For the Love of Art…Meet My Friend Annie and Artist, May Cao…

Last September, three weeks after I first began blogging, I posted about a friend of mine, Annie and a talented artist by the name of May Cao. Recently, Annie told me May’s work is now available in a local studio called, Two Doors Art Studio and Gallery, located in Roswell, Georgia.

I’ve repeated the post below but have also added additional information at the end about an upcoming “Artist Reception” where those who live in this area will have the opportunity to meet May in person. If you fall in love with May’s beautiful creations, as I have, but don’t happen to live in this area, take heart…May often paints portraits of people or their pets from photographs.
All May’s contact information, as well as information about the upcoming reception, is available at the bottom of this post. Hope you enjoy this “re-post” and find this peek into the world of an artist, her model and the creation of a painting, as fascinating as I did. 🙂

From September 2008:
Recently, when I was chatting with Annie, a dear friend of mine, she mentioned she had done a “sitting” that day. I asked what a sitting was and Annie told me she occasionally sits or models for artists here in the Atlanta area.

How interesting, I thought! I asked a lot of questions (LOL) and Annie patiently answered. Annie told me, “Modeling for an artists is generally called “modeling” and the real title of my job (I do get paid to model) is ‘Artist’s Model’. Annie also said that modeling is sometimes referred to as “doing a ‘sitting’ and frequently artists will take a photograph of their model so they can continue working on the piece after the session is over.

This photograph of Annie was taken during a sitting by a very talented artist, May Cao, for whom Annie models frequently.

Annie told me, “I have met this very fine artist named May Cao, who simply inspires me. She is a beautiful person and her core being is that of true kindness and graciousness.”

Annie continued, “It all began for me when my good friend, Ray, was asked to model for another very skilled artist named, Sandra Anderson. He told me about his new venture. I made contact with Sandra after seeing her work and the rest is history. Rather new history, as I just started modeling for artists in early July 2008. I met May Cao on July 7th at her home, and the result of that very first sitting was the pastel called “Girl In Straw Hat”.

‘Girl in Straw Hat’ is the piece May is working on here:
Annie said, “I became an artist’s model because I love art and I love to be around artists. I am inspired when I am in the presence of artists. I am in complete awe of people who can paint figures and do portraits, and the like. It just fascinates me. Bottom line for me, it’s an honor to be an artist’s model. I don’t mind the time and sometimes the pain of an uncomfortable pose.”

‘Girl in Straw Hat’. was still not complete in the photo below. I find it just fascinating watching this beautiful piece unfold. I, too, am completely in awe of the talent it takes to create such a lovely and enchanting piece.

Annie described her first meeting/sitting with May saying, “Ah….the first time was a joy, and it is still a joy to sit for her and for other local artists.” The sitting for ‘Girl in Straw Hat’ actually took place in the home of May, which Annie describes as being “like a sanctuary…a vacation getaway.” Annie said, May “has a lovely home for an artist’s painting session” and “it reminded me of Hawaii…very lush with lots of flora and fauna, too!”

That day, a group of five artists, who are all part of The Mable House Art Group, joined May in painting Annie as she posed on a wicker settee in May’s home. Annie said, “We met at May’s home because the art center was closed for a period of time over the summer, so May opened up her home to host two sessions: July 7th and July 14th.”

In the picture below, Annie is holding May’s piece and she is surrounded by the paintings of the other artists who were there that day. I just love this pic and Annie is such a lovely model.

I’ve learned so much talking and exchanging e-mails with Annie over the last few days. Annie told me, “Artists of all levels employ artist’s models and most often we attend art sessions in studios where there is proper lighting. All artists need are two things, and that is to paint and to paint often! Many artists prefer to use live models. It seems to help because we’re in 3-D, vs. a flat photo.”

Annie continued, “I do allow artists to take many photos so that after the sitting they can work on their pieces until we meet again. May, is highly skilled at painting from photographs. I just love to pose for her when time allows because I enjoy her company and I love to see what she is going to make come alive on her canvas.”

Annie ended by saying, “In addition to painting consistently, the works that are created in the sessions are often used for artist’s portfolios and possibly used for gallery shows that they might be doing, or for juried exhibitions. It all depends on the artist. But all in all, artists need to paint and paint often.”

This is the completed pastel of Annie, titled, Girl in Straw Hat. Isn’t it gorgeous?!!

Annie also modeled for an oil painting May created titled, ‘Kimono’. Below you will see two photos taken during the sitting, followed by a Black and White painting.

May is wonderfully talented and can paint any subject, as shown below in this painting of a cute little white dog.

This one is titled, ‘Wolves’. I can feel the cold…stunning!

Here are some additional pieces which show May’s unlimited talent and expertise:

‘African Beauty’

Beauty and Strength’

A model was not used for this piece titled, ‘Butterfly’. Annie said, “this is an image that May had in her mind.” Wow, wouldn’t you love to be inside May’s head for just a day. Just gorgeous!

Portrait of J.S. Bach…
I especially love this piece simply titled, ‘Waiting’

A beautiful pastel of Annie titled ‘Annie’. May was still working on this piece, at this point.

Can you see the changes being made?

The finished piece…

This lovely pastel caught Annie by surprise. She didn’t realize May was working on it until very recently because May created it by using only a photograph she had taken weeks before. May really knows how to capture Annie’s soft feminine features…just beautiful!

I thought after seeing all of these lovely works of art, you might be interested in learning more about the artist, May Cao. Annie forwarded the following biographical information, and I am in awe of the journey May has taken to reach this level of talent.

May Cao, professional portrait artist, received her degree and early training from The Art Degree Institute of Liaoning, Shenyang, near Beijing in the Peoples Republic of China. After winning four major awards and working her way through various government levels in the port city of Dalian, where May was born, she moved to New York City and worked as a textile designer and portrait artist and subsequently opened up her own studio in Syracuse specializing in her ability to capture the personalities of famous subjects and local professionals on canvas.

May expresses her gifts in oil painting and in pastels, as well as charcoal drawings. Her work is in the Classical style. She has such a perception for fine detail, her pastels look as if they had been painted in oil. May brings great empathy and compassion to the subject at hand. Her art career of more than 30 years painting and teaching has culminated in a specialty. She is also able to use severely damaged and almost unusable photographs of deceased loved ones to recreate a likeness in portrait form for families to cherish for generations.

May opened up her studio at the Galleria Mall in early 1996. Her deft touch in pastels, as well as oil, can be appreciated in portraits as rich and famous as Marilyn Monroe and football’s Jimmy Brown, to those of the average and unknown, including paintings of lively and beloved pets. May has no pets of her own right now, but loves dogs and cats whose companionship she has enjoyed most of her life since early childhood. May came to the United States in 1989, and loves the liberty of expressing herself here without repression and restraint. She resides in Marietta, Georgia with her husband, Ron. May has two grown daughters who reside in Texas and Massachusetts.

When not painting, May relaxes by reading mostly history and biographies of famous artists, writers and musicians. Her second love after painting is taking care of her house plants. May welcomes you to contact her if a portrait or other specialty piece is desired. May Cao can be e-mailed at [email protected].

I would like to thank both Annie and May, for giving all of us a glimpse into their world, a world that leads to the creation of beautiful and timeless pieces of art.

May Cao’s lovely paintings may be seen at:
Two Doors Art Studio & Gallery
26 Webb Street, Suite 3
Roswell GA 30075
Located in Historic Roswell, just off Canton Street

An upcoming special event:
Two Doors Art Studio & Gallery presents:
May Cao: Classic Portraits and Impressionistic Landscapes

Meet the Artist Reception:
Saturday, March 21, 2009
6 pm to 9 pm

“Classically trained Chinese artist May Cao will delight your eyes and your spirit with her paintings and pastels. May has a way of capturing the personality of her subjects whether she is drawing or painting people, animals, or landscapes. She is an award winning international artist.”
Live portrait demonstration! Watch artist May Cao bring a portrait to life before your eyes as she demonstrates her style of portraiture.

To view more of May Cao’s work, you may visit her website by clicking HERE.

Thursday is Tablescape Thursday! If you aren’t familiar with Tablescape Thursday, just click on the pink TT button located on my sidebar. See you Thursday! 🙂

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  1. She certainly is a wonderful portrait artist, and your friend is beautiful.

  2. Susan I had seen this when you posted part of it earlier and found it fascinating–What a process! How neat for Annie to know she has an immortality of sorts. Thanks for sharing this interesting story and the talent of May!

  3. southerninspiration says

    Oh my word…..gorgeous!!!




  5. Kathy's Red Door Welcome says

    Your friend Annie is quite a beautiful model and the artist, well I have the utmost respect for her talent.

  6. What beautiful paintings, thank you so much for sharing them with us!

  7. Thank you so much for this post .. I am going to let my son and daughter in law who live in Roswell know about her and the event – they appreciate wonderful art….

  8. Hi Susan,
    I loved this post! It was so informative and fun plus the portraits are absolutely stunning. May Cao is so talented and your friend Annie has great bone structure, so perfect for modeling. Thank-you for sharing this wonderful story. Cindy

  9. Evening, Sweet Susan. Oh, I remember this post about May and her awesome talent! The paintings are just incredible. Thanks for sharing. Hope your week is going well.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 🙂

  10. Glenda/MidSouth says

    Absolutely beautiful work, and your friend is very pretty. Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Wow! She’s really a fan-tab-u-lous artist!

    BTW, I turn off my “word verification” on my blog, and the comment box is on the same page, for people who block or hate pop-ups.

    Makes it easy for everyone.

    Love your blog.

  12. Wsprsweetly Of Cottages says

    Everything you post on your blog is simply exquisite and this is no exception. Thank you for sharing this wonderful artists work with us.

  13. All of the paintings are just stunning. May is certainly talented and really shows the soul of her subject. Your friend Ann is just gorgeous, she does indeed make a beautiful subject to paint. Hugs, Marty

  14. TattingChic says

    Thank you for sharing this amazing artist’s work! May is amazing! Annie is also a lovely lady.

  15. I’d give a lot for an ounce of her talent. I can barely paint stick people. Your friend is pretty too.

  16. Momovthree says

    Amazing, such talent here. I’m so glad you shared with us. Coincidentally I was just looking at a website at an amazing artist who will be featured in a local gallery. As I looked at the pictures, I thought about my lack of “real” art. These are just gorgeous!

  17. Susan, absolutely gorgeous…what talent!
    Thanks for sharing,

  18. kari and kijsa says

    How talented she is! We love the girl in the straw hat best!

    Have a blessed and wonderful day!

    smiles, kari & kijsa

  19. Beaux Mondes Designs says

    Great post Susan!

    A very talented artist indeed. A beautiful model to boot. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. I find it remarkable when two such similar and beautiful souls unite.

  21. I remember this when you posted it. Annie is beautiful and May is so talented. A great combination!…Christine

  22. What an interesting and informative post, I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  23. DebraK from ~the Bunnies Bungalow~ says

    Oh my gosh! it’s all so beautiful. That dog looks just like my sweet doggie that is no longer with us.

    What a talent! Take care, DebraK

  24. May’s work is beautiful Susan. It is hard to believe she uses the medium of pastels. (I do hope RMS Artist Kathy who is a talented Artist herself, pops in and takes a little peek.) Glad I didn’t miss this. Thank you! -Brenda-

  25. What a fun post to read, thanks for sharing.
    Holy Cow she is talented!!

  26. Thoughtfully blended hearts says

    Wow, thanks for the introduction to a wonderful artist…her work is wonderful…

  27. Stunning. Her work is amazing. I loved seeing the paintings unfold and how much depth she puts in her work. Beautiful

    Have a Happy Day


  28. Susan, thank you. I remember your original post, and how I was captivated by the work of this artist. I appreciate you letting us know about this showing and the availability of her work.

  29. Pat@Back Porch Musings says

    I remember your post about this wonderfully gifted artist, Susan. Thank you for sharing it, again! Fabulous!

  30. Debbie @ says

    HI Susan, I remember this post. And it is even lovelier now. what beautiful work and such beautiful talent. Those pictures are really amazing. Hope your day is lovely.

  31. Those are so beautiful. What a talented lady!

    Have a great day, Denise

  32. What a fabulous portrait artist! Beautiful! Linda

  33. Linda/ "Mom..." says

    ***** Sure wish I could go WITH you, SS!!! Love, Linda

  34. Oh, yes…I remember you posting of this before. Such a talented artist and the model is so beautiful.
    xo bj
    i will join you for Thurs. tablescape…

  35. Miss Janice says

    Beautiful paintings and your friend is gorgeous!

  36. Beautiful paintings..a very interesting post, and a very talented lady!

  37. Jo - To a Pretty Life says

    Thank you for sharing the art of such a talented artist! I love the style of her work. It’s beautiful.

    I have seen the name of your blog several different places, and have meant to check it out. Yesterday I finally did, and I must say that it is lovely. I will be back!

  38. Stunning. Incredible art and incredible artist.

  39. What a fascinating post …I enjoyed every word of that.

    …Annie does make a beautiful model and May is unbelievably talented ….very much like the old master impressionists.

    And its very true what Annie said about artists needing to paint and paint often.

    …brought me memories of my first painting model in my university days when he dropped his robe and was in the buff !! LOL


  40. Justine/Justiney/Tiney says

    Holy cow. Her artwork is so exquisite that I’d swear I was looking at a photo, not a painting. WOW.

    Justine 😮 )

  41. Lady Katherine says

    This is just beautiful! The artist, and the model. I love it. I wish I had a painting of me, for my children, childrens! How great that would be to have one with my spinning wheel. I have been thinking of this, but may just take a photo and have it blown up, instead of Scaret, it will be Katherine. lol I have missed out on so much, I had my grandchildren for months now. Hoping life will get better and I can visit more often. I barely get to do a post. Love this Susan. This was great!

  42. Susan, this was a very interesting post. It is amazing to see how the changes take place in the work. Thank you for sharing. It makes me wish that I were close enough to come to this show. Hmmm maybe a little trip is in the making. 🙂

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