Taratories Blog

"The Polar Plunge"

I have always loved polar bears.  I could watch them swim in the water all day!  I decided that this would be the perfect animal to paint next!  First, I sketched out my composition. I wanted the polar bear to be as close to life size as possible.  During my research, I found that polar bears are about 4 feet standing on all four legs.  I was able to make him close to life size being around 3 feet tall.  He felt HUGE when I drew him up on the canvas and I loved the grand presence of him.  For some reason, I always want everything I paint to be as life size as possible, whether it be people, etc. and, in this case, animals.  It is so much easier to capture all of the detail in my subjects when they are larger, and then I almost feel like they are in the room with me and a part of my space.  

I began my mixed media painting with my first layer of colored pencils which is a great way to map out all the lights, darks, and variations of color before I lay down the paint.  My mixed media technique is unique in that I layer pencils, then paint, then pencils, etc. onto my canvas.  It really creates a beautiful depth and atmosphere to my paintings that I wouldn't be able to achieve in the same way with using paint or pencils alone.  Drawing has always been my first love and years ago I found this mixed media technique that has suited me perfectly. It was magic the first time I ever tried it and I have been obsessed ever since!


I was a little nervous about painting a white animal because sometimes it can be tricking creating the variations of tones in white, but it really helped starting off with a tan base so that it wasn't so intimidating and helped create immediate contrast between the white I was laying down on my canvas.  One of my favorite things about doing art is studying a subject through painting it.  I never would have realized that there were so many different colors in a polar bear's fur, or that lines form where clumps of hair separate (i.e. hand and head).


The next animal was a bearded seal.  I had no idea there was such a thing as a bearded seal until I started to research animals to paint.  But once I found this kind of seal I was set on painting him!  I love all the long whiskers they have and they were just so cute! He is missing half of his face here but this is the work in process...


I developed the seal more and submerged him in some painted water...


I wanted this painting to have a nautical feel to it so blue and white stripes seemed like the perfect pattern to incorporate.  It took me some time to figure out the best place to incorporate the stripes. In my sketchbook I made a few pages of thumbnail sketches playing around with placement and colors etc. until I arrived at this... 


Florals and stripes are a classic pairing and the flowers were a great way to add some color into this painting since my animals were very neutral.  I used the flowers as a repeating pattern in the background and used my paint without much water to create a soft texture to the flowers.  This is a dry brush technique that I don't think I have used on my canvas paintings before and I really like the way it turned out.  It gave the flowers a kind of velvety look.  Painting the fur has been a wonderful way to show me that I can create a variety of textures with my medium and makes me want to explore other textures.


The final step was to paint a blue background around the flowers and really help make the bear pop.  It sure did!  After I laid on the blue, the white of the polar bear was a striking contrast and I couldn't be happier with the result.  I added a gold edging to the circle and gold dots for some embellishments in the background which is the cherry on the top for me!


The finished painting is 30X36 inches and is available for purchase.  Email me at taratories@gmail.com for any inquiries at all about this painting. It will be on display locally to the Akron area next month. More details to come on that so stay tuned!  If you don't want to miss a beat, send me your email so that I can get you on my email list. I don't usually send more than one email a month but it is a great way to stay in the loop about local shows, art sales, etc.


"The Fox and the Hare"

I began this painting with the idea of trying something new.  Animals are not something that I have not explored much before, but the thought of painting a sweet little hare was enticing.  


I use a mixture of acrylic paint and colored pencil in my paintings. I started by shading with my pencils on the canvas and then adding a layer of paint on top of the pencils. I continue the layering process with the pencils and paint until I get the results that I want. 


I discovered that the colored pencils are the perfect medium for capturing the texture of fur and whiskers, etc. which means my medium works perfectly with animals!  I can also achieve the glassiness of an eye with my paints and pencils.  The eyes seem to be the features that really brings the animals to life!

After I drew the hare, I naturally surrounded him or her in a circular frame which I usually incorporate into my work.  I sensed a look of alarm on the hare's face which is why I added a predator... the fox.  He is interacting with the hare, yet he is still separated from him.  He is protected from his environment inside the circle.  


I just loved painting the orange tones in the fox and I just knew that a blue background would be the perfect compliment to his fur.


I used a photo I took from time spent in Wales as inspiration for the wooded background.  I also added a sprinkle of gold speckles around him to create some movement and give the impression of fireflies, or fairies, or whatever you want them to be.  The pattern in the background brings more movement into the painting and cause the viewer to keep their eyes moving around the painting.  The pattern also adds to the story being told.  If you notice, there are hare silhouettes running away amongst the pattern which could be an omen of what is to come...

 The Fox and the Hare, 20X30 inches

The Fox and the Hare, 20X30 inches

Above is a picture of me with the painting right before I packaged it up and shipped it to its new owner. I literally sold it to someone as I was putting the finishing touches on it which was so exciting!  Someone reached out to me because she had seen my posts on social media of my progress shots and she was drawn to the painting for a couple of reasons. 1. she collects rabbits, and 2. Her maiden name was "Fox"!  How perfect is that!!

I never know how people will connect with my art which really shows me that I need to keep being true to myself, because there will be someone out there that may connect for reasons I would never think of.  Here is a photo of the painting in its new home and it looks like it was meant to live there!  It brings me so much joy when I see my art in other people's homes and is truly the best part of my job!!  

I am going to continue to try painting more animals and explore this idea of animals and their prey and hopefully build a collection. Stay tuned!  For daily updates on my process, etc. make sure you follow me on Instagram and Facebook @taradeetscreek_artist so you won't miss a beat!


Shining out of the darkness

Recently, I had someone reach out to me about doing a commissioned painting that she would give to her older sister for her birthday.  She shared some photos with me from her childhood and she wanted to capture this moment in time from when they were children. She had fond memories of her older sister draping both of them in fabrics to play "dress up."  This photo was the only remnant that she had from that memory.  She also gave me some clearer photos to work from to capture their likeness so I combined the photos to make the finished product.


In the radial design around the older sister I used her name, "Charlotte" to form the design.  I have done this before with my art students but have never done it in my own work before.  Her name is flipped and mirrored in every other section.  Look directly under the peacock, start at the gold "C" and read the name all the way to across to the purple "E."  It was fun to make the name into a hidden element in the painting and it was really fun to watch my client and her sister try to find it!

 "Shining Out of the Darkness", 20X20

"Shining Out of the Darkness", 20X20

When I drew out the design, the tails of the "E" letters linked up together to form a star! I couldn't believe it!  I used the negative space around the letters to paint the gold to reveal the star.  I love that it was around Charlotte's face since she was supposed to be the star of this painting!  Capturing the light on these sisters was really fun and I am inspired to paint some more portraits with unique lighting. To accentuate the sun's light, I used shaded letters on their dresses, heads, and bodies.  If you have a memory that you would like to capture in a unique painting designed custom for you, email me at taratories@gmail.com and we can start the conversation...  


"Remembering Wild Horses"

Recently, I had the unique opportunity to do a painting for someone based on the lyrics of a beautiful song called, "Remember Wild Horses" by Birds of Chicago."  I have never done something like this, but I was really excited about the challenge!  Here is the song and lyrics below...

Remember Wild Horses


First daughter of a Knight of Columbus

Friend to moonbeams and painters’ brushes

There was not a single one among us

Who thought she’d be alone


Now she loves her nieces and all her nephews

Green tea and the good view

Of the butterfly weeds and the coneflowers

Out back behind her home


Remember wild horses running

Oh! With the morning in their eyes

Ears pinned back on free land

Under free blue skies

You don’t have to wipe away your tears

Go on and let ‘em fall

You're just remembering wild horses is all


Down at the Whirlaway I saw an old buddy

Kind of laughing in his beer I said man what’s so funny

He looked up at me like he wanted to punch me

He said nothing’s funny not a damn things’s funny

I loved her so long I believed that she loved me

I promised her she promised me


Remember wild horses….


Well his mind was bright but his body played tricks

Would not be long before it flat out quit

Chopsticks in a bag of old leather

Alone in his room with the ghost of past summers

He can see her now he can see her now

Sunlight through her camisole

One hand over her eye to block the sun

Waiting by the window for her only one


Remember wild horses ...

I started with painting the girl who this painting was for first.  Then, I formed a circular frame around her head to frame her face.  Painting the horses in motion helped to show the wild nature of the horses.  I chose pink as the color for the horses and painted them in an ombre effect where each one was getting lighter and lighter as they went around the circle.


A coneflower was incorporated into the painting to go with the lyrics, and I also added a butterfly to give the background some life.


A little detail that I decided to add into the painting was the suggestion of forget-me-not flowers on her shirt.  I used this flower in particular because of its symbolism.

The last part was adding copper leaf to the top of what I had painted.  I'm not going to lie, I was terrified to do this part because once I applied the copper leaf, there was no going back.  I have used gold leaf before in my work, but only in little bits. I have never used copper leafing and never used it in such large masses.  I really felt like the painting needed another layer and some texture added to it and this seemed like the perfect solution.  As soon as I started laying the leaf down, the feelings of being terrified slowly turned to giddiness!  It is always good to take risks here and there because that is when pure magic happens.  After I finished applying the copper leaf, I realized that I never added stars in the sky and I was so excited that I could make it look like the copper leaf was dispersing into stars in the night sky!  In the end, it all came together as it should and I was very pleased.

 "Remembering Wild Horses" 15X15

"Remembering Wild Horses" 15X15

Email me at taratories@gmail.com if you have any inquiries about a commissioned painting you are dreaming up.