Two Weeks to Showtime!

Well, maybe not exactly two weeks… but it’s just 11 days (not that I’m counting) until the opening of the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show! More reliable than the Groundhog, the show is known to be the first sign of spring in Pittsburgh.

As the show is celebrating its 40th year, it’s been 27 years since I was the only artist on the second floor of the old Convention Center. My booth was set up between windows and bathtubs. We were allowed to put up balloons back then, so I did it hoping it would help passersby notice me. People would comment that after seeing tons of garage doors, windows, and appliances, coming across my booth was like the dessert at the end of a meal!

Nowadays the Home and Garden Show has grown to include an artists’ area, an entire interior design section, lots of food to taste, and fun live shows. There is so much to do and see!

This year I’m unveiling my new painting, “Springtime in Mellon Green Park” as well as my newest puzzle, “Remembering the O.” I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone at the show – I hope you can make it!

Springtime in February?

Though the past week’s weather has been anything but spring-like, I’ve been making great progress on my new painting, “Springtime in Mellon Green Park.”

A few days ago, I was at the stage of the painting where I had to decide whether to put someone in the composition, and if so, where was just the right spot?  And who could I possibly use as a model? Hmm… I know! “Hey Tom, would you mind going downtown to Mellon Green and posing for me on a bench?”

Normally, there wouldn’t be a problem with that… except that this week we had a snowstorm and a lot of ice. But Tom takes his modeling duties seriously, and on Sunday after church we drove downtown to set up the shot. When we got there, we realized that the despite the sunshine, none of the snow had melted. As we got out of the car, I told Tom, “You’d better take the scraper in case we need to scrape the snow and ice off the bench.”

The other issue was that the park was closed. However, we didn’t come all this way just to be thwarted by a few chains, so Tom (such a gentleman!) held out his hand and helped me climb over. And then when we got to the bench, Tom brushed off the snow to find that there was at least an inch of ice under it! No matter. I just smiled and said “Don’t worry, just take off your coat and sit when I tell you… and not before!”

There was one prop for the scene – I asked Tom to bring a book to pose with so it would look like he was enjoying a leisurely lunch hour in the park. Once he was ready to go, I dashed over to set up my camera shot. I often tell my customers that I may be a pretty good artist, but I’m a lousy photographer. Too bad I have no choice but to live with the photos I take!

As Tom posed not-too-comfortably on the ice-covered bench for a springtime painting, I thought about our granddaughter Autumn and how she would be laughing herself silly at the sight.

Thanks a Lot, Groundhog

According to Punxsutawney Phil, it looks like we’re in for six more weeks of winter. Well, for those of us who only like a little bit of winter, (you know, the “I like the different seasons” thing), this is not what we wanted to hear from our friend, the weather-predicting rodent! Though my garden looks pretty nice decorated with all that white flaky stuff, I believe I’m ready to enjoy the first signs of spring.

Of course, painting a springtime scene at Mellon Green (which I will be sharing with you soon) is an acceptable substitute for now. At least it helps a little with my longing to see blossoms and shades of green bursting forth from the earth. I expect to complete the painting this weekend; then if all goes well, the original will be framed soon, and I can unveil it alongside the new prints at the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show.

This week I’ve also been working hard on getting my stock together for the show. Even though we’ll still have winter weather until then, March 4th will be here before we know it!

My restock order of puzzles just arrived late yesterday, and I’m excited to announce that there will be a new puzzle available at the Home and Garden Show! The new puzzle will be an “only at show” item, as I have a limited number of them for the time being. Of course, “Holiday Memories under Kaufmann’s Clock,” “My Hometown,” and “Santa’s Woodland Christmas” are available now. More details about my newest puzzle will be coming soon!

I’m sorry for any inconvenience to those who weren’t able to get a puzzle in time for the holidays – they turned out to be more popular than I expected (which is a good thing)! As I work more and more with this company, I want to eventually put the puzzles up on my website. In the meantime, I appreciate your patience.

The puzzles (1000 pieces) are $35.00 plus tax and shipping. They measure 28 inches by 20 inches, and the colors are absolutely beautiful. The finished puzzles would make great wall art!

Again, quantities are limited. I’m bringing whatever stock I have left to the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show on March 4th through 13th. I will have a double booth (#3146) at the end of Row 3100, closest to the escalators.

Regardless of what the groundhog says, Spring is just around the corner. (Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!). In the meantime, stay safe, stay warm, and have a great week!

 

Home Sweet Home

Another week, another happy customer!

I couldn’t wait to get back to my easel after the holidays and especially after all that organizing.  I’ve been working on a commission piece that’s been in the works since before the holidays. It’s always helpful when customers are really great about working with your schedule!

One of the good things that came out of this pandemic (and there were not many of them!) has been getting back to taking on some commission work. I can’t tell you how many years I didn’t accept commissions – I was too busy creating my Pittsburgh, Kennywood, and Santa series, not to mention exhibiting at so many art shows. My wide open schedule in the last two years has allowed me some time to accept more personal projects.

The families I’ve worked with are nothing short of amazing; they’ve made the whole process even more fun.  When Maureen and her son Connor sold their home and moved away last year, she decided that a great way to remember their beloved home would be to preserve it forever in a painting. This week, Maureen and Connor came over to pick up the finished piece. When Maureen walked into my living room and immediately saw it on my easel, she exclaimed, “It’s beautiful!”

Creating this painting was a bit challenging, in that I never actually saw the home in person. As we discussed the composition, (which would be entirely based on the photos we were working from), we realized there would have to be some changes.

For example, I knew right away the bush in the front yard had to go. We also chose to get rid of the railing and the basketball hoop. We decided to give the painting an autumn setting in order to add interest to the trees. Before she sold the house, I had asked Maureen to turn on the lights to give a warmer look and mood to the painting, and I added a reflection on the lawn cast by the lights. Finally, I added a few flowers to the urns and the planter based on the kinds Maureen used to plant.

We had a lot of fun sharing our stories, and I had a big smile on my face for their entire visit. They were truly delightful folks!

So what’s up next for me? Since then, I’ve started a new painting that I hope to finish in time for the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show. It’s basically just a smaller 9 x 12″ piece of Mellon Green, right on Grant Street across from the William Penn Hotel. It’s not Mellon Park on top of the garage, but a sweet little park with a fountain that is also across from the U.S. Steel Building.  In case you’re wondering, it’s a springtime painting full of flowers and blossoms. I don’t know about you, but right now I’m kinda tired of winter scenes. It’s quite the change… now let’s see if I can pull it off!

Custom Paint Jobs

After a long time away (and a long-needed clean-up), it felt good to finally get back to my studio this week!  The first order of business was to finish some commissioned pieces that have been waiting for my attention. I don’t take on commission work very often, but during the pandemic, it’s been a fun and productive way to keep busy.

This week I was working on a house portrait (when I told this client, “I’ll paint your house,” I wasn’t kidding!). I had originally promised to deliver it first thing in 2020. Then I promised to deliver it in 2021. And you can imagine how that worked out! I can’t show it here, as the client has not yet seen the finished painting, but I can share with you two other commissioned pieces that I finished last year.

The first painting is a portrait of a home in Mt Lebanon. This stately stone home is a real beauty, and I added lighting effects from the sky and lamplight to give it a romantic, warm, and cozy feeling. Take a look at the large front left window, and you’ll see the silhouettes of their four beloved cats. I truly enjoyed painting this piece. As always, the original looks a lot better in person, as you can see the depth of the pastel.

Continuing on the cat theme, the second painting is of Saturn, a well-loved rescue kitty who is an important part of my client’s family. To be honest, the original photo was amazing and made my job very easy. As a portrait artist, my favorite part of this piece was painting the kitty’s eyes. Another part of this painting that I loved creating is the reflected candlelight on the back wall.

Again, I don’t often take on commissions, but I’m always open to the right one when it comes along. I always strive to create a personalized painting the client will treasure and be proud to display in their home.

But I didn’t actually spend the whole week in front of my easel!  Yesterday I was able to get together with a friend for a lovely breakfast at Panera Bread in the Galleria in Mount Lebanon. It was such a treat just to be able to catch up with Bob (who happens to be a professional financial advisor), and spend some time face to face.

After my breakfast with Bob, I was able to catch up with another friend, and the first thing she said to me was “So, are you getting ready for the Home and Garden Show?” And of course, I replied “Yes!”

It seems like it was so long ago when the last Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show in March 2020 was cut short after eight days due to the worsening pandemic. So needless to say, I’m super excited about starting fresh this year.

With more frosty weather predicted for this weekend, sometimes it seems like Spring will never get here. But getting ready for the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show – less than six weeks away! – makes it feel as if Spring is just around the corner.

It’s Over When I Say It’s Over!

We had an amazing season this year at the Holiday Market. It was hugely successful, and I want to thank all of you once again for your support.

The only downside? With our insanely busy Holiday Market schedule, Tom and I didn’t get much time to enjoy our holiday décor this year. So we’ve decided to pretend it’s still December while we continue to enjoy our beautiful Christmas tree and all the beautiful twinkling lights nestled in pine boughs throughout our home. It’s one of the perks of being an adult… no one is the boss of me, so Christmas is over when I say it’s over!

That being said, I’m already ordering framed prints, metal prints, and gallery wraps for the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show.  It may be freezing outside, but the show is less than two months away!

Tom and I no sooner returned home from Washington, DC, and we got right down to work, organizing what we had left after the Holiday Market and figuring out what we need to order for the Home and Garden Show in March. Which wasn’t exactly easy, considering my studio looked like a bomb had gone off.  (I wish I had taken a photo of it, because you’d see that I’m not exaggerating!)  We would come home from Market Square, go down to the studio, and pull more stock. Then we would put new items together that night and early the next morning before returning to the Chalet to do it all over again.

So obviously, organization was critical to keeping up and staying (relatively) sane. We organized and then organized some more. As a matter of fact, I’m still working on organizing my studio because soon I’ll be painting again!

I appreciate everyone who reached out to me with ideas for this coming painting season. I’m taking them all into consideration as I make decisions about 2022. Your ideas mean so much to me, and I appreciate your time writing emails and posting on Facebook. Thanks again for your input!

Meanwhile, if you happen to need a gift of art for any special occasion (or maybe a midwinter gift for yourself to brighten up your home?), you can find me happily painting down in my studio most days. Check out my website – www.lindabarnicott.com

I hope you have a fantastic week!

P.S. – Here are my girls getting a little homeschooling on their first Snow Day a couple weeks ago. You may notice Abigail in the back, swishing her hair back and forth. I do believe that child will be the gymnast in our family because those amazing neck muscles really get a work out, and somersaults are her favorite pastime!  Aria is growing up and acting all cool now (though she is still very sweet), while Autumn is so very innocent… but that girl has gumption! They are a real joy in our lives.

Farewell to Old Friends

There’s a saying that “the only thing that is inevitable is change.” This has been especially true for me recently, as I’ve said goodbye to a couple of cherished old friends.

Last week, John DeSantis, owner of the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, died unexpectedly due to cancer. My history with John goes way back to the late winter of 1995.  I was just beginning my series of Kennywood paintings with my new publisher, Denny Oliver. One thing we did a lot of in those days was brainstorming about how to introduce our new series to the public, and we came up with the idea of exhibiting at the annual Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show. I had done a pastels demonstration there once in the early 80s, and in 1994, Tom and I ran into a prominent local art director there, who encouraged us to give the show a try.

Soon I found myself dialing the number of the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, and as luck would have it, John DeSantis himself answered the phone. I introduced myself and was thrilled when he responded “I know who you are!” and when “Of course, you can join us!” followed shortly after.

John always had a huge smile and usually a big hug for me. Over the years (25 years as of 2020!), John afforded me many opportunities beyond the Home and Garden Show to showcase my work on TV, radio, and sometimes even decorating other spaces throughout the Convention Center. My career officially took off with that first show 27 years ago, and John would often introduce me to others who would in turn generate additional work for me.

Every January/February, I would attend the orientation/sales training meeting a month before the show opened.  It seemed as if every year we heard the same instructions on how to make a better presentation and the best way to reach our customers. The training always included plenty of newbies, and even though I pretty much had his speech memorized, I would always show up anyway, and every time was as magical to me as the first. And once again this year, I’ll be at that meeting, right in the front row, encouraging others as John encouraged me.

John DeSantis was a force of nature. He made the Home and Garden Show something spectacular, always evolving and growing.  With his passing, this year’s show will be quite emotional.  I am so grateful for all that he did, and I’m sure his family will continue to honor his memory by presenting a fine ten-day event.

Earlier this week, Tom was reading the news when he looked up and said “The Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut is on FIRE!”  Oh no, not the Blue Streak, the wonderful vintage roller coaster that was the subject of one of my favorite paintings!

It’s been difficult to follow the sad news about the gradual dismantling of Conneaut Lake Park. I remember when I first walked alongside the Blue Streak, thinking how much it looked like The Dips at West View Park, which I had painted years earlier. Unfortunately, it seems that The Dips and the Blue Streak have something else in common – they both met a fiery end. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to paint this memorable coaster that was part of so many fond memories for generations of visitors.

As we enter into the new year, I pray that you have more joy than sorrow, more love that misunderstanding, and more faith than illusion. Take the time to appreciate the people in your life and the experiences you’re given.

Here Comes 2022!

First off, I’d like to wish a happy, safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year to each and every one of you, my faithful readers! Your support has meant so much to me and has helped me keep going through these last two crazy years.

So, speaking of crazy…

Since I last wrote to you, I closed down the chalet in Market Square with a lot of help from Tom, Britt, and Breann. Somehow we dismantled all our displays, packed it all up, and loaded everything in the van last Thursday night without any issues.

Then on Friday, Santa came to visit us and posed for a few pictures, and my grandgirls took turns sharing their Christmas wishes with him. They must think their grandma is a big deal if she can get them a private meeting with Santa! Christmas itself was a joyous day filled with family time, playing, and feasting.

With the Holiday Market behind us, Tom and I were sorely in need of some downtime, so we headed off to Our Nation’s Capital for a mini vacation to unwind. We found out there is also a Market Square here in DC, though it was not quite the same as ours. Every night since we closed, I have had dreams about the Holiday Market. I guess my subconscious hasn’t quite worked through it yet!

As we took in the sights in DC, we visited the Smithsonian Museums, and I couldn’t help but be inspired. I mentioned to Tom tonight that I can’t wait to get started painting new pieces when we get home… but first I have to get my messy studio under control!

So, while you’re relaxing, sitting back, and enjoying the holidays, could you perhaps give some thought to what you might like me to paint this year? And of course, please feel free to share it with me!  I’m always looking for new ideas and subjects for my work… you never know what might happen!

I pray that 2022 brings us all peace and joy.  Once again, I want to say “thank you” to all who supported my work throughout the holiday season.

Here’s to a blessed New Year to you and yours!

We Made It!

I’ve been wondering all year how the 2021 holiday season might play out. Given that pandemic issues are still with us, I was afraid the holidays this year might again be less than merry for me. Fortunately, it seems that my fears were groundless! I’ve been immersed in the bustle of the holidays, feeling the festivity and laughter of folks enjoying themselves as they explore the Holiday Market.

I even sang along with the beautiful Christmas music being played on the Market Square stage. Tom and I also found a new SXM radio station of holiday music from days of old. We listened to it every day on our drive into Market Square and every night on our way home. Those beautiful tunes had a very calming effect on my spirit at a time when life seemed so hectic.

Tom and I were so busy this season that it took us a week to get our tree up.  First, we bought a tree and got it home, only to realize it was, in fact, pretty much dead. The next day, we went out again and found another tree that was too big for our small living room, so we had to cut part of it off in order for it to fit. Then as soon as I finished putting the lights on the tree, half of them promptly went out. After another trip to the store, Tom put them on the tree this time. (I didn’t want to jinx it!) Now I’m thinking this tree may be my favorite of all time!

A friend of mine once suggested that I should pick a “word of the year” to help keep me motivated. This year, my word was “Gratitude.”

First off, I am so grateful to have all of you in my life and for how many of you I’ve heard from this year. It really did my soul good to see those of you who were able to make it to the Holiday Market. I’m also grateful for the good weather we had this year – there were only a handful of days when the weather didn’t cooperate – and for not having any other issues during our five weeks at the Chalet.

I’ve also been grateful for the chance to spend so much time with my husband, working as a team behind the counter at the Chalet.  We commented today how we both love interacting with people from all walks of life and hearing their stories. I’m grateful to all my helpers and to everyone else who helped provide me with everything I needed to make this season successful. This year’s Holiday Market has been by far my best show yet.

Today is our last day for the season in Market Square. It’s not too late to pick up a few last-minute gifts… or maybe just stop by to say hi as Tom and I hit the home stretch! We’ll be working tonight right up to 9 p.m., then the fun begins as we have to break down the whole chalet and bring home anything that’s left.

Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart…

May your holiday be blessed with the love of family and friends…

May joy fill your hearts…

And may the Spirit of Christmas continue to live in you throughout the coming year!

Will the Real Linda Barnicott Please Stand Up?

Ho-Ho-Ho!  I feel as if I’ve been playing the part of Santa’s helper at the Holiday Market today as I help folks pick out that perfect gift. But lately there’s been a lot of mystery about this Linda Barnicott person and who she really is. I may even be getting a bit confused myself. Which Linda Barnicott is the REAL one?

Just since the start of the Holiday Market on November 19th, there has been quite a bit of confusion about who I am.  Someone thought I was Tom’s mother (Tom thought it was hilarious to call me Mom all evening)!  Others thought I was my daughter’s sister, Santa’s wife, or even Santa’s daughter.

Then, the other night while I was away from my booth, someone got my work confused with that of a famous Pittsburgh photographer. The funny – and exasperating – part was that no matter how hard Breann (my amazing helper) tried, she couldn’t convince her that my prints were paintings, not photographs.

I also recently had the opportunity to feel both young and ancient within just a few hours. One nice person told me that I seem to be “aging backwards,” which was great for my ego.  But then I heard a gentleman tell his wife that I had been painting “forever.” And worse yet, someone thought I was deceased!  As far as peoples’ perceptions of me go, I think I’ve heard it all.

Nonetheless, the best part of being at the Holiday Market is visiting with so many friends (new and old) and hearing their stories about what my art means to them. Some tell me about their memories of the places I’ve painted, and some tell me about what my art has meant to their loved ones. I feel truly blessed when folks those stories share with me, especially at this time of year.

When I’m not talking to my customers, it’s fun to watch the men, women, and children in their colorful holiday apparel who come to Market Square to enjoy a festive outing.  I love watching ornament exchanges, excited children anticipating seeing Santa, and holiday shoppers carrying their packages. The lights and music and laughter ringing through the air makes nights in Market Square magical in the holiday season.

Why not be a part of what’s becoming a Pittsburgh holiday tradition? Come on down to Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh!  The Holiday Market is open seven days a week at 11 a.m., and I’ll be there every day until December 23rd.

I would love to see you!