. I will have a table with some brochures, business cards, and samples of my work. All attendees that commission a piece will receive a 20 percent discount. Nature Tyme employees will also receive a discount.

Also, I mentioned above that I will be bringing printed promotional materials. I finally splurged and had professional business cards and brochures printed. I am quite happy with the end result. For the past few years, I have printed my own promotional materials and always felt that they were missing a professional polish. I still designed the cards and brochures, but now I don't have to be conservative with colors, ink, or the amount printed. Yeay!

I promise to blog more frequently over the next few weeks. I plan on throwing myself back into my artwork full force. Hopefully, I will have some adorable animals to draw from the pet expo!