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My Story

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
These beautiful words, from Mary Oliver's poem, The Summer Day,
remind and inspire me. They remind me that, first and foremost,
my life is entirely what I make of it.

~Live & Let Bee~

The Apiary Artist, a subsidiary of Shadow Horse Studios, LLC., is nestled into the quiet landscape of the backside of Furnace Mountain. Furnace Mountain is tallest peak of the Catoctin Mountain range in Loudoun County Virginia. LouLou Bee is a small and very unique homegrown business specializing in fine art, handmade encaustic paint, natural artisan honey, honey-made products, and conservation awareness. I am a creative professional who is deeply moved by the simple act of creating and finding solace in the natural world. I do this for me, my family, for you, and for them, the bees who mean so much to our survival!

My personal motto: I am Bee-coming the Queen Bee, in charge of my life, passionately pursuing my ambition to Bee-Creative as the Apiary Artist!

~In the Beginning~

The Apiary Artist's story finds its beginning, when I was just a child, dreaming, as children do, with a big imagination and an innocent heart. In 1992, at the young age of 12, I saw the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" with my Grandmother in my grandparents' New England shore cottage in Niantic Connecticut. When the scene came on showing Mary Stewart Masterson's character Idgie Threadgoode handling a colony of swarming wild honey bees barehanded, something inside of me, said, "Hey would you look at that! How cool is that?" I was hooked.

The character of Idgie Threadgoode was also, in a way, very symbolic of my own personal spirit. I was (am still) my family's wild child, full of dreams, a natural curiosity for the world, and never having a desire to "fit in." I was always doing my own thing, with as much impulse as passion in the typical Sagittarius spirit, sometimes with devastatingly tragic results. But, we live and learn, and life has taught me a very valuable lesson, when you get knocked down, you get up and go harder! Have no mercy in the relentless pursuit of your dreams!

~by golly, I was going to have me some bees someday, and that's all there was to it~

I feel more at home in the company of horses and other creatures than with people :) LOL

Despite being bound and determined to one day make beekeeping a reality, that dream was put on the back burner while I finished my schooling. I attended the Hartford Art School, where I obtained my BFA in Illustration and minors in Photography and Art History. Following my BFA program I enrolled in the prestigious MAT/MFA program at the Maryland Institute College of Art with a focus in art education and studio art and painting. After I completed my degrees, I opened my own commercial studio business, Shadow Horse Studios, working as a freelance illustrator, photographer, and creating fine art whenever I had the time to spare.

Not wanting to be a starving artist, I also went into art education, where I taught in the public and private school systems for a number of years until I was pregnant with my son. I left the teaching world and made the choice to work full time as a freelancer from home, and working as a wedding photographer, learning the challenging task of balancing working and spending time with my young son. Most of my illustration work was as a digital illustrator and colorist for the gaming industry. I was a part of bringing author Jeanne Betancourt's 44-book series of pony books published by Scholastic to life in the online children's Club Pony Pals.  

Freelancing had its ups and downs, especially in the areas I did a lot of own my work in. The computer art industry was growing increasingly competitive. The combination of the growth of next generation graduates oversaturating the market and the increased influence of cheap computer art and design work from an ever increasing Asian market drove down the cost of the industry. Many editorials, marketing firms, design firms, etc., began down-sizing their art departments or getting rid of them all together,  and most stopped using local freelancers. It was far cheaper to begin out-sourcing large portions of work to "digital" or "cyber" sweatshops in Asian countries.

The computer art industry, major portions of the art and graphic design world, as well as the photographic industries have been evolving and changing at lightening speed. With all the changes happening so fast and the increased demand to lower prices to maintain some competitive edge to bring work in, I was forced to evolve to survive. One can only go so low with pricing before its no longer worth the effort, no matter how much someone loves their line of work. There are bills to pay and family to take care of. 

Snow Angel
I still illustrate, but mostly for my own greeting cards and such. I do plan on publishing my own children's books soon!

~Changes & Growth~

The rapid work decline in American based freelance illustration and design projects due to the Asian markets ability to provide cheaper options meant an unstable income.  The photography market, seemingly overnight, became flooded with professional photographers, due in part to the ease of acquiring the digital technology and tools to become a "pro" photographer, and the bar was suddenly set low where pricing was concerned and a BFA or MFA was no longer a requirement to be consider a "real" photography professional.

I didn't want to sell my talent or time short and when I saw photography becoming a career that only provided a discretionary income, if that. I didn't want to sacrifice myself or the time I had with my family for what has quickly become referred to as "hobby" business or side business. I knew in my heart, that while I was still passionate about photography, I didn't want to do wedding work any longer and I wanted to continue pursuing fine art photography and painting from my studio with an emphasis on wildlife and nature.

As my son grew he became interested in sports and I wanted to be there at his games to support and cheer him on, traveling on weekends to photograph weddings, trying to arrange childcare and a shooting schedule, suddenly lost its appeal- that's not to mention the long hours behind a computer for post-processing work.  It was those tremendous hours that wreaked havoc on my personal health: mental and physical. I realized, right then and there, I HATED wasting my time (lots of all-nighters too) sitting in front of a computer screen. I wanted to be outside, I wanted to be active, and spend more time with my family. I wanted to feel alive again.

So, I stopped, cold turkey. Nearly put my camera down for over a year, packed up some of my cameras, and sold most of everything else. I purged it all and it felt amazing! I began getting interested in minimal lifestyle changes and spending much more time in my studio, with family, and out and about! It was as if suddenly, I had emerged from a dark dense cave and for the first time, I was feeling the thrill of life again. It took a while to fully come to terms with the idea that I had been struggling through artist burnout (yes, it is a thing), but finally, that grip just let itself go and I began to recognize that person looking back at me from the reflection within the mirror- it had been a long time since I saw her!

River Reflections
I still pick up a camera from time to time, to do my own work. Mostly I focus on wildlife photography and processing images as one of a kind fine art pieces by applying textures and encaustic medium.


It wasn't until my son was four that I  began searching for additional directions to expand my art business. In 2014 I met with  the sip and paint company, Pinot's Palette, considering the viability of opening a location in Western Loudoun. After researching the idea for a year, even after approval from the company itself, I realized, with the help of a very business savvy father, that this buzzing trend didn't look so great in the long run. With a careful eye we scrutinized the ins and outs of the niche and even studied similar sip and paint concepts in the DC Metro area, and noticing the sheer amount of local Loudoun wineries running their own paint and sip events directly out of their locations, we quickly realized it just wasn't worth the investment risk. The market here was too oversaturated. Loudoun County is, essentially the capital of Virginia's Wine country, if not the entire East Coasts. There is quite literally, 6 wineries within walking or jogging distance of my own house. 

I read a headline on a magazine, while standing in line at Target, about the decline of pollinators, and I suddenly feel it was time to put that beekeeping dream on the fore burner! In 2016, I began my quest, learning everything I could! Bee-coming the QueenBee and being a BeeCreative was my purpose and motto! I even made a return to working with the encaustic art medium, but with my own handmade wax paints, using bee wax I cultivate myself. I found additional inspiration from the work of Kara Brook of Waxing Kara who I consider to be a major figure in the artist and beekeeper realm!

Up & Over
Horses play a big role as subjects in my artworks. The horse as always had a big role and influence in my life.


It is through my love of honey bees that I have been given a renewed ambition to incorporate all the passions I have into one solid business; the bees, the art, the homesteading, the handmade bee-based products, my foodie fun, my family, and my pursuit of a simple natural lifestyle. I have gone all in and I am not looking back! I only wish to go forward and I am currently pursing additional educational opportunities to become a master beekeeper.

I invite you to follow along with me on my journey...