Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maybe It'll Catch on Someday

Well, it's only a month until Christmas. Would you consider buying original art from a local artist?

It seems like I've tried to come up with a hundred different ideas for marketing my art in the last year. Not many have actually gone anywhere. But, when I think about them, all these ideas seem like they ought to catch on!

First there was the hand-painted shoes. A novel thing a year ago. Still pretty cool. Most people seem not to be willing to pay $40 for the art... a bargain, I think. A design can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours to complete. The Santa/Reindeer pair are still available.

Then, I tried a couple of t-shirts. Very pretty, but very labor-intensive. And again, who wants to pay $50 for a t-shirt. This one took me probably 4 hours to paint. If I charged my "hourly rate", it would cost $200.

Wedding portraits. Another great idea, right? I've done one, as you can see. A lovely bride commissioned this one as a bride's gift for her grandparents, who were paying for the wedding. It was painted from the grandparents' wedding photo which was damaged and yellowing. I heard they loved it!

Then, there's the portrait-in-20-minutes idea. This young lady invited me to her birthday party.  It was a fun, art-themed party. While the guests were busy making their own art, I painted 11 portraits in the space of 3 hours. It was really fun, and each kid got to take their portrait home. I thought, what kid wouldn't love that?

The most recent venture is into cookbooks. This is my favorite painting from "Bernie Bread, and other Knoll family recipes" -- a project my dad and I finished just last week. We are selling them, even though it was mostly intended as a ... for family and friends.

All those projects aside, what I really want to do is illustrate more children's books. I'd love to make a little money doing it. I've been working on several new ideas. I've made the most progress on a story called "Patient for Pumpkins." Its about a boy and his dad going to the farmer's market, finding what's in season, while waiting for the pumpkins to be ready. A couple of publishers have already rejected it. I'm considering self-publishing again. If I do it myself, it should be ready by spring. Just a few more illustrations to complete....

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's ready!

We're off to a weekend craft faire, where 25 copies are already ordered.

You can get yours on my Etsy site 

or by emailing me directly. It's $25 plus tax and shipping.

You can also start following our blog at

My dad, mostly, will be posting foodie thoughts, new recipes and other great information.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

For the last few weeks, I have been occupied with painting food. 
Several years ago, I decided I needed to make a family cookbook to preserve for eternity all those recipes which had been passed on from my grandma, and great grandma, as well as my parents. 

I asked my dad to help me. He has been the chef of the family for the last 20 years, since he retired. My mom was generally a good cook, but tended to stick with meatloaf and macaroni and cheese while we were growing up. (Both of those things are in our cookbook.) But my dad took it to new heights.

His heyday started with "Bernie Bread" -- a crusty white bread that we enjoyed at holiday meals and whenever the mood struck. When the Food Network came along, well, we have been constantly treated to new and amazing gourmet food.

So, I guess I should be grateful that he has finally made me finish our cookbook project. We may get it done in time for some holiday sales. But I would love to take more time with the illustrations than I have. The cover, shown above, was originally going to be the style of each divider page. Eight paintings in all. That's not going to happen. At least not this year. What I've been working on are spot illustrations for the pages, emphasizing the fresh ingredients featured in some of the recipes.

When its done, I will have copies for sale. If you've met my dad, or have had the privilege of partaking of one of his home cooked meals, you know the book will offer some excellent eating opportunities.

Now, back to work.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fun Summer Kid's Classes

 I had tons of fun this summer with several groups of students. One of my favorite projects is paper mache. It's sometimes difficult to do because it takes quite a bit of time - papering, then drying in successive layers. But I think these two projects were very successful for the students.

This bee was part of the fun we had at Great Valley Museum's summer science class, Amazing Animal Art. I had a class of 8 six to eight-year olds. They each made their own insect paper mache. While we worked, a selection of LIVE insects sat on the table with us - including some Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches! We also made clay animal necklaces, and drew an animal classification poster.

The giraffe was a project of a small class I held at my home studio. We formed the armature with foil and bamboo skewers, then papered over it with several layers. In the end, we added clay hooves, button eyes, and yarn mane and tail.

My last classes of the summer were at Salida Elementary where each grade came to work on a special project. Kinders made torn paper collage, 1st graders made fruit prints, 2nd graders painted a lion portrait, 3rd graders created charcoal still life pictures, 4th grade worked on a watercolor landscape that showed the water cycle, and 5th graders painted a watercolor self-portrait! Whew, it was a busy week. A few of the projects are shown below.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Laundry Day

After much deliberation over the title, I finally settled on Laundry Day. I know everyone can relate to this painting. After several loads of laundry, you find yourself with a pile of unmatched socks. Where have they gone? Is there a drier imp? A sock thief? Well, since my daughter and I both love decorative socks, those imps and thieves have a lot to choose from. So, having nothing else to do with a pile of single socks, I decided to paint them.

Original watercolor painting, 22"x30", unframed (at the moment), $500 from my Etsy shop.

Prints are available at

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Over in the Valley


This is my first book. I self-published last year, and have been selling it in various places in the San Joaquin Valley. The text is an adaptation of the old song "Over in the Meadow", which my mom sang to us at bedtime when we (my brother, sister and I) were young. Since I was born and raised in the Valley, I chose to focus on Valley wildlife.  The California Tiger Salamander has become my "mascot," but all the animals are special in one way or another.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.com or at https://www.createspace.com/3426620

In Modesto, its available at the Great Valley Museum, and the Little Shop at the Modesto library.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Little Bit of Beauty

Here I am. A long-neglected plant. For years, I've been here, existing with practically no care. Only the fortunate drip of the faucet, and the blessed rain, which was plentiful this spring. So, I was able to muster the energy to produce one fragile bloom. I stood upright in this desolate place, ready to make a stand against the carelessness and craziness of your dog.
For weeks, petals have been forming, going from a dusky shade of green, to a gentle light blue violet. My arms were reaching for sunlight, hoping for a chance. You saw me out there, giving it my best effort. You were thinking, look, a little bright spot exists here, even when I don't try to nurture it.
Then, in an instant, it ended. Before my buds burst open, my life was dashed by the unthinking creature. A reckless beast on a mission to frighten a garbage truck, knocked me pointlessly to the ground.
And yet, hope remains. My roots will continue to inhabit the soil, and my leaves will carry on, taking in sunlight and moisture. Although my flowers will not grace your yard this year, look elsewhere. Little bits of beauty exist all around, if you take the time to notice.