What Michigan Artists Do in the Winter

The past few weeks it has snowed a LOT. Here’s a picture of what it looks like outside my front door:

Michigan scene in the wintertime

Outside my house

Since before moving here two years ago, I lived in warmer climates (California, and then Texas), I was amazed by the amount of snow that falls – and stays – each winter. The landscape will pretty much look like the picture above, until the end of March.
When I first moved here, I went “ooh, aaaah, how beautiful.” (I still do).

I have also become acquainted this past year with something we never used in California or Texas: a roof rake.

For those of you from warmer states, here’s what one looks like:

photo of a Michigan artist's roof rake

My roof rake

Okay, I can hear you southerners asking, “What in the heck is a roof rake?” (Especially those of you from counties in Texas with only 1 snow plow for the entire county). Well, when 6 inches of snow fall each day for 3 days in a row, the snow accumulates on the roofs.

Enough snow accumulates that the weight could actually cause a roof to collapse, especially if an ice dam occurs. An ice dam is something that house owners up north dread; when cold snow melts, it creates a ridge of ice on the roof, and then more snow and ice keep collecting on the roof.

So, in the winter, people in this part of the world participate in one of Michigan’s winter sports. They get out a roof rake and rake – yes, rake! – the snow off of their roof.

This is really good exercise, especially when it is 10 degrees outside, My friends all assure me that the cold temperature makes it even more invigorating. My friends are very enthusiastic people who were born here.

Raking roofs involves getting up on ladders, climbing up on the roof, and not slipping and falling to the ground, while raking the heavy snow off. The real challenge comes when you are up on the roof: seeing how long you can last until a chunk of ice under your feet breaks off, and whether you can jump to another part of the roof without plummeting to the ground below.

I have gotten pretty good at this. So good, that I have even helped friends rake their roofs. So, when I’m not painting, I’m…roof raking.

The forecast tonight is for 6 – 9 inches of snow during the night. So….ooooh. Aaaaah. Pretty. And plenty of exercise this next week.







Cardinal Cup

I am still working on learning how to paint coffee mugs using different media. Here, I painted a female cardinal using oil-based sharpies that I baked.

Coffee Cup with female cardinal painted on it

Female Cardinal Cup

I like the way the colors turned out. Next, I am painting some cups with Pebeo Porcelaine paints, which I understand are more permanent. I have one almost done, and will post how it turned out next time.

I also plan on painting some ceramic tiles that I got, after doing a series of cups. I am really enjoying the process of painting on porcelain. The cleanup is a lot faster than with oil paints!


What Michigan Artists Do in the Winter

Winter is full-blown here in western Michigan. And during this season when it’s harder to get out, many Michigan artists turn their hands to tasks such as:

Watching the snow build up outside. It is gorgeous, in spite of the cold.

Michigan yard covered with snow

front yard covered with snow

It is also fun to catch the woodpeckers eating the suet outside:

woodpecker eating suet during Michigan winter

woodpecker eating suet

Also, us artists who are also bird watchers fix up feeders our friends give us; this one had metal (which can cause the little toes to get frostbite) so I coated the perches with many coats of acrylic and let them dry, to make a plastic perch

bird feeder with perches coated with plastic

plastic coating for the perches

And, of course, enjoying the blue jay display outside in the bush:

Blue jay in a bush during Michigan winter

Blue jay in bush

I am also learning to cross-country ski (hey, all this snow has to be good for fun, too!)

It is also a time to apply to art fairs, which I am currently working at. Problem is, I left my (huge, bulky) booth in Texas when I moved here last year. So, I have to get a new tent, make a display, take a booth photo, and send it off, since most of the summer shows in Michigan want you to apply EARLY (as in during the long, cold winter months). It gives me something to look forward to, as I dream of warm June and July days.

Oh, yes, I’m still painting, too; I’ll share a painting in a few days that I’m working on! In the meantime, stay warm and enjoy the snow, if you’re from up north!

Yay! Sold Out and Other Great Stuff

Okay, I’m very, very glad – my art cards have been selling well at local art galleries during the holidays, and today I sold out of one of the card lines (the blue jay – I should have made more!). I also created a profile and will have my art on the Saatchi Art Gallery online.

I also sold two paintings this past month, and have two commissions. That’s all great news.

However, I have yet to make an online sale. So, I got to thinking…why? My guess is that if people actually SEE my art, they like it. I took some cards to a local craft fair the other day, to find out how to exhibit at the next one, and the response was gratifying: the person who oversees the show saw my cards, said “OMG! I have to go show these to the other folks here, these are amazing!” and then she proceeded to show them to her friends who liked them a lot, I got a commission that day as well.

So, I guess I will continue to work on offline sales. I do have a friend who is a professional photographer who is going to help me take actual decent photos of my paintings (you now, without all the glare and stuff that I can’t seem to figure out how to get rid of).

I would love to hear from other artists out there – is your experience like mine? Are you selling most of your works offline? What have you experienced in this area?

Well, the sales did make for a happy holiday!

Portrait Day 7

The portrait is finally done. For some reason, my camera picked up more yellow than is in the original.

The final portrait by Yeshua's Child Art

Portrait Day 7

I added yet more details to the face, softened transitions, added more details to the dog’s fur. The pit bull was painted with raw umber, burnt sienna and ultramarine blue for darks; and yellow ochre, burnt sienna and raw umber in varying degrees, mixed with titanium white, for the lighter areas. This was a fun portrait to do; I wanted to catch the deep love between my friend and her dog, which is why I went with warmer tones overall.

New Portrait Days 1 and 2

Someone liked my portraits of my friend’s children enough that I was asked to paint another portrait.

On day 1, I created the background in a very light (high key) cad. yellow light, a hint of yellow ochre and tit. white. On day 2, I blocked in the girl and her dog.

Here it is with the rough block ins:

Lesson 1 in "How to paint a portrait" by Yeshua's Child Art

Color block in

Tomorrow I will create more details.