My Upcoming Workshops

You might notice a new link in this site’s menu bar: Workshops.

I’m excited to report that I am scheduled to teach several workshops at MadArts (in Rochelle, VA just south of Madison, VA) in May and June, with more to come. I have taught classes and mini-workshops at my studio and other venues in the past and it’s something I really enjoy doing. Here’s what is on the schedule at this time:

  • May 7, Sketch Portraits in Ink and Watercolor (Dogs and Cats)
  • May 25, Sketch Portraits in Ink and Watercolor (Equines)
  • June 11, Sketch Portraits in Ink and Watercolor (Farm Animals)

Click the Workshops link to get all the details, links to supply lists, and so forth.

Tia_Pivarnik 150dpiThese workshops focus strongly on process rather than technique, although I will discuss techniques during my demos (because it’s not like you can paint without using some of the more standard watercolor techniques such as washes, glazing, edge softening, etc.!). Employing a consistent process is one of the most important factors–along with careful observation–in producing consistently good portraits that achieve an accurate likeness. And yet, I get the sense that many watercolorists–especially those with less experience–tend to rely on hope more than a clear plan when painting. By teaching process, I hope that I can help people be more confident in their work and find solid footing from which to develop their skills.

Going forward, I plan to schedule workshops at other regional venues in addition to MadArts. You can get email updates on not just my workshops but other Virginia workshops that I am organizing by subscribing to my Virginia Visual Arts Workshops mailing. Based on subscriber feedback, I may expand the scope to include workshops organized and offered by others as well. The more, the merrier, right? You can subscribe using the form in the sidebar or by clicking here.

Thanks for your continued interest in my art and related activities. Please share this post on social media and elsewhere with friends who may also be interested in taking these workshops or subscribing to the workshop updates list. Happy painting!


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Two Exciting Watercolor Workshops Coming Up in VA!

If you’re a watercolor artist in or near Virginia, I’d love to see you at one or both watercolor workshops I am organizing this year. Both Iain Stewart and Paul Jackson will be teaching in the lovely village of Washington VA…I am so excited to be able to paint with both of these masters of the medium! Click on each image to learn more about the focus of each workshop, the accomplishments of each instructor, location, accommodations, and more. If you have questions, I am happy to answer by either phone or email!

iainstewartVAworkshop  pauljacksonVAworkshop



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Host a Doggitude Book Signing!

It’s easy! Here are the basics (also available here in PDF format):

A Doggitude book signing is a fun event that can help bring more customers to your store, gallery, or event–especially for dog-themed venues. This information sheet answers the most frequently-asked questions about hosting a book signing. Get in touch with me to discuss other questions or request a book signing date.

Who can host a book signing?

Anyone who has a venue can host a book signing! Since my book focuses on dogs and dog art, venues that are art- or dog-themed or where dog-lovers frequently visit are likely draw the most interest. Examples include galleries, art centers, pet boutiques, dog shelter events, horse shows, dog fairs, pet and dog shows, tack shops, art fairs, fine art and craft shops, horse and dog club events, and local festivals.

If a venue is not within 100 miles of my studio, travel expenses must be covered by the host unless I’m already going to be in the area for another reason or the book signing event is part of a book tour that I organized myself.

What happens at a book signing? 

Generally I sit at the signing table where my book, artwork, and Doggitude merchandise is displayed and chat with visitors about the book as well as sign copies of the book that have been purchased.

Once per hour, for about a half hour, I do a painting demo to show how I paint dogs’ eyes in watercolor (since that is a feature of my work that is most remarked upon). If canine companions attend, I enjoy getting up to interact with them and offer them biscuits if permitted by their owners. If a coloring table with crayons and Doggitude coloring pages is set up, I enjoy wandering over to encourage any kids who might be coloring there. If the host has designated a local shelter or rescue for my typical donation of 10% of my proceeds, they can be invited to talk about their work and adoption process, and even bring some of their animals to introduce to attendees.

At certain venues, it may be possible for me to give a talk the day of the book signing or teach a workshop the day before or after. Information about talks and workshops I offer is available at

What’s this about a donation?

I typically donate 10% of my proceeds to a local no-kill dog shelter or rescue designated by the host. If the host does not wish to designate a local beneficiary, the donation will go to Rappahannock Animal Welfare League which is my shelter of choice.

Who handles payment transactions?

Typically I prefer for the host to do that when a book signing is conducted at a retail venue. In such cases, it is the host’s choice to post-purchase sold books and other Doggitude merchandise at my wholesale price or retain a negotiable commission (which generally ranges from 15-35% of the retail price). At events where the host collects payment, I require a check from the host to settle things up at the end of the event. At that time, the host may also purchase additional books and merchandise at wholesale prices to offer for sale in their store. I do not supply books and merchandise for sale on a commission basis.

In non-retail venues, I can collect payment and sales tax myself. I am able to accept cash, checks, and (if a wi-fi or mobile signal is available) credit cards.

How is a book signing date selected?

Hosts generally suggest a dates after we discuss my availability, other events the host may be planning, and local events which may coincide. You can get some idea of my schedule and potential availability by looking at the Events page at In retail locations, book signings are generally held on weekends, usually from noon or 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. At festivals or other events where people are going to be around anyway, weekday book signings can work well.

What kind of prep is required for a book signing?

Once we have agreed on a date, the host is responsible for:

  • Promoting the event beforehand to your own contacts and in local media; the more promotion done, the more likely the chances of a successful book signing.
  • Selecting a local no-kill shelter to benefit from my donation policy and arranging details if they will be invited to speak at the event.
  • Choosing and preparing the space where the signing will be held.
  • Obtaining and providing any refreshments to be offered at the event.

I will provide a poster file for printing and distribution. I promote all my book signings on the Doggitude Web site, Facebook page, to my own contacts and to local media.

What amenities are required the day of the signing?

The basic needs are a 6’ or 8’ table, comfortable chair, access to an electrical outlet (for the hair dryer I use to speed demos along), and display space around the table for my art and signage. Art can be placed on easels or hung on walls. I usually bring three 16 x 20 framed paintings and six 12 x 12 framed prints. For a polished look, it is preferable to cover the table in a cloth that drapes down more than halfway in front or use a table skirt.

Other suggestions: separate coloring table for kids and a refreshments table (coffee, water, pastries). If dogs will be allowed to attend with their owners, consider their wagging tales and curious noses when selecting locations for signing, coloring, and refreshments tables. It’s a good idea to ensure there is  plenty of room to move around so that dogs don’t start to feel crowded.

For book signings that take place outside, a tent or other shelter is required. Direct sunlight is bad for watercolor paintings and unexpected rain or wind is not a good mix with art and printed products.

How do I get more information?

Just get in touch!


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A Little Help For Those Who Help Dogs

I just put two checks in the mailbox, one to Rappahannock Animal Welfare League and one to Madison-Greene Humane Society. They are small amounts…just under $25 each..reflecting 10% of the proceeds from two recent book signings promised to help dogs. Although it is not a lot of money, it makes me feel very good to help dogs in some small way through my work. Over time, I hope these small amounts add up to something significant.

In early April I am attending a weeklong watercolor workshop in Hendersonville, NC. I’m working with an artist friend and dog lover who lives there to organize a book signing there the weekend after the book signing. It turns out I really enjoy doing the book signings so I’m looking forward to doing a bunch more this year. Not only can I help dogs a little bit and make a little money, it is a great way to connect with fellow dog lovers and artists!

I’ve got a good friend in Oregon who could organize a killer book signing for me there…so I can’t help but dream about the possibility of a book signing road trip later this summer. It would be a blast…and very doable. I have friends in various locations along the route. It wouldn’t be that hard to put together trip that paid for itself through book sales and a few one-day workshops.

My husband jokes that I’m just looking for a good excuse to take my dog, my sketchbook, my GPS, and a Jeep loaded with art supplies and books and head for the open road. Guilty as charged! I’m glad he’s a good sport about it, because I think it’s going to happen.


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Turns Out, I CAN Talk All Day!

Or at least half of it…and have a great time in the process. That’s how things went Saturday, 16 Feb 2013 for my first book signing ever. The venue was River District Arts, often described as the “mini Torpedo Factory” of Rappahannock County, Virginia.

The book signing was scheduled from noon to 4:30 pm and frankly, I did wonder in advance how I was going to pass the time. Cold February days in Virginia are not necessarily conducive to foot traffic in small art galleries. But as it turned out there was a nice steady stream of visitors all day, with 8 or 10 of them bringing along their canine companions. That bowl of biscuits at my signing table was well received, as you can imagine!

I talked about the project, demonstrated how I painted dogs’ eyes (and was surprised at how much interest there was in watching me do that!), and enjoyed visiting with the people and their dogs. It was a great time and as the icing on the cake, quite a few books and note cards were sold in the process! That’s good because I am donating 10% of my proceeds to RAWL, our local wonderful no-kill animal shelter. They are my “adopted” dog charity so I like to help whenever I can.

Here are a few photos from the day:

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