3 Reasons Not to Buy Art

I was in Pier One one time and I wandered back to the art section. There were large framed prints for several hundred dollars a piece. The first thing I thought was, "Too bad people buy their art here". I thought that not because it wasn't "good". It was lovely. I just felt like it lacked personality and was the kind of art people get to match their napkins in the dining room. Feels kind of soulless to me.

That experience led me to the conclusion that there are reasons to purchase art and reasons not to!

1) Don't buy art just because it matches the couch or walls. You want art that gives you a mood, feeling, has meaning... Matching is overrated.

2) Don't buy art because other people like it. You need to love your art. Sometimes I spend several minutes looking at the art on my walls, just letting it speak to me.

3) Don't buy art from a chain store. OK this thought is a bit self serving. I think it is so special to be able to meet an artist online or in person and purchase directly from them. 

I would like to introduce you to some of the art in my home. (My art is all over my house, but today I am showing you some pieces made by others.)

My artist friend,  Suzanna Roberts , painted this portrait of my kittens and rabbit for me. It is so nice to have such a personal piece in the house.

My artist friend, Suzanna Roberts, painted this portrait of my kittens and rabbit for me. It is so nice to have such a personal piece in the house.

My father,  Michael Costerisan , is a woodworker and he made this clock for my grandparents in the 1980s. I consider it a work of art and display it with pride.

My father, Michael Costerisan, is a woodworker and he made this clock for my grandparents in the 1980s. I consider it a work of art and display it with pride.

This is one of my favorite pieces on my main floor, crayon on paper, by Sierra Allen (my daughter age 5 at the time).

This is one of my favorite pieces on my main floor, crayon on paper, by Sierra Allen (my daughter age 5 at the time).

Love, Dawn

PS This yellow Chevy hangs in my living room. (By one of my favorite artists- me!)

PPS Join me on my road trip!

The Sky is Bigger Today

I have previously written about my journey of healing through vision therapy and prism eye-glasses. It has been a three year process (so far), and frankly a huge life challenge. The short story is that I was really sick with headaches, dizziness, and body aches. Turns out I had been seeing double (and other visual issues) since I was born! These visual issues finally took me "down" when my eyes changed around age 40. During the past three years we (Northampton Vision Specialists and I) gradually changed my glasses prescription and I did vision therapy.

The wild discovery during my treatments was realizing that I had never had depth perception. Actually the wild part was getting depth perception! Last week we made another step forward in my healing with yet another lens prescription change. I put the glasses on and went outside. As I looked up at the sky it was bigger! I don't know how to describe it to you... kind of like if you had been looking at a stream in New Hampshire then looked at the Grand Canyon. Bigger like that! The trees looked firm and a little menacing as I drove home. Every object seemed like it wanted my attention. Nothing was blending anymore. 

As I drove home tears streamed down my cheeks and I had the thought- I will never feel joy again. The whole world looks stern and stark. Then I reminded myself that this is exactly what I have gone through with each visual change, and I have managed to adjust each time. 

My artist journey has been forever changed and shaped by these visual changes. I am so curious to see what I create next week with my newly informed visual system. I am a little scared too. Just being honest!

Love, Dawn

Choosing the Best Photo for an Equine Portrait

It can be difficult finding the very best photo to send me for an equine portrait, but taking the time to choose a good one is worth while.

I use a single photo as reference for the art and copy it almost exactly in terms of position and lighting (obviously the patterns and colors I use deviate from the photo). If the horse's ears are turned in the photo they will be the same in the portrait. Take time to look closely at the photo to see if you like the expression on the face of your horse or donkey.

I always draw horses in their natural state. No halters, fly masks, braids, or people in the image. If your horse is wearing a halter in the reference shot I can usually work around that but I will not include it in the art.

Here is what makes a photo a good reference for my equine portraits:

  • The photo needs to be digital or you need to have it scanned so that it can be sent to me via email. I use the reference on the computer so I can not work with physical photos.
  • High resolution- enough that I can zoom in and see details without blurring.
  • A clear, well-light view of the eye/eyes.
  • The photo should demonstrate the personality of the horse or donkey.
  • I only draw the whole body when the story it tells is compelling. If the action or stance is interesting... otherwise I focus on drawing a detailed face. It is helpful to see a few whole body photos of your equine even if we don't choose to use it as the final reference.

It is best to send me several photos to see which I think is most appropriate however I want you to love the image, so I will always confirm my choice with you before we move forward. If you have just one photo that you know is perfect let me know, but still send a few extras so I can see the horse's coat color, eyes, and personality from different angles.

This is a good reference photo. The lighting is nice. I can clearly see the color variations in his coat, he is not wearing any gear and his eye has detail when zoomed in. Also I like the expression on his face. The snow does blend in with the nose but I don't draw the background in the photo if it isn't a match. In this case I would replace the background.

This is a good reference photo. The lighting is nice. I can clearly see the color variations in his coat, he is not wearing any gear and his eye has detail when zoomed in. Also I like the expression on his face. The snow does blend in with the nose but I don't draw the background in the photo if it isn't a match. In this case I would replace the background.

This is not a good reference photo because the lighting is not showing his facial features and when zooming in on the eye it is blurry and hard to see. He also has an odd shape to his mouth because he is chewing.

This is not a good reference photo because the lighting is not showing his facial features and when zooming in on the eye it is blurry and hard to see. He also has an odd shape to his mouth because he is chewing.

This is not a great reference because of the dark right eye. Also she is wearing a halter but I can see enough of the coat and bone structure that I can work around that. This is a scanned physical photo of my horse who passed away. Obviously there is no way to take more photos, so in such cases if the photo is decent (which this one is) I could work with it as a reference. 

This is not a great reference because of the dark right eye. Also she is wearing a halter but I can see enough of the coat and bone structure that I can work around that. This is a scanned physical photo of my horse who passed away. Obviously there is no way to take more photos, so in such cases if the photo is decent (which this one is) I could work with it as a reference. 

Sorry if I tricked you!

1953 Ford in the Aspens . 34" x 34" Cotton fabric quilted.

1953 Ford in the Aspens. 34" x 34" Cotton fabric quilted.

Recently I confused some people when I shared my art online. I shared my digital art and they thought I was sharing images of quilts.  I certainly wasn't trying to trick anyone so I thought it might help to explain myself.

A year ago I started designing my own fabric and I had two good reasons for doing so at the time. 1) To stop being under the control of fabric companies and their copyrights. 2) To have full artistic input into my work. 

I have shared about my fabric designing adventures throughout the year on my blog. One thing I discovered early on, is that there is no reason to print the fabric then piece it together. Instead I could put the fabric designs together on the computer and then print the fabric. Out of that was born a new technique that I call "digital piecing".

When I started my current series, Cars with Curves, I gave myself permission to print my digitally pieced art onto metal in addition to fabric! That was an exciting moment but also an identity crisis.

Me (Dawn Allen) with a fabric quilt in the back and a metal print of "1955 Chevy in Desert" in the front.

Me (Dawn Allen) with a fabric quilt in the back and a metal print of "1955 Chevy in Desert" in the front.

Am I still an art quilter? My work still looks like quilts but sometimes it isn't a quilt! My intention is to do only one original quilt for each piece in a series. For people who want to invest in beautiful one of a kind art this will be a great opportunity. People wanting a modern look may prefer a large metal print rather than the fabric. And finally for those on a budget the smaller prints on metallic paper are beautiful too.

Fabric quilt in the background and a framed 8" x 12" metallic paper print of "1964 VW bug with Winter Birch" in the foreground.

Fabric quilt in the background and a framed 8" x 12" metallic paper print of "1964 VW bug with Winter Birch" in the foreground.

This may be a defining moment in my career as an artist. It may be a launching point for something I have not yet imagined. Probably a little of both... stay tuned to find out with me. 

Mallory in a snow storm... day or night which do you like best?

Mallory in a snow storm... day or night which do you like best?

Karma Art: I am starting a new series of Equine Art.

I created a commissions page and moved the form that had been in this post to there.

How I turn on my headlights...

I am really enjoying my new digital photographic collage series, Cars with Curves! One of the things I have enjoyed playing with is the concept of having the car's headlights appear to be on.

1955 Chevy in the City  was my first experiment with lights. I made the street lights and headlights glow just a little bit.

1955 Chevy in the City was my first experiment with lights. I made the street lights and headlights glow just a little bit.

So here is my secret:

I start with an almost finished scene. (I will talk more about how I did this in my next post.)

I start with an almost finished scene. (I will talk more about how I did this in my next post.)

I add a "dot" of white using the blurred paint brush in photo shop over top of the lights as a separate layer. I could keep it this bright but I didn't...

I add a "dot" of white using the blurred paint brush in photo shop over top of the lights as a separate layer. I could keep it this bright but I didn't...

I lowered the opacity on the white layer to 63% so that you can see the lights under it.

I lowered the opacity on the white layer to 63% so that you can see the lights under it.

Next I added two layers on the road and lowered their opacity too so you can see a bit of the road texture underneath (and it softens the image).

Next I added two layers on the road and lowered their opacity too so you can see a bit of the road texture underneath (and it softens the image).

Finally I imagined that the road was a bit wet, so I added a final layer of solid silver pattern to look like a reflection on the road.

Finally I imagined that the road was a bit wet, so I added a final layer of solid silver pattern to look like a reflection on the road.

Love and safe travels, Dawn