Olney Gallery preview


Mean Rooster, 24 x 30 in, acrylic palette knife painting


One of four more cartoony paintings over vintage sheet music, on panels, sizes range from about 8 x 11 to 18 x 12 in.


24 x 18 in., acrylic over vintage sheet music. On panel.


Signs of Life (in the Giant Bird Forest), Acrylic on panel, 60 x 30 in.


Swear Jar, acrylic on canvas, palette knife painting, 36 x 48 in.

A few of the pieces I’ll be showing in Sept at Olney Gallery in Phoenix. All of these shown are new, as are a number of the others. I’ll also be taking a few I did earlier, though not all of those had been shown. There will be a few small pieces down to about 5×7’s and 6×6’s, as well as the medium and large works. Olney is a very large gallery space, enough wall space that this 2 person show means it’s still the same amount of work as a solo show! I am taking around 35 pieces and it probably won’t all fit,but I wanted to be sure I had a good variety of sizes/prices for the gallery to choose from when placing things.


Two shows in Sept!


This huge gallery means Carlos and I will both have a lot of work on the walls!

ABSTRACT TO ABSURD, (2-person show)

Click to see Olney Gallery info!

Carlos Rausch started painting later in life and has been a musician for decades. He does interesting abstracts that I have so far only seen a few images of but they look really cool. I met Carlos a few months ago when the gallery met with all this season’s artists.

I’ll have quite a bit of new work at Olney. One is a 60 x 30 inch painting of birds in a forest, one of the largest and most detailed pieces I’ve done. Most of my large works are palette knife paintings, but “Signs of Life (in the Giant Bird Forest)” is not; it’s quite detailed brush work. I will have some palette knife pieces, too and some smaller ones as well.


“Baby,” the piece that started it all, for this series, is the show ad poster chicken.


Later in Sept I’ll have a solo show at 9 The Gallery of all animal art, at least partially a look into what made me decide to give up animal products a few years ago. The feature piece of that show may end up being “Chicken Pajama Party,” (title not in stone yet, still thinking). Though it has little to do with veganism it does place chickens in a human scenario and hopefully it’ll make people rethink that chicken dinner.

Thank you to some very generous people for inspiration for Fatal Farm! Tamara Kenneally Photography for allowing me to refer to her beautiful photos of animals and for inspiring me to finally ‘go vegan’, and the people at the company, Fatal Farm, who are allowing me to use the phrase to title this show!

Sneak Peeks at Sept shows’ work


A sculpted giblet of some kind, drying before being put on a larger more detailed sculpture.

The gross little meat characters are parts of a larger sculpture for Fatal Farm, a show about my view of animals, that is slated to open Sept. 16, 2016, at {9} The Gallery in Phoenix.


Looks like torture, but it’s a sculpted tiny hot dog which will be part of a larger sculpture.

All the giblets shown and this hot dot are made of an air dry clay called Paperclay. Sometimes I use paper mache powder, strips of cloth soaked in acrylic medium, and of course armatures if necessary, (like empty containers etc). There seems to be two products called “paperclay” or “paper clay.” The one pictured is the only one of the two I have used. I buy it at craft or art stores. It’s entirely air dry and supposedly non toxic. You can mix things into it like paint, acrylic medium, inclusions, etc. It feels a lot like ceramic clay with no grit, to work it.


Paperclay, a product I always like to have on hand! The feet of a sculpture are drying here, waiting for more work. The base of the sculpture is vintage booklets and cookbooks about things like ‘sweetbreads’ and lard. Yum.


Another giblet, being shaped so it can ride the big creature I made earlier this year. This sculpture has a lot of detail going on on the base, little sicko meat sculptures, mostly.

The section of a larger painting below hasn’t got a for-sure title yet but I’ve been calling it Chicken Pajama Party in my head, so far. This is a small detail area. The whole painting is 48 x 36 wide, and there’s a lot going on in it. For reference I drew heavily on my own memories as a teenager in the 60’s-70’s. Never really did a lot of slumber parties as a girl, but apparently those I did left a lasting impression. Now, chickens are reenacting it all. I pixelated the book so you can’t see yet what they’re looking at. If you babysat or went to slumber parties as a teen, and the parents weren’t home, you can probably guess at least the genre of the book if not the title. Chicken Slumber Party, or whatever I decide to call it by September, will be in the Fatal Farm show, too.


Can you guess what book these chickens are absorbed in?

The detail shot below is from a piece for Olney Gallery, in Phoenix, which opens September 2.

One of the largest paintings I’ve done in a long time is 60 x 30 inches on a panel my husband built for me. We figured out pretty much the largest panel that would fit in the car and that’s what he made. Here’s a detail shot from it. Even with satin varnish I’m having a hard time getting non glare shots. Getting a decent shot of the whole thing is proving even more challenging. If I was still doing reprints I might spring for a professional scan like I have done with some big paintings in the past.


Wheelbug detail of large forest painting.

The wheelbug holds special fascination for me. We lived in Oklahoma for a few years, and that first year I discovered many critters I wasn’t familiar with either from Arizona or other states we’ve lived in. One day in my garden I discovered this steampunk looking insect that was about 2 inches long. It had a distinctive half-wheel appendage on it’s back with what looked like teeth of a gear. It didn’t take long to find it online just using that description! (Arilus cristatus): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_bug

They’re related to assassin bugs, and they can deliver a painful sting. Before I knew they had venom, I gently played with it. I was lucky. After I read that they ate other bugs I presented it with one of the fat caterpillars that was eating our garden. Gross! But fascinating! Anyway, I’ve sketched them as a mindless doodle almost like I do chickens, ever since. It was time one showed up in a painting. There are mostly birds in the rest of this painting. This piece is also untitled so far. At first the title was Signs of Life. But the birds are kind of giants so I was thinking of working the word Giant in the title somehow.

Thank you to the folks at FatalFarm.com who generously allowed me to title my animal art show at 9 Gallery with the same phrase!

What to call it? [UPDATED! Solved!]


The link to Tamara’s site is: http://www.tamarakenneallyphotography.com/

[Update! The company, Fatal Farm, gave me permission to use the phrase for my show! So nice of them, thank you Fatal Farm! http://www.fatalfarm.com/  ]

My show about animals has no title! I found there are other entities using the term I was mulling, and though it probably wouldn’t create any confusion with those entities and it doesn’t appear to have been registered as anyone’s trademark (yet), I don’t want to use the phrase anymore. If you have any suggestions let me know in the comments! Think pets and farm animals, vegan, factory farming, how we view animals, how they view us…these are themes in the show; now I just need a great title for it ASAP.

The painting below on the table is for it, one of the gentler ones, just fun. The one on the easel is for a different show that doesn’t need a title!


Two big paintings with a lot of detail, getting closer and closer to done!


Storm to the North.

Progress shot today, and pretty, dramatic sky. The light suddenly faded and I wondered if it was later than I thought. No, it was a small but intense rain storm headed our way. It got almost dark as night! Some parts of the valley did get over 2 inches of rain in a very short time. It’s still not where we are, not sure we’ll get as much out of it except darkness.

Just today, a friend on Facebook shared this article, about ‘copying,’ and it’s a good read. The infringement problem has just exploded in recent years and is bleeding some artists dry. http://elihalpin.com/blogs/eli-halpin-blog/do-not-copy-art-without-permission

Surface prep, laying out a composition, show update


Work in Progress, 48 x 36 inches, © Cindy Schnackel, 2016

Today, I took four large canvases and four small & medium sized panels outside to prepare for painting. While I was working on the others, the first big canvas was drying so that I could start to lay out the painting shown in progress in this photo. (I won’t tell you what it’s going to be, you’ll have to wait until it’s done and I and the gallery it’ll be in start to promote the show this September.)


Sealing wood panels

Most panels need to be gone over lightly with sandpaper, wiped clean of sanding dust, and sealed. Our hot dry air makes things dry SUPER fast, so sealing requires working fast, resisting the temptation to brush back into it, and usually watering down the medium. If it’s cool and humid where you’re working, it may not need to be thinned at all.

I sand off any sharp edges, splinters, etc. It only takes a few seconds because most store bought artist panels are pretty nicely made.

One panel manufacturer, Ampersand, recommended Golden’s GAC as a sealer. (I only use acrylic paints; if you use oils, you may need a different product.) The panels were wood and masonite/hardboard type. I seal them with a large flat soft brush and Golden’s GAC100 or GAC 200 which are both multi purpose acrylic mediums that make good sealers. You can roll it on, and if your roller makes bubbles, have a damp, wide, soft brush handy to lightly flatten them before the GAC starts to dry. Once you find a roller type that works good for you, you’ll be able to avoid most unwanted textures etc, from rolling, like bubbles.

GAC 100 is more flexible, seems like the brush strokes float out better, but it is a bit tacky like acrylic paint when dry. Eventually it does seem to lose the tacky feel but can take weeks. GAC 200 is only recommended for rigid surfaces; it dries fast and without tackiness. I can, and did, get along with just 100. But now that I’ve had 200, I have found uses for it that will keep me buying both.

I find that most mediums like GAC can be thinned with a little water so the brush strokes float out and it doesn’t dry quite so fast. But, because water can raise wood grain, I may save the thinned coat for last.  If necessary, I sand lightly between coats. The first coat is most likely to ‘pull’ at the brush. Subsequent coats go more smoothly and level out nice.

Preparing Canvases

Eventually, I’m going to get around to stretching raw canvas on some stretcher bars I have, but this is about store bought, ‘ready to use’ canvases. They ARE ready to use, especially with acrylics, but many artists–like me–prefer to add a second gesso coat of their own.

The manufacturer’s gesso IMO still leaves them too rough and absorbent, too textural, for any of my detailed work. So, unless I’m going to do a palette knife painting right away, or am doing something where that canvas texture is really wanted, I put another coat of thinned gesso on them. Since I don’t need that coat to be all that opaque I may mix in some acrylic medium. Acrylic medium alone makes a good second coat if all you want is a smoother surface. I have used fluid matte medium, too. Whatever I have that gets the job done! The brushes don’t drag so much or leave ‘holidays’ when I give it a second coat before starting a new painting. ‘Holidays’ are those annoying little areas that the brush skipped and left white.

I usually brush on the gesso, but sometimes I roll it. I actually don’t mind the subtle ‘orange peel’ texture of some rollers. Like with sealing panels, even if you roll, you might want to have a wet brush handy to smooth out anything that needs it or even add an all over brushy texture. I tend to start in the middle with a big puddle and spread it out quickly to the edges. Look at it at an angle to see the light shining off the surface, to see where you’ve been, any missed spots or drips.

Acrylic gesso comes in white, black, clear, tinted, and even gold! You can tint it yourself with a little acrylic paint. Makes it easier to see where you’ve been, plus it can be nice to start a painting that’s already on a toned ground, as that can be part of your background color. I’ve used white, black, and clear gessos. Clear is kind of gritty and you can draw on it, and even layer drawn with painted elements.

Some brands of gesso are thin enough to just use out of the jar. Others are almost like paste, and unless you need paste, thin it out a bit with water. People have preferences for brands, due to how toothy or smooth they are.

There are even sandable versions.

Here’s how I laid out the painting. I’d like to hear how you lay out your paintings, too.

There was some dark blue thin acrylic glaze from a previous painting, that needed to be used up before it dried up. Using that and a large-ish round brush, I just started drawing the scene I vaguely had in mind. More ideas came up as it progressed. A wet rag was a handy eraser, for any unwanted lines. I don’t usually plan things much, but this ‘draw and erase’ method helps me invent as I go along until I get the main composition roughed in. The paint marks are kept smooth, so any wish to change things later is easily accomplished.

After roughing in the characters and main objects, I grabbed some ready mixed Liquitex pastel colors (soft body, comes in jars). These are great for when you know you just want a color as a main background, a real time saver, and it’s nice paint. Portrait pink and a sort of lavender blue. Then I used some yellow ochre (Golden paint co.) as well. These blocked in color areas as well as making some of the pink background warmer or cooler depending on where the light will be. The paint is still pretty thinned down to keep it smooth.

I was thinking as I went, about whether a character should be dark or light, to stand out against whatever was behind. But, a lot of things could change before it’s done. Even dark areas are not hard to cover up with a good brand of titanium white, and sometimes I will even carefully gesso over some part that I want white again. For that I would use pure gesso for maximum opacity.

Despite the heat, (110-ish these days), this is messy work that has to be done outside, but at least it’s mindless and quick. I had a big glass of ice water out there which helps!

Canvas or Panel–Which do you prefer?

Canvases have the advantage of being lighter weight and less expensive. When they’re done I like them just fine. But my preference, if I could always have my way in the universe, would be to usually work on rigid panels. I just like the way they feel. It’s an entirely personal thing; some people hate panels and prefer canvas.

A compromise is canvas panels. I like Centurion linen canvas panels, and have used some nice cotton ones, too, but only use them in small sizes. When I work larger, I prefer ‘cradled’ panels and canvases with deep edges so I don’t need to frame them. Canvas panels as far as I know only come as just the panel, no cradled edges.

You can adhere canvas/fabric, and even paper to panels but it’s not the most fun thing to do, working out the wrinkles, etc, so it’s a step I’d rather pass on, and just get surfaces that are what I want in the first place, (as much as possible). I find panels preferable over canvas for collage.

A note about my Fall 2016 shows!

The reception date for Olney Gallery is still Friday, Sept. 2nd. It will be there most of the month.

The reception at {9} The Gallery, which I’ve titled Fatal Farm, is now likely to open Friday, Sept. 16th. It had been penciled in as October but is now Sept.

I’ll be posting news about these shows when I know more and when the galleries start promoting them. Just wanted to let you know about the schedule change. Whew! I will be soooo ready for a break after September!

Feather Brush, and Art Knockoffs on Amazon

When I worked as a theater set painter and faux finish artist, we used feather dusters for special effects. I wanted to use our cockatiels’ naturally moulted (shed) feathers to make a similar brush. They get new feathers every year, going thru several small moults between spring and fall so they’re never bald, LOL! Not sure if they replace EVERY feather on their body annually, but when I vacuum it seems like it! I’ve saved some of their feathers for a couple of years now.  The small pile of fine yellow and gray crest feathers are the most rare of those I save since many accidentally get vacuumed up before they’re noticed. I have not done anything with the crest feathers yet, but I made two paint brushes out of some of the bigger, stiff ones their wings and tails, and a medium sized feather that is softer but still has spring to it.


Courtesy of our cockatiel companions, naturally moulted feathers saved up to make paint brushes.

Even though our birds lost these feathers naturally, it was still just a little creepy seeing them all laying on the table like that, like some horrific predatory aftermath…gah!

Experimented with them a little and think I need to make some looser, softer versions, as these are both quite stiff, but am sure I’ll find a use for them as soon as I get used to the type of marks they make. I have plenty of leftover feathers to experiment with.




Many artists I know thru online groups, etc, are sending dozens, even hundreds, of DMCA takedowns per week, to Amazon alone, for infringements of their work. Difficulty getting Amazon to respond to valid takedowns makes the chore even more time consuming.

The issue is so bad it has been getting some press lately, like these articles from CNBC and Plagiarism Today:

Amazon counterfeiters wreak havoc on artists and small businesses

Amazon Has a Serious Copyright Problem

Painting and Gardening in 100+ degree weather

Work in Progress, for a show at Olney Gallery in September. 


Large panel painting in progress

I finally committed to the idea I had for this large panel, but by the time I did, it was well over 100 every day. This past weekend it was around 114! Normally I don’t paint outside unless it’s under 90 because the paint just dries too fast and I wilt in extreme heat anyway. But, this needed to be done by late August and there’s almost no chance it’ll be good outdoor painting weather again before Oct.

So, when it “cooled off” to 106 today, I was out there spattering, glazing, dripping and slinging paint. I had a water spray bottle in one hand, which helped keep the paint wet long enough to get the runny effects. The paint dries instantly in this heat. The panel itself heated up so it was a little like painting on a frying pan. Artists who use oils and spray paints seem to take advantage of that. For acrylics it can be a real drawback but one just has to work with it, or wait for better days!


Cooled off to 106 today, ran outside to paint before it passes.

I LOVE spattering and dripping. We did a lot of it painting theater sets and other large scale things. It was like being given permission to make a big mess, plus the effects are fun. Because it’s all so random and you have to work fast, it’s a great loosening-up exercise. Happy accidents happen, and give rise to more ideas.

This painting will almost certainly have birds in it, but you never know what life of its own it’ll take on. Tomorrow morning I’ll be out there again. We’ll see where it goes.

Flowers that survived the 114 degree weekend




Red sunflower, about 6 ft tall, the back is mostly yellow but the fronts are red!


Dwarf zinnia mix


Sweet potato flower

Technically, the sweet potato flower did not really survive the 114 degree weekend, because it seemed to have stopped flowering just before that. I moved it to the shade because the plant looked like it was struggling in even morning sun right now.

This is an actual sweet potato, not the ornamental kinds you buy for the foliage.

I had bought some sweet potatoes at the grocery store, forgot to cook them, and they started to sprout leaves right in the paper bag they came in. I continued to ignore them and they got to be a nice houseplant, LOL, but I was concerned they would die if I didn’t get them in soil soon. This was in winter here, maybe Jan or Feb. So I took it outside and put the bag and all into a pot and dumped potting soil into it and watered it good. It continued to grow into a lush plant, only getting a little damage from frost.

When it got hot this spring, it began to flower! Being related to morning glories, the flower resembles them. I can’t seem to capture the full beauty of the bloom, but they’re mostly white with a lavender and purple tone as it goes deeper inside. Luminous is how I’d describe them. They’re not quite as big of a flower as morning glories and they tend to hide under the foliage.

I’m told this is really rare for them to flower and that I should try to save any seed it makes. So far I can’t even locate a seed head. It may be that the heat, or lack of pollinators, prevented pollination and it may not even have seed as a result. If it does make seed, info I read said they’re rather rare and valuable to gardeners because that’s the only way to get genetic diversity in them. Most of them are propagated by roots because of how difficult it is to get seed. I wonder if the fact it was in such a crowded pot made it flower. Sometimes ‘stress’ makes a plant flower, and go to seed. High heat is one of the things that can do that with some plants you don’t generally want to go to seed, too, like lettuce. Some herbs and greens are “slow bolt” varieties that give you a little longer time to cut greens before they bolt and die. In all my reading up on the sweet potato I don’t recall if the vine is perennial. Seems like it would be; guess we’ll find out!