Friday, April 30, 2010

Vibrant Artwork to Combat the Winter Blues

Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey is by far our most popular artist. Known for her vibrant colors, Nancy paints with French dye on silk, a modern interpretation of a painting medium that originated in China literally thousands of years ago. The technique is most similar to watercolor; vibrant dyes are painted directly onto stretched silk with a variety of brushes. Nancy further enhances her artwork through a variety of other mediums, and she's a talented oil painter, creating traditional landscapes and portraits that surprise many of her fans.

Nancy's father was a career military officer and diplomat, so she spent her childhood moving around the world and absorbing a vast diversity of cultures. She's been painting for nearly four decades now and has lived in Montana for more than 20 years after living and studying in Britain, France, Italy and Egypt. Nancy is represented in major galleries throughout the United States, and her presence at the CM Russell Art Auction has helped to transform the Western art market over the past several years. At one time, vibrant paintings like Nancy's were uncommon in an industry that clung to tradition. Now, literally dozens of artists work in the colors and styles that Nancy helped make so popular. Her paintings are widely collected, and pieces at auction regularly bring record prices. Nancy doesn't constrain herself to painting one thing, like landscapes or wildlife; instead, her subject matter is all over the map! I strongly feel that her best paintings are the florals for which she originally became so well known, but her most collected pieces now include tipis, bears and moose, running horses and perhaps most surprisingly, comical French chefs!

We've represented Nancy here at Frame of Reference for almost seven years now. Her husband and business manager, Steve, originally approached us about showing her paintings, but the conversation quickly morphed into a discussion about framing. The end result is that we now frame every painting that Nancy produces. It's great fun for us for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we get first pick of any available paintings to show here in Bigfork, so our inventory is always fresh. Next, we get to suggest subject matter, from herons to penguins to the tropical fish that Nancy started experimenting with this past summer. Finally, we will frequently collaborate with Nancy to create adventurous frames for special pieces. The fish shown here- "Little Picasso" - is a prime example; it features three stacked frames and an inner detail of multicolored anodized aluminum. The end result is both exciting and perfectly balanced with the artwork. Sadly, this painting is sold (I wanted it for myself!)

After a brilliant dollop of sunshine and warmth in mid March, the weather here in Bigfork has been dismal lately. Gray skies, rain, fog and wet heavy snow have persisted for weeks now, draining my will to live and severely limiting my time outside on a bicycle or working in the yard. It snowed 8" just five miles north of here yesterday - right on my favorite cycling route! With so little color outside, it's the perfect time for bright, energetic artwork like Nancy's! Stop by and visit us for a dose of color that will zap you like a good shot of espresso - we carry Nancy's original paintings, giclees, lithographs, posters and even greeting cards, so there's something to enjoy for every budget!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shop Dog Blog!

We have a new employee here at Frame of Reference - her name is Roxie, and photos are attached for your viewing pleasure. We plan to have her answer the phones when we can find a headset that stays on her head, but until then, her only task here is to be adorable and greet our friends and customers. (Walmart's got nuthin' on us!) She loves people, and we encourage you to stop by and say hello!
Roxie is part Boxer and part Something Else; she was born some time around Thanksgiving and was abandoned by her previous owner in Kalispell's Woodland Park at the tender age of ten weeks, so we don't know her actual lineage. Puppies are not kept at the Flathead County Animal Shelter because of the Parvo Virus, so she was cared for by a foster family here in Bigfork. Christine met Roxie at Crossfit ( when her foster mom (Martina) brought her to a potential adoptive parent. A couple of weeks later, Christine mentioned to Martina's mother that Martina had brought the cutest puppy in the world to Crossfit, only to discover that she still hadn't been adopted. The next day, Roxie came to Frame of Reference for a visit, and three days after that Christine formalized the adoption. That was eight weeks ago, and now we're wondering how we survived without a Shop Dog for the last 12 years! Roxie has a huge fan club, and a handful of people each day stop in just to get their "Roxie fix". Christine would like Roxie to be a therapy dog when she's older, but we're realizing that she already fills that role for a whole pile of folks here in town!

We're very respectful of our customers, so rest assured that if you're not a dog person Roxie will stay in the workroom.
In addition to looking for that headset, we're slowly grooming Roxie to take over the blog (typing is hard in the absence of opposable thumbs) so drop her a line sometime!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sarah Rogers

Sarah is one of two new artists in the gallery this year; the other - Tara Moore - will be featured in a later post. Like the vast majority of art shown here at Frame of Reference, Sarah's work is bright and colorful. She works in watercolor, a medium I generally think of as pretty quiet and soft, and the results are anything but. Bears, bison, wolves and horses feature prominently in Sarah's work, and her art is available in a variety of forms and price ranges - everything from greeting cards to original paintings. One of Sarah's paintings was featured on the cover of the April 2009 issue of Southwest Art magazine, quite a coup for her. She describes her images as "tropical western wildlife" - you can certainly see why! The pictures below are just a small representation of the pieces we're showing - please drop us a line if you'd like to see more!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nonna's Kitchen blog

A few months ago, I started writing a series of articles in the Lakeshore Country Journal, a biweekly free newspaper published here in Bigfork. Entitled Nonna's Kitchen - Italian Comfort Food, the articles contain recipes and stories about my family's Italian heritage. Several people have inquired about accessing back issues, but the LCJ doesn't have an online presence, so I'd originally intended to post articles here, on the Frame of Reference blog. I've decided that may get a bit confusing, so I've created a blog specifically for the articles. The address is - the hyphen is important, as was already taken. I hope you enjoy the recipes! Mangia, mangia, fatte grande!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reviving the Blog

Okay, new year, new committment to having an online presence. Yes, we could wax poetic about the best intentions of mice and men, but the truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of time to keep going on something like this, and clearly, Christine and I both suck at it. It's not that we lack the ability - I think both of us are pretty tech-savvy for 40-somethings. The primary obstacle to our electronic presence is simple lack of time; the reality of picture framing is that we must build everything we sell, so there's always work to do, even during the painfully slow winter months. Add in building maintenance, paperwork, cleaning and working with clients and we find that we could always use a few more hours in each day. I suppose nearly everyone feels this way, so it's a pretty lame excuse...

We've essentially abandoned the traditional webpage concept, largely because of a sour aftertaste that lingers after an unsatisfactory experience with the designer we hired. The plan was for this blog to supplant the website and serve as a forum for us to talk about new artists, great framing design and all of the intangibles that make Frame of Reference unique. So, starting now, we're going to follow through, even if it means less sleep. Here's a little teaser - a new giclee from Wyoming artist Sarah Rogers, who is new to us this season. We've admired her work for years, and are delighted to represent her work here in Bigfork. I'll post a bio and more images here shortly, but until then, feast your eyes on Calfleen!