#GuestDayTuesday – Artist Nicki Forde

Hi, Everybody! Today, I’m going to introduce you to one of my best friends, artist Nicki Forde. I’ve known Nicki for years, and though we began our friendship as gardening buddies, it has transcended far beyond labels of any kind. Simply put, Nicki is one of the nicest, most talented, and truly generous souls I’ve ever met! 

Years ago, Nicki told me I needed to start blogging as a way to express myself, so I did, and nearly 20 years later, I’m still going. She also told me I should start writing books, and I did. Whether I’ll hit twenty years doing that is doubtful, but I can still count on her for encouragement and steadfast support. And best of all, when Nicki was still a graphic designer, she began creating my book covers, which I LOVE. Happily, even though she’s moved on from graphic design to some wonderfully beautiful and often whimsical art of her own, she says she’ll always find time for my books. How lucky am I?  

 

I’ve asked Nicki here today to tell you a bit about herself, and to share some of her fantastic art with you. Yes, she takes orders and does commission work.  Here is a painting she did for me of our late dachshund buddies, Maks & Potter. More below on how you can reach Nicki to commission portraits of your own pets and much more. Now, without further ado, please welcome a very special guest to The Write Stuff. Take it away, Nicki!

~~~

Thanks for having me, Marcia.  Hi, everybody!

I’m a Native Floridian from Okeechobee with a lifelong desire to create. I began drawing as a toddler, doodling horses and eating crayons. My mom said I must have been impressed with the Budweiser Clydesdales when I saw them walking up and down our street by the train tracks in Fort Lauderdale. I’m not sure where those horses were headed, and I have only the faintest memory, but it was my good luck they needed a break from their journey right then. I can say, I’ve never been the same since.

 

Moving to Okeechobee only fueled my love of horses since it was cowboy country, and there was a horse on every corner. I knew where each horse was within a walkable distance from my home. I’d jump fences, crawl through barbed wire, dodge angry bulls … all to reach a horse peacefully grazing in a pasture. I trespassed, and had no shame. I braided manes, added flowers to tails, and petted and loved on each horse that would let me. When I wasn’t trespassing to pet horses, I was home drawing them.

 I went on to study Commercial Art at International Fine Arts College in Miami. From there I began a 25-year career as a graphic artist. My days of doodling horses were over, and instead I found myself working insanely long days meeting media deadlines and unrealistic expectations. In 2014 I discovered the love of my life, and with this sweet man, I found myself thriving. I was inspired to paint illustrations for our wedding invitations and reply cards, and after that I made time to paint a few more until I had enough to open an Etsy shop with the idea of making wedding invitations based on my paintings. I joined the local art center and started exhibiting in festivals, art markets and local competitions. 

The more art I made and shared, the more commissions I began receiving. I quickly discovered fine art commissions are far more rewarding than graphic design work, so I began pruning my graphics customers until I found my core group. This group happens to be all women-owned or managed businesses, where  they value the work and experience I provide and respect basic boundaries. Initially it wasn’t easy to fire my clients because our societal constructs tell us we should strive more, work harder, display our stress induced, sleep-deprived high blood pressure as a badge of honor. But I was truly tired and decided to follow my heart. 

I’m happy to say, the majority of my time is now spent making art and running my fine art business from the  studio in our historic downtown Leesburg home. It’s work that fills my soul. I have a wonderful problem of not having enough time to add new art to my Etsy shop because of the commission work that comes in, such as pet or people portraits, murals, and hand painted furniture. Right now I’m finishing up a 20”x20” painting of a large mouth bass as a birthday gift for my customer’s husband. Also in the works is a 3’ round table that I’m painting luna moths and fireflies on. Next up are 3 old saws that a customer wants paintings on. My style is somewhat loose and intuitive, and it’s evolving. It’s always surprising to me when I finish a painting because I just never really know what the final result’s going to be. It’s a joyful process that’s taught me to trust in my ability and in my inner voice. 

Goals for my art business this year are to create several series of paintings to submit to licensing agents so my art can be applied to fine art prints and home decor and be sold in stores like Hobby Lobby, Target, or Home Goods. I’d also like to get my art in a few more galleries and have a space at Queen of Hearts Antiques in Buford, Georgia to fill with hand-painted vintage furniture and original paintings. For my Etsy shop, I plan on adding small original paintings on wood panels or chunky canvas. The few times I’ve been able to add original pieces to date, they’ve sold  right away.

Horses remain, to this day, my favorite subject to paint. They hold a special magic for me, and when I paint them, I feel a connection to something divine. So follow me on instagram (@nickiforde) or check out my website: www.drawingonmyheart.com to see new horse art, among other subjects, as I complete them. If you would like a commissioned painting from me, you can reach me through my website, Instagram message or Facebook Messenger.

 

 

“My mission as an artist is to create a positive impact by making art that uplifts, and my mission as a human is to live with joy and compassion. “

 

 

 

~~~

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Nicki, and I want to take a moment to let folks know that very soon, Nicki and author Melanie Wagner will be publishing a brand new children’s book. I’ve seen the proof copy, and it is adorable! As soon as is Wailin’ and the Chicks is available on Amazon, Melanie will be visiting us to talk about their collaboration on this project. And you’ll get a sneak preview of some of Nicki’s fine illustrations, too. Here’s a little taste to whet your appetite.

In the meantime, you can contact Nicki at the links below to commission a painting of your own, to order things like boxed greeting cards and prints, or just to let her know you’re a fan of her work. She’d love to hear from you!

Drawing on My Heart Website:    www.drawingonmyheart.com
Etsy Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/DrawingOnMyHeart
Instagram: www.instagram.com/nickiforde

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DrawingOnMyHeart

79 thoughts on “#GuestDayTuesday – Artist Nicki Forde

  1. Great guest post. I now have this vision of macho cowboys going to fetch their horses and finding their manes plaited with flowers! I was a horse mad child, but could never manage to draw or paint them. Lovely bright art Nicki.

    Liked by 4 people

    • So glad you enjoyed meeting Nicki, Janet! Yes, I suspect a Florida cowboy or two were probably surprised at their decorated horses now and then. Maybe they thought the horse fairy visited during the night? 😀 Nicki’s work is so much fun, isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to say hi! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. There’s a huge talent displayed here – partly because there’s so many different styles and all of them successful. Who wouldn’t swoon over a gate like that! I loved to draw as a child and I loved horses but learned very quickly that their shapes were too tricky for me to capture on paper. The painting of your sweet dogs is brilliant and captures more than just their physical shape.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree about the huge talent, Trish! And she’s just such a wonderful, fun person to be with, too. I’m amazed at how she’s blossomed into the type of art she’s always loved and is pursuing it with passion and joy! It has been a delight to watch her take those first steps and follow her dreams, and her wonderful husband supports her every step of the way. I think that gate might be a privacy wall on a deck, but I’m not sure. Whatever and wherever it is, it’s simply amazing, isn’t it? I love the brilliant colors and even our state butterfly, the zebra longwing, managed to get into the scene!

      As for the painting of Maks and Potter, it brings a smile to my face every time I look at it. They were good chums, and I miss them every day, so this piece of art is especially dear to me. I’m planning to have her paint all of our animals, past and present. (It will take a while. 😀 )

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Trish! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Marcia, it was a total delight to paint your pups, especially knowing their bond. I think Maks did so much for Potter with his friendship. The mural with the colorful birds, flowers and zebra wing butterflies is painted on a vinyl privacy fence. I had to make sure it was properly primed beforehand and I sealed with a protective varnish afterwards. It was a lot of fun.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was thinking it might be something like that. It is STUNNING!!! I am so jealous! We are putting up new fencing all along Upsala road (long overdue). I wonder what Mark would say if I hired you to paint the entire thing!! Oh, boy! We could have birds, and squirrels, and lizards and snakes, and trees with Spanish moss, and oh, so much! 😀 😀 😀 *goes off pondering the possibilities* 😀

          Liked by 1 person

    • Horses are so tricky to draw! After begging for a horse each time a birthday and Christmas came around, my Dad surprised me one day out of the blue with, “So, we’re going to get you a horse.” It was so anti-climatic! And I thought it was a mean joke, but my Dad wasn’t mean. After my 13th birthday, apparently, his fear of paralysis, injury or death for his daughter was far less than his fear of an impending interest in boys. After spending hours grooming, petting and watching my horse, it became easier to draw them. I learned the anatomy pretty well during those precious childhood years that I had my own horse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can just see your father coming up with this devious plan, Nicki! 😀 And lucky you. Horses are better than boys, any ol’ day. Sometimes. Well, for some folks, maybe. Probably not for me, though. 😀 😀 😀 They would, however, not have caused me anywhere near as much pain and suffering. Yeah. I shoulda asked for a horse! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Harmony! Working with Nicki is a joy. She says we share one brain when it comes to ideas. I know all I have to do is tell her what I’m picturing for a cover, and she sees exactly what I mean, only better! I’m SO glad she’s still planning to do mine for me! You should take a look around her website and her Etsy store. Her things are wonderful! I have greeting cards now with Maks and Potter on them, and I love them so much! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by this morning! I’m sure Nicki will be along shortly. (It’s still dark outside here, and the only reason I’m up quite this early is because we are expecting a delivery of fencing today, which they said would be coming “between 6:00am and 8:00pm.” Nice how they narrowed that down for us, eh? 😀 😀 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Staci. Nicki is one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and a true joy to be around. We have laughed ourselves silly together for many years now, and I’ve always admired her talent as a graphic artist, but it’s even more fun to see what she’s doing today. Especially since it makes her so happy to be following her dream at long last. I can’t wait to commission more pet portraits from her, and I love shopping for greeting cards on her Etsy page.

      Thanks for stopping by today and wishing her well! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • I think that’s her forte, Priscilla–bringing happiness and fun to her canvases. She’s doing murals all over Leesburg, too. From fences to garage doors to sides of buildings. Those folks appreciate her colorful whimsy, and I’m so happy for her to be able to do what she’s always wanted to! And I’ve seen the proof of that book! It is adorable! Wailin’ is one of her (many) cats, and she keeps chickens in her backyard, too. So she had her own animals to draw on. And Melanie Wagner authored the book. Melanie is also super nice and they’ve become great friends. I’m so excited for them to have this one coming out soon, and can’t wait to get a copy for my youngest granddaughter. She’s going to love it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

        • You should check in with Melanie – it might be available to purchase, I’m just not sure where. She’s about to place an order, but is stuck on how many… she has the option of soft cover and hard cover. I think I would just order hard cover, but I’m not educated enough on the whole thing.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m with you. For a children’s book, hard cover might be better. I’ll check with her on availability. Hope she’s been able to get it on Amazon, so others can easily purchase it. Fingers crossed!

            Liked by 1 person

    • She truly is an inspiration to me, Teri! We share so many things we both enjoy, from gardening, to nature, to reading (though her time is limited on that right now), so much more. And her outlook on life is so positive and uplifting, it’s always great to be around her. And then there are my book covers, which I’ve received a kajillion compliments on, too, thanks to her hard work and talent! I’m so happy she’s pursuing her real dream now!

      Glad you enjoyed meeting her. Thanks so much for stopping by today!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow! What amazing talent! Nicki’s work is absolutely stunning. I hope she gets to fulfill all of her ambitions for her artwork. I’m going to hop over and check out her website. Thank you for the introduction, Marcia!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So glad you enjoyed meeting Nicki, Mae. You would LOVE her, trust me. She’s just a wonderful soul, in addition to being a gifted artist! And she’s a great gardening buddy, too. 😀 The perfect person to shop plant nurseries with, and have lunch after so you can talk about where everything is going to go in the garden. 😀 Check out her Etsy store, too. Some of the things she sells through there are adorable. I LOVE her pillows with bumblebees and frogs, etc, on them. She has lots of cool ways in which to use her fun designs, in addition to being able to take commissions. And I need to do a post on all her murals! (You can see some of them on Instagram). They are amazing. It would make me feel great to drive by those every day! 😀

      Thanks for stopping by, Mae! 🙂

      Like

    • SO glad to have you, Nicki. I really enjoyed putting this together. IF you have any trouble responding to comments, let me know. (I know you’ll be fitting that in between your work projects, so take your time.) And I can’t wait to do the post on Wailin’ and the Chicks, when it’s ready on Amazon. Looking forward to introducing everyone to Melanie, the first children’s author I’ve featured here. Plus, there will be more about your illustrations, too. WELCOME to The Write Stuff! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, Nicki, you are SO talented! Bet you’d paint an amazing crow. I’ll try to capture the perfect shot of Poe (“my” crow who lives free but comes when called by name). I assume you work from photographs. Pinning all the art pieces to keep your details handy. 🙂

    I wondered who did your covers, Marcia. They’re so beautiful. Lucky you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my gosh, Sue, I LOVE painting crows. I love the native American spirit animal meanings for them. I love the sounds of them. Makes me feel like it’s Fall every time I hear them. You are fortunate to have one who loves you like that.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You nailed it, Nicki. Crows are my spirit animal, and they follow me wherever I go. But my relationship with Poe goes beyond that. We have a connection unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. As soon as I snap the perfect photo, you’ll be hearing from me. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • I would be honored to paint Poe, Sue. I’m itching to paint more crows. I painted a series of 4 on small wood panels and they sold too fast. I kind of hoped to have them around for a little while! Must paint more. You and Poe must know each other from “way back.”

          Liked by 2 people

    • Ooooh, a portrait of Poe would be wonderful, Sue! I think you NEED one of those to hang by your desk,or sit on a shelf. You can get a chunky block canvas done the perfect size for a desktop or shelf, too. Yes! You should definitely get a good photo and get in touch with Nicki! I think it would make you smile every time you looked at it! 😀

      And thank you for the compliments on my book covers. I just love them so much, and I’m glad you do, too! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Lovely artwork and beautiful mission statement, Nicki. Now I know why Marcia’s book covers are so terrific. Thank you for sharing your friend with us, Marcia. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was my great pleasure to have Nicki here today, Gwen. You two would get along wonderfully, I think. And thanks so much for the comment on my covers. I’m very proud of them, for sure. No, they aren’t always typical of a specific genre, but then again, neither are the stories inside. I wanted the covers fit the tales perfectly, which I believe they do. Besides which, they are gorgeous! 😀 (Thank you, Nicki!)

      And it’s great to see you here today! Thanks for stopping by, my friend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So lovely to find someone else who has been able to take their passion and turn it into a career.
    I was useless at drawing horses, but riding them, and then teaching other people to ride them as a full time job made up for that lack on my part 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • That sounds like a great career to me, Deborah! I wanted to be a racehorse jockey, but was 5’7″ in fourth grade, so then I thought it would be wonderful to work at a stable grooming horses and mucking stalls.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you and Nicki would have LOADS to talk about, Debby! I think you’d really enjoy her. And one of these days, you should commission her to do a portrait for you. My little painting of Maks and Potter makes me so happy! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by today! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        • IN that case, you’ll just have to keep admiring my painting of Maks and Potter. AND, I’m going to have ALL of our cats done over time, past and present. I’ll have a whole bookshelf full! 😀 😀 😀

          Liked by 2 people

                • Indeed, and the stones make lovely paperweights, etc. Cats and horses. Nicki would be in heaven. While we have 4 indoor cats, Nicki has many more. I’ve lost count. She may have, too. Hehehehe. She has some beauties for sure, and plenty of rescues. 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

                • Sadly we had to give up keeping cats once we got heavily into dog re-homing – several of ours are hunting dogs and not to be trusted with cats. I miss them, but being able to give happy lives to dogs that have suffered terrible treatment makes up for it.

                  Liked by 2 people

                • Well, dogs are a close second for me, and certainly being able to do what you’re doing makes it worth letting someone else adopt the kitties. I admire you. Two little dachshunds were all we could handle, though they got along fine with our cats. But at this point in life, we’re sticking with the felines. They are so much less work, and we are not up for housebreaking a new doggie. So we will have to settle for loving on OPDs. (Other People’s Dogs.) 😀 Bless you for your kind hearts! 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

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