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Artist Q&A Day July 19th

With a bow to Karin Jurick, one of my favorite daily painters and the one I first saw executing this idea, I'm designating tomorrow, July 19th 2010, as my first ever Artist Q&A Day.

An Artist Q&A Day is just that - a day I've designated to answer all your questions.

Your art and studio related questions can be posted via comments to my blog right here. I'll work my way through them during the course of the day, doing my best to answer everything to the best of my abilities.

I will only respond to questions posted as comments to this particular post on my blog - this will allow for the community of readers to share in the conversation and eliminate any repetition. Because my blog is moderated (darn those spammers!), your comments will not show up immediately, but if you choose to subscribe to the comments feed, you will be notified when there is activity.

I don't know if I need to define an end time to the day - we'll play it by ear to start out with and see what the volume is.

And if you like the Q&A Day idea, I'll schedule more of them.

I'm looking forward to the dialogue this will spur!

Talk tomorrow.

Thanks, as always, for looking at - and sharing - my artwork and musings with your friends and family.

TWITTER: ksantini
READING MATERIAL: Preview and order each of the Dog a Day books at the publisher's website: The First Year (2006-2007) and That's 14 in Dog Years (2008). If you would like your copy personalized, order them through me.


  1. Good morning. Since I have not been a follower before now, I will start with some basic questions. What are the different media in which you work?
    How old were you when you knew you had a creative desire? Was your family supportive?
    Is this something you would encourage your children to pursue as a line of income?
    Why did you choose dogs for your daily subject?

  2. I enjoyed seeing the reference, in this case it was the actual dog along side her portrait, but wondered if you might post your photo reference occasionally so I can imagine where all your colors come from and where you go from the reference.

  3. DogsMom, I was the kid who lost herself in doodling while the rest of the class paid attention to their lessons. I'm not endorsing this behavior, just sayin' I've always had art in my veins. My parents were very supportive - it was the one thing that made me happy. They didn't consider it as a viable career, and encouraged me to get an education that would make me employable. Sound advice with hindsight, but not something taken easily at the time. I encourage every child to find their creative voice and become comfortable with it - whether that is through visual arts, music, acting or appreciation of any of these things - being able to express yourself is a key factor to becoming a healthy adult. As to painting dogs, animals have always been a passion of mine - what is not to love about their variety of faces and expression? Nearly every person has a story about a dog they knew or owned, so it's also a subject matter that many can identify with. I work in acrylic paints, Golden Heavy Body and Open Acrylics to be exact. In the past couple months I've also begun exploring collaged "Paper Paintings"

  4. Judity, another artist suggested that I start sharing my references too. I've not done this in the past because of copyright issues and privacy concerns, along with fear of filling up readers' email boxes. However, I'm approaching future clients as projects are booked, getting permission to post their reference photos on the blog, and planning accordingly. Thanks for suggesting something I am certain many will enjoy reading about!

  5. Judith (whoops! just saw my typo in my first response!), as an afterthought - the majority of the color that I paint doesn't show up in photographs. It is color that I see in real life on other objects carrying a local color similar to my subject matter. Granted I see that color in a more faded version, but take pleasure in upping the saturation just a notch. Or two. If you experiment yourself by substituting (in a painting) an area with expressive color (meaning a violet when you see an orange, for example) that matches the value of the actual object, you'll be on your way towards using color in an exciting manner. This is similar to how I "see" color in my own paintings.

  6. I like to study your use of vibrant color and of course, how you capture each dog's expression. Will you share your pallete of colors that you use in the Open acrylic line? Do you preferthe jar or tube paints and for what reasons? I'm interested in trying these out myself and I'm stuck in the real world confined color world at the moment. Why do you like Golden Heavy body, for opacity?? Thank you for sharing all of your dog paintings. They are just beautiful. I also enjoy the other animals that you like to paint but dogs are my fave

  7. Paula, I started using Golden in college (several painters would mailorder direct from the manufacturer). Their ratio of pigment to fillers partnered with the variety of mediums/gels/varnishes makes for one source that satisfies all my painting needs. I like the buttery consistancy of the heavy body paints - they handle a little like oils in that they do not puddle too much on the palette. Jar or tube doesn't matter to me - Heavy Body paints come in both. And their customer service is great - I can call with a question and they have artists on the phones who know the product and it's capabilities and can advise. As to palette, here's what I use (with the Opens marked by an *): Titanuim White (50/50 mixture of open and heavy body), Hansa Yell Lt*, Cad Yellow Lt, Cad Yellow Med, Cad Yellow Dk, Light Magenta, Cad Red Lt*, Cad Red Dark, Quin Scarlet, Cobalt Blue, Ultra Blue, Indanthrone Blue, Pthalo Blue Red* and Dioxazine Violet* Every couple weeks I might swap one color out and try another, but it's standard that I use 4 of each primary + a violet

  8. Kim, is there anything special you use to keep you acrylics wet and workable on your palette?

  9. Yes, Fran - I use a Masterson sta-wet premier palette ( This palette can stay open for 5-6 hours at end, and with occasional spritzing from a water bottle, keep my paints fresh and pliable/workable. The only con is that after several days of working with the same palette setup (ie not swapping out the paint and paper and rinsing the sponge), the palette gets a little bit of funk to it. I counter this by adding 1-2 drops of lilac essence (home fragrance oil) to the sponge.

  10. question. I do really tight work and have the hardest time finding good quality brushes that will not lose a point. Any suggestions?

  11. Fran, not really. I work really loose and use mostly flats and filberts and angles. I don't mind when my brushes start to fray, since I then use them for hairy parts. Lately I've liked the filbert and flat Utrecht synthetics (they have black handles with red and yellow bands near the ferrules) - and I do have a couple of their rounds. I also like Royal & Langnickle rounds - I bought a couple of these last month and have used them occasionally. As to angles, I have a mess of inexpensive American Painter/Loew Cornell synthetics that I use.

  12. have obviously found your "niche" in your "Dog a Day" paintings. What is your recommendation to someone working to find their niche and what was that moment that made you say..."this is what I'm going to do".

  13. Also, do you have any greeting cards made and shipped to you to have on hand to sell at art shows? I'd love to hear about your first "selling" experiences to the public and how you handled it. I'm looking to venture out into that world.

  14. Gretchen, I don't know that where I stand now was ever a conscious choice - although it does seem a natural progression with hindsight. I had a "moment" after my third child was born where I realized I did not want to be part of corporate America any longer. With retrospect, I see that my previous career path, which provided me with all the key skills necessary to run my own business, never fed my soul. I believe that true fulfilment and happiness lies in finding a niche that feeds your soul, then somehow balancing that with your actual physical and emotional needs. It isn't an easy, or quick, answer. But your question is a tough one!! thanks for making me think. :)

  15. HAH! More good questions!

    My first venture with greeting cards (other than those printed in the studio) was a good learning experience. I invested in 500 greeting cards of my two most popular images - not a cheap thing to do 5 years ago. I still have about 750 of them - and am not that pleased with the image reproduction quality (very dark), so tend to forget they are here.

    Besides the fact that folding, wrapping, invoicing and shipping card orders took far more time than the $2/order profit I was making. And for each sale I made, I lost 10 others because I did not have the right breed/color dog available in notecard format.

    Now (other than printing the occasional dozen in house, since I have invested in an archival printer and quality papers) I use Imagekind, a print on demand service. At my customers' request, I upload my images to the Imagekind shop (, my client places their order, and Imagekind takes care of fulfillment for me.

    The only drawback with Imagekind is that I cannot place my contact information on the notecards. (When I print in house, I always include that on the backside) However, for me it is worth the trade off because I am able to offer a quality product that my clients ask for with little investment of my own.

    I don't do many booth shows/art events, maybe only 2/year, so I'm not the best resource about how to handle yourself there. I do try to honestly engage my visitors by asking about their pets, what about my artwork appeals to them, and genuinely listen to their ideas. I like for my art to speak for itself, and make sure that every visitor leaves with my contact information, that I have their email address if they are willing to share that, and that they walk away with a smile or chuckle.


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