Friday, June 29, 2012

The Best of Friday Features: Kara Bigda

Friday Feature: Kara Bigda

Hi Everyone,
I'm in the middle of a move so I'm re-running some of my favorite Friday Features.  
If you're interested in being a Friday Feature this Fall contact me
This week I'm featuring Kara Bigda.  As soon as I saw her work I loved it immediately.  Each piece has such a great aesthetic.  She has a wonderful eye for composition.  They also have a lovely, inviting, homey feel.

To see more of Kara's work check out her blog and website.  

"A Vintage Bulb" 8.25" x 10"  original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

For as long as I can remember I always loved to draw and create: spending hours drawing scenes described in the books I was reading, and making books and “fashion catalogs” using Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics as my models.  (I would trace their bodies and design new outfits for them and describe the clothing in the margins.  How goofy is that?)   Also I had a great uncle who was a cartoonist and when we’d visit him he’d give me “art lessons.”  He was fabulous at drawing the figure.  As I mainly focus on still life today, let’s just say I wasn’t his most successful student . . . but he was a dear man.

As far as my journey is concerned, I took Art all through high school, attended a small liberal arts college here in the Northeast (Amherst College) and majored in Fine Arts.  I was sidetracked for a few years after graduation working in the insurance industry and came back to art through teaching.  I earned my Master’s degree in education and for ten years taught art, beginning in the elementary schools, moving up to middle school for a few years and finally ending up at the high school level.  I loved teaching each grade but found high school the most inspiring.  More and more I found myself wanting to do the lessons I was teaching and so in 2008, with the support of my husband, decided to resign from teaching and focus on my own art.

Where were you born? 

Holden, Massachusetts.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

I’m kind of simple . . . I really LOVE where I live now.  I’m sure there are more beautiful places where I would be very happy as well.  I have to say I love New England so anyplace where it’s VERY rural (but with a grocery store and shopping not too far away), there are beautiful old homes, lots of land (would love a pond on the property), and nearby family of course, I could be happy.  Think “Orchard House” from Little Women and the farm from “The Bridges of Madison County” with the sound of the screen door closing, from the “Waltons” all rolled into one somehow.

"Pomegranate Tea" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I love the still life.  I like the challenge of creating dynamic compositions and playing with the space.  I’ve also always had a thing for design and I LOVE patterns and textures.  I love trying to capture the various surfaces in my subjects.

"Pumpkin Shadows" 9.75"x9.75" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint?  Which was the most difficult? 

This is a funny question to me.  All of my paintings are enjoyable to paint – especially at the beginning, but I still always feel as if it’s a crapshoot whether a painting will come together for me in the end. (I must admit there are a lot that I scrap or put off until a later date).  However, I’m going to answer “Pumpkin Shadows” because I tried this painting numerous times (beginning last Fall) and kept failing.  The experience of a year provided me with the skills to finally make it work.  So I guess I could say this was the most enjoyable one to paint while the most difficult.
"American Pride" 10"x11" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Oh geez . . . so many.  It’s like eating a potato chip – you can’t have just ONE!  Norman Rockwell has always been a favorite – Andrew Wyeth of course and Edward Hopper.  I was just turned on to T. Allen Lawson’s work as well.  I’ve also always been inspired by Vermeer, Jan van Eyck – and some of those other Dutch and Flemish painters – just amazing.  In addition I am constantly inspired and humbled by so many contemporary artists (those of whom I’d have never even known about, yet thanks to the internet I do now.)  However my biggest inspiration may be my former students, fellow art teachers and department head.  I can’t even explain how inspiring they were and continue to be to me – opening my eyes to the extraordinary – pushing me out of my comfort zone – inspiring me to do what I love.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

Painting as close to every day as I can is very important to me.  I can’t stress how essential that is to improving one’s skills.  (Personally, it also keeps me sane – well, as close to sane as I’ll ever be!)  J  Also, the computer/internet has been imperative to my “success.”  Blogging and Daily Paintworks has completely changed my life – I’m laughing at that – it sounds so dramatic, but it’s true.  And because I arrange my still lifes, photograph them, then compose them with the help of Photoshop, also goofing with filters to better see temperature and value, I have to include my digital camera and Photoshop.

"Ma's Chair" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigdga
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

I have just discovered New Gamboge through a class I’m taking.  LOVE IT!  It’s a great yellow.  I have found limiting my palette works best for me; otherwise I start getting muddy and all messed up!  Cobalt Blue and Alizarin Crimson are definite go-to’s.  Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna are pretty important to me as well.

Do you ever get artist’s block?  And what do you do to overcome it?

Yes, definitely. (when don’t I get it!?  --Ha!)  I just keep painting.  I used to tell my students – there are only so many yucky paintings/drawings you have in you so you might as well keep working to get them out of your system so you can get to the good stuff.  (I don’t know if that’s true, but it seems to work!)  :)

"Glass Apple" 9"x11" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years?  Dream big here.

Hmm . . . I’m really very content (or totally limited) so I’m not sure.  Let’s see:

1)      Get gallery representation (I think)
2)      Re-do the kitchen and upstairs bathroom (not art related and totally do-able, but would LOVE this!)
3)      Become financially independent with my art (thank heavens for my husband!)
4)      Would love to see Italy, Ireland and Spain
5)      Have my own private jet with an amazing pilot of course.  :)   This is related to #4 – I HATE public transportation, particularly air travel, so this would be my biggest dream ever.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

- Paint every day if you can. 
- Don’t ignore composition – I think this is probably the most important step because even if you have mad skills a horrible arrangement of the space won’t draw viewers to your work and your skills will be overlooked. 
- Get online – research other artists (so inspiring!).  Start a blog (it’s free and I’m tellin’ ya’ this has been such a wonderful experience for me, so encouraging thanks to all the wonderful people out there J -- and thank you Carrie!) 
- Take some classes if you can – learn to mat your own work (and even frame – such a great skill).  Learn Photoshop (you can design your own promotional materials and save oodles of $). 
- Invest carefully – KNOW what you are spending and what you are bringing in. – break it down and keep track.  You may not be making money for a while, that’s ok (if you can afford it of course) we all love our supplies and have to initially invest, but know that. 
- Join an art group if you can; connect with other artists, and enter some shows, get your name and your work out there.  (Daily Paintworks has really been amazing for me.)
- Finally, be patient – have goals but don’t expect too much.  It’s work, but I think it’s really fun and it can be soooo rewarding.

"Blueberries IV" 10"x10"original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

This really struck me recently:  I think artist Carol Marine once blogged something like “it doesn’t matter the color, but you have to get the VALUE right” – LIFE CHANGING moment for me – la, la-laaaaa! J

"Morning Tea" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda

Chocolate or vanilla? 
Chocolate (with jimmies on a sugar cone – both literally and figuratively) 

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat

Book or movie?

Favorite author?
Jane Austen

Favorite Movie?
“The Way We Were” (kills me every time!  Hubble Gardner – ooh la la!);  “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (close second – is Audrey Hepburn the most elegant woman or what?); “You’ve Got Mail” (can’t ever change the channel when this is on); and “That Touch of Mink” (oh Cary Grant, need I say more?  And Doris Day – want to be her and wear those clothes!)  (sorry for babbling, I know the question was in the singular)

Romance or comedy?
Despite some of my previous answers -- Romantic comedy

Favorite ice cream flavor?
“Cookies and Cream” or “Moosetracks”

Night owl or morning person?
Night owl by nature – but working on becoming a morning person

Cake or Cupcakes?

Thank you so much, Kara:))

Also I have a HOLIDAY SALE right now, click here.

Have a fabulous weekend:))


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Best of Friday Features: Carol Carter

Friday Feature: Carol Carter

"Self" 2011 original watercolor by Carol Carter
Hello Everyone,

This Summer I'm re-running some of my favorite Friday Features.  Carol Carter is definitely in this category.  Not only am I in love with her work, but since doing this interview I've had the opportunity to meet her and she is the real deal.  This lady is amazing and a one of a kind.
Today I'm featuring Carol Carter.  I can not tell you how excited I was when Carol agreed to an interview.  When I decided to start my blog 2 yrs ago and start painting seriously I really had been out of the art world for a long time and did not know any of the artists out there today.  When I did searches for watercolor artists Carol Carter was one of first to absolutely make me drop my jaw.  Her work is bold, colorful and fresh.  I fell in love immediately and have been following her career since.  She has been in many magazines and has gained international acclaim.  Not only is she a phenomenal artist but so kind and generous.  Any time I have reached out with a question she has always enthusiastically answered. 

To check out more of her work visit her website and blog.
How did you get your start?

I began painting as a child. It was the only way I would get approval or acceptance. It was a way
for me to feel gratified.
"Burst" 30 x 40 original watercolor by Carol Carter
What’s your artist journey so far?

I went to college to earn a BA with a major in painting. After I graduated -- I just expected that I
would be an artist. It was in the late 70’s... and everything seemed possible! Of course, it was
harder to do this than expected.
I went back to school and earned an MFA from Washington University. There I learned how to
manage an art career, as well as how to think about art on a different level. It was an expanding
experience for me.
After graduate school-- I became a more serious artist -- having exhibitions and doing commissions
and earning a living in various degrees of success.
Motherhood became part of my experience in my 30’s. I felt it was more important to be ‘a good
mom’ than successful artist... so I relegated my art to a secondary career.
Now that my son is grown -- I have way more time to invest in my career. I have made a
commitment to grow my career and exposure via the internet and social media.
I have also made a bigger commitment to do more workshops to bring in income.
I feel that I have the artistic credibility of a mid career artist now.
I am teaching workshops nationally and internationally, published in magazines, and beginning to
share my work outside of the United States on a regular basis.

Where were you born?

Sumter South Carolina

"Italy 61" original acrylic by Carol Carter
"Italy 55" original acrylic by Carol Carter

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

I would probably live in Europe- because it feels so accepting of the arts. I love it there. I enjoyed
France and Italy immensely.

"Feel the Heat" 40 x 30 original watercolor by Carol Carter
What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I love painting the swimmer and pool because it is a metaphor for life and the human condition. I
love figurative work. I also love the floral.

Could you talk about your painting techniques? I know you paint on the floor and like humid

I paint watercolor on the floor-- flat- so the paint can puddle and blossom. I use the organic
watermarks or blossoms to be an important element in my work. The humidity in the air is
important -- because it allows the larger washes of watercolor to dry slowly and carefully -- with
brilliance and color. The longer the paint stays moist -- the more time one has to manipulate it.
I also love to paint acrylic-- and do that vertically on the wall. I paint using glazes and varnishes.
People frequently can’t tell that the paintings are acrylic-- and often confuse them with my

"Slough" original watercolor by Carol Carter
Do you mostly work wet into wet?

I work wet into wet- but only in a controlled area of the paper. I work sectionally-- only wetting the
area which I will manipulate that moment. I never wet the whole paper at once.
I love the blooms and gorgeous color combinations; you really seem to love to play with your paint,
how did you arrive at your current style?
I don’t know when this current style of painting began-- but it seemed to appear after graduate
school. I suppose this working method ‘found me’ after two years of intense work in content,
criticism, and art history. I became the watercolorist that I am today-- shortly after graduation.

Do you have a favorite artist?

I love Eric Fischl and Joseph Raffael. Also Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Pendergast...
Van Gogh... so many!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My son. Motherhood has taught me so much about life, love, art, humanity. I often said when he
was little... “ Evan took away my time to paint....but gave me my reason to paint.” He has been my
biggest source of inspiration ever.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an

Contact with the people who enjoy my work -- either in person, at a show, in the studio, in the
classroom, or via the web.
I wouldn’t like to paint very much-- unless I could relate to my audience. I love hearing/talking
with other’s about art.
Good light - day light --north light.
Good music in studio.
Time to work.
Good and plentiful art supplies.
Harmony in the home.

"State Fair Pig" original watercolor by Carol Carter
 Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

Watercolor: Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Cobalt Turquoise, Aureolin
Acrylic: Titanium White, Baltic Blue, Naples Yellow, Quinacridone Gold.

How do you balance your teaching life with your art career?

It used to be hard -- but not it is easy -- because my son is grown.
However, when he was small -- I used to paint ONLY during the school day -- and not beyond. I
would spend more time with him and his needs than on my art. I would say it is a challenge to have
a family AND an art career... but it is possible!
For the last two years I taught watercolor/painting at a local university. It seemed like I had NO
time to manage my career in the studio. I loved teaching this intensely ... but it didn’t leave me
enough time to paint.
Now I only teach workshops -- and I am trying to teach one a month -- so that it allows for studio
time. So far.... it is working.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

Travel/teach in Italy.
Travel/teach in India.
Trip to China to see the Silk Road and develop a show on this imagery.
A museum exhibition.
An exhibition in NYC.

"Glads" 22 x 30 original watercolor by Carol Carter
"Lanterns" 30 x 40 original watercolor by Carol Carter
 What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
Paint as much as you can.

Paint only what you want to paint-- don’t paint for an audience.
Learn everything about art-- framing, marketing, business, photography.
You will have to do it ALL in your career-- so learn everything it takes.
Show everywhere. No show is too small. There are no “small shows”.... only “small artists.”
You never know what the exposure will bring to you -- when your work is outside the studio.
Paint everyday.
"Afternoon Shadows" 11 x15 original watercolor by Carol Carter
 What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Show up to the studio 6 days a week to work and paint. On Sunday -- go to the studio to look at
your work.
Paint every day.
Your work doesn’t improve from painting-to-painting... it grows from year-to-year.


Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate!

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat? Beach!

Book or movie? Movie!

Favorite author? David Sideris

Favorite movie? Titanic

Romance or comedy? Romance!

Favorite ice cream flavor? Butter Pecan!

Night owl or morning person? Morning!

Cake or Cupcakes? Cupcakes!

Thank you so much Carol!!  That was a phenomenal interview and I can't wait to meet you in the future:)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FASO Featured Artist

Hi Everyone,
"Great Balls of Fire" watercolor on paper 6x6 Sold
Thought I would share with you that Fine Art Studio Online has me as their featured artist.  How cool is that!!!  I guess I better get my rear in gear and get back to painting now that I'm seeing the light of day since we're about 90 percent of the way unpacked and settled.

Art critic Brian Sherwin had this to say about my work:  on Carrie Waller's watercolor paintings, stating, "Waller's attention to detail is remarkable. This level of realism is extremely difficult to achieve in watercolor." Sherwin added, "I've known artists who have explored watercolor for decades -- many will tell you that watercolor is one of the hardest forms of painting to master. This level of skill is rare."


Friday, June 15, 2012

The Best of Friday Features, Suzanne Berry

Friday Feature: Suzanne Berry

Self-Portrait 10 x 10 by Suzanne Berry
Hi Everyone,

 I'm in the thick of moving this Summer, so I thought I would share some of my favorite Friday Features. 

If you're interested in being a Friday Feature this Fall please e-mail,

It's time for another edition of Friday Feature.  This week I'm proud to feature Suzanne Berry.  I came across Suzanne Berry through this wonderful blogging world!  I think I was first mesmerized by her bug paintings and have since become one of her biggest fans.  Her works are amazing!!  The amount of detail, color, light, and emotion that she is able to capture on he canvas leaves me awe struck every time I see one of her masterpieces.  Aside from her mad talents she is also very real and raw with her blog posts.  She shares with us her ups and downs.  I find everything about Suz inspirational and am thrilled to call her a friend.

To see more of her works check out her blog and website.  She is offering a fabulous sale right now, you don't want to miss it.

"Betrayal" 20 x 20 oil by Suzanne Berry
How did you get your start? What’s your artist journey so far?

If by “start,” you mean painting full time for a living – in November of 2004, my long term job as a graphic
designer at the Long Island newspaper Newsday was eliminated, and we decided that I should give it a try. I was terrified, but thought if I began with specific niche commissions – pet portraits in this case – I would hopefully ensure some income and hone my skills at the same time. My very first day in my little make shift studio was nauseatingly terrifying. I’ll never forget that feeling. To that point I had had only a single burst of creativity a few years prior, but really hadn’t created art on a regular basis for more than fifteen years (and decidedly not in oils, which incidentally terrified me). However, as time went on, I found that my experience as a graphic designer really helped my concepts and compositions.

"Give I'm An Inch" 36 x 12 oil by Suzanne Berry
The other “start” was at my mom’s kitchen table when I was about 8 years old. My brother, father and I had a block lettering contest, and I won! After that I just began drawing all the time – because I recognized it was
something I could do and it felt good!  My journey so far has been satisfying, frightening, anxiety-ridden and joyful. Most especially right now. It’s a complete and absolute gift that I get to do this everyday, no matter how much I whine about it.  For the first time in my artistic life, I’m painting. Interpreting with emotion. Not rendering subject matter as accurately as possible. And it feels wonderful. The freedom to not have to match EXACTLY what I’m looking at is a hard won, lengthy process that I’m still working through. Also, I’m not going in thinking, “I want this to look like so and so’s work.” I’m finding a voice and a style of my own, but realizing as I progress, that those things will only evolve authentically if I continue working consistently. You really can’t sit down and decide on a style, at least I can’t.

Where were you born?

I was born in Mineola, Long Island, New York, and grew up in Westbury. I’ve lived on Long Island all my life.

"Lady In Red Too" oil  24 x 36
 If you could live anywhere where would you live?

In a sprawling farmhouse with a huge, well lit, stone wall studio in Ireland, about half an hour outside of Dublin.
Clearly, I’ve been giving this some thought.

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I’m just fascinated by the planes and structure of the human face. I find myself painting in my head while talking to people, noticing the warm shadows and where and when they turn into cool ones, light and shadow playing on the features, the distance between the eyes, etc. My husband, Tim – better known as “himself ” to my blog followers– is an artist as well, and even while watching TV we’re always de constructing faces and commenting on structure. This also includes figurative work.

"Waiting" 24 x 36 oil on canvas by Suzanne Berry
 Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint? Which was the most difficult?

Wow, that’s a difficult question. I’ve had a recent sudden burst of creativity, and I think to date, I’ve enjoyed
painting “Waiting” the most at this point. The reference I used was from a site called “A Day Not Wasted,” and I just fell in love with the photo. I’m my own worst enemy – very critical and insecure – so when I actually like a painting I’ve done, it’s a treat!  And, speaking of working from photos, I believe I’ve finally let go of my ongoing “from life or from photography”debate. Everyone does what works best for them and if I need to defend working primarily from photographs, then I shouldn’t be doing it should I?  On the other hand, the most difficult was my very first commissioned portrait done in my twenties. A co-worker asked me to paint his wife. The reference photo was not flattering, and not knowing any better at the time, I painted EXACTLY what I saw. Bad idea.  He brought it back to me saying he thought it was best, so as to “keep her from putting her foot through it!”
Ouch! Valuable lesson there.

Do you have a favorite artist? Who has been your biggest inspiration?

It’s a tie between John Singer Sargent and Nicolia Fechin. I think Sargent has been the most influential throughout my life, although I don’t believe my work reflects that at all. It’s funny, I’ve been playing guitar off and on for years, and I find that the same thing happens. I’m influenced by very specific musicians, but what comes out doesn’t reflect them at all, which is both frustrating and gratifying at the same time.
Going back to Sargent, I used to spend hours at a time just analyzing his strokes. I read that he would stand and study the subject for great lengths of time and then suddenly rush to the canvas and capture a shadow, highlight or mid tone perfectly with one stroke. I think besides exceptional skill, artists on his level have infinite patience and drive.

"The Exhibit" oil 24 x 36 by Suzanne Berry
 What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

Actually, Tim is not only one of my favorite things, but I also consider him to be crucial to my sense of well being and success as an artist. Artistically and musically, he’s attracted to what challenges him, what makes him feel uncomfortable. I tend to find a comfortable place and want to stay there. He challenges my safeness, opens my mind up to a lot that I would normally not be drawn to. I’m excited about growing as an artist now where I used to be concerned with just painting the next pretty piece as realistically as I could. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all, I’m still doing that because I like it, but now there are other roads open to me. I’m very stubborn and don’t like change, so it takes me a while to come around and see what he’s saying, but it provides a lot of fertile ground for growth, not to mention some very extensive, interesting and sometimes heated conversations.

Do you ever get artist’s block? And what do you do to overcome it?

I get blocked almost after every micro-burst of creativity. Without fail, if I’ve done one or two paintings in a row that I am satisfied with, an unsolicited period of adjustment inevitably shows up. I call it the Dread Mahockiss.  Boom! Suddenly the brush feels like an alien in my hand, the paint greets the canvas as if they’ve never met before, the voice keeps repeating I’m a fraud and I’m overcome with a sense of complete and utter failure. I get nauseous and my entire self concept comes into question. Sounds dramatic and it my head. I’m beginning to understand those periods more lately and am realizing that the phone call is coming from inside the house. It takes just a short objective listen to the voice to realize it’s just a way of retreating, going back in, maybe recharging the batteries. It would be nice if I could find a less dramatic and less painful way to do that though wouldn’t it?  I also spend a lot of time online visiting my favorite artist’s sites and blogs and looking for new ones. This online artist community is incredibly supportive and inspirational. It is so gratifying to connect with someone you’ve never physically met and find that you can discuss fear, exposure, criticism and the like on the common ground of being artists.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

1. I’d like to be successful enough with my art to allow Tim to leave the corporate creative desert and work on following his dream, to give back the gift he’s given me.

2. I’d like to be successful, whether that means internally or externally. Clearly I’d like to keep a nice roof over my head so there’s that but I’d love to, at some point, enjoy working and enjoy my work on a consistent basis, no matter what I produce.

3. I’d like to be painting really large canvases! I’m talkin’ over 6 feet.

4. I’d like to be playing music with Tim, his brother Conor and a real drummer—instead of skippy the drum machine—to a live audience. Nothing big, something small and intimate. Just jamming and enjoying the moment.  Tim is also an incredible cook. A big dream of ours is to own a funky little place somewhere equally funky, with our art on the walls for sale, incredible meals created by Tim on the tables and jam on a small stage while folks enjoy their vittles.

5. I’d like to have peace of mind on a consistent basis, no matter what is going on around me. I would like to
say, see a peaceful world but clearly, we’re not really good at that as a race so, I figure if I can achieve peace on a smaller level it might affect the whole in some way. And I’m a firm believer that we experience outside what we’re feeling inside, so I’m goin’ for some peace of mind. I’m pretty much done with self-created chaos and drama... at least for the moment that is.. I’m a tad emotional, so I’m working on it.

"Allie" oil 12 x 12 by Suzanne Berry
What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Listen to your inner voice because I believe it’s really the only one that knows what’s best for you. You might
make some mistakes and go in the opposite direction that you’d like to but it’s all part of the journey. I’m still very much on that journey and for the first time in my life I’m enjoying the accommodations. Oh and try to be supportive of yourself, something I’m just beginning to work on. And realize that if something someone says about your work upsets you, look at it, square in the face and have an honest dialog with yourself about it. I’m finding that if my buttons are pushed, I need to examine the buttons, not the one pushing them.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Just shut up and paint!

"Cheek to Cheek" oil 16 x 20 by Suzanne Berry

Chocolate or vanilla?

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat?
Somewhere in the middle so I can access both easily.

Book or movie?
Both, depends on the mood.

Favorite author?
Hard to say. I really enjoy well written biographies. I’m fascinated by what makes people I admire tick... artists,
political figures, musicians.

Favorite movie?
Right now it’s The Hangover, the first one. If it’s on cable we’ll watch it wherever we come in. There are so many.
Raising Arizona, Fight Club, LA Confidential.

Romance or comedy?

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Night owl or morning person?

Cake or Cupcakes?
Cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop online. Visit. I’ll say no more.

Hope you enjoyed the interview!  Big Thank You to Suzanne:) 

See you Monday,

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Best of Friday Features

Friday Feature: Alvin Richard 

 Hi Everyone,
Alvin Richard 
 In 1997 NBC had a Summer campaign "If you haven't seen it before, it's new to you", ha.  It was pretty lame, but I still remember it so  I guess it wasn't so lame:)  Anyway I'm taking a page out of NBC's book and running my Best of Friday Feature series this Summer.  So "If you haven't seen them before, they're new to you" :) 

I'm moving this Summer and I'm sure knee deep in boxes to unpack, so enjoy these great interviews and if you're interested in being featured in the Fall please contact me at
This week I'm featuring Alvin Richard.  I found Alvin's work through surfing blogland and it was love at first site.  I find Alvin's work so inspirational.  I love how each composition very thoughtfully tells a story.  I think the first painting I ever saw of Alvin's was 'Sheriff Woody & Crayolas'.  His blog post had me in tears by the end of reading it.  When I found out that Alvin's work was going to be at a gallery in Atlanta I made the 3 hour trek and saw his work in person, it is amazing!  I think this man's work is genius and he inspires me to be a better artist on a daily basis.

To see more of his work check out his blog
'Sheriff Woody & Crayolas' by Alvin Richard 10 x 12

How did you get your start?   

I started out like most artists, drawing from an early age. In school, I only had art classes in grade 2 and 3. I rarely drew just for fun. There was always some kind of class project that required illustrations, birthday cards to do for students of our next door neighbor who was an elementary school teacher. I entered many contests, most of which I won or received a prize. I however stopped drawing after completing High School. I went on to nursing school and became a registered nurse at age 20. Soon after graduating, I purchase my first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera and started doing amateur photography.

At age 24, I took a 30 hour perspective drawing class. My first Christmas as a married man, my wife Suzanne surprised me with a set of watercolors. The only paint I had ever used until then was gouache (tempura) and oils from ‘’Paint by number’’ kits. I quickly found out that I had an immediate rapport and understanding of transparencies and soon after started painting with acrylic paint. I am completely self-taught as a painter. I’ve always viewed my artwork as an extension from doing photography. This is probably why I gravitated towards realism and hyperrealism. I was never exposed to fine art as a child. I discovered art in my early twenties. When I started to travel, I took every opportunity I had to visit art museums and galleries. I’ve had the good fortune to go to Europe six times and travel extensively across Canada and the United States. In the process, I’ve viewed some of the most celebrated paintings and artists in the world.

My talent was probably passed on by my father. He was a brilliant craftsman, could practically build anything and had a very creative outlook. I had an uncle to who did Folk Art and a great uncle, Leonard Richards who painted frescos in churches in Massachusetts.
'Pops on Pop Art'  acrylic by Alvin Richard 12 x 16

What’s your artist journey so far?

From the get go, I did not really wanted to become a Sunday painter. I had loftier goals. I knew that if one day I was going to have anything the resembled an artistic career, that I would have to invest a lot of time and effort.  In the process, I found my way and own voice in order to say what I wanted to say with my art. It’s been a long journey, one of self discovery, 24 years in the making. I sometimes have to pinch myself, to do a reality check by how far I’ve actually evolved technically and with opportunities that are currently being offered to me. This leads me to believe that I’m on the right path.

Where were you born?

 I was born is a small rural community hospital in Rexton, New Brunswick Canada. It is now a historical museum. I grew up in Cap-Lumière, NB, a small fishing community along the Northumberland Strait.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

 Probably a large city like Vancouver,  Manhattan/ Brooklyn, Chicago, Paris or London, in a nice downtown loft apartment with great views, a large studio, with nearby parks and green spaces….a guy can dream right!
'A Cat and a Fish Tale' acrylic by Alvin Richard 8 x 10

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

 Still life that explores popular and mass culture. It’s quite evident that I like to paint glass, metals, reflective surfaces because they have a WOW factor. But that becomes secondary. I’m more interested in the conceptual aspect of creating the imagery. You can paint a pretty picture and have nothing there. It all has to gel together somehow for me; I need to feel an inner connection with the subject matter.

Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint?

A painting entitled Buoy-O-Buoy, 2004. These buoys used in this painting are to locate lobster traps. They had been painted with glossy marine paint. Some had peeling paint, paint running, lots of texture, and lots of colors…. It was dedicated to my father who was a lobster fisherman for a great part of his life.

Which was the most difficult?

 I would have to say an early painting entitled At the clothesline, done in 1990. It was during this painting that I stopped mixing white with colors and started to paint in transparencies. It took me nine months to complete, and the starting point of what was to follow. A more recent painting would be Sparkling Treasures which was a commission work.  With a piece like this, you really have to learn to see it properly, break down the imagery and rebuilt it in your head. My hand is only holding the brush; it’s the brain that actually does all the work.

Do you have a favorite artist?  /

When I started to paint, it was Alex Colville, later Mary Pratt. These are the two artists that had the most impact on my work. They are both celebrated Canadian artists.  They have a link together as teacher/student at the Fine Art program of Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Who has been your biggest inspiration? Lloyd Fitzgerald, another New Brunswick artist from whom I learn to paint in transparencies from an 11 page letter he sent me. He would become a mentor to me for a decade (1989-2000). We corresponded through letters. I actually only met he once. There are a lot of artists around the world which I admire greatly, but with these three, I share a closer sensibility of regional ideals. 
'Empty Coke Bottles' acrylic by Alvin Richard 11 x 14

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

 To remain curious. To always seek out for answers. To investigate what I am painting and to establish a deeper connection with the subject matter. What I find most fulfilling is the conceptual aspect and what I learn during the journey getting there.

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

 I have a weakness for the primary colors; I’ve been painting with Liquitex Acrylic paint since Day 1.
'Sally Blowing Bubbles' acrylic by Alvin Richard 10 x 12

Do you ever get artist’s block?

I do, especially if I am away from the brushes for too long. And what do you do to overcome it? I consult my therapist……JUST KIDDING! ……I just follow the advice of the Nike ad……JUST DO IT!

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

1-      Retire from my full-time job in 2017 and paint full-time.
2-      Revisit parts of Europe again, especially Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
3-      After a 10 year hiatus, to run my 23rd marathon.
4-      To move into a loft studio that has beautiful windows with great natural lighting, two drawing tables, lots of shelf space for props, art books.
5-      To have my artwork included in a major Hyperrealism touring exhibition and acquired by a major art museum……sorry but you did say  ‘’ DREAM BIG’’.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Make short and long term goals.  When opportunity knocks on your door, make sure you’re someone’s at home...….so practice, practice, practice. Submit your artwork in juried shows. Don’t get discourage when a submission is rejected (I have a large pile in a box under my desk).

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

If you stick with it, it will all come to you in time – Lloyd Fitzgerald

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, hands down!

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat? Sunny beach, since our house growing up faced the sea. I love the sound of crashing waves.

Book or movie? I love to read but I don’t have enough time . The weeks prior to the Oscars, I become a movie buff and try to see all of the major nominees….especially best film, actors, actress and screenplays. 

Favorite author? Living – J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood / Dead- Carol Shields

Favorite movie? Field of Dreams

Romance or comedy? Romantic comedies, but I prefer drama.

Favorite ice cream flavor? President Choice- Candy Cane Chocolate Fudge Crackle Ice Cream, only available during the Holidays…….pity!

Night owl or morning person? Night Owl

Cakes of cupcakes? Cakes

 Alvin, thank you so much for your interview.  Congratulations on your recent accomplishment of painting your 200th original work.  Can't wait to see the next 200:)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Anticipation 6 x 8 and The Big Move

Hi Everyone,
"Anticipation" 6 x 8 original watercolor on paper by Carrie Waller
I want to start off by thanking each of you for continuing to follow my blog and leave your fabulous comments.  I love, love, love reading them:)  I promise as soon as I'm a little more settled I will be able to correspond with you!  I realize how much time it takes to comment and surf blogs so I greatly appreciate your time, support and friendship:))

I managed to finish up a few commissions during my move.  I have a few to go but they'll have to wait until my studio is unpacked.  I painted another ball jar painting.  It's a 6x8 version of my large painting "Anticipation".  I'm pretty sure I can paint ball jars in my sleep now, which is a good thing because I was up until all hours in the hotel finishing this piece up.  It was interesting:)  But this painting went to a very special lady so I'm thrilled to have her add it to her collection.
Our Move
 I am now officially living in Arkansas!!  So far it is a beautiful place to live.  I will admit I wasn't too thrilled when I heard that was where the Air Force was sending us, but so far I'm really enjoying AR.  I love our house, I'll share pics soon, and I have a designated studio space.
Some of my broken china--first time we've had china broken since we've been moving
And a majority of my picture frames were damaged.  Either tape on the frame pulling the finish off, or stacking multiple pictures together without paper in between them. 
 Our move has been not so thrilling.  This has been the worst move in the 11 years that Brian and I have been doing the Air Force thing (Brian's been AF his whole life-the son of a retired AF Lt Col.).  I am currently on page 3 of our claims form which is not a good scenario.  Usually you have a handful of items that you have to claim but this has been ridiculous.  It was the most incompetent packing crew I have ever had.  So if you are thinking of moving with Swanee/Benkins think it through especially coming out of the Montgomery, AL area.
This is my new studio space--As you can see it needs a bit of work:))
 Thanks again for continuing to read and comment.  Miss you guys and I'll be over to your blogs soon!


Friday, June 1, 2012

The Best of Friday Features

Crystal Cook, "A-Punk self-portrait" 8 x 10
In 1997 NBC had a Summer campaign "If you haven't seen it before, it's new to you", ha.  It was pretty lame, but I still remember it so  I guess it wasn't so lame:)  Anyway I'm taking a page out of NBC's book and running my Best of Friday Feature series this Summer.  So "If you haven't seen them before, they're new to you" :) 

I'm moving this Summer and I'm sure knee deep in boxes to unpack, so enjoy these great interviews and if you're interested in being featured in the Fall please contact me at

 When I first started my blogging adventure I came across Crystal Cook's blog.  I of course was mesmerized with her amazing watercolors and then thrilled to know that she was a Mommy/Artist in the trenches as well, with a brood of little boys.  She gave me hope and determination.  On days when I was saying to myself "Why am I doing this again", I would think of Crystal and it was a great feeling of camaraderie.  I am so grateful for Crystal and our friendship.

Oh and her work is beyond incredible.  I think of her as a modern day Mary Cassatt.  So here is an interview with Crystal.

To see more of Crystal's works check out her website or blog

Also enjoy Crystal and I on Artists Helping Artists blog radio podcast.  You don't want to miss this.  It's the show that broadcasted on 4/26/2012

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

Well, I’ve always loved to draw. When I was little and my friends would come over to my house and we were trying to figure out what to ‘play’ I always suggested drawing. It took me a while to figure out that not everyone had the same compulsion to draw that I did.

When I was about twelve years old my brother (who is an AMAZING artist) bought me a watercolor kit. That was the first time I knew that watercolors came in tubes, I always thought it was just those little pans they give you in school. The kit came with a watercolor book that had a bunch of different artist’s work showcased and I saw this portrait of a red headed girl in the sunlight painted by Jan Kunz and I knew that I wanted to paint like that one day. I took all the art classes my high school offered and drew and painted as much as I could. Then when it was time for me to go to college I put art aside for a while. I met, fell in love, and married my husband and focused on getting him through school while I worked.

After we’d been married for a few months I pulled out a pad of drawing paper and some old charcoal pencils I’d had for years and started drawing again. The results were not pretty. I was a little out of practice. But the love to create was still there. My husband noticed this and signed me up for a local watercolor class as a surprise Christmas gift.
Then after our first child was born I had the strongest desire to paint their portraits. I read every art book and magazine I could get my hands on and practiced late into the night, trying to paint the love that I felt as a new mom. It took about two years of concentrated practice to finally paint a portrait that I was proud of. After that I started entering shows and gallery exhibits and won some awards and started selling some paintings. I’m still on that journey, still showing in galleries and competitions and still painting portraits of my kids.

"Just Right" 8 x 10
Where were you born?

Born and raised and still living here. Good old Utah. J Ogden (Northern Utah) to be specific.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?
I’m really happy here in Utah. My family’s here, all of my growing up memories are here and I love the snow. But I’d also love to live somewhere warm and sunny year round. And I’ve always really wanted to live in England. Probably because of my love for famously dead (and those who are not so dead) authors that used to write or live there. And let’s face it, their accent is just plain cool.
"Eyes So blue" 10 x 14
 What’s your favorite thing to paint and why? People. But especially children and babies. There is something that is so unguarded and accessible about a baby’s expression that just gets to me. I love how they don’t try to hide their emotions, if they’re happy, or sad, or just amazed at something you know it straight away. From a purely artistic point of view I also love the glowing colors of skin in the sunshine. And I LOVE painting eyes. It’s my favorite thing ever. I’ve also done some paintings lately with glass and shiny objects that have been a lot of fun. I’m working on incorporating more of that into my portraits in some way. 

"Wizard In Training" 10 x 14
Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint? Which was the most difficult? The most enjoyable? Probably my “Young Wizard in Training” I loved the colors in that one and all the reflections from the shiny material of his costume. And I love Halloween. J The most difficult? I painted a portrait of my Grandpa shortly after he died that was really emotionally difficult for me, even though it was healing for me at the same time. And skill wise it would be my acrylic painting “Emerge” without a doubt. I’d never painted with acrylics before and I had no idea what I was doing. It took several tries to get it to where I was happy with it.

 Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration? Well my favorite famously dead artist is John Singer Sargent. I love his understated use of color, dramatic values, and economical brushstrokes. Jan Kunz (I basically taught myself how to paint with watercolors by reading her books), Ali Cavanaugh, and Mary Whyte are modern day favorites, all of whom are fantastic watercolor figure and portrait artists. And my biggest inspiration has been my husband. I would never have started painting again or had the courage to enter shows without his belief in me and constant encouragement. I think he actually entered a few competitions for me when I was too afraid of getting rejected to do it myself.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist? Arches 140 pound watercolor paper. I’ve tried basically everything else and have never found a better paper for my style of painting. My ipod for music, audio books, and podcasts to listen to while painting. An old towel to use as a paint rag, since controlling the amount of water in my brush is essential for how I paint. My camera and computer for reference photos. Art books and magazines for much needed inspiration when I’m running low. 

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites? Permanent rose, raw sienna, and cobalt blue are my favorite colors. I also love aureolin, brown madder, and opera rose. Basically I’m a sucker for yellows and pinks. I have a ton of them. My brand of choice is Winsor and Newton Artist’s Water Colours.
"Draw" 10 x 14
 Do you ever get artist’s block? And what do you do to overcome it? Heck yes I do. What do I do to overcome it? Eat way too much sugar.  Seriously though, I just keep painting but will try to look at painting in a different way. I might switch mediums, from watercolors to colored pencil or acrylic. Or I’ll try a new subject matter that I haven’t tried before but have always wanted to. I listen to podcast interviews with other artists obsessively and read every book or magazine article written by Harley Brown that I can get my hands on.

And if that doesn’t work then I take a break and read one of my favorite books, which is always therapeutic for me.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
Hmmm. . . Tough question.

I’d love to write a book that merges motivation and encouragement for artist’s and portrait painting techniques.

Write, illustrate, and publish a children’s book.

See my work published in an art magazine. An awesomely well read one, not an itty bitty one (although that would be cool too).

Attain signature status with the National Watercolor Society or American Watercolor Society.

Painting every day, all day. (My kids will all be in school by then)

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career? Paint because you love to, and paint what you love, not what’s popular or what you think will sell. Believe in yourself and be proud of your art, but never stop seeking for ways to improve it. And don’t give up, if you want to be an artist there will always be setbacks, but never let them keep you back from doing what you love.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist? Paint what you love. And don’t go for the obvious composition.
"Joy Unrestrained" 10 x 14


Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat? Rustic Mountain Retreat

Book or movie? Book. Huzzah for books!

Favorite author? This is an impossible question! Well. . . the obvious answer is J.K. Rowling tied with Jane Austen, but who ever said I went for the obvious? I’m going to say Laini Taylor, an incredibly gifted writer. She’s an artist with words.

Favorite movie? Pride and Prejudice

Romance or comedy? Romance! I’m all about the SA-woon. J

Favorite ice cream flavor? Creme brulee

Night owl or morning person?   Morning person

Cake or Cupcakes?  Cupcakes. Cuteness and portion control in one package. Can’t be beat.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did:)  See you all Monday!