Santa’s Book of Good Children

After doing quite a bit of traveling lately, Tom and I stayed home last week, and I pretty much lived at my easel. I can tell I’ve been putting in long hours in the studio because my house is falling apart just a little bit more each day. With Tom helping out once again with our grandgirls, this house doesn’t stand a chance! (But my garden still looks beautiful – priorities!)

I am very close to finishing “Santa’s Book of Good Children.”  It’s funny… after completing ten paintings in the “Jolly Old Elf” series, I have painted Santa so many times that now it almost seems like Number Eleven is painting itself!

When I’m laying in the facial features, I always use hard pastels. There are many brands of pastels that I use in every painting; from hard pastels that put on a thin layer of color, to very soft pastels that feel buttery when applied.  Each time I returned to the easel, I would re-draw until everything was in its place.

One of my favorite parts of creating this piece has been painting the fur. I keep a Viva paper towel in my right hand and wipe the chalk after each stroke to keep it clean. It takes a little longer, but the end result makes the fur look real and soft.

As I was thinking about this composition, I realized it would make my job much easier if I borrowed some of the items that are shown in the painting. So a few weeks ago I met up with Santa John (the Jolly Old Elf himself), and he was kind enough to lend me his wonderful leather-bound Book of Good Children and his Santa Claus ring that he often wears during the holiday season. As I worked my way around the painting, I painted the ring on his hand and placed the beautifully made book on his lap. It was really helpful to have both of these items sitting right next to my easel to capture their detail.

Stay tuned for the completed painting!

Greetings from Lake Erie!

Have you ever wished you could find a special place where you could go to relax… and just be? Maybe a place that is not too far from home and is comfortable to live in? Well, Tom and I believe we may have finally found that place for us. Not far from Geneva-on-the-Lake is a cute little cottage that is just our size. We were there at the end of April for a few days, and this week we returned, and it was as great as we remembered it!

Lake Erie has a lot in common with Barnegat Bay (where we went on last week’s trip).  At first glance, Lake Erie looks like a salt-water ocean (though I miss that salt scent in the air), and there can be large waves sometimes and none at all at other times, depending on the day. Both places have beautiful sunsets and give me a peaceful feeling. Being near the water is something so familiar to me that it’s truly is a part of who I am.

Something else “familiar” is coming soon… something rather jolly, in fact! If you’re thinking “Wait, didn’t the ‘Jolly Old Elf’ series end in 2019?”, well… you’d be correct about that. I finished the last painting that year, and in 2020, I wrote a book about it. If you received one of the fifty limited-edition books, you may even remember a bookplate inside the cover with a pen-and-ink drawing of Santa in a very familiar pose.

So, your next question might be, “Why are you painting another Santa?” I’m so glad you asked!

Last year, my book in the end was delivered much later than expected (just two weeks before Christmas), in the midst of the COVID crisis, combined with the Post Office problems that were going on at that time. I still managed to sell over 100 books, which I think was pretty good under the circumstances.

Now that everything is starting to open up again, I plan to give my book a better launch this holiday season and will focus on getting the word out. My plan is to bundle the book and the new print together at a reasonable price. I’ll also sell the print separately for those of you who have already bought the book. The new print will measure 9 x 12” – the same size as the five existing “companion” prints.

In all honesty, I have to admit I’ve missed painting that Jolly Old Elf! He let me borrow his Santa ring to add to the sketch, and I also borrowed his Book of Good Children. (Santa says that there are no bad children. That’s why it’s not a “Naughty and Nice Book!”)

As you can see, I’ve already gotten started on the new painting – I loved painting the fur and the holly on the hat. My plan is to include a Christmas tree with old-fashioned candles on the branches of the tree to light the room. Keep watching, there will be more updates soon!

It’s a Shore Thing…

We’ve been getting out and about quite a bit lately, making up for lost time. Last week, Tom and I decided it was a good opportunity to revisit my hometown roots, and we made an impromptu trip to New Jersey. Back in the day, from the time I was 9 until I got married, I spent almost every weekend except for the winter months at the shore. Together with our family and friends, we stayed in boats that my dad had bought or ones he built himself.

The Tradewinds was the biggest one he built, a 38-foot cement-hulled sailboat. I was 12 when my dad finished this boat and launched it. Believe it or not, a ferro-cement hull is lighter than a steel hull!  I painted this painting of it sometime in the 1990s. I’m not giving a specific date because – if you look closely – you will see that the year I signed it was… “199___.” (Oops! We may never know when I actually painted it…)

Spending time at the marina at Cedar Creek, New Jersey, such an important place in my childhood, was very good for my soul. Breathing in the sea air and hearing the sea gulls and the shrouds on the sailboats in the wind brought me peace and a yearning to stay. How lucky I was to have this special place to escape to when life got crazy growing up.

Last week, I also had the opportunity to meet up with the famous Rick Sebak of WQED! Because he’s the star of my new painting, “Remembering the O,” I felt it was only fair to present him with a framed print. Rick was gracious enough to model for me, and you can see him emerging from the “Dirty O” holding a bag of leftover French fries.  It was the first time he had seen the painting, and I caught his “WOW!” moment in this photo just as he was unveiling it, fresh from my framer, Lee Heckman.

I also gifted him with a copy of my first picture book, The Jolly Old Elf – Santa Claus Paintings by Linda Barnicott. I kid you not, he put it right up to his face to peek over the top, just like Santa did!  I told Rick he would make a great Santa!

Rick and I met in his editing office at WQED, which was filled with wall-to-wall books and tapes. From the minute I walked in the door, I knew I was in the presence of greatness! At the time of my visit, he was actually working on a clip from an interview with August Wilson back in 1989. His office down the hall reminded me of a combination library and museum (or perhaps an artist’s studio?), with books and resources and memorabilia from floor to ceiling.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job?  I truly appreciate all the wonderful experiences I’ve had and all the memorable people like Rick Sebak I’ve met along the way.

P.S. – (You can order your own print of this gone-but-not-forgotten Oakland landmark at https://lindabarnicott.com/product/remembering-the-o/

P.P.S. – In one week, we’ll be Halfway to Christmas – a great time to order a copy of my first picture book, The Jolly Old Elf, for your Jolly Old Self or someone you love… https://lindabarnicott.com/product/the-jolly-old-elf-book/

The Ship Hotel Has Launched!

The big day finally arrived – the official “launch” of my nostalgic tribute to the Ship Hotel!

I was so excited when my framer delivered the prints of “Lincoln Highway’s Historic Ship Hotel” for my customers.  The framed original was also ready for its new home, and we were able to set up a time to unveil it.  Bill, the client who commissioned the painting, had a fantastic idea – why not donate a framed print to the Lincoln Highway Experience – Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor Museum in Latrobe? You may remember that the Executive Director of the Museum, Lauren Koker, was a huge help in figuring out the words on the building’s red sign from old photos.

As soon as we arrived at the museum, we were already impressed. The main building on this beautiful property dates back to the early 1800s and is filled with tons of Lincoln Highway memorabilia. We learned that of all the Route 30 attractions, the Ship Hotel is a visitor favorite.  Lauren has actually dedicated an entire room to the Ship Hotel, and that is where the painting will hang.  I’ll also be sending her the link to the video I made so that visitors can see how the painting was created from start to finish.  (Click here to watch the video!)

After a great lunch, we headed back to my studio/home to see the original in its new frame and to finally send it home with its owner. Of course, the visit wouldn’t be complete without a personal tour of my garden!

My art business is really picking up these days, and it’s getting to be a busy time with new commissions and new paintings planned in and around Pittsburgh. Better yet… the Fall shows are coming back!  So stay tuned for more news.

As always, if you’re looking for a unique gift of art or maybe an update to your home décor, check out the rest of my website.

 

Way Out West

The American West is a place of incredible beauty and mystique. Western landscapes are uniquely stunning, with mountain vistas, multicolored canyons, wide open spaces, and a color palette all their own. This week I’m introducing three new paintings based on my travels out west, so if you’re a fan of western art, this may be your week!

From our first vacation after our honeymoon in 1980, all the way up to 2001, our family car only knew one path to vacation time… due south to Florida! Eventually, we realized that our little family had just a few more years before college and careers would take our girls in different directions. So in 2002, we decided to take the car in a different direction as well – and go west instead.

We consulted with close friends who had recently traveled cross-country and raved about their adventures. One set of friends carefully scheduled each stop along the way, while the other couple threw caution to the wind and set out with just a map and a general idea of where they were going to stay each night.

We decided that this was the way for us.  So we rented a big Grand Caravan and threw some bags in the back along with AAA maps and guidebooks from each state – and the Barnicotts went west!

My first thought as we were driving through Ohio was, “Will this feel like a vacation without palm trees and sand?”

After driving for hours and hours through flat cornfields, night fell at last, and we found a place to stay; it was called the Lakeside Motel. It was dark and we couldn’t see any water, but with that name, there must be water nearby someplace, right? I was really missing the ocean, and I thought it sounded like a reasonable substitute.

When I woke up the next morning, I went outside to see the most amazing sight… big brown hills dotted with dark green pines, not to mention the biggest, fastest-running river I had ever seen (it was the Missouri). Remember how Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz said, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore?” Well, we were definitely not in Pittsburgh anymore. This was when everything changed – and the Barnicotts got a new perspective on vacation destinations.

My three new pastel paintings aren’t based on that very first trip out west with our girls, but they do show some of our favorite places that Tom and I visited on our more recent solo trips.

“A Peaceful Moment at Slide Rock” was based on a place in Arizona that Tom and I returned to a few years ago.  We had been there with the girls in 2002… but at that time, it was anything but peaceful. Our younger daughter decided to slide down the rocks fully clothed – immediately, of course, after she was told not to get wet. But on this particular day many years later, it was just the two of us, and I felt as if we had the whole place to ourselves.

“Night Beauty in Albuquerque” is another place that we revisited in 2017 after attending a conference for pastelists.  Tom and I strolled through the old town together, and I was fascinated by the intense, rich colors of the adobe, teal blue accents, and the red bench in this composition. I think they must know that artists are highly affected by those colors and will be obsessed with painting them!

Finally, “Adobe Home Amongst the Hills” represents scenes we saw driving up to Taos after leaving Albuquerque. An artist friend shared a story of how a proud father gathered his family to watch our friend paint their “humble” home, which was really quite beautiful.

Have you ever traveled out West (or maybe even lived there)? What was most memorable for you? If these paintings remind you of something that brings you joy, the original pastels are for sale, and you can find the prints for purchase on my site.

Each of the paintings and prints are 9” x 12” and would make great accent pieces in your home. If you’re interested in one of the originals, drop me an email at linda@lindabarnicott.com.

 

P.S. – Last week I asked if you could write a sentence or two (or more) as a Google Review for Linda Barnicott Art & Gifts. If my work has touched your heart in any way, I hope you’ll consider sharing those thoughts on my Google Account.

Just follow the link below to Google Maps and scroll down to where you can write a review.  I would greatly appreciate your time and your kind words.

https://goo.gl/maps/hjnaUKyvJv6DQVtX8

Thanks in advance!
 

Beauty Is All Around Us

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you enjoyed some of the warm weather we had last week before the rain came. I am very excited because all of our hard work on our gardens has really paid off. My flowers are blooming like crazy, and every day I feel joy when I look at their brilliant colors and inhale their glorious scents.

I’m enjoying it this weekend, because I’ll soon be busy with a new project. (Not ready to talk about it quite yet – but I’ll tell you all about it next week!)

You may remember that since the arrival of the pandemic in the middle of the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show last year, opportunities to get out and exhibit at festivals, shows, and fairs have been practically nonexistent. One way that I have found I can reach more people is through Google Business. I recently “claimed” my business on Google, and I’m looking for reviews that will steer people to Linda Barnicott Art and Gifts when they search for “Pittsburgh Art” or other something similar.

Would you be willing to help me out one more time? A review can be anything from one sentence to a paragraph or more – it’s entirely up to you – and is just a testimonial about why you like my art, or maybe what it has meant to you or to special people in your life that you have gifted it to or what they thought about it when they received it. Again, it can be anything from one sentence to a paragraph, and the better the review and score, the higher my business will trend on Google.

Thank you all for helping me through the years (especially the last year!) through all these transitions. As I celebrate 32 years of painting Pittsburgh, I’ve been wondering what my life and art will become in the future. Now that Tom is retired, of course I’ll be spending more time with him. But does an artist ever retire? I can’t imagine a life for myself where I’m not painting!  So it Iooks like I’ll keep on painting and learning and creating art for the foreseeable future!

As always, your support means the world to me.

Fun and Surprises!

Since we last talked, I’ve had quite a busy, fun, and eventful week… with a few surprises along the way!

First, I added the enhancements to my artist-enhanced giclee prints of “Lincoln Highway’s Historic Ship Hotel” and brought them to my framer (Lee Heckman Gallery in Mt. Lebanon).

Then on Tuesday, Tom, my grandgirls, and I drove out to Beaver to the Courtney-Laughlin Gallery and Frame Studio, to pick up the original painting now that it’s framed and ready for my customer. I just had to get a photo of Tom and the girls with the painting… especially considering they were already painted into it! The pastel original looks beautiful in its new frame, and it will soon be proudly displayed in its forever home.

Afterwards, we decided to have a spontaneous picnic in the park nearby. The girls loved running around in such a big space. It truly was a perfect day for an adventure!

Speaking of surprises… getting out in the world again has been exciting in so many ways. For one thing, you never know who you’re going to meet!

Remember the couple Tom and I visited last week at Raystown Lake (my oldest and dearest friends)? They recently were talking with another friend who just happened to be from the same marina in New Jersey where I grew up. What a coincidence, right? They mentioned me, and she checked out my website right before Mother’s Day. She was looking for the perfect gift for her mom, who lives here in Pittsburgh and is a huge Penguins fan.

She mentioned that, like most mothers, her mom always tells her children not to worry about buying her gifts. And of course, like most loving daughters do, she ignored this and was looking for a special Mother’s Day gift that she was sure her mom would like.

So after I asked a lot of questions about her mom’s interests and tastes, we put together a wall grouping with “Pittsburgh’s New Home for Hockey” and two borderless 8″ x 10″ mini prints of Sid Crosby and the old Mellon Arena. Because her mom is local, and I prefer not to ship framed pieces, I offered to hand-deliver the prints once they were framed and to sign the glass in gold for her.

It really felt good to be involved in this lovely surprise. When I delivered the prints to my customer’s mom, we talked for at least an hour, and she showed me all the beautiful artwork in her home and her impressive collection of Penguins memorabilia. Before our visit was over, we had already decided on the perfect spot to display her new pieces.

I’m looking forward to getting the results from my survey on Friday. I can’t wait to share it with you next week! If you responded to the survey, don’t forget to use your discount code to take advantage of your 10% off any online order. A gift that brings back treasured memories (and that I will happily personalize) is perfect for a graduation, birthday, or anniversary.

Cabin in the Woods

After over a year of COVID isolation, who isn’t ready to just pack a bag and get away for a little while… but still maybe a little anxious about getting back out into the world? That was the case for Tom and me last weekend. Though we’re now fully vaccinated and reasonably safe, we were still cautious about our visit to Raystown Lake. So we rented a cabin and didn’t interact much with anyone but our dearest friends (also fully vaccinated), whom we hadn’t seen since 2019.

Our cabin was very rustic – just a step up from camping. This was quite new to us, as Tom’s idea of roughing it is when the Holiday Inn is in the woods. We didn’t even have heat, and of course, it was pouring rain and freezing out there all weekend. However, it wasn’t something two space heaters and an umbrella couldn’t handle!

It was all worth it for the wonderful memories we made… and as you know, memories are what I’m good at!

Speaking of memories, yesterday was a sad day for fans of the Original Hot Dog Shop in Oakland. With the last of the O signage taken down, new students arriving in the fall will never recognize that building as a place that was always jumping, filled with laughter and comradery. And of course, they’ll never experience those famous hotdogs, accompanied by what was probably the biggest serving of fries the world has ever known.

Were you one of those happy students or Oakland workers who look back fondly on good times at the O? Now you can relive those moments with my painting, “Remembering the O.”  If you look closely, you’ll see Rick Sebak – a man who really knows his stuff about Pittsburgh dining – walking out with his big bag of leftover fries. The print is an archival giclee open-edition ($85.00) and would make an ideal gift during this graduation season.

Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who has completed my brief survey to help determine the direction my product line will take in the coming year. Your time and your thoughts are much appreciated, and by filling out the survey, you’re helping me bring joy to others.

If you haven’t yet completed the survey, just follow the link in the P.S. below and enjoy a savings of 10% off your next online order.

Also, while you happen to be on my homepage, check out our new look!

Have a great week!

P.S. – Again, here’s the link to the survey. Just answer five easy questions to get 10% off your next online purchase!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HZJN6CN

 

Can You Help Me Out?

I hope you and your families are healthy and enjoying the recent Spring weather and getting outside a little more as the temperatures warm up.

I’m writing you today with a special request – I need your help to create my new art products line for the coming year.

Due to the pandemic and the tough economy in 2020, I’m sorry to say that some of my supplier partners didn’t make it. For that reason, some of my popular items are no longer available. But while it’s sad that this has happened, I’m looking at this setback as an opportunity to explore some new product ideas.

And that’s where you come in!

Over the years, your purchasing choices and feedback have helped guide me in these decisions, and I thank you for that.  Now I’m directly requesting your input on which products I will pursue and develop in the future.

You can help me out by taking a brief five-question survey about the kinds of items featuring my artwork that you might like to purchase. I hope you’ll take five minutes to provide your personal insights to help me reset my product offerings.

Thank you in advance for your encouragement and support. Artists really need and treasure that kind of feedback — your “Painter of Memories” really appreciates it!

As my way of saying thanks, you’ll receive 10% off any item on my website (except candles) for completing this short survey. A code will be sent to you by email after your survey is submitted.

Just click here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HZJN6CN

Happy Spring!

It’s Finished!

This week I’m officially announcing the release of my new painting, “Lincoln Highway’s Historic Ship Hotel.”

When I last showed you my progress on the painting, it didn’t seem like there was a lot more to do to finish it.  It was pretty much done except for just the road itself… I mean, how hard is to paint some pavement?

Actually, the road is central to the theme of this painting. The Lincoln Highway brought people to this particular spot… from sightseers who had heard about this unique landmark, to motorists who just happened to be driving by and pulled over to get a better look at that amazing view. Part of the road was eventually incorporated into the parking lot of the Grand Ship Hotel. Because it was so important to the hotel, I thought long and hard about how to depict it.

As always, I made adjustments based on trial and error.  At first, it was too light and blended in with the Avanti. Thank heavens pastels are so forgiving! See if you can catch the change towards the end of the video.

(What video, you ask? Well, we tried something new with this painting…)

Each night before I left my studio, I took a photo of how far I had progressed that day. My daughter Brittany (my Social Media Guru) put all the photos together, added some nice piano music for a soundtrack, and created a slideshow video of the making of the painting. You can find it on my website, https://lindabarnicott.com/product/lincoln-highways-historic-ship-hotel/ – just scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Thank you for following me over last two months as I researched, gathered resources, sketched, and painted my way through this piece. I hope you like it, and that it reminds you (or someone dear to you) of good times and happy touring memories of days gone by.

Please share this link with your family and friends. Note that this is a very limited edition of 75 with 10 Artist proofs and 10 Artist-Enhanced prints – the smallest print edition I’ve ever done. So order yours today!

Again, the link is https://lindabarnicott.com/product/lincoln-highways-historic-ship-hotel/. I hope you’ll check out the video of the start-to-finish creation process of “Lincoln Highway’s Historic Ship Hotel.” I think it’s pretty cool!

P.S. – Meet Alex – the genius who turns my original pastel paintings into perfect prints! He works really hard to make them the absolute best they can be.