B ' Twee You & Me - Blog
Susie E Caron
Pet & Wildlife Artist
For Love & Memories
Twee' Art LLC
Susie E Caron
Pet & Wildlife Artist
For Love & Memories
Twee' Art LLC
Can Pets & Animals Help Us?
As a pet owner I’ve enjoyed many pets. I especially treasure the unconditional love they so freely share. Preserving this love and memories alive for myself and others motivates me to paint pet portraits for people who love their pets. This isn’t the only way people use pet experience to keep the memories alive and recall the lessons and inspiration pets offer. I’ve asked several wonderful people who use their personal pet experiences to share these with us.
Today I am pleased to interview Tracy Crump, an accomplished author, editor & instructor who contributes articles in numerous magazines and books. Tracy offers writing workshops, webinars and her course “How to Write for Chicken Soup for the Soul”, is a Serious Writer Academy’s Top Seller.
I met Tracy on Facebook when I read she contributed to the 2021 Daily Devotional for Animal Lovers, All God’s Creatures. I bought the hardcover book from Guideposts and after reading I knew I wanted to share more about Tracy and her work with you.
*An Interview with Tracy Crump, author, editor and contributor to All God's Creatures, Guide Posts Daily Devotionals for 2021
Susie: Tracy, tell us a little bit about you, your family, faith and occupation.
Tracy: My husband, Stan, and I were high school sweethearts and have been married 44 years. We live in north Mississippi and homeschooled our two sons, who are grown now, and each has two children of his own. Years ago, I worked as an intensive care nurse and now enjoy writing articles, devotions, and short stories. We’re both active in our church-(except during Covid-19 restrictions)-and my 99-year-old mother-in-law lives with us.
Susie: Tell us a bit about your pets or pet/animal interests and any stories you may want to share.
Tracy: Except for grandchildren, we are currently pet-less, but we’ve shared our home with a variety of cats, dogs, gerbils, hamsters, finches, and parakeets, some of which have taken center stage in my writing. Our Siberian husky became ecstatic whenever it snowed (which it seldom does in the Mid-South). He would jump into my husband’s lap and sled downhill with him. We also had a golden retriever who had two sets of nine puppies. That’s when we learned there’s nothing sweeter than puppy breath.
Susie: What do you do, or have you done because of your interest in pets and wildlife?
Tracy: When we homeschooled, I jumped right into whatever my children were interested in. One son considered becoming either a veterinarian or a park ranger, and the other wanted to keep bees. Both boys volunteered at wildlife rehabilitation centers and the Memphis Zoo. I’ve taught school children about wildlife, put on puppet shows, worked at a butterfly exhibit, and sloshed through ditches at night hunting frogs for an amphibian monitoring program.
In one of my more daring moments, I allowed my son to keep a rehabber’s pet kingsnake in our home for use in a school program. Unfortunately, the weather turned bad, and the streets became too icy to do the program or take the snake back to her owner. I had failed to add frozen mice to my grocery list that week, so we were left with a hungry snake. She latched onto my son at one point, but thank goodness, she was too small to swallow him!
Susie: Do you have any interesting products featuring pets or animal themes for sale?
Tracy: I’ve published stories about dogs in two Chicken Soup for the Soul books and one about a cat in another anthology. A story about our husky will release in The Dog Who Came to Christmas later this year. I wrote about my favorite wildlife rehabber and a hawk she taught to hunt in The Ultimate Bird Book (no longer in print). And of course, Susie, you first saw my name in Guideposts’s All God’s Creatures: Daily Devotions for Animal Lovers 2021. I had six devotions in that book and will have ten in the 2022 edition. [Photo attached.]
Susie: Yes! I found and read your contributions as soon as I received the book. I was personally moved by one about how a dog helped your Mother recover from an illness.
Can you tell us where my customers can find these? Do you have a website, or how can they contact you?
Tracy: All the books can be found on Amazon or in bookstores, except the Guideposts book, which can only be purchased on their website at https://www.shopguideposts.org/bibles-devotionals/all-god-s-creatures-2021.html. Additional formats available may be found here: https://www.shopguideposts.org/bibles-devotionals/all-gods-creatures-daily-devotions-favorite-formats.html
Your customers can connect with me at https://www.tracycrump.com/ or any of the sites listed at https://linktr.ee/tracycrump.
Thank you for having me as a guest on your website, Susie. Your artwork does justice to the animals you paint, and I think that’s the highest praise a portrait artist could receive.
Susie: Thank you for your compliment and for taking the time for this interview. It was my pleasure to share you, your appreciation for pets and animals and how you inspire us through your work. I feel motivated now to write up some of my pet stories.
Do pets and animals teach, inspire, or bring you comfort?
Comment below about this or ask questions.
Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone
Susie Caron (C) 2021
My Little Dog was gone! Upon return home from a short visit on my Grand Father’s farm, Blacky was gone. At 3&1/2 years old I felt beyond devastated. I’d named him Blacky, and we were buds. He was my comfort, my confidant, and my companion. Tears & anger were not enough to bring him back.
My toddler legs took me outside to look for him. I called his name daily from my porch, backyard, out near the street and sobbed on my bed at night. Days went by but no little black dog came to lick tears from my face.
My parents tried to comfort me saying, “He ran after the car when you left for Pop’s farm.” This backfired as my wailing intensified. My toddler heart felt guilty for leaving him behind. Apparently, my parents found such grieving too much for them. They never offered me another dog.
Decades later, I learned losses like that follow us through our lives and play out in our behaviors. I knew I could never replace my Blacky. However, over decades of adult life, I’ve looked for, lived with and loved many pets. They filled my heart, gave me companionship and unlimited, unconditional love.
Of course, there is no replacing a pet. Each one has unique features, personality, and the way they love and live with you. You fall in love with them, but a pet’s time with you is always too short and you wish they lived much longer.
After retirement, I began painting several of our current and past pets. The process gave me unexpected pleasure as each one appeared to ‘come to life’. Framed and displayed in my home I felt like they were back, surrounding me with their love and life. It occurred to me that other people may like to see their pets this way too. I gathered photos from family members and friends and gave a few paintings away. Soon after, I found myself engaged in a new way to serve - by creating pet portraits for customers so they could keep their pets forever too.
Want to know how you might get a custom pet portrait?
Contact me: email@example.com for your free, no obligation phone chat.
Or visit my web Home page: https://www.susiecaron.com right on this web site.
Let me know what you think about this article in comments below.
I can't wait to connect with you and learn about your special pet.
"The unconditional love of a pet is a gift to treasure forever.”
Keeping Your Pet's Love
Susie Caron (c) 1/8/21
What makes you want a pet, or a lot of pets? How many types of pets do you have or want? How do you recover when a pet passes away?
Certainly none of us likes to think about a pet leaving us. However, most don't outlive us. Each person reacts differently and there is no 'right or wrong' way to grieve.
Pet portraits can bring some relief when you are missing a pet. I keep many of my pets with me on painted coasters and other pet portraits appear to surround me with life and love on the walls of my home.
Over the years I've painted many pet portraits for others. My friends and family members have told me how much their pet paintings means to them.
One customer, Mary, who appreciated her own pet portrait, commissioned a painting for her friend. She expressed the feelings about her gift this way:
"Susie, Last night I gave my friends the portrait you painted of their beloved dog, Hunter. To say that they were thrilled is putting it mildly. You captured his soul. They are still in mourning and I was so happy to be able to give them this gift. I don't know how you do it but you got him just right. Thank you so much!"
To those of us who know our Pet's life and love, a pet portrait by a friend means so much.
What do you do to remember your pets? Comment below and tell me your pet's story. I will respond.
Artists! How To – Easy Art Inventory
Susie E Caron © 2020
When I retired and began my art business, I had no idea I would need a permanent document of my art, or any idea how to make it user friendly. I fumbled and started and stopped and finally designed a workable, easy to reference and edit inventory of all my art-work.
This Art Inventory works very well. It’s a sequentially numbered and labeled photo-inventory-folder to access anytime. The accompanying editable Word Doc numerically lists each item with accompanying photos of your art.
Four Reasons Why You Need An Art Inventory
To Locate Specific Art Pieces:
Numbers and other details will help you to locate your art for posts, blogs, advertising, new articles, and for entering exhibits.
To Track Sales:
Your art inventory will help you to track what sells and sold including what subjects or sizes and other features attract galleries and buyers.
To Give Yourself Credit:
Your art inventory will help you to enjoy the results of all your efforts. (It’s just fun to see how much you’ve created and encourage yourself with numbers of exhibits and sales. Go ahead and treat yourself from time to time.)
To Prepare for Your Art To Live Beyond You
Sadly, you won’t live forever. After your death, you may want someone to continued to do something good with your art. Then you’ll need to make it as easy as possible to locate it, identify the value , and follow your wishes. Without an art inventory, your relatives and friends may select a few favorites for themselves. The remainder of your art could sadly end up in a dumpster. So, as a kindness to yourself and to others prepare an Art Inventory.
Let’s Get Started
Beginner or advanced, begin with your most recent art creations. Start now with what you create and in time you can add more working backwards and forwards.
(If you are heavily into your art business, pick one annual, limited exhibit venue with which to begin.)
Instructions To Build Your Easy Art Inventory
Prepare these two things on your Computer
One folder labeled with Your Name & Art Inventory . This is for your photos (jpegs) of your art (painting, drawing, sculpture etc.).
In this folder open one WORD DOCUMENT labeled with Your Name Art & Inventory 1
Take photos of 5 of your art creations. I use my iPad or iPhone. The easiest way to get them to your computer is to attach to an email them send them to yourself. Download these from email to the Art Inventory folder.
When they are located in your folder number each jpeg (photo) chronologically followed by size, year created, title & price. You may add your initials or your name if you choose. That’s all you will need on the jpeg. Continue until you have 4 or 5 jpegs labeled.
Examples of Photos (jpegs) in Your Folder (These show how I numbered photos.)
Using the Word Doc
Now open your Microsoft Word document. Label the header Art Inventory adding your name and page number and anything else you want.
At the top of the doc body, type the text exactly as you labeled the first jpeg.
Next you will insert the photo for easy identification. Example pretending your numbers starting with #1,2,....etc.
ART INVENTORY 1
SUSIE E CARON TWEE ART LLC BEGUN 8/20/20
1. 8x10. 2018. Pretzel. $250. Susie Caron
2. 8x10. 2018. Carpet Kitten. $250.Susie Caron
How To Insert Your Jpeg onto your Word Doc.
To insert the photo 1st click your cursor under the text. Go to the bar above click on ‘insert’. Click the choice ‘illustration’ (or picture) and then ‘this device’. You will be given options. Find your art inventory folder and click on the jpeg you want and hit ‘open’.
The jpeg will appear and open too large. That’s ok. Click on it and put your cursor on a corner to begin dragging it toward it’s center to create a smaller size. If you move too fast it may flip of rotate. That’s ok. It's very forgiving. Just play with it. In a short time you’ll master this. Place it under your text as small as you find useful. Use the spacer bar to move it right or left etc just like you would text.
Example Photo a bit too large.
2.8x10. 2018. Pretzel.$250. Susie E Caron
Example with Photo made smaller.
2.8x10. 2019. Carpet Kitten. SCaron
Repeat until 4-5 are completed. This is the easy way to begin to keep track because it gets your art numbered and easy to identify. You can edit or add information over time. It prints complete with the jpegs too.
Bonus: Now like a 'poor person's bar code' you have a good way to label your physical art creations on the reverse or underside.
Your Art Inventory Future
Over the course of an art career your record keeping may become more and more involved. For example, lots of years in your art career means more creations, different mediums, or offerings such as paintings, prints, and cards. Also, you may exhibit in several different venues each year. If this is the first time you are setting up your Art Inventory, this folder and Word Doc will do nicely for a long time.
Later, in some of my articles I will describe some other ways to organize your ART INVENTORY to provide more record keeping information.
Thank you for reading. I hope I helped you. Please let me know what you think in the comments.
Hugs and Blessings,
Susie E Caron (c) 8/14/2020
I hate the word ‘BLOG’.
It's too definite, too final, and too limiting. Today I renamed the title of my web site writing to this:
"B ' Twee You & Me" for several good reasons.
A Little ‘Blog’ History
Originally online writing was termed a ‘log’, like a journal. According to Wikipedia, a fellow named Jorn Barger coined the term ‘weblog’ in 1997 and later altered to our familiar ‘blog’ by Peter Merholz. Since that time it’s been used as both noun and verb. Thus, our musings online are called blogs and we blog anytime we wish. But as I mentioned I hate the word and especially in its narrow application.
I am tired of being advised to ‘narrow my brand’, gauge everything to one particular avatar for my audience, build an email list or a ‘funnel’ ( to get sales). This isn’t me, certainly not all of me. So, I sat down to write this article not to just rant, or explain, or even give myself permission to alter my title. I write it to let you know I will do that which I’ve done all my life in a variety of ways: I will create what encourages and supports you.
To do this, I will write to inspire, entertain, inform, encourage, delight, advocate, exhort, and warn. I am more than one element of a personality, career, talent, interests, and predilections. I am more than an author of picture books. More than an artist. More than a wife, mother, Christian, pet owner, horse lover, entrepreneur. I am me, with decades of experiences, multi faceted personality, multiple talents and interests. Why limit myself to a ‘branded idea’ of who I am and how I can encourage you. I want to write about anything that suits my fancy that may also help you.
Today, I am casting off all the advice from ‘guru’s’ of social media and marketing. I am throwing out any need to ‘brand’ myself (that happens to cattle and livestock). I toss aside any thought of necessity to set up some plan or order to my writing. Instead I want you to know you are thought of, cared for and loved. You inspire my thought and drive me to reach out.
Why? Because of Love
When asked which were the greatest commandments Jesus replied:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself." No other commandment is greater than these. Mark 12:30-31 (Also Matthew 22:37-40)
My topics may vary over time. The flavor of my writing may vary. However, my purpose for putting words to paper will always prove to be to encourage and support all those I love. If you are reading this know that you are loved and in my prayers.
Hugs and Blessings,
Sometimes We Just Need Sunflowers
Susie E Caron © 2020
Sunshine, sunny, Sunflowers. These words evoke bright thoughts and happy feelings. We cannot even say the word ‘sunny’ without forming a kind of a smile- facsimile on our lips. Try it. Look in the mirror and say “sunny!”
What about when life offers lemons, or lots of lemons?
This past week I diverged from my usual pet portraits to paint Sunflowers.
I grabbed six small canvases and began a variety of sunflower paintings. One with a chipmunk perched atop, happily stuffing its cheeks with seeds. On another a butterfly enjoys a rest. Bumble bees visit two separate sunflower paintings. Of the final two, one is a close-up study appearing as if illuminated by a flashlight on a dark background. I liked them all, but still wondered why Sunflowers and why now?
I mentioned my Sunflower project, to a friend. She grinned, threw her arms open wide and exclaimed “I love Sunflowers. They are just like Sunshine.’
Perhaps that’s what I needed, some sunshine…
I’ll admit rainy days are tough. The first lines in the song “Rainy Days and Mondays” (The Carpenters), reveals how I might feel sometimes. They include feeling old, alone, wanting to quit, frowning, not belonging, and other things that get me and others down. Older persons like me sometimes find too much heat or cold or flu season traps us indoors. We find extremes difficult, especially when they last a long time. My body rebels when too cold, too hot, too motionless, or even if too active and ultimately these affect my mood. Maybe yours too?
As I painted these bright, beautiful, sunny, sunshine filled Sunflowers, I started to feel a bit brighter and happier. As I look at my collection, all finished and positioned on a display board, I realized I needed some ‘sunshine’ in my life. Perhaps you do too.
Maybe, if there isn't enough sunshine in our lives, we just need Sunflowers.
Thank you for reading. Would you like to share what cheers you up when life gives you rainy days, or lemons? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.
If you would like to purchase any of these, they currently exhibit in the Village Frame Shoppe, St. Albans, VT.
Note for paintings not shown in my SHOP, contact me for availability.
Twee' Freebie Butterfly to Color or Paint
Susie E Caron ((c) 2020
Let's paint this butterfly.
Butterflies are fun to paint for beginners to advanced artists.
1. Download the two files of the photo and instructions.
Assemble your choice of colored pencils or crayons, markers, watercolor or acrylic paints. Lay out paper for an 8x10 painting. Get some water to rinse brushes too.
2. After deciding what colors you wish to paint this butterfly (they come in every color imaginable) select those colors and prepare them. (Wet the watercolors you wish to use.)
3. Using Black color or paint in every black line and space except the legs and antennae. (You can do those later.) Be careful to look careful to follow my example. This will help you learn to observe, color accurately and improve your fine motor eye-hand coordination.
4. Now choose one color and a set #1 of areas to fill in. Do the same or a different color in #2 and #3.
5. Before you paint the body, legs and antennae, it's time to color the flower with any color you wish. You will want to use either one color in lighter and lighter shades as you move from petals to petals, or choose three different colors, such as red for the lower part, pink in the middle and white at the top. Have fun. Do the same, using various shades of green for the bud and stem.
6. Finally, paint the body of the butterfly a light shade of one of you wing colors. Use a bit of the light color mixed with a tiny bit of black to show some detail on the face and body.
7. Now with a really tiny brush or pen put in the legs and antennae.
All finished? Good for you. Now sign your name and find a good place to post your beautiful butterfly art work.
Please share your art and your kids artistic productions and comment what you enjoyed. Got any suggestions for a Twee' Freebie? Let me know.
May I Pray With You?
Susie E Caron (c) 7/24/2020
All I said was this: “May I pray with you?” My Mother began to cry. First came her tears then aging hands covered her face as she sobbed. I waited, resting my hand gently on her shoulder, not wanting to interrupt her feelings. When her crying subsided, she looked at me and quietly said, “No one ever asked me this before.”
I grew up in a middle-class family in a quiet neighborhood in New Jersey. Until in teens our family attended a little Methodist church only two blocks from home. We usually walked and enjoyed friendships with our neighbors and church community. Since my parents lived in that home all their lives, I felt taken aback by her comment. My mind reflected on all the wonderful Christian women we’d known as family friends and more specifically my Mother’s friends. Her words caught me by surprise, but I was not about to let this opportunity go.
“I will pray with you.” I replied quietly. Then, simply the way one talks with a friend. I asked the Lord to “hear my Mother’s heart and answer her prayer with peace and wisdom.” We held hands. My Mom quietly cried throughout. When we said “Amen”, she thanked me. We hugged and moved on to our activities for the day. However, I will never forget the lesson I learned that day and always treasured our special, shared, intimate moment.
I regularly see requests for prayer on social media. Many respond with a praying hands emojis. Others write the word ‘praying’. Both indicate the commenter intends to pray, or they may stop and pray right away. Sometimes we see a written prayer in the comments, to which others add “Amen.” All this is good. I too am personally happy to pray for others, day and night, whenever I see a request. I wonder what more we can do?
What more can we do?
Perhaps, whenever possible we can ask if a person would like us to pray with them. Going to the Lord together is scriptural and precious to both the Lord and to those taking part. It only takes an opportunity and this simple question:
“May I pray with you?”
Perhaps this whole idea of praying with another seems difficult for you?
Here are 3 tips for praying with others.
When you have both said Amen offer a hug if appropriate, or a pat on the shoulder or shake hands and commit them in your heart to God. Don’t continue to talk about the situation unless he or she wants to. If you believe this person has needs you cannot help, whether physical, menta or emotional, gently offer to help them find someone who can.
Throughout her life My Mother never revealed to me the content of her personal struggle. I knew God understood and felt assured He could handle it. Many years later my Mother said this: “You remember that thing I asked you to pray for? It got taken care of.” She seemed pleased and acknowledged God answered her prayers. We hugged again and I whispered, “Thank you My Lord and My God.”
From that 1st time we prayed together going forward I never took for granted that someone I knew, especially perhaps the ones I considered the ‘most spiritual’ had anyone to pray with them.
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything
they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Artist’s Hack- Waste Acrylics No More!
Susie E Caron © 7/17/2020
Versatile acrylic paint provides hours of fun. However, those frustrating, wasteful tubes of acrylic paint can make this artist cranky. My search for a solution may save you time and money.
The Problem with Tubes
Small tubes never last. The large ones dry out too soon. Large or small they clog or squirt out more than wanted. The small opening design makes it also impossible to put any unused paint back inside for later. Plus, it always feels like more should come out of the tube. I thought maybe paint in jars might solve the problem.
The Problem with Jars
I discovered not all acrylic colors come in jars. Of artist’s acrylics that do, jars range from 4 – 16oz sizes. However, acrylics tend to dry out quickly. The frequent opening of jars to remove paint means the tops and inside edges dry out, so nasty lumps form. Perhaps jars commonly found at home could help?
The Problem with Household jars
I knew smaller amounts of acrylic paint could be placed into assorted 2-4 oz jars
So I tried empty containers like these, which were used for the following:
medication (didn’t seal well)
bouillon cubes (too hard to remove the label)
tiny jelly sized canning jars (flat lids stuck fast to the jars)
dark empty yeast jars (dark was no fun)
and face cream jars (a possibility but how many????)
Face Cream Jars presented one problem
The face cream jars seemed useful. They were just the right size for small amounts of paint and sealed well. The wide top made it easy to take paint out and to put back in any unused, uncontaminated amounts. I topped off the paint inside each one before closing with a light water spray at the end of a day’s use. This worked very well. My paint remained fresh. I wasted very little because I could use what I wanted and put the remainder back. However, being an impatient artist I wanted more jars quickly.
Where Oh Where to Find Perfect Jars?
I searched the web for glass jars and found them in 2-4 oz sizes with white screw lids on dickblick.com and bought two. These seemed perfect but they only sold as singles. Amazon.com carried them in boxes of 24 - 2oz clear glass jars with white screw on lids, at a much better price, so I bought those.
When they arrived, I put paint into each and dabbed a bit of the color and labeled the lids for easy identification. The lids sat tightly so my paint never dried out. After each use I wiped the glass rims with a damp paper towel or tissue before tightening down. Every now and then I misted the inside top for added assurance. To refill, remove or return paint to and from jars I used a pallet knife. I haven’t struggled with clogging, squirting or waste.
If I could just figure out how to get that last bit out of the tubes when emptying them……..
I hope this acrylic painting hack helps you.
Perhaps it may have inspired you to solve a different problem you’ve encountered.
Let me know either way. I’d love to hear from you.
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Susie Caron, acrylic artist, creates realistic paintings of pets, animals, and selected scenes. Her love of and experience with many pets and farm animals throughout her life, enables her to capture the unique feeling and expression of each subject. In her commission pet and livestock portraits, Susie also works with each customer to discover and then reveal the personality and special bond between pet and human.
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