Friday, April 2, 2021

What a long hard year

 Not sure where to begin.  It was a terrible year for most everyone last year. I thought my life was over when everything shut down.


 I closed my art gallery and teaching studio when classes suddenly stopped.  I owed hundreds of dollars to students (and parents of students) who had reserved the next month of classes. So after the first month of using money from savings to try to stay open, I was already two months behind. 


It took over a thousand  dollars a month to stay open, that included rent, water, power, waste management, security service, internet, etc...  I did not get any government assistance, and my landlord (who had previously been the greatest landlord ever) did not work with me. Rent was due the first of May.  By the middle of April I knew I couldn't go farther in debt.  I had two weeks to move out.  


I had eight years of framing supplies and equipment, teaching supplies, and walls full of art work hanging throughout the gallery and the teaching studio. The paintings had to be boxed and wrapped for safe transport and storage.


 All the framing samples and Velcro strips had to come down in the framing show room.  That in itself was a nightmare. The miter saw and frame molding strips (8 to 10 feet long) were in the kitchen on the old wooden cabinets and shelves. The frame molding had to all be cut in half to make it manageable and then wrapped to move it and store it.  It was physically exhausting and emotionally devastating. 


My son helped me with the heavy equipment which was in the back workroom.  We put it in the garage at my house.  We put the large matting and framing table in my little studio at home as well as the paintings.  Eventually some of the paintings were hung in as many places as could be found all through my house.  (Some are still boxed and in storage in the back of the studio at home.)


  My house had always had art on the walls (not surprising), but now it was somewhat squeezed in. I thought I would not like it, but the most of the pieces my husband, Robert, and I chose were from places we had been or events we shared. It turned out to be a wonderful thing: memories and colorful art stacked on the walls all through the house.  He stops and looks at the paintings and says, "That looks really nice there." I smile big.


My studio at home has become a work space again as I have rearranged it several times to make room for my painting station and some work tables.  The framing table takes up a large amount of room, but it is nice to still be able to cut mats.  


My miter saw and under-pinner (for joining frames) are set up in the garage, so I can fill  frame orders when needed.  


I rented a small room in town for a few months to teach private lessons, and take in some framing orders.  That is how I paid back most of my students.  I still had to refund a few of them. 


I also rented a display space at a boutique (Unique Boutique in Okeechobee) for my mixed media pieces and knife paintings.  This is something I would have never considered before the pandemic, but with all the galleries closing everywhere I thought it might be a way to at least show some of my new fun pieces.  It is a nice shop: clean and inviting.  It has many different types of things to purchase.  There are a few artists, some handcrafted jewelry, some antiques, furniture, and some clothing.  It turns out people love my new pieces, and I love being a part of such a great group of people.


My home studio ended up having major work done to the exterior walls, windows and the whole door jam and door had to be replaced.  Much to my dismay, I had to move everything again and rearrange the studio once the repairs were done. It has turned out to be a better space, with room for 2 work tables and a little area for my easel. I have even done some private lessons and taken a few framing orders.


 The old building I was renting for so many years (Fawn's Studio and Gallery) was located on the left side of the building at 111 SE 2nd street, Okeechobee.  Bridgette rented a smaller suite on the right side.  It was old and run down and not very beautiful, but great for art studios and creating beautiful messes!  Well, now it has been completely gutted and renovated!  It looks amazing. The landlord repaired the structural damage and then put in handicapped parking, a ramp to the back door, and made the restrooms handicap accessible too.  He had new kitchen cabinets, counters, and floors put in, and also had new carpet put down throughout both sides of the building.  He had all of the walls painted in an off white. It looks like one building now, instead of two suites.


Now the Okeechobee  Art Alliance has set up a gallery in my old teaching studio and a gift shop where my gallery was.  They have also set up a small teaching studio on the other side of the building (where Bridgette's back room was behind her art studio).  It is remarkable to say the least.


Here is the most amazing thing: I am currently teaching for the Art Alliance a couple of days a week!  And to top it off, they are also selling some of my work on a commission basis!  It is like everything was given back to me on a silver platter and I didn't have to pay for the renovations.  I have no monthly overhead either.  Talk about stress free! 


So here I am, enjoying working from home, and still finding great opportunities to get involved.  My life isn't over after all!  I thank the Good Lord every day!

Friday, June 7, 2019

New Website

Still adding art and getting the links working, but I have a nice collection started!

Please tell me what you think!  (fmcneillbarr@gmail.com)

My official website for my exclusive artwork: 
 https://www.fawnsartstudio.com/

Original paintings, custom orders, and prints! More prints will be available soon.

Please pass it on!

Thank you!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Life is good

Just realized it has been over a year since I posted anything on this blog, so I thought I would just share a few of the great things that have been happening these days.

I have been staying busy at my little art studio and teaching center, which is doing much better this school year.  This is my seventh year in business.  Most of the after school classes stay full now, plus I have an adult class once a week.  The custom framing is also a nice compliment. 

I have found new inspirations these days!  Some are filled with treasure hunts and new ideas from a new series of mixed media paintings I started last fall.  Now I am experimenting with impasto techniques, as well as how to best adhere things.  The gel medium dries clear and shiny, so it is good for adding things after the painting is finished.  The modeling paste creates wonderful relief effects, but it can be difficult to paint over at times, so I like the thick heavy gesso the most for my impasto techniques because it is easier to paint over.

  I can't put into words how much I enjoy adding my treasures and found objects (like seashells, charms, or beads).  I am also using some metallic paint and/or glitter paint, which really catches your eye at different viewing angles.

 I am pleasantly surprised at the results -- even sold a few! Click here to see an example.

I did a small show this January and received a blue ribbon for my new mixed media paintings! That was encouraging! Click here to see more about the show.

On a personal level, my husband was in the hospital a lot last year, but now he is on immune therapy and is responding well to the treatment.  This has made for a year of getting back to better things and enjoying life again.  We don't take any of it for granted.

May the Lord God Almighty bless you and yours in amazing ways!

Click here to see more paintings!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Positive feed-back

Updated Jan 2018

Fawn,
We were all in tears... Your work is outstanding.  Thank you so very much for all the attention to detail...
Lea, Texas

It's here! Arrived pristine, so beautiful! Thank You!
Nancy, Washington

Fawn,
The paintings arrived in perfect condition, you packaged them well!  They are beautiful! Thank you!
Karen,  Pennsylvania 

Hey,
Just wanted you to know they loved the painting!  Thank you for adding the extra details to make it special!
Ashley,  Florida


 Hi Fawn,
I picked up the painting today at the post office. It arrived in perfect condition. Wow, it is so pretty, I love it!
 Hope all is well with you and your family. Have a great weekend!
Thanks so much,
Carol,
Pennsylvania 

Fawn,
The painting is absolutely wonderful and as I imagined it to be! You are a brilliant artist Fawn and have become a beautiful blessing in my life. Thank you again for everything.
God Bless,
Jen,
New York 

Dear Fawn,
"Sun Dance" just arrived in perfect condition. It's beautiful!
I love it and I know Locke will, as well.

Thanks!
Chris,
California

Fawn,
I received the painting ("Hershey") this morning, was so happy to get it. It is BEAUTIFUL!


Patricia,
Louisiana

Dear Fawn,
I'm writing to let you know that "Endless Song Too" arrived today and in great condition. I'm very pleased and it's everything you said it would be like. I'm very excited about this next painting too.
Take care,
Mike
South Carolina

Fawn, I got the painting and it is beautiful! Thank you so much.
Rob Allen

Thanks so much for the beautiful painting!!!!! It arrived last Saturday safely and without problems.
Rhonda

Hi, Fawn:
I just want to let you know that your paintings arrived in perfect condition and that I'm delighted with them, as usual!
Thank you so much!
Barbara,
California

Hi Fawn!
We had a beautiful Christmas and trust you did too. I had the lavender paintings framed with double matting, dark purple closest to the paintings, and light lavender for the dominant mat, with a bold rich rounded cherry/mohogany frame. I had them framed together as a themed piece. It sits against our Dove Gray walls beautifully. My hubby was surprised and thrilled and that makes me very happy. Happiest of New Years to you and your family. May The Lord continue to have mercy on us all.......
God bless you,
Ceci

Hi Fawn!
Just a note to let you know the painting arrived today and it is absulutely stunning!!! The colors are fabulous! We will treasure this painting forever! Take care, keep in touch, have a wonderful holiday season!!
Pollie

Hi Fawn,
I received the painting a few days ago and had it framed already. It is BEAUTIFUL and I am so excited to give it to my husband. In fact, it has become difficult not to give it to him early. The oranges look so natural in the painting, like they were always there.
Thank you again for doing the touch-ups and for shipping so very quickly. I will definitely keep your work in mind for future gifts and pieces for our home!
Avian

Hi Fawn,
I got the painting today and it is just as lovely as I knew it would be. You really do potential buyers a favor by offering nice high-resolution images of thepaintings on your site! I will definitely keep an eyeon your site. Thanks for sending the painting so quickly, and have a great summer down there in Florida!
Katherine

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Buying art, a few insights

       I was recently asked to write my ideas, from an artists view, on purchasing art.  Not sure how helpful this is, but I'll give it an honest opinion.

       The first thing I see quite often is that most buyers do not negotiate when purchasing art in person. Personally, I do not take offense at a lower offer.  If I have room to come down on the price of a particular piece I will, especially for a returning client.  

      There are many reasons a particular piece of art is not ready for sell yet or is priced higher.  The photography may not be completed yet, or it is registered for an upcoming show, or the paint hasn't cured long enough to varnish it yet.  Whatever the reason, don't be afraid to ask again at a later date. The artist may be ready to sell, and he or she may accept your offer.

       Along the same lines, I love it when someone wants a custom painting similar to one that I'm not ready to sell.  We can create it in a different size, change the color scheme, add personal touches, and create a new original that can be purchased with installments as we progress through the painting.  This is great for those purchasing art for personal benefit, and not just as an investment.

       If purchasing art on line it is important to remember that monitors vary and the colors usually look better in person.  If looking to invest in art it is best to do some homework.  One place to do this is Invaluable, a fine art auction platform, which recently published a blog post of a Guide to Buying Fine Art.  I recommend you research the artist, check to see how he or she compares to other artists, and whether they have reproductions available or not.  The reproductions are not as valuable as the originals, but if prints are selling it is a good indicator that the originals are worth quite a bit more.  Remember some artists are just getting started and one day their work may be extremely valuable.

       That's my professional opinion.  Please feel free to leave feedback!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Healed, girl on beach, inspirational painting


"Healed"
20 x 24 inches

This inspirational painting is full of symbolism. 

I started this as just a wave. Made it up for fun, but It kept making me cry as many of my earliest memories are from when my family was stationed in Hawaii. My step father was in the Coast Guard. He abused me, even burnt me once with a hot iron. So I prayed about it and began to see the root of the lies: believing I was unwanted and unloved, a terrible person from the start. 

As I worked on it, The Lord gave me a new perspective and his words of truth from scriptures in the Holy Bible. Forgiving others, renouncing the lies, forgiving myself, and accepting the Father's love have helped me overcome years of battling with bouts of depression. 

Life was hard: a different step father, more abuse, foster homes, and then failed marriages. 

While praying, I saw Jesus and me playing on the beach, and decided to put a little girl in the painting. Then I added the shadow of a cross, and the face of Jesus. I made the rain blowing away.  I added an angel dancing in the clouds, and a dove coming down the wave near the girls head, to symbolize the Holy Spirit. 

Then I noticed the shallow wave encircling the girl actually resembled a heart, so I enhanced it to symbolize the love of God our Father, the Good Father, who makes life turn around for good in spite of everything that comes against us.

Click here for prints of this painting!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Christian Fiction Writers Conference

 ACFW has a writer's conference each year, and this year it is this month, the 25th - the 28th. I just became a member last month, and wasn't sure I could afford the conference.  So I missed the deadline, and decide to count on it for next year.  

 Last week I saw a post asking if anyone was interested in taking someone else's place.  I looked into it and now it has all come together. WOW!   Plus I get to share a room with a published author!  I get to take seminars on revising, editing and pitching book proposals, along with a workshop on writing like a pro..... And I get to speak with an agent. I am more than a little excited to see what the Lord is going to do next!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Faith, the substance of things hoped for

So much sorrow in the world.  So much pain and suffering.  Not only from terrorists and evil forces, but just in everyday living.  We all have loved ones we ache for.

My pastor's wife recently shared a truth with me that has helped me walk through the shadow of death with my mother-in- law.  My husband also faces serious health issues. Sometimes I feel like my life revolves around suffering and death.

"Hold your hands out, palms up and say, 'Father, I receive the strength and the grace you have already provided for me for this situation,' instead of continually asking.  It's alright to ask, but we also need to receive!"

This is especially helpful when my faith is not so strong, and the tears have taken over.  Now I am seeing the Father's hand at work. Prayers are being answered, and faith grows.  Not just in me, but in those I pray for too.

May Daddy God, Abba Father, put his truth in your mouth as you do the work and study his word! May he bless you and your loved ones mightily!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Not walking in the shadow of death

My life has been enveloped in the sick and dying.  My mother-in-law (98 years old) has been in and out of the hospital many times the past few years.  This time she gave up for over a week.  My husband of 16 years, who is quite a bit older than I am, has also been through many serious life threatening events.  We have come through cancer, respiratory failure, two brain surgeries (non cancer related), and now severe COPD.  He and his mother have both been in the hospital at the same time this past week.  It threw me for a loop.  Spending so much time at their bed sides can be emotionally draining to say the least.

I started to head into a deep depression again, but this time I took some time out and went for a walk to clear my head. This is a splendid time of year in Florida.  The cool breezes and warm sun are amazing. I went for a walk at sunset up on the levy at the lake.  This is one of my favorite things to do to rise above the circumstances.  My husband is home now, and his mother is doing better, so that helps too.

While I was out walking, I saw this little area across the rim canal that was lit up with pinks from the sunset.  I have seen this little stream coming into the canal before, but this time I decided I needed to paint it.  So after supper I pulled out a large canvas and painted it! It was exhilarating to be inspired and motivated and stay up late to create something so compelling!  It pulled me out of the downward spin I was giving into.  

This world is on a downward pull, always throwing things at us to destroy us.  If we don't fight it, it gets overwhelming!  I am finding out some things that help me fight back: getting up early to have time to pray and have devotions, painting at work (even if for just for short periods of time), walks at sunset, playing Christian music, and painting at home in the evenings.

Looks like the shadow of death has moved on, and I am living again. Currently I'm working on some animal portraits, which is always my favorite subject matter! It is amazing that even in the middle of the pain and chaos I can find joy and see goodness and truth!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Goals

Trying to get back to painting more often and posting more too.  Seems like the most important thing (painting) gets put on the back burner more than anything else. Feels good to get up earlier to paint, and get back to better habits than watching tv or oversleeping!

Have to stay with it this time, and not give up.  Hard to be inspired these days.  Most of the time I am teaching art classes or creating frames, so I am really tired, and certainly not motivated.  So I have to make my painting time come first.  Then the rest of the day can fall into place.

Having said all that, now I must make it a personal challenge, and find ways to stay inspired. Paintings that have a deeper meaning, or that have things hiding in them seem to hold my interest the most.  But if they do not come together right off the bat, then I tend to put them aside and resolve them later.

 I need to plan ahead better, and stick with it.  Also, I need to not start the new ones until I finish current paintings.  When I enter some art shows I tend to get excited and finish up a few more too.

My problem is that I don't see  results very often.  A sale now and then, A commission.  A ribbon or an award here and there; it is all encouraging, but hard to make enough to make a living.  So I teach more classes, or take in more framing jobs. Then I don't have the time to paint.....not a good cycle.

I am open to hearing ideas on how you get inspired or what helps you stay on track.