Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Artfire Artisan Spotlight Interview October 2010

Please start by telling us a little about yourself and your studio.

My name is Kate Sumners and I am the artist behind Endless Sumners Art.  My mainstays are charcoal and pastel portraits of people and pets; I also love photography and watercolor painting.  My style is definitely realism and I love to put LOTS of detail in my work.  I'm 28 years old and live in Arizona with my husband Brandon and our two Italian Greyhound 'kids' Toby and Scout.  I love art, gardening, hiking, and the outdoors.

Where do you live and what is it like?

I was born and raised in Page, Arizona.  I am surrounded by some of the most striking and photogenic scenery in the world.  The desert Southwestern United States is one of the most sought after locations for many artists and photographers to come and create in. Monument Valley, Glen Canyon, Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, "the Wave" sandstone formation, all of these are just outside my front door.  The rugged, dramatic landscape looks to most like a scene out of a John Wayne movie.  To me, it looks like home. 

Where did you learn your medium?

I had one art teacher in high school in particular who really taught me to trust what I was seeing and then record it truthfully.  He tried his hardest to convince me that I could be a professional artist, but at the time I didn't have the self esteem to believe that I could make a living at it.  A few years after I had graduated, we ran into each other at the nursery I was working at.  I admitted that I hadn't done any painting or drawing in months and he showed up a few days later with a box of expensive art supplies.  He told me he was loaning them to me but there was a condition: I had to produce some artwork and bring it in to his class when I returned the supplies.  If he hadn't made that single gesture, I don't think I would be an artist today.  His encouragement and very direct guidance really made me think maybe I did have some talent and should follow through.  Sadly, I lost contact with him when he moved shortly after that and he doesn't know what an impact he had on me, or even that I am a professional artist now.  I would love to find him and thank him someday.  Mr. Shaw, where ever you are, I'm living the dream. 

What are your goals with your ArtFire studio?

Currently I find most of my portrait clients in person.  Although it is wonderful to meet my subjects in person to really get a sense of their personality, I live in a small and extremely isolated area.  The nearest sizable communities are at least two hours away!  I want to grow my online presence so that I don't have to travel to find clients when I've exhausted the possibilities for expansion in my small town.  The less of my profit I pour down the gas tank, the better!

How did you come to selling online?

In February 2009 I lost my day job to the struggling economy when my banking position was eliminated.  Two months before, two acquaintances had seen my art and asked if I would create some custom pieces for them.  With this fresh in my mind, I decided if I was ever going to try and make a living doing art, this was it!  I started networking and marketing myself as a portrait artist but soon found my community is too small to support a portrait artist on its own.  I knew that I had to find an audience online if I was going to be able to keep doing what I loved.  Artfire is a great site because of all of the emphasis placed on reaching the entire Internet community and not just one web site's shoppers. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?

Joseph Chilton Pearce is credited with saying "To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." In the past, fear really held me back.  Fear that I wouldn't be good enough, successful, profitable.  But the whole beauty of art is that there is no right or wrong, no accounting for taste.  If you love what you do, if you pour your heart into it and give it your all, someone else will love it too.  Never let fear hold you back. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Page Animal Adoption Center

Yesterday I was happy to help out Angie at our Page Animal Adoption Center (PAAC).  Recently our PAAC began posting our homeless dogs and cats on  I think this is fantastic!  Angie already works extremely long hours in behalf of our local homeless animals.  To help out and get some of these beautiful pets into good homes I volunteered to photograph the animals she will be listing in the future.  A picture paints a thousand words, and my goal is to convey that these shelter animals are not homeless because they are sick, bad tempered, old, high maintenance, or in any way undesirable.  They are homeless because people, and particularly people in our community and surrounding area, are STILL NOT SPAYING AND NEUTERING. 

I adopted my own IG Scout from Petfinder.  Just because you want a certain breed, age, sex etc. does NOT mean you should to buy from a breeder, you can still support rescues! According to the ASPCA, twenty-five percent of dogs who enter local shelters are purebred. Nationwide every year about 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters.  Petfinder is a searchable database of over 13,500 adoption groups and shelters. The really fantastic thing about them is that you can search by breed, location, age, gender, size, and many other conditions, even whether they are house trained! 

Here are some of the cats currently awaiting good homes here in Page:
Go to and type in zip code 86040 for more info on these cuties!

The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.
I am not homeless because I am sick, bad tempered, old, high maintenance, or in any way undesirable.

The average number of litters a fertile cat produces is one to two a year; average number of kittens is 4-6 per litter. Seven out of ten cats in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.

Research has shown that living with pets provides certain health benefits. Pets help lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety.  They boost our immunity. They can even help you get dates.

Please spread the word about our own Page Animal Adoption Center and Tweet this, post it to your facebook page, website, email it, whatever.  You never know, someone you tell may just save a life.  "No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." Volunteer to help at the PAAC, or at least donate some cash.  Share this info.  Don't shop, Adopt!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Favorite Quotes About Art

I have always loved quotations.  Since the age of 13 or so I have been keeping a notebook in which I recorded the quips that struck a chord in me.  There is something about just a few words arranged in such a way to make you really stop and ponder the truth they convey.  For me, quotes are better than poetry because of their simplicity.The following are quotations, famous and otherwise, which ring particularly true to me as an artist.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Why should I buy expensive art when I can make my own?

Frank Thomas, Disney Animator, When asked to give advice to young animators

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"How to Draw a Child in Charcoal Pencil" Simple Instructions

Here's a short video slideshow tutuorial I made with simplified instructions on how to draw a child in charcoal pencil. Yep, that's me sketching.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lab and Giant Breed Rescue Fundraiser

Get a portrait of your pet for a cause!  Today starts my month long partnership with Arizona Labrador and Giant Breed Rescue! For the month of October I will be offering a portion of the proceeds from any charcoal or pastel pet portrait referred through them right back to AZ Lab and Giant Breed Rescue. Starting Monday they will share on Facebook and Twitter the coupon code for my website that will allow a donation to be made to their wonderful rescue and free shipping! Check them out at

This is a very worthy rescue, let's raise awareness!