• Annie Mason

If there is any question that comes up with regard to my art it is frequently: Where do you find your "inspiration?"

Hmm. I ask myself the same question, frequently. Especially when I am ready to start a new work. Is it something that I have just seen? Is it something I dreamt about last night?

Is it a series that I would like to do? State Birds and Flowers

Truthfully, it is something that pops into my head. Like most artists, I take my inspiration from things around me, or from something that I have seen and I "want to paint that!!!"

For me, it might be the apple that I just had at the breakfast table.

Like most artists, I work from life and may place the object in front of me and just observe. I study line, shape, light, texture, form, color, and value. These are commonly referred to as Elements of Art.

This was my training as an art student, and I cherish this background because my professors taught me well.

I love inanimate objects. I walk around the house and look for subjects that someone else might find interesting too. Or it is sentimental in its origin?

For example, I have a tin of buttons. It's a childhood memory because my grandmother would take out a similar tin and let me play with it when she was watching me while my mother was at work. I remember the feel and touch of these small objects, and the sound they made as they moved around the tin box.

As an artist now, the buttons became my interest; my inspiration. I took the full tin of buttons that I still have and I threw them on a sheet of white paper. Then I took a picture. Artists work from photographs, not to "copy" but to see all those elements and transfer the image to paper, using their medium of choice, in my case, watercolor, pen, and ink.

It also becomes marketable for an artist because what seamstress, or quilter might want a tote bag that showcases her craft? Buy it here in my Society6 store.

I also love the mundane: a switch plate.

...and how funny it is on a coffee mug?

But, I digress.

Artists surround themselves with others who are passionate about art. When I joined Society6 as an artist, I suddenly found myself looking at and enjoying the hundreds of thousands of artists who are part of that community. How fun is that? In my lifetime, I have hung out with people of like-mind. Now, you can find them with a click of a keyboard. I have highlighted them here in my blog feature: Meet the Artist. I am currently taking a class with Cat Coquillette on Skillshare.com Why would an artist want to take a course with another artist? Why? Because even as my own work is watercolor, ink, acrylic, charcoal...she works in similar mediums but has a different technique, or tips, or style, and we can all learn from each other. Right?

If you follow my art you know that nature is my passion and a true inspiration. I love birds, flowers, insects, animals, seashells, gardens, beaches...on and on. We have traveled as a family and they know that they had better "wait up" because mom is taking pictures,

AGAIN. I can get lost in a museum, but lost in a botanical garden, as well. This "Slipper Orchid" is an interpretation from a photo that I took at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.

Books themselves will "light a match" inside my head. Writers are so imaginative and they are so capable of drawing an image in their descriptions. I am also inspired by music and film. The painting below was inspired by the movie, The Mission, with a score by the wonderful composer, Ennio Morricone This haunting piece should inspire anyone. Watch, and listen here: Gabriel's Oboe. Oh my. I have goosebumps right now listening as I type. Who knows what I will paint today?

Who knows where my inspiration comes from on any given day? My answer is that you live life. You read, think, observe, love, jot things down, write affirmations, call someone who you haven't heard from in a while. Live, Love, do Life.

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Thank you for visiting today. I hope you found my thoughts "inspirational".

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  • Annie Mason

This happy place is my art studio. It's where I hang out. It's where I "do my thing." It's where I use the "gift" that I was given. I thank God every day that I can share my talent with others and hope that it gives others pleasure to the eyes.

Let's start by saying that this was actually a third-floor attic, turned into two rooms and a bathroom, shortly after we got married 30+ years ago. My husband and I finished off the two rooms with carpeting, oak ceilings, an overhead fan, four closets, and a half-bath. I remember the process well as we stained the ceiling planks ourselves (never do this!), and I was very pregnant. The dream was a pool table in the larger room, and a guest bedroom in the smaller. The guest bedroom has been used as just that: twin beds for guests. The large room has had many functions: I was a Creative Memories consultant for a number of years and this room had two 6-foot tables for my scrapbooking classes. It was an office for this business and held a computer desk, at which my two-yr-old learn how to use a "mouse" (better at it than I was) and she enjoyed her "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" floppy disk (not actually floppy) software.


Flash forward 25 years. I started watercolor painting, in earnest. The long tables got shifted to the garage. A table easel sits upon a smaller table and a new table supports my matting materials. One closet houses all my art supplies. The most enjoyable part is that the natural light that comes in from the windows AND from the four skylights makes for the ability to paint almost any time of day. My view from the 3rd-floor is our driveway and our surrounding neighbors. One summer day, I looked out and saw the swoop of a large bird. To my surprise, I discovered that two hawks had built a deep nest into a tree not much more than forty feet from my window, and of course almost level with my view. Several days later I notice two fuzzy heads, then a third. Babies! what a delight.

Rather than continue, let me walk you around my studio. Enjoy this short (03:09) video.

Pay attention to various tools that I have in my studio. I will be noting these as recommendations for purchase if you so desire.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Clicking the links

below and making the purchase of this product will be an Amazon commission

for me but will have no cost to you.

One of the things you learn as an artist, and in many occupations, is that your tasks can be so much easier with the right tools. They cover the range of video making, mats and framing tools, and my suggestions for materials used in my artwork

Tools for creating great videos:

My video editing software is Windows Video Editor 2021

You might have seen my reference to the "Behemoth" TV that dates from the early 1990s. Yep. My husband built this little cubby for TV viewing from either room, with the clever louver doors to hide the TV when not in use. If I were to replace it (and I probably won't) this would be my choice (opinion remains my own).

Great tools for cutting mats and framing:

Logan Compact 32 inch Mat Cutter is a pleasure to use. Easy setup and precise mats.

In no uncertain terms, I asked for a drill for my 70th birthday. I wanted to be able to attach D-rings to my frames by myself. Must be light-weight, small, and NOT pink. I was going to be "p*st" if this didn't happen. My husband obliged me and this one is perfect. With a few lessons from him, I am comfortable with its use and am proud to say thank you.

This Point Driver is perfect for mounting the back sheet of frames. Works like a staple gun and the points can be flexible for smaller frames or ridged for larger, heavier frames.

Materials for my artwork:

My favorites. Winsor & Newton has rich, transparent colors and works very well as a glaze. Sakura does not have the same reputation but I find that the colors available in these kits are vibrant and saturated. Considered a "student" level I find that they are just fine for beginners to seasoned artists. And the pens? My absolute favorites. Great nibs that don't break with use. This set has nine pens from 0.005 to 0.08.

My watercolor paper of choice is Strathmore 400 series. Moderately priced, it always gives me a nice surface to work on, if it bends with water usage I damp wet the back and put an equally sized weight on it and it's back to being flat. You can order pads in various sizes and cut them to your needs.

Now, my last point. My husband and I have decided to "downsize." We should have done it a while back but it's a hard decision. After 32 years, the three-level house and a yard with lots of trees have become a super chore, and more so than the last time he attacked leaves and sticks. We are on the early side of this process because of Covid-19, but when we do go out and about it's usually to scope out for-sale signs. Right time, right place.

I will have a new "studio." It will be perfect too.

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  • Annie Mason

This story is about a relationship. It began with an Etsy shop that was not quite as I expected and a friend that owned a shop in downtown Fredericksburg.

The story begins with a gift that my daughter gave me for Christmas a number of years ago. It was a phone case that had a small sweet bird on the front and I thought it was adorable. It was purchased from a website called Society6. I had no idea that this existed as a place where you can buy artwork on products like phone cases, pillows, tote bags, art prints, and more. I was intrigued by this as I had begun the process of painting illustrations for a book written by Dr. Bertice Berry. My choice was to do these paintings in watercolor and I soon developed a love for this medium.

Back to the phone case. It looked so lovely on this phone. My daughter remarked: "Mom, you could do this!" Yep, I thought. I think I could.

(If you like this one, the image will take you to the Society6 page and the link is an affiliate link for which I will receive a commission).

Flash forward. Presently, I have over 300 works on my Society6 and my sales continue to increase every year. The process is easy. I finish my artwork, scan it into my computer. Upload it to Society6, and it's populated into a myriad of products. Society6 takes care of the manufactured products, I get a percentage of sales. Later I added Redbubble and Zazzle to my POD (Print-on-Demand) platforms.

A local printer had made some flyers for me for a nonprofit group. The staff was always friendly and helpful with my projects. They seemed to be a perfect match when I decided to put my artwork on greeting cards. I cannot say enough about how amazing my cards look, a testament to Minuteman Press of Fredericksburg. I added a link to my landing page because my local customers should patronize this business.

The owner of the print shop suggested that I should sell the cards locally. I knew Heather's shop in Fredericksburg, and the owners live in our neighborhood. We had a sit-down together and she loved the cards that I had brought to show her. Her husband loved them, too. We agreed with the very fair commission and I left the cards at her shop. How surprised I was when my first month's statement exceeded the entire year's income on my Etsy shop. I closed that shop.

My first "trunk show" was in October of 2019. For those unfamiliar with this concept, the artisan brings in a nice collection of work and stays in the shop for the full day so that walk-in customers can see the works and talk to the artist. This was the first time that I brought in original works of art. How exciting when three of the original works sold during that event.

Come on in! - October 2019

Soon, my sales were consistent with greeting cards. I added framed prints to the collection. These were usually "oops" on titles of the back of the greeting cards. I trimmed off the back and put them into either 5x7 frames or matted them into 8x0 inch frames.

My second trunk show was in March of 2020. We all know what was going on about that time. It was the weekend that Covid-19 was raising its ugly head. Heather and I had to decide whether to have the show. With plenty of hand sanitizers around the shop and keeping our distance, ("social distancing" was not a cultural norm, as yet). Two days later Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a total shutdown, except for "essential" workers. Our world had changed. Heather's door was closed for two months.

  • This is the reason that I write this blog post. Heather Boutique and other Fredericksburg shops were experiencing an event unlike any other. Heather's shop reopened with limited hours and only by appointment in small numbers. She and her husband were amazing with ideas to make it easy on her local customers, and keep everybody healthy.

To compensate for the financial losses of 2019, the couple has set up online shopping for the first time. Carefully crafting a beautiful website, Jim took his computer background and sense of design to match the ambiance of the shop itself.

Launched just a week ago, I am asking my blogging followers to take a look. Traffic is the desire that every blogger longs for. At this time, the site has a limited collection. The artisans (myself among them) have their greeting cards and the artisan jewelers have their beautiful designs displayed.

Heather is noted for her fair prices and a shop that has the customers in mind with every decision that needs to be made. Ask the locals who come back, again and again.

  • The image above is classic Heather: soft fonts, distinctive items as gifts. She works with vendors that she trusts. I don't expect a purchase. (I hope if you see something that you like that you might buy that something, but no obligation). I hope that the traffic increases for the webpage and for the site to be seen by lots of people. If you can share the site with family and friends that would be terrific.

So that I can track the analytics on my site, and her husband can watch the stats on their site, I would like to ask that you click through from anniespalette.com This brings you to the Landing Page and you can click the oval logo at the top (pictured below):

Heather Boutique logo

Check back often, as items are added weekly. I know you can find similar products elsewhere, but it would be great to purchase these from this fledgling website. The artisan jewelry is one-of-a-kind, and the greeting cards are unique presentations. The Fredericksburg Collection which is my recent contribution has been extremely popular given the local theme, but maybe you know someone who has traveled to this area and this could be a nice gift. I also have a select few of my State Birds collection. Not all, but many items are FREE shipping.

Thank you so much. This is a great favor to a friend and neighbor. Heather has been the owner of Heather Boutique for over 15 years and she's never had to face the financial angst of a pandemic.

Lastly, hopefully when people get the vaccine and traveling becomes safe, if you find yourself near Fredericksburg Virginia, stop in at Heather Boutique.

Facebook: HeatherBoutique

Caroline Street, Fredericksburg VA pen & ink by Annie

REMEMBER: Please click the Heather logo from my website: anniespalette.com

Thank you, all my blogging friends, especially those from our BTC community.

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