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GreenBox Art + Culture

Modern Canvas Wall Art

  • Kristin Llamas Draws Llamas!

    Kristin LLamas Draws LLamas

    For starters, yes, this artist known for her soulful llama portraits is really named Kristin Llamas. It’s her married name, she’s had it for fifteen years, and it’s pronounced “yamas.” The name came first, then the art subject, and the whole llama-in-art endeavor is very name-based, she explains. Her series of llama (and alpaca) portraits each bears its subject’s first name.

    “[Depicting llamas] started as a fun play on words,” she says, “and I was curious about first names.” Specifically, since we are named before we have a personality, Llamas was interested in how much a person’s name serves to shape his or her personality. She put a post on social media asking followers to tell her their own naming story, whether they were named after someone or something, and whether they identify with their name. Her intent was to produce llama portraits named after people who responded to the post. “I was only going to do twenty-five for a gallery show,” she recalls, “and I got them all the first day. I had over one hundred [responses] by the end of the week.”

    And so the llama portraits have continued, now number up to 250, and Llamas is taking commissions on her website from people who want their name, or a special person’s, interpreted as a llama. “I have a huge file of reference photos,” she says. “I follow lots of llama and alpaca farmers on Instagram. [For the record, she says that the two animals are often difficult for her to distinguish in close-up photos, so she acknowledges that an alpaca may slip through now and then into her art.] When I see a cool personality coming through I’ll put it in a digital file. When I get a name submitted lots of times I don’t even know the person or anything about them. But certain names give you a feeling. I’ll see a William as a strong and more traditional llama. Penny is a little bit more fun. I can’t pick just any name to go with any llama. The thing that takes me the longest is pairing a reference photo with the look and feel of the name.”

    Llamas the artist has come to appreciate llamas the animal for their individual characteristics. “I love the symbolism behind llamas themselves,” she notes. “There’s a feeling of community in the herd, and they’re loyal and strong, they can carry things on their back for a long period of time. But if you upset them they’ll spit on you.”

    Llamas, who lives with her husband and three daughters near Nashville and is building a second home in Colorado, draws many of her llama works digitally on a tablet. She also creates large-scale (non-llama-related) artworks on canvases, with acrylics and oils.

    As for the future of the llamas in her art, Llamas thinks they’re here to stay. “I love the llamas. I did not anticipate the llamas taking off so much and so quick. I’m just kinda running with it and seeing where it goes.”

  • Meet Nancy Bass!


    Meet Nancy Bass! Meet Nancy Bass!

    Sometimes art is inspired by life and sometimes life is inspired by art. In the case of painter Nancy Bass, the inspiration is literal and cyclical. Her paintings of cows are inspired by real cows, but some of the cows she’s painted were inspired by art. Literally. Bass raised cattle on a farm in Virginia for thirty-five years. The two herds she raised were inspiration for her art in the truest sense: they were bred for it. “I had various breeds to interbreed and create various colors and personalities to inspire my art,” Bass explains. “Our herd was really just based on the beauty of the animal, various colors, having good personalities. Other herds are bred based on their meat or dairy, but ours were bred based on their beauty.”

    Bass and her husband no longer have the farm, instead splitting their time between the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville, and a little island off the west coast of Florida. She finds inspirations in those places, too, she says. “In Florida there’s the seabirds and the oceans and a lot of cattle. Just off the island we live on are cattle. In North Carolina we have bears. But the colors change, the light changes, it’s a different feel wherever I go.”

    Bass works in oils, always. “I just have always loved it and always come back to it. I love the flexibility of building up layers, and I can change things. I love the colors in oils. They’re softer than acrylics, which tend to be brighter. I like the traditional, softer colors of oil.”

    She took some painting classes in college but credits later workshops, working with artists she particularly respected, for really helping her learn her art. “That was really how I made progress,” she says, “that and going to museums. That really puts you up a level, to see the best work.” She still finds lots of inspiration at museums, she says, and notes that on different occasions she’s drawn to different artists, often because there’s some aspect of her own work that she may be considering. “When you go to a museum and look at work that inspires you, it’s always different work. There are things in your work you’re looking to that you may not even realize. I’ll come back and realize it’s something I’ve been pushing for in my work. The more you surround yourself with higher quality work than yours, the more you learn to see.”

    And Bass has been seeing, and learning, for her whole life. Her first art pieces were of animals, back when she was a small child. “I wanted a poodle in the worst way,” she laughs. “I must have been about three. I had a big box of crayons with every color and I learned how to draw poodles. I made poodles in every color. I made a pink one, which was the one I really wanted. I had no idea I would become an animal artist.”

    While she never got that pink poodle (she did eventually get other dogs, she says), Nancy Bass has been painting animals ever since. Her appreciation for them has helped her to create portraits that are more than just representations. Her work has the added level of truly revealing an animal’s personality, a skill she attributes to her affinity for them. “People look at my art and say they really feel they know the animal, it isn’t just something that doesn’t have a personality but is real; that I really understand the animals and captured what was real about them. If you love animals, you just kind of know. People who are animal people just kind of feel the animal. I tend to make things generally more beautiful, more loving. That’s just something that happens in the work. That’s the way I see them.”

    Bass is still surrounded by animals, including lots of birds and cows in Florida and bears in North Carolina. And when she needs even more inspiration, she still has a series of files on her computer of photos of each of her cows in Virginia to refer to. “I find my animals wherever I go,” she says.

    Bass is happy in her studios, one in Florida and one in North Carolina, and teaching workshops and offering private classes, sharing the art of painting animals. And speaking of sharing, she’s happy to have the chance to share her art through GreenBox Art as well, she says. “The point of doing work is to share it with people. When you’re an artist your work is only shared with whoever owns it. It’s not shared very often. It’s not like when you‘re a writer. So printing my work makes sense to me.”

  • Meet Angela Staehling!


    Meet Angela Staehling! Meet Angela Staehling!

    The National Park Foundation is fifty years old this year, and artist Angela Staehling is celebrating with a series of National Park paintings. “Being a nature lover myself,” she explains, “I wanted to dive deep into exploring the parks. I wanted to take a fun approach with them and try something different.” Staehling’s National Parks series takes a close-up look at each of the nation’s sixty National Parks, a different approach than many of the wide-angle views that illustrate the parks’ overwhelming majesty. “I researched each park,” Staehling explains, “and tried to find main, recognizable icons and represent them in fun, playful ways. I took a little artistic license to try to capture the life of each park.” The resulting pieces have her signature vivid colors, bold lines, and decidedly artistic spin on the natural world. She uses mostly gouache, with a little acrylic and pencil for titles.

    Staehling has a degree in graphic design, and attributes that to her frequent use of lettering in her art. Two decades ago, she was hand-painting home décor items and found that they were very popular. A successful stint at the Atlanta Gift Show convinced her to let go of the graphic design career and take her art full-time.

    Once she did, her choice of topic was a natural: “My love for art came as a child, and as I grew older my focus is primarily around nature. Not always, but that’s just where I draw the most inspiration.” She draws inspiration (before painting it) from being outdoors whenever possible. “Gardening is a huge love of mine,” she reports. “Spending time in my garden, and hiking trails.”

    Staehling’s current style is not the only one that interests her. “I just love to experience with different styles, so it’s hard for me to stick with one particular style. I find myself playing around with different styles and themes. That keeps it fun and fresh for me.” She’s got one book already, Happy Houseplants, and intends to create more in the future.

    Happy Houseplants by Angela Staehling Happy Houseplants by Angela Staehling (Image via AngelaStaehling.Com)

    As for the National Parks she’s commemorating, visits are on her list, maybe even this year to celebrate the parks’ fifty years. “I have not been to enough,” Staehling says, “and I may try to get out there this summer.”



  • Meet Stephanie Jeanne

    Meet Stephanie Jeanne Meet Stephanie Jeanne

    The 2018 Kentucky Derby has us focused on the art of competitive equestrian Stephanie Jeanne.

    When most artists refer to their portraiture, it goes without saying that they’re referring to portraits of people. But artist Stephanie Jeanne Hardy (who goes by Stephanie Jeanne professionally) is so committed to her animal paintings that when she talks about “portraits,” which she often paints on commission, she’s referring to portraits of animals. “Having the skill set to paint people is important,” she says, “but there are artists who do that much better than I do. I do animal portraits. I love animals and that’s why I’m good at painting them.”

    Hardy’s commitment to depicting animals goes far beyond the nuts and bolts (or whiskers and fur). Her love for animals allows her to see their individuality in a way many others reserve for people. “[Clients] send me videos, tell me about the personalities of their animals, their special moments. That helps get a feel for what the animal is all about and how it’s connected with its owners. Capturing the spirit of whatever animal I’ve chosen to paint is so important. If you capture the expression of the eyes you’ve captured the whole animal. Even if the rest is a loose interpretation of the style, fur, feathers, whatever--as long as you get the eyes it’s going to capture the individual.”

    Hardy’s commitment to capturing the personality of an animal means that the even when she’s not painting a specific pet, she is careful to depict each animal as the individual it is. That’s especially true for her horse paintings. Hardy is a competitive equestrian and has two horses of her own. “I train with them six days a week,” she explains. “I travel a lot to competitions and have for over twenty-five years. That’s my norm. I go to the barn a lot. When I’m not painting I’m riding.”

    Her incredible skill at depicting horses so realistically is in part a side effect of her decades-long love of horses. She didn’t start painting them until about six years ago. “Horses are particularly difficult to paint or draw,” she explains. Their anatomy and composition is so unique. A lot of people struggle with their proportions. That’s something I feel pretty confident that I’ve got down. Being around them the majority of my life helps immensely. I know their bodies, musculature, how they move.” And her love for her own horses means that she also knows how unique each one is. “I have such a strong relationship with my animals [she also has two French Bulldogs] and I think of my own when I paint others. It’s important for me to connect with the painting in order for the eventual owner of the painting to connect with it too.”

    Hardy is trained as a graphic designer and is mostly self-taught. Her mother’s work as a seamstress taught Hardy a lot about fabric and patterns and details, she says. While she is currently living in Nashville, Hardy and her fiancé are relocating, dogs and horses and all, to Denver this spring.

    “I love what I do,” she says of painting. “I feel so fortunate to get to paint for a living. It’s not the easiest path, but it’s so fulfilling. Everyone I’ve met has a story of an experience with an animal that they hold dear to them. If I’m painting something as silly as a cow and people can look at it and be reminded of those experiences, then that’s a special connection that’s been made. Every animal is important to someone in some way.”

  • GreenBox Goes Green!

    The light has never shined brighter than it does now at GreenBox Art.

    GreenBox has officially begun reducing our energy usage with the introduction of innovative solar panels installed in our uniquely designed San Diego, California facility. Utilizing the power of natural sunlight and more energy efficient practices has both dramatically reduced the power usage from our warehouse AND increased the productivity of our art building process.

    Today, GreenBox challenges you to find fun new ways to save energy! Start by turning off lights and appliances that aren’t in immediate use or invest in a handy programmable thermostat. Even the smallest of changes can leave the biggest impact – especially when it comes to conserving power. Now is the perfect time to stand alongside GreenBox and help make green conscious decisions that benefit everyone and future generations of art lovers.

    New Rooftop Solar Panels At GreenBox Art + Culture New Rooftop Solar Panels at GreenBox Art + Culture
  • GreenBox iPhone Sticker Packs Are Here!


    Can’t get enough GreenBox? Well, we have just the thing to make your day a little bit cheerier!

    Art lovers everywhere can now decorate texts with our brand new GreenBox Art Stickers. Available free (yay!) via the App Store on iPhone, the GreenBox Art app allows you to browse through a library of our cutest and coolest art images and send them through iMessage.

    You’ll find the perfect sticker for any occasion – whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or just because! We’ve taken the time to adapt over forty popular artworks from a few of your favorite artists, such as Eli Halpin, Heather Gauthier, Cathy Walters, and much more, to fit your unique messages. Art no longer has to live solely on your walls – spread your artistic side to your friends, family, and everyone in between with our creative GreenBox Art sticker pack.

    At GreenBox, we are an ever-evolving company that believes art can enlighten every aspect of everyday life. These delightful stickers were created with the help of experienced developers from THINKware, a leader in the tech industry that executes digital content for major corporations. We are proud to bring a touch of artistic flair to your mobile conversations and make each interaction more memorable than the last!


    Please visit iTunes for more information about our delightful sticker packs!

    And visit THINKware for more on Rob, Bryan, and the talented team of developers who made our GreenBox Art Sticker Packs possible!


  • Portraits and the Artists


    The first 43 presidential portraits, and those of the corresponding first ladies,  have a certain similar quality to them. They look, for the most part, like classic portraits that strive to depict rather than illustrate. That is, they're grounded in realism in the same way as a photograph: here is the subject, here is the background.


    Forty-four is different. These paintings were created by two African-American artists, the first Presedential portaits for which that's true. Both artists were hand-picked by their subjects, based on Mr. and Mrs. Obama studying dozens of portfolios and conducting one-on-one interviews.


    Obama Presidential Portraits Portraits of Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald (NPR)

    Kehinde Wiley's Portrait of Mr. Obama

    Former President Barack Obama's Presidential Portrait Former President Barack Obama unveiling his portrait by Kehinde Wiley (NPR)

    Kehinde Wiley, who created Barack Obama's portrait, is already known for subverting the "classic" portrait, usually by painting a minority subject in a classical setting. One of his earlier works, Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, shows not the expected Napoleon Bonaparte, but an African American man dressed in camouflage atop a horse. For Mr. Obama's portrait, Wiley depicted the president sitting casually in a formal chair. But the background has a surreal sense of imagination. The foliage that surrounds Mr. Obama is bright green and dotted with blooms, including pikake from his native Hawaii, African blue lilies from his father's native Kenya, and chrysanthemums to represent the Obama Family's hometown of Chicago.

    Kehinde Wiley grew up in LA with his twin brother and mother. Wiley studied painting at Yale.

    Amy Sherald's Portrait of Mrs. Obama

    Amy Sherald, in 2016, became the first woman to win the prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait competition. She, like Wiley, is known for portraits of everyday people. Her work often features skin tones that are not strictly natural--often shades of gray--and so allow the other aspects of the painting to pop with color. For Mrs. Obama's portrait, Wiley used signature gray for her skin tone, with a flat, one-tone blue background. The dress, by designer Milly, is where the color resides. The patchwork style is reminiscent of a quilt, which the artist chose as a nod to the quilts of Gee's Bend, an Alabama community known for the gorgeous blankets created by its black female residents.

    The presidential portraits are hung in order, starting with George Washington, in the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery. Each of the 88 paintings (of presidents and wives) is its own, singular work of art, and the Obamas' portraits have taken that tradition to a new level.

  • Meet Paige Holland

    Paige Hollands Self Expression Paige Hollands Self Expression

    Paige Holland did not train as an artist. In fact, the first time she bought an artist’s canvas, she says, she felt like she was breaking an unwritten rule. “I was living in LA,” she remembers. “I was a struggling artist trying to find work. One part-time job I had was working for a vet to the stars. [Michael Jackson’s birds were treated there, she says] “The head vet knew I was kind of artsy and he asked me to pick out art for the office. I thought, ‘I’m going to pick out the work of two artists and paint one piece of my own and throw that in there and not tell him.’ It had like a bird and a cat and a dog. He picked that one. That was kind of validation that I could do this. I felt like when I bought the canvas that someone was going to arrest me since I didn’t have an art degree.”

    Holland’s imposter syndrome has eased in the intervening years, and she now makes a living with her art, doing a combination of paintings and decorative commissions. The decorative painting stretches even further back in her career than the veterinarian art, since her mother was an interior designer in the 1980s. “Decorative painting was huge,” she says, “Faux marble, faux malachite, all that. I was really good at it. I was painting huge murals for people on their walls, ceilings, floors. I found I really had a voice for paintings and people really liked them.”

    Her foray from huge murals to expressive animals, like the ones featured on GreenBox, began with a pensive llama she saw in a photo. That llama ended up the central figure in her “Can I Have Yo Number” piece. “I’d never painted animals before except cats and dogs—people’s pets. I saw a photo of a llama and the expression on that animal’s face blew me away. I love how it came out and I just got hooked after that. I started looking for animal photos that had expression that conveys a feeling.” Holland starts many of her animals with a photo to capture the expression she’s after, and then she alters details on the animal to make it her own. She’s not a portrait artist when it comes to people—that’s a skill she doesn’t think she has and isn’t much interested in honing. In fact, the use of animals lets her explore expressions that might not translate well to humans, she says. “The animals are like [human] portraits but people are more open to them because it’s not a human portrait. They’re open to that expression if a critter has it but not a person. If you put a guy with that expression into ‘Can I Have Yo Number,’ it would be a scary guy on”

    The bright and imaginative backgrounds and landscapes Holland paints are often from her imagination. She uses acrylics and ink along with occasional additions of Mylar. “On some pieces, I’ll paint specific flowers on Mylar or an animal in the foreground and affix to the canvas. It creates a slight 3D-ness. Mylar is so perfectly smooth, unlike canvas which is slightly nubby, so you can shift your scale of detail [and paint onto Mylar with much more precision] and it creates a very interest juxtaposition.

    Paige Holland works from her home studio in San Antonio Texas, and these days she’s painting lots of flowers. “I’m trying to figure out chrysanthemums,” she says. Whether she’s doing animals on vibrant backgrounds or lush landscapes, she’s got an overarching goal: “I’ll make a playful version of any of these things; plants or animals or flags. I want to people to be happy and feel like all is well. Everything’s gonna be okay. Even past okay, I want people to have fun.”

  • Meet Camille Engel

    Camille Engel is a life-long artist whose career took off mid-life.

    Camille Engel is widely known for her uncanny artistic ability to paint photorealistically--in a style so true-to-life that it resembles a photograph. In fact, the thirteenth painting she ever did won an award in a New York City exhibition for its realism. When you take into account that Camille is self-taught, and that painting was, in her words, “like telling me to speak Greek--I had no idea how to even dip the brush into the paint,” it’s clear that she’s got an abundance of talent that was waiting to be harnessed.

    “As a kid I drew and colored all the time,” Camille remembers. “My great aunt was extremely encouraging toward my art. She’d give me paper and pencil and I would draw things. I drew upside-down and when I showed them to people I’d turn them right side up. She’d say, ‘you were so little your brain hadn’t connected what you were seeing with what you were drawing.’”

    But Camille was, in her words, “a child of fifties,” and expected to be a secretary or teacher or accountant. “My mother had dreams of me being an accountant. She wanted me to take typing and math electives in high school but my dad said ‘leave her alone.’ So I did take an art elective, but I also took typing. I can still type.” And as for accounting, “if I’d become an accountant I’d probably be in jail right now, saying, ‘wait, what did I do wrong?’” Camille laughs. “Numbers are not my gift.”

    However, this prolific artist numbers every painting she does, and has from the very start, which is how she knows that lucky number thirteen was her first winner of many to come. It’s part of her goal of creating a traceable provenance for every piece she creates.

    Engel was identified in high school as a candidate for a prestigious vocational education program in Tulsa (where she grew up). She studied Commercial Art, which is what Graphic Design was called in those days.

    Even before she graduated Camille was employed by a local department store. “I pencil-illustrated everything for the newspaper--the shoes, lawn mowers, dresses--whatever they advertised in the newspaper,” close, detailed work that served her well years later when she transferred that skill for depicting realism to her fine art.

    Work at an ad agency and in logo design led to a move to Nashville and starting her own business at age 23. “My mom raised me to be very independent and confident,” Camille says. “She didn’t want me to be dependent on anybody else. I’m extremely grateful--she was looking out for me.”

    All the while, Camille says, she thought about painting. “I’d go to galleries and look at paintings and there was something in my gut that said ‘you can do this,’ but I had never done any painting.” And then came one fateful day in church. “My pastor said ‘if you have a dream that’s been burning inside of you and you’ve had it for awhile, it could be God guiding you. I want you to follow your dream.’ As soon as he said that I knew that for me, it was painting.”

    And from there, she never looked back. “I went out and bought brushes and paint and canvases. I called a local museum. I said ‘I’m old, I don’t have time to mess around, who is your best teacher?’” She was forty-five and embarking on a whole new career.

    That career has been extremely successful, with her very first bird painting winning an artist choice award for realism in a Sante Fe show for realism. (“That was a huge beginning,” she says. “That started the flow of bird paintings.”)

    We at GreenBox Art + Culture are thrilled to welcome Camille Engel into our community of artists. Her Trespasser series is a group of birds who appear to have popped right into the painting, just as they popped right into her studio one day. “I have a studio in my home,” she relays. “There are bird feeders surrounding the studio and water baths. I get to study them. In Nashville it’s usually too muggy and buggy to open studio doors to let a natural breeze in. But a few days are fabulous. This Trespasser series came about when one fabulous day I opened both my French doors to let the sun and breeze in. All these birds started coming in. A titmouse on my easel. Hummingbirds were attracted to a red background in the room. Cardinals on the couch. They were all coming in to my house like they lived there. So I thought what if they created their own little living spaces here? It’s been my most successful series.”

    And we are pleased to feature it, as well as other paintings by the talented Camille Engel, here at GreenBox.




  • The Wry Eye of Heather Gauthier


    One aspect of Heather Gauthier’s work that’s so appealing is its dignified simplicity. The pensive deer in Wine Rack, for example, seems neither bothered nor especially surprised by the wine bottles and stemware balanced in his antlers. There’s a deep whimsy to the painting that balances its fine art realism as delicately as the buck himself balances his wares.

    “I love the classic portraits of people, but I love the idea of personifying animals,” Gauthier explains. “Giving them certain tastes. Having them pose, like ‘here is my cake, don’t touch it.’ They don’t have hands, so how do they collect things? How would they pose with their treasures? They end up balancing their cakes or their teacups. So they’re very serious about their tasks.”

    Gauthier describes the wry approach to her work this way: “I like realism, but I can’t paint reality.” The mashup of animals with home decor accessories came from her love of both subjects. “For years I did store merchandising and display,” she explains. “I worked at a lot of places that had both new furniture and antiques and I was a buyer too. I just loved it. I love china, flowers, the patterns of collected objects. When I started painting, I thought, ‘what do I want to look at? A pincushion in the shape of a pear with little calico patterns.’ So I’d paint what I wish I had. It wasn’t enough to paint just an animal. I needed more colors and a lot of texture.”



    The first animal with human she painted was an albino deer with “a bunch of sewing stuff in its antlers,” she remembers, “pincushions, buttons, all that kind of stuff. All I had to do was one and I realized this is what I want to do forever.”

    And Heather Gauthier’s fans are thrilled to hear it. Her first big gallery show in New Orleans nearly sold out last October, and she averages about one hundred original paintings a year. She’ll have about ten canvases going at once, all around her house, and start with a background, then add an animal, then add the animal’s prized possessions.

    “It’s like a big puzzle when I paint them,” she says of her process.

    And fortunately, those of us who appreciate Gauthier’s art don’t need to worry about her running out of ideas, even with so many canvases being created at once. Because there are so many animals and so many wares to combine. “The subject matter is unlimited,” she says. “It’s hard to imagine doing anything else.”

    Shop Heather's wildly inspiring collection here.

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