Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 12

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What else do you do besides your art?

I love to hike with my dogs. I love to be creative in the kitchen. Entertain. Practice yoga. Play with plants…Listen to beautiful music..Spend time with my daughters and go for scenic drives with my husband.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday's agriculture website: Farm and farmer blog list

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Want to get a little closer to the farms and farmers that produce your food? Want to hear about their daily lives and what it's like to be in their shoes (or boots as the case may be)? Then check out the list of farm and ranch blogs on the Cause Matters blog maintained by Michele Payn-Knoper (@mpaynknoper). The list includes blogs from dairy and beef farmers, wine makers, and grain farmers. Many of these blogs include pictures and videos detailing daily farm and family life.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 11

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What advice to you have for aspiring artists?

Get ready to work really hard but don’t forget that you have to learn to be a good business person as well.

Photo credit: "Rooster painting on wood tray"

Click here to learn about this piece of farm art kitchen decor

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday's art article of interest: HOW TO BUY JEWELRY FOR A GIFT

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With the holidays upon us, I know people are considering buying jewelry for a gift. I am happy to say that a lot of my cow jewelry gets bought for gifts. I wanted to share some of my thoughts and experiences with the blog readers to help them make the best decisions for purchasing jewelry for someone else.

1. Get to know as much about your recipient as possible (discreetly if you can).
  • Does the wearer have any allergies? The one I see most often is to "nickel silver" (which isn't really silver at all).
  • What does your gift recipient normally wear? If she normally only wears earrings, now is not the time to get her a bracelet.
  • Can you find out appropriate sizes of her current jewelry collection? Is there a particular chain length she likes? Find a ruler and measure the length of her pieces in her jewelry box.
  • Does she actually have pierced ears? I've seen people get wire/post earrings for women that they're not even sure have pierced ears!
2. Earrings and necklaces are generally better choices than rings and bracelets if you don't much about your recipient.
  • Earrings and necklaces are generally closer to a "one size fits all" types of pieces. Bracelets and rings require knowing more about the recipient's exact size.
3. What color (if applicable) would the recipient like?
  • People make the mistake of "Well, she always wears blue, so I'm going to get her something red." Wrong! She wears blue because she LIKES blue. It's always a good choice to get someone more of what they like.
4. Is my recipient going to care for her jewelry completely or would something easier to care for be in order?
  • Does your jewelry gift recipient have the time and knowledge on how to care for their jewelry?
  • Can she keep the piece clean and maintained properly? Sterling silver pieces in humid climates (Florida especially!) will tarnish very quickly if not cared for and stored properly.
  • Are you considering an "everyday wear" type piece or is this something that is considered a "special occasion" piece?
5. Always ask the person or store you are buying from what their return and exchange policy is.
  • Can the recipient return or exchange the piece if she doesn't like it? Cow Art and More offers a 7 day return policy and a 30 day exchange policy all the art it sells.
  • Can you get a gift receipt? This is important in cases such as Christmas where the purchaser may be buying the piece several weeks in advance of the holiday.
  • If you have questions or concerns about the returns or exchange policy, always ask!
6. Ask what the warranty is on the jewelry considered for purchase.
  • Ask for instructions on how to care for the piece. I cannot stress how important this is! Unfortunately, I have had to repair several pieces I have made for customers because they weren't careful with wearing and cleaning the piece. If you aren't sure about your piece, have a professional give advice on how to clean and care for your jewelry.
  • Ask for directions on how to return the piece to the artist/store for repair if necessary. Any good store should have the ability to repair your jewelry or recommend you to a reliable person for repair.
What other questions do you have about purchasing jewelry for a gift?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and giving #foodthanks

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As we all sit down to our respective Thanksgiving Dinners today, I wanted to give #foodthanks for a few things.

1. Thank you to all the farmers that work 24/7/365. Farming isn't a job, it's a lifestyle.

2. Thank you to all those who choose to work in a place to allow me to get this food. Whether you're a trucker, grocer, or processor, thank you for helping to bring food to my table.

3. Thank you to the charities and organizations that make sure people around the world can avoid hunger.

4. Thank you to the people who teach others how to use food to their advantage by improving their health and well being.

5. Thank you for those that choose to make preparing food your profession, especially when you're one of my favorite eateries.

6. Thank you for those involved to help me get some of my favorite can't live without foods: any dairy product, coffee, chocolate, wine, fresh herbs, garlic, ripe tomatoes, and a really good filet.

7. Thanks to those who are producing technology to help provide food security for those around the world.

8. Thank you to wineries and Food Network television (and magazine!) for helping me to appreciate the art of food.

9. Thank you to those who lose sleep over keeping our food supply safe.

10. Thank you to the local farmers who sell at farmers' markets. Those relationships are such a wonderful things to have.

What are you giving #foodthanks for today?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 10

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What would you like to do more of in the future?

Large paintings of farms, buildings, trucks and herds of horses, sheep, goats, or cows and beautiful skies.

Picture credit: "Beef cow painting on handmade wooden tray"

Click here to learn more about this unique cow gift

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 9

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Do you ever have goof ups or work you don’t like?

Oh definitely. I just repainted a new painting over an old one that I was not happy with.

Picture credit: Wendy in the back of one of her vintage trucks with her two dogs.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Don't forget to give #foodthanks

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Food doesn’t just happen. It takes an incredible number of caring, thoughtful, hard-working individuals to provide the food for the meals we enjoy every day. From farmer to processor to truck driver to chef to retailer, millions work hard to provide our food.

Those people deserve our thanks, especially during the Thanksgiving holiday. Please remember to give #foodthanks this week on your blog, facebook pages, and twitter, especially on Wednesday, November 24.

I want to take the opportunity to personally thank each and every person for helping to provide the food myself and my family will consume for our Thanksgiving meal. I know there are a lot of hands involved and my thanks go to every one of you. Thank you for providing a safe, affordable, nutritious product. I am also proud of the small role I play in helping to bring food to the table of many families. It makes me proud to say that I help farmers take care of their animals so they can feed people.

Regardless of who produced your food or how it got to you, I hope we can agree that they all deserve our thanks. As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal this week, please remember to give #foodthanks.

P.S. For those of you on twitter, #foodthanks is the hashtag to express your gratitude there as well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 8

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How long does it take you to get an average creation?

A couple of weeks. I get the main composition down in a few days…I need to leave it alone for few days and then I come back and work on it some more till I am satisfied.

Picture credit: "3 in a row"

Click here to learn about this vintage truck painting

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's art article of interest: Cleaning Sterling Silver with Baking Soda

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While sterling silver jewelry is beautiful to look at and affordable to have, unfortunately it will eventually tarnish. My first choice for cleaning jewelry, is to use the Sunshine polishing cloths. They work on a variety of metals and can last a very long time if stored in an air tight bag. However, the cloths sometimes can't get into crevices or hard to reach places and a Plan B is needed. This is a short, four minute video showing how to clean silver jewelry using aluminum foil and baking soda for such times. (As a personal note on this video, I have never used this technique on silver plated pieces, only pure sterling silver. It also works great on cleaning silver flatware and tea services.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 7

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How did you get interested in creating art of farm animals?

I am in love with the rural landscape. Farms fascinate me. The machinery intrigues me. The animals make me smile and lend a humorous vibe to the whole scene.

Picture credit: "Heel that Tractor"

Click here to learn more about this vintage tractor painting

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The inner workings of the office at Cow Art and More

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Just who runs this place anyway?

The office is run by me, Kathy McComb Swift, veterinarian and jewelry artist. I have a small commercial space to conduct some business, but mostly work from the dedicated office in my home since I usually have small children to tend to as well. I have two part time assistants with varied hours who help with taking orders, making deliveries and preparing company mailings. One of them may answer the phone when you call, but more than likely, I will be the one on the other end of the phone. Since I'm also a large animal veterinarian and mom, there are times when no one is available in the office to take phone calls and customers may have to leave a message for a return call.

One of my mantras for this business is to treat customers like how I want to be treated. For that reason, I will return phone messages and emails outside of normal business hours and am happy to speak with customers over the phone nights and weekends. I encourage patrons to call with any specific questions they may have, whether it be about the availability of a piece of art, art care instructions, or even the combined shipping cost possibilities. While I like to be able to offer many of the conveniences of large shopping chain stores, I also like providing the "high touch" aspect of customers being able to speak with someone knowledgeable and understanding of their needs, problems and concerns.

I also have a short video on the office at Cow Art and More so you can get a feel for what it's like here in the office.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 6

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How do you decide what to paint?

When I see something that inspires me it just hits me…something clicks inside my heart and I instantaneously see the painting in my head…

Picture credit: Wendy's art booth at a recent art show

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday's agriculture website: Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

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The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) is today's website of interest to share with readers. ASAP helps to create and expand local food markets as a way to preserve local agricultural heritage, give everyone access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food, and a way to support local farmers. The mission of the organization is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food.

The organization takes an all inclusive approach to food and farms. In addition to promoting farmers' markets, it has a cookbook, organizes farm tours and provides nutritional education to school children. The website also provides a multitude of gardening ideas for children, in additional to kid friendly recipes and and children's literature.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 5

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Where did you learn your technique?

I was an art major in college. I majored in graphic design and studio art. Then later on, I took faux finishing classes. My paintings are a combination of these three influences. I combined what I learned from each one and created my own style.

Picture credit: "Wood serving tray with cow painting"

Click here to learn more about this piece of cow art

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Centerpieces

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Need some ideas on decorating your Thanksgiving Day table? Enjoy this 4 minute video that gives you centerpiece ideas and just how to fold napkins into fancy designs.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 4

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What is your technique?

My technique starts off with observation of the rural views around me. I look for farms, old trucks, animals, and vintage buildings. Then, I photograph the subject when the light is falling on it just right…when the shadows describe the shape and dimensions. Then I come home, print out my pictures, and start drawing. Sometimes I combine elements from the different scenes that I have found. So I kind of create a puzzle for myself to solve. Then I lay down a colored wash and draw out the images with a watered down sienna color. Then I start painting in the darks and the lights in acrylics, using glazes and layers of colors…

Picture Credit: "Big Black Chevy", acrylic on canvas

Click here to learn more about this vintage truck painting

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Learn photography from Kent Weakley

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Cow Art and More photographer Kent Weakley will be starting a Night Photography eClass beginning on November 13, 2010. This class is held online with a mix of photo examples, graphics, text, videos, interaction, student photo critiques. You work at your own pace.

Take your photography skills to the next level. As Kent states, "I wish I had this class when I started to learn the camera." The topic is all about night photography, however Kent will be covering camera techniques and skills that you will use every day in all forms of photography.

Photo credit: "Purpose Served", infrared camera image printed as an archival giclee

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 3

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Why do you paint/do art?

I paint because nothing makes me happier. It calms me when I am anxious and I am still fascinated by the magic of what comes out of my paintbrush.

Picture credit: Jars of paintbrushes wait for use in Wendy's art studio.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday's agriculture website: North American International Livestock Exposition

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Monday's agriculture themed website to share with readers is for the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE). The event goes on every fall in November and is currently running through November 19. Louisville, Kentucky, is the home for the NAILE, which is the world's largest all-breed, purebred livestock exposition. Ten different species of livestock compete in the exposition, and the purebred beef and sheep events are the largest in the world. It is also the site of the National Jersey dairy cattle show. Accompanying the event, the North American Quarter Horse Show is among the top five shows in the nation and the North American Championship Rodeo features the invitational finals for the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 2

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Where do you get your inspiration?

I am inspired by the natural world around me here in Montana. I am blessed to live in a place of beautiful light and spaciousness. I also am inspired by many of the artists around me and on the internet.

Picture credit: Wendy posing with one of her vintage truck painting subjects.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday's art article : (Video) How to Pick a Mat for Picture Framing

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You've got a piece of art selected and bought. Next is finding the perfect mat. Help! This is a short, two minute video showing examples of 4 different types of matting options for the same art print.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Q & A with Wendy Marquis Part 1

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How did you get started?

I got started by being born into a family where I was exposed to wonderful art. My mother was a gallery owner and an artist. Our house was filled with a variety of art from pottery to lithographs to paintings. In art class in middle school, I remember how intrigued I was with every project we did. My art teacher encouraged me which make me very happy as a child.

Picture credit: Wendy standing next to a collection of her paintings in her studio

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jewelry charm sales to support youth program

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Cow Art and More is once again partnering with the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) to fundraise for the Jersey youth program. The charm replica of the traditional Jersey jug, created by me (Kathy McComb Swift), will be available for purchase at the All American Jersey show and sale in Louisville, Kentucky, November 6 and 7. Cow Art and More will donate 15 percent of the selling price to AJCA to help support future Jersey milk producers through youth scholarships. This same percentage will also apply to any purchases made through the Cow Art and More website.

I am excited the project was enough a success last year to do it again this year. The future of agriculture is with our community's young people. I am honored and proud to help.

The charm is available for purchase in the jewelry section of the Cow Art and More catalog or by calling the toll free customer care number, 888-613-6019.

Picture credit: sterling silver Jersey jug milk can charm

Click here to go to Cow Art and More to learn more about this piece of cow jewelry

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November featured artist

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Acrylic painter Wendy Marquis is featured this month on Cow Art and More. Wendy's decision to relocate to Montana a few years ago allowed her to focus painting her favorite subjects: antique vehicles and the rustic countryside. As Wendy explains, "I invite people to savor the distinct time and place that my trucks evoke…a romantic, simpler time of unspoiled landscapes that so many of us long for and long to hold on to."

View the entire collection of Wendy's paintings and mixed media pieces in our specials section. Purchase of her art during November and receive free shipping.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Masterpiece in the Making – All the Colors of the Countryside

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Traditionally on Mondays, I share an agricultural website of interest. Today, I am posting an article written for the Cow Art and More blog Michelle Payn-Knoper (@mpaynknoper). Michelle is a speaking professional who works to motivate people within the agriculture community to connect with consumers. She blogs about her passion for agriculture at causematters.com.

Crayons, markers, pencils, clay, paper, chalk, beads and paints don’t stand a chance in our house. Our resident “Little Artist” (L.A.) dreams up creations not seen in the adult world. I shouldn't be surprised, given the fond memories I have of drawing and writing books in elementary school. But I do have to say that LA. takes imagination to a whole new level.

L.A. is inspired by animals and has discovered the beauty of nature. Horses are a favorite, much to the chagrin of Holstein breeder dad and mom. Cats and dogs are right behind – along with birds, plants, rainbows and insects. We take great pride in L.A.’s love of our rural world; it’s something we hope will be a foundation for life.

Our rural countryside doesn’t just provide inspiration for art - it provides lessons for life. Lessons that those animals we cherish in real life or in art are meant to live and die to give us food. Lessons that work ethic, honesty and dealing fairly with others bring great rewards. Lessons about perseverance and balance when given a load that seems too heavy to carry.

The lessons that are taught on a farm are irreplaceable. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer children are exposed to that as we see people 4-5 generations removed from the farm. Frankly, that scares me because I’ve seen the consequences of a society detached from where their food is produced.

L.A.’s friends’ attraction to the barn gives me hope; their favorite activities are learning about animals, playing for hours in the haymow and going on nature walks by our fence row. I only wish those activities would still be favorites when they’re 16! That likely won’t be the case, but I do hope they remember their times on the farm and that those pretty black and white cows are where milk comes from – not to mention cheese, ice cream and yogurt.

As an art community, I’d encourage you to get to know some of the beauty behind the animals and barns. If only more people would stop to reflect on the purpose of our farm animals and meaning of our countryside, we'd have a more realistic connection to food.

Farms are not just a pastoral scene, but also the home of people who produce our food. Farms are still tended by families, even when red wood barns have turned to white metal buildings and GPS auto-steer tractors have replaced antiques. Our countryside continues to change, just as we see progress in computers, schools and doctor’s offices.

L.A. reminds me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe today’s modern family farms offer just as much beauty as those from Charlotte’s web. The beauty is in watching farmers tend to animals and land with great care – and appreciating the sacrifice involved to make food. Beauty can also be found in the consistent family values handed down through generations. Beauty is in the entrepreneurial creativity that it takes to make a farm work today. Beauty is in watching the next generation find their way…

There’s no telling if L.A. will find a way in agriculture, just as there’s no way of knowing where that wild imagination will lead. As a mom, I’ll encourage both. But at the end of the day, I know this is a masterpiece in the making - and we’re going to do everything we can to add as many colors of the countryside as possible. Are you doing the same with your masterpiece?
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