Watercolors, Flowers, and Fun!

Drawing while in the car at gymnastics practice…not while driving!

Did you make a resolution to make more time for art or creative projects this year? I haven’t figured out how to “make more time,” but I have discovered some techniques that have helped me make more art. I’ll be sharing them in my watercolor workshop coming up on February 15.

Last summer I started having some health problems that caused me to have to slow down for several months. I thought a bright side of this might be more time to paint, but I was disappointed to realize that I didn’t have the energy or even the mental focus to work on my acrylic paintings. Those painting usually take a few hours standing at an easel which was more than I could handle.

I had the desire to paint and even the time, but the problem was sustaining the energy. The solution came in a small box of tiny watercolor pads I had purchased at Hyatt’s Art Supply in Buffalo, NY while visiting college friends. Using reference photos that I’ve taken of flower arrangements that I want to paint, I could pull up a photo on my phone, draw it with a Micron 01 pen, and take a break. Later in the day, I’d take out my watercolor travel kit and a water brush and add the color to my drawing. Sometimes after the paint was dry, I would go back in with a white gel pen to add highlights.

Mini clothesline (second one from left is the finished version of my sketch from the car)

Working at this small scale and breaking it down into steps that work with my available time and energy has kept me painting. I’ve made more than 2 dozen of these watercolors and sold about half of them by posting photos on Instagram and Facebook. Sometimes I start the drawing in the car while the kids are at sports practices, and then paint in the evening before I go to bed. I’ve set up a mini clothesline to hang them and they really brighten up that corner of the house. Some of these arrangements might eventually become acrylic paintings too!


It’s our anniversary!

Today K Art and Design celebrates 18 years in business. Like many small businesses, we had humble beginnings. My first office was the basement of a rented townhouse in Centreville, Virginia with myself as the owner and only employee. Less than a year later, I gained a window when we moved to an apartment, and a co-worker of sorts when Cole was born in the fall of 2003. In 2005, my office returned to the basement, but in our new home in Culpeper. Then after a year of commuting to Arlington, Tony changed jobs to work with me full-time just before our daughter Joy was born. We shared the basement office until 2009 when we moved into the Medical Arts Building downtown.

Fifteen years of living and working in Culpeper has been a truly wonderful experience that I never could’ve planned, and I really love to plan. We had decided to move to Culpeper because we fell in the love with the charm of the preserved historic downtown while Cole enjoyed the grilled cheese at Frost Café and the playground at Yowell Meadow Park. Plus I was assured by the homebuilder that there was high speed internet access in our neighborhood!

Once we closed on the house, I joined the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce and started to attend mixers and networking groups. All of our work at this time was for customers in Northern VA, Maryland, and DC. I was hoping we might be able to do some local projects so we could feel like a part of the community, and maybe even design one of the decorative signs that we had admired hanging on the buildings on Davis Street.

Since 2005, we’ve certainly done more than a few local jobs, and it is so gratifying to see our work in use. When family and friends visit from out of state, they laugh as we take them around and point out our projects. Over the next 12 months, we’d like to share some of them with you and spotlight what 15 years in Culpeper has meant to us. We are so proud to be part of Culpeper as a business and as a family.

I am profoundly grateful to ALL of customers, near and far, for keeping us busy for 18 years.

Thank you!

25 Days of Snowflakes 2019


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…when Mr. Tony makes intricate paper snowflakes and there’s confetti all over the studio! We’ve got a time lapse video which offers a glimpse into the process. Tony hopes you can see the snowflake with all of the glare coming off his head 🤣Follow us on Instagram for the daily holiday posts or find us on Facebook to see the annual 25 Days of Snowflakes photo albums.

Art Shows

This weekend is the Culpeper County Public Schools art show which will feature artwork from all grade levels. It’s a wonderful opportunity to support the hardworking teachers, young artists, and their families. Please take the time to visit the exhibit and if you have children with you, ask them to pick some of their favorite pieces and tell you what they like about them. Learning to talk about art is a great skill to develop–finding words to express how you feel about something visual can be a challenge and a valuable exercise.

Our homeschool academy class wraps up next week, and we will have our own small art show on Tuesday, March 19 at 11:15 a.m. This will give families a chance to see everyone’s work and either leave when class is over at 11:30 or you’re welcome to stay a bit longer if you have the time. We’ll have some light refreshments which the kids are very excited about.

Culpeper Downtown Winter Carnival

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mardi Gras is around the corner, and this Saturday is a big deal in Culpeper. The Culpeper Renaissance (CRI) coordinates the Culpeper Downtown Carnival, an all day affair at the downtown shops and restaurants. Lots of beads, live music, food, artists, wagon rides, costumed performers, and activities make it a great day for all ages.

The first time we participated, we partnered with the Museum of Culpeper History to make noodle necklaces at our studio. I had spent the week dyeing noodles green, purple, and gold, and I can still vividly recall the smell of rubbing alcohol that’s part of that process. I was so grateful to the museum staff for their help that day because the extra hands made it fun for all of us. Without them, it would’ve been exhausting.

Last year, I set up my easel at The Cameleer and painted during the Carnival. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends as they stopped by, and I met other aspiring artists of all ages. The staff at the shop were incredibly kind and welcoming, and I managed to finish 2 paintings.

I’m unable to participate this year because of other commitments, and I will sincerely miss it. The Carnival is a wonderful example of the community here, and how much we can accomplish when we coordinate efforts. I’m grateful for all the behind the scenes work CRI does to make downtown such a special place to work, shop, eat, and play.
For more information, click here to visit the event website.

Culpeper Baptist Church’s 2019 Concert Series

Last year Culpeper Baptist Church celebrated the 40th anniversary of their pipe organ with a free community concert series. Performances included the Duke University Chorale, the National Brass Quintet, the American Youth Harp Ensemble, and of course several concerts highlighting the organ. The series was so well received that they have decided to make it an annual event, and they came to us in January to ask for help in branding and promoting it.

The first step was to create a logo that can grow with the vision for the concert series, and that included a discussion of the name of the event. Two concerns were to communicate clearly that the concert series is open to the public and all are welcome (it’s not just for members of the church) and that the caliber of the entertainment is very high and from beyond our community–with groups based in DC, Richmond, and Baltimore making the trip to Culpeper.

The 2019 series includes groups with local roots like the Rapidan Orchestra, as well as the renowned U.S. Army Chorus. We’ve created the program, large posters for the series, and individual posters for each performance. Click here to download the program.


Drawing Supplies

Collaborative drawing from the Art Jam: Drawing Workshop for Teens & Adults

I am grateful for the opportunity to teach last weekend’s drawing workshop for teens and adults. When I plan classes and projects, I have an idea for how I hope it will come together, but the one constant is that I am always surprised. Thank you to all of you that attended for bringing your enthusiasm, questions, and openness to learn and share. I hope to see you at the studio again!

In the meantime, I wanted to share some tips on supplies with links to help you find them. You really don’t need a lot of fancy supplies, but a good set of pencils is a worthwhile investment. I like Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils because the quality is consistently reliable. You can purchase them at StaplesMichaelsHobby Lobby, or Amazon. They make nice erasers and sharpeners too.

A sketchbook is one of the best ways to develop your skills, but you have to use it for it to work! With that in mind, I like smallish books that I can keep in the car or my bag. I’ll draw when I’m waiting to pick up the kids or when I’m waiting at a doctors office or a restaurant, or while I’m at soccer tournaments and gymnastics meets. I use it as a way to relax or to capture a memory. I’ve found that when I draw something it becomes a much more vivid memory than when I just take a photo. It’s time well spent.

Moleskine makes some really nice sketchbooks, but I prefer the ones that have heavier paper and they have become very hard to find. My favorite is the pocket version of the watercolor album. Since they’ve become scarce, I’ve started using Global Art Materials sketchbooks which can be found at Hobby Lobby and on Amazon. The paper is good quality, and the books are 5.5″ inches square.

If you don’t mind a bigger book, Strathmore and Canson book offer spiral sketchbooks that start at 5.5″x8.5″. The paper may be a little thinner if it’s listed as a drawing paper, but if you look for ones that say suitable for multimedia, the paper will be sturdier. Strathmore also offers sketchbooks filled with toned paper in tan or gray which can be a nice way to work with traditional pencil, ink or charcoal as well as white charcoal pencil or white pens. You can find Strathmore and Canson sketchbooks at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or Amazon. If you want to try charcoal, the best charcoal pencils (black and white) are made by General Pencil and you can find those at the same stores.

As you may know, I’m not a huge fan of erasers, but they do serve a purpose. If you want to add one to your kit, these retractable ones are handy because they are can get into small areas and the casing helps them stay clean.

One closing bit of advice is to draw something little every day. Make a commitment to take that bit of time for yourself and see what you can do with it. A sketchbook full of drawings can be very satisfying and a lot of fun to share with others!

5th Annual 25 Days of Snowflakes


Tony was decking the halls with pop art snowflakes again this year! There were lots of classic characters and nods to artists we lost in 2018. To check them all out, follow us on Instagram and Facebook!


He also filmed a time lapse of the process. It starts with an idea and sketches, and then he starts folding big sheets of newsprint paper. The cuts are all done by hand with a sharp exacto blade. Check out the video here.

Let’s plan for a good year!

January is special to K Art & Design. In addition to celebrating our anniversary, we do a lot of internal planning this time of year which is a combination of evaluating last year and looking at ways to improve in the next 12 months. It’s not that different from New Year’s resolutions in some ways. But if you only look at these plans once a year, it’s about as effective as most resolutions. It’s important to check the plan on a regular basis!

We rely on digital calendars and apps to keep track of work and our family, but last year I added a paper planner for the first time in a long time, and it made a huge difference for me. I realized that when I write something by hand, I remember it better, and I think I take more care with what I write since there’s no delete button. I also kept all my notes in one place which helped me keep thoughts and projects organized.

If we can help you with your plans for 2019, or if you want to add some projects to our calendar, we’re always happy to hear from you. We hope you had a wonderful holiday season! Here’s to a great 2019!


We Give Thanks for You!

Small Business Saturday is this weekend, and we want to thank you for choosing to work with our small family business. I realize you have choices and there are websites promising a logo design for $10. I price check too, but I also firmly believe that the lowest price isn’t the whole story. Working with someone you know, being able to get technical questions answered, brainstorming ideas together, building sincere working relationships built on mutual trust–this is what’s important to us. When you live and work in a small town, your work is invested in the community and reputation is everything. Thank you sincerely for being a part of K Art and Design!

In the spirit of Small Business Saturday, I encourage you to shop downtown Culpeper. The merchants are competing with Amazon and the big box stores, and they need our support. I know you’ll have a wonderful day downtown and a level of customer service that the big guys simply can’t provide. For example, Pepperberries will not only help you select a gorgeous locket, they’ll scan your photo and print it to size. They even gift wrap!

This Thanksgiving, we hope you share the table with those dearest to you. Enjoy the well-earned break!

~Kelly, Tony, Cole & Joy