Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019! and Portrait of Sadhguru

The first sketch in my 2019 sketchbook - Sadhguru.
and a quote from him - 
"You're just an imitation of what is around you, it's just that you don't imitate one person; 
you take bits and pieces of a hundred people and make yourself."

    New Year's Eve/Day is one of my favorite times of year. I read the goals I set for myself the previous December 31st. What I planned and what I actually accomplished are often miles apart but that's not important. Each year begins with potential and each year I realize a significant amount of that. My path may have zig-zagged but I'm still in a place with new memories, lessons learned, and hope for all the glorious potential of the coming year. 

    I haven't posted for quite a while because I spent November writing instead of drawing. Then, the holidays were upon me, along with some extra hours at work and the simple desire to bake cookies and shop. 

     What follows is a small smorgasbord of a few of the creative things I've been up to.

Here's how the mask turned out. 
I couldn't post it before because it became a Christmas gift for my son.
To see how the mask started check out my previous blog "Sometimes I Just Get Lost"

Then there was this portrait - also a Christmas gift I couldn't share before.
I did it digitally then dropped a filter over it to make it look more like comic book art.

Next is a little gift I made for my girlfriends - tiny books, quilled snowflakes and handmade boxes.

I also tried my hand at a gingerbread house. 
The gingerbread part was not quite hard enough but it was delicious anyway.
My daughter helped me with the decorations.

On a more personal note, I took my family to Winterfest at King's Island on, 
unfortunately, the coldest night in human history on planet earth 
(I may be exaggerating a little). We still had a wonderful time.

And here are my kids with their cousins on Christmas Eve in one of those cool re-visit photos:

I wish you all a Happy New Year and wish you the best in realizing its potential!


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Feliz Día de los Muertos

     Have you seen the movie "Coco"? I had never paid much attention to the holiday "el día de los muertos" prior to seeing it. I thought it was simply a Mexican angle on Halloween with prettier skulls. But, it's so much more wonderful than that. El Día de los Muertos is not scary, it's beautiful. It's a day (or rather a couple of days - Oct. 31 to Nov. 2) to honor, remember and celebrate the lives of friends and family members who have died. The characters in the movie invite the spirits of their loved ones into their homes for a yearly visit and they prepare by setting out photos and the favorite foods of those loved ones. The movie is not only touching but visually spectacular! Click the link below for a peek.

On Monday morning I took a long look at a Halloween decoration I've had for over 20 years:

By early afternoon it was all gussied up and happily celebrating a new holiday, honoring the people in my life who came before, and those I've loved and lost.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Boy oh boy, have I caught the paper craft bug! After all that experience this summer with paper flowers I just couldn't stop so I moved on to this. Here's a link to a youtube video showing how to do that glorious large snowflake on the left - large snowflake 

Quilling is an art form that has always fascinated me. If you google images you will find some incredible pieces of artwork.

To make it easy here's a few samples by artist Sena Runa and a link to her website:

I want to be able to do this when I grow up.

I borrowed a couple of quilling books from the library and for only $15 bought a quilling start up set on Amazon. Here's one of the books I borrowed "Quilling Art", along with what $15 bought me 
(there was also a little glue bottle that didn't make it into the photo):

By the way, "Quilling Art" has the instructions for the other type of snowflake at the top of the page.

I'm also planning to try my hand at some book making. Today I'll be throwing acrylics around to make some decorative papers used in that process. 

I haven't stopped painting. The following piece was another study that I shared here several weeks ago. Like last week's post, I decided to finish this one up too. No sense in having a bunch of studies hanging around my studio staring at me. (Literally in this case).

Mardi Gras Vase - 12"x18" acrylic on illustration board.

See you next Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Fiori Isabella (again)

8"x10" oil on canvas

In 2013 my step-daughter and her then fiancé shared their love of travel with the family and invited us to a destination wedding in Florence, Italy. It was one of the most amazing and inspiring weeks of my life! I took a ton of photos that I've been using over the last five years and, including my 2"x3" miniature paintings, I've done over 20 pieces! 

One of the first ones I did was Fiori Isabella:

It remains one of my all time favorites. It was 16"x 20" (I think). I'm both happy and sad to say that it sold back in 2014. 

Before I painted it I did a small 8"x10" acrylic study that looked like this:

It has been hanging around my studio, not polished enough (in my opinion) to sell, but too nice to throw away. A couple of weeks ago I started doing something about that. I began applying oil paints over the top and here's what it looked like after the first day:

And after a couple more days:

I kept going a little here and there until I ended up with the image at the top of the page. So, that little study is not simply hanging around my studio anymore. It's almost ready to varnish and it's up for sale in my store. Here, by the way is a link to that store:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pinocchio and Friend

5"x7" oil on clayboard

A 5"x7" is so much more fun for me than large pieces.  I wanted to set up a quick composition with these two masks (souvenirs from Italy) and paint from life with no photo reference but I chose to be looking straight down on them and it was difficult to paint from that angle. Not to mention the fact that it was a dark room with one spotlight light source. So, this ended up being painted (mostly) from my photo reference.

Here's the first step, in acrylics:

And one more step after I began to apply the oils:

I'm still working on the mask I started making of my son, but I'm so happy with the way it's turning out that I think he's getting it for Christmas. Haha! I'll share the results after the holidays. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Happy October!

My favorite month of the year!

I have skipped two weeks on my blog. (Shame on me, shame on me.) However, I have not been lazy. (Well, okay, a little lazy but not entirely, worthlessly lazy.) I switched gears for a while and concentrated on a short story idea. The first draft is done and marinating in a dark drawer for a few weeks before I get it out and edit it to shreds, then, hopefully, end up with something really cool. 

I finished my Halloween tree! I ended up covering the styrofoam cone with artificial leaves from an old garland that had seen better days. I pinned on my homemade paper flowers and then some buttons and baubles from JoAnn Fabrics. Here's what it looks like on my mantle:

I also pulled back out my manuscript for "Serenity" (a children's book idea that I've been working on little by little for quite some time) and played around some more.

I went from this - a digital piece done over a year ago:

to this - done in acrylic:

I wanted Serenity to be more of a toddler, and when I finally do this thing (putting the book together) I want the freshness and energy of real paint. I think my final composition lies somewhere between these two pieces. In the meantime, I'll keep on sketching and working it out.

By the way - the pumpkin at the top of the page is an oil painting from my Serenity file.

I'm also still working on the mask of my son, I started another 5"x7" oil painting, and I'm trying to learn the art of quilling. If you're not familiar with quilling, stay in touch. I may have something to show you before the end of the month.

See! I've been doin' stuff.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sometimes I just get lost.

Isn't this a nice sentiment? I found it on a stamp at Hobby Lobby.

     Every once in a while, even when things are going great in my studio, I begin to doubt myself and second guess everything I've chosen to do. This problem may be why artists are sometimes a little "out there," struggling with their emotions, dealing with addictions, and cutting off their ears.
     I'm currently working on two relatively large oil paintings. Larger paintings take me forever and often become tedious and sit in my studio unfinished for years. Why am I working large? I don't know. 
     I'm also currently working on a short story that was inspired by my experience with Absinthe. (See my old Absinthe blog for that). I'm over 3,000 words in and I don't have any idea if it's any good. If I give it to the right person to read they may sing my praises and swear it's a wonderful example of fiction and they're proud to know me. Another right person might say "well . . . I think you spelled everything correctly."
     The trick is to keep enjoying what I do. I refer back to the words at the top of this page. I make something pretty. I express my self doubt to my husband and he says . . . "Tracy, I think you should just keep doing your art 'til you die. You were born to be an artist." Support like that is not easy to come by. I am blessed.
     Below are a couple of the things I'm working on to keep it all fun.

A mask, still a work in progress, that I may use as a prop for one of my large paintings. I'm still trying to work out what exactly I want it to look like.

On my son's 25th birthday this year I talked him into this. What a trooper.
Below are the supplies I used.

Here's my model all vaselined up.

Strips being applied.

Finished with the application, I began to pray that this wasn't a horrible mistake, and that I'd be able to get my son safely out from under all of this.

A few struggles around the hairline and his mustache, but (thank you, God) he made it outta there. 

Here's one more fun project in the works:
I guess I'm not done making paper flowers. I saw something like this at JoAnn Fabrics when I was shopping with a couple of girlfriends last weekend. I bought myself a styrofoam cone and some more glitter and woohoo! Look at me making everything around me beautiful.

Before I go - here's the girlfriends I was shopping with (I'm on the right). 
We've been friends since elementary school - another of my many blessings.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Where do ideas come from?

     Where do ideas come from? (Or to be grammatically correct: From where do ideas come?).
If you're me, today, they come from your awesome new idea board! This is the same board that I used to decorate the reveal party backdrop (see my post 2 weeks ago). It's an insulation panel that I purchased from Lowes. A coat of white paint killed the green color, and I then covered it with inexpensive muslin, wrapping the material around the sides and pushing short nails into it to keep it in place. That easy. The insulation material is perfect for thumbtacks, pins, and small nails. No hammers needed. 
      Where do the ideas come from that I have pinned? Some of them are pieces I've done in the past that I've always felt I could do better. Some were saved in a large, Russell Stovers candy box (chocolates gone a long time ago), a shoebox, a recipe box, sketchbooks, drawers, and old photo albums. Ideas have come from thin air when I wasn't expecting them. They've come from reading, watching movies, flipping through magazines, noticing the way sunlight catches an object. They've come from paying attention. 
     When they come to you, capture them! Write them down on a piece of paper! Do a quick sketch! Record a note to yourself on your phone! 
     Then, someday, go around collecting all those things you've saved, weed through them, and buy yourself a piece of insulation board.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Censorship of Art at a Midwest County Fair

     I have stood in front of Michelangelo's David, unable to take my eyes off of his . . . well . . . you know. I mean, it was right there - at eye level. I was not offended. I knew, before I came into the room, that David was naked.
     I have a portfolio from college full of nude drawings. I am not offended by myself. In fact, my children at very young ages saw the pictures of naked people that Mommy drew. I'm pretty sure they were not offended.
     It is my opinion that the human body is just that - a human body - beautiful and expressive. There is no better way to learn how to draw humans than to draw them unclothed. It is important to see the skeletal form and musculature to understand how it all works.
     I support artists who want to exhibit their nudes in local art shows. There are plenty in our surrounding area throughout the year that accept works of art containing the nude form.
     Having said all that, here's where I stand (for now) on our county fair. (Deep breath). I would like it to remain a safe zone. Parents eating cotton-candy and navigating strollers through the crowd should not have to worry about covering their children's eyes. Again, I would not cover up the eyes of my own children. (They are all grown and would absolutely not allow that anyway.) Can't we, however, respect the feelings of families who do not feel like I do? Can't the county fair remain friendly to all families? 
     There's also the issue of the slippery slope. Let's say some side-boob makes it into the exhibit this year. Next year the same, or maybe a different artist comes in to display butt-cheek or nipple. Before you know it (and although unlikely (?) this could happen), the people who pushed for nudity that they considered tasteful, are being offended by a more sexual content. Where does the line get drawn? Who draws it? Does that person face threats and public persecution?
     I've weighed in. I'm not the queen of the world (in case you were thinking I might be). I could be wrong and this is an issue open to debate, voting, etc. Change of procedure and change of opinion can be a good thing. 
     I would just recommend that people attack the issue and not each other.
    The piece above is a work in progress study, in acrylic on illustration board, for a larger oil painting I want to do. I covered up the mask of Pinocchio because . . . you've probably heard the nose jokes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Big Reveal

Here is what the final board looked like for the gender reveal party, and 
there were plenty of flowers left over to put out for the centerpieces on the tables.

A peek into the decorations department last week:

And a look at the studio after a few hours of clean-up on Sunday:

Here's where a lot of the flowers ended up. I've never been so happy in my studio before. 
It's beautiful down here. : )

I promised last week to share links to some of the tutorials I used. The roses were super easy. 
Here is a sample of mine. (I applied glitter glue to the petals) 
Here is the link to the rose making tutorial

And here are three more links to the tutorials I used to make the flowers you see above.

And the magical moment we all waited for: 
We're expecting a . . . 


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Paper Flowers

     My life has taken a very sudden (but temporary) turn into the paper flower making business. Well, not a business, more of a labor of love. My step-daughter's gender reveal party is coming up and I have been making paper flowers - many, many paper flowers. All of them have been done by following online tutorials. Next week I will share some of the links and will also be able to show more photos of how it all came together (not to mention - the answer to the HUGE question - am I expecting a granddaughter or a grandson?)
Below are the first two types of flowers I tried out.

I am having sooooooo much fun being a crafty girl!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Trinidad Cuba

"Trinidad" 24"x30" oil on gesso board

     I started this painting over a year ago when I returned home from our big family trip (nine of us) to Cuba. When we visit Cuba it's to spend time with my husband's family, so since I only stay for a week, I stick close to them. This last time however, the nine of us, with my grandson along as well, piled into a too small van, and headed to the beautiful city of Trinidad for an overnight stay. 
     To make a reasonable income, many Cubans have fixed up their homes as bed and breakfasts. I highly recommend staying in one of these homes! You get more of the feel of the cuban culture and they bend over backwards to make your stay comfortable. The breakfast we were served on the upstairs balcony (remember, this is their modest home) was absolutely delicious! Abundant with fresh items and homemade care. Do not hesitate to stop where you see a sign hanging at someone's home advertising a meal or a place to lay your head for the night! Not only does it help the cuban people but the food is 100% better and the people are so appreciative. I read something once that said people traveling to Cuba should be prepared for bland food. That's for the people eating in hotels and fancy restaurants. Homemade cuban food is delicious!
     Sad fact: Many Cuban people have no idea how beautiful their own country is. Cubans themselves do not often make enough money for vacations and day trips, and up until very recently they weren't even allowed into many places like hotels, resorts, and restaurants.
     My husband, step-daughter and son-in-law stayed in Cuba for a second week and were able to take a few Cuban family members to some more of these beautiful places that they would never have had the opportunity to see. 
     Below are three photos from our trip to the beach with as many family members as were able to come. We rented a truck and let me tell you, not only was the beach beautiful and fun, but that trip bouncing along in the truck with the tropical air messing up our hair and the cuban songs being sung and the joy of being on a trip like that together . . . unforgettable.