By Susan G. Ellis
It takes 90 – 100 hours of intense detail work looking through a magnifying glass for local artist Yvonne Long to produce miniature art on a photograph-size 4” x 6” medium. Yvonne Long’s portfolio of three miniature art pieces will be featured along with miniature art pieces by other artists at the Leepa-Rattner Museum during the Miniature Art Society of Florida’s 40th Annual International Miniature Art Exhibition from January 18 – February 15, 2015.
On display will be Long’s first miniature artwork, “Lake Erie Sunset,” painted 20 years ago on Ivorine. Also on display will be the “Harvester”, painted two years ago; and “Twelve Mile Creek”, completed three months ago. Long has a miniature work-in-progress, her fifth, called the “Telephone Box” that consists of an English phone booth painted green instead of the traditional red, with a cow standing next to it. She is painting this on an even smaller piece of Ivorine that is 4” high x 2.5” wide.
Painting miniatures for Yvonne Long began twenty years ago. She was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, and was raised in the small neighboring town of Harbor Creek. When she was a child, her mother fostered Long’s interest in art by getting her art books and art lessons. Long took art classes in high school and was accepted to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Despite her education in the arts, her life moved in a different direction. She went into dental assisting to have a steady career. She moved to Florida, back to Pennsylvania, and then back to Florida again. She married John Long from Florida who currently works as Academic Chair in the College of Computer and Information Technology at St. Petersburg College. After raising a family and working as a dental assistant for 30 years, she retired from dental assisting and now devotes herself to her art and her family.
According to Long, painting miniature art has a lot in common with dental assisting. “I liked the detail. I liked working on crowns,” Long explained. Dental assisting involves looking through a magnifying glass to work on tiny objects that go in the mouth, creating works of art on teeth. Now, Yvonne Long wears her magnifying glasses to paint tiny works of art.
Long estimates she has created 20 – 30 works of art in her life. Her largest is a 10’ wide by 4’ high painting of “The Last Supper”, which she was commissioned to paint for the Pasadena Presbyterian Church in memory of a member named Phyllis Trusdale. Long gave the painting to the church as a gift.
Long’s favorite medium to paint with is oil. “It takes patience. It takes a while to dry. You can take your time with it,” says Long. Creating these small works of art is very precise, detailed work. With the many layers and glazes used, the miniature art “reflects light.” When looking at the art through a magnifying glass, the admirer can see the many layers of paint and the reflections. Years ago miniature art was created on ivory, which allowed it to project a luminescence. Since ivory is not a legal medium today, two other surfaces are available that perform similarly. They are Ivorine and Lumabase.
Long takes art lessons from Joan Cornish Willis, an artist from England living in Pinellas County and a member of Britain’s Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers. Joan is considered a world class master of painting “in the little.” Long also spends most Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Pinellas Park Art Society, where she can paint and collaborate with other artists as well as take classes.
After 90 hours of painting, sanding, and glazing many layers of paint on a 4” x 6” photo size medium, Yvonne Long produces her miniature art. Meet Yvonne Long and watch her work on her newest miniature painting on January 29, 2015 at the Leepa-Rattner Museum located on the Tarpon Springs of St. Petersburg College from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. You can also see more of her works of art at https://www.sites.google.com/site/yvonnelongartist.
© Copyright 2014 Susan G. Ellis, Ph.D.