Sheila Mace's art has gone to the dogs — 12 dogs, as a matter of fact, with somewhere around 88 left to go.
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That's the count so far in the Martinsburg, W.Va., artist's new artwork series "Love Me," which includes completed portrait paintings of 12 breeds of dogs: basset hound, Yorkshire terrier, Siberian huskie, black Labrador retriever, Boston terrier, pit bull, Chihuahua, pug, Jack Russell terrier, beagle, golden retriever and Schnauzer. Mace plans to do in the neighborhood of 100 portraits in the "Love Me" dog art series.
Mace, 48, who also goes by her high school nickname "Weeze," has been a full-time artist for more than 30 years. She said her first commissioned sale came at age 12.
"I did a pencil portrait of the son of a friend of my mother's," Mace said. "She loved it and bought it."
While Mace did study commercial art for two years, she is largely self-taught, though she credits one high school teacher in particular with encouraging her by allowing her to take an independent study class.
As well as being an opportunity to learn, Mace said with a laugh, "It might well have been what kept me in school."
Mace is originally from Michigan and was traveling the country with friends after high school when, as she says, she ran out of money in Winchester, Va. She liked the area, met her now-husband Dan, and settled in Martinsburg. Dan is a videographer and proprietor of web-based "Mace TV."
For her "Love Me" series, Mace paints on canvas in acrylics and then reproduces the painting as prints, notecards, postcards and even wearable art such as brooches and pins. Each painting is a slightly exaggerated portrait of the breed, with large eyes and endearing expressions but still retaining the particular qualities of the subject's breed.
In addition to her acrylic-on-canvas commissioned pieces and original art, Mace paints on motorcycles — particularly show bikes — helmets and leather clothing using an air-brush, a tricky technique to master, she said, because of the chemistry involved in painting on such surfaces. Her full line of work can be seen on her website www.artbyweeze.com. Mace also has store on Etsy, an e-commerce craft site at Etsy.me/YU6WNn.
To fund the "Love Me" series, Mace has turned to Kickstarter, the web-based company that raises funds for creative projects though so-called "crowd-funding." Simply put, through Kickstarter, investors financially back projects in exchange for a reward or one-of-a-kind experience. No money is returned to investors; the money contributed is more like a donation.
Mace wants to raise $950 with her Kickstarter campaign, money that will be used to fund materials — canvases, paints, brushes — and reproduction costs for the next four paintings in the series. Depending on the amount of their donations, donors can receive a range of items, from a signed postcard of one of the "Love Me" dogs for a $5 donation all the way up to an original "Love Me" dog painting for the breed of the donor's choice of breed for $400. The Kickstarter campaign began on Feb. 8 and will run through Sunday, March 10. Full details on Mace's campaign are at www.kickstarter.com/projects/ 596102309/the-love-me-dog-art-series.
She said she has always been a dog-lover, and while she lost her beloved red Huskie some time back, she hasn't been able to bring herself to get another dog just yet. She has "visitation rights" for many friends' dogs, some of whom are the inspiration for their breed's portrait. It's her love of dogs that led her to the idea of the series.
"I am so motivated about the series," she said, "I'm enjoying painting the dogs so much that after finishing one, I can hardly wait for the next one to begin."
To learn more
To know more about "Love Me" series or to be part of the Kickstarter campaign, go to www.kickstarter.com/projects/596102309/the-love-me-dog-art-series.
Shelia "Weeze" Mace also has an exhibition of the "Love Me" series coming in November at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library on the corner of Queen and King streets, downtown Martinsburg