Henry County Arts & Crafts Guild Art Show

Local pet portrait artist Coleman
to be featured at show

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

NEW CASTLE, Ky. (September 2004) – Susan Coleman’s life on the farm keeps her busy. When she does manage to steal a few hours for herself, she can be found busily sketching pet portraits.
She began drawing animals two years ago and always keeps a sketch book handy, which she described as a diary of her farm life. Its pages are filled with depictions of cows, goats and dogs – scenes she might encounter on her and husband, Dennis’s, dairy farm in Henry County.

Susan Coleman's Dog

Photo provided

Samples of Susan Coleman’s
pet portraits dog

This is not the first time Coleman, 53, has experienced farm life. She grew up on a dairy farm north of Oxford, England. She moved to Henry County with her husband in 1987 in search of farmland, and what they found has become an oasis of inspiration for this artist.
Coleman belongs to the Henry County Arts & Crafts Guild, which will hold its fifth annual art show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 11 at the Henry County Middle School on Hwy. 421 in New Castle. Breakfast and lunch will be provided by Brother Doug’s BBQ, with desserts by the Campbellsburg Women’s Club.
Local artists will display oil and watercolor paintings, wooden toys, baskets, primitives, painted gourds, jewelry, handcrafted furniture, carved wooden bowls and a variety of gift items. Free art and craft demonstrations are performed during the art show.
One way the guild is trying to add different features to the art show this year is by incorporating an antique quilt exhibit. The art show has evolved into a community effort, said Sharon Silvers, guild vice president.
“People like seeing all of the local talent that comes together for this show,” Silvers said.
Although Coleman has not trained professionally as an artist, her talent is evident. Working from photographs provided by her clients, Coleman can create a pet portrait that captures an animal’s spirit. She said it is most important to capture on canvas the eyes of an animal, which becomes the focal point of the portrait. A portrait is not complete until the eyes are perfect.
Coleman usually works with watercolor crayons. She sketches the subject with the crayons and then wets the canvas with a paint brush, giving it the look of a painting. She goes back and adds more detail until the work is complete.
Her first pet portrait was created two years ago while pet sitting fellow Henry County artist Emmy Houweling’s dog, Bear. Having recently received a box of watercolor crayons as a Christmas gift from her sister, a trained artist who lives in England, Coleman decided to seriously pursue her hobby.
Finding four to five spare hours at a time for sketching is difficult on the farm. “You have to find time or the farm will dominate your life,” she said.
Coleman said it is rewarding to strike an animal’s likeness on canvas. Her portraits are 11x14 matted, and she charges $50 for a one pet portrait and $90 for a two pet portrait. A sample of her artwork can be found hanging on the walls of the Henry County Animal Clinic.

Susan Coleman's  Lambs

Photo provided

Samples of Susan Coleman’s
pet portraits lambs

The goal of the Henry County Arts & Crafts Guild is for artists to share their artwork, encourage one another and promote the arts. Juried members participate locally in the Harvest Showcase, annual Homemakers Bazaar and maintain a permanent booth at Cook’s Pharmacy in Eminence. Silvers said the guild is “a fun group. They are very enthusiastic about sharing new projects and ideas.”
The group has benefited from two Kentucky Arts Council grants in the past. This has helped the group form a solid foundation in the county and attendees now come to the annual art show not just out of curiosity, but “to buy. We’re established now, and people know who we are,” said Silvers.
Members of the guild give back to the community. Many of them teach their crafts to others as well as create sellable artwork. Silvers provides private art lessons at the Henry County Public Library two Saturdays a month.
The guild meets the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m., except for July and December. Speakers have included Louisville Speed Museum personnel and university arts instructors.

• For information about Coleman’s work, contact her at (502) 845-5190. For more information on the Henry County Arts & Crafts Guild Art Show, contact Silvers at (502) 845-4560.

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