“A house isn’t a home until it has a dog and cat.” Dogs, cats, chickens, lambs, pigs and birds provide a never-ending parade of life at Amy’s home in Northern Colorado on the old family ranch. Her love of animals started at a very early age. At the age of 9, her parents gave her an orphan German Shepherd that she raised and showed in a 4H dog obedience competition, happily winning Champion! Later, she continued in that endeavor and was the 4H lead for dog obedience club where her daughter competed. Amy and her husband Lars continue to train German Shepherds. The very realistic, German Steiff animal toys were always on the Christmas list in the Brackenbury home. “It’s so funny that after all these years of admiring and collecting these toys and now I am a designer. I remember trying to carve an Ivory soap lion and just didn’t have the skill and now here I am, carving the prototypes for Fiddler’s Elbow. I finally have the hang of it!”
Artistically she has been the designer for painted designs on plates, fabric, prints, puzzles and now toys. “I embrace my short attention span and create paint in all media and styles. I am also a sculptor and designer.”
Music is the other focus point for Amy on fiddle and her husband Lars on guitar. She guides nature walks and does the landscape management at the guest ranch next door.
Adeline Halvorson knew at an early age that she wanted to be an artist. In her rural upbringing, animals, especially horses, played a very important role. Her entire working life has been dedicated to her art career. Through experimentation, endless reading and hours of practice, she continually hones her techniques in acrylic or oil.
She spends most of her time researching and creating the paintings she markets to a growing group of collectors. She enjoys the variety of diverse subjects – floral, still life, dogs, or a childhood scene, and most often, her favorite equine subject matter. Years of riding and grooming horses has given Halvorson a knowledge of anatomy and muscle movement that her painting skills bring to life on the canvas. The shapes and movement of muscle, variety and texture of harness and trappings, as well as the horse and its interaction with its human counterparts provide endless artistic inspiration for one who grew up with a love for one of the world’s most beautiful animals.
“My growth as an artist is of prime importance to me. I am continually researching new and better ways to approach my painting, all the while keeping in mind that “brush mileage” is my greatest teacher. I paint the subjects that are true to my heart, and definitely believe the words of Sir Winston Churchill:”
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”
Marjolein’s emotional connection to everything that crawls, flies, grows and blooms in her garden is clearly expressed in her work. Especially the details that most people overlook in nature prove an inspiration for Marjolein. The urge to make people pay more attention to those details has kept Marjolein at her desk for over thirty years.
An entire industry has grown up around Mary Engelbreit, but it all began with a young girl who just wanted to draw pictures.
“My mother and father were always very supportive of anything my sister and I wanted to do. When I was about 11 years old, I decided I needed a studio. My mother cleaned out a linen closet and my father put a table and chair in there for me and voila! I had a studio! Since my parents seemed to value what I was doing enough to go to all this trouble, I took it very seriously and worked non-stop. At first I would copy my favorite illustrations from the old books my mother read to us each night, but slowly I developed my own style.
We had a wonderful, idyllic childhood—playing in the woods and the creek, building forts, playing kickball after dinner with all the neighborhood kids. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was school. As soon as I finished high school I wanted to start my working life! My first job was at an art supply store, where I met lots of working artists and learned about all the tools of the trade. My second job was at a small advertising agency, where I learned a lot about the business side of art. Those two jobs provided an amazing art education that I don’t think I would have gotten at college. I’ve never regretted for a moment not going.”
In 1977, she took her portfolio to some well-known publishing houses in New York, hoping to get work illustrating children’s books. She received a “mild reception” and a suggestion from one art director that she try her hand illustrating greeting cards. It wasn’t what she’d hoped for, as she’d already illustrated several hand-drawn lines of cards for local shops, but Mary took the advice and quickly found that the single-frame illustrations for greeting cards were ideal for her style and sense of humor.
Once Mary focused her talent on greeting cards, success came quickly. As her card line grew in size and popularity, it drew attention from other companies anxious to license her artwork on a wide range of products including calendars, T-shirts, mugs, gift books, rubber stamps, ceramic figurines, fabric and a list that’s grown to include nearly 6,500 products over the years, with more than $1 billion in lifetime retail sales. Mary was also editor-in-chief of the award-winning creative lifestyle magazine, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion for 11 years.
Mary Engelbreit Studios continues to add new licensees and product categories. Nearly 30 years after that first trip to New York, Mary fulfilled her dream of illustrating children’s books, and is now one of a select few artists with three New York Times children’s best sellers. She is now returning to where she started with her own line of products, all made here in the USA, called Paperworks. It is an ever-growing line of blank cards, boxed cards, coloring books, with new items being added all the time. It’s all available for purchase at her online store along with her many other licensed products. Her Paperworks line is also available wholesale to independent shops everywhere.
” I plan to drop dead at my art table. I can’t explain to you the pleasure and true happiness I get from drawing! I’m just so glad other people like it, too!
Mary lives with her family in St. Louis, MO.