Exercise and Business Productivity
Susie E Caron © 1/21/2020
My Dad used to say, “You can’t take it with you,” and after a pause, he’d add, “ but it’s nice to have enough to get you there.” He was referring, of course at the time, to money. Today, I equate it with physical exercise and how adding a little affected my business productivity.
Due to my cranky shoulder, and some limiting effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis, I sit for hours painting pet and animal portraits and scenes. Capturing details especially requires hours of stillness and concentration. (Sometimes I even hold my breath.) I know this isn’t healthy. However, exercise isn’t something I enjoy, readily think about or plan for.
Everyone knows exercise is important and statistically equated with longer life and good health. I know I can’t live forever, but I certainly want good enough health to get me there. I realized if I wanted to continue creating quality art for a long time, I needed to make some changes.
After retirement in 2015, I bought an exercise bike and a rowing machine and used them most mornings each week. I added a timer to remind me to get up from my desk once every hour and engage in something that required me to move. These additions were not easily added to my busy days and my exercise progress was very slow. However, even this minimal addition of exercise and movement yielded some improvements.
Over the years my circulation, physical well-being, and ease of movement improved. What surprised me most? The number and quality of my paintings all improved. By adding exercise to my busy schedule for health reasons, also increased my business productivity.
My Dad would be pleased to know I remembered his words. I know I won’t be able to take health or art ‘with me’ but perhaps with attention I will have enough of both to ‘get me there.’
We take lots of photos of our children and our pets from our own eye level. Seated or standing, we take photos from above them. These photos keep our memories safe, but they usually make less than perfect pictures for display or for creating artistic pet portraits.
How to Take Better Pet Photos
For pet photos a few tips can make a difference. Attention to lighting, details, expressions and color, and when and where our photos are taken, all contribute to photo composition and appeal. However, these may be difficult to control. The good news is we can get the better photos by adjusting the perspective from which we take them.
Most pet photographs look best when taken at or near the animal’s eye level and at a ¾ degree angle and with the animal looking slightly up. (Like the photo of Josie above.) This includes pets ranging in size from Great Danes to baby rabbits. (This is not true of cows, horses and other large animals, I’ll talk about that below.)
Here are a few examples.
A single photo may be all you need if the first turns out great. However, if you want to provide reference photos to your pet portrait artist, then adding a few more photos will be appreciated and helpful.
Here are some tips that can help.
1.Take some close up photographs of your pet - near pet's eye level, at a ¾ angel from both sides and try to get your pet looking up slightly. That way you will see one eye clearly and the far eye somewhat.
2. Next take a photo from the front. Here you want to be only at or slightly above eye level with the animal looking up.
3. Finally take full body photos from both sides and front to reveal color, texture and patterns in the coat.
4. Try to take a few indoors in your favorite room and also some outdoors in different conditions – sunlit, overcast, on green grass, in flower beds, or in snow.
Tips to help your pet cooperate.
Before you bring out your camera, play with your pets to get them relaxed and happy. You may need a helper with treats or squeaky toys to get your pup or kitty to pose for you, but you can do it alone with the same enticements. If you are alone, use treats, toys, and decks, porches, stairs, or anything to get your pet up for eye level shots.
Those tips for photographing large animals.
Horses and other large animals look best when you take photos aimed at their shoulder, mid section or hip. In other words, below their eye level and yours. Aim the camera at their largest mass, at ¾ angle to the front shoulder, or midsection, or even from behind. To do this lower the camera so the camera a little so it aims mostly at the horses mass. Take lot of angles to get everything.
With these tips and some agreeable animals, you will get better photos for enlarging to display. You will also be armed and ready to send some to a pet portrait artist (like me) to create a beautiful portrait of your beloved pet to keep forever.
Do these tips help clarify how to take better photos of your pets and larger animals? Do you have more tips for all of us. If so, please share your comments and suggestions below.
Choosing Titles Like Twee'
Susie E Caron (c) 1-7-2020
I like Titles and I generate them for various things: books I want to write, movies I wish I could make, my various business names, web site names and pet names. Perhaps, ‘free associating’ from my psychology graduate school training enhances this ability. I don’t know, but sometimes a title just ‘shows up’ without notice.
In 2010, I struggled to choose from my list of story ideas to write my first of 3 children’s books. I didn’t have a title and couldn’t settle on a character or on a story. After a bit of giving up and prayer, quite unexpectedly the word Twee’ (complete with the apostrophe) came to my mind. It was so uncommon a word that it actually startled me, and I laughed.
The stories flowed from there, so I ‘went with it’ and in a short time I wrote 3 children’s books: Twee’, I Am Twee’ and Twee’ for Two. Allegorical stories, they reveal a little pine tree, from sapling to ‘tree-childhood’, whose emotional/social/relationship awareness develops much like most human children. I wanted to encourage reading by adults to children, so I used “Twee’ Means You and Me” at the end of book one- a play on the word “between.”
During story construction, the source of the name remained a mystery to me. I recognized that Twee’ sounded a lot like when our toddler daughter said the word “tree”. As a preschool child, she seemed to be missing ‘r’s’ in her speech. A few months of speech therapy remedied it, but I have to say I missed her cute way of speaking. As I wrote, I began to wonder, did Twee actually have an established meaning? I decided it prudent to look in the dictionary.
Merriam-Webster defines it thus: “affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute or quaint.” It is further described as originating in early British baby talk as an alteration of ‘’sweet.’ In the early 1900’s it was a term of affection. (In recent years it is more like ‘corny’, but I am old fashioned gal.)
This earlier definition suited me, my character, and titles just fine. I was delighted. Twee’ is cute, dainty, delicate if not also a bit quaint. All the things I’d unconsciously wanted.
Feeling validated by this discovery I began to ponder the apostrophe and the tendril. Early in the process, I’d argued strongly for the necessity of the apostrophe with my editor, without knowing why. I’d also insisted my illustrator put the tendril on top of Twee’s head. What was that all about? What could the tendril, with it’s dangling pine cone, and the apostrophe at the end of a name possibly mean? Maybe it was a promise of things to come? After all, pine cones carry seeds and seeds sprout new “Twee’s”. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
I think it is a question. Maybe it is for each of us to answer. Or, perhaps, as I suspected at the beginning of this journey, it is about growing through relationship with others.
Twee’ Means You And Me.
Thank you. Please comment. I'd love to hear from you.
New Pet/Animal Art Sizes
Susie E Caron (c) 1/4/2020
Come find out about my new line of pet and animal art sizes on my social sites under #TweeArtFun and especially on my Facebook artist’s page SusieECaron.Twee .
For this year’s theme, #SomethingOld #SomethingNew, (1-1-2020 to 2-14-2020) fans can share photos of their pets and beloved animals of all kinds: furry, finned, scaled, creeping, running, flying, swimming – domestic or wild. Of course besides presenting my new art portrait sizes for sale and custom orders, I am giving out free gifts in random drawings, for those who participate by commenting and sharing photos. In Addition – from those who share their pet and animal photos one person will win the grand prize of a free 8x10 pet portrait. (winner announced Feb 14, 2020.)
For many years now, I’ve had the honor of painting pet portraits 8x10 and larger. Everyone for whom I’ve painted a pet portrait has told me how much the portraits means to them, bringing a smile, recalling happy memories and keeping the pets presence alive in their home.
So, if I am busy painting pet portraits already why would I want to provide smaller, more affordable art sizes?
My heart is moved by pet people who love their pets and I want to make pet art available to more people. That’s the reason that this year I began working on a variety of smaller sizes on canvas.
Currently small paintings on canvas come in these sizes and prices:
4x4 (with a small easel for $25.)
4x6 (with a small easel for $35.) ($45 with frame)
5x7 (with frame $55.)
There may be more sizes, priced under 100 coming and I am working on some beautiful paintings on wood.
What are your thoughts about this? Any suggestions?
I'd love to hear from you in comments or on my Facebook page.
You can contact me on email too: firstname.lastname@example.org
Me and Blacky,
Susie E Caron (c) 1-1-20
My love for animals began very early. This is a photo of me with my first puppy. I named him Blacky. I loved him dearly, as you can see. It was hard for me at 4 years old, when Blacky was hit by a car and killed while I had been away visiting my Grandparents. I learned of his death when I returned home and I never got to say 'Goodbye'. This photo is all I have of him.
While I couldn't replace Blacky, I have enjoyed many pets, horses and farm animals, throughout my life and loved every one deeply. When we retired, we rode our horses for a few more years. However, we realized we needed to find them good homes, before we struggled to care for them. We also realized that we needed to become a one pet family and are blessed by Josie, our now 3 year old bouncing Boxer.
Maybe that's why I love to paint pet and animal portraits and scenes with animals in them.
My love for animals never waned. I wanted to surround myself with them and I discovered more & more people wanted portraits of their beloved pets, horses and other animals.
I feel blessed every day to paint pets and animals for myself & for everyone who loves their pets.
How do you feel about pet and animal art in your home?
I'd love to hear from you.
Comment below or contact me: email: email@example.com
Jan.1,2O020. https://www.facebook.com/SusieECaron.Twee/n. I launche #TweeArtFun, “SomethingOld, #SomethingNew for 6 weeks of fun as we count down to Valentines day.
Along the way, I’ll celebrate my 49th wedding anniversary, then my birthday and finally Valentines with drawings, fun gifts, and coupons too! I am also excited to show you my new line of very affordable pet and animal art in a variety of sizes.
I love, love, love pets and animals and more than that I enjoy placing pet portraits in pet lovers homes to enjoy now and for lasting wonderful memories. That's why I want to make custom pet art portraits available to more people. To do that I needed to make them more affordable. Recently, I did just that.
Now I am launching this line of beautiful, affordable, pet painting in smaller sizes.
More than all the fun we will have sharing old and new things plus pet photos we love, Make sure to visit
https://www.facebook.com/SusieECaron.Twee/ beginning 1-1-20. Happy New Year.
What Inspires Artists?
Susie E Caron (c) 11/09/19
Artists like me paint, sculpt and create for several reasons. However, our ‘art’ is not something we do just for fun, for a little spending money, or for most of us, it’s certainly not to earn a living wage. Creating art is about who we are, and seriously, once we’re hooked, we find it hard to stop. However, there are a few more reasons.
To the greater world, exhibiting may seem a big inspiration. While it is a necessary part of our art business, it is usually outside our comfort zone. We’d rather spend time in our art studios than exhibit. So why do we put ourselves through the effort? Why do we exhibit and submit to being judged, or why risk the possibility of no sales’ when the exhibit ends?
Exhibits can be exciting, validating, rewarding and more. It’s exciting to see our paintings displayed out in a wider world, in a gallery among other artists’ works. It’s validating to receive awards for works entered. It’s rewarding when someone likes and purchases a painting for themselves or a loved one. However, these pale in comparison when I think about what keeps artists like me inspired.
I feel the most grateful and inspired whenever I see people gathering, on purpose, just to view what we artists created. Watching people looking at, choosing to spend a little more time with various works, and being moved by the art inspires me to keep creating, to keep improving and keep seeking that illusive ‘perfect’ painting. As a result, I feel all the more inspired to paint for me, and also to paint for you.
I’d love you to come inspire me and other artists this Sunday at our artists’ reception when we celebrate the opening of -
GEMS & GIANTS exhibit, in The Bryan Gallery, Jeffersonville, VT.
This exhibit of very large paintings (GIANTS) along with much smaller paintings (GEMS) runs from Nov. 10- Dec. 22, 2019.
My 3 GEMS, shown in this article are included for sale in this exhibit.
Come meet us and become a big part of what inspires artists, like me.
For more information call: 802-644-5100
How to Paint a Siberian Husky Dog
Susie Caron (c) 11/01/19
There are many animals I've not had the pleasure of sharing my life and love with. That's why I get excited to paint pets of different breeds. Today want to share with you how I approached painting this Siberian Husky. With this information, perhaps you'd like to paint one too!
First I selected a royalty free Pixabay photo to use for my reference photo. For my pet portraits I like acrylic paints on stretched canvas in a variety of sizes. For this Husky I chose an 8x10.
In step one, I use Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue and Crimson Red to paint the entire background to indicate snow. Because I use a wide brush, some of the 'swipes' across the canvas roughly resemble patterns in the snow. This must dry thoroughly before I sketch, or if you prefer, trace the Husky onto canvas. When sketching, make certain the eyes, ears and nose are correctly placed and define each with dark and light markings.
The fun next step (#2) involves filling in the major dark and opposite light spaces on the Husky. Then I use gentle under-color washes of purple, blue, tans, or browns where ever called for, to form the patterns and shapes in the fur. It sometimes takes many layers to bring out the best shape and texture and with acrylic. These under-colors will show slightly through subsequent layers.
Quick Tip: Move from one area to another to allow drying. Some artists tell me they don't like acrylics because they dry too quickly. I find they don’t dry fast enough! So because I tend to get bored easily, I jump from one space to another whenever I work, thereby allowing previous areas to dry.
In step #3 I continue to darken the dark areas and lighten the light ones by painting smaller hairs over the color blocked spaces especially on the face and ears. I use a #0 brush to address the eyes, nose and mouth with more detailing. To 'soften' the fur I paint a glaze (wash) of watered down brown (burnt sienna) or depending on the area with added yellow oxide or black. This continues until I'm satisfied.
In the final stages (#4) I highlight the face and ears using Titanium white and add lots and lots of individual fur-hairs. I photograph each major step with my iPad, which helps me see the progress more objectively. Following each step I also find it helpful to walk away and do something that uses my eyes and body differently (laundry, dishes, walk the dogs, or gardening.) This helps me to look with new eyes and objective awareness when I come back.
When I feel satisfied that I've brought out the best in this portrait, I sign it and paint or spray on a protective varnish. Then I enjoy selecting just the right frame. That's it!
I believe the extra time and effort to form layers enhances the texture in the finished portrait. By paying attention to detail in the eyes, nose and mouth I can enhance a more 'life like' portrait.
Was this helpful for you? What do you think about this process? Do you have any special hints that work for you when creating pet portraits? Tell me! I'd love to hear from you.
How to Know the ‘Who’ of Your Kids
Susie E Caron (c) 2019
The theme song, titled “Who Are You,” (adapted for tv’s original CSI series, composed by Pete Townsend and released by The Who in 1978), became my personal parenting approach. Beginning that year and within two years we’d adopted 2 infants. In those days we weren’t told anything about their biological parents or heritage. However, with this new song in my ear, I recognized I couldn’t possibly guess the ‘Who’ they would become until they each showed us. I stayed curious and open to the possibilities, a stance which continued from their infancy into young adulthood.
As adoptive parents, not knowing where your kids came from or who they may become can be an advantage. Many of us, regularly born kids, come into families with lots of history. As a result, we may suffer the unnecessary projected expectations of our parents and grandparents. I was one of those kids. While stories abound of butcher, baker and candlestick makers’ sons and daughters rebelling to move in different directions that didn’t exactly happen, with me.
I was a good kid (mostly) and did all of the traditional things expected in those years (mostly). I went to college, married, taught elementary school and adopted 2 infants. My husband and I agreed that I could be a stay at home Mom and I loved every minute of it. When our kids went to school, I opened and taught a riding school. My other career opportunities came and went depending on our kids ages, their growing needs and what was available wherever we moved, from time to time.
My rebellion or perhaps better written, blossoming, came later in my life when I retired with my husband.
I’m happy to report our kids grew up into fine human beings, successful in both their careers and lives. I wonder, if we’d pushed would they have become farmers and teachers, just as we were? Staying curious, we watched, supported and encouraged their individual interests and they ultimately surprised us. Our daughter went into the army followed by college graduation and good career choices. Our son acquired a taste for things alien to us: adventure, big cities, and the world of big business. Different from each other and from us – of course, we love them both.
I sometimes wonder ‘ Who’ I might have become if my parents had opted a curious attitude toward my developing interests. I’ll never know. However, I did find out my ‘Who’ after all.
Recently I received the honor of an interview and featured article posted on the Village Frame Shoppe Blog.
I invite you to read how I discovered my ‘Who’ in
Susie Caron Artist Profile.
( With my thanks to freelance journalist Leon Thompson and the Village Frame Shoppe, St. Albans, VT)
Open a Window to Your Kids with Paint
Susie E Caron
Want to get to know your kids better? Want to understand what makes them happy or what’s bothering them? Open a window to your children with paint!
Today I'll tell you why & how this works and what helps get the flow of information going-along with the paint.
How does painting help?
Painting together helps kids (and adults) express emotions and verbalize some of the thoughts that go with the feelings. Kids find it easy to paint. Painting brings out feelings easier than drawing because it pulls from a different part of the brain. The sensory experience of laying wet color on paper offers a kind of ‘flow’ state that allows feelings to become words - in a safe environment.
What you’ll need.
All you need is a cleared surface, inexpensive watercolor paint, brushes (or cotton swabs, pieces of sponge or rags), paper & water. Clear the table, put out the supplies and turn on a bit of music if you like. For kids between 5 & 9 this will probably last from 30 to 60 minutes.
Some painting prompts.
Now, kids will paint without prompts, but here are a few to help you get the conversation, and information flowing.
Ask them to paint their happiest feelings.
Ask them to paint what makes them mad.
Ask them to paint people they know and perhaps anyone they think could be scary.
Ask them to paint their family, house or school.
Ask them to ‘tell you about their painting.’
Don’ts and Do’s while they paint.
It’s important that during this painting time you don’t direct their paintings or correct what they tell you and don’t teach. If you really want to ‘hear’ them and learn something, this offers a fun time (and information too). This isn’t about right, wrong, or accuracy. Instead let them paint at will. Be kind, supportive and paint with them.
Paint with them. Your painting doesn’t have to be spectacular. If you have artistic talent – great. If you don’t just paint sky with balloons or flowers or hearts. Paint something that you can say it’s about how happy you feel painting with them. Keep it simple and loving.
What and How to ask questions to open their windows.
This is time for you to get to know your children better. So feel free to ask open ended questions. (Those are questions Kids can’t answer with a simple “ yes” or “no”. )
Instead of “Is that a picture of x,y,z?” Say “I like your painting. Tell me about it.”
Instead of “Oh that looks sad (happy, etc)”. Say “Oh that’s really interesting. What's it all about it.”
If you don’t understand something they say. Ask them to tell you some other way.
One more thing: How to respond to what they say.
It’s really encouraging to them (and they’ll tell you more) when you ‘reflect’ what they say. This is easy to do. Simply repeat what they say in your own words. For example, “So are telling me you feel like this activity or person is a lot of fun to be with.” Or “I hear you that situation (person) can be scary.” Or even “
“ Wow You really like blue trees.”
When they seem finished (or you’ve had enough) thank them for painting with you. Tell them you really enjoyed the time together and to see their paintings. After they dry hang them on the refrigerator for a few days. Don’t throw them away. Instead after a short time, offer the paintings to the kids for their rooms. Perhaps they’ll be replaced with next week’s art.
Reflect on What did you learn about your kids.
When you opened this window what did you learn?
You just provided a safe space and caring relationship with your kids. This is how you get them to open up to you. Now take what you learned and adjust how you want to keep the communication open and make this fun so they'll do it again. They may even continue to talk with you in their ‘tweens and beyond.'
Relationship is key to raising good kids. Listening to them and sharing an activity like painting will open windows to their inner thoughts and feelings. It helps develop an open and honest relationship between you and your kids for years to come.
Susie Caron, acrylic artist, creates realistic paintings of pets, animals, and selected scenes. Her love of and experience with many pets and farm animals throughout her life, enables her to capture the unique feeling and expression of each subject. In her commission pet and livestock portraits, Susie also works with each customer to discover and then reveal the personality and special bond between pet and human.
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