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Success on Paper: Cindy Baird, Watercolor Artist

If you’re an artist who wonders if prints could ever represent your work authentically, Cindy Baird can relate.

See how the right paper (plus some valuable printing tips) resulted in “spot-on” renditions of her art.

Left Brain, Meet Right Brain

An accountant for over 40 years, Cindy Baird had long embraced writing, drawing, and quilting to counterbalance all that number-crunching. Then she took a watercolor class in 2018. When her latest hobby evolved into a business, Cindy had two big concerns: How would her paintings translate into print, and how would she ever figure out the world of printing?

Enter Red River Paper

“Watercolors are a challenge to bring to life in print,” Cindy tells us. “I was worried that the color and gradations would not come through well. I chose [Red River Paper’s] Polar Matte for my art prints and note cards, and the way that this paper brings out the colors of my art is outstanding! Side by side, the comparison is spot-on.”

A great example is Cindy’s “Kitchen Wall Art,” a series of four images printed on our Polar Matte paper (see image below). She tells us this story: After laying her original watercolors on a table next to some test prints, her 8-year-old granddaughter, a budding artist, examined the pairings and asked: “How did you get those [prints] to look just like the paintings?” We’re not surprised — Polar Matte’s lack of surface reflection makes details the primary focus of every print, bringing professional quality to your work.

Cindy came into the printing process as a rookie in need of advice. She found two of our online resources valuable: (1) Inkjet Photo Paper Sample Kits, which help artists figure out which paper they need, and (2) free, downloadable Greeting Card Templates, which Cindy praised as a “lifesaver.” We love hearing that our resources are helping artists turn their art into viable businesses.

See More of Cindy’s Work

Although Cindy started her business creating pet portraits, she has broadened her subject matter to wildlife, still life, wildflowers, and holiday themes. To shop an assortment of note cards and art prints, visit Cindy’s Reflections Watercolors Etsy shop. You can follow her art journey on Instagram. Go to her pet portraits website for commission inquiries. And to read about her most difficult and emotional project to date, see our Q&A with Cindy below.

“Kitchen Wall Art,” a recent addition to Cindy’s Reflections Watercolors Etsy shop. Printed on our 5” x 7” Polar Matte paper.
”Coneflower” note cards on Polar Matte paper, printed from a watercolor painting of Cindy’s native plant garden.
”White Tail Deer” art print from Cindy’s original watercolor painting, printed on Polar Matte.

Enjoy our Q&A with Cindy Baird…

What year was your business founded and how did you get started?

Although I started taking watercolor classes in 2018, in early 2020, I painted a portrait of a friend’s dog as a surprise gift for her. She was so pleased that she commissioned me to paint her other two dogs! Word spread, and as I received more requests to do pet portraits, Reflections Watercolors soon became a business.

Tell us a little about what product or service your business offers.

In addition to offering original pet portraits, I have expanded my business to include art prints, note cards, holiday cards, and stickers. Since my goal is not only to have a successful business but to continually improve as a watercolor artist, I also work on pieces for exhibitions and take classes and workshops.

What makes your business unique?

For me, it’s important to create and control the entire process, from the original watercolor painting to the finished product. For my pet portraits, I work closely with the owner to capture the dog or cat’s personality. My art prints and other printed products often come from my own photos, as well as from my imagination, so that the art truly is unique and one of a kind.

Where do you source your raw materials from?

For my originals, I paint on Fabriano Artistico soft-press cotton paper with Daniel Smith watercolors. My printing is on Red River Polar Matte paper and my printer is a Canon Pro 300 using Canon-brand pigment-based inks.

In what ways does the business reflect your own personality?

As a lifelong dog owner, hiker, and gardener, I enjoy bringing these passions to life in my paintings. I have also had a somewhat linear career in accounting, so I am grateful for the creativity and impressionism that watercolor offers.

Who are your typical customers?

My pet portrait customers have varied from pet owners to family members who want to present a gift or a remembrance. My art prints are finding their way into holiday decor, baby nurseries, and kitchen walls. I love that my note cards and holiday cards are winging their way around the world.

What is the most interesting project you've encountered in the course of your work?

In 2022, I created a watercolor from a very old and tattered Polaroid photo that my late husband took over 30 years ago while training to be a crane operator. It was a difficult and emotional piece. After appearing in an exhibition here in Ft. Worth, the watercolor was purchased to hang in the same union hall my husband had apprenticed in many years ago.

What has Red River Paper done for your business? Is there a particular challenge Red River Paper has helped you overcome or a goal they helped you meet?

It is so great to have a local Texas company as a resource. I went into this printing process as a complete newbie, from purchasing equipment to creating the final product — so I needed help! I started with Red River’s sample kits, which allow artists to hone in on their exact needs. The printing templates available for free download were a lifesaver, and their other resources helped me figure out costs, compatibility, etc. Watercolors are a challenge to bring to life in print, and I was worried that the color and gradations would not come through well. I chose Polar Matte for my art prints and note cards, and the way that this paper brings out the colors of my art is outstanding! Side by side, the comparison is spot on.

What do you appreciate most about Red River Paper's products/services?

It’s crucial that the paper I print on is high quality and presents the colors and intensity in the same manner as the original, and Red River papers absolutely do this! Customer service — whether a prompt answer to a chat or email or the delivery and packaging — is top-notch.

Do you have any future growth or product launch or event goals you’d like to share?

Stay tuned to my Etsy shop. I have many painting ideas brewing, including a set of small kitchen art prints that I’m really excited about!

Would you like to share a customer testimonial?

Here is a testimonial from a pet portrait customer: “We were gifted this painting of Buck a few months after he passed, and I can’t begin to describe how special it is to us. Cindy truly captured Buck’s kind, gentle, and goofy personality. My husband and I will treasure this painting and Buck’s memory for the rest of our lives. It’s a really beautiful representation of all the happy memories we made together. Thank you!” — Jackie & Matthew

Last updated January 15, 2024

Original Publication Date: January 17, 2024

Article Last updated: January 17, 2024

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