Artist Debbie Stonebraker has generously offered a custom watercolor painting to one lucky TechTrax drawing winner! But before you jump to the drawing entry details below...please take a little time to get to know this wonderful artist. Also know that these portraits are much more impressive on her site. I have had to minimized them for this article...which has taken away much of their amazing realism.
Growing up as a youngster in Raytown, Missouri in the 60s, Debbie love to be outside with nature. She loved going fishing with her grandparents. And she loved to draw. She was always drawing something or painting a picture. Even as a very young child, Debbie's teachers were convinced she'd grow up to be an artist.
Her parents encouraged her talent. She attended classes at Nelson Art Gallery in Kansas City. And as a child, she had some of her artwork published in the St. Joseph newspaper.
While in Raytown South high school in the 70s, she was always involved in school activities...from being an active member of the Pep club...GO CARDINALS!...to enjoying all the games and track meets with her friends. But she also had a fantastic art teacher who not only gave her instruction, but also allowed her the artistic freedoms of some one with true, natural talent. In fact, her teacher commented that Debbie should be doing the teaching!
Debbie says her college years were a blur, because she moved at high speed through her courses in order to graduate in just three years. With a Bachelor of Science in Education degree (emphasis in art) under her arm, she graduated from Southwest
Missouri State University, May 1973.
Although she also has a life-time teaching certificate for K-12th grades, her intention was to get a job as a graphic designer. She followed her husband, Craig, to St. Louis and hoped she could land a job in the big city.
But in 1973, women were not readily accepted into graphic art positions. So Debbie worked at various part-time jobs to help pay the bills. Later she took on a teaching job for a Jr. High art class in the Fort Zumwalt District. But after four years of teaching, she was frustrated because the job turned out to be too much administrative and discipline work...and too little time to actually teach the kids the art techniques they wanted to learn.
So Debbie took a job at the post office in 1978 and worked as a
rural mail carrier for the next 8 years...but she was itching to get on with her art career. And later working as a picture framer for Deck the Walls, made the urge even stronger.
Debbie and Craig's only child, Jacob Cody, was born in 1980. By the time he was in school...it was time for Debbie to try to make her dream come true by working as a self-employed artist!
Soon, she was accepted into some of the biggest juried wildlife art
shows in the nation. She was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet lots of big name
artists. But life was difficult because she wasn't making enough money to keep up with all the art show traveling an up-and-coming artist needs to do.
During her art show travels, Debbie met a great friend, Sue, who
encouraged her artwork. Sue traveled with Debbie to the art shows and they had a wonderful time. But Sue died unexpectedly of a stroke at age 36. With little money to promote her work and the loss of her friend, Debbie lost her drive to be creative and put her brushes away for three years!
Fortunately, the desire to paint was too strong to suppress and Debbie got back to work being an artist. In 1995, Debbie Stonebraker was named Artist of the Year by Ducks Unlimited!
I wonder if everyone who owns a black lab can see the puppy face of their dog in this beautiful painting? I know I can see our Lexi in that dead-on stare and that puppy snout. Too cute!
Debbie is now actively pursuing her art business. She focuses on dog portraits,
which are her favorite subjects. She wishes she could do these portraits for free, because she just loves to see the
dog owner's face light up when she shows them the portrait of their furr-baby! But,
alas...there are bills to pay.
During the terrorist attack in New York, one Port Authority Police dog was killed. Sirius was a beautiful yellow lab who worked the World Trade Center, as a bomb sniffer, with his partner Officer David Lim. When the crashing started, David put Sirius in his kennel in their basement office of the WTC. He felt Sirius would be safe there as he went to investigate the havoc that was taking place above them. Officer Lim quickly became involved in the rescue efforts. Suddenly the tower collapsed! Several Port Authority officers had to hold Officer Lim back as he desperately tried to get back to his canine partner and best friend. But Sirius was gone. Officer Lim was inconsolable.
Sirius' body was later removed from the WTC rubble. Workers assured Officer Lim that Sirius had been killed instantly in the crash. Sirius was removed from the site with full police honors...his body was carried out in silence, draped in a flag.
Debbie Stonebraker was commissioned to paint a commemorative portrait of Sirius that would later be presented as a gift to the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police. She created two portraits of him...one in watercolor and one in oil. Both paintings were presented to the Port Authority in a memorial service for Sirius on April 24, 2002.
During the memorial service, Officer Lim was brought to tears as he was also presented with Sirius' metal water dish, which recovery workers had managed to retrieve from the rubble that was once the dog's kennel. They'd had it shined and engraved with Sirius' name and badge number. Fellow Canine Officers and their human partners attended the memorial service where they paid their respects to their fallen, fellow canine officer.
Debbie says this was her proudest accomplishment as an artist.
You can read more about Sirius and Officer Lim, Sirius' portrait, and the memorial service through Debbie's web site, here: http://www.stonebrakerart.com/sirius.html. (And if you're an avid dog lover, have the tissues close by!)
Below is the presentation photo with Officer David Lim, Debbie's portrait of Sirius, Debbie Stonebraker and her son, Cody Stonebraker (who was a volunteer firefighter at that time).
Be sure to check out the many beautiful prints Debbie has available through her web site: http://www.stonebrakerart.com.
What self-respecting vacation home/cabin could survive without one of these wonderful portraits? And with Mother's and Father's day coming up in the near future...think of how much your mom or dad would love to have a beautiful portrait of their best friend...or a likeness of a friend from days gone by! I plan to have Debbie work on a painting of The Barker Gang in the future. (As soon as I can get them all to sit still for a decent photo!<sigh>)
Debbie works mostly in watercolors and pastels, but she recently started doing
some small colored pencil renderings. And now, thanks to the computer age, Debbie can offer her beautiful artwork in many formats. She has four gift and clothing stores setup online that feature her dog (yes, and cat) portraits. So if you can't afford a custom portrait, what better way to display your love for these wonderful animals?
Yes, she's particularly partial to Labs, but don't think that that is all you'll find in her online stores! She has an amazing amount of artwork covering a wide range of dog breeds and even kitties. I purchased this shirt and you'd be amazed at the number of "Hey, cool shirt!" comments I get from fellow dog lovers when my mutts take me for my daily drag through the park.
You can find these online stores at the following links:
You might also find Debbie online as a participant in one of the many online dog groups and forums. Craig and Debbie currently have two labs...10 year old Thunder and 4 year old Reba. And they plan to add a third lab this summer...Josie.
Debbie is also now a proud grandmother. Her granddaughter, Autumn Lynn is 3 years old. Debbie says, "Autumn puts the sunshine in a cloudy day!"
When Craig hits retirement in a few years, they plan to hit the road in an RV. She hopes to still be doing her dog portraits...not because she has to, but because she needs to create these wonderful portraits.
Artists need to create art. And, of course, artists also need to make a living. So please be sure to check out Debbie's stores. You'll find terrific gifts for the dog lover in your life.
I first discovered Debbie's work when she generously offered up a couple prints to help raise money for Military Mascots. As an avid dog lover who as a particular respect for working dogs, I was blown away by her beautiful prints.
Debbie now, generously, offers up her time as an artist to paint a watercolor portrait for one lucky TechTrax subscriber! She's asked to keep the subject narrowed to a pet or child...one subject only.
The winner will need to supply Debbie with a good quality reference photo that must be taken outside (in good light). The subject of the photo must take up at least 2/3 of the photo. (Obviously, she needs a photo with good detail.)
Debbie will then work with the winner over the summer to produce a bust portrait watercolor, 9x12" painting. This is a $300 value! Not to mention that you'll have a beautiful piece of artwork from an amazing and famous artist!
Here are some samples of previous photo renditions. Are these great or what!
When TechTrax returns online in August, we will also, obviously, want to show off your photo along with Debbie's rendition of it.
Current TechTrax subscriber's can enter this drawing by clicking the link below. You will have until May 1st, 2005 to enter. We will then draw the winner the morning of Monday, May 2nd (Chicago time). As usual, the winner will be notified via email. So if you enter, make sure your inbox is cleared out because if the email should bounce...or if you do not reply within 24 hrs of the time in the original email...we must pick a new winner!
Click here to enter the Debbie Stonebraker portrait drawing.