Architectural Illustration, Why Yes, I do that!

Architectural Illustration, Why Yes, I do that!

Going through magazines on style and arts and crafts lately it seems like I am reliving the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s! Macrame, retro architecture and furniture, polka dots and more are all the rage again. Nothing wrong with that! I loved those things the first time.  And I was a little surprised to see hand-painted architectural illustrations as a service making a come back.

Seems like a lifetime ago that I was an architectural illustrator. I used to paint in watercolor and pen & ink homes, restored buildings, beach town locations, and even painted a shopping center once.

I was hired by homeowners, real estate agents who wanted a unique gift for their clients, investment companies, and sometimes just painting locations because I loved the buildings. But then computer-generated illustration and photography became the style that everyone wanted and hand-painted illustration was just old fashioned and boring. And my business as an illustrator dried up and blew away.

Fast forward a few years and once more hand-painted illustration is cool again so maybe it’s time to revisit my skills and offer my services. Now that everyone has a camera in their pocket and computers create perfect drawings with just a few clicks, these have become the norm and having a unique style, as I do, of combining watercolor or ink wash and dancing line over a hand-drawn perspective gives my clients a one of a kind art piece. That can hang on the wall or be digitized for personal stationery, (which I can also do).

So I have added a listing on my Etsy page at where you can order a painting that can be created from your photos on beautiful Arches Watercolor paper using professional watercolors and archival inks. I have added images from my archives in several styles on my Etsy page, to give you an idea of options for you to choose from. I work with you personally throughout the process to create the size, style, and perfect illustration of your unique property.

Sometimes everything that’s old becomes new again and we once more appreciate the time and talent of artisans with unique skills. Going back to watercolor has been a wonderful renewal for me. Lately, my camera in on vacation and my paintbrushes are busy. And I am ok with that. If I can be of service to you please drop me a line. Creating unique works of art for my clients is my favorite thing to do.

Have a happy day!


Art Requires Evolutions and Revelations

Art Requires Evolutions and Revelations

I can’t believe it has been 10 days since my last post. The time has flown and it has been a challenge to keep up.

On the 5th I was given the opportunity to be part of a festival which was one of the few in this area that is actually made up of really creative people. It was coming up on the weekend of the 8-9th and was one I had wanted to get in on earlier. But I got the information on it too late and all the slots were filled. This event was the biannual High Desert Quilt Show and although it seems questionable that this would be a good fit for a painter, I have other artist friends in various mediums, sculptors, jewelry artists, and ceramic artists, who have sold there in the past and done fairly well. I had the money and I had the desire to give it a try.  I had 4 days to prepare. My head was spinning. I needed to paint cards and I really wanted to get my newest painting done and framed as it is an important evolution in the direction I am moving. I wanted to share it and I also wanted to do well.

I painted note cards with spools of thread and quilt patches and lot’s of spring flowers and I did finish my painting. I was excited. about the show and about the art. My style and my focus are evolving and I am actually thinking about who my audience is and what they would like. These are 2 different aspects of being a creator. Because considering your audience is not important to make good art, but it is important to make art that sells. Anyway, I was accomplishing 2 objectives and I could see that all this marketing education is finally paying off as is the acceptance that I as a creator need to make art that comes from my soul. And somehow it is possible for those two to come together if you find the right niche.

Well, the weekend came, I set up a beautiful booth and I did have a very successful weekend. And even though I came down with a nasty cold in the process, from which I will recover, I made headway, and I discovered more about my direction as an artist as well as more about being a more successful artist and finding that niche that narrows my marketing strategy. I don’t have to try to sell to everyone! Got it! Finally!

So where do I go from here? My mind is in the process of envisioning my next painting, as I work on deadline projects that I must finish. I am also thinking about what I need to create for the next show, next weekend. Mentally describing the audience I will be connecting with and figuring out how the things I make can bring them joy and entice them to want to own.  This is really the essence, I think, of being a selling artist.

So the evolution continues as do the revelations, there is always more to learn and more life to live. As the story unfolds is not just a title for my blog, it is my life and yours as well.

Have a Happy Day.


P.S. I did sell the painting to one of my favorite collectors and I did do well with all of the art cards I created. More evidence that I am going in the right direction!



How Does One Connect with Customers in the Online World?

How Does One Connect with Customers in the Online World?

I spent most of the day painting yesterday. I was working on more Spring cards and I started a larger painting as well. The nice thing about watercolor, at least for me, is that you have lots of time between layers to get other things done. It’s not like acrylic where you can just pile color after color on top of each other. Watercolor has to dry or the colors mix and you get that color called mud. So I did feel like I had a very productive day.

I will have a booth at our local farmers market on Saturday and I will take these new cards to sell. Right now it is my only outlet to connect with my customers. This is one of the things I miss most about not having a gallery or being part of a cooperative gallery. We don’t have these things here. I would love to start one but I am not a director type person, I have figured that much out about myself. So I go to the farmers market fairly often and I get to greet and chat with the people who stop by my booth. To me, this is the best way to build long lasting relationships with my customers. We become friends, and they look forward to seeing all the new things I am up to.

Facebook is sort of like that. If I post regularly I build relationships with those who comment on my work and sometimes people who are on Facebook come to my booth and I get to meet them in person.

I am wondering how one builds those relationships on a website or like my Etsy shop, is it being pushy to reach out and thank the people who have come and liked my shop or items? I don’t know.

How do you build relationships when your main outlet is online? Would love to hear your techniques.

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Here are some of the new cards I made this week, they are $12 each and they are not on my website. If you’re interested let me know before Saturday and we will make a plan to get it to you. I may put them on Etsy, and if these sell I can do one that is similar. Because they are hand painted, each one will be different.

Thanks for reading and have a happy day!

Creating a Personal Style is an Important Tool in Getting Noticed.

Creating a Personal Style is an Important Tool in Getting Noticed.

One of the tenets of marketing 101 is the importance of creating your own personal style to build a connection with your clients. You want them to remember you above all the others they might come across in your field.

For instance, are you a real estate agent in a sea of many? Being part of a big firm can give you credibility, however, it can also get you lost among all the other agents in the same firm. Your client may easily remember the name of the firm and forget yours. Not on purpose, but because big agencies do lot’s of advertising to drum their name into everyone’s consciousness so that when people are looking for an agent they might remember a particular firm.

So how can you get noticed and remembered? Personal touches, personal style, and graphics that reflect your warmth and professionalism. One of the ideas I came up with years ago and am now revisiting is creating custom thank you notes for agents. One way I am doing this is by creating multiple architectural illustrations of various style homes and then adding a sold sign with your name on it on front and your information on the back. It is a unique and personal way to thank your prospects and clients for choosing you to work with them in this very important life decision. Over the years I have painted 6 different style homes and I also offer the service of painting one just for you from a personal photograph so that it is unique to only you. 

I have done this for other professions as well like Mary Kay Sales Reps and even a refrigerator repairman once. It’s fun and personal and it becomes something recognizable as unique to you and your personal style of doing business. 

I have just re-designed these cards and made them available on Etsy so that you can order from anywhere in the country and get a beautiful personal product that you can be proud to send. You can order in quantities of 25, 50, or 100 for very reasonable costs for less than $2 a card including shipping (tax depends on where you live). 

I am also open to creating other kinds of illustrations or graphics that are built just for you as well. You can email me your idea and we can make something just for you. 

If you are interested in seeing more information about this product, here is the link to the listing.

Thank you for reading and have a happy day!



It’s Fall Already!

It’s Fall Already!

The calendar doesn’t actually say that yet, but we all know it is anyway. Schools are back in session, pumpkin spice is everywhere, even the weather here in the desert is acting like Fall.

Business is gearing up for the holidays and art markets are advertising their events and we are back to work.

In the summertime, my business is slow and in the heat of the day I hibernate. I have started drawing again and that has been occupying my time. I sit in front of the air conditioner and make art.

It all started with an exhibit by a local artist who was doing wildlife drawings in pointillism or stippling. It inspired me to get out my pens and art paper and make dots. I have done about 14 I think, so far, and I see no sign that I will be quitting soon. I have always loved pen & ink it is a simple medium that gives you lots of ways to build complexity. In other words, I take this very simple technique and make it complicated.


I am taking these new drawings and scanning them into Adobe Illustrator where I can translate them into a vector image. What that means is that they are then flexible and can be blown up or used in various ways without losing any resolution. Another thing I can do with these black and white images is to colorize them and turn them into Pop Art!  It is a whole new style of art making for me, combining all my skills both on and off the computer. The images above are one of these drawings translated into primary colors. I have named this wild cow Moo-ilyn Moo-nroe. Because she is very much a stylish diva. 

I am now making prints of them and have them for sale in my Etsy shop online and I am selling them locally as well. I am once more back in the art business.

I am also exploring print on demand websites that I can incorporate into my website where I can offer these images on useful things that people use every day like mugs, shopping bags, even clothes and more. I can layout the images within their parameters and then they do the printing and the shipping. Nice!

I am ordering samples of things to make sure I like their process before I sign up. There are so many and I have tried some and not been happy. I am a bit picky about these things!

So I am happy to be making art again and having the ability to create illustrations also makes my design work that much more unique. So it is a win-win for everyone.

If you would like to see more of these images here is a link to my Etsy Shop which is called simply CherylMcDonaldArt.

The featured image in the header is a fall photo from the Napa Sonoma Wine Country. One of my favorites, to see more from my wine country series here is a link to my website.


What’s the difference between art and illustration?

What’s the difference between art and illustration?

Good question! Both can tell a story, both can make a point, both can be beautiful or not. The more we depend on pictures and graphics to sell things and motivate us, the line between art and illustration gets blurred.

Vintage illustration- movie posters, magazine ads even pin-up girl art graces the walls of homes, as often as a landscape painting or a still life, another trend these days is decorative signs with positive sayings. Are these art or illustration?

Google says an illustration is a visual aid to make a point, and art is an expression of emotion or beauty. In the examples above, this is not so clear anymore.

As an artist for over 30 years, I am confused! When I look at many of the paintings and drawings I have done over the years, I can now see that they have value as illustrations in various applications. The stippled drawings I am doing these days can be art you hang on your wall or they can be used as illustrations in books and advertising. And with the help of digital media applications like Adobe Illustrator they can be manipulated and painted or colored to create illustrative aids for even more expression. Art is versatile, imagery helps us tell our story. It guides the viewer in a direction we want them to go. Opening their mind to see things in a new way. This is the point of both art and illustration. It all goes back to the story you want to tell.

The image I am sharing today is a gardenia done in pen & ink and then manipulated in Adobe Illustrator to create a rainbow. Its purpose is for Illustration Friday’s weekly challenge. What else could it be used for? I know of several applications, what can you think of? Would love to hear your ideas.