A Fun Family Portrait for Family!

April 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Portrait of Wayne Smith by Melanie Eberhardt. Commissioned by Julie Heminger.

A few months ago, my cousin Julie emailed and asked if I would do a portrait of my Uncle Wayne and his favorite hunting companion, Maxi, the beagle. My reply – “you betcha!”

Uncle Wayne and Maxi love to go rabbit hunting. They trek through pastures, along woodlines and train tracks in pursuit of the wascaly wabbits. Hunting has been a part of my Uncles entire life. My mom and Uncles (Wayne and Ed) grew up during WW2 in northwest Ohio. This part of Ohio is flat farmland and as children, everyone was dirt poor. Hunting was a mainstay for food. My grandpa taught Uncle Wayne to hunt at a very early age. Often, the family ate what they were able to shoot – rabbits, squirrels, deer and sometimes a turkey. Uncle Wayne didn’t grow up hunting for sport. Hunting was a necessity to survival.
Now a grandpa himself, its great to enjoy a lifetime of tradition as sport. I was very happy to delve into this special portrait. Julie carefully described Uncle Wayne’s hunting gear and set a bunch of great reference photos of Maxi. I don’t usually paint settings or landscapes but it seemed an important element for this portrait. The background is my grandparent’s home which was situated about 50 feet from a train track. The town is Melbern, Ohio.
The perspective is one I remember well from my childhood playing on the train tracks about 1/4 mile down the track from grandma’s house. The tracks were slightly raised and you could see for miles over the flat fields.
I chose to paint a wintery scene inspired by an old hand colored family photo. My grandpa and his brother, Russell pose for Uncle Wayne’s “first hunt”. I love the soft, wintery colors and tried to emulate them in the portrait.

(left to right): my grandpa, Elgie Smith, my uncle Wayne and my great uncle Russell. the caption written on the back of this old family photo "Wayne First Fox Hunt."

This was indeed a very special portrait to paint. I’m so glad my cousin Julie asked me to do it.
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NickerDoodles Gains New Audiences

April 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

I started creating NickerDoodles, horse inspired cartoons, for Bits & Bytes Farm this summer. I have so much fun going to the barn, spending time with Bubba and my horse friends. We laugh and cut up about our horses and ourselves.

Its been fun to find additional avenues of sharing NickerDoodles. NickerDoodles are now also regularly published in the Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association magazine, “Collected Remarks”. And most recently I’m a regular content provided to a new “cheeky” horsey website, HorseNation.com.

I’ve also launched a separate blog just to post all published NickerDoodles – check it out and check back frequently! See what happens when you put a sweet gelding in the pasture with your bossy mare…

 

Animal House – New Group Exhibit Opening in June!

April 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m not posting about John Belushi and that hilarious movie (love the zit – classic). Instead, I’m thrilled to post fun news and an upcoming opportunity to be in another group exhibit this spring – Animal House.

The Cabarrus Art Council of Concord NC (near Charlotte) extended an invitation to participate with several other artists whose work incorporates – what else – animals!

I’m currently in the midst of developing about six new pieces – horses, a puppy (because I haven’t painted enough of these so far this year) and perhaps a few more exotic representatives of the animal kingdom. I’m thinking a llama may surface for this show.

I’ll post more as the show nears and as I complete paintings. Meanwhile, mark your calendar – Animal House opens June 4 and runs through July 26. Read more about the exhibit and the Cabarrus Art Council and their good deeds for visual artists on their website!

If You Love Dogs and Horses, You’re in the Right Place!

March 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

The “Dog Show” exhibit at Blue Spiral 1 has had such terrific response, the gallery has extended the show a few more months. I’ve been fortunate and sold two paintings to date, so I’ve created two new, smaller pieces, to ship to the gallery for the duration of the exhibit. I’ve been painting dogs for months, and have not yet tired of the subject.

I could paint a million paintings of horses and still have more in mind to create. I’ve also finished two new horse paintings destined for various galleries and hopefully someone’s home.

Its a year of four-legged subject matter, next project? Painting for another group exhibit opening in June. The exhibit theme? “Animals” (of course).

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The Commissioned Portrait and the Long Kept Secret

March 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

I must be a really good keeper of secrets. When friend, Linda Ross, commissioned me to do a portrait gift  for mutual friends, Elizabeth Wood and Barry Zuber, I knew it was going to be hard to keep the secret . You see, I board my horse, Bubba, at Elizabeth and Barry’s Farm. I’m at Bits & Bytes Farm several times a week. And they’re encouraging fans of my work and often inquire about the pieces I’m working on. How many times, during a casual conversation did I almost let slip that I’m working on a commission for them? About a zillion times.

Finally this weekend, Linda, Elizabeth and Barry had a chance to get together and Linda presented her holiday gift, a portrait of Saint Lawrence.

I love to work on this type of portrait because its much more than a painting of an individual. Linda and I collaborated to create a time capsule of last summer when Saint Lawrence came to live at Bits & Bytes. The painting incorporates the buildings, riding ring and all the four legged critters. It was hard for me to edit and define a stopping point while sketching. I’m there to watch Barry pull the weeds out of the spring garden, to plant tomatoes and spices, to watch them flourish and grow and in the fall to enjoy the harvest. I had so much experience and visual memories of the farm that determine what NOT to put in the painting became the challenge!

I think this type of portrait is particularly meaningful because, as a time capsule, its a visual memory of a point in ones life. My hope is that it brings a smile to someone’s face tomorrow, the next day and on and on and on….

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Seemingly Simple – Very Difficult Portrait – Zoey the Cat

February 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Zoey the cat. One tough portrait!

Today I finished a challenging portrait of Zoey the cat. This is the third portrait commissioned by the Lodosio Family. I’ve previously painted their daughter, Lia, and her horse, Marcus, as well as the family dog, Abbey. Each had challenges as every portrait does, but Zoey was a particularly tough project.

Why?

Grey. Zoey is a grey and white tuxedo cat with incredible eyes. The eyes are easy. Its the grey that is daunting. Nothing is really grey. I’ve painted “grey” horses, but they’re really white and horses are big and muscular and angular. I can use their physic to simplify shapes and play with color to achieve a “grey” horse.

But a grey cat isn’t muscular and doesn’t have an obvious physic. Grey cats are soft and fuzzy. This is the first time I had to think about how to achieve soft, fuzzy form in my particular style of painting.

So when I get stuck on a problem, I find it helpful to spend some time mulling. I printed out my reference photos of Zoey and tacked them to my living room wall. I studied them in different light, in the morning drinking coffee, at night from the glow of the tv. How do I show soft shapes in a colorless color – grey? I looked at this photos for weeks.

Eventually I devised an approach by using very small amounts of black, white, flesh and sepia to piece together a recognizable structure, painted very subtly. I always enjoy doing portraits because the finished piece has to look like the subject. Otherwise, I’ve just painted for instance, any old grey cat. But it was especially fun being forced to really think about paint and mixing color for this kitty portrait – Zoey!

UPDATE:

Upon delivery, Zoey inspects her portrait

Zoey herself inspected her finished portrait. Mom, Laura, writes that she was however, more interested in the box! Everyone’s a critic! Thanks for sending photos Laura, it makes this post much more fun!

Illustration for InSide Cox Magazine

January 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

InSide Cox Illustration Assignment

Just as I’m nearing max panic mode starting my final week of painting for the “Dog Show” exhibit, my friend (and site designer for melanieeberhardt.com) Cristin asked if I had time to work on  an illustration. I immediately said “yes”. Its flattering to get a call for illustrations, but doubly so from a friend!

Friends Cristin and Loraine team with the folks at Cox Enterprises, Inc (CEI) to publish their quarterly employee magazine, InSide Cox. Cristin is an awesome designer and Loraine is one of the cleverest wordsmiths I’ve ever met. So not only do I have a chance to illustrate guided by Cristin’s art direction, I get to illustrate for Loraine’s article!

The article is about starting the New Year with a perspective towards good health and active living. I pieced together five brightly colored activities – dude lifting weights, two friends canoeing, a morning walk with coffee and the family dog, good foods and sound sleeping (dog at side).  My sketch was approved and I stayed up late one night to complete the painting.

I was so excited to have this fun opportunity to collaborate with friends and I still finished all my paintings for the “Dog Show”exhibit! Hopefully the illustration will be well received by CEI’s employees! Once I receive payment, I’ll resupply my medicine cabinet with more No-Doze. I’ll be set for my next rush illustration job.

Check out designer, Cristin Bowman’s and writer, Loraine Fick websites!

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