The lovely Virginia Carruth

Virginia did me the sweetest favor by sitting for a portrait demo a week ago. Yesterday I finished it up (no, really this time) and sent it home to her via her friend, Caroline. I hope she likes it.
Today I have a student and I'm working on a commissioned pastel portrait of woman. The commissioner is wanting it for a birthday present to her.
I love being at the gallery. Visitors wander in, happy to be on vacation from the very cold places where they live, and say the most complimentary things about our art. Sometimes a special conversation happens. I met some Carlin sisters, visiting from the East. Not related, but they took photos of my sign and told me they have a sister in law named Susan Carlin. I've met only one other one, and only by email. Another visitor came in to say her best friend's last name is Carlin and is a portrait artist, too. Figure that! I spent some time yesterday with a photographer, a woman from Milwaukee who'd just come back from Copper Canyon in Mexico. She offered some of her photos for references. Such generosity from a stranger warms my heart. I helped her start a blog so she can showcase her photos.
Was I missing people, and not realizing it? I seem to be so happy greeting new arrivals to the gallery throughout the day, it makes me wonder.

Demo for the new Texas Pastel Society

Last night was the first meeting of the Texas Pastel Society and I was honored to have been asked to demonstrate a pastel portrait. The above is what I managed to complete in and around all my talking. I'm taking it in to the studio tomorrow to complete. I'll post an update soon. I'm delighted that Mary Lopez and a few other dedicated pastel artists are undertaking the work of beginning this new Society. The Austin Pastel Society has been our nearest one. I love those folks in Austin and will certainly remain a member. Now, what Abundance!
This fellow came into the studio Tuesday with his family and I immediately knew I wanted to paint him. He was gracious enough to pose for me. His daughter's name is Aspasia, and he's only been living in San Antonio a few months. The family is of Greek heritage. If you know him, or if this is you, please contact me... I forgot to get your contact information so I could send you an image of the resulting painting.

I'm demonstrating a pastel portrait this Tuesday

If you're anywhere around San Antonio and you paint with pastels or think you might like to, please come to the first meeting of the Texas Pastel Society on Tuesday. I'm honored to have been asked to do a demo of a pastel portrait. Details below-
You are cordially invited to the
Opening Meeting of the

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008 from 7-9P.M.

115 Melrose Pl.
San Antonio, Texas

Join us for an evening of refreshments, shared ideas, and fine art
Feel free to bring photos of your artwork or even a pastel painting

Please note: a $1.00 meeting fee will be collected

For more information, contact
Mary Lopez, President@ 210-435-8036

Just for the delight of it:

Wonderful Party

My friend, Karen, is the main reason the Opening went well. She handled the whole food-and-wine thing like she was a professional caterer. I poured maybe three glasses for guests. She poured about 200 more. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take more photos. Everything was so pretty. Thank you, Karen!

This is Pam Clarkson, one of the other two artists who show their work in the gallery, enjoying maybe one of her only chances to sit down. She and her S.O. Jim Mahaffey had recommended the musicians we hired. They were great! Folks from all over La Villita followed their ears to our little courtyard and joined the party.

This is my friend Karen Wagoner and I posing with a painting. Thanks for being there (and for bringing all those goodies), Karen!
I'm so grateful for yesterday. So many good friends (and many perfect strangers!) all wishing us well. We ate well, sipped wine and exchanged lots of hugs and compliments.

Pam entertaining guests.

My daughter, Morgan, my friends Katherine and Elizabeth, and the back of Mary Shepard, the other exhibiting artist in our happy little trio.

Mary Shepard talking with the musicians

The fellows with the cool sounds.

Before the crowds... perfect sunny, warm day.

Char Eppright (wearing the blue scarf), a wonderful portrait artist friend from Austin, and Ann Blomquist, her friend from Boerne, at our Opening. Thank you for driving in!

Karen W. and Elizabeth Siglar soaking up the rays.
When it got busier, I completely forgot to take photos. Beren Gaule sent a beautiful plant for our "gallery warming." Cindi Alarie and Judy Korge (who both brought wine!) and Valerie Mortensen, Katherine Morehead, and Elizabeth Siglar from my Artist's Way group came. Some of the others were Chris Armes, Sherrie Allyn, Kathleen Griffith, Alicia Lawson, Sara Eyestone and her S.O. David Molin, Janice Joplin, Barbara Allspaugh, Doralee and Douglas Shannon, Patrick Kimble and his S.O. Ray, Steven DaLuz, Mary Ann Matteson and family, Toni Cheshire, Kip Dollar and Toby Johnson, Ron Moczygemba and Mike Farner, Carol Myers and friend, Stacey Hill (who gave us an iTunes card so we can pick some new music forand her S.O. Jerry, Mark and Leigh Gifford (who brought blooming paperwhites and my very favorite wine), Allan and Susan Butcher, Beth Duke from Houston, a sweet couple, Jan and Tom, who were sent by a mutual friend in Georgia! .... and so many, many more. Please forgive me if my memory has gone a little blinky and I've not mentioned you. Many friends sent their good wishes by email and phone calls. Thank you everyone.
Now we're going to wash the dishes, sweep up and get back to our easels. It's tough, this business of making art. The joy. The exhilaration. The fun of color and line. It takes a lot out of a gal. Come by anytime and watch the drama unfold. I'm there Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Usually. This week it's also Friday. Mary Shepard paints on Wednesdays and Pam Clarkson on Fridays.
See you soon!

The Party's Today! Come on down!

Grand Opening Celebration
Saturday, Feb. 23rd, 2-7 p.m.
Come by and lift a glass, have some refreshments and see where I paint these days.
It’s supposed to be perfect weather.
Before or after your visit, why not stroll along the Riverwalk?
The Gallery is just up the steps of Arneson River Theater, then turn left just past the Little Church of La Villita. Walk toward the back into the sweetest little courtyard. That’s where you’ll find the Gallery.
Soft Jazz music from 3-6 p.m.
418 Villita Street, 14B.
(210) 226-3992

Virginia's portrait finished...and Cathy's is, too!

Ok, posting this made me see even more to change. So I'm not quite done after all. I've got her chin a bit pointy and there's a funky thing happening between her eyes. Sigh. But isn't Virginia pretty? Loved that great sweater on her, too.

This is the pastel painting my student Cathy Geib did today. She's mostly done commissioned pet portraits, but is gaining confidence with her people now. Go, Cathy!
Off to my Artist's Way group. Love it.

An ordinary Tuesday chock full of painting.

What a day! A full day of painting at the gallery followed by a pastel portrait demonstration for the New Braunfels Art League this evening. Virginia Carruth, a beautiful woman and excellent pastel painter, agreed to model for me. She did a great job modeling and I had a very good time talking with all those artists as I painted. I took some photos of her and have brought the painting home to look more closely and finish it up. It's a good thing I did. Yikes! So many things to change. I'll post the "after" when I'm done. Thank you to all the NBAL members who made me feel so welcome!

This is the finish of the very loose wedding portrait. It framed up beautifully.

This is Melanie's daughter, a bit more refined and now framed.

The turquoise background on this painting had bothered me. It still looks very turquoise in this photo, but I really did tone it down. I think my camera really pushes blues and greens.

This is a start I made on an 11 x 14 oil today. This is a photo I begged the photographer for. How could I resist? I hope to eventually do it justice. The sofa was very floral and the boy's shirt was very stripey. They clashed and jangled the eye. I may put stripes in the background, though.

This is a model stand... a perfect 9 inches high... made by my friend Steve by sawing off the legs of a 36" x 36" oak coffee table. He cut the back two corners off, too, so it would fit in my odd-shaped gallery. Thank you, Steve!!!

Small, sweet painting today

This painting is an 8 x 10 oil on canvas panel, of the daughter of an acquaintance with a great blog called Bean Paste. She graciously allowed me to use one of her photos as a painting reference. Today was blustery and chilly and wet off and on, so I painted indoors and listened to an ebook on the studio computer as I painted. Heaven. I'll go back on Monday and see what revisions and additions it might need. Thank you, Melanie!

Progress on the wedding couple painting...

I got to paint some on this Tuesday, but haven't since. I hope to work a bit on it today before closing. I may leave it loose and just refine the bouquet and faces a bit more. It's blowy and a wee bit chilly outside today, so will bring the easel inside to paint.
Have a wonderful love-filled Valentine's Day, ya'll.

Grand Opening February 23rd... 2-7 p.m.

Susan Carlin, Mary Shepard and Pamela Clarkson
invite you to
Come Help Celebrate the

In La Villita, in the courtyard behind the Little Church of La Villita,
418 Villita St., 14B
San Antonio, Texas 78205

Saturday, February 23, 2 - 7 p.m.

Beautiful Art, Live Music,
Yummy Refreshments

226-3992 - Gallery
602-8562 - Susan Carlin

A finish and a start

Today I expected to paint most of the day and ended up only painting maybe two hours at the very end- this start on an 18 x 24 oil on stretched canvas. Talked with a lot of people and enjoyed it. Karen came down to have lunch with me and brought in burgers from Guadalajara Grill. Mmm. I got my webcam and mic working and got to talk with my Dad once or twice today. Sent images to Kinko's for cards. Pamela came in with her husband Jim to pick up extra paintings. She painted at the studio yesterday and did the sweetest small square painting of chiles.
I finished this small painting (11 x 14 oil on stretched canvas) on Thursday and brought in a gold frame with black liner to put it in. Just the liner shows on this image.
This is what it looked like from the doorway as I was closing up at six.
I've come home tuckered out each of the four days I've worked there this week, but very happy. Saw patients on Wednesday and one yesterday. We even made a good start yesterday on putting our house back together after the chaos of gallery opening and trying to lay laminate floor in Mo's room at the same time. Had to hire the completion of the floor done on Wednesday. Just couldn't have the bedroom furniture in the living room one more day.
Sunday is going to be pure laziness if all goes my way. But I'm excited to get back to the wedding couple painting on Monday!

Second day in paradise

Ok, so the little girl portrait was a prop for this photo. All it needed was my signature (hence the tiny liner brush). Later in the day I got to start this 11x14 oil on stretched canvas. It was delicious to be working outside in this perfect weather with happy people passing by and stopping to talk. I'm so tired it's hard to raise my arms, but oh, what a good day. Thank you folks for your good wishes. They mean a lot.

Blessed out of my socks

Today was my first full day at the gallery. I spent much of it at the computer creating forms... guest list for visitors to sign (leaving out the place for snail mail addresses. I just want email addresses) and, finally, a price list for portraits. I seem to have been avoiding pinning the prices down. But they are pinned, folks. In black and white. Prices affordable and ones I can live with for a while. I do want to raise them before too long, but I'll do fine with these for a bit. Pastel portraits, 11 x 14, head and shoulders, starting at $200.00. Oil portraits, 24 x 36, full figure, up to 2400.00. Still very underpriced, but I won't feel angry quoting those prices. I want to feel positive about being adequately compensated for the hours of work involved.
I talked with dozens of people today who wandered in, several who took cards and the new price lists. They all loved Mary and Pamela's work, too. I'm so proud that they're involved with the gallery. Their work is top notch and SO beautiful. One woman from Ireland really wanted a painting of Mary's but her husband said no. I experienced this so many times when I worked two summers in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in my 20's. Busloads of churchfolks came to town to see the Passion Play there, and they'd come into the gift shop where I did portraits and over and over I'd hear a woman say, "Look, Honey, I love this." And a man would say, "No." Just, "No." If that doesn't make you a feminist, nothing will.
I took my first credit card payment today. Cool, yes? A student paying for her personal instruction day with me in a few days.
I grinned all day.
You are witness to pure joy.
-Happy Susan

Now Open!

Yesterday morning Karen and Don Wagoner provided the truck and four strong arms to move the counter and a thousand other things down to the gallery. Thank you both for your help and your friendship!
Karen J. helped lug those thousand things and find places for office supplies, then unboxed and hooked up the fridge and printer and microwave. She potted up some pansies and designed some painting labels and a guest list, too. Oh, and drove to downtown and back three times, once because I forgot my keys! She's a good, good woman. Thank you, Karen!

I wish I could post photos of Elizabeth Siglar and her S.O. Cheff, who showed up in the late morning and asked how they could help. I was scurrying around so fast I didn't think of photos until they'd gone, but before you could say "Angels from Pipe Creek," they had built the grid wall at the end of the patio, hung the sign and painted the downspout! Cheff also bent about a gazillion curtain hooks to the right configuration that makes them work on the pegboard to hang paintings. They both had great suggestions about additional lighting and storage for the gallery. Thank you Elizabeth and Cheff!

People wandered in even as we were still working to put things where they should go. I had three inquiries about having portraits made before I left to get cleaned up for the opening. Amazing.

This is Pamela Clarkson below doing her family's signature photo gesture toward her paintings in the gallery. She's a terrific artist who works mainly in oil, and is so much fun. She'll be painting at the studio/gallery on Friday each week.
I thought I got photos of Mary Shepard last night, but we were using Pam's camera for those, so I'll try to get one of them and post it soon. Mary's work is absolutely beautiful. She works in watercolor and oil. Mary will be painting at the studio/gallery on Wednesdays. Yea!

We have so much to figure out. A good tag system for labeling paintings, inventory lists, which nearby restaurants deliver... But I think we're off to a good start.

This is how it looked as we left for the night.
I'll be back Monday morning and will begin a painting in the new studio. Come by and visit me if you can.

Hours from Opening!

We're going to open tomorrow evening!

Today we did a whole heap of scrambling to finish some things, and we decided some could wait until afterwards.... like varnishing the baseboards- who would notice?!

Pam added the upholstery braid to the top edge of the walls, and covered some raw edges of some pegboard - giving them a very finished look. We added another coat or two to the yellow door and window.. and still they seem to ask for more. I got the credit card machine hooked up and did a tutorial on its mysterious functioning over the phone with a nice, patient man named Alan. Karen arrived after teaching and figured out Quickbooks' invoicing system and started the painting of the outside walls, seven brick rows worth (the lighter color along the bottom). I picked up a sign made overnight by a company called Signs By Tomorrow. They ain't kiddin'. I sent the logo by email and just described the rest of it, so it's not laid out the way I would have done it if I hadn't been playing Beat The Clock, but it will do for now. The sign will go just to the left of the door, against the wall. Tomorrow I have to drill holes and align them with existing holes in the wall. Yikes! Say a little prayer, people.
In the morning around 7:30, my friend Karen W. and her husband Don will arrive to help muscle out the counter and fridge and microwave and chairs and such. We'll drive them downtown and muscle them into the gallery and then Karen J and I will spend time organizing and hanging paintings and making labels and generally getting ready for the event being held in La Villita from 6:00 on. 1750 dermatologists are having a banquet there and will have the whole of La Villita to themselves. Not many of the shops are likely to stay open, so we thought we'd like to have the dermatologists all to OURselves. Pam and Mary will arrive in the mid-afternoon and be there with me through the evening. We might set up and paint or we may fall into some chairs... we'll have to see.
We'll have a grander opening later in the month once we have a notion as to what we're doing and have business cards and the baseboards varnished and the patio decorated and we can be gracious hosts. Tomorrow, though, is going to be a thrill. I'll let you know how it goes. If you want to come by before six, that would be great!