GALLERY ZOO ART Portfolio on Fine Art America

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Work in Progress--Serendipity

Here is my latest work in progress, titled Serendipity. This piece is going to be a mixed media diptych, 20" x 32"; this is panel one (20" x 16".) It is painted on gallery wrapped linen (depth is 1.25" thick) primed with clear acrylic gesso which allows the color and texture of the linen to show through. I love creating pieces with linen as the ground because it establishes a very different sort of setting for the painting than canvas. I become immediately engaged with more than the visual--it invites me to touch, to breathe the scent of clean fabric...well, you get the idea (hopefully without thinking I've imbibed too much holiday spirits.)

This first panel of Serendipity has been created with a fine art paper (ah, yes, another love) that contains tiny, unwoven strands of yarn in yellow, blue, red, and green. On top of that I have applied a wide strand of some sort of open-weave raffia (I've had it for so long that I honestly can't recall what exactly it is, only that it is still wonderful stuff) and then drizzled white and black paint about in a random pattern. This piece is about texture with a fiber-feel, with strands of color and lines unifying the energy and movement that goes into the process of creating a design for weaving or knitting (or anything, really--my inspiration happened to be loom-weaving.)

I hope to have Serendipity's second panel completed by next Sunday (January 4th.) Look for it on

Friday, December 19, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

Today my son and I walked to the bank. You know how quiet banks are inside, the kind of quiet that is only surpassed by libraries? While I held him in line (where I swear I could hear a feather drop, if only the partridge actually were in said pear tree), he played peek-aboo with the women behind us over my shoulder. Abruptly without provocation--and to my absolute horror--he announced at the top of his voice, "GET AWAY FROM MOMMY'S BUTT!"

I am pretty sure at that moment I could lead Santa's sleigh--Rudolph's nose be damned.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Heroine's Overture

Here is my most recent posted piece, The Heroine's Overture. It is my first triptych, where one image continues across three separate canvases. I enjoy the dramatic quality creating across multiple canvases brings to a piece--I will definitely be exploring more pieces such as this. Each canvas measures 20" x 10", for a total size of 20" x 30" (canvases may be spaced farther apart for a larger size.)

So what is this painting about, exactly? For me, it is an exploration of line, color, and movement--an abstract visualization of the type of music used for a heroine. Here I see energy, life, courage, determination, yet something larger than herself that she must face or overcome that will mold the change or shape the destiny of the heroine. This piece depicts the triumph of the heroine. All of my art at this point reflects the positive element in life, nature, and the human character.

The Heroine's Overture By Catherine Jeltes, GALLERY ZOO ART

Sale At Boundless Gallery

For interested readers...

There is an Early Shoppers Bonus (read "sale") on my site at Boundless Gallery. Go to for 30% off any purchase $100 or more.

Click on "Coupon" or enter code EarlyShopBonus at checkout.

Sale good through December 15, 2008.

Happy Holidays from GALLERY ZOO ART!!

Deck The Halls With Dirty Clothes And Cookie Crumbs

I love this time of year. Yes, I am one of those weirdos who actually thrives on more stuff to do, who enjoys creating hand-made gifts, baking cookies from scratch, and devising new arts and craft projects for my two-year old that does not involve pulling apart the ornaments and dropping them into a freshly peed-in potty. The beauty of the holiday season is that I get to do all of the things I normally do as a mom, wife, and artist, only now I can listen to festive music. There is something quite sublime about baking to the tunes of "Silent Night" while my toddler zips from room to room with his Fisher Price popper toy (you know--the one that "pops" the colored balls as it is pushed or pulled, creating just enough of a commotion that you want to march into the manufacturer's office and beat them to death with it) shrieking "CUTTING THE GRASS!" Even I have to admit that laundry strewn from room to room on my as yet unvacuumed floor really adds a nice touch to the holiday decor. Now where is the cat?

Perhaps my favorite part so far is having had the opportunity to really hone my photo shop skills. Spending over two hours removing myself from my son's Santa picture taught me many things. Along with improving my technical skills, I now realize I no longer need five cups of egg nog to look three sheets to the wind. Bonus!

Somehow, I have no doubt the secret national anthem of moms everywhere on December 26th is "Happy Xmas (The War Is Over)".
Holiday Art Card--Red Series 1, Tree By Catherine Jeltes

Saturday, November 29, 2008

And From the Playroom...

Had to share this with all you moms out there.

In the midst of writing my previous posting, I had to change my son's training pants from perhaps one of his most expansive bodily expulsions since he was an infant. It went...

Everywhere. Out went the jeans and the pad to the changing table. In came the Glade, which I practically napalmed the house with (and mind you, I worked in animal barns for seventeen years. I am not a princess when it comes to being inundated with scent.)

We are still perfecting the "potty learning", which apparently is the politically correct term these days. Heck, if we are being that word conscious, why don't we just call it what it is--Operant Conditioning To Increase Mommy's Clothes Shopping Budget.

Preparation for Holiday Shop

These past couple of weeks have been a swirl of holiday activity and preparations for my first "in person" sale venue. Fortunately, my creative juices have been fully cooperating, as has my two year old who has been incredibly self-sufficient with occupying himself more often than not to allow me to maximize my productiveness. As any mother of a toddler knows, this is no small feat and nothing short of a miracle--so this would be one item to check off in the "what am I thankful for right this minute" column. (Well, that and my morning cup of coffee--apparently fuel for both my creative soul and current state of mental health.)

What am I creating for my "in person" holiday shop? Well, not only are there items available in my online stores, but there are also wildlife themed art cards not currently posted online. I am also making some jewelry pieces as well, both beaded necklaces and bracelets on both leather, silk cord, and a combination of the two. Even my husband has added some things to the mix: small leather pouches hand-sewn from deer leather with beaded edges and a zuni bear--hand crafted from pipestone--featured on one of the necklaces. Most prices range from $12 to $49.95, with the exception of a print or two from my Sold wildlife paintings.

All of this activity is in addition to painting larger pieces for my online galleries, and I am amazed at my energy level. My multi-tasking skills, honed from years of do-it-all-and-you-get-more-to-do, are finally paying off. I must be absorbing toddler exhuberence via osmosis. But hey, I'm not complaining.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mandarin Duck Abstract

At what seems like long last here is my lastest piece, Mandarin Duck Abstract. It has a contemporary feel to it--a bit of modernism mixed with a bit of impressionism and expressionism. Ducks are just fun birds; who can't get into a good mood when watching a duck? And Mandarin ducks are so exquisitely colorful that I felt compelled to go wild and play with the pallette a bit.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Small Affair With Paper

I absolutely adore paper of all kinds--crisp brilliant white; slick, shiny YUPO; brown Kraft; fancy, textured fine art--the list is endless. Whenever I find myself seeking a creative spark, nothing jump starts it faster than browsing the scrapbook and fine art paper section of my local art supply store. There are so many color combinations, patterns, textures, and thicknesses--from whisps of tissue thin rice papers to chunky woolen fiber papers--that the closet door to my inspirational creativity is ripped from its hinges and the contents of its infinite possibilities are scattered about for my choosing.

One of my favorite ways to use fine art paper is as part of a mixed media painting. Fine art paper contains visible fibers such as yarn and cotton, and often uses natural items such as leaves, flowers, and tree bark to enhance pattern and texture. These patterns and textures lend themselves to unique backgrounds and provide interesting depth and dimension to pieces. Often, the paper itself inspires the subject of the piece, rather than serving as a mere addition. Though I am just beginning my exploration of mixed media in larger paintings, my art cards (5" x 7") illustrate the use of fine art paper in smaller mediums.

Even my art photography is touched by my obsession with paper. Did you know that aside from being printed on canvas that photos can be printed on museum quality velvet fine art paper--a cotton fiber paper that lends a marvelous texture and visual quality to the image? This paper looks and feels professionally luxurious, and is a great surface for creating prints of my original paintings. When framed, the paper elevates these prints to a unique and professional artwork in their own right.
The beauty of fine art paper is that the creative uses are as limited as the imagination. Fine artists and photographers may use it for mixed media, art mats, or frames, while others may use it for book covers, gift wrap, or even as a way to enhance a piece of furniture. Who knows--maybe one day my paper obsession will lure me completely away from acrylic painting. But for now, I will keep my options open.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Snap Out Of It

For those of you looking for humor, sorry--this one's not it.
It is so typically human of us to get caught up in our day to day routine--to be slammed into a tunnel vision so encompassing that everything else falls by the wayside.

Kids have a way of taking you there and then at the moment you least expect it, snapping you out of it. My favorite, however, is when I have my own Snap Out Of It Moment.

When we got to the park today after our typical run-to-the-park-with-the-stroller, I heard a call that immediately nabbed my attention. High in a cypress tree was an absolutely gorgeous red tail hawk, calling. She launched herself out into the clearing and flew, low enough to see the whiteness of her belly and underwings. She continued to fly and circle the park around the playground--sometimes in wide circles, and other times smaller ones, vocalizing most of the time. It was incredible to watch, made more so by the fact that we live in the city. My son was equally enthralled, for about the proper amount of time expected for a two year old to pay attention to anything.

I continued to search out the hawk the entire time we were at the park. It is easy for me to get lost watching the rhythm of the flight--the patterns, the calls, the beat of the wings. It reminds me of how simple life can be, and how with practice, repetition, and perseverence I can have an impact--just like the ripple in the pond. No matter how small, I count. I want my son to learn this too. And if he learns it from a hawk, so be it.
Painting is Egret In Flight by Catherine Jeltes, 2008, GALLERY ZOO ART.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


It is easy to believe in myself as an artist and mother when things are going well. On the other hand, believing in myself when things are less than stellar takes some effort. As an artist selling solely from online galleries, it is important to consistently produce new work to attract potential buyers and maintain the interest of current collectors/customers. Along with this comes the need to market, market, market...not to mention photographing and editing all new work and listing it for each online gallery.

Now in my former "regular" day job career, all of my work resulted in a steady pay check. Easy, right? We are raised to believe if we work hard and do good work, we can get paid and thus make a living. Naive me, I discovered that it is necessary to change this mentality when self-employed. My own self-discipline and drive to succeed constantly motivates me to work towards my artist goals. When buyers are few and far between, or I've entered juried competitions and my work is not selected, it is a challenge not to turn that energy back on myself and question my choices. Am I any good as an artist? Can I provide for my family doing this full-time? And then the big one...Am I being a good mother if my self-imposed work ethics are compromising my energy to be the parent my son needs?

Each day I contemplate these things, and each day I laugh with my son and try to reflect upon how fortunate I truly am. And then I face the easel again.

Monday, November 3, 2008

New "Scape" Photograph

Today I added a new photograph to my "Scape" Series. This photography series celebrates the detailed minutia that comprises the whole--the ordinary that we take for granted when our eyes place it as merely part of a larger whole, instead of a part of that larger whole. Captured in this form of abstraction, these details become the landscape of the subject--hence, the name "Scape" series.

Cranescape (2008) is the latest in this series, detailing the dramatic placement of an African Crowned Crane's feathers in sun and shadow. I love this photograph because it epitomizes the grace and beauty of this bird in its creation of dramatic abstraction. I did minimal editing in the digital darkroom, as I prefer to leave the image untinkered with in its elegant simplicity.

Check out the entire "Scape" Series at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blue Kid, Green Mommy

My two and a half year old son is currently in the habit of identifying people on the playground as if they were crayons. "Where did the Blue Kid go?" or "Where is Green Mommy?" is what I often hear as he refers to his new playmates of the day. Asking him to call them by their name usually results in him screaming as loudly as only an uninhibited toddler can "BLUE KID COME BACK!"

Sometimes I find myself thinking of my art in the same way (ie. "where's the blue painting with the dancer?" instead of "where is Flux?") I think that is my way of beginning the break-up phase. When I paint, I begin a very intimate relationship with my creation, as most artists do. The art becomes a part of me, and the process of creating it envelops darn near everything I do until it is finished. Then comes the Honeymoon Phase, when I display the painting for a period of time, satisfied with my efforts and admiring each brush stroke, the gradation of color, and the rhythm of line and movement. (If I am not "in love" with my art, I do not put it up for sale--it is that simple.) It is only by associating each piece in a more abstract way--by color, by number, etc.--rather than by title that I am able to emotionally disentangle myself from it enough to market it.

Does my son call me Running Mommy or my husband Biking Daddy? No. We are simply Mommy and Daddy, the labels through which all else falls neatly into place.

And it is perfect.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Journey To Africa

Today one of my dearest friends is embarking on the journey of a lifetime. She is traveling to Africa--more specifically, to Tanzania--to support the global conservation efforts of the Saint Louis Zoo. Not only will she be serving as a liason between the zoo's WildCare Center for Cheetah Conservation but she will also be setting up an art exchange program between fourth grade students in Tanzania and here in St. Louis, Missouri. This art exchange program hopes to increase environmental and animal conservation awareness in youngsters on both continents, laying the groundwork for future generations to be predisposed to the vital importance of global conservation and local conservation in their own communities.

To learn more about the Saint Louis Zoo's WildCare Center for Conservation, go to

Have safe travels, girl--and may you return with lots of inspirational photographs for your favorite artist :o)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

Tonight my husband and I were sitting on the floor of my son's room while he picked out a bedtime book. In the process of selecting a story, he--how shall I say this--released a bit of air. He turned to us and said, "Oh, excuse me. My bottom burped!"

Needless to say, I remained on the floor for a good long while.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Art Cards

Not long ago I was out shopping and needed to pick up some greeting cards. I am always in awe of the prices for mass produced paper cards. Seriously? Five dollars for a card? Don't get me wrong--I love the sentiment and thoughtfulness that cards express. And because of that, I save almost every one since I can't bring myself to toss them. Needless to say, I have a lot of storage space that will make nice fuel when I can no longer afford to heat my home.

Honestly, I would rather put the money I would normally spend on a card towards the gift. That way, the recipient gets a nice gift, the landfills have one less card to digest, and most importantly, I don't feel as if I am out five more dollars. (Even if I am, I don't notice it as much, and somehow I have more money for Starbucks.)

Then I got inspired. What if I created an art card? It would be an original painting--not a reproduction--the size of a standard greeting card with room for personalized messages on the back that (and this is the best part) would be both a card AND a gift? What could be more fun to create as an artist that would not only be a GALLERY ZOO ART original but also affordable?

So GALLERY ZOO ART Art Cards were born. I decided to create them in series of threes, so they can be gifted individually or as a set. They are painted on canvas board, so they are flat and easily frameable, and they are a standard 5" x 7" size. Every material used is completely archival (acid free) to stand the test of time, from the canvas to the paper to the glue.

Now I know some smartee out there (yes, you know who you are) will say that these Art Cards cost more than five dollars. And they do. But you have to remember the key phrase...the Card is the Gift. And then twelve dollars for an original painting seems like a steal (and believe me, it is.) So take the money you save by not buying a paper card and buy something for yourself. You undoubtably deserve it.
Find GALLERY ZOO ART Art Cards only at

Friday, October 24, 2008


Patience is not one of my virtues.

In fact, being mother to a toddler, this deficit in my personality is a recipe for disaster. Sure, I have tried many things over the years to chill out--deep breathing, whispering instead of yelling, walking away, punching soft inanimate things like mattresses (walls are kinda hard, and well, they actually hurt. It is not pretty like you see on TV.) Despite these efforts, I still struggle. Most days are fairly even keel (I know other moms are hard-pressed to buy this one) and if I had money to put in a jar for every time that I failed to be patient, I could probably end the recession. Ironically, it is not my child that might nominate me to see Dr. Phil. It is Adobe.

As an artist, I have a love/hate relationship with Photoshop. Don't get me wrong--it is an absolutely fantastic (and necessary) tool to market your work, plus if you become adept at it you can get in really good with your in-laws when sending them oh-so-adorable photo collages of their only grandchild.

If you can figure it out.

Adobe Photoshop is perhaps the only sure-fire way to motivate me to swear like a drunken sailor in ten minutes flat. I have no patience for it. Tutorial schmootorial. The "Help" feature sounds like the perfect option when at my wits end, but wait--none of the key words I select show up in the Search For. Funny, since the key words are used by Adobe in the program menu. Even better is that different features are in different places, depending upon which version you might be using, so make sure you have the same version as someone who might be giving you instructions on your "how do I do this" question.

The good thing is, though, that rarely do I experience a higher level of satisfaction and competence than when I master a new Photoshop technique (take that, Layers and Text! To the Mattresses!) It is when these achievements come without me having to take a valium, however, that I know I am one step closer to being the more laid back artist and parent I've always imagined. Now if it could just happen sooner...