Ann Pendleton was "awestruck" when she saw her first miniatures, two-by-three-inch paintings, at a Florida exhibit, seven years ago.
Allergic to the oil paints she had trained in, Pendleton wasted no time buying a set of watercolors, super-fine brushes and vellum skin from England and began to explore the new art form.
"Art is always waiting for you to come back to it. You never lose your skills. It is always waiting for you at the point you left off -- even if that point was stick figures," she said.
She painted a mare nestled in the grass with her colt and entered the Eusten Art Museum's miniature show in 2000. The painting won first place for new artists.
Contemporary miniature art should draw the viewer's eye ever deeper into the gemlike details of the painting.
"You can go to a regular art show and find five or six paintings you like, but then you go to a miniature show and the challenge is to find five or six you don't like," Pendleton said.
She sits one or two hours at a time at her easel with her double magnification glass. It takes her months to finish a painting.
Each tiny portrait, generally 1/6th scale, has between 30 and 60 coats of paint.
One drop too much water wipes the whole painting out and she must start over.
After each coat of paint dries, she uses a piece of silk to burnish the surface smooth.
Pendleton finds many inspirations for her art; perhaps closest to her heart are "magical" miniature horses.
She owned 18 of the diminutive creatures when she lived in Florida.
"Miniature horses are like a little dog, they have their own personalities and are so lovable," she said.
Pendleton and her miniature equines competed in shows.
"You lead your horse in on a halter and when the music starts they dance, they buck, they prance and they run. Then you have 30 seconds after the music stops to put their halter back on," Pendleton said.
Horse manure mixed with dirt is the "most wonderful smell in the whole world" to Pendleton.
The artist also enjoys creating miniature dollhouse scenes and taking care of her two miniature dogs -- Bubbalina, a Yorkshire terrier and Babykins, a Shih Tzu.
Name: Ann Pendleton
Medium: Miniatures (watercolor on vellum) portraits, landscapes and animals and full size acrylic paintings, commissions.
Motto: Be happy and enjoy all God's wonders around you.
Advice to beginning artists: Buy a small sketch tablet and every day, for 10 minutes look closely at something and draw it. Do this for 30 consecutive days, dating each drawing, then, look back on your sketches and you will be amazed. Drawing teaches you to see how that petal flops over, the veins in a leaf, the way a cat's whiskers fan outward.
Award most proud: My "signature status" with Hilliard Society in England -- few Americans have achieved this status -- and my 2004 portrait award for "In the Master's Hands" at the International Miniature Art Society Show.
Why Payson? I have always loved Arizona.
Upcoming project: Portraits of people they can put in their miniature dollhouses, such as the individual's face, but dressed in period costume.
Hobby: hiking with the Payson Packers
Music: classical guitar
Book: The Velveteen Rabbit
Author: Clive Cussler
Movies: lighthearted comedies
Vacation spot: Fossil Creek is the most magnificent spot near Payson. I love Charleston, S.C. because it is so full of history.
Point of contact: (928) 472-2424