From Deluge to Desert

Linda Barnicott with husband, Tom Barnicott, on vacation in the mountains.

I’m on the road again this week – Greetings from Red Rock Country, Sedona, Arizona!

As we enjoy some downtime in the dry desert, it’s hard to believe that just a few days ago we were manning my booth through a very wet (and also hot!) weekend at the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival. It rained through almost the entire show, but despite the weather, there was a great turnout, with so many precious moments shared with folks stopping by my tent.

One of the fun features of the Festival is the Town Crier, who strolls around the festival grounds with his bell, announcing all the different activities and events. On Friday afternoon, he appeared on the corner next to my tent, ringing his bell. I was busy, so I wasn’t paying much attention… until he proclaimed, “This year’s winner of the Westmoreland Art Award is… Linda Barnicott!” I nearly fainted! My prize was a fancy ribbon and – even better! – a free booth at next year’s show.

The next day, the Town Crier was “captured” by his fellow actors brandishing a huge pistol. As they led him away, he turned to call over his shoulder – Linda, paint me a hero!” and then he was gone.  Britt looked at me and said “Wouldn’t it be fun if you did?” So that night after I put my booth to bed, I found a photo I had taken on my phone when I received the ribbon the day before.  I picked up my sketchbook and sketched until 1 a.m.  The next day, I worked on it between customers until it was finished.  At the bottom, I wrote “He was a hero.”

When the show was over, I tracked him down and asked him to come and see me. He couldn’t have been more surprised and thrilled with his portrait. I remember the director who runs the show telling me she couldn’t do it without him, so maybe he really is a hero!

Sometimes it seems that no matter how far you go from home, you can always find a little bit of Pittsburgh… today as we were sightseeing in Flagstaff, Tom proudly sporting his new Pirates hat, we passed a parked car and heard someone call, “Go Buccos!” 

So of course we had to stop and chat!  The fellow told us that he was a huge Pirates fan even though he’s never visited our city. We had a lot of fun telling stories about Tom’s job at PNC Park, especially the part where he uses a microphone on the sidewalks outside the park for crowd control. He loves to tell the crowds terrible jokes to keep them entertained while they wait. I mentioned that after 36 years in the ministry the last thing they should do is give him a microphone!

To our surprise, our new friend told us that he had been praying about whether to go into the ministry and that this was the third time this week a random conversation had turned in that direction. We wished him the best in his decision about answering God’s calling.  As we walked away, I told Tom, “If you hadn’t worn that hat, the man would have never had the chance to talk with us.”

Isn’t it funny how small choices we make day to day – perhaps to wear a certain hat or strike up a conversation with a stranger – can turn out to be life-changing for someone?

A photograph of the mountains in Sedona, Arizona

Though we’re really enjoying our time here in Arizona, I’m actually looking forward to returning home.  Then it will be full speed ahead – time to get ready for Picklesburgh and start my 2019 Santa paintings!

Tom Barnicott’s 15 Minutes of Fame

Tom Barnicott at PNC Park

The 4th of July has always been a great holiday for fun with family and friends. As you can
see, our girls are growing up fast! The twins are coming up on their 1st birthday later this month, and Aria will be 3 at the end of August. It’s been quite a ride!

However, this week my family’s biggest story is Tom Barnicott, TV Star!

Tom, as you know, isn’t your typical retiree.  Instead of finding a new hobby and catching up on his reading, Tom landed his dream job as a guest relations ambassador for the Pirates at PNC Park.  Basically, his job is to help make sure fans have a great experience when they come out to see a Bucs game.  So when a fan in the stands caught Josh Bell’s homerun ball and asked if he could get his signature on it, Tom was happy to help. To our surprise, the whole thing was caught on camera, and there was Tom, way bigger than life, making it happen up there on the big screen!

But as much as I enjoy the Fourth, it’s typically not a lazy holiday for me. I’m already packed up and ready to head out for Twin Lakes Park for the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival. And I’m taking lots of new pieces with me!

But as much as I enjoy the Fourth, it’s typically not a lazy holiday for me. This year it marked the first day I was at Twin Lakes Park for the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival. And I have lots of new pieces with me!

Plus, this weekend I’m celebrating my 30th anniversary of Painting Pittsburgh with unannounced Twin Lakes show-exclusive specials!

The festival runs today 11-8 and tomorrow from 11-6 at Twin Lakes Park, 252 Twin Lakes Rd, Greensburg, PA. Can’t wait to see you there!

Visit https://artsandheritage.com/ for more festival information.

Partying with Pittsburgh’s Pickle People

The completed version of Linda Barnicott's newest painting "Pittsburgh Parties at Picklesburgh"

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day…

I know rain is good for the flowers, but enough is enough!

For me, there’s an upside to all this wet weather. It keeps me indoors, and that means more painting time to finish my latest pastel piece.

But before I get into telling you about my new painting, I’m going to share a little bit of personal history…

Anyone who has met me in real life knows that my teeth are… let’s just say they’re somewhat more front and center in my face than is the case for most people. My husband says he married me for my smile (yes, I’m a lucky woman!).  As an adult, my “unique” smile is somewhat of a trademark, part of my brand. However, back when I was a kid in grade school, those teeth really got in the way.

The first thing I remember wanting to be when I grew up was a ventriloquist. I thought I was so talented because I could talk without moving my lips! Unfortunately, my teachers didn’t agree, and off I went to speech class to work on my m’s, p’s and b’s. Sadly, my original career goals were not to be, so I went with my second choice and became an artist instead.

Fast forward to the present… As I was finishing up my latest painting, Tom and I were going back and forth about the title, experimenting with some word play using the words Pittsburgh and Picklesburgh. Maybe it was because of all those speech therapy classes, but I was fixated on all those “P” words – partying on the Clemente Bridge, pickle eating contests, pickle ice-cream, pickle drinks, and of course, Pittsburgh Pride.

Suddenly, it came to me — “Pittsburgh Parties at Picklesburgh!” Not just a title, but a pretty good tongue twister as well.  As my dad used to say, “Try saying that three times, fast.” If I had pursued my first career choice, I definitely could!

I have to say that the process of working through this painting was a lot of fun. I started by heading downtown to do a little research, getting an idea of what I wanted the painting to look like and what l wanted to include. In the end, the final composition included the Clemente Bridge, the Heinz Pickle, Downtown Pittsburgh in the background, and of course, a crowd of vendors and Pittsburghers who are crazy about pickles!

(So crazy, in fact, that Picklesburgh has been named America’s #1 Specialty Food Festival for 2019!)

Once I had my composition in mind, I started with a sketch, which I then transferred to museum pastel board and did a quick watercolor wash to set the stage…

A sketch and under-painting of Linda Barnicott's newest painting "Pittsburgh Parties at Picklesburgh"

Then I completed it in pastel chalks…

A progression of Linda Barnicott's newest painting "Pittsburgh Parties at Picklesburgh"

Can you guess what my favorite part of the painting is? If you guessed the giant pickle, you’re right. I feel like it jumps right off the canvas!

Picklesburgh runs from July 26th to July 28th, and I’m excited to say that I’ll have my booth right in the middle of the Picklesburgh action. I’m even creating some new awesome gifts and prints just for the occasion.

If you’re interested in the painting or prints, just email me at linda@lindabarnicott.com. I’ll be sure to get back to you and let you know the details.

Perhaps I should promote it as a pastel painting of Picklesburgh, Pittsburgh’s positively perfect pickle party…possibly in perpetuity?

Picklesburgh – Kind of a Big Dill!

Photo of Picklesburgh with the city of Pittsburgh in the background.

With my Forbes Hospital mural now in the hands of the printers and the originals at the framer, I’m finally free to turn my attention to new summer projects.

And just in time, a new opportunity has come along! I have been asked to consider painting a piece for Pittsburgh’s annual Picklesburgh festival! Picklesburgh has been named America’s #1 Specialty Food Festival. In fact, Picklesburgh 2019 will be double the size of last year’s event to accommodate the huge crowds.

Picklesburgh will take place on July 26-28 on the Roberto Clemente Bridge and extending to the riverside lanes of Ft. Duquesne Blvd. I’m not sure exactly where I’ll be located as of yet, but you will find me there somewhere, painting pickles! After focusing so long on the mural, I’m looking forward to doing something new and different.

In the meantime, I’m getting a head start on my pickle painting. Tomorrow I’ll start on the underpainting, then I’ll add pastel to an already sketched view from the Clemente Bridge. The composition I have planned uses the lines of the bridge to frame the crowd, and I’ll be lighting up the sky with color (and pickles). I even have my candle supplier working on a crazy new scent for the occasion!

So mark your calendars for the last weekend in July, and come see me at Picklesburgh! I hear it’s going to be a really big dill…

Now that Memorial Day is behind us, the Summer Solstice brings long, bright summer evenings, perfect for strolling neighborhood night markets. To kick off the season, you can find me downtown on Saturday for the year’s first Night Market in Market Square. I’ll be there from 5 to 10 pm. I’ll even have a photo on my phone of the Picklesburgh painting’s progress. Want to see it?  Just ask!

With Father’s Day coming up next week, Saturday night would be a great time to visit me in Market Square to purchase a personalized gift of Pittsburgh. They’re predicting perfect weather, so please stop by!

P.S. – Happy Father’s Day from this happily retired grandfather!

Surrounded By Beauty

Linda Barnicott, Pittsburgh's Painter of Memories, posing with her husband, Tom Barnicott, in North Carolina.

Last weekend, Tom and I went on a road trip to somewhere we’ve never been before – Asheville, North Carolina, a small city nestled in the palm of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

My #1 impression of Asheville is that it’s a city that loves art and honors its resident artists. There is beauty everywhere you look… it seems as if there are galleries and artists on every street! And while the beauty created by the gifted artists of Asheville is amazing, the majestic gifts of nature surrounding the city and its incredible mountain setting are even more inspiring. If you ever have a chance to visit Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s the best of both worlds!

Image: Roses in the backyard of Linda Barnicott.

When we returned home, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the flowers in our own humble little yard had burst into bloom. We’re thrilled with how our personal little piece of nature is developing.

Last year we worked hard to clear the backyard, and we’re still working on the front yard. Of course, we planted many, many flowers. I like to think of my flowers as another manifestation of my art. The colors in my garden inspire me and touch my heart the same way the colors in my paintings do.

Image: Flowers blooming in the front yard of Linda Barnicott.

For me, bringing beauty into my life is as much a part of who I am as breathing. Making paintings that brings joy to others is my passion in life. As I continue to work on my summer painting projects, I’ll be thinking to myself, “Who will relate to this painting, and what is it about the painting that will speak to them?”

That’s my motivation as I work on my new art pieces. I hope things will slow down a bit this summer to give me more studio time. I have a lot of projects planned!

Here’s to enjoying a great holiday weekend and good times with family and friends.

It All Comes Together

Linda Barnicott, Pittsburgh's Painter of Memories, finishes her latest project.

Remember that big painting project I’ve been working on for the past couple years but haven’t been able to tell you about? (Hint: It’s the Forbes Hospital History Wall.)

Well, late last week, around midnight, I put the finishing touches on the very last section of the last panel. Then while everyone else in the house slept, I did the Happy Dance! I can’t actually share the completed paintings with you yet, as I’m not sure how the hospital wants to present them. But I don’t think they would mind if I shared one small piece of it – one of over a hundred miniature paintings in the piece…

And the one I’d most like to share with you is the one that features my husband. 

Image: An excerpt of Linda Barnicott's latest project for Forbes Hospital. Featuring an image that resembles Barnicott's husband, Tom, riding a bike.

As you know, Tom has a tendency to show up in my paintings; in a way it’s a sort of trademark for my work. Kind of like how Alfred Hitchcock put himself in a cameo in all of his movies! This painting is no exception. It was fun posing Tom and making sure he didn’t look silly or weird or out of place.

This partial was the final section that I worked on. It seemed an appropriate place to finish, with Tom doing his cameo in the miniature that completes the piece. It reminds me of how he supports me through my entire creative process, from preliminary photos to sketches to finished painting.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be dashing from one printer to another, making sure these five panels are as perfect as they can be. Keep in mind that I painted them normal painting size, but the printers will enlarge each panel to 4 x 8 feet!

I’ll update you when the day is announced for the big installation at Forbes Hospital. It won’t be long before you can walk out of the hospital cafeteria and see the history of Forbes Hospital and all it has meant to the local community, bigger than life.

This past weekend, Tom and I spent some time in Asheville, North Carolina (a place where we’ve never been before!), for a little R & R.  But now I’m back in the studio, forging ahead on my next project.

Mother’s Day Smiles

A black and white photo of Alyssa Stadelman (left) and Brittany Barnicott (right), daughters of Linda Barnicott, smiling for the camera.  Aria Stadelman, granddaughter of Linda Barnicott, laying on the floor with an Eat 'n Park smiley cookie bag. Abigail (left) and Autumn (right) Stadelman, granddaughters of Linda Barnicott, smile for their 9 month old photos.

Happy Mother’s Day!

I’m glad that we have an official holiday every year that reminds us to reflect on the women in our lives who have nurtured us. It’s not only a time to remember our own mothers and grandmothers, but also to consider our own roles as mothers to our sons and daughters and their children as well.

I speak from the heart when I say that, honestly, I don’t need a holiday to feel grateful. Every day I feel lucky to have the opportunity to be a mother to my two girls and grandma to my three grandchildren.

Brittany took the picture (above) of Aria snuggling with her Eat’n Park Smiley Cookie. When I saw it, the first thing I thought of was “Wow! Look at that huge smile on Aria’s face!” It’s a well-known fact in our family that Smiley Cookies are the reason Eat’n Park is Aria’s favorite restaurant.

Back in the mid 90s, one of the buyers for Eat’n Park had the idea to place my Pittsburgh-themed paintings in all their restaurants. Every time I created a new painting, I was asked to bring prints to their headquarters so they could be framed and placed in their restaurants all around the Pittsburgh area. It was a kick to walk into an Eat’n Park and see my work up there on the wall!

Times do change, and Eat ‘n Park has gone through a rebranding or two since then. Only a few of my paintings still hang on the walls in some locations, but it still makes me smile whenever I see one.

"Once Upon a Time in Storybook Forest" by Linda Barnicott

Another one of those places that I think about around Mother’s Day is Story Book Forest in Ligonier. So many memories of happy times there when the girls were growing up, visiting Mother Goose and the land of fairy tales. I can’t wait until we take Aria and the twins to Story Book Forest for the very first time this summer.

I’ve painted so many places around town where Mother’s Day memories are made, including Phipps Conservatory and Kennywood Park. What’s your favorite location to celebrate Mother’s Day?

Whatever you do this year to celebrate with your family and friends, don’t forget to eat a little, breathe a little, and have a ton of fun together.

Gus and YiaYia

"Ice Ball Treats with Gus and YaiYai" a painting by Linda Barnicott, Pittsburgh's Painter of Memories.

Back when I was painting my Kennywood series, I would often see my friend Jim when I passed through the Group Sales office. For two years, every time I walked in, he never failed to look up from his desk and tell me the same thing every single time… that there was a Pittsburgh landmark that I had so far neglected to paint.

He was referring to Gus and YiaYia’s ice-ball and treats cart in West Park, a beloved North Side institution that has been delighting people for decades. And every time, I would say, “I will… someday.”

I suppose he realized that I needed a push and maybe bit of inspiration, because one day I received a very thick packet in the mail. Inside I found a ton of photos of Gus and YiaYia and that legendary ice-ball cart.

Thanks to Jim, I knew immediately that it was time to paint that piece! I bundled my young girls into the car and headed for the North Side. I was nervous about meeting Gus and asking if I could paint him, but it turns out my fears were groundless. He is truly an angel on Earth, one of the kindest, most authentic people I’ve ever met.

As a matter of fact, he wouldn’t let me leave until the girls and I had ice balls, and he had loaded us up with popcorn and peanuts. When we said goodbye, he looked at me and asked, “Can I have a hug?” Despite juggling an armload of treats, I smiled and said “Sure!”… and somehow we managed.

I’ll bet many of you have fond memories of when you first met Gus and Yia Yia or had your first ice ball in the park. It’s a North Side tradition! As always, if you have a favorite story about Gus and Yia Yia’s, I’m all ears.

Mother’s Day is close at hand, and Father’s Day is coming up soon, not to mention graduations and other events. I can’t think of a better way to bring celebrate warm summer memories than with a nostalgic “visit” to Gus and YiaYia’s ice-ball cart.

 

My Monet

"Oasis of Beauty at Phipps" by Linda Barnicott, Pittsburgh's Painter of Memories

From the time I was just a new arrival in Pittsburgh as a young bride and now as a grandmother, one of my favorite places to visit around Easter and Mother’s Day has always been Phipps Conservatory.

Tom and I had many romantic dates there, and sometimes we would go with friends. Then later when our children came along we would bring them, too, and introduce them to the beauty of the flowers. There’s just something about flowers that makes your heart sing no matter what your age.

Many years ago, long before the remodel of the entrance, I used to dream of painting Phipps one day. At that time, my favorite spot was the side facing Schenley Park. There was a lovely pond near the side entrance, and it made a perfect composition with the beautiful 19th century building in the background. I took some photos, thinking “Someday I will paint this view.” Almost 15 years later, I finally did – and I called it, “The Oasis of Beauty at Phipps.”

At least that’s the official title – actually, with the Impressionist style of the painting (and especially the water lilies on the pond), I think of it as “My Monet.” I had a lot of fun painting it, and it’s always been one of my favorites. Because I love it so much, I’ve recreated the image in many forms…

“The Oasis of Beauty at Phipps” is available as a key chain, an ornament, coasters, mint trays, and sandwich trays, as well as the 8 x 10 print and the full-sized print itself. It’s the perfect painting for an unforgettable Mother’s Day gift!

Everything is available on my website except the 8 x 10 print, which you can order by email (linda@lindabarnicott.com) or just pick up the phone (1-888-748-8278).

Linda Barnicott poses with her family on Easter.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter. I loved celebrating the holiday with my little family. After we all attended church together, we drove over to Aria’s house, where there was an Easter basket full of little gifts waiting for her.

My granddaughter, (wearing a 1980s sweatshirt over her dress because Grandma just had to do it) walked through the door and in her loudest voice exclaimed, “Oh! Presents for me!” I’ll never forget the look on her face and how excited she was.

Aria Stadelman, Linda Barnicott's granddaughter, expresses her excitement at Easter.

Memories that are made with family are the ones that will last a lifetime. Let me know if I can help you make this Mother’s Day special with a gift of “The Oasis of Beauty at Phipps,” or any of my other art or gifts.

Little Things Make Memories

"Golden Memories of Kennywood's Kiddieland" by Linda Barnicott

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I’m glad that once a year we set aside a day to celebrate women who care for others… a special day when we remind them how much they’re loved and appreciated.

As a grandmother, I have another generation of little girls to cherish, and the love that flows between them and my daughter makes my heart smile. There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing my little granddaughter Aria give her mom hugs and kisses – without even being asked!

Just this week, I spent some time at my daughter’s home, helping her with a few gardening chores (and hanging out with my girls, of course!). Working together to help make their home a nicer place is another thing that makes my heart smile.

As we pulled weeds and helped wake up the garden from its winter nap, we talked about our plans for Easter Sunday. We looked forward to going to church together and then later on celebrating with dinner at their house, including an Easter egg hunt for Aria. Again, more smiles!

"Meet Me Under Kaufmann's Clock, Too!" by Linda Barnicott, Pittsburgh's Painter of Memories

Think about your favorite memories of your mother or your grandmother, or perhaps another woman who helped nurture you. Like maybe how you and your mom used to dress up for shopping trips downtown … or the fun you had on family outings to Kennywood, West View Park, or Storybook Forest… or maybe it was attending games together at Pitt Stadium, Three Rivers, or PNC Park (or even the local Little League field), eating hotdogs and cheering for your team.

"Let's Go Bucs at PNC Park" by Linda Barnicott, Pittsburgh's Painter of Memories

If you have a favorite story about one of those special women in your life, I would love to hear it. As an artist and a friend, I’m inspired by listening to your memories and stories of love and family.

A gift of art whose subject is meaningful for both of you is a beautiful way to share the love of Mother’s Day. A painting is a treasure that will last a lifetime, and giving the gift of a remembrance of happy times can bring great joy to someone who means so much.

Meanwhile, get out there and enjoy the fine spring weather… maybe even dig in the dirt with your loved ones and make some new memories!