Posts Tagged ‘native birds’

Beautiful birds

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

hansbydesign blog

This elegant A4 print from Hansby Design of three Huia features the mysterious white female Huia (thought to be an Albino) and a female and male bird. Huia were often found in pairs as they were social birds and mated for life.

The sophisticated moody blue background feels modern and would look great with wood and yellow tones.


See more from Hansby Design here »


Simplify to Amplify: thoughtful, imaginative play from Small & Loud

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Joanna of Small & Loud says “As a child I always imagined having my own business, selling my own handmade crafty things. Funny how things work out!” The inspiration for her business was formed when hunting for a birthday present for her nephew. Unable to find something satisfactory that was light to post, would encourage imaginative play, and wouldn’t just add clutter to his bedroom, she hit on making her own animal masks. The name Small & Loud is a tribute to both the animals and the kids that inspire her work. :-)

Joanna-portrait blog

What do you make?
I make felt animal masks for kids’ pretend play and dress-ups.

How did you get into your craft?
My mum taught me to how to use her sewing machine when I was about four years old, so as long as I can remember I’ve been sewing bits and pieces. Then when my husband and I moved to Christchurch in 2015, I struggled to find work. To bring in some income, I started sewing a few things and selling them at the New Brighton Seaside Market. The masks were my most popular product so they became my focus – it grew from there.


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Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I learned a lot of sewing techniques from my mum and step-mum, and everything else is self-taught. At Otago Uni I majored in Marketing and Design Studies, so the design side has definitely had an influence.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love the vivid colours of felt. My favourite tool is my Elna sewing machine – it’s the same machine I learned to sew on. My mum had it refurbished and sent it down to Dunedin for my 20th birthday, which was an awesome surprise. I have another newer machine, but always prefer the old Elna.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing one of your masks:
The first step is cutting out all the felt pieces. I started out cutting all the pieces out by hand, but it became too time consuming. I’ve now invested in a laser-cutter, which my husband Richard is in charge of. He’s an architectural designer, and uses his CAD skills to turn my paper patterns into cutting files. He’s spent a lot of time getting the settings just right – every colour of felt cuts differently because of the way it absorbs the light of the laser.

Once everything is cut, I glue the detail pieces to the front piece of each mask. The glue is just strong enough to hold everything in place while I sew. I usually sew in batches of six masks at a time. When I’ve finished all the front details of each mask, I glue and pin the front and back together and stitch all the way around the edge and around the eyes. At this point, most of my masks are ready to be sent out, but some need a few finishing details. The cat gets whiskers sewn on, and the ears of the rabbit are folded over and stitched down at the very end too.

Joanna-sewing-small blog

Small_Loud-masks-in-progress blog

What inspires you?
For my mask designs, almost every cute animal I see inspires me. I just saw the most adorable video of a baby elephant chasing birds, so an elephant mask might be next on my list! I also get excited by beautiful, functional design and attention to detail.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
The first mask I made was a birthday present for my nephew Nate. I wanted a gift that was light to post and that would encourage good old-fashioned play, and wasn’t a typical toy that would add to the clutter in his bedroom. My philosophy has stayed the same since then – I want to make things that encourage imaginary play, creativity and learning.

Describe your creative process:
After I’ve decided on an animal that I want to create as a mask, the first thing I do is look at a lot of close up photos of the face of that animal. I decided early on that I didn’t want my masks to be overly cutesy or cartoon-like, so by looking at photos I make sure that I’m beginning with a realistic base.

Next I start sketching a design, using an existing mask pattern as a template. I create at least three paper prototypes, making small adjustments as I go. Once I’m happy with the design, I give it to Richard to draw up in CAD. He’ll cut one set of pieces, and I sew a felt prototype. Sometimes the felt prototype throws up practical issues and we make changes. But if everything works, then it’s officially in production! I always try the masks on too.

Describe your workspace:
My studio is a sleep-out in the back corner of our property – I shot-gunned it before we even bought the house. A big, high wooden cutting table (which was a bargain on TradeMe) takes up most of the space. It’s so good to be able to stand and work without leaning over a low table. Underneath the table is chockablock with materials, tools and other crafty things. I have shelving for my fabrics, an ironing board and a small desk for my sewing machine. My two favourite things in the studio are the blackboard wall for writing up orders, and the pegboard for organising my tools. I love being in my studio, it’s a great space to work in.

Small_Loud-studio blog

Small_Loud-Kakapo blog

smallandloud nz birds blog

Five words that describe your mind:
Curious. Chaotic. Creative. Critical. Clever.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Recently a customer bought a fox mask as a gift and let me know that the birthday boy was “wearing it around the house and making fox noises.” That makes me really happy – to know that children are enjoying the masks and using their imagination.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The first one that comes to mind is Jillian Jiggs. I can still remember the rhyme – “Jillian Jillian Jillian Jiggs, it looks like your room has been lived in by pigs.” Being a creative child, I always had multiple projects on the go and rarely tidied up in between, and mum was always on at me to clean my room. I haven’t changed – my cutting table is usually covered in stuff, and so is the floor.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. I work full time as a Marketing Coordinator so I have to make time for Small & Loud during my evenings and weekends. As my business grows, life is getting busier so I’m learning how to achieve more by doing less.

smallandloud ruru blog

Kakapo-white-background blog

A favourite quote:
My mantra at the moment is a Marie Forleo quote – “Simplify to Amplify.” I’d just started to read The Power of Less when I watched a Marie TV video that talked about similar principles. It works for so many things in life.

Tell us about your pets:
We have a very fluffy, ginger and grey tabby named Alfred. He was a rescue from the Cats Protection League Canterbury, and is full of character. He’ll usually follow me out to my studio and either sit in the sun or by the heater. As soon as I vacate my seat in front of the sewing machine, Alfred often claims that spot too.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Keep at it! Building a business from scratch isn’t easy, but you will make progress. Also be prepared to put a fair bit of money in before you get any out. The labour content for handmade items is usually high, so being efficient with time will help a lot. If you’re doing something you love, it’s all worth it.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a gorgeous Agate keyring here on Felt, from Dr Druzy. I was attracted to the deep purple colour and the rawness of the stone.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
I’ve got a lot of new masks in the pipeline, including more New Zealand birds. I’m planning to expand my product range beyond masks too. Watch this space!

Prize draw!
Joanna has kindly offered a great prize for one lucky Felt reader of your choice of any two masks from her Felt shop (includes postage,total value $55.00). To be in to win this awesome combo, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Joanna’s story and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 14 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase from Small & Loud now »


Small_Loud-masks-on-display blog

Tauhou tête-à-tête

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Hello there! This friendly pair of Tauhou or Silvereyes by Brooke Hartigan is available as an A4 giclée print on matt paper, ready to be framed.

artbybrooke blog


See more Art by Brooke here »


Birds, bush, and sea: the uniquely New Zealand art of Liz Abbott

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Working from her Blueskin Bay studio, full-time artist Liz Abbott draws inspiration for her original oil paintings, pastels and prints from the landscape around her. A well-known New Zealand painter, Liz’s regularly exhibited and award-winning art can be found in public and private collections throughout the world.

lizabbottart pastel of bay


What do you make?
I make pictures in a variety of mediums from woodcuts to pastels to oil paints.

How did you get into your art practice?
I grew up in Christchurch surrounded by large oil paintings hanging on the wall that were created by my great great Aunt Annie Elizabeth Kelly née Abbott (1877-1946) who was a leading NZ professional portrait artist during the 1920s and 30s, so it always seemed normal to me to pursue art as a career.

As a child I attended Saturday morning art classes at the CSA and when I left school I completed a Diploma of Fine Arts with Honours at the Dunedin School of Art, where I majored in printmaking and papermaking. Several decades later I gained a Master of Fine Arts, this time majoring in painting, from the Otago Polytechnic School of Art in Dunedin.

I developed my woodcut prints of New Zealand birds into a business as a way of supporting my other art practices. I make my woodcut prints an open edition which keeps them affordable, accessible, and easy to post – I like providing authentic original artwork that has been made here in New Zealand – this includes the harakeke paper from Whanganui that I print on and the mat boards and frames from Tauranga that I present them in.

What inspires you?
I have always been inspired by the birds, bush and coastline. In our own garden we have daily visits from pīwakawaka (fantails), kererū (New Zealand pigeons), tūī, korimako (bellbirds), riroriro (grey warblers), kotare (kingfishers) and even Australian eastern rosellas!

Blueskin Bay and Doctors Point beach are a five minute walk from home and Orokonui Ecosanctuary – a predator-free home to kākā, takahē and kiwi – is a ten minute drive away. Recently we were lucky enough to visit the northern royal albatrosses (toroa) with their chicks at Taiaroa Head, a half hour drive from Dunedin.

lizabbottart plein air painting seacliff blog

drawing tui from kitchen table blog


Describe your creative process:
Most days include drawing and often I will take my sketchbook and pastels on my walks to work directly from nature. On wet days I will often just draw what is on the kitchen table… my 89 year old neighbour provides me with beautiful home grown flowers to draw. I also take photos of birds to use as reference for my woodcuts – I create several new designs each year.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing a woodcut print:
I start with drawing and playing around with various compositions. I then simplify and scale down the drawing and transfer it on to MDF in reverse before carving the block and printing it on my locally made printing press. Sometimes I will make several carvings before I am happy with the end result. I hand-colour the finished woodcuts with several layers of watercolour so no two prints are exactly the same.


Describe your workspace:
Organised chaos! I am lucky enough to enjoy a large lined double garage with sea views over Blueskin Bay which is the hub of all my making – it is a busy creative space!

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
I have many including my mother who inspires me with her exquisite felting, knitting, crochet and paua jewellery – she has been a prolific and accomplished maker all her life and her work room is a treasure trove of colours, textures and countless ongoing projects – more organised chaos!

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I enjoy all the feedback I get – it is wonderful when people take the time to share their responses to my work!

lizabbottart oil landscape blog

lizabbottart studio blog

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What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
One that stands out is The Borrowers by English author Mary Norton, which features a family of tiny people who live in the walls and floors of a house and “borrow” from the big people. I remember making a model of them for a school project and mum “knitted” some cotton on to pins for me!

What are you reading now?
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and A History of Pictures by David Hockney and Martin Gayford.

What are you currently listening to?
Spotify – it is so much fun looking up favourite artists and discovering new ones. I work best with music!

Recommend an album:
Ernest Ranglin’s Below the Bassline always puts me in a good mood.

A favourite quote:
There were many favourite quotes in our family including: “To thine own self be true and it must follow as night to day thou canst not then be false to any man” (Shakespeare). My grandmother used to tell me “There is no such word as can’t” and that “Every little bit helps, said the old woman as she did wee wee in the sea”!


lizabbotart ti kouka blog

Tell us about your pets:
My husband Rudie and I are the proud parents of Russell, a mixed terrier who accompanies me on my walks – he gets a little impatient when I bring out the drawing materials and is inclined to kick sand to get me to hurry up and throw sticks instead!

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Being a full-time self employed artist involves much more than making pictures. You have to be willing to build good working relationships with outlets and suppliers, market your own work, manage your accounts and fluctuating income as well as being self motivated, energetic and positive!

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
Continuing making pastels and paintings and working on a series of designs featuring extinct birds such as the huia and moa, as well as developing other designs of Dunedin’s architectural attractions to accompany my recent woodcut of Dunedin Railway Station.


lizabbottary press blog

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Liz has very generously offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of a $69 gift voucher (that’s enough for one of Liz’s gorgeous large prints) to be redeemed in her Felt shop. Awesome, thank you so much Liz!

To be in to win this lovely prize, simply leave a comment telling us (a) which New Zealand native bird is your favourite and why, and (b) what you like about Liz’s story and her art. We look forward to reading your responses! The voucher draw will be made on Friday 15 June and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Explore Liz’s beautiful artworks on Felt now »


lizabbottart liz and russell blog

lizabbottart spoonbill card blog

All by hand

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

These beautiful native bird artworks from Liz Abbott Art are made by hand at every step of their creation.

lizabbottart2 blog

First Liz hand-carves woodblocks, and then she inks them up with oil-based ink, using a hand roller or brayer. The inked image is impressed with a hand-operated printing press on to textured paper, hand made from New Zealand flax (harakeke).

Finally, Liz hand colours each woodcut with watercolour – making every print a unique and original work of art.

lizabbottart3 blog

lizabbottart4 blog


Purchase from Liz Abbott Art here »


lizabbottart1 blog

Tui towel? Tui tote? Absolutui!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

superfabjess2 blog

superfabjess1 blog


See more gorgeous native bird print tea towels and totes from NineteenA Design »


Other people would love them too: the voice that inspired a new direction

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Every now and then on Felt we meet a maker who has a truly extraordinary story to tell. Kim Annan of NZ Art is one such artist.

Waxeye on Windsticks by NZ Art

What do you make?
I make Windsticks, a kinetic wind sculpture which also feeds the birds if you wish – or you can just enjoy them for their lovely sculptural value and watch them move and sway in the wind.

How did you get into your craft?
I moved into a new subdivision in early 2000 and I had no trees or plants in my back yard. I had nowhere to hang my bird feeders from, so I was throwing the food on the lawn and my dog was eating it. I tried to train her out of that, but she wouldn’t listen. So I had to think of a way to feed the birds, keep them safe from my dog, and keep my dog away from their food…

I wanted something that looked pretty even when I was not feeding the birds, and I knew it had to be vertical as there was nothing on the section for anything to hang from. That was when Windsticks were born.

2013-06-09-windsticks-057 - WHITE


Then after the first Christchurch earthquake in September 2010, I moved in with my best friend Stephen. I asked Stephen if I could put my Windsticks in his garden as I did not want them to get broken in storage. He said yes, as he loved my Windsticks. Stephen had told me this for years but I thought it was him just being kind as he was such a kind soul. After I installed them I would catch Stephen standing at the window watching them swaying in the breeze and I realised he actually genuinely did like them!

So I decided to make him a set of his own, as I thought he would miss them when I moved out. I made him a set of red ones and we installed them in his garden. We moved them three times in seven days trying to find the perfect spot. On the third try we had that “Ah ha!” moment of “That is the perfect spot.”

I said “I’m working from home tomorrow, so I will photograph them.” I took a photo and showed Stephen it that night. We both loved it (photo below).

Windsticks in Stephens garden

The very next day, 22 February 2011, Stephen was killed in the CTV site.

Stephen only had his Windsticks for seven days, but in those seven days we talked about them every day. They were the last conversations that we had, and his voice got stuck in my head: “You need to do more with these, other people would love them too.” His voice played over and over in my head every day, like a tape stuck on loop.

His voice played over and over in my head every day, like a tape stuck on loop.

So after I found a place of my own, and I got my drill press out of storage, I decided to make a few Windsticks and go to a show. Stephen was right, other people do love them too! I even won a bronze medal at the 2014 Ellerslie Flower Show.

2013-03-09-ellerslie-flower-show Lake Display


Dealing with Stephen’s death was difficult and all the positive feedback from customers and the joy that my Windsticks brought them was the most therapeutic thing for me. Now there is a little piece of myself, Stephen and Bailey dog bringing smiles and joy to people and little birds all over New Zealand.

This has been a silver lining in a very difficult time. This experience confirmed to me that if you find the perfect gift for a loved one, you should give it to them then, do not wait until their birthday or Christmas as life can be unpredictable and you never know what can happen. Stephen got so much enjoyment out of his Windsticks in those seven days.

In 2013, I was given permission to install a large set of red Windsticks on the CTV site (photo below). It is the only sculpture on the CTV site. On anniversary day this year, I wired on 30 real white roses to give a moving flower sculpture for the day.

Windsticks - CTV site 22-2-2016

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No. But I have always been artistic. I also do landscape photography, stone mosaic work and stonemats, and last year I learnt abstract painting. I love learning new things and one day I would love to learn casting glass and also Oamaru stone carving.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
It would be stones. Every Windstick has two river stones set on it. All the stones are hand selected and drilled by me.

Tell us about the techniques involved in developing and producing your windsticks
I spent time choosing the eight colours and getting them to the exact shade that I wanted. The stones are hand selected and staggered at five different heights, which allows for varying weights of food, and they also move slightly differently in the wind. I have chosen a diameter on the wands that means that they will move even in the slightest of winds.

I wanted to feed the little birds, but not the big ones. I was frustrated in the past how the large birds like black birds and thrushes would bully the small pretty birds like wax eyes, bellbirds and finches away from the food. So I spent time working out what diameter the 2m Windsticks needed to be that the larger birds were too heavy for them. I have a large thrush here that knows he is too heavy to land on the 2m Windsticks but he wants the food so much that sometimes he tries to grab a bite of the food as he flies by! It is really funny to watch.



Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I create things that I love and then often I find that others like it too.

Describe your workspace:
I work from home. My garage is fully dedicated as my creative space and I have another room as an office. I can look at my window and see the birds feeding on my Windsticks, and when I take my coffee break I spend time with my ducks and ducklings at the creek in my back yard.

Five words that describe your mind:
Fast, bright, passionate, analytical, creative.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I bought some Windsticks from you and they are installed in the garden. They are awesome, within two hours the wax eyes turned up and were having a feed. I can’t get the smile off my face.”

2014-Aug-06-windsticks-127 - white windsticks with kiwifruit

What are you currently listening to?
Sia – This Is Acting.

Recommend an album:
A classic that I like but is little known – Amos Lee – self titled album called Amos Lee.

What are you reading now?
I am really enjoying some books by Napoleon Hill. I have just been listening to an audiobook called “Napoleon Hill in his own voice”. Napoleon Hill’s books look at the principals to achieving success.

In 1908 Napoleon Hill was given an assignment by the wealthiest man in the world, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, to spend 20 years studying him and other successful and wealthy people like Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Elmer R Gates and Thomas Edison to discover a simple formula for success. In 1937 Napoleon published Think and Grow Rich and his teachings have been made into the successful “The Secret.”

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
I find stories like Napoleon Hill inspiring as he worked for free for those 20 years, he was never paid a cent as he studied those successful people. He understood the value of spending time with them. He really wanted to share the learnings with the world to help others. During the 20 years everyone including his family thought he was mad working for free as he struggled financially yet the people he was studying were very rich. But eventually the joke was on them as Napoleon’s Think and Grow Rich book has now sold over 100 million copies, and in Napoleon’s words, he said he ended up with more money than everyone in his family added together for many generations back. Among other things Napoleon shows that if you believe in something, never ever give up, no matter what everyone else thinks. Always believe in yourself.

A favourite quote:
“People are like stained glass windows, they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elizabeth Kubler Ross.

“Happiness is not in having what you want, but wanting what you have.” – from the Thunderbirds.



Tell us about your pets:
I love animals and have had an array of animals in my life – including a pet penguin when I was 7! We found him with a broken wing and we rehabilitated him back to the wild. My lovely dog passed away before the quakes and the house I live in now is too small for a dog, but it does have a creek in the back yard and that brings other opportunities.

So at this time in my life I have what I call “Nature’s free pets” – ducks and ducklings and all the birds that feed on my Windsticks like wax eyes, bellbirds and finches, among many others like fantails that enjoy my garden.

I am in the central city of Christchurch but there can be 100 birds in my back yard at any time, it is like a small sanctuary in amongst the urban CBD. The ducks have their own duck bath and a lovely spot to sit by the creek.

Last year one of the ducks turned up with a very badly damaged leg. He struggled to stand or walk and would fall over trying to walk. He was like that for weeks. We took care of him and kept him fed and safe. Last week I was excited when he turned up with a wife and 14 ducklings!

The ducks are well trained – I use the same principals of training that I did for my dog. When I whistle they come running – that way I know if they are ducks that have lived here before or new ducks. I have at least 15 ducks that visit and over summer we will have over 40 ducklings. I can hand feed them and all the ducklings are all friendly enough to sit on my knee. I find nature very relaxing and the ducks, although not as bright as my dog, are more intelligent that I ever gave them credit for and they are trainable. They bring me lots of smiles and joy.

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I would be the superhero of my feathered friends, making little birds fat and happy all over New Zealand from feeding on my Windsticks and keeping them safe from cats and dogs as they feed well above the ground.



What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
If you make something for yourself that you are passionate about and love, the chances are that others will love it too. Create a listing on Felt and see what happens!

It is important that the photo is great, that you have good text describing the item. Try and convey what you love about what you have created. Remember the customer cannot pick it up and touch it, so you have to convey all of that with your words and photos. Customers love getting to know the creator and some will fall in love with the story about you and your creation. (Excellent advice! -Ed.)

Believe in yourself and never ever give up.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I purchased a lovely hand painted cushion. I loved the colours and the design and it perfectly matched the colours in my house.

What’s in store for 2016?
October to January is summer trade show time! I attend many of the larger shows around the South Island and some in the North Island. Events coming up in the next month include:
Thursday 27 October – the Culverden Fete
Sunday 30 October – Oxford Garden Fete
Thursday 3 November – Geraldine Summer Fete
Sunday 6 November – Garden Marlborough in Blenheim

Kim has a special offer running right now in her Felt shop NZ Art: purchase any item before 31 October, and go in the draw to win a bundle of five beautiful 2m Windsticks in the colour of your choice, shipped anywhere in NZ. With a cost of $75 plus $28 shipping, this is a total prize value of $103, so place an order now!

Competition open to New Zealand residents only. The winner will be drawn by Kim on 31 October and will be notified directly.


Beautiful new designs from Native Creative

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

White Heron (Kotuku)​ : Plywood Art Block by Native Creative

Native Creative has just released a lovely collection of prints on wood, featuring new designs of kereru on puriri, kotuku and huia on karaka. These art block versions are printed onto beautiful birch plywood and make a stunning modern collection hung together (there are eight designs to choose from) – or you can buy them as prints on bamboo veneer, ready to frame in a more traditional style.

We think these are a great gift idea for expat friends or family overseas – light, postable and a little piece of home!

Kereru on Puriri​ : Plywood Art Block by Native Creative


See Native Creative’s full range »


One idea. Two artists. Three beautiful books.

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

Tui and Kowhai journal, limited edition by Mettaville and Holly Roach

Auckland artists Alison Koh and Holly Roach have joined forces to create a gorgeous set of limited edition, screen printed, hand bound journals.

The cotton fabric covers are screen printed by Holly with her original designs, then filled with natural white recycled paper and bound by Alison using waxed linen thread. The coptic binding allows the finished books to lie flat when open.

Tui and Kowhai journal, limited edition by Mettaville and Holly Roach

Tui and Kowhai journal, limited edition by Mettaville and Holly Roach

Tui and Kowhai journal, limited edition by Mettaville and Holly Roach

There are three beautiful designs to choose from in this collaborative collection by two of Felt’s very talented makers.


Order yours now from Mettaville »


The Grey Warbler/Riroriro by Rea Art

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

The Grey Warbler / Riroriro (Blue) by Rea Art

You’re more likely to hear one of these shy birds than see one in the New Zealand bush – their distinctive warble is beautiful and melodic. For Māori, the sound of the Riroriro signified it was kōanga, or springtime. This gorgeous fine art print is reproduced from an original oil painting by Rea Art.


See more fine art prints by Rea Art »