November 11, 2010

Thank a Pre-Veteran through Military Connections

Make your portrait make a difference to soldiers and sailors overseas

Detail from Sailor Boys oil pastel portrait by Susan Donley

Mention “Veterans Day” when you order a portrait or gift certificate and I will donate 10% of your order to send a bundle of care to our service members overseas.

Military Connections, a worthy non-profit organization here in Pittsburgh, has been sending care packages to the troops overseas for eight years. Director Summer Tissue founded the organization when her brother was deployed to Afghanistan in the early years of the war. He is home safe, but Summer still spends here evenings and weekends putting together packages that let our fighting men and women know how much we appreciate them.

Even if you don’t plan to commission a portrait, you can help by sponsoring a Christmas stocking for just $10.35. Or donate leftover Halloween candy. Get details on the Military Connections website.

Contact me to commission either a portrait of either a person or a pet or find out more about portrait gift certificates. Don’t forget to mention “Veterans Day”!

March 20, 2010

Yappy Hour in Wexford

A special event for people and pets to enjoy together

Graphite drawing of Welsh Corgi by Susan Donley

Oh, the guilt I feel when I come from a feast of goodies to Rosie the Studio Poodle’s sad “I can’t believe you went without me” look! She sniffs my breath while I kick myself for neglecting to bring even a meager scrap home for her. Can you identify?

Well, here’s one event where your pup won’t have to miss! The new Huntington Bank in Wexford, PA invites both people and pets to its grand opening celebration on Saturday, March 27, 2010! Yappy Hour from noon until 2 p.m. features two local caterers: Your pooch can sample dog treats from Healthy Pet Products, while you enjoy the people food catered by Post Office Deli.

Other activities you can enjoy together include an Adoption Clinic and Pet Food Drive (Humane Society), Healthy Pet Demos (Healthy Pet Products) and (surprise!) Pet Portrait Demonstration (by yours truly, Susan Donley). I’ll be demonstrating graphite and scratchboard at my easel, so stop by to say hello and pick up a freebie and special offer.

Don’t worry about how temperamental March can be: It all happens in a large tent so that we don’t have to worry about the weather.

The whole day’s activities will benefit the Humane Society, which I think is a lovely way for a company to celebrate its grand opening!

Here is a map for Huntington National Bank, 11940 Perry Highway, Wexford , PA 15090 (Phone: 724-933-7888):


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February 2, 2010

Art for Groundhog Day

Groundhog sitting up eating with its paws to its mouth with fall bushes behind
Groundhog Bulking Up for Winter, Indiana, PA. Susan K Donley, 2009. Engraved clayboard with ink (scratchboard), 16×12 inches. ©2009 Susan K Donley. Backyard Wildlife Series

Like all my fellow Pennsylvanians, I find it hard to ignore Groundhog Day (February 2, for those who don’t track this major holiday). This is, of course, because our state is home to the Official Groundhog Day Groundhog Punxatawney Phil. Phil slumbers all winter long waiting for his big day in the sun when he, according to legend, peeks out of his burrow to check on the progress of winter. If he sees his shadow, the legend tells us, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, well, there won’t be six more weeks of winter, but it was never clear to me whether that meant there would be less than six weeks or more than six weeks of winter!

The state lottery has capitalized on Phil’s fame to introduce us to the Second-Most Famous Groundhog in Pennsylvania named Gus. This endearing little fellow tries his best to part us from our hard-earned money by playing the lottery’s very bad odds. But Gus is cute, no doubt about it!

My groundhog is not at all famous, but he is a resident of Pennsylvania, just the same. He lives under my brother’s tool shed in Indiana County, PA. I would call him Indiana Jones, so he didn’t feel badly being a Pennsylvania groundhog without a name, but I’m suspect that name is trademarked. My painting shows him on the other side of winter from Groundhog’s Day, fattening himself up for his long fast during hibernation.

This painting is one of a series that I’ve started celebrating Backyard WIldlife. These are the critters we share our lives with everyday. Though some are considered pests, I enjoy them all, and have undertaken to do their portraits as time permits. I’ve chosen scratchboard (engraved clayboard and ink) for this series, as it excels at depicting the tiny details of these small creatures and the colors and textures of their environment. Learn more about scratchboard here.

December 30, 2009

Year-End PetsPictured.com Media Review

This year my blog has been in mothballs while I devoted my energies to on-the-ground local networking. Next year I hope to strike a better balance in minding both my online and local business. But in the meantime, due to my neglect, I missed a few important things that I should have duly noted here.

So, in the spirit of year-end retrospectives, this is as good a time as any to catch up on some media attention that I received earlier this year — just for the record.

“Pittsburgh Today Live” interview, KDKA Pittsburgh TV

First back in July, there was the KDKA Pittsburgh Today Live interview, which I did report here.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review article, “Career Change is Picture-Perfect for Oakmont Artist”, August 12, 2009

Susan Donley demonstrating scratchboard at her home studioDeborah Deasy, a Trib newspaper staff feature writer did a phone interview and then came out to my house to chat for another couple of hours and see a demonstration on a hot August day. Trib photographer Justin Merriman joined us and recorded my hot, frizzy self at work on our deck in the shade of one of our old sycamores.

Debi conducts interviews like she’s chatting with an old friend, so the time went by very quickly. So quickly that we were totally caught by surprise by a thunderstorm that blew in so fast that we had to just start grabbing artwork, interview notes, pencils, and paper and run for cover inside! Later she contacted several of my clients who were very kind with their comments. Read the article, “Career Change is Picture-Perfect for Oakmont Artist”, on the Tribune Review’s site.

Pittsburgh Business Radio interview, WMNY/AM, December 2, 2009

My alert business coaches at Volunteers of America’s Working Order learned of Pittsburgh Business Radio’s plan to highlight pet-related gift businesses during the holiday retail season. They told host Suzanne Caplan about my pet portraits and connected me up for a live interview on December 2. The interview was about 10 minutes long and shared with a woman who owns a pet bakery. Pittsburgh Business Radio archives all of its programs as podcasts, so you can listen to it here:

Thanks to KDKA, the Tribune Review, and Pittsburgh Business Radio for spreading the word about my artwork and taking love for pets as seriously as we crazy pet-people do (or at least humoring us!)!

July 30, 2009

Pet portraits on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

screen shot from videoThis week is Pet Week on KDKA-TV’s daily morning show Pittsburgh Today Live, which airs Monday-Friday at 9am. Each program this week features one or two interview segments with guests who are pet experts of one sort or another: a vet, pet store owner, pet bird sanctuary, dog trainers from a local shelter, and ME! I never was able to find out exactly how they found me, but was delighted that they did.

Nothing like the pressure of live TV with only one chance to get it right! But hosts Jon Burnet and Brenda Waters were pros at setting guests at ease and keeping the conversation flowing. I had some trepidation that I might be subject to “can you believe people actually do this with their pets?” (like pet spas, birthday parties, and fashion shows tend to inspire). But the tone was just perfect — that portraits are a very special way to remember a dear pet. Brenda had recently lost her dog JoJo, so no one minimized the pain of losing a pet.

The day before, I agonized over what art to take with me, when time would be short and video the medium. I settled on the two commissions I’m working on right now and a few key pieces of work to show the differences in my three media — graphite drawing, oil pastel painting, and scratchboard engraving.

Aside from a quick demonstration to explain what on earth scratchboard is, there wasn’t time for them to see much art in action, so the producer came up with the idea of my working on a portrait during the rest of the show, so they could check on my progress at the end. That certainly made the point that this wasn’t just a sketch and that detailed drawings take hours to finish! I just hope the audience could see any change at all, since it was less than 30 minutes of work! :-) A nice bonus for me to have the extra few seconds of air-time.

Oh, every day this week, the show also features a homemade pet treat (as of Wednesday, birds, dogs, and hamsters), so check out the recipes online!

December 2, 2008

Help Support the Military Dogs who Support us

Rikko, German Shepherd K9 Officer

If I were a runner and this were a race, I would be asking you to pledge to sponsor each mile I ran. Well, I’m most certainly NOT a runner, but this is kind of a race to help Military Working Dogs (MWD) deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, so I figure, what the heck, I’ll see if my generous readers, friends, and patrons would like to pitch in!

Here’s how to get involved:

1. Become a booth sponsor

I’m taking my pet portrait booth on the road to demonstrate at the K9 Kingdom’s Wash-A-Thon event (more information below) on December 7, 2008 to benefit Military Working Dogs and their handlers. There’s a donation to participate, but I figure we dog lovers can muster much more support than that by banding together.

Will you join me and become a member of the PetsPictured Pack of Sponsors for this worthy cause? Click here to make a donation by credit card, PayPal, or check. Your name will be added to the PetsPictured Pack Honor Roll on display at my booth. Let’s see how much we can raise! I’ll post the final total here on December 7.

2. Earn a 10% donation with portrait commission or gift certificate purchase before December 7

Until December 7, I will donate 10% (at least $30) of every portrait commission or gift certificate purchase with "MilitaryDogs" Coupon Code to Military Working Dog Team Support Association, Inc, (MWDTSA).

Just type the coupon code "MilitaryDogs" into the notes field when you order or mention it on phone order. If the portrait is a gift, I’ll include a note with the portrait explaining the donation.

Find out more about commissioning a custom pet portrait here, buy a gift certificate here, or call me at 412-828-8679. But do it by December 7, 2008!

3. If you are in Pittsburgh, bring your dog in for a bath

Visit K9 Kingdom in Wexford, PA during the Dog-Wash-a-Thon on Dec. 7th from 9am – 5pm. Have your dog professionally bathed and brushed for a $20 donation, bid on a wide selection of items in the Auction, or shop for the pet-lovers on your Christmas list by visiting the vendors (like me–stop by my booth and say hello!) on site. All proceeds from the event will be used to purchase supplies on the MWDTSA wish-list.

More about military dogs and Wash-A-Thon sponsors

Quoting from the press release by K9 Kingdom:

The Wash-A-Thon will be a fundraiser in support of deployed Military Working Dogs (MWDs) and dog handlers who are currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Funds raised will be channeled through Military Working Dog Team Support Associations, Inc, (MWDTSA), a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization whose missions include sending specific urgent items needed for support of America’s Military Working Dogs.

After making contact with one of the military veterinarians in Iraq, K9 Kingdom Founder and CEO Christin Bummer was directed to MWDTSA, an organization which serves as a conduit for donated supplies headed to military K-9 teams deployed in war zones. "Our donations are sent to all military branches of service and include health related items, kennel items, and personal items such as toys and treats." stated Dixie Whitman, President of MWDTSA. "We are grateful for the creativity and outpouring of support from K9 Kingdom and the dog lovers of greater Pittsburgh. These wonderful people are blessings to both America’s military working dogs and dog handlers who are doing a difficult and dangerous job."

Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom dogs work in rugged conditions from the craggy, snowy almost unearthly cold of the Afghanistan Mountains in winter to the hot, desolate, dry deserts of Iraq. MWDs are trained to search out explosives (weapons caches, IEDs) or drugs. They may also be used for patrol work, security details and at check points.

Breeds most often found working in the military include German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Malinois and Labrador Retrievers. Each breed has qualities of intelligence, stamina and special inherent genetic traits which predisposes them to be excellent working dogs. Other breeds working in the military include, but are not limited to, Belgian Tervurens and Boxers.

All dogs receive basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and then are paired up with their handlers. Additional training takes place at their home station before being deployed overseas. In a change from policy during the Vietnam Era, dogs return home with their handlers and at the end of their working life are generally available for adoption to their handlers and, if qualified, to the public. More information and photos are available to view via the MWDTSA web site.

Contact: Christin Bummer, K9 Kingdom, Wexford, PA Phone: 724-935-3647

September 29, 2008

Artists: Don’t count on a government bail-out for you!

Orphan Works Act passes the Senate–Don’t let it pass the House, too

The Senate wasn’t so busy bailing out Wall Street and Big Business that it couldn’t find time to betray small businesses who “manufacture” art, photographs, music, and other creative work.

The onerous Orphan Works Bill passed the Senate last week, like sticking it to the nations creatives was even more important than extracting the nation from the investment banks crumbling all around us. Unbelievable! How could this possibly happen when all of our Senators’ efforts were supposedly focused on the Wall Street meltdown? The answer to that question is right in plain sight — the practice of “hotlining” bills, explained in this blog post by the Illustrators Partnership: Orphan Works: The Devil’s Own Day – Never Too Busy to Pass Special Interest Legislation

What’s the fuss? “Orphan Works” are images (or music, written works, etc.) whose creator cannot be identified. The proposed bill would make it trivially easy to infringe (steal) any copyrighted work by claiming it is “orphaned.” Under the proposed bill, all someone needs to do to use an image is to do a “reasonable search” for the artist or other copyright owner. If one isn’t found, without any further proof, they can claim they are using an orphaned image!

Think about this: How easy is it to download an image from the web, attach it to email and honestly loose track of where it came from. Now think about how much dishonest people could get away with by removing signatures and watermarks from images with a couple of mouse clicks in Photoshop. All they would have to do to avoid being charged with infringement would be to say that they tried to find the artist and couldn’t.

For very good reason, creative professionals feel betrayed by this reversal of copyright protection for their stock in trade. It is easy enough to steal images under the current law, as my experience with art theft shows. This bill’s disregard of artists’ property rights is like making it legal for a squatter to take possession of land just because they don’t know how to look up the deed.

Our only hope now is that the House of Representatives will fail to pass its version of the bill, HR 5889, before it recesses. Whether you are an artist or not, please take the time to protest this outright betrayal of creative professionals’ property rights. The Illustrators’ Partnership web site makes it easy to send an email to your representative from an artist (photographers and musicians included), small business owner, or concerned citizen. Go write your Representative NOW — no time to delay.

And remember: Every member of the House will be re-elected in a couple of weeks. You may want to remind them of that in your letter!

August 15, 2008

Happy Sixth Birthday, Rosie!

Rosie - Graphite Pencil Portrait by Susan DonleyInk Sketch of Rosie Sleeping by Susan Donley

Today is my Standard Poodle Rosie’s sixth birthday! I can’t believe she’s been with me so long. Wasn’t she just a puppy?

We just came back from the pet store where she picked out her own treats from bins that they conveniently locate at nose level! She’s definitely partial to those little fake bones filled with fake marrow. Then we bought a ball to replace her loved-to-death ball.

Tonight she gets a hotdog for dinner! I also thought I’d celebrate by posting a few of the many sketches and finished portaits I’ve done of Rosie, but I don’t think she’ll appreciate it as much as the hotdog.Rosie's First Fall - Colored Pencil Drawing by Susan DonleyGesture pencil sketch by Susan DonleyHappy Birthday, my sweet Rosie O’Donley!

How do you celebrate your pet’s birthday?

July 31, 2008

Tweaking my art booth at the Oakmont Street Sale

View of Susan Donley booth exterior at Oakmont Street Fair

Last Saturday, I pitched my tent in the middle of Allegheny River Boulevard for my third outdoor art sales booth. The event was the Oakmont (PA) Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Street Sale.

I live a whole seven blocks away, so some of the typical pressures of setting up a booth sale were minimal: If I forgot something, I could run back home and get it. If my Subaru couldn’t hold all my stuff, I could ferry back and forth to schlepp it all “downstreet,” as we say in Pittsburgh.

Someday, this may get to be routine, rather than exhausting, but it sure isn’t yet! Undoubtedly, that is partly due to being middle-aged and out-of-shape! ;-) But admittedly, it is also due to my constant experimenting with my goal and, consequently, my booth design. Am I trying to sell low-cost goodies featuring my art, a la sidewalk sale? Am I promoting my pet portraits and my PetsPictured.com Cafepress merchandise? Or should I promote myself as a portrait artist, who happens to enjoy portraying pets, as well as people?After trying to do all of the above in one crowded 10×10-foot square — with marginal success — this time I tried marketing myself as “Susan Donley, Portrait Artist” to focus on the art.

Instead of actively selling merchandise, I exhibited a sampling of my best portraits, demonstrated (graphite and scratchboard, visible on my easel on the right in the first photo above), and collected names for my mailing list. Plus, I “outted” myself as a portraitist of people.

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Thanks to my Artbiz group, my family, Alyson B. Stanfield’s blog post on marketing art under your own name, and my local business coaches for the good ideas! Now we wait to see the results.

July 21, 2008

A real peek over my shoulder – Easel at the Farm Festival

overshoulder-farmfest.jpg

The forecast on June 28 predicted rain all day with 60-70% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Perfect day for a booth at Maggie’s Organics Farm Festival, eh? ;-)

Well, despite a lot wind on top of the mountain and in between several short downpours, it turned out to be a pretty nice day after all. Too bad the crowds listened to the weather forecast and (apparently) chose other ways to spend their Saturday!

It was nice to meet the other vendors, enjoy wonderful organic, vegan fare, and get a chance to work out in the fresh air. Here you can literally see over my shoulder the two pieces of art I demonstrated that day. On the top is a graphite portrait of mixed breed dog Smokey.

On the bottom I’m beginning to engrave a Sun Conure (parrot) onto Claybord Black. It’s a technique in need of an image consultant: The usual term “Scratchboard,” unfortunately conjures up artwork rescued from the trash or elementary school art projects using crayon and tempera paint! The grown-up technique, however, allows tremendous detail and vibrant color. I’m just starting to work with it.

Stay tuned for some finished examples — I especially love doing birds this way.

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