Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to plan a portrait (Part 3)

Voila! Here is the finished portrait. I kept it simple by unifying their clothing and giving it a solid background. I think that helps the focus to be on their faces. By doing a lot of the measuring ahead of time, I was able to focus on color mixing and value tones rather than painting over mistakes (I've learned my lesson over the years). So, I will be shipping it off on Monday.. a painting would be such a nice surprise for Christmas :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to plan a portrait (Part 2)

OK please don't judge me. This is not pretty, but it is the next step in my painting process. This is the underpainting. I like to do this for a couple reasons. It helps me to catch mistakes before I spend time mixing colors. If you look at the girl on the right, you can see that her body is much too small for her head. I may not have caught this as quickly if I hadn't done the underpainting. Also, it helps me to lay in some value structure (hence, the splotchy faces). It may not be pretty, but once I start putting color on top it gets better! Lastly, I really like layering lighter colors on top of darks because it gives the painting depth and interest.

One thing to remember when doing an underpainting... keep it thin. You want it to dry before you start painting color on top. (Also follows the "fat over thin" rule in order to prevent cracking). Stay tuned to see the final painting!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to plan a portrait

It can be tricky to do a portrait of six kids but planning well in the beginning makes it a lot easier. Believe me, I am not the best planner but I put my non-meticulous ways to work to ensure fewer setbacks later on. I always start with a sketch. It may not look like much but it helps me familiarize myself with the faces and the composition. The pictures I was given to work with for this portrait were fairly small so I blew them up as much as I could without getting blurry. I had to work between two separate photos to get the best view of each child so drawing out the composition in a sketchbook helps to sort it out. I often make notes in the sketchbook to remind myself of ideas and colors.

Once I am ready to tackle the canvas I start laying out the composition in pencil. I don't normally do this because I usually enjoy just moving paint around and not tainting my canvas with pencil, although when I'm painting six portraits on one canvas I have to measure and re-measure and that is a little easier in pencil. I make sure to measure every head, set of eyes, forehead to chin, ear to ear.... you get the idea. This is not a mathematical method nor is it graphed out. I use my pencil or paintbrush to measure. It's more like eyeballing until you get it right. I like this method because I am still using my eyes rather than relying on a graph. I think it just works best for my brain. After this step is done it's time to start painting! My next post will be about the underpainting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Computer woes!

My apologies for the lack of posting!! We've had some unfortunate computer malfunctions as of late and it is keeping me from blogging. :( I'm not really tech savvy, but apparently after we did software updates on both of our computers the hard drive on one of them completely died and the other one is showing signs of doing the same thing! yikes! So, a few hundred dollars later, we have at least saved what was on one computer and we are currently backing up the other, but I still can't load photos quite yet. These aren't even old computers! uggh. On a positive note, it has given me time to just focus on painting and a few projects around the house so that is good!

I am currently working on a large portrait of six kids, a paris scene and some charcoal portraits. I am also planning new work to start on after the holidays. I will have to be ready for Art & Soup again... one of my favorite art events of the year! It sure makes the month of February way more fun! Hopefully, I will be able to update you with photos soon!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I now have stacks of paintings in my basement. I used to store quite a few of them at my hubby's design studio, but now they are living with us. We are planning on building a proper storage unit for them, but until then, they are simply on some scrap pieces of lumber to protect them from any moisture. Anyone in need of a painting? I would love to clear some of them outta here! Nikki, do you see the one of you there? Want it?

Anyway, I am planning on painting in an extra bedroom, but because we also use it as an office, I don't have room for all of my supplies. So, I am planning on tackling a rather large project (for me) this fall of making one of our (icky) basement rooms into a craft room! I am actually really excited about it. I will have a place to do art, wrap gifts, package paintings and store all of my supplies! Stay tuned for photos.... I will hopefully be starting this weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back to Blogging :)

(we installed these at my mother-in-laws recently)

I'm back! A lot has happened since I last blogged and it all kinda threw me out of sorts, but I am ready to be a part of the blogging world again! First of all, we moved our businesses out of a retail spot and back into our home. I had been painting there so my whole studio was hauled back to our house and it still is sadly in a state of disarray. I have two easels in what we call "the studio" which is really a small bedroom but most of my supplies and paintings are currently in the basement in a storage area. aggghhh. We have moved all of Mike's landscape design supplies and whatnot back into our house as well and it currently resides in the attic. I need to get a move on organizing everything because I have orders for the holidays! I'm excited to be painting from home again, just as long as I can banish most of the clutter that has seeped into our little abode.

Secondly, I did have surgery last week so I spent a few days mostly in bed. No worries, I am in good health and ready to be creative once again. I owe a big thank you to all of our friends and family that brought us meals and cookies! We have such wonderful friends.

Last, but certainly not least, a good friend of mine had her baby, Micah Eleanor on October 24th. Liz is a faithful friend that even follows this little blog! She is always an encouragement to me, makes me smile and is just an amazing woman. Her daughter was born 11 weeks premature and weighed 1 lb 15 oz. She is a beautiful little girl with awesome parents and she is doing well and gaining weight. I love reading Liz's blog daily to see pictures of Micah and see how she is doing. Check it out and keep them in your prayers!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Holiday Commissions

Adam & Asher
16 x 20
oil on canvas


I am currently accepting commissions for the holidays. Just a reminder to get them in quick, if you're interested! I like to know 6 - 8 weeks ahead of time and, with the holidays, 8 weeks is preferable. If you are interested in a portrait, I can do full color oil, black and white oil or charcoal. Pricing is determined by size, medium and the number of faces in the portrait, so please let me know what you have in mind and I can give you an estimate. If you are interested in a charcoal 4-6 weeks notice is plenty.

Portrait commissions usually increase every November/December for me. I love the holidays and the flurry of activity and it is fun to be a part of a gift that will be so special and last a lifetime. Check out some samples of previous commissions on my website.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Boxes Made of Shells
2.5 x 3.5
Mixed Media

I have finally joined the club and posted some ACEOs at my etsy shop!

I know these are totally different than my paintings, but I am enjoying them for the moment and don't want to limit myself creatively. I figure if I enjoy something and I am still creating it can only help my painting. When I first started making these little collages (years ago) I wanted to keep them really simple. I still like the simplicity and the negative space (I'm a big fan of white) but I think in my next set I will be adding more paint and color. We will see what happens.

You may be wondering what inspired these little guys. I was into art journals at the time and I spent some time creating little collages in my journal every day. I have always loved collecting paper, little notes, card or ephemera and I love scrapbooks! I also love reading and writing. I actually started out as an english/journalism double major in college and I have so much respect for the art of putting words together. When I find a line in a book that I love, I almost can't get it out of my head until I do something with it. I like to use them for painting titles or just doodle them in a sketch or in my journal. With these collages I feel like I am able to combine my love of painting and writing and collecting. It feels a little more like a hobby, but I love it. So, take a look at my etsy store if you would like to see more!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Collages on Etsy!

She Called to Him
4 x 6
Mixed Media on Paper

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

I finally got a few of my new collages posted on etsy! They are a new project of mine that I am really excited about! I have more ready to post so stay tuned! I will have aceos (art trading cards), notecards and possibly some larger versions in the future. I am trying them on my current etsy shop for now... we will see how it goes. If they are successful, they may get their own shop.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Something New to Come

I am working on a new project that I am really excited about! You will soon find something new in my etsy shop! The image above is a sneak preview! It is so much fun and I hope you like it as much as I do!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September Landscape

September Landscape
5 x 7
oil on canvas

I know it's the first of October and I'm posting a painting with the title September, but it was September when it was painted! This spot is in Iowa, just outside of Glenwood where some of our friends live. It is a really pretty area with many paintable views.

If you would like to see my paintings in person, please stop by Olive Branch in Rockbrook Village on Saturday during the Apple Day Craft Show! We will be open 10 - 5. We would love to see you there!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Serene Atmosphere
Sarah Rishel

My husband and I attended the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City this past weekend to celebrate our anniversary. It was so much fun to see so many talented artists in one place! We also ran into my freshman year roommate Megan in the midst of thousands of people which was fun! It was so good to see her again! This is my second time visiting the Plaza Art Fair and I have to say it is by far the best art fair I have ever seen. I know there are many great art fairs out there, but in this part of the country, they are a little sparse. It is probably 4-5 times the size of our Summer Art Festival in Omaha and filled with hundreds of talented artists. From what I've heard, it is tough competition to get into it... I may try for next year... we will see!

The above print was our big purchase for the weekend. Sorry for the bad photo, it was still wrapped in plastic. We bought an intaglio print by Sarah Rishel. Check out her website to see more of her work! Mike and I both really enjoy looking at and collecting etchings. I am fascinated by the amount of work that goes into them. I hope one day I will have access to a printmaking shop so that I can do etchings too!

We also spent an afternoon at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum which is beautiful and worth a trip! We saw quite a few Thiebaud's and some really beautiful baroque paintings and so much more! If you ever make it to KC you must visit the Nelson-Atkins and the Kemper!
Mike in the Baroque GalleryOutside the Nelson-Atkins

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Iowa Sunset

Iowa Sunset
9 x 12
oil on canvas

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

I'll be honest, this painting was a difficult one for me. I had a completely different version of it yesterday. The clouds were more abstract and choppy before and it was distracting so I decided to make them a little more smooth. I still don't know what I think about it, but I couldn't work on it anymore. So, this is how it will stay.

Mike thought I should title this painting Nebraska Sunset As Seen From Iowa. I thought that was pretty funny, but I stuck with Iowa Sunset :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Aspen Leaf

Aspen Leaf
12 x 20
oil on canvas

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

Here is my latest painting... can you tell I'm inspired by the change of season? This was a fun one, it's a little washed out in the photograph though. I think the greys are more rich in person.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Charcoal Portraits

Flower Girl
14 x 17

Most of the time you'll find me painting, but I love drawing almost as much as painting! I admit, I sometimes neglect my drawing because painting is so time involved. Last year, I kind of went through a charcoal drawing frenzy... all I did for a while (as far as artwork) was sit on the floor and sketch up a storm! Yes, on the floor, I didn't have a drawing table set up at the time and I don't find an easel that conducive to sketching. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and tonight I found myself browsing through some of these drawings and realizing I miss it and I need to get back to it~  

If you happen to be looking for a unique gift, a charcoal portrait is a nice option. They look great in all different types of homes, especially when they are framed nicely! They are also quite affordable for a piece of custom artwork. My charcoal portrait prices start at $75 for a 14 x 17. I think that's a pretty good deal myself :) I also offer framing services, shipping and gift wrap if needed! Check out more of my charcoals on my website if you have a moment. Thanks for looking! 

Also, thanks to my friend Stacy for giving me a mention on her new blog ... the copy cat cottage! If you have an interest in decorating on a budget, her blog is inspiring. She has a beautiful home and is full of good ideas (even though she claims to be a copy cat). Take a minute to check it out!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Decor on a Budget

Now, if you need some inspiration for decorating on a budget this holiday season or I'm sure she will have excellent handmade gift ideas... do check out my friend Stacy's new blog The Copy Cat Cottage! She is full of creative and tasteful ideas on a budget and she takes beautiful photographs!

Must See Etsy Artists

photo from laughing squid's flickr page

Here are some of my favorite etsy artists!

Erin Spencer - beautiful landscape paintings
Irene Suchocki - really sweet photographs
Elizabeth Scott - delicate jewelry inspired by nature
Amy Hatch - pretty, vintage inspired jewelry

Each of these shops would make a special, one of a kind gift for someone you love!

Buy Handmade!!

Fisherman's Boat
5 x 7
oil on panel


As we all know, but don't really want to talk about it yet, the holidays are just around the corner! Christmas is a popular time for people to order paintings and I have a couple commissions lined up already. I usually request 4-6 weeks notice for a commissioned piece and for the holidays it nice to have around 8 weeks. We are only 13 weeks away... yikes!

I know the economy has hit everyone and extras like art are often the first things to be cut from the budget. I also know that art can be expensive, sometimes ridiculously expensive. I just wanted to encourage you this holiday season to fight the urge to shop at big box stores (I do it too... I'm not pointing fingers) and consider making more gifts, buying from local stores or buying handmade items from etsy shops or ebay! There is so much affordable art out there! Sometimes you might even find a beautiful original painting or drawing that is cheaper than a print from a big box store! There are amazing deals to be had out there right now and many artists trying to sell their work.

As an artist, it can be fun to talk about art and do the art, but when it comes to pricing and talking about money it's no longer as much fun! If only we could all just paint for free and do it just for the love of it! In this economy, artists are trying to find ways to make their art more affordable, like doing smaller paintings or offering free shipping. For example, the little boat painting above recently sold for $25! This fall I will be adding many more in this price range to my etsy shop so be sure to check it out!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunday Fishing

Sunday Fishing
5 x 7
oil on canvas

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

I always feel a little weird doing these little baby paintings, but I am going to be doing more of them to try and stock up my etsy shop. I'm just used to working on a slightly bigger scale, but I do enjoy working quickly and being able to try anything in a small size instead of the commitment of a large painting. Don't worry though, I will still be painting larger paintings :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rio Grande

Rio Grande
16 x 20
oil on canvas

Here is the completed painting! This was a spot outside of Taos, NM where you can actually visit the Gorge and then take a drive down into the canyon and you end up alongside the river. What a great spot to do some fishing or have a picnic! Beware if you are afraid of heights though!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rio Grande Sneak Preview

This is a portion of the painting I am currently working on. I was hoping to have it completed and posted by now, but sometimes I just can't rush a painting. It is a painting of the Rio Grande River outside of Taos, NM. I will be finishing up the sky and water tomorrow and will post the finished product as soon as I can. 

The art fair was fun even though it was a little slow. The way they set up the booths completely blocks our shop from view so we had a few visitors but not as many as we would have liked. We are looking forward to the Craft Fair on October 3rd though. The booths will not be in front of our shop, so people might actually find us! Thanks to all the family that came to visit and keep us company during the art fair! You have all been so supportive of our ventures.

Remember to check out the Olive Branch blog when you get a chance! Today's post was about beautiful scabiosa blooms. (One of my top-five flowers). I should do a painting of some scabiosa sometime. 

Also, if you haven't already, become a fan of Leia Brown Studio on facebook! Thanks to those of you that are already fans :) 

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rockbrook Art Fair

The Rockbrook Art Fair is this weekend! Come visit us at Olive Branch! We have my art on display, a nice selection of garden art by local artists and beautiful containers to plant your fall mums in!

Saturday 10 - 6
Sunday 10 - 5

Rockbrook Village - 108th & Center
Olive Branch (across from Great Harvest Bread)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top 5 Loves

Pelvis with the Distance
Georgia O'Keefe

My Top 5 Loves (at this moment):

1. Georgia O'Keefe's New Mexico paintings.

2. Gummi Vitamins for adults. mmm.

3. The movie Julie & Julia. I saw it with my mom on Labor Day and loved it!

4. The anticipation of fall.

5. Reading Garance Dore's blog in French and then checking to see if I translated correctly by reading it in English. I know... kinda weird.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jones Beach

Jones Beach
16 x 20
oil on canvas

I finished this painting today of Jones Beach, NY. It felt a little different for me, maybe because there was no water to paint! I've been painting a lot of water lately which I love and I have also been painting mostly figures in a landscape. Doing all this landscape painting makes me feel a little like Bob Ross! I used to stick solely to portraits, but I am now branching out and, I have to say, I am really enjoying it.

What I love about water-filled landscape paintings is that they are calming and remind me of some of my favorite places and favorite things to do. They also generally include many shades of blue which is my favorite hue :) So, with this painting I wanted it to still have the same calming effect minus the water. I hope it worked. It does remind me of a fun trip!

One of the (many) goals of my painting is to create a "scrapbook" of this life. To thank God for the beautiful places I've seen and the amazing people I've met. I absolutely love painting, but sometimes it feels like I give up so many other things so that I have time to paint. When I look back at the paintings I've done though, I am so thankful for the life I've been blessed to have. That is when I am reminded of all that God has done and I don't ever want to stop thanking Him.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." 2 Corinthians 2:14

Monday, August 31, 2009

Top 5 Loves

Painting of a Native American by N.C. Wyeth

Top 5 Things I Love at This Moment:
(In no particular order)

1. The art of N.C. Wyeth.

2. Amazing weather.

3. The music of Mat Kearney.

4. The daily painting blog by Edward Gordon.

5. This verse: "In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." Job 12:10

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Red Umbrella

Red Umbrella
8 x 10
oil on panel

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

This is a painting done from a photo taken by my husband on his last trip to Costa Rica. I was unable to go, but he nicely took a lot of photos for me! He has a pretty good eye!

p.s. this is my 100th post! yay!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bring Your Rain Again (Again)

Bring Your Rain Again
oil on canvas
30 x 40

I finished the large version of this painting! (At least I think I have... I am still pondering going back into the rocks a little bit). It is funny how similar the 8 x 10 looks on the computer screen and yet how different in person.

I am really inspired by water lately, so I think I am going to run with that for a while. Today is a nice rainy day to get me inspired... although I am fighting off the urge to take a nap... why does rain do that??

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


11 x 14


Some of you may recognize this from the first pigtail sketch that I did about a month ago. This one was commissioned by a friend that has two daughters. I've been having fun with these sketches. Stay tuned for more : )

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bring Your Rain Again

Bring Your Rain Again
8 x 10
oil on canvas panel

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

These are definitely my favorite colors. I don't know about you, but I see blues, greys and blacks and I am instantly calmed down and transported to a beach or something. This was the most amazing rock beach in Costa Rica before a storm came in. There was so much wildlife too! Pelicans, snails, crabs, toucans even! Such a beautiful memory.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Preparing the Pineapple Fields - 8 x 10 - Original Oil Painting

Preparing the Pineapple Fields
8 x 10
oil on canvas panel

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

Here is the finished painting. Somehow it looks a little crooked on the computer. It is a straight-ish horizon line in real life! I'm thinking I will do this one as a large painting. Maybe 24 x 30 or so? I'll be able to capture more of the light in the fields and trees with a larger canvas.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Animal Art

Costa Rican Kitten
oil on canvas

Available for purchase at Long Dog Fat Cat!

We took a few of my animal paintings to a new shop near Village Pointe today. They are called Long Dog Fat Cat and they sell natural pet food and toys and they also support local artists by hanging our work in their store! You should check it out if you are in the area. The owners are very friendly and knowledgeable.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Preparing the Pineapple Fields (in progress)
8 x 10
oil on canvas

I started a new painting today of a pineapple field worker in Costa Rica. It has been on my list of photos to paint since 2005 (yikes) and I have finally decided to tackle it. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I should do a large painting of it. This is more of a study I suppose. This also gives you an idea what my underpainting looks like... pretty simple really. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yankee - 12 x 12 - Original Oil Painting

12 x 12
oil on canvas

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

This is a painting of my in-laws golden doodle puppy. Isn't he cute? Until he pees on the carpet...

Friday, July 24, 2009


9 x 12
charcoal study

A painting of Yankee will be posted soon!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Little Koi

Little Koi
12 x 12
oil on canvas

Available for purchase at my etsy shop!

Felt like I was on a roll with koi fish. I will do more I'm sure!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Very Professional Art Installation

This is what the koi painting looks like installed in Dave and Tiffaney's bedroom! I don't always get to see where my paintings end up, so it was nice to be able to do this for friends and get to be there for the installation!

You should see what I had to go through to get this picture though. I will show you.

Hannah decided to grace us with her presence in this photo.

Then we were challenged with trying to get a shot of her flying through the air.

Can you find Tiffaney in this shot? She was trying to fly too.

This one was really impressive. It seems as though she is levitating?!

I think maybe Hannah and Annie were jealous of Tiffaney's levitating skills, so they decided to bury her in her own pillows.
Who knew installing art could be so fun? (There may have been some peach bellinis involved).
Thanks friends for the good times!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Koi Details

Koi Triptych (details)

Here are some detail shots of the koi painting. We will be helping them hang it this weekend, so hopefully I will have some installation shots for you!