Monday, November 27, 2023

A Little Off

 Really tough year:

~ Watched my son, Kyle, suffer and battle cancer.  He lost his left eye last December to ocular melanoma. Horrific. He has been undergoing cancer treatments for a small tumor near his kidney for most of this year.  Thankfully the tumor is almost gone! 

~ I lost a dear friend to cancer.  I miss her terribly.

~ I injured my right hand/wrist while doing yard work about five months ago (I'm right-handed.) Torn tendon. I reinjured it thinking it was fine after a month or so.  It went from bad to worse. Sharp pain and no strength.  Now I wear a brace that immobilizes my thumb and keeps my wrist from bending. Seeing an orthopedic doctor.

~ I have stopped teaching my after-school art classes for now. I'm still doing small semi-private groups. Which is actually a very nice pace. 

~ Actually started creating a painting with my left hand, what a mess! It is slow and cumbersome, but I'm making progress.  I'm surprised at how my left-hand cramps and gets tired so easily.  I did not realize how strong my dominant hand is in comparison!

~ I have seen the restoration of broken relationships as a result of these hardships.

~  I have become available to keep the grandkids at odd hours when Kyle has early treatments in Miami or has to rush to the ER.

~  I have learned to be patient when I'm in pain and/or overwhelmed with emotion.

~ I have grown in faith and found strength I did not know existed.

~ I'm still a little off, but I see everything differently now. I have truly grown.

~ I believe we are better off having overcome things and learning from them than staying stuck in old habits. 

Praying for better things in 2024! 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Amazing Frames



"Chilly Morning"
© Fawn McNeill 2005
Original Watercolor (Plein Air) 
Not available


  • Artwork on paper like this should be framed behind glass with a mat around it to keep it off of the glass and protect it.  The same is true for photographs and prints on paper. 
  • This frame has a fun pattern in gold.  The mat is a double mat with the bottom mat in a red accent. 
  • Art created on canvas or wood should not be framed behind glass. 
  • Original oils and acrylics are usually done on canvas or wood and need to breathe.  
  • Artwork created on paper or mat board should be framed behind glass with a mat to keep the image off of the glass. This is true for photos, prints, and posters as well. (Glass can trap moisture and ruin the image.) 
  • If you are purchasing a ready-made frame for an image on paper, be sure to add room for a mat, or purchase one with the mat.
  • Art created on canvas (or wood) does not fit in ready-made frames that are designed for photos and prints.
  • Custom framing can be quite expensive.  Everything is designed to create the perfect fit so the mat is centered around the art evenly.  The materials are acid-free and the glass has UV protection. Even the foam-core backing should be acid-free. 
  •  Unfortunately, many shops do not use acid-free materials, or they will skip it for the backing. (Be sure to ask for it)!  Acid-free materials slow down the aging process that yellow and crack the image. 
  • The frame moldings are often imported from Italy or France. The quality and the unique styles enhance the art and complement your d├ęcor. They are made to last for many years. 

(I am currently offering custom framing through Okeechobee Main Street's frame shop, by appointment only. I have over ten years of experience!)


Friday, July 14, 2023

Hot and destructive!

  •  Must be the hottest summer ever! Up in the nineties and hundreds since early June. Humid too, feels like 115 degrees! It is hard to stay on task these days!
  • I have destroyed nine or ten paintings in the past month.  Not out of frustration or anger, and not from the heat (I don't think), I just got tired of trying to fix older paintings that were never finished.  I thought I could brighten, rearrange, add more detail, or whatever. I thought I might like them better, but I decided it wasn't worth so many hours to try to resolve the issues.  It is always a risk to rework a painting, but sometimes it works out and the results are amazing, so I kept taking out another one and working on it until I saw that it was not working out.

  • Each one ended up sanded down and re-primed, or thrown out. The underlying textures couldn't be undone and interfered with the direction I wanted to go.  Sometimes it is better to start fresh than to keep struggling through it.

  • After the third time, I wondered what was really going on with me.  I haven't destroyed a painting in a long time. Why so many these days? Tired of so many unfished pieces? Don't care anymore? Frustrated?   
  •  I'm still not sure what is going on with me, but I stopped pulling them out of storage - didn't want to destroy any more of them! (Some are worth the effort to hang onto until I figure out what to do with them next.)  
  • Most of them were unfinished demonstration paintings that needed attention, but one was a medium to large painting that I wanted to go back over in a more impressionistic style, which I regretted that I messed with it.  But I didn't want to continue with the extreme detail I had started out with. Hours and hours of work just thrown out. 

  •  My style is changing again.  I'm trying new ideas. Things don't come together like they used to. So I am backing off, searching for what really inspires me, and not taking it so seriously for now. 

  • I am all over the place! I love detail, but I love painterly styles too. I like the abstract nature of reflections and moving water.  I like thick textures, but mostly on things like bark, wood, or rough water. I get bored easily and want to try new ideas and techniques.  

  • Some judges have told me (over the years) that I need a consistent style and a more cohesive body of work.  But I honestly don't seem to be able to settle on any one way to create things.  I guess that's Ok too!

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Joy comes


So many horrific things this past year:

1) In December 2022 my son, Kyle, lost his left eye to cancer.  Now he is undergoing treatment for a tumor near his kidney.


2) My husband has been in severe pain in his neck for several months and now in his lower back as well for the past two months.


3) My close friend, Sandy, has battled cancer off and on for years and now is back on a stronger treatment for cancer that has spread to other parts of her body.


4) Another close friend, Marie, lost her mother last year, and now her father has lost his leg to diabetes. 


5) I had heart issues that started last fall, (panic attacks, extremely low blood pressure, high pulse rates, racing heart, irregular heartbeats, an abnormal EKG, low blood count, abnormal size of blood cells. So many tests: more EKGs, Echo of my heart, extensive blood work, etc... 


I have cried a river of tears for my son and my friends.


But I have grown.  In the middle of all this, joy comes when you focus on the things you are thankful for.  


Good things have happened too:


1) I get to keep my grandchildren quite often, sometimes three times a week! 


2) This past week, Kyle had a good report: the tumor is shrinking.  So good to hear that!  


3) Yesterday, I also had a good report: although my heart was stressed and a little weak, and I had some borderline numbers in my bloodwork, they are still within the norm! The issues were stress related, and the symptoms are gone now.


4) Zac (my oldest son) and Ashly had a baby boy, Noah, last year.  He is a year old now. What a delight! 


5) I am back to painting more, even if it means getting up early or staying up late.  (I have a new gallery page with Daily Paintworks.  It has me challenging myself to create more.)

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/Artists/fawn-mcneill-15096


6) I am learning to take advantage of each opportunity to spend more time with friends and family (enjoying the simple things). 


 7) Incredibly, Okeechobee Main Street has renovated and set up an art center for its Arts and Cultural Alliance in my old building! Now I am teaching and doing framing for them!


I am grateful, stronger, and looking for the good that comes from the trials. I'm thanking the Good Lord for so many blessings.

 "Standing Tall"

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Baby bird

                               



 

     




A few days ago, a young crow (Which I thought was a raven) swooped down at my head as I was cleaning the yard.  He followed me around, and every time I picked up a stick or moved something on the ground he tried to peck at what I was doing.  He was clumsy and not afraid of me.

I noticed the down on his neck and wings.  I figured he had lost his parents.  I dug in the dirt but didn't find any worms or bugs for him, so I headed to the house to find a piece of bread.  He waited for me.  So odd.


He ate some of the cornbread but didn't act like he was hungry.   He flew up to the front porch and checked out Robert.  I set out a dish of water and brought the piece of cornbread up the stairs.  

The next day he came back and he got on Robert's shoulder.  We got him some more bread and water.  he continued to follow us around but didn't eat much.  Again, so very odd.


On the third day, Robert got a basket of crickets. The juvenile crow wanted to chase them and catch them, but then dropped them and left them on the concrete driveway.  So I picked one up and held it and he took it and ate a little and dropped it again.  After the fourth try, he got a little more interested and held one down with his foot and tore it in half.  He ate the half in his mouth and left the other parts.  I guess he has to figure it out.  I picked up the half-dead crickets that were still moving a bit and held them up until the he ate more of them.  


I fixed a tub of water and splashed my hand in it.  It was big enough that he could play in it, but he did not want water on him.  He drank a little and then went and played in the mud puddle that was growing larger from a new leak in my hose.  He did not like the water spraying out of the hose to get on him. 


He followed me around again as I watered the plants.  When I took a break, he got on my shoulder.  I tried to pet him a time or two, but he did not want me to touch him. 


The boy that lives across the road from us told us that his friend (a few houses down) saved that baby bird when it fell out of the nest and has been feeding him. I guess it has just learned to fly and is checking out the neighbors!


That makes a lot more sense!


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Major changes

Wow. It's been a while.

Changing the art studio at home again.  Making it so that if I need it for a bedroom it will be easier to get ready quickly.  

My husband Robert had a TME and a mini-stroke in January.  Our house is upstairs, and the garage and studio are below the house.  A TME is an imbalance of the chemistry of the brain, and he did not know who anyone was, nor was he able to walk or function. 

The doctors could not find what caused it, all his tests were good.  He lost 3 days and came home on the fourth day. So scary.

Prayer is powerful.  A dear friend of ours prayed with him and later that night he came back.  He began to remember things and was able to feed himself and walk.  It was amazing!  He had a few weeks of recovery, but the visiting nurses and physical therapists were awesome.  

He can do everything normally again!

So now he is working on repairs to the house and remodeling.  A new door in the art room that is across from the bathroom in the garage has turned my whole world upside down.  I'm sure it will be great once I get everything back in order, but it has been overwhelming.  have not painted for weeks now!  That really doesn't help my attitude.  Hahaha!

He had the old carpet taken out in most of the house, except the spare rooms.  It is vinyl floors now, which is lovely.

Next, we hope to paint some walls.  I'm sore, tired, and grumpy these days!  So much hard work moving everything around and going through stuff.  Got rid of a few boxes and bags of things in the closets, so that was good.

So thankful to have him back! Now if we needs a room downstairs, I will be able to take better care of him.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Goofing off

 Semi- retired, I suppose:


~ Goofing off more, and even enjoying the change of pace.


~ Giving myself permission to say 'no' to things for whatever reason.  


~ Finding new challenges as I work from home, some are nice surprises actually, others are, well, not so much.  


~ Staying busy, just not with the things I thought I would be involved with. 


~ Growing flowers and vegetables in the back yard has me learning that I might have a bit of a green thumb after all!  It is amazing to eat a sweet potato that you grew yourself!  (Sweet potatoes are a great starting point, because they are easy to grow!)  Carrots have been a little more challenging.


~ Sleeping in is wonderful: waking up and then dozing in and out for an hour or so was something I never allowed myself to do.  (Life was just too stressful.) But early mornings are also when I am the most creative, so I try not to do it everyday.  


~ Playing with crafty art, mixed media, and knife paintings.  Too much fun.  I'm creating more gifts and being more generous too.  


~ Learning to make my own  professional looking notecards and books. It is so expensive to have them printed. Saving up for a good printer.


~ Teaching art a couple of afternoons a week: afterschool classes.  This is my heart. Nothing like helping children create something and watch them get so excited about it!


~ Not doing shows for now, not on any committees, not going to any meetings, and I'm not trying to make a bunch of money.  And I'm not worried about it either (which also amazes me!) 


~ The Good LORD takes excellent care of me!


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 note cards! 

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!