Monday, November 22, 2010

Custom Painted Portrait Ornaments

A new batch of hand painted custom portrait ornaments glazed, fired in my kiln and waiting to be decorated with ribbon.

The work in process and the finished ornaments ready to be shipped to a very proud grandfather.

For a couple commemorating their Disney World engagement and wedding which will also take place in that magical world.

For a fan of Joe Paterno and the Littany Lion of Penn. State.  In celebration of a winning season.  

If you are interested in a hand painted portrait ornament handmade from your photo - click here  I would love to create a special keepsake for you and your loved ones.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Busy Holiday Season

After a weekend spent wining and dining with friends it's time to get back to the studio and into painting production mode.  Requests for custom painted portrait ornaments to be given as gifts this holiday season continue to roll in.   With orders that have included portraits from weddings, anniversaries, children, parents, grandparents, and siblings to office co-workers and pets. Each ornament is hand drawn, hand painted, outlined, signed,  glazed and fired in my kiln - creating a unique piece of art. It is a pleasure receiving these different requests and the response has been terrific.

Custom Requests Complete

 For a Beloved Pet
A Sweet Portrait for Grandparents
For a best friend and her husband
For a co-worker and her children

For the Bride and Groom

In Production:
A number of pieces are still in production - drawn, painted and waiting their turn in the kiln.

 If this little preview has sparked any interest in a custom painted ornament or if there is a request you would like to make - Please feel free to contact or visit me by clicking here  All pieces can be personalized with names and dates.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Virginia Wine Weekend

A weekend get-away to a few Vineyards in Virginia with my spouse and four great friends for a 50th birthday celebration was a fabulous way to unwind, reconnect, drink wonderful wines, eat well, and have fun together. 


The wife of  " birthday boy" set up our wine tour in Central Virginia, rented a limo and surprised her husband with an additional guest - their son who is attending school in the area and one of the main reasons for celebrating in this part of Virginia. 

Some wineries were favorites of the birthday couple and some chosen after watching the documentary "Vintage: The Winemakers Year" - a new film about the Virginia wine industry - specifically the Monticello wine region in Central Virginia - that traced the 2008 vintage from winter pruning through harvest.  Considering these two factors, our first stop was to the Kluge Estate Winery Vineyard (which was founded in 1999, featured at the Clinton Wedding and is, unfortunately, in foreclosure)  Our day was picnic perfect which made for a fine, sippable time outside

Although they don't allow visitors to bring in their own picnic items, they do sell platters of artisanal cheeses which pair well with their wine selections.

Our next stop was right up the road at "Veritas Winery", a family owned business that opened in June 2002.
"Although their name derives from the Roman historian, Pliny the Elder's observation: “In Vino Veritas” ~ “In Wine There Is Truth” - they believe that the truth in their wine is in their grapes."  Our wines of choice for the day were:
Saddleback Chardonnay ~ modeled after the old "world" style from Chablis, France. The nose is clean showing aromas of ripe apples, honeydew melon and quince. The palate is medium bodied, layered with ripe tree fruits and the soft impressions of toast and spice from oak aging.  Saddleback Chardonnay finishes with a backbone of minerality and balanced acidity.   
The Harlequin Reserve Chardonnay ~ “Harlequin” is the multicolored symbol of fun, music and laughter that characterizes of Reserve Chardonnay. This wine is barrel fermented and barrel aged for 6 months which helps to create layers of ripe fruit tones with a wonderful mouth feel. Delicate aroma of candied apples, pears, grapefruit and honey balanced with nuances of vanilla and butterscotch. The palate is consistent with the nose yet bringing on subtle flavors of clove and lightly toasted oak. The finish is full and creamy and perfectly balanced with acidity helping to provide a grin of true satisfaction.
Cabernet Frac Reserve ~ Cabernet Franc Reserve is a wine that shows beautiful intensity of fruit while maintaining elegance and refinement. Ripe black cherry, cassis and hints of black pepper dominate the flavor with undertones of red currant and plum. The 18 month maturation time in French oak adds complexity in the form of caramel and vanilla. The wine has an elegant mouth feel with well integrated tannins and a long balanced finish.

 At Veritas the setting is idyllic with gorgeous views, a great outdoor deck,  and visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic foods.  Our hostess' had prepared a full spread which was artfully arranged on a  table and devoured with great gusto and appreciation.

 The grapevines are within a stones throw from the wine shop and outdoor seating area.   Since a  walk after drinking and eating is always a welcome digestible idea, the setting is perfect for such an activity.

Our next - and last stop - was to Afton Mountain Vineyards, one of Virginia's pioneer farm wineries with their oldest vines dating from the 1970's.  There was a cancellation for a wine tasting so we were able to slide right into this canceled spot for a wee sip and a very small lesson on their vintages.  At Afton Vineyards we were joined by another guest - my son - who is also attending school in the area, and who just recently become of drinking age.  For this tasting we choose a bottle of Afton Petite Verdot  ("which is aged a full 12 months in new French Oak.  This 2009 dry red has subtle tannins, big dark fruit and black pepper. It is ready for drinking now but is suitable for aging as well. 100% Petit Verdot; a Bordeaux varietal typically used for blending, but is gaining favor as Virginia's best red") and a bottle of their Steel Chardonnay ("Fermented and aged in a stainless steel tank to show off the true taste of the Chardonnay grape. It is delicate, fruity, and crisp, with a citrus finish.")

A lovely brick patio area right outside the tasting room, with views of Afton's "grape trees" and the Blue Ridge, creates a nice space for relaxing and picture taking - both of which we took full advantage - as you can see by the images posted below:

After a day of celebrating, toasting, noshing and fun it was time to hop back in the limo for a leisurely ride "home" and a little nap and walk before a birthday dinner at The Ivy Inn Restaurant


 The Ivy Inn  "was once part of a larger estate named the "Faulkner House" after William Faulkner, a Southern aristocrat and distinguished University of Virginia  “writer in residence.”  In 1815, a fire destroyed the original Inn, which was built in the early 1700’s.  A year later Jesse Pittman Lewis rebuilt the estate, adding several outbuildings including the present structure which now houses the Ivy Inn Restaurant.  The kitchen, located in the back of the house, was formerly a tollhouse where weary travelers rested from their journeys between Richmond and Staunton.  The University later acquired the several outbuildings and the Faulkner estate for guest housing and dining facilities.  In 1893 the house was sold for only $3000 to James Kiblin, who was also granted 11 ¼ acres as part of the bill of sale.  In 1901 it was sold to William H. Barlow, an attorney and engineer from England.  The Barlow family owned the property until 1939 when William’s youngest son sold it to a University of Virginia professor of biology.  Between 1940 and 1965 the house sold two more times and in 1973 the Ivy Inn restaurant was established in order to provide the community and visitors with a richly historical and elegant atmosphere for dining."  

 Our dinner here was AMAZING.  The chef and owner, Angelo Vangelopoulos ~ uses the finest ingredients available from the central Virginia region and around the world, Angelo thoughtfully composes a daily menu of Locally-Inspired Seasonal American Cuisine, showcasing his classical training and cooking heritage. Angelo has developed wonderful relationships with many of central Virginia's fine farmers and growers, and helps to promote the idea of sustainable farming.  I highly recommend a stop here if you're ever in the Charlottesville, Va. area.

As a little thank you gift for the hostess and her birthday boy I drew and painted a pottery portrait plate which they can display or use as a serving piece on future wine tours.  Inspiration provided by a photo of them in the limo.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Day of Hand Painted Production

There's nothing better than a busy day in the studio!

Early Morning

Orders for hand painted portrait ornaments are coming in a steady stream.  This morning was spent answering e-mails, downloading images and drawing portraits.

Early Afternoon

A few more orders came in, a few more images were downloaded, drawn and the hand painting process begun.

After School

 Time out for an after school art class with one of my star art students - As he continues painting a fall pumpkin still life with primary colors.

Then putting a few finishing touches on this hand painted family portrait before wrapping it up and getting it out to the post office.    My work area looks like a tornado came through, but all is good - just another day of painting production.