Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year from Serenity

     Hello, hello! I'll start by saying how blessed I am with family and friends and beautiful moments throughout the holiday season. But, now that the decorations are packed away, I am grateful to see my life return to normal. I'm getting my mind back into author/illustrator mode and getting ready for the New York City SCBWI conference in February!
     I did well with 2019 goals. I finished 12 illustrations for a calendar (most all of them posted on this blog), I finished a children's chapter book manuscript and designed the cover, and I signed up for that conference! 
     Time to move on to my 2020 goals, and the only one I really have (besides sharing more often on my blog) is to keep moving forward. There are projects I could mention that I want to finish, and projects I want to start. But 2020 is about learning and improving. My main objective for the conference, besides being "discovered" and signing a book deal worth millions, is to soak up information that can improve all I'm doing. (And hopefully make a few new friends).
     The image I shared is my character Serenity and her frog. (I don't have a name for the frog, so if anyone has a good suggestion, I'm open to it.) The character study page isn't bad but if you follow this blog you know I like to redo things, and then redo them again, and maybe even again. You'll probably see the above image (redone) somewhere down the line. It's all about growing. Life's a journey, folks! And I feel blessed to be on this one.
 I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2020!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Afraid of the Dark


     I've been working hard at getting my portfolio ready for the SCBWI conference in February. I've kept a couple of articles, I've stumbled upon over the years, on the best things to include in a portfolio for children's illustration. A piece with monsters was recommended, and what do you know? I had one of those from January of 2016. I just thought it needed a little spit-shine, as my skills, (in my humble opinion) have improved somewhat since then. Here's the old one.

Here's a link to the original post.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Happy Halloween!

     Not sure how her big brother is going to get her up those steps, but someone told him that this house was giving away king-sized candy bars. Maybe he hasn't noticed the eyes in the window.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Swingin' Through Life - More Inktober

This was inspired by the Inktober prompt - SWING
I did the first one (below) in ink with micron pens.

And I also did something sweet and simple for the prompt - ENCHANTED

     Someday I'm going to grab my art and writing supplies and run away to a cabin in the woods at the beginning of October. I'm going to have the time, with no distractions, to do an Inktober prompt every day.  I'll remain in that cabin through the month of November when I'll participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I'll crank out a book or two before returning in early December to a fully decorated home with all the necessary gifts already beautifully wrapped beneath the tree and a large plate of cookies baked by my husband (though a good cook, he's never baked a cookie in his life) who has been waiting patiently for my return. Aaahhhh . . . someday.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Inktober Week One

What if little Stevie had not answered his Fisher Price telephone the day it rang for him?

I like to at least dip my toes in the waters of Inktober, and do a few of the daily prompts. Above is Inktober 1st and below is Inktober 4th.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Magic Bookcase

This is set to be the month of November in my calendar. The leaves will disappear. 
The world turns cold and gray. What better time for the magic of books?

This piece started in my 2012 Sketch-A-Day book (heaven's sakes I loved that book and why haven't I got myself another?) to illustrate the word - EXPLORE.

I went on to do this next piece a few years later:

And the one at the top is just me saying (as per usual) "I can do better."

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

I Love September

     This is my newest version of September and it has come a long way.

The originals were on my blog in September of 2015. You can click HERE to give them a peek.

I wanted to rework it for my calendar into a piece more related to children's illustration.

The first day I pulled it back out to work on I ended up with this:

Then this:

There were things about it I liked, but all in all I considered it a hot mess. I stewed on it for a couple of weeks, then had the idea to add the sunshine. Since this is digital and was in several layers I added the sunburst over the background layer but behind the tree layer and it all just popped! I scrapped the first girl and puppy and started over, eventually giving up all the work I had put into the picnic items. It's not an easy thing to throw work away but if it's not working, you just have to let it go.  

Sunday, August 11, 2019


This is a cool, digitally altered photo I found online to go with the following bit of very short flash fiction I recently wrote (below) for a prompt shared with my writing group.


     They hold hands, staring at the ceiling as sweat evaporates from their bodies. They’ve been married 27 years and have never made love with such ferocity, nor at the same time, with so much tenderness that both of them had cried.
     At last she speaks. “What have you heard?”
     He answers as though in a trance. “Everything is in chaos.”
     “But, what did you hear?”
     He turns on his side to face her.
     “I saw the president speak. He gave a prayer.”
     “I saw that too! I nearly came unglued when he cried.”
     “What?! He cried?”
     “Right after his prayer.”
     “I didn’t get that far. Several of us at the office were hovering around one computer. I was crowded out, but I’d seen and heard enough. I just wanted to get home to you.” He brushes her hair out of her eyes and pulls her closer. “Have you spoken to the kids?”
     She shakes her head. “Everything went off after the speech. There’s no television, no phone, no internet.” She shudders and her breath accelerates. She’s falling apart and nothing can stop it from happening.
     “I can’t reach my babies!” she wails.
     “Shhhhh.” Her husband holds her, rocks her, tries to maintain his own sanity for both their sakes.
     She eventually rolls away from him and reaches for an old tissue on the nightstand. “What do you think they want?”
     “I’ve no idea, my love.”
     He moves until he’s behind her. He wraps his arms around her middle, her back to his chest, her warmth against a terrible coldness closing in on him. Two people alone in a world of seven billion people, who are also alone.

     I read this to my group last week and as I neared the end I heard my friend Brenda catch her breath. As he "moved behind her" she thought he was going to wrap his multiple arms around her!!!  Haha! That would have been a great way to end it!


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Willow House

  As I mentioned in my last post, I recently finished writing a manuscript for a middle grade novel. I wanted to a have a book cover design in my portfolio so why not my own book?! This is a mixture of an acrylic painting (below), with a little digital help, including the addition of the paint pour from my last post.

  The next image is the first rough draft I did on my iPad. I'm going to set it all aside for a while because I think the best result lies somewhere between, and like the manuscript, it needs time to simmer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Paint Pour

 This is a paint pour - acrylic paint mixed with Floetrol, poured in various color layers into a plastic cup and dumped over a canvas. There's a bit more to it than that, but that's the gist. If you're interested in learning more, there are a lot of online tutorials or you can check out this book Paint Pouring: Mastering Fluid Art by Rick Cheadle. I did a few experiments on small inexpensive canvases and below is how one of them turned out:

 I uploaded this photo to Procreate on my iPad and played with it, adding a bit more black and a few highlights, etc. to get the image at the top. I'm wanting to experiment with more and possibly incorporate these beautiful designs into my illustrations! 

 This is the kind of messy project I want to do in my studio, not the dining room table. I've been waiting for my basement studio to dry out from all the rain, but it's been damp with rain puddles down there for months. I may have to go get myself a pair of rain boots and just do it.

 One more thing before I go, something I want to put out into the universe - I finished a manuscript yesterday for a middle grade novel!!!! I don't have co-worker authors to give me a high five. My phone didn't automatically ring with publishers and agents begging my attention. No big check appeared in my mailbox. But, I did it! Yay!!! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

They're not bad. They're just drawn that way.

     A sly look over the shoulder, an evil grin, or an imposing angle can be intimidating on even the most adorable child.

     This month I've returned to doing more writing but I start my days with sketchbook practice. The expressions this week would fit nicely into a Stephen King story.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

School Days

Oh, the memories!
I only rode the school bus from kindergarten through second grade and a very short time my freshman year of high school, but what an experience!

This piece was a challenge, but so much fun! It was mostly drawn in the Procreate App on my iPad. A few of the faces I scanned from recent sketchbook pages, (children's expressions I've been practicing) popped them in and colored them. I'm going to set the image aside for a while and come back to it in a few months when I can look at it with fresh eyes and see adjustments that need to be made. This piece will most likely be the month of AUGUST on my calendar.

Below is the piece I did for MAY. I'm not sure it fits with my other images so I may end up changing this one completely.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"July" (titled "Summer" three previous times)

Hi! I'm Tracy Oñoz - an artist who does the same thing a hundred times.

There is a good reason, however. First, I'm working on a project that calls for a square format and not many of my older pieces can simply be cropped. Second, each year my illustration skills improve. I look at my so-called finished pieces with a more critical eye. I've picked up new digital techniques, figured out how to do things better and more efficiently and I've gotten closer to being able to achieve what I envisioned in the first place.

This is how "Summer" looked in  2014, done with watercolor and acrylic paints. It has, in my humble opinion, a lot of good stuff - bright colors, energy. etc. It's a pretty doggone happy piece. Maybe the fact that I've liked it so much has something to do with why I keep going back. I'm hoping, though, that you agree the revisit was worth it.

You can link HERE to a couple of my other "Summers" that brought me to this last one.  Really.  The one at the top is my last one.  Really . . .  For now.

Monday, April 22, 2019


     A couple of years ago I did an illustration challenge called "Draw 50 Things." The assignment was to do a complex illustration with 50 separate, identifiable items. The piece I did - "Victorian Tea" - is below. I zoomed in on the characters and, even though I'm still working digitally, I'm going for an effect that looks more like it was done conventionally. I still like the look of the full piece below so maybe someday I'll redo the whole darn thing. 

I'm also still practicing facial expressions. 
Here's the same little girl with a few different looks on her face in a more illustrated style. 
I have a long way to go. I'll get there.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Rainy Day and other tidbits

(I think) I'm finally comfortable with a style. I'm happily working on my iPad in the Procreate app. This is a redo from an original (below) done in February 2017 which is also a piece of digital art.

This one is cute.  I think I even like the composition better which means another potential redo in a couple of years, but I felt the need to make it more. . . mine.

Below is another illustration I did in 2017:

and after a little clean-up:

You can't see a huge difference but it made me feel better ;)

Here's some more practice of kids' faces:

and a scan straight from my little sketchbook, (real pencil on real paper) - getting in a little practice with hands as well:

Lastly, my son turned 26 a couple of days ago and I just HAD to do a portrait of him:

What a babydoll! He's still waiting on a portrait of himself as an adult. I'll get to it, I promise.

Next on the agenda is a more serious focus on my calendar for 2020. I have 3 months done, 3 in progress and rough ideas for the rest. Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Valentine Specials

I've been working on this piece on and off for a couple of months. It was done digitally in the Procreate app on my iPad. I've done a lot of experimenting, changed background elements, and created a mood. 

Below is the soda fountain illustration I did nearly five years ago. As you can see I kept some of the same elements, but I would say I have learned a thing or two. 

To read the original post click here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March, you crazy month

Ta-da! "March" is done and it's still . . . MARCH!!! Look at me go! 

This was done in the Procreate App on my iPad, where I can sit in a comfortable chair, not get my hands dirty, and not think about the fact that I'm pretty much giving up on my basement studio. I did an under-layer of color with the airbrush tool and then worked all over the top of that with the technical pencil tool at the highest size setting to make it look non-digital. (I hope you think it looks non-digital).

March weather, here in Ohio, has been ridiculous - snow, thunderstorms, freezing temperatures, warm pleasant temperatures, rain, and wind - all within a span of two or three days! I pulled out my old "March" piece which you can find here. I added the child, who may not look it in the drawing but is extremely hyperactive (who else would hug a lion?) to express that this March has gone beyond the lion and lamb into new hyperactive territory. Also, he's really cute.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Practice, Practice, Practice

      Thank goodness, spring is around the corner! I mentioned in my last post how long and depressing this winter has been. Enough of that! I am pulling myself out of the winter blahs and "march"ing ahead! These are small exercises I pulled from my sketchbook. I've been doing these as creative warm-ups. They are not all on the same sketchbook page (I've just thrown them together here to make myself look like I actually can create a sketchbook page like this) and I am amazed by artists like Jeremy Hoffman who I follow on Instagram @theheartofjeremyhoffman where he shares the most amazing pages of his own, perfectly crafted and composed.
     These little darlings above are referenced from a book "Facial Expressions Babies to Teens" with the exception of three. The grumpy baby on the top (who was very upset with his parents on shot day) and the handsome baby in the bottom middle are both my grandson and future academy award winner, and the pretty girl in the middle right is my granddaughter.
Meanwhile, I have a few projects going on right now.

I posted this on Instagram last week, a detail from a piece I'm painting in acrylics. I'm cropping into the digital composition I did a couple of years ago (below), and giving it a little more energy.

Then there's these two enjoying a Valentine's Day milkshake. It's a work in progress and it will have a background when done.

Last is an image I did a few years ago - March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. Sticking with my idea for a calendar this year, I'm doing some more revamping.

Here's how I'm starting. I found a couple of lion images on the internet- one for the body, one for the head, did a quick sketch of a kid (who was originally hugging a big dog) and threw it all over the top of my original. It is currently a hot mess but today the sketching begins.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Soda Jerk

     February has been about 120 days long this year and I'm glad to see it come to an end! I think I now know why so many Ohioans winter in Florida. It may not be so much to avoid snow as it is to avoid depression! We have had an extra wet winter and my studio, located in my basement, has been inhabitable for more than a month. I needed to do something to cheer myself up and this is it.

     I pulled off a sketch I had hanging on my idea board:

He's a happy guy, right?  Someone who would cheer anyone right the heck up!
(FYI the ice cream in the soda/float is vegan. Trust me, you won't tell the difference)

I did that sketch a few years ago when I was planning this piece:

     Kinda cute, but I was never excited about it and always wanted a redo. (Don't I always?) I have one more piece in the works, with a soda fountain theme, that I'm hoping to share sometime soon.

     Before I go, I want to share an addition I made to my last post. What good is a fantasy carousel out in a snowy landscape without a couple of kids stumbling upon it? It was a very unmerry-go-round with no one to appreciate it. This one's better.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


One of my goals for 2019 is to make a calendar to have ready for 2020. I thought it would not be too much to ask myself to come up with 12 nice designs. There are a few months that I have plans to pull out past pieces, dust them off and give them a face lift. This one will most likely be my January choice.

"January" is from a photo I took at Winterfest in December:

I did a rough layout with color in one of my sketchbooks:

I then scanned it into the computer and finished it digitally.

     Last year I set a goal of posting every Wednesday and did quite well up until November (National Novel Writing Month - where I came within a few chapters of finishing a middle grade chapter book!) I think this year I'm going to relieve myself of the pressure of posting once a week. In 2018 I would walk away from a project I was excited about, just to find something quick I could do to share. I am still aiming for at least a once-a-month post. If you follow me you may find more than that. I just want it to happen more on my own time than on a self-imposed deadline.