From the Studio: Piano Headboard

headboard made from an old pianoIt’s always exciting when someone asks for a custom order. Such was the case with the headboard. I had made a mirrored coat rack from the music shelf of the Lyon & Healy piano and took it with me to a craft fair. A lady saw it, and it gave her an idea for something special she could do for her mother, who was a retired piano teacher. Her mother lived with her in her home, and she slept in a hospital bed to aid in her comfort. But the bed did not have a headboard. So the lady visiting my craft fair booth wondered if I could make a headboard from a piano music shelf. I told her I would try.

At home I looked at the other pieces I had from other pianos. Most of them were in poor condition, and I was inexperienced at that sort of restoration. So I began to shop around, mostly looking at the local listings on Craigslist. Pretty soon I found a piano near me at a price that I could afford, and I purchased it. So it was that I came across this beautiful Royal Cabinet Grand. Incidentally, this is also when I learned that the tallest of the upriRoyal Cabinet Grand (1)ght pianos are actually grand pianos built vertically—hence the term “upright grand.” I call this one a cabinet grand because that is the name so designated on the piano.

My sons helped me get it home, and I went to work right away to build the headboard.

The first question to determine was how long the headboard should be. It was going to be longer than the bed was wide, no question about it. I removed the music shelf and the side pedestals from the piano, laid them out on the floor of my studio, then took pictures of them to send to my customer to show her what I had found. I also wanted her opinion as to whether to include the pedestals as part of the headboard. They would add visual interest, but they would also add width to an already too-wide headboard. She liked the look, however, so the pedestals stayed.

piano music shelf to become a headboard

As with the coat rack I had built from the other piano, I flipped the music shelf upside down so the actual shelf would be up top.

On the piano, the music shelf had been hinged near the center, and the pedestal had been attached to the cabinet. In order to attach the pedestals to the shelf, I used key extensions on the back, which were secured with screws (from the piano action) and wood glue.

The headboard was not going to be attached to the bed, but was only going to lean against the wall behind it. Since the headboard had a gorgeous red mahogany finish, I went to the local hardware store to purchase a length of mahogany 2×4 wood to make the legs. They would be hidden by the bed, but just the same, I wanted them to suit the headboard. With a coat of stain for the legs and the key extensions on the back, everything was beginning to look quite nice. I attached the legs with antiqued brackets, and moved on to the finishing touches.

The next step was to conceal all the minor scratches and flaws. Then taking some green felt that I had removed from the piano and cleaned, I applied it to the places where the headboard would rest against the wall, to prevent any marks on the same. We bought a set of sliders to go under the legs, and the headboard was finished and ready for delivery.

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It was a happy day when I got to meet the lady who would enjoy this piano headboard. I put it in her room, and listened with delight to some of her stories of her glory days as a pianist and teacher. My friends, that’s what piano art is all about.

From the Studio: Bach Yard Chickens

Raising backyard chickens has really taken wing in the US. Sorry. Was that a bad pun? Okay. I’ll stick to piano art and leave the comedy for the comedians. 😉

But I wasn’t trying to jump on the bandwagon when I created “Bach Yard Chickens.” I simply saw the hammer butts and thought they looked like chickens. Period. End of story. The little girl, as hard as she was for me to paint, seemed a little easier than painting a barn. Not only that, but for each of my creations, I try to come up with a music-themed title. So… “Bach Yard Chickens” or “Old MacDonald”? Which one would you have chosen? I thought so. Me too!

Bach-Yard Chickens 10
Bach Yard Chickens (2015)

The painting above was my first ever “Bach Yard Chickens,” completed in 2015. It was done on a 16×20 stretched canvas, unframed. I used uncooked quinoa for the “seed,” and all five “chickens” came from the same piano. In fact, they came from the 1906 Lyon & Healy, my first piano. (At the time, it was my only piano.)

Spreading My Wings

I had been really nervous about creating this particular piece because I had never painted a person before. I was working off a photograph, and the girl didn’t turn out exactly like the image in the photo. But I figured it was okay; she was good enough. And I guess she was, for this painting was the first item to sell in the craft fair that year, which was very encouraging to me. In fact, it sold within fifteen minutes of the show’s opening.

So why did it take me another four years to work up enough courage to make Bach Yard Chickens #2? I honestly couldn’t tell you. But the second one is done, and it’s pictured here.

acrylic painting of girl feeding chickens
Bach Yard Chickens (2019)

This one has some obvious differences. One variation you may not notice in the photos is the size, for this one is an 11×14. I decided to try a smaller size because the piano parts themselves are so small by comparison to the canvas. I also have two more 11×14 paintings nearly finished. However, I do prefer the larger size, and will make the future paintings in the original 16×20 format.

Another difference is that the “chickens” now come from different upright pianos, to represent the reality that in a brood of backyard chickens, they will not all look exactly alike.

The Process

Hammer Key Chains (20)
Various hammers from upright pianos

Here are some representatives of the hammers I’ve taken off the pianos. When I remove them, they are dirty. I have to scrub them clean with a wire brush, then separate the various parts. Each individual piece has a name, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll call the entire “chicken” part the hammer butt. It has a flange attached at the chicken’s “eye,” made of either wood or metal. I have a special tool that helps me to quickly and safely remove the flange, which I save for later use in another project.

You may also notice a string coming off some of the chickens. That’s called the bridle strap. Sometimes I can pull it off, but other times I have to cut it off with a box cutter.

For the next step, I take the hammer to the garage, where my power tools are set up. One of my table saws is equipped with jig saw blades. I use this one to remove the hammer shank (long stick) from the hammer (where the felt is) and hammer butt (a.k.a. chicken). The hammer shank goes into a storage container for some future use which I haven’t figured out yet. The hammer is set aside to be used as a key chain or as a head for a Conductor or Instrumentalist.

Finally, with a little sanding, the butt is ready to be used as a chicken. This process takes about 45 minutes to an hour for 5 chickens, not counting the time it takes to remove the hammer from the piano. That stage can vary greatly, I’ve come to learn, depending on the manufacture of the piano. The new flange removal tool has shortened the time by a good 15 minutes. Before I got that tool, I used any sharp tool I could find, such as an ice pick, to push the pin partway through, then I would pull out the rest of the way with pliers. This was tedious and made my hands hurt after a while. I’m very thankful for the new tool!

Art for Arts’ Sake

One of my favorite things about Bach Yard Chickens is getting to paint the background. I love what I do with old pianos, but above all, I love that God gave me the ability to paint. I don’t have much training in that area, but I do long to develop what talent is there by practicing. I want my work to be more than a craft—I want it to be an art.

Thank you for joining me on this tour of the studio. I look forward to seeing you on the next one. Until then, I invite you to check out photos of my other work in the gallery. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Lyon & Healy Didn’t Just Make Pianos

Lyon & Healy upright grand piano

The piano that started me on my art journey was a Lyon & Healy upright grand, built in 1906. In addition to studying the parts themselves to figure out what I could do with them, I also wanted to learn all I could about who made this fine musical instrument. While I do not claim to know enough to even call myself an amateur, I will gladly share with you the snippets I have learned.

George W. Lyon and Patrick J. Healy came from Boston to Chicago in 1864 to open a store selling sheet music. Their venture proved to be extremely successful, and within a year they expanded the business and began carrying musical instruments as well. They survived the Great Fire of 1871 because they had excellent insurance coverage. While rebuilding, they acquired the piano business of another firm and became the sole representative in the Chicago area of Steinway & Sons. This was the start of a meaningful relationship with the piano icons from Germany.

Harping on Excellence

Healy noticed that his repair shops were filled with harps that needed a great deal of work, so he set about to design “the finest harp the world has ever seen.” It took years of research, but in 1889, the first Lyon & Healy harp was produced, and it was played daily at Morgan Park High School in Chicago for 90 years, until it was returned to the company to be put on display in the Museo Dell’Arpa Victor Salvi in Italy. Healy’s hard work paid off, and his company became known as the world’s leading manufacturer for concert harps.

In the late 1800s Lyon and Healy further expanded their business. They were already carrying pianos made by other manufacturers, but now they began to produce their own: uprights, players, and grands. They also produced a line of upright pianos under the name of “Washburn” as an affordable alternative to the more elite Lyon & Healy brand.

Pianos and harps were not the only instruments produced by Lyon & Healy. For a while they also built pipe organs for both home and church use, as well as a variety of brass and woodwind instruments. And they did not forget their humble beginnings, for by 1930 they were the largest distributor of sheet music. In fact, they were advertised as being “the world’s largest music house.” New upright pianos sold at that time for $125 to $290. Bear in mind that the average house sold for $4,700, you could buy a car for $1,450, and a loaf of bread cost 4 cents. Many professionals had an annual salary of $1,500 to $4,000.

The Great Pruning

During the Great Depression, the Everett Piano Company bought Lyon & Healy’s piano division, but they continued making pianos under the Lyon & Healy brand until the 1970s, when Steinway & Sons purchased all rights to the name. Steinway closed all Lyon & Healy retail stores and discontinued production of all instruments and sheet music so that the company could focus on the production of harps. It sounds harsh, but sometimes a farmer has to prune branches that are producing fruit so that the remaining branches will produce more and better fruit. After this pruning, Lyon & Healy regained their focus, and their harp industry continues to this day. If not for the hard decision that Steinway made back in the 1970s, Lyon & Healy may well have closed their doors completely by now.

After reading about the humble beginnings, the amazing accomplishments, the harsh pruning, and the incredible longevity of this great company, I have even more respect for the makers of the fine instrument that started me down the path of creating piano art.

Does It Hurt?

At craft shows I have the pleasure of meeting and conversing with a good many folk who stop by my table. Often they ask, “Does it hurt you to take the pianos apart?” My answer has always been: “No. It’s my pleasure because I am keeping them out of the landfill; I’m giving them a new purpose.” But today, after researching to write this article, I must admit that my heart is pained some—okay, more than a little—for this piano in particular. If I had known its history before we started to take it apart, I would have found the $5,000, or whatever it would have taken, to restore it. Because this one would have been worth the cost. And yes, I’m writing this through tears. It’s just a bunch of wood and metal, you say. But that hunk of wood and metal was assembled by a master craftsman, better than most of the others I’ve come across. I can only hope that the people who have purchased items made from the gorgeous tiger oak cabinet and all the action pieces within will appreciate the love that went into creating the piano in the first place, and then the love that went into creating the art.

Here are a few photos of my 1906 Lyon & Healy, as well as some of the works of art I made from it:

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Bibliography

Pierce, W. Robert. Pierce Piano Atlas. 12th Edition. Larry E. Ashley Publishing: Albuquerque, NM, 2008

antiquepianoshop.com

lyonhealy.com

answers.com

 


Riverwalk Arts Festival Update

I promised you an update on the arts festival from this past weekend. In a word, it was tremendous! My daughter and I picked up my packet Friday afternoon, and we set up the tent and tables that evening. Due to the inclement weather, and the sensitivity of the piano parts to humidity (especially the felt), I decided not to set out my merchandise until Saturday morning. We also helped one of our neighbors with her tent, as it was similar to ours and new to her. One of the joys of doing shows is getting to meet the neighbors.
My daughter had things to do on campus, so I took her back Friday night and went alone to the festival early Saturday morning to set up. I had made a good call, for it rained during the night. Nothing was wet except the ground, and everything was off the ground. So I pushed the puddled water off the roof of my tent, opened up the walls, and got everything in its place just in time, about fifteen minutes before time for judging.
When the judge came by, she blended herself in with the crowd, and I never knew she was there. So when she and another lady stopped by my table in the early afternoon with a blue ribbon, I was completely astounded and elated. This was my first juried event, so needless to say, I was on Cloud Nine.
I had been wondering whether or not to stay for Sunday. The Lord held off the rain for most of Saturday, with the exception of just a light sprinkle, but Sunday we were expecting a downpour. Not only that, but my family would be in church and unavailable to help me take things down. So I prayed for a particular amount in sales on Saturday as a guide to whether I should return, and the Lord gave me those sales. My husband came after work Saturday and helped me break down my tent. I had been busy helping my neighbor break hers down, so I wasn’t ready when he got there, but he was very patient with me. We went out to eat afterwards, rejoicing in the Lord and in the good day.
As it turns out, the storm did not come until after 2 p.m. Sunday, but it’s just as well that we packed up when we did. I attended the awards breakfast Sunday morning and got to meet our mayor and a few more fellow artists, including another artist who has some of her work in a gift shop in Navarre, the Sand Dollar Cottage. I’ve seen her work there and admired it, so it was a pleasure to meet her. At the breakfast, the spokeswoman said that in 31 years of hosting the Riverwalk Arts Festival, this is only the second time they’ve had rain. That’s a pretty good track record. Will I be back next year? You bet!

 

 

From the Studio: Quartet

Strings. Every piano has them. I’ve been learning a lot about strings lately, because I’ve been cleaning them for a new project, and I came across an anomaly that prompted a bit of research. But that story is for a different day. Today I simply want to tell you about one of the many things I make with piano strings: the Quartet.

IMG_1188

The bass strings would have to be extremely long (like 30 feet!) to achieve the necessary pitch if they were not wound by copper to make them dense. Copper is a beautiful precious metal, and soft, but the steel core inside the piano strings is strong is difficult to bend into shapes. I have found shaping piano wire to be more challenging than the wire sculpting I tried in art class, but I do love a challenge!

Just how this particular project came to be escapes me now. Why did I choose four musical symbols rather than two or three? I think it’s because I purchased a set of four canvases and then needed to do something with them, but who knows?

Why did I choose these four symbols? Okay, I know the answer to that question. Of all the possibilities, I chose the treble clef, bass clef, half note, and eighth rest because they are both easily recognizable and artistic to reproduce. The eighth rest has proven to be the most challenging of them all, due to its sharp angles and opposing curves, but there is great satisfaction when it finally comes out right.

I can create an entire set of symbols from one piano string. First I clean the string, then wearing gloves (to prevent tarnishing from the oils in my hands), I begin my work. My tools for the first part of the project include a metal file (to smooth the cut edges), bolt cutters (because wire cutters just don’t cut it), needle-nose pliers, and slip-joint pliers.

Quartet WIP (3)

To form the soft bends, I use my bare hands; but when the curve needs to come in sharply, that’s where the two pairs of pliers come in handy. They do tend to bend the wire unevenly, however, so I go back with my hands and smooth out the finish. Arthritis is starting to set it, and I feel it after several hours of working with wire. But I’m not going to stop. Would you?

I work with the entire length of wire because I have no idea how long each piece needs to be. Perhaps I should cut off a length and experiment with it, but I’ve never done that. So instead, I simply work until I’m satisfied, then cut off the excess, sand the cut edges, and move on to the next piece.

The colors for the canvases have varied greatly over the years, as I experiment with one look after another. But just this week, while getting ready for the Riverwalk Arts Festival, I was looking at the yet unfinished canvases as they hung on the display below the clock made of piano keys. The canvases had been dark brown and teal (two of each color). I had determined that the dark brown was not to my liking, so I changed it to a cream color—dark titanium white, to be specific. As I sat there looking at the display, I noticed that the dark titanium white looked very similar to the aged white of the keys on the clock, and I wondered if maybe the other two canvases should be a brown-black to match the ebony keys. Since the piano string shapes had not yet been mounted, it was easy to repaint the canvases. So I took them down and went back into the studio. First they got a coat of burnt umber, then while the brown was still wet, I marbled black all over. At a distance they appear black, but up close, you can see the marbling. I did this because genuine ebony keys are not pure black either, but up close you can see the ebony wood grain. This is not my usual marbling technique, but it’s what I wanted to do for these particular canvases, because I didn’t want too much brown, I just wanted it to take the edge off the black.

 

The canvases sat overnight to dry, and then I went to work mounting the musical symbols to the surfaces. First I tried using regular hot glue, but they popped right back off again. Forget that. Then I switched to an industrial strength adhesive called E6000. I’m sorry, I don’t know what else to call it. This stuff works really well in a variety of situations. Even so, I don’t put all my eggs in the E6000 basket. As an extra measure of precaution, I “sew” each musical symbol onto the canvas, to be sure it won’t come off. Using an ice pick, or similar tool, I carefully poke a hole in the canvas in two strategic places under the piano wire, where it won’t be noticed. Then I take a 3″ length of copper wire that I’ve unwound from a smaller (treble) piano string, form a loop, and push both ends through the hole in the canvas, looping the “thread” around the wire décor and effectively fastening it onto the canvas. On the back side of the canvas, I put a dab of hot glue, thread a button onto the wire, and press it down into the hot glue, then twist the wire to hold it firmly in place, and it’s done.

Quartet WIP (1)

Finally, I put the finishing touches on the backs of the canvases. First, I enclose them all with brown paper, then install a sawtooth hanger. Using some of the brown paper, I construct a small pocket and mount it to the back of one of the four frames. This will hold the sheet that tells the story of my piano art.

When the artwork is done, it needs a name. I have tried to give every piece of mine a name related to the field of music, for obvious reasons. 🙂 I have three different pieces that are sets of four, so naming them has gotten tricky. One of them is named “Harmony” because the pieces work together to form a cohesive whole. The second is called “Quatrain” because it has two sets of nearly identical pieces, so I think of it in terms of poetry (abba). That makes it easy to give this one the name “Quartet,” since this one is four different musical symbols that come together in one song.

And now this song is done.

Thank you for joining me on this tour of the studio. I look forward to seeing you on the next one. Until then, I invite you to check out photos of my other work in the gallery. Enjoy the rest of your day!


Music in Art on Display!

Tomorrow kicks off my very first juried art show! Here are a few photos of my display as it looked before I packed everything up, including close-ups of all the brand new items.

Setup is tomorrow, and the show runs all day Saturday and Sunday. Next week I’ll tell you all about it!

 

From the Studio: The Conductor

Conductor 2013The Conductor was the first creation ever made under the name Encore! Old Pianos with a New Song.

After spending days disassembling a hundred-year-old Lyon & Healy upright grand piano, cleaning away the dust, and storing the hundreds of screws in a container for future use, I began to move the pieces around this way and that to see what ideas would come to mind. When I held two sticker assemblies together, they seemed to form a man’s body—minus the head, of course.

So I cut the shank off a hammer, sanded it smooth, and voila! a head!

I decided to make him into a conductor because his hands were up in the air. So I gave him a baton (bridle wire).

Next, the conductor needed a music stand. The bottom of the stickers already looked like the base of a music stand with two feet sticking out on either side, so I simply (poor choice of words, I admit) constructed the platform on which to set the music. This platform was made from eleven flanges glued together,  plus one extra flange underneath to provide stability. They were then glued to the two flanges still attached to the “coat tails” of the conductor. So the entire conductor was fully assembled before being mounted onto the canvas, although he could not be a free-standing figurine like the Don Quixote I saw in the art gallery in Florida, because he was too top-heavy.

Conductor 01

As a sidebar, let me tell you my early process of freeing the flanges. If you’ll look in the photo above, you’ll see at the “feet” that they are attached by a small metal pin. There’s also a bushing around the pin to allow freedom of movement at the hinge. In the piano, the parts need to be able to move freely, but not too freely, in order for the piano to function properly. When they get too tight, you get “sticky keys.” To be honest, I’m not sure what the problem is when they are too loose. Perhaps they fall apart. But in my experience of taking them apart, being too loose is seldom a problem.

So, to get them apart, I pushed one end of the pin with the tip of a tiny pair of jeweler’s needle nose pliers until the pin was sticking out far enough on the other side to grab it with the pliers. Then I pulled the pin the rest of the way out and dropped it into a jar. I’ll probably never use the pins again, but I’m saving them and the springs for the fun of it, just to see how long it takes me to fill the jar with these tiny pieces. (For the record, at the rate I’m going, it may never be filled.)

As most of you know, there are 88 keys on a piano. That means inside the piano, in the action, there are 88 hammers, 88 whippens, 88 stickers (or the equivalent), about 78 dampers (the highest strings don’t need them), etc. But for every set of hammer, damper, whippen, and sticker, there could be 5 flanges. That’s a total of 440 flanges in a single piano! You can imagine the time it took me to push and pull that many pins out of their comfy spots! And let’s not say anything about how tired, sore, and dirty I was when I got finished.

On to the best part….

The Conductor needed a background. So I placed him on a stage with a crowd of listeners behind him and a spotlight which landed at his feet. I’ve made six of them so far, sometimes two at a time, and no two have turned out exactly alike. It’s time to make some more. In fact, the empty canvases are ready to go, and the photos will be added to Instagram as soon as they are finished.

Thank you for joining me on this tour of the studio. I look forward to seeing you on the next one. Until then, I invite you to check out photos of my other work in the gallery. Enjoy the rest of your day!


My Dear Readers

The first weekend of March I will be at my very first juried art show! That said, the next couple weeks will be dedicated to the studio, with less time given to my blogs. Some posts are scheduled, and I’ll check in from time to time to respond to comments, but please excuse me if it takes a little while. Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be back!


The Story Behind the Art

Lyon & Healy upright grand piano

In 2010 my children and I drove to Lakeland, Florida, for my grandmother’s funeral. The trip took us directly past my birthplace. At the time of my birth, my dad was in a Navy school. We left that place when I was one week old, and I had not been back since. So I decided that on the way home from the funeral, we would stop in this little town and see the place where I was born.

As it turns out, a typical Florida rainstorm slowed our travel down to a crawl, and most of the places of business were closed by the time we got there, including the museum of history. But the art gallery was still open. My sons were not interested, so I left them in the parking lot to play in the remnants of the rainstorm (now a drizzle) while my daughter and I checked out the art gallery. In the gallery we saw some amazing things, but the most pertinent part to this story is the figurine of Don Quixote mounted on his trusty steed Rocinante. Why? Because it was made from piano parts. I was intrigued, but I couldn’t afford to buy it, so I took a photo of it. I have no idea what happened to that photo, but I logged it in the back of my mind somewhere…..

About a year later our church burned down. We lost the entire sanctuary, and all the rest of the building was destroyed by smoke and water. Someone kindly donated a very old Lyon & Healy upright grand piano to the church, but it would have cost thousands to restore it, and the pastor preferred to put that money toward a new piano. So he announced, “Whoever can take it can have it.” Suddenly I remembered the figurine made of piano parts, and I knew this old piano had a purpose, and that I held the key to unlock it. Thus it was that our family became the happy owners of that beautiful Lyon & Healy.

The Lyon & Healy manufacturing company was established in 1864, and by tracing the serial number, I’ve been able to determine that this piano was made in 1906. We spent several days disassembling it, then cleaning, separating, and sorting the pieces. Right away ideas began to flow of things I could make from them. I would hold the pieces in various positions and let my imagination soar. Like finding shapes in the clouds, I saw people, giraffes, and chickens in the piano. I also saw circles—lots of them… and flowers, and music….

As the business continued to grow, I realized that I needed a logo. I had a vision for it, and I called on my children to help me bring the vision to light. My daughter Mary Beth drew out the first sketch. Then Matthew embellished Mary’s original idea, and I took what the two of them had formulated and put the finishing touches on it. (Bobby’s field of expertise is in moving the pianos. That boy has the strength of Samson, and I thank God for him.)

 

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Click on the circles for captions…

 

“Harnessing the Energy”

The story continues, as I have used nearly every piece from that first piano and have reclaimed twelve other old pianos besides… and counting. Truly there are still a few songs to be played from these old pianos. It has been a rewarding and enjoyable task to find them and deliver them to you. I make creations of my own imagining, and I do commissioned work as well. If you have an idea for something unique for yourself or a loved one, let me know, and I’ll see if I can make it happen for you.

To view examples of my art, please visit the Gallery of Piano Art on this site.

And by all means, please stop by my Etsy shop. You are more than welcome!

 

 

The Story Behind the Artist

Pentax film camera with flash

As a teen I had a sketchbook in which I would draw with ordinary Number 2 pencils. I drew pictures of stuffed animals belonging to my sisters and me, of the Tennessee mountains as we traveled through on family vacations, and of my friends. I also copied pictures from magazines…. I still have that sketchbook.

In high school I continued to draw a little, but photography became much more important to me. A dear friend gave me my first “grown up” camera, a Pentax ME Super. I read the manual from cover to cover and took hundreds of photos, keeping track of my settings in a spiral notebook so that when the film was developed, I could see the impact the settings made on the shots…. I still have that camera.

While photography was my passion, I did not necessarily see it as my calling. Several teachers greatly influenced my life, most of them English teachers, so I went to college to prepare to join their ranks. In 1992 I graduated with a BA in English and began teaching right away. As I mentioned yesterday, most of my teaching career was invested in the teaching of Spanish, algebra, and music. Spanish was my minor, algebra my hobby, and music my other passion. 🙂 Oddly enough, I taught English only one year—my final year in formal education—and I must say that eighth grade class was my crowning joy.

In 1994 I married a handsome sailor whom I had met at church, and by 2001 we had three precious children. I loved teaching—pouring my life into the lives of my students—but there wasn’t enough of me to go around, so in 2006 I left the traditional setting for good to teach my own children at home.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine offered art classes to the homeschoolers at our church. My children all signed up, and my friend let me audit the class as well. In Art I, she introduced us to drawing in 2-point perspective, charcoal, pen and ink, 2D and 3D wire sculpture, clay sculpture, color pencil, acrylic, and watercolor. My fascination with art was reawakened. I was drawing again, and painting now too. And I learned that color pencils are not just for children!

color pencil drawing of a bunch of peppers
My first color pencil study, “One of a Kind,” on red Canson paper

That same year our church hosted its first craft fair to raise funds for teen mission trips, and my teacher/friend and I rented a table together to sell her paintings and my photographs. I created a line called Scenic Scriptures, in which I combined original photographs with Scripture verses. I presented them in a variety of sizes as prints—mounted, matted, or framed—as well as trinket boxes, trays, greeting cards, and refrigerator magnets. I made a small profit, but more importantly, I made a big impression on many friends who encouraged me to continue learning and developing in the area of art.

2Cor 4v7, 4x6
Many of my photos come from the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.

For four years I sold my art at craft fairs, and slowly a vision grew within me of doing this full-time. At the time, I was spread pretty thin, with my time and attention divided among several responsibilities and ambitions. But I had a burning desire to paint and make piano art, so I took steps toward that end. Slowly I phased out the Scenic Scriptures and devoted all my time to making piano art. This was not because I didn’t like the work with photography, but because that field is already saturated, and precious few people are making art with pianos.

Conductor 2013
“The Conductor” was the first piece I ever created from piano parts.

All my plans and dreams came to a screeching halt, it seemed, when in August 2016 my husband received a job transfer. After 35 years in Virginia, we were moving 900 miles away to a place where we knew almost no one. I was sad to leave my dear friends and church family, but happy for the chance to make a clean break from my other endeavors so I could focus more fully on art. The first few months were dedicated to settling in so the feeling of transition would not hang around indefinitely, and then I got busy with my dream of having a prosperous art business.

The transition proved to be more difficult than any of us could have imagined, and the dream nearly died. Between confusing state regulations, insufficient workspace, and tuition payments for three college students in private schools, the demands seemed more than I could handle. But it was not too much for my Abba. The Lord graciously showed both my husband and me that it was He who gave me this vision and the ability to draw, paint, and create things. I can do nothing less than give it all back to Him with a heart full of gratitude and faith to believe that He will meet all our needs according to His riches in Glory. In spite of many obstacles and setbacks…. by God’s grace I still have the vision!

 

 

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

My website has been around a few years now, but for the past few months I’ve been transitioning from another host to WordPress. This is now my very first post on WordPress, the first of many, I hope. And you, I trust, will be one of many to join me on this journey. Unfortunately, I learned too late how to move my content from one to the other, so please bear with me as I painstakingly rebuild my site from scratch. 🙂

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

So who are you, and what do you do?

I’m glad you asked. My name is Angela Rueger. I am a daughter of the King of kings, having accepted God’s free gift of salvation through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ at the age of 21. Everything else I do is colored by my relationship with Him. Additionally I am a happy wife in my 25th year of marriage, a mother of three college students, an artist, a writer, a tax professional, and a caregiver to a dog, a cat, and a turtle. The dog and cat belong to two of my children, but the turtle is mine.

Over the next few days I’ll pull back the curtain little by little to reveal a little more about who I am as a writer and an artist, and then I’ll also introduce you to my art, including the story behind my smiling piano logo….

Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to many more visits!