Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring Moves

© 2013 Claudia Ballard
5 x 7 on canvas panel

Well, it is not quite Spring yet here in the Southeast, but we sure have a lot of moving going on. 

The sandhill cranes have moved on.  At least they are not feeding in the yard every day now.  I am hoping they are happily nesting someplace nearby.  In their place, the robins have moved in.
My elderly mother has moved back home to Florida to live with us.  We are so happy to have her here again.  But it means some adjustments. 

My studio has been relocated from Mom’s rooms into shared space with my office.  It is tight quarters with all my framing stacked behind the easel, but I am getting it sorted out and back into working shape.   Just in time for me to “get a move on” with painting.  Have a possible show coming up in April as well as some dog shows to prepare for. 
For me Spring is one of the most moving seasons....the return of blossoms and birds and butterflies!  Time to dust off winter's cobwebs and start fresh.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pet Portrait Commission

© 2013 Claudia Ballard
8x10 on canvas panel
Private Collection
I just finished this 8 x 10 commission of a lab retriever named Sammy, who LOVES leopard.  She is a grand old lady of 15, but she still knows how to party...especially in the swimming pool!  Will let this dry today and then varnish and deliver to her owners.  Really makes me feel good to paint such a beautiful pup, knowing how much her family will enjoy it. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reflecting on 2012

Pack Horses
©2012 Claudia Ballard
16 x 20 acrylic on canvas
This year I have been very privileged to be part of a free year-long art mentorship under the capable hands of my dear friend and master landscape artist Linda Blondheim of Gainesville.  Linda has been incredibly generous with all of us this year; sharing her time, knowledge, and marketing expertise.  Not everyone survived the process.  But those of still standing at the end have learned from each other and formed what I hope will be long-lasting friendships.

Looking back over this year, I am frustrated that I did not accomplish more.  Health issues caused me several setbacks this summer.  I did not push myself as much as I could have.  However, I have started a blog, launched myself kicking and screaming into social media ;->, discovered that my true love is painting animals, written an artist statement and  my bio, learned how to critique my own work, had two mail marketing campaigns, held a successful contest among viewers for the cutest pet portrait, and even improved in my technique.

Now it is time to push out of the safety of the nest in 2013.  This time I am flying solo, setting my goals, juggling business with easel time.  There will be no mentor hovering and pushing me, saving me from near disaster.  The mentorship may have come to an end, but the adventure is just beginning. 



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Birds of a Feather

Congratulations to November's pet portrait contest winner, Stefanie Robinson!!  Stefanie submitted a photo of her adorable lab, Sammie, and she will receive an unframed 8 x 10 custom portrait in acrylics, a $70 value.  It is just that simple to have a painting made of your furry or feathered companion.

Pretty Parrot
© 2012 Claudia Ballard
acrylic on 5 x 7 canvas panel
Well, I seem to be on an avian streak this past couple of weeks.  The sandhills are becoming regular visitors in our yard and are becoming less shy.  I painted this pretty bird several weeks ago.  It reminds me so much of the stunning macaws and cockatoos and parrots visited at Busch Gardens in Tampa as a child.  Of course, when I was that little, the birds were a lot bigger.  :->

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pet Photo Contest

Bright Eyes
©2012 Claudia Ballard
5 x 7 acrylic on canvas panel

Don’t forget November’s pet photo contest!  E-mail me your favorite dog or cat photo by 11/30/2012.  Winner will receive a free unframed 8 x 10 portrait of their adorable furry friend.  So join the fun and enter your photos! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sandhill Cranes Are Back

The sandhill cranes have returned for their winter migration. We have heard them overhead on their flight path from their feeding areas in the wetlands along the Cross Florida Barge Canal and their nighttime roosting spots inland.  Last week on a really overcast day with dropping temperatures and a light drizzle, I heard them honking overhead on their way home for the night and stepped out the back door to look up and see them.   Nothing overhead.  Once outside, I realized the noise was way too loud to be overhead.  I raced back through the house and out the front door to see a pair landing in the ditch.  With a lot of flapping and boisterous trumpeting, they hopped out of the ditch and proceeded to march right towards me and down the side of our house, made a left turn into the neighbor’s yard and circled her house. 

As soon as I could safely move without alarming them, I headed back inside to grab the camera and stalked them around the neighbor’s trying to remain unseen.  Took some photos and given the bad weather headed back to the house.  Hearing an even more raucous outburst from the pair, I turned in time to see three more cranes land.  There was much flapping and preening and trumpeting among the group.  Perhaps they were waiting for the dawdlers to catch up.  They poked the ground for insect snacks for some time and eventually before total darkness, flew on to their “beds” for the night.  It was like having National Geographic in our own yard.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More “People Foods” That are Safe for Dogs

© 2012 Claudia Ballard
8 x 10 acrylic on canvas

Green Beans

You already know that green beans are nutritious because they’re full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, and since they’re so low in calories too, they make a great weight-management snack for dogs that have put on a few extra pounds.


Summer is almost upon us and our dogs are just as excited as we are for warm weather, fun in the sun, playing at the beach and stuffing our faces with juicy, delicious watermelon. Yes, dogs can eat watermelon. Other melons are good for dogs to eat too, but stick to the familiar fruit-salad basics like watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe instead of anything exotic that you might find


Fresh or frozen, berries are good for dogs for the same reasons they’re good for us: they’re packed with vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. But don’t share too much, because dogs are just as prone as we are to the digestive discomfort that can come from berry overindulgence


…they’re healthy because of all the vitamins, fiber and potassium they carry. As a bonus, carrots are great for canine dental health too…[some veterinarians suggest] baby carrots to help remove plaque from your dog’s teeth and keep its breath fresh and pleasant.


Pumpkin… is bursting with vitamins, beta carotene and fiber. It’s also low in calories, and you can feed it to a tummy-aching dog to settle its stomach or help relieve diarrhea. As always, fresh is best. If you really must buy the canned stuff, make sure you select a brand of pumpkin that’s not full of sugar and preservatives.