Painting Kittens

© 2015 Cindy Schnackel Detail from painting in progress

Detail from painting in progress, Cindy Schnackel


Today, I was painting kittens in a commissioned painting. I really like the way this one’s coming out. ;)


I sold several small pieces last Friday! Have been editing my inventory list and sites to reflect that they’re sold, and/or remove them from the list of available pieces. Two were going to an apartment in Chicago, not sure where the rest will end up.

Showing Friday Aug 7!

This Friday, I’ll be taking a number of small paintings to a one night show at {9} The Gallery. This is a group show, including Kyllan Maney, Brenda Edwards, Aileen Frick, Geoffrey Gersten Eric Babcock and more.

It’s a studio sale, and I’m taking pieces that are from as far back as 2010, and as recent as this year, most of which have never been out of the house, but tucked away somewhere taking up space! All are ready to hang, many are in frames and if they’re not they have deep edges. Most are paintings, but there will be a few drawings, too. Sizes range from around 6 x 6 inches to 10 x 10 inches for paintings, up to about 20 x 20-ish for the ‘house’ frame one. One or two drawings are smaller than 6 x 6. Prices will range from $25 for the smallest drawing, up to $150 for the largest, the house frame piece. Some of the pieces have been discounted just for this event.

Opens 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7, 2015

1229 Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ

See gallery’s Public Facebook Page: for more info.

See my inventory & price list:

As you can see from my price list, some of the pieces will be reduced a little for this one-night sale. The discounted price applies to purchases made in person at the gallery during the event.

If you’re in Phoenix for this First Friday, hope to see you over on Grand Avenue! Thanks!

Recent Sketches; What’s New (July 2015)

Stonepaper Mammal Sketch, © 2015 Cindy Schnackel drawing area approx 5 x 7 in.

Stonepaper Mammal Sketch, approx 5 x 7 in.

Above is one of my countless ‘mammal’ sketches, that began a few months ago with an Inktense water soluble colored pencil. I added ball point pen and other inks and some colored pencil to finish it off. The sketch is on a lined notebook of ‘stonepaper,’ which is made from minerals not wood pulp. It’s similar to Yupon synthetic paper in that it’s less absorbent. Interesting paper especially if you like to use washes. Pens etc, flow on it really nice. I’ve got a couple sheets of it with ink drawings hanging outside in the sun now, to see how it holds up to that.

Copyright, 2015 Cindy Schnackel Fish sketch approx 5 x 7 in.

Fish sketch, ink on paper, approx. 5×7 in.

This is on regular cream colored drawing paper, mostly ink, a little colored pencil. I was testing some of the same pens with water, to see how they behaved differently on different papers.


Looks like I might be showing over on Grand Ave again, soon! It’s all rather unsolidified yet, so I will post details when I know more. If it happens as I think it will, I’ll be offering a lot of small affordable pieces.

The series I got the idea for several months ago is starting to gain momentum. It took me awhile to figure out the right direction, gather some materials, and get rolling, but I’ve got 3 pieces done now, and a 4th underway that is sculptural.

This week I hope to finish a commission I just started really working on, once past the preliminary sketch stage.

So, I had things in various states of completion and dryness sitting all over today, many outside where the 100+ temps dry things really fast.

Mrs. Ferguson


Recent sketch of Fergie from one of my old photos.

Last year I committed to commissioning Jenny at The Pet Chicken Ranch to make an art doll of Ferguson, my most favorite chicken of all time. Jenny’s work is meticulously hand done, takes a lot of time, and is very popular, so I have been on a waiting list and my number’s coming up!

So that Jenny could know as much as possible about her, I rounded up all the old photos of her. Most were so faded they were not of much use.  I set out to sketch her from my photos, and fill in the blanks with memory. The above sketch is mostly ink, (both fine tipped black pen and wide brush tipped markers), and some colored pencil. I was working on getting just the right colors. Also, I want the sketches I send Jenny to capture the hen’s perky, confident stance and character. While I’m not expecting an exact replica by any means, I want to provide all the data I can, as Fergie has long ago passed into the great pasture in the sky, so I can’t provide any new photos. It’s fun when some of Jenny’s customers show their pet chicken alongside the doll portrait! Jenny always captures the persona and look of the birds!

Back in the 70s and 80s, I had a tiny flock of fowl, all beloved and special, but as always there are favorites. I called her Fergie for short, but her whole name was Mrs. Ferguson, because when I first got her as an itty bitty newborn chick, she had a topknot and face that made her look just like an elementary school teacher I had by the same name.

Someone gave me Fergie. I hadn’t gone out to buy a chick. I was at a home where a girl my age was teaching me to ride horses, and this tiny chick ran by, alone. A man grabbed the chick and just gave it to me, saying it would likely not survive there anyway. I gleefully, accepted! Chickens from Heaven!

When I brought her by my parents urban house to show them, an aunt was visiting and proclaimed, “It’s gonna DIE!” Newborn Fergie was so tiny, and seemingly frail, but I’d had a penchant for bringing home runts as a kid, and they always seemed to grow into perfectly healthy animals. So I had faith in Fergie, and she did indeed live and grow into a beautiful and cocky little bantam silkie hen. I suspect she was only part silkie, but she mostly had silkie features. Black comb and skin, fur-like feathers, dark eyes and beek, feathered feet, and a crest like a little angora pom pom. She was a soft warm shade of off white plus quite a bit of fluffy charcoal gray. A few of her feathers weren’t quite all silkie, but they weren’t ‘hard’ like normal breeds, either. I figured somewhere in her lineage was some tiny bantam breed, maybe a spangled something or other by the markings some of her soft feathers bore. But mostly she was silkie.

Fergie was smart, and affectionate. Even if I’d had no previous experience with poultry to tell me they could be that way, she would’ve melted my heart. She loved attention, didn’t care a lot for other chickens, and would run to me to be scooped up, held and petted. She would sit in my lap and stretch out her neck to be petted, closing her eyes and trilling in contentment. She did make friends with my turkey, Dodo, possibly for the protection Dodo gave her from other chickens. Dodo seemed to enjoy Fergie’s company, too. Dodo and all of the birds were quite tame and affectionate. Fergie just seemed more so.

Though she wasn’t a layer breed she did lay eggs pretty often. They were tiny off white eggs. She was protective of them for a little while but never really got broody. I’m not sure Fergie really wanted more chickens, or even thought of herself as a chicken. In any case, the eggs weren’t fertile as I had no rooster. She once attacked a garden hose when I moved it near her nest box. She must have thought it was a snake. As tiny as she was, she could be fierce. She also liked to beat up my shoes, it was a favorite game.

Fergie lived about 10 years if I recall right. I think she might have lived longer had I known she had picked up a parasite. By the time the vet found out what it was, she was too old to survive being dewormed. He said if we didn’t put her to sleep she’d die a lingering and horrid death. Now, there are safer wormers for birds, but this was back in the early 80s and no doubt the vet wasn’t an avian specialist, something that’s more common nowadays. So, with much regret and sadness, I had to have Fergie put to sleep. As with other favorite pets, I don’t think I ever really get over their deaths. I’ve had and loved many animals in my more than half a century of living, but a few stick out and their memory never fades, and I still think “what if.” What if they were still with us?

When the doll is done, I’ll post a pic of it, and will probably post more about it on my Found a Chicken blog. I’ve been wanting to do a feature on Jenny, so that will be the perfect time to do so.


Jenny’s Pet Chicken Ranch:



My other blog:

Found A Chicken:


And I have not forgotten my other art! Today I was pasting pages of an old cookbook to a panel, to get it ready to be background for an anti-factory farming piece. I’ve been researching possums for a commission, and sketching them in unnatural and imaginary situations. I’m taking a break from ceramics for the summer, so we can spend more evenings in the pool instead of in a classroom until it starts to cool down. But, I have a package of air dry clay, and a number of found objects and saved cardboard tubes, etc, in case I get the urge to sculpt. I even still have a few thrift store pieces that never got altered in time for my show in March, that I might still get to. My main goal for the summer though is to do the commission and get a start on the factory farm series. I hope that the series will be ready to show as a group somewhere in about a year.

Summer so far, and a new site


Backyard fauna that seems to thrive in the heat.

We had an unusually pleasant early summer that quickly turned to record breaking heat in mid June! Despite the heat, there was an enormous turnout for a show I was in this month, She Deck, in Beatrice Moore’s Frontal Lobe space. The show was put on by {9} The Gallery, owned by Laura Dragon, who had THREE shows opening that night on Grand Avenue in Phoenix. My piece, “Off Road,” sold opening night! :)

I recently joined Women Artists of the World’s website. I had been scrapping some sites I wasn’t getting enough out of, and stopped selling on Redbubble this year, (though I still keep an acct there). It was time to look for some new ground.

SHE-DECK art show in June! [Edited June 21st]


Off Road, acrylic on old skateboard deck, 32 x 6 inches, $300

“Off Road” will be available at the opening of the show, She Deck, June 19. Contact the gallery for purchase. [Edited: this sold on opening night, thank you, buyer!]

The show will be held at the Frontal Lobe gallery space, 1301 Grand Ave., Ste. B, Phoenix AZ. I’ll post updates if there are any!

{9}The Gallery:

Economizing on Art Supplies?

Whether you want to make your money go further, or you are into recycling, what are your methods of stretching your art material dollars?

Below are some of mine:

Sales and use coupons. Obvious, but if you’re not a natural born shopper, (I’m not!), you need to remind yourself. Stock up on things that won’t go bad before you can use them up, especially if you have the space. Use sales and coupons on the good stuff!

Avoid “False Economy.”  A $40 jar of specialty paint that dried up, waiting for you to think of “something special” to use it on, is a sad thing. Special is Right Now.

Also, expensive paints, mediums, brushes, and canvases, are often easier to work with, more archival, and in the case of paints, more richly pigmented. So it can actually cost as much or more to use cheap stuff.  Time is a factor that should be considered in economy. A material that slows you down isn’t economical.

Not everything needs to be archival to the point where it’s still pristine 500 years from now. As long as things are priced right, the art is good, and the buyers know what they’re getting, make use of recycled materials. Sometimes you can find masonite and playwood scraps, or second hand store items, that make perfectly good art and sculpture materials. Do seal wood before painting, it helps paint adhere and helps keep the resins in the wood from discoloring the paint. I like GAC 100, made by Golden, as a sealer. It’s what Ampersand who makes artists panels recommends for their bare masonite (hardbord).

Use acrylic mediums to extend expensive paints, especially to build texture, if possible.

Have a set of cheaper, or older worn brushes, for work that’s hard on tools. Save your best precision tools for when they are really needed.

Buy some good brush cleaner with one of those half off coupons. Most any soap will do in a pinch, but my favorite is the tub of Masters brush cleaner, and some airbrush cleaners for dissolving acrylics are nice, too. With a good coupon I can get a tub of Masters that lasts me a long time, and not feel like I have to be stingy with it. Some of my favorite good brushes are over 20 yrs old.

Save short stumps of colored pencils, etc, for a travel sketch kit.  You can use a pencil holder if they are too short to hold. They travel well, don’t break usually, and if you use them up or lose them it’s no big deal.

Capture your work with a digital camera or scan it.  Even if your recycled, unconventional art begins to fall apart, you can sell reprints indefinitely with a good high resolution digital image.

Reuse your own art.  Paint over things!  The old masters did it, and gessos and primers do a good job of hiding and sealing off old work, so you can repurpose the canvas or board.  Use broken ceramics to make mosaics.  Cut up old drawings you were going to trash, and make collages. Make sculptures out of found objects including some of your work that you were going to discard.

Buy what you will use up before it goes bad. I’ts false economy to buy large containers if they dry up on you.

Keep supplies organized and visible. When you can see what you have, you tend to use it up, and not buy stuff you didn’t need yet.