We Have a Winner!

Well, I’m back from vacation, and what a vacation it was!

We avoided the touristy parts – no Zoo, no Sea World – and other than splurging on a few movies and restaurants, Tom and I did just about every free thing there was to do in San Diego. Much of our time was spent just enjoying the ocean, the boardwalk, and the bay.

We walked, we talked, we people-watched, and we especially loved watching the seals and sea lions! Balboa Park (shown in the photo above) was our favorite place to hang out. The part I liked best was listening to talented musicians play a huge pipe organ in an amphitheater right off the square.

What we discovered about San Diego is that the folks who live there are an eclectic bunch who really enjoy life and expressing themselves. Whether they were walking their dogs along the beach (it seems like everyone in San Diego has a dog!), riding bikes or scooters, or walking on tightropes between two trees, every person we met was happy to stop and talk.

We have a winner!

Now for the big announcement you’ve been waiting for…What did I paint in the snow globe that Santa is lovingly holding in his hands?

(Drum roll, please…)

The correct answer is:  A Snowman
(actually, a snowman family)

…And the winner of the contest is Sandy Wilkins!

(Believe it or not, Sandy was the only one who correctly guessed the answer! I’ll be contacting her later today to arrange delivery of her print.)

I had an amazing number of responses, and I’m sorry I couldn’t answer every one. There were so many great ideas that maybe next time I’ll ask what should I paint instead of what did I paint!

I dropped a clue in one of my earlier emails that the snow globe contains something I had never painted before.  Over the last several years in the Market Square Holiday Chalet, I’ve met quite a few people who are snowman fans and collectors who asked if I would consider putting a snowman in one of my Santa paintings.

When I began planning this year’s Jolly Old Elf series, the very first thing I thought of was how I could include a snowman in one of them. I knew I wanted it to be more than just your average snowman, and I wanted it to be fun and friendly.

I decided to paint a snowman family to represent the special connection between Santa and our families as well as the bond shared between family members, especially in the holiday season.

At Christmas time, snowmen have been known to come alive, and Santa is part of the magic that makes it happen. The true miracle of snowpeople is not a magic hat that makes them come to life, but families and friends working together in harmony to create the snow masterpieces for all to enjoy!  It is the love put into these snow creations that brings them to life in our dreams at Christmas and in childhood memories for years to come…

So before the rest of the world sees it, here’s Santa’s Snowy Friends:

Thank you all for your participation in this contest. It was so much fun to read all your ideas!

The prints are already available on my website under Prints for Sale, “Jolly Old Elf” series. Click here to check it out! 

Have a great week and a great Fourth of July!

It’s Always Sunny in California

Vacation must really agree with us – Tom and I are super relaxed and enjoying our time away. A change of scene is something I highly recommend for everyone. Even if you can’t leave town, just spending some uninterrupted time with your loved ones is energizing for your spirit.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have a great vacation experience that stays with you for the rest of your life. Other times you might have an experience that’s memorable… but for the wrong reasons!

This actually isn’t our first visit to La Jolla. We vacationed here once many years ago when our children were young. At that time, I thought it would be a terrific idea for all of us to try kayaking together. Boy, was I excited! We paid close attention to our kayaking lesson, and we were sure it would be a cinch. We decided that Tom would take Alyssa since she was so small, and I would take Britt.

The plan for the kayak tour was to go out to the marker, then turn toward La Jolla’s caves. We would do a three-point turn inside the cave, and then we would all paddle back out to the marker and return home together.

But I knew we were in trouble before we even got over the first wave.

Tom and Alyssa paddled as straight as an arrow and soon made it out to the marker with the others. Britt and I, however, couldn’t keep our kayak straight no matter how hard we tried. We tried paddling and then counting and paddling. We were hardly making any headway and were soon exhausted. I had a feeling it would take us so long to get to the marker that we’d have no time to rest like everyone else, and they would take off for the caves and leave us lagging behind again.

Sure enough, we were the last to reach the cave, as Britt and I straggled in, worn out and embarrassed. Just as I had feared, everyone else had already started the return trip, leaving us to fend for ourselves. For a moment, I thought to myself, “This is how people get lost at sea.”

Somehow, maybe just by instinct, we finally made it back. I developed a much greater respect for the ocean that day… And I never set foot in a kayak again!

Now, wasn’t that a nice story?

The stories behind my paintings are much happier ones – and often just as memorable! If you’re in the market for a meaningful personal gift for someone you love, I’ll be returning home in a few days, ready to help you pick out something special.

Meanwhile, today is the first day of summer, which means… it’s festival season! Mark your calendar for July 5th through 8th for the Westmoreland County Arts and Heritage Festival (also known as the Twin Lakes Festival). I’ll be returning this year, looking forward to being out and about… and maybe even seeing you?

I still think La Jolla and its ocean may be one of the most beautiful places on Earth, but I’ll stick with my Three Rivers.  See you back in the Burgh!

Greetings from San Diego!

Tom and I are in San Diego for the next two weeks getting some much needed R&R!

And San Diego is definitely a great place for that. It’s really a beautiful city. The historic Gas Lamp District (as seen in the photo above) is one of those places I would love to paint, especially the unique trolleys.

Since we arrived two days ago, we’ve been focused on putting our feet up and basking in the sun, but soon we’ll get out and see all the sights we’ve heard so much about.

Of course I couldn’t leave work completely behind… so I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that midnight tonight is the deadline to enter my “What’s in Santa’s Snow Globe?” contest.

One lucky winner with the correct answer will receive a full-sized 9 x 12” giclee print of the painting, suitable for framing. If more than one person gets the right answer, I’ll put the names of all the correct guessers into a hat and draw a winner.

So get your ideas in by midnight tonight! The winner will be announced on June 28th(incorrectly stated in last week’s email as June 21st).

Claire’s Garden

This week I had an opportunity to do something I love but don’t get to do very often. I spent an entire day visiting the beautiful garden of one of my clients to paint a plein airpastel.

Claire’s remarkable garden is an exceptional, very personal expression of her love for landscape design and the beauty of nature. There is a unique gate and a wooden fence, both handmade by Claire herself, and they’re quite striking. They became the essential elements of the painting, but I also made sure to include the bird feeder, which is one of my favorite features.

I first went to Claire’s garden a week ago for a photo shoot with sketching time. I took over two hours, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., just observing how the morning light entered the garden. While I was taking it all in, a cheerful cardinal landed on the wooden fence and cocked its head at me, almost as if to say “Hello! Can I be in the painting, too?”

We had fabulous weather and of course, I ended up staying the whole day! Plein airpainting is something that feeds my artist’s soul, and I hope you can sense that feeling of joy when you see “Claire’s Garden.” (I’m thinking of creating a print from it.)

So have you entered my contest yet? 

In my last email, I asked you to guess “What’s in Santa’s snow globe?”

I’ve been having a lot of fun reading over all the interesting responses I’ve received so far. There have been so many great answers… I must say, I never realized how creative you all are! As a matter of fact, maybe next time I should ask for your input FIRST – because you gave me so many cool ideas that I almost had second thoughts about my original choice!

(Don’t worry – I’m already committed to my plan, and I’m going to stick with it!)

One lucky winner with the correct answer will receive a free print of the painting of Santa and the snow globe. If more than one person guesses the right answer, I will put the names of all correct guessers into a hat and draw a winner.

The contest closes at 11:59 pm on Thursday, June 14th, and the winner will be announced on June 21st. 

You have one more week to submit your best guess of what’s in the snow globe… So far only one of you has guessed the correct answer!

As you can see, I’ve finished the sketching part of the process, and I got my feet wet today by starting the first layer of the painting. I still have a lot to paint, but here’s a first look.

I can’t wait to hear your ideas about what’s in the snow globe! Is it a toy train?…Santa’s Harley?… or maybe a Super Bowl trophy? All will be revealed in two weeks!

Contest – What’s Inside the Snow Globe?

Artists sometimes have an upside-down perspective on the seasons. Because the creative process takes time, we have to think many months ahead to prepare for the next season.

So now that spring/summer has fully arrived (simultaneously this year!), my thoughts have turned toward Christmas… particularly, the 2018 paintings in my “Jolly Old Elf” series.

This year’s companion print – the one that inspired me first – is Santa looking into a beautiful sparkly snow globe. But as you can see, the globe is empty!

It’s not that I don’t know what to put in the snow globe – I’ve already decided, but I’m just not ready to finish it quite yet. So in the meantime, I thought why not have a contest to see who can guess what’s going to be inside the snow globe?

Here are the rules…

Each person gets one guess. The contest will run until I reveal the entire sketch. Everyone who guesses correctly will be entered into the drawing, and the winner will receive a free print of this painting when it’s finished. As always, you’ll know when it’s done because I like to share the progress of each painting with you!

The deadline for entry is Thursday, June 14th, and the winner will be announced on Thursday, June 28th.

What’s inside the magical snow globe? Put on your thinking cap and send me an email with your best guess!

Merry (early) Christmas!

P.S. – Some of you have young children who are finishing up the school year, and you may be looking for gifts for teachers, aides, cafeteria staff, and so on. One of the attendees at my morning meeting today just ordered a Mother Teresa candle and three boxes of Pittsburgh and Kennywood note cards.

She told me that she needed them for next Wednesday and requested that I sign them in gold (as I’m always happy to do for any customer). I assured her that I had them in stock and would have them ready in plenty of time for her son to take them to school.

So if you’re thinking about end-of-year teachers’ gifts, check out my website,  www.lindabarnicott.com. You may find that perfect gift to say ‘Thank you for caring for my child.’

I’m in Love

Can you believe this weather? When Spring finally came, it came in a big hurry, and I’m in love!

I’m in love with the sunshine. I’m in love with the white flowers of my cherry tree floating through the air. I’m in love with the fragrances of the flowers, and I especially love with playing outside with my granddaughter. Outside is her favorite place to be, and blowing bubbles is her favorite pastime.

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it to you or not, but this year I’ve been serving as president of the Pittsburgh Pastel Art League. It’s a real challenge for someone (like me!) who is really lousy with administrative work. But so far, so good. I’m really enjoying it, and the group seems to be having a great time.

Last Saturday we had planned a “Paint-Out” at the Gilberti Gallery in Coraopolis from 9 to 3, meaning we would be painting outdoors in the community. Well, at 9 a.m. it was raining cats and dogs. I had no clue how many people would actually show up.

My original plan was to help everyone set up, then rush home and get back to work on painting the Forbes Hospital piece (I’m on the fourth painting out of five). I wasn’t planning to actually participate in the Paint-Out myself, so I didn’t bring any materials with me. I had to leave early, and that was that.

But you know how painting is like an addiction to me! Here’s what actually happened…

Artists began to show up, and as their numbers grew, I got more and more excited. We decided to move the event inside the gallery, and we began to set up painting stations. Cindy even had all the easels we needed to make it happen.

People showed up with food to share and plenty of excitement at the prospect of painting together. Artists came from all over to join in the painting party… artists from O’Hara Township, Indiana Township, Westmoreland County, and elsewhere.

Being surrounded by artists and paint and easels, I must have looked pretty eager, because Cindy looked at me and said “Linda, I have pastels and paper here if you would like to paint. I also have reference photos to choose from.”

She didn’t have to ask me twice. My inner painter said, “To heck with going home, I’m going to stay here and paint!” I don’t get as much downtime for fun as I would like to, and when I get the chance, I call it “Bingo Night” – remembering the times when I was a little girl and my grandmother would take me with her to Bingo! It was my idea of honest-to-goodness fun.

Anyway, Cindy, the gallery owner, is terrific, and just getting to hang out with her any time is in itself a real joy.

So I started painting. It felt so good and so liberating to paint something beautiful just because I wanted to – with no commitments! I picked a photo of New Mexico, similar to a scene I remembered from last June when Tom and I spent a couple of weeks there after the pastel convention.

In the end, I was truly glad I stayed to spontaneously create art with my new friends. It was like a breath of fresh air.

I hope you also are having a beautiful week and doing what you love to do.

Spring Fever!

As we head into Easter weekend, the Barnicott family is caught up in holiday planning and activities. But even without the holiday, the entire family has a lot going on right now.

So much is happening this week!

My younger daughter (who as I’ve mentioned before is expecting twins!) and our beloved son-in-law Jon along with our little granddaughter Aria are closing on a house of their own next week. Meanwhile, Jon is looking for a new job, and my daughter Brittany just got one – she was promoted to Director of Marketing for St. Vincent de Paul.

Tom, of course, is immersed in work with Holy Week activities. Holy Week for ministers is like tax season for accountants!

As for me, I’m working double-time on my special commission for Forbes Hospital – a huge five-panel painting for their new History Wall. The paintings will be unveiled at the Omni William Penn at a black tie event on April 19th.  Although the project isn’t quite completed, three of the five panels are finished, and the last two paintings will be shown as “works in progress.”

Whenever I sit down to work on the History Wall paintings, I’m reminded of how grateful I am for the opportunity to honor the men and women of Forbes Hospital. It boggles my mind to think that my work will hang there on the History Wall for decades to come as a tribute to those dedicated people.

As much as I’m enjoying the Forbes Hospital project, it doesn’t allow me much time for other things (especially housework!). I’ve been so busy, in fact, that here we are with Easter almost upon us and – believe it or not – I still have some Christmas decorations up. I definitely need a maid… or maybe a clone?

It looks like we’re finally getting some springlike weather here in Pittsburgh. When I think about which of my paintings reminds me most of spring, the first one that comes to mind is “Oasis of Beauty at Phipps.” I’m not the only one who feels that way… just this morning, someone at my BNI business meeting asked about purchasing one of my metal sandwich trays featuring that image.

There’s something about that painting that really evokes the light and warmth of springtime for me. I had wanted to paint that scene for over a decade, and when I finally did, it was like bringing sunshine into our home. I like to think I was channeling Monet when I painted this piece, inspired by the soft light and water lilies in the pond.


Monet “Water Lilies” 1916

I hope you enjoy “Oasis of Beauty at Phipps” as much as I do. The original is sold; however, the image is available as a print or on note-cards or gift-ware. Visit my website and see what’s available… http://lindabarnicott.com/product/oasis-of-beauty-at-phipps/.

Spring Therapy

What happened to spring? Tuesday was supposed to be the first day of spring, and we ended up getting buried under a blanket of snow. (That stupid groundhog lied AGAIN!)

My brain and my body are so tired of winter… so what, I wondered, could I do to console myself while springtime is so elusive, and we still have a landscape covered in winter white?

Well, I found just the thing… I pulled together some of the plein air landscapes I had painted during my travels. After being battered by the shock of yet another cold snap and close to a foot of snow, surrounding myself with those springlike scenes was just what I needed to soothe my spirit.

Often when I create a new painting, I do a photo shoot and then return to my studio to compose and paint it.  Each of my plein air paintings, however, was created as I stood right there at the scene and painted what I saw. It’s rather zen, a very tranquil kind of process.

The painting at the top of this email, Flowering Potato Fields, is a particular favorite of mine… When I first visited the state of Washington, I remember driving past beautiful fields of flowers. I’d never seen flowers like that before, and I had no idea what they could be. Being an Easterner, I was surprised and delighted to find out they were potatoes! Who knew potatoes had flowers? Or that they could be so pretty? The pink flowers are the red potatoes, the yellow flowers in the background are Yukon potatoes, and the white ones are your basic white potato.

Here’s another painting from my travels but in the upper Midwest, a scene from Grand Marais, Minnesota by Lake Superior. Standing in this field of flowers with the beautiful lake in the background was a taste of heaven. Fun Fact: There was a broken-down rusty tractor right smack in the middle of the flowers that I chose not to include in the painting… artistic license, right?

The last painting is of a place that has great meaning for me – Strawbridge Lake Park in New Jersey. When I was just 19 and working at RCA, it was my special nature place where I would go on my lunch hour to kick up some leaves and climb some trees when no one was looking.

But what really makes this painting special to me is that my husband Tom and my two best friends, Kathy and Ron were with me when I painted it. (Ron was my best friend since childhood, and Kathy was my coworker. I introduced them over 40 years ago, and they’re together to this day.)

Want to get your own little dose of spring? Check out my landscapes collection at www.lindabarnicott.com.

Speaking of spring, I have two other paintings in “Pure Pigment,” a new show at the Gilberti Gallery in Coraopolis. You can check out this great show of pastels artists from around the region any time between now and the end of April.  The gallery is also a working studio for the owner, Cindy GIlberti. The Gilberti Gallery is located at 1030 5th Avenue (Coraopolis 15108), and you can contact Cindy at (412) 303-4590.

Wishing you good health and happiness in the coming week… and would a little warm and sunny weather be too much to ask?

It Takes a Village

The Home Show is one of those times each year when I feel most blessed… when I get to speak with so many people – favorite friends and customers and new friends alike – about my art, my family, and life in general.

Even when it’s too busy to have an actual conversation, just a quick hug or a wave from a friend warms my heart.  I always walk away from the Home Show with deep gratitude for all the wonderful people in my life.

Though I enjoy the people interactions and the energy and hard work of the show, one of my favorite times (believe it or not!) is the breakdown.

I always say “It takes a village to raise an artist” because there’s no way I could do what I do without my support team. For example, when it’s breakdown time, a group of my favorite people comes down to the Convention Center to spend a few hours wrapping, boxing, and bagging what’s left in the booth to return it safely to my studio. There’s a lot of laughter… and definitely exhaustion. But it’s a good kind of tired, and at the end of the day, I’m left with happy memories.

That being said, this year we had one “uh-oh” moment…

It gets pretty chaotic with everyone trying to leave at the same time and tractor-trailer trucks moving all around the Convention Center floor. Tom had to navigate our truck down a very skinny aisle, and we were in a hurry to get started once he was clear to go.

While Tom parked the U-Haul, and we started loading, I had asked the crew to get all the empty boxes and bags out of my van in the Convention Center parking garage. What I didn’t know was that when that task was done, they gave my keys to Tom instead of me.

As we packed late into the night, focused on our goal of getting out of there as soon as possible, we never gave it a thought.

Finally, I had just one last thing to do – taking a case of grape juice on my flatbed cart to my daughter’s car on the second floor of the parking garage. Once that last mission was accomplished, I headed back to my car with the cart, only to realize I did not have my keys.

Now let me just say that being stuck in a parking garage in the middle of the night alone without car keys is a very lonely moment.

I knew the girls would be coming down the ramp, so I ran there, trying to flag them down, but they never looked.

I called Tom but he was halfway home with the big truck. After several attempts, I finally reached my daughter, and she kindly returned to take me home. At long last, after we unloaded the truck, Tom and I headed back into the city to pick up my van. It’s a good thing they don’t lock up parking garages overnight!

Isn’t it funny how those times when things go a little astray are the ones you’ll always remember?

With another Home Show in the rearview, I would like to thank you all once again for your support and friendship and for allowing me to share a story or two!

There’s No Business Like (Home) Show Business

The Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show is an extremely busy time for me – it’s 10 days of nonstop action.  Just being here for so many hours every day, meeting, greeting, talking and selling all day long takes a toll on my body (and especially on my voice)!

Today with Zero Hour at hand – less than 24 hours to go! – I’ll be here into the wee hours of the morning, tweaking the displays and making sure all the finishing touches are in place when the doors open tomorrow.

But really it’s the week before the show – where we do all the preparations and set-up, moving in all my booth components and art into the David L Lawrence Convention Center – where I work harder than at any other time of the year.

Before the show begins, we put in long, long hours in the studio, organizing and packing up all the prints and giftware. Then we have to load it all into a U-Haul and drive it to the Convention Center, where we take it all back out again and set it up. It’s a job that’s certainly not for the faint of heart… or weak of muscle!

Of course, none of this would be possible without the help and support (and muscle!) of my husband and best friend, Tom. Tom is always there to help me be the best I can be.  He never fails to go above and beyond when it comes to helping me advance my career, develop my creativity, and channel my inspiration.

Despite the late nights and early mornings he has to work to fit me into his schedule, he’s always been there for me. And even after all these years, we still have a lot of fun working together.

This year I chose some of my favorite paintings to feature at the show. One painting that brings back happy memories for many Pittsburghers is “Ice Ball Treats with Gus and YiaYia,” starring the ever-lovable Gus.

 

For best selection, come earlier in the week while I’m fully stocked. The first Friday is always a slow day at the Home and Garden Show, so in exchange for keeping me busy that day, you’ll save even more.

Visit my website, www.lindabarnicott.com, and do a little pre-shopping research before you come to the show. When you get to my booth, you’ll already know what you’re looking for.

Come and see what’s new!  Remember, there will also be unique pieces at the show that are not on the website and will only be available during the show.

So print out this email and bring the coupons with you to get your special deal… I can’t wait to greet you at the Show (Booth #3146-8) or see you online!