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Interview: Jessica Marie, Painter

Interview with Jessica Marie, Painter










Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Jessica Marie, a full-time Minneapolis-based painter, who reached out recently.  Jessica creates wonderful custom paintings, and she has been creating paintings for the past twenty years and she paints in both a realistic and modern aesthetics.  I really like Jessica’s artist philosophy, which is discussed in more detail below.  She states, “If you work hard and are persistent with creating, inspiration will always come along with the process.  The more you work, the more inspiration you will have.”  Please visit Jessica Marie’s website to view more of her work, which is not only limited to animals.


KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a painter and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?

JESSICA MARIE: I’ve always had a strong interest in art since I was very young.  I enjoyed experimenting with a lot of different materials.  I started oil painting when I was 13-years-old.  I realized in high school that I wanted to go to art school to pursue a professional career with my art.


KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

JESSICA MARIE: Yes, I attended Syracuse University in New York for Graduate Studies in painting, and I received a BFA in Painting from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minnesota.




KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?

JESSICA MARIE: For my dog portraits, I work in two different styles: My Modern, Expressive style features bright colors and texture that make a one-of-a-kind painting.  This is a loose and painterly style showing the actual brushstrokes on the canvas.  I use oil paints in many layers with small charcoal drawing elements giving it a very unique modern look.

My Realistic, Detailed style features natural light, color, and space that make a striking, unique painting.  This style has a lot of  blended layers, textured brushstrokes, and small details.  I use oil paints in a neutral color and gradually add layers of brighter color and detail that give it a one-of-a-kind realistic and painterly look. 

 I can also work in other styles upon request, from realistic to abstract.  I really enjoy the uniqueness of each style to create a custom painting that my art collector’s will love and cherish in their homes for years to come.


KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating paintings was absolutely something that you had to do?

JESSICA MARIE:  I naturally gravitated to painting since I was a child.  I’ve always had a strong passion for creating things.  It took many years to develop my painting skills and personal styles.  I work full-time as a professional artist, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.  Art is my life’s passion, and I enjoy creating paintings that make people happy.




KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin painting animals?

JESSICA MARIE: I’m a huge animal lover.  I really enjoy capturing the uniqueness of an animal’s personality.  Each one is so different and special.  It’s wonderful to be able to express this through my art.  People love their pets, and a painting can capture the expression and personality in a way that a photograph isn’t able to.  It’s a great way to pay tribute to our beloved pets.


KATHERINE CARVER: How have your own dogs/animals influenced your artwork?

JESSICA MARIE: I grew up with five chow chow dogs, along with cats and hamsters.  I’m currently a proud pet parent of a beautiful 17-year-old Siamese cat that loves spending time in my art studio.  I’d love to also have a dog again, but at the moment my Siamese cat demands she has to be the one and only in the household!  I started creating drawings and paintings of my pets when I was young, and I still create artwork based on my cat.




KATHERINE CARVER: Where do you show/exhibit your work?

JESSICA MARIE: I exhibit my artwork locally in Minneapolis and nationally at various art galleries.  I currently have paintings on exhibit in New York, Kansas, and Florida.  I was just recently notified that I won the First Place Juror Award for an international exhibition at FSU Museum of Fine Arts in Florida.  I have an upcoming solo exhibition in Minneapolis in Spring 2017.


KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative,” mean to you?

JESSICA MARIE: Being creative is about exploring and discovering new ideas and techniques.  It’s about finding new ways to present your ideas and thoughts visually.  This leads to a newfound perspective of my art, life, and experiences.


KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

JESSICA MARIE: I think the most challenging aspect as an artist is to keep yourself motivated and push forward with or without immediate inspiration.  If you work hard and are persistent with creating, inspiration will always come along with the process.  The more you work, the more inspiration you will have.




KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?  

JESSICA MARIE: I really enjoy working on my art daily.  If I’m having difficulty with motivation, then I like to experiment with different materials and discover new ideas through the painting process.  There’s always something new to be discovered and it helps keep me motivated.


KATHERINE CARVER: What kind of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your art?

JESSICA MARIE: I keep a to-do list of what I need to work on each day.  It includes prepping canvas, painting, varnishing and marketing work.  Sometimes I have multiple projects I’m working on, so it helps to keep everything organized and to meet my deadlines.  I enjoy listening to art podcasts and music to keep me energized while painting in the studio.


KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?

JESSICA MARIE: Some artists that inspire my work are Seurat, Matisse, Modigliani, Klimt, de Kooning, Dorothea Tanning, and Alice Neel.




KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

JESSICA MARIE: Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  Create a studio schedule and stick to it.  Don’t seek perfection.  Keep experimenting, exploring ideas and techniques.  You will eventually find your own voice and style.


KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your art works?

JESSICA MARIE: You can find more info, photos, and videos of my Custom Pet Portraits on my website.

I can paint any animal and breed.  I have a variety of canvas sizes to choose from.  All I need are some of your favorite photos and your background preference.  I can also work from multiple photographs to combine multiple pets in one painting.  I’m happy to help you choose the photo that will work best and make suggestions for colors, compositions, and backgrounds to create a special one of a kind painting of your pet.  If you are interested in a custom painting or have any questions, please email me at


Below are a few videos of Jessica Marie’s work.


All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Jessica Marie.

You can read additional interviews here.

Around Here: September

Happy Fall!  It is officially fall, and we are not sure how this happened so quickly!  We are welcoming fall with open arms, one of our favorite seasons.  Below are some items that have occurred around here in September!

-continuing to work steadily on my long-term photography project — an image at a time.  I received some positive feedback earlier this month on the body of work completed thus far, which I am very pleased about!

-we celebrated the 12 year anniversary of our first date!

-we celebrated three years in our home that we built — we are not sure where the time has gone, but it has flown by ever too quickly!

-we are experiencing a lot of transition and change in this season.

-we saw Bruce Springsteen earlier this month in D.C.

-we took another trip to the Eastern Shore for crabs and shrimp with Victory!

-we took a trip to Delaware over Labor Day weekend and had a great time together!

-we received and hung Victory’s Audrey Hepburn inspired portrait, which we have titled, “Princess Victory,” which now hangs next to Biscuit’s painting.

-we finally got our rugs cleaned, and all of our “spring and summer cleaning” is almost completed — just a little delayed!

-enjoying evening walks together with Victory in her Hound About, especially since it is cooler outside!

-enjoying time on our decks together during the evenings, watching the sun set.

-opening the windows and letting fresh, crisp air into our home!

-burning fall candles in our home and we also hung our fall door wreaths!

-getting ready for Victory’s birthday in a few weeks — this will be her third birthday celebration with us since her adoption!

-ordered and received Victory’s Halloween costume for this year — she is going to be adorable in her costume.  You can view last year’s costume here; 2014’s costume here; and 2013’s costume here!  We are excited to head back to the pumpkin patch with Victory!  (Victory is shown below from our visit last year to the pumpkin patch!)

-Doug has already begun crafting ideas for his pumpkin this year!

-started working on our this year’s Pawliday card!

-finished reading Present Over Perfect, a good read!

-began watching the first season of The Americans, a really good series — I know that we are a little late to the party!

-enjoying the second season of the Magic Lessons Podcast, with a lot of good content and lessons.

-still using my Fitbit and I’m hitting 10,000 steps per day most days.

-continuing to make incremental progress on our ever-growing to do list!

Happy Friday!


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Get Curious



Why should you get curious?  Well, the short answer is that curiosity makes life more interesting.  Curiosity also provides important information and clues in one’s life.  I have always been a curious person and I have always asked a lot of questions.  In fact, my curiosity has led me on an adventure with a project that I have been working on for nearly four years, which I am getting close to finishing!  Some of my best ideas have come from places where I was willing to get more curious.  Curiosity and creativity are inherently linked.  At the very least, your curiosity may surprise you.

Below are some of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert concerning the pursuit of curiosity.

“The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity.  It doesn’t take a massive effort.  Just turn your head an inch.  Pause for an instant.  Respond to what has caught your attention.  Look into it a bit.  Is there something there for you?  A piece of information?”

“Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, ‘Hey, that’s kind of interesting…'”

“I believe that curiosity is the secret.  Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living.  Curiosity is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.”

“It’s a clue.  It might seem like nothing, but its a clue.  Follow that clue.  Trust it.  See where curiosity will lead you next.  Then follow the next clue, and the next, and the next. . .Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing, unexpected places.”

“For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity.  Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next.  Small steps.  Keep doing that, and I promise you: The curiosity will eventually lead you to the passion.”

If you are interested in learning more about where your curiosity may lead, you can check out this video and this podcast!

Happy Friday!

Singing Bowls

Have you heard of singing bowls?  My good friend introduced them to me this summer.  Singing bowls produce sounds that invoke relaxation, and it has been said that one’s energy can impact the loudness of the sound one can create with their singing bowl.  Singing bowls come in various shapes and sizes.  A sample of various small singing bowls are shown below.  For beginners, I have been told that it is easier to make the metal bowls “sing” versus starting with a ceramic bowl.  I started with this one, and I really like it.  It has also been said that meditating on the subtle sounds of the singing bowl tunes one into the universal sound within.  Happy practicing, if this is something that interests you!


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Sashi is Back for a Third Time!

Sashi is back for a third time!  I initially wrote about the first book in the Sashi Series entitled, Sashi, the Scared Little Sheltie!here; and I also wrote about the second book, Sashi Adopts a Brother, a continuation on the Sashi Series, here.  The author, Linda Greiner, recently contacted me and sent me her third book with illustrator, Morgan Spicer, entitled, Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl, a continuation in the Sashi Series, which is now available for purchase!  A portion of the sales are donated to help Shetland Sheepdogs in the New Jersey area.

As those who have been reading the blog know, we love shelties and we are strong proponents of dog rescue and dog fostering — and all of the books in the Sashi series speak to these important issues.  This newest book, in the Sashi Series, introduces the story of Cinnamon, puppy mill dog who becomes a foster dog — and you will have to read the book to find out the ending to Cinnamon’s story!  So if you are looking for a fun children’s book to teach about the positive implications of dog rescue and dog fostering, I highly recommend this book and the other books in the Sashi Series.  And, if you love shelties you will for sure love this book!  The illustrations are vivid and beautiful, which brings this true story to life.  (All of the books in the Sashi Series are based on true stories).

Below is an excerpt from the author about Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl:

“Anna and her mother love fostering Shelties through Shetland Sheepdog Rescue.  By taking care of rescued dogs, they help the dogs become ready to find a forever home.  They’ve already adopted two Shelties of their own, Sashi and Buddy, and their newest foster is a shy girl named Cinnamon who’s been rescued from a puppy mill.  Neglected and frightened, Cinnamon has a tough time settling into her new home at first but with help from Sashi and Buddy, Cinnamon realizes she doesn’t have to be afraid.  Now loved and cared for, Cinnamon learns to be happy and playful again and soon finds her forever home.  Based on the true story of Cinnamon, this tale addresses the reality of puppy mills while keeping the story light, warm, and accessible to young readers.”







The above images are courtesy of Linda Greiner.

You can view a trailer of the book, Sahsi and the Puppy Mill Girl, here.


The Changing Seasons

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  —George Santayana

Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of a change of the seasons as summer comes to a close.  We could even feel the change coming in the air.  As such, we took full advantage of the nice weather this past long weekend doing some fun summer outings, including seeing a Bruce Springsteen concert in D.C. and taking Victory on multiple walks in her Hound About, which she loves!  We also took Victory to Harbor East for pizza at one of our favorite pizza spots; we took her to the Eastern Shore for crabs and shrimp; and we took her to Delaware!  We also spent some time at our pool prior to it closing for the summer where we were able to catch up on reading and much needed rest.

Just like the changes of seasons, our own seasons are constantly changing, too.  Life is filled with moments of happiness and long stretches of contemplation, and the key is to stay present through it all, even during the long stretches that sometimes feel long and difficult to endure.  We are currently adjusting to a new routine as I accepted a new position, a positive change for us.  However, poor little Victory’s schedule has been off kilter the past few weeks, but we are all getting acclimated to a new routine; and, thankfully, things will get more on track and closer to our ‘normal’ routine starting next week.

We are looking forward to the fall and welcome the change of season.  We look forward to celebrating our two anniversaries (the anniversary of our first date and our wedding anniversary); celebrating Victory’s birthday; taking trips to the pumpkin patch and orchard; celebrating Halloween; enjoying Doug carving his yearly pumpkin; lighting fall scented candles; and welcoming cooler temperatures, to name a few!

Happy Wednesday!


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Good Read: The Alchemist


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Have you read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho?  It is a really great read that my dear friend recommended, which I finished reading recently.  I highly recommend this book to all!  This book traces the spiritual path and of a young shepherd boy who is compelled to follow his dream of finding a hidden treasure in Egypt.  To do so, he must leave the comfort zone of home, learn to trust the “Soul of the World,” and believe that there are forces in the universe that want us to be happy.  In order to find happiness, however, the boy must first discover his “Personal Legend”— that is to say, he must to discover what he is meant to do in the world.  Fortunately, the boy soon takes the first step in his acquisition of happiness — he listens to his heart and overcomes fear.  As the boy continues his sometimes painful journey, he discovers that one cannot be dissuaded from pursuing a “Personal Legend,” even if the choices seem impossible to bear.  The end result for anyone who does so, Coelho assures his readers, is physical and spiritual reward.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book are shown below.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

“All things are one.”

“Never stop dreaming.”

“Follow the omens.”

“Making a decision was only the beginning of things.  When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

“If I could, I’d write a huge encyclopedia just about the words luck and coincidence.  It’s with those words the universal language is written.”

“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.”

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future, I’m only interested in the present.  If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.  You’ll see that there is life win the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesman fight because they are part of the human race.  Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it is all written there.”

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future.  I’m interested only in the present.  If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.”

“The most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart — it was love.”

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize his dream.”

“Don’t think about what you’ve left behind…Everything is written in the Soul of the World, and there it will stay forever.”

“Wherever your heart is that is where you’ll find your treasure.”

“You will never be able to escape from your heart.  So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.  That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”

“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for to achieve.”

“Every search begins with beginner’s luck.  And every search ends with the victors being severely tested.”

“Don’t give into your fears…If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”

“When we strive to be better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”


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Painting: Victory’s Portrait

We finally had Victory’s portrait painted, which is painted in the same vein as her brother, Biscuit’s painting, shown below.  They soon will be hung side by side in our dinning room!

For Victory, since she is a little refined beauty, we decided to have an Audrey Hepburn inspired painting.  Below are some images, from around the web, that I put together to create a small inspiration board for the painting featuring the clothing, tiara, necklace, colors, etc.


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Next, we found two images of Victory to base the painting off of, shown below.


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Next, the images were cropped similar to Biscuit’s painting and then situated next to Biscuit’s painting to see which image of Victory would work better.  We chose the image of Victory with the brick wall in the background, while incorporating her furs from the image in front of the Christmas tree, as we felt this image aesthetically worked better with Biscuit’s painting.


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After creating an inspiration board and the selecting the two images of Victory, shown above, we commissioned Mary Medrano to paint Victory’s portrait.  She also painted Biscuit’s portrait, shown below, in 2011, soon after we rescued our sweet dear Biscuit.


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With this visual information, Mary created a preliminary sketch of Victory, which the painting was based on, while keeping in mind our vision for the portrait.  The sketch is shown below.


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Below is the final portrait of Victory, which we are very pleased with!  Mary was great to work with, and we corresponded during the entire process over email, and she let us see her progress every step of the way, which allowed us to provide feedback along the way, which we enjoyed.  As you can see, we also made sure to incorporate Victory’s name in her tiara, as Biscuit’s name appeared just below his handkerchief.


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Finally, shown below, is how the paintings will soon be hung in our home — Victory and Biscuit will soon be hung, side by side, in our dinning room!  Since moving into our new home nearly three years ago, we saved a spot on the wall for Victory’s portrait.  Our loves, Biscuit and Victory, will forever proudly be displayed in our home!


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Have a wonderful weekend!  It has been a really busy week for us and we are going to soak up some time at our pool this weekend!

Photographs: Vacationing at Lake Michigan

We vacationed at Lake Michigan recently, and I finally had time to finish culling and editing the images from our vacation, our third vacation with our dear, Victory!  You can view the snapshot of our vacation here, which I posted upon our return from Lake Michigan!  (You can also view our vacation last year with Victory to Quebec City here; and you can view our vacation two years ago with Victory to Montreal, Quebec here.)

Our family, along with our furry family members, rented a house for a week within a short walk to the lake!  Fortunately, we only had one day of rain during our vacation!  We got to spend a week with my parents, my sister, and our little nephew, Liam!  Doug and I went for morning walks together along the lake, and we even ended up crossing over into Indiana on our walks!   We did not pack the Hound About for this trip, so Victory did not come with us on the long walks, especially since it was very warm outside.  Victory did well on our trip and she loved the beach and she got along well with her ‘Uncle Nick!’ and her ‘cousin’ Liam!

Doug enjoys good bourbon, so we went to the Journeyman Distillery and took a tour with my sister and brother-in-law.   Doug has built quite the collection of different types of bourbon!  We also ate several times at the Distillery’s restaurant, the Staymaker.  The food was very good, and bourbon was incorporated in every menu item!  We also took a day trip to Notre Dame, and the dogs did really well on campus.  We did not even have to get out our Ergo for Victory during this trip!

My Dad and Doug made it to the Casino where Doug doubled his money while playing blackjack, while my Mom, sister, and I did some clothes shopping in Michigan City.

We also played lots of Dominos.  Doug is officially the reigning Domino winner.  Nobody can seem beat him!

We really enjoyed our time at the beach and the lake.  Doug and I went swimming in the lake quite a bit.  The water was very beautiful, clear, and clean!  It was a little rocky walking into the lake, but there was plenty of sand when we walked out a bit into the lake.  I even found several heart-shaped stones on the beach!  We had planned to take Victory in the lake with her life jacket on, but we decided not to this time.  Doug was scared Victory would get too scared.  (Doug is an over protective Daddy to Victory!)  Victory dipped her little white paws in the water, though, shown below, similar to her first time at the beach while we vacationed in Quebec.  Liam also dipped is feet, for the first time, into the lake, too!

Most of all, we are grateful for our time away together.  We enjoyed spending time together; getting away; having a change of scenery; and having days where we had no plans and were able to take each day as it came.  Even after 14 hours in the car on the ride home, Victory still spotted her exit to her house, and she loved coming home and going into her garage, like always!

Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend!  We are soaking up the last several weekends relaxing at our pool, while it is still open!


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Around Here: August

We have been enjoying the last months of summer!  It has been very hot this summer, and it is hard to believe that summer will be coming to an end in several weeks.  However, we are looking forward to fall, one of our favorite seasons.  Below are some items that have occurred around here in August!

-continuing to work steadily on my long-term photography project — this December is my target finish date after nearly four years of consistent work!

-we took a vacation to Lake Michigan!  (More photos to come this week!)

-we celebrated our birthdays and we had a fun birthday weekend together!

-we took another trip to the Eastern Shore for crabs and shrimp with Victory!

-I accepted a new position, which I am excited about starting!

-Victory’s Audrey Hepburn inspired portrait is almost finished and we love it!  I can’t wait to share it!

-finished my new website.

-tried acupuncture for the second time.

-we pretty much finished our spring/summer cleaning — we have a couple of closets left remaining to clean out!

-enjoying the final weeks at our neighborhood pool, relaxing and reading!

-enjoying evening walks with Victory in her Hound About, when it is not too hot to walk outside!

-enjoying evening runs to TCBY for frozen yogurt with Victory — her favorite is the peanut butter frozen yogurt!  I had a TCBY yogurt birthday cake made for Doug’s birthday, and he loved it!

-enjoying time on our decks together on cooler evenings, watching the sun set.

-burning summer scented candles in our home!

-my friend introduced me to singing bowls, which are neat.

-began watching The Night Of, a really good series.

-watched Miracles from Heaven, a really good movie.

-enjoying the second season of the Magic Lessons Podcast, with a lot of good content and lessons.

-began reading The Alchemist — a good read so far.

-still using my Fitbit and I’m hitting 10,000 steps per day most days.

-continuing to make incremental progress on our ever-growing to do list!

Happy Tuesday!


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