Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Illustration Friday - RECIPE

     A little early for this but I get so darned excited about autumn in general. Also, my next dummy book, once I'm done with "The First Pearl," is about a little witch named Serenity and this image kind of helps me along with one of her pages.  

Here's the original sketch.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


At the beginning of August I started painting the third version (dummy book) of my story, "The First Pearl".  My goal was to have all the pages laid out by August 31. Unfortunately, there are three page spreads I have yet to do (the most challenging ones), but I have taken the rest of the book so much further than I had planned that I consider it a win. My new goal is to be completely finished with this dummy by September 15. And then on to the next!!!

When I did the first dummy, a few years ago, it was miniature with each 2 page spread measuring 6" tall x 9" wide.
Here's an example from that first dummy:

And here's what it has become:

The newest version is an 8 1/2" x 22" oil painting. It shows more clearly what I hope the finished book might look like, giving any art director, agent, or editor a better idea of my capabilities.

Here's one more before and after spread:



So there you have a look, and probably the last look, at this project before it hits bookshelves, nationwide in 20__? (Fingers crossed) :)

Since I want to concentrate on this story and don't want to give away any more peeks inside, I may not be posting again for a few weeks.  I may do something random for fun but please check back, I'll have something new by September 20th, maybe a peek into my next story "Serenity" as I begin a 
re-do of that dummy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Illustration Friday - MAIL

     Remember when the mail used to bring more than flyers and ads?
     Email is great. It's efficient. It doesn't waste paper. But, I remember how exciting it was to wait for my college acceptance envelope (they mostly come via email these days), for birthday cards (which have become a short happy-birthday-post on Facebook), for letters (yes, actual letters because it was too expensive to call long distance) from friends and family. Those days aren't totally gone but the joy of mail has diminished somewhat. This illustration is a shout out to all those loyal, and faithful mailboxes (and of course the mailmen and mailwomen) who carry on.

     Here is a sketch that I did about 5 and a half years ago, when the Illustration Friday prompt word of the week was FORWARD. The idea is along the same lines.

     I feel like my illustration skills have improved.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dr. Dolittle and the Horse

This piece is for a notecard contest for the SCBWI of Central/Southern Ohio. 

In this scene, Dr. Dolittle's parrot, Polynesia, has already taught him how to speak to animals and this horse was able to explain that he simply needed glasses. It is done in oils but I went in afterwards (side note: afterward and afterwards are both correct as far as Webster dictionary is concerned, in case you wondered about that, which I did) and made a few adjustments digitally. I made the dog a little bigger, the parrot a little smaller, added the light beam pouring out of the lamp, and a few other minor, nit-picky things 'cause that's how I am - nit-picky. 

I have to share a moment of shock I experienced as I was reading "The Story of Dr. Dolittle." There is a scene where the doctor and several of his animal companions are crossing the ocean to Africa where a terrible illness has befallen the monkeys living there. One of his companions, Dub-Dub the duck to be exact, dives into the water, behind the ship, in search of herrings for food so that there BEEF supply will last longer. WHAT!?!? Does Dr. Dolittle eat animals he can talk to?!?! I am a vegan, so, of course these words are going to jump out at me and freak me out. I just wonder what the rest of the population thinks. 

And then there's Prince Bumpo - an African prince who wishes he was white to gain the affections of Sleeping Beauty. What!?!? I'm imagining this book would not make it to print in this century .(Thank goodness). To the doctor's credit, he felt that Prince Bumpo looked fine just the way he was, but . . . wow. 

The Dr. Dolittle I've painted is a vegetarian. He loves and respects all animals and people and doesn't eat or bother any of them.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A peek into my studio

     I don't have a completed piece to share with you this week but I have been hard at work on a couple of projects.
     The upper piece-in-progress is a scene from "The Story of Dr. Dolittle." I'm doing it for a notecard contest for the Central and Southern Ohio SCBWI. I think I'm going to work on two or three more compositions for the same book as portfolio pieces.
     The bottom piece-in-progress is page 11 of "The First Pearl". With the exception of the Dr. Dolittle side project I have done a good job of staying focused on this dummy book.
     Below is the view from my art table with the pages I've done so far. This is keeping me motivated. I want to see the whole thing come together!!!

    Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


     Here's a close up of what will eventually be page 10 of my picture book. Originally his name was Quin. It was suggested to me that the names be dropped out of the manuscript so now he's just Seahorse. Poor guy. In my heart he'll always be Quin.
     Last week my husband put up an 8'x4'  styrofoam wall so that I could pin up the story pages as I go. I now have a chance to study them at once, look for inconsistencies and come up with more ideas and improvements. It made all the difference in the world. Also, seeing my page spreads go up one by one is motivating. My goal is to have all the layouts and first coats of paint done by the end of August. We'll see. There are some pages coming up that are going to be a challenge.
     I hope to have another detail to share next Wednesday. Have a good week!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

First page First Pearl

     The little guy in this painting is Nac. He's an oyster and he's being awakened by the moon. I've known him for about 18 years now, so he's well overdue for the work I'm about to put into him. He has been patient.
      With my art studio back together after a refreshing paint job, I am able to use my oil paints again and spread my work area out a bit more. I think oils are my thing. I've said that before but then get distracted with digital work and play around with other media. That's all fine, but I lose focus. Focus, Tracy! Focus!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


     I did this for the monthly SCBWI bulletin contest with the word prompt - Celebrate.
     I started digitally, which you can check out 2 posts ago, then decided I wanted switch to a loose pen and ink with some watercolor washes. I am so used to being able to paint over a mistake or hit the "undo" button, (how did humanity exist before there were undo buttons?) that it's very stressful to work on paper like that. When I had the pencil drawing done I was so terrified to mess up the ink, my hand trembled at times. While I applied the first layer of watercolors over the ink drawing, which was not messed up yet, I provided myself a steady stream of pep talk, a few coffee breaks, (decaf) and some yoga stretches. 
     The trouble is, I'm out of practice with that kind of thing. I've been an artist for many years but I've become too reliant on "undo".  Does anyone else out there ever expect autocorrect to help you out with spelling when you're writing with pen and paper? Is it just me? 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Illustration Friday - Ice Cream

     This one is thrown in just for fun. On Friday I was under doctor's orders to lay on the couch!!! I had two wisdom teeth removed so nothing serious, but when a doctor tells me to stay on the couch, on the couch I stay. Yay!!!! I sat there with a book to read, my sketchbook and my ipad and it was pretty heavenly. I thought it would be a good day to purchase the Procreate App and view some tutorials on how it works and do some playing. The Illustration Friday word prompt this week is ice cream so here's some ice cream done on my ipad with Procreate. (I'm a vegan so this ice cream is almond based, or coconut, or cashew).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Celebration - work in progress

     This is not done, but this version may be as done as it ever gets. Yesterday, using this digital version as reference, I started over on bristol paper. I'm going to try to do it in pencil and pen with some watercolors thrown in to liven it up. I have the habit of getting things to tightly rendered and losing some of the image's energy. Case in point, the little girl in the pink dress in the center of the drawing (she's looks like she's made of plastic). Also, because I'm drawing on a bamboo tablet while looking at my computer screen, I'm losing that flow of drawing directly on my image. I'm not complaining (too loudly), but a Cintiq tablet is going on my Christmas list this year.
     Check back with me next Wednesday. I'm hoping to have a finished version of "CELEBRATION".
    Also, before I go, I want to tell you that I reached 10,000 hits to this blog. I know it's not 10,000 followers, and I know it's not 10,000 hits to one image. But, I also know my mom has not viewed my blog 10,000 times. It's so nice to have a place to share my works and talk about them a little. Thank you to everyone who has taken an interest!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Puppies! - etc.

    As Jake Parker over at SVS Learn says, the important thing is that it is: "finished, not perfect." I'll put this aside and maybe revisit it down the road. I'd like to add more puppies and make them more stylized (more like cartoons in this case).
     I am a creature of habit. The more routine my life, the more creative I seem to be. These last few weeks have upset my applecart and I won't get them all picked up and put back in the cart for a couple weeks more. There's been some household renovations, including an art studio fix-up that's still in progress, a mild mid-life questioning of what the heck I'm doing with my life, a garage sale over the next couple of days, and wisdom tooth removal next week. That'll be fun. The important thing is that even though I've been distracted I've still managed to draw a little bit every day.
    Last week the elementary school I attended was demolished and it made me a little melancholy.
I did this drawing:

It kind of made me feel worse. Haha! When I drew the eyes I made myself cry. I'm ridiculous sometimes. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Creative slumps - they happen

     These are taken from my sketchbook. I'm at day number 13 of my sketch-a-day. I have a couple of large projects I should be working on but I'm experiencing a bit of a creative burnout and just wanted to enjoy drawing for a while. 
     Yesterday, I started sketching puppies. Let me tell you, if you're feeling a little down, spend some time looking at puppy photos. I decided to create more of a composition than just the random sketches so I put them together and started this:

This could turn out looking a lot different when it's done but now you've had a glimpse at the initial idea. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Original Claw-Foot Bath

8 x 10 acrylic on canvas

     This began as a scribble in one of my sketchbooks - a child in a claw foot tub with way more of the lion present than just its feet. Here it is, innocent enough: 

     I worked on a better rendering and ended up with a disturbing image of a lion with a giant hole carved into his back so that a child could bathe there. Ugh! Who wants to see that? Maybe you did, so I apologize. It was digital and I tossed it into cyber trash. I ended up changing it to a WHOLE lion who simply allows a child, a cave-child, to bathe upon him. (Lions were much more docile thousands of years ago.)
     Also, originally, the child's head was just tipped back with a look of bliss. That changed too. Six days ago I started, as I had done in 2012, to do a sketch-a-day. I am going to do a small sketch each morning while I have my coffee. I own a book full of nothing but facial expressions, so for the time being, I'm practicing from that. Here's the first 4 days: 

And there it was on June 19th! The expression I wanted on the kid taking his bath.  Isn't it awesome how things just fall into place once in a while?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Magic Bookcase

     This is an idea that started to form about 5 years ago in my sketch-a-day book. I was participating in Illustration Friday and the word prompt for the week was EXPLORE.
     In the image below, the top drawing is that first idea and the sketch underneath it is from my current sketchbook and was done just a couple of weeks ago:

I then did a more finished drawing and scanned it into the computer to do a value study:
From there I did a watercolor:

      and then scanned this into the computer and did all the digital enhancements that you see at the top of the page.

     The image at the top is really only half way there. I'd like to expand the bookcase to the 3 sections that you see in my sketchbook drawing and then do the whole thing as an oil painting. Could be a while so I don't want anyone out there holding their breath or anything. It's taken 5 years just to get this far! Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Works in Progress, etc.

     With the exception of the two weeks that coincided with my trip to Cuba, I have posted a blog every Wednesday. It was a resolution I set at the beginning of the year. Most of my resolutions fizzle around March so I have to say I'm pretty happy with myself. (If I were texting, I'd insert a smiley emoji here). Some of my posts were only at until I figured that it would be in my best interest to post the same blog in both places.
     Yesterday I realized that, although I've been putting in the hours this last week, most of it has been in sketchbooks and working out ideas for future work. So, I piled some of the things I've been up to on my art table and took a photo. I'm painting backgrounds for my story "The First Pearl," I'm working on characters to insert into those backgrounds, I'm working on a new illustration idea (the bookshelf) and I did a caricature portrait of my nephew for his 26th birthday. 
     I should have something a little more fancy for you next week, so please check back with me. You can count on me to have something. Have a good week!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


     My mermaid arrived! I was so pleased with the background that I was afraid of messing it up with a crummy mermaid. Haha! But I ended up happy with her as well. I darkened the water to give the illustration a bit more of a dramatic look. What a challenge! I'm happy I got it done before the end of the MerMay month.
     I'm also going to share with you a little excerpt from a story, in verse, I was working on about a year ago that is also about a mermaid. Now that I'm a year removed from it I can see where it needs more work. But for what it's worth, here's how it began.

We built castles of sand. We splashed in the sea.
We were on an adventure, my parents and me.

But my folks tuckered out, and I really can't say
Why they'd rather read books and waste half of the day.

Soon my mom fell asleep and Dad started to snore.
So I sat by myself looking out from the shore.

Far out in the sea, I noticed a flash,
A sparkling of silver, a spray, and a splash.

That's one whopping fish! It was huge! It was strong!
But as it got closer, I saw I was wrong.

It swam steadily toward me, and to my surprise
A girl broke the surface, long hair, and big eyes.

"Hello there!" she called. "Over here! Come and see!"
I glanced over my shoulder, responded, "who me?"

"Yes you, silly boy. Do you want to have fun?
Come away for the day. Let's escape from the sun."

So while my mom slept and my dad snored away
I walked into the waves with this girl, for the day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MerMay background

     I'm working on this in celebration of MerMay - a fun thing that a lot of illustrators are doing on Instagram. Some are posting a new mermaid every day! Today, I finally finished my mermaid's home and she should be showing up here by next Wednesday.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Serenity and Frog

     I've been working on a character page for my character Serenity and her frog. This is called "Love at First Sight." I made the frog more realistic looking and I think its working better for me, so I went back and redid the next piece of the pair all tucked in for the night.

This is what the first one looked like.

And here's one more character study -

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


     About 20 years ago I wrote a children's book manuscript with an oyster named Nac as the main character. At the time I thought there was no way I would ever be the illustrator because my art style was pretty realistic and cuteness in any of my attempts at creating characters was nonexistent. 
     Here I am now, polishing up the manuscript and working on the illustrations. What a difference 20 years can make! Haha! It's certainly possible that if someone wants to publish the story, they wouldn't want my illustrations, but at least I'm giving it my best attempt. I, personally, think he's kind of cute.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Eleanora and Tommy

     From the same chapter book manuscript I've started, here are two more of the main characters. This is what my portfolio needs more of and what I am concentrating on learning how to do well - pose the same characters in different positions while maintaining consistency in their appearance.
     When I was working on character development for Eleanora (Ella) I pretended to be interviewing her and asked her what her best memory was. This may or may not make it to the pages of the manuscript.

    "My best memory was the day my parents brought Tommy home from the hospital. He was so tiny. His fingers and toes were like miniatures. Hard-to-believe-they-were-even-real miniatures. And the smell! . . . No! Not a bad smell. It was a baby smell - like baby lotion, and baby shampoo, and baby chicks, and baby bunnies, and the ocean, and cut grass, and cotton candy, and every good smell that was ever smelled. That was what Tommy smelled like.
    Well, occasionally a bad smell. But mostly good ones."

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mrs. Hallovich

     This is a character I created for a children's chapter book I'm working on. I have about 5,000 words typed, an outline (my outlines are very flexible and subject to change), and several more pages that are hand written and ready to be typed. I started it more than 6 months ago and recently got back to it when my daughter (bless her heart) says, "hey, what's going on with that babysitter story you started?" I say, "why? Are you interested to know what happens next?" She says, "Yeah, it was really good." 
     All the incentive I need.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Storm Comin'

     I'm used to, by now, putting my artwork out into the world for people to view and possibly comment on. With the exception of my blog posts, it's rare that I share my writing. I need to get over it. I did this little illustration to go with a writing exercise I did for the writing prompt: Explain lightning to a five year old.


      Close your eyes, child. Can you smell the rain? It’s comin’. 
      Shhhh. Hush now. Listen to the thunder boomin’ in the distance. It’ll be here soon.
      See how dark the sky is over that field? That’s the backdrop for the show.
      Now pick up your things and let’s move inside the house. We can watch everything from Grandma’s picture window.
     Let’s turn this chair 'round so we’re facin' out front. Come on up here on Grandma’s lap. There now. All cozy? 
     Look at it comin’. See how the rain is fallin’ in the distance? Look at it pour! That’s what you call buckets ‘o rain. Ever hear of it rainin’ cats and dogs? Well that right there is lions and wolves comin’ at us. Are you ready? Don’t be frightened, Baby. We’re all safe inside here.
     Oh my! That’s what you call lightning. Did you see that? That was a beauty! I just love the way lightning snakes and sizzles its way down through the sky like that. All that energy can’t just come down in one beam of light. It breaks out of that one beam and jaggedy jumps in all kinds of directions.
     Oh! There’s another! 
     Listen. Let’s count. One . . . two . . . three . . . four. . . Hear that? That’s the thunder come followin’ that lightning. The less numbers you can reach, the closer the storm is gettin’.
     Haha! That one was beautiful! Let’s count. One . . . two . . . thr . . . Ooooo! It’s almost upon us. Close your eyes again. 
     Grandma loves the sound of rain dancin' on the roof, and me knowin’ I’m safe and dry, and God out there real close, waterin’ my garden and givin’ drinks to those in need.
     Oh my! I think we both jumped! Haha! This is a good show isn’t it? Grandma sure does love a storm. Can’t think of anyone else I’d rather be enjoyin’ this show with either.
     What do you think?
     Awe, Sweetheart. You just go right on sleepin’.  Grandma’s got you right here. All safe and dry.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Ashley the Great" in color

Here she is!
     I don't know if I did this in a true grisaille style because I felt more like I was painting over the black and white rather than just glazing colors over the top. Oh well. I think she turned out really well and once she is dry and I am able to varnish and frame she will be on her way to Cuba to her parents' house.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


     It's almost this time of year! My eyes are on my lilac bush and I intend to appreciate every last blossom this year. I intend to make bouquets and bring them into my house and sit and just breathe. 
     I did a piece very similar to this about 3 years ago when I was participating on a website called Illustration Friday The word prompt for the week was LUSH and below is my old submission. 

I wish everyone a Happy Easter!

For anyone checking out this blog on a regular basis, I'm nearly done with the portrait of my great-granddaughter and will probably post it by the end of the week.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ashley the Great

I haven't posted for a couple of weeks because we have been in Cuba! This is a portrait of my great-grandaughter (yes! a perk of marrying an older man - he made me a great-grandmother. Look at her! I'll take it.)
When I got back and started going through my photos I was a little overwhelmed with where to start. So many beautiful images! So I pulled out this photo of her:

 and did this quick pencil sketch in my sketchbook:

And I thought it might make a nice little portrait.
The technique I'm using is called grisaille. I used only black and white paint. Once this bottom layer dries I'm going to glaze some colors over the top of it. My fingers are crossed that it turns out. I don't want to ruin what I've already done. I promise to post the result here in a week or two.

I also want to share the portrait I painted, over ten years ago, of her father.
He was 10 years old when I last saw him (prior to this visit). I thought he was a wonderful and affectionate boy and he has grown into an amazing young man, willing to pose for me under a palm tree on the same beach. 

And . . . one last photo for this post (I'm sure I'll be posting more of Cuba as I work on paintings.) Probably my favorite of the whole trip. 
Me and my grandson.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Irish Roots

     It won't be long now until we leave for a large family vacation to my husband's native land, Cuba. This is something that we've been planning for months. I've been reading in Spanish, speaking Spanish, eating Cuban food, listening to Cuban music, saving money for Cuba, and buying gifts to take to Cuba. It's going to be an awesome trip to see family and hopefully explore a little more of that incredibly gorgeous island, (I was there once before in 2006) but for goodness sake! I have roots too! And not all of them are gray. Happy St. Patrick's Day to all and especially everyone whose name starts with an Mc or an O'.

Your's Truly,
 the former, Tracy McGlinch.