Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Patience is a Virtue...

Hello Friends,

I miss sharing with you stories and works in progress here on my blog. My posts have been more infrequent than I like, as it's the time of year when I catch up on my graphic design work for licensees while I tend to my list of special orders. That wish list is a rather long one, and my collectors have thankfully, been very patient. I feel compelled to share with you one special order in particular that I recently completed. My dear friend Patricia is one of many passionate folk art enthusiasts who has gently reminded me on occasion of her dream piece. Seven years ago when she first began collecting my art, she mailed a letter to me, describing her vision of a candy container dog resembling her cherished pet. Included were photos of "Butch." Presented with her challenge, I promised to make him when time permitted and when I could draw on my courage to capture his personality and sculpt him. But, three years later, Butch passed unexpectedly, and we were both broken-hearted. I assumed that I was too late in fulfilling her wish, but as time passed, she continued to ask for a folk art character in the likeness of her beloved dog. Days went by, months passed, and even a few years slipped through the cracks. I continued to assure her that one day Butch would come to life in my workshop. Last year as 2014 rolled in, a difficult decision to cancel our annual Holiday Open House made way for other opportunities that had been shelved. The many weeks of annual preparation for our event were suddenly open, and my special order list resurfaced. Patricia's wish was finally in reach, and I began sculpting her dream! For weeks, I had a slew of photos scattered across my workbench. There were snaps of Butch at play, Butch smiling, or lying around, opening gifts, taken from behind and above, or profiles and various angles, and all captured by a dear human who clearly adored her dog. I quickly bonded with this sweet character too as I began to build the structure of his head and the details in his ears and face. My fears subsided, and his spirit began to flow through my fingers. Then, JP gingerly sanded his nose and the ins and outs of his ears, and then I snapped some photos in the raw. Unbeknownst to Patricia, her cherished dog was FINALLY taking shape! That was it ~ I could not contain my excitement, and I had to email her with a surprise work-in-progress photo. Overjoyed, her response mirrored mine, with "happy tears" and all. Together we collaborated on the painted details, the color scheme and patterns. When I painted his face and the glints in his eyes, he really came to life! Late last night, Patricia received her "Butch" who will now serve as an urn to carry the ashes of her beloved friend. This morning I awoke to a very heart-felt message...

Oh Johanna!  I don’t even know where to start!!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE him!! He is absolutely stunning, breath-taking, awesome, PERFECT!!! You did an incredibly wonderful job of capturing him!!! I can’t thank you enough for honoring and memorializing my sweet dog!!! My JPD original of Butch is so meaningful and one of my lifetime treasures! Thank you so much, my dear friend!!    

Sending love, hugs and very special thanks,
Patricia "


These heart-warming exchanges inspire my art. The interactions between artist and art collector are dear and form a special bond. I am honored to bring joy and smiles to others through my creations. And, when there is an opportunity to capture the imagination of another and manifest a piece of art through communication and creative exchange, the process is very rewarding. This is one of many intimate collaborations I have experienced that I wanted to share. This one in particular rises to the top because of the circumstance and the long interval and the patience had by all.


Art is a gift. I am grateful to apply my talents to such endearing creations. Memorializing a cherished pet through ones hands is a bit of magic. When I tap into that creative flow, imagination takes shape.


It is a pleasure to form something special with heart and hands, and then know that the art takes on a life and love all of its own.


This special piece promises to bring smiles, conjure memories and raise emotions for a lifetime to come.

With Love,
~ Johanna (…and Butch)


I also want to thank my friends over at Patience Brewster who recently contacted me to blog in honor of "Inspire your Heart with Art Day." I was in the midst of creating this heart-themed piece when their email came in, so their timing was spot on. Although I missed posting on the official day, it's fair to say that I am inspired daily to create. Patience is an amazingly talented artist with a very whimsical spirit, and her art has certainly uplifted and inspired me…. Thank you for thinking of me.