Taratories Blog

Let the Rain Reign

This past year I painted one of my sisters cradling her baby.  I have been wanting to paint my other sister as well and this week I decided to finally make that happen.  I used a photo of her face to use for reference.  Here are the beginning lines with the placement of her features and some art nouveau inspired designs circling around her.

Here is the first layer of paint and pencil on her face where I established the highlights and shadows.  One of my sons told me that it looked like she had sunblock on, and I agreed!  

She started looking more realistic after I added more layers of paint and pencil over her skin.  I gave her some highlighted hair and a flower as a focal point. 

Here is the first splash of color...

more color...

The left corner needed something and I decided this little guy would balance out the composition perfectly.  

I felt like this piece needed more texture and I found myself using paint that I had just used on my bird to add another layer to this piece.  I say "I found myself" because it happened so fast I didn't have time to discuss with myself if it would be a good idea or not.  I make a lot of calculated decisions in my art, but the most invigorating moments are the ones that I don't plan.  The decisions that are on a whim, that come from a feeling, that are a risk.  Sometimes it doesn't work out, but if it does it usually is my favorite part.  These spontaneous gestures may help me to find a new technique or find myself. They teach me to let go and lean on my creative intuition.  This week it rained on my canvas and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  Take cover my friends and let the rain reign.


"I always wished this photo from the night Gary proposed in London was more... well, pretty. Knowing Tara's unique style and that she was born in England, I showed it to her and asked if she could turn it into something prettier."- Audrey Wallace

And then I went to work.  I began by doing a sketch of the London Eye accompanied by various Art Nouveau inspired designs against a backdrop of the London skyline.  This was one of the most important steps in completing this piece because a good composition and plan set in place at the beginning helps eliminate a lot of problem solving along the way.  

Here is where I laid on the first wash of paint.  I painted a few layers for the sky grading from dark to light toward the horizon.  


Then I added the warm sunset glow...

I continued downward adding water.  After the water was done, I began the London sky line giving some depth with varying shades of silhouettes and sizes of buildings.  Some say at this stage it looks like the scene of something out of Mary Poppins.

This part was fun... adding the twinkling lights was like putting the cherry on the top of the skyline.  The city all of the sudden looked alive and inviting.

I then added the lovely couple.  Floating on the water, but not for long.


And now we have two peas in a pod.

I brought the Union Jack into my Art Nouveau inspired designs and used the sunset as my inspiration for colors.

Here is the finished result.


Paris and Peonies

After my art retreat I continued to work on this self portrait.  I worked on it every single day for a little over 2 weeks.  I posted my progression on social media for this piece and now as I look back on the photos, I am really glad that I chose to do so.  I wouldn't normally take photos of my art throughout the period of time that I am working on it, but with the accountability to post something every day, it forced me to stop and keep a record.  Its kind of like having an art journal. 

This was the beginning.  I like to get the hardest parts out of the way.  Getting the likeness of the face is by far the most challenging.  It was kind of strange drawing my face, I must say.  

Planning out the entire composition of this piece was challenging, but fun at the same time.  When I do art I really like to start with an small idea, but then let it take its course and evolve along the way.  The evolving part is the fun part!  I knew I was going to have me sketching the eiffel tower, but that was it.  I then drew some basic lines adding an environment and pattern/designs.  At this stage, I began to add some color.  Throwing on this intense orange color was extremely scary for me, because at this stage it didn't make sense.  I knew that as I added the rest of the color it would make more sense, but I definitely questioned whether or not it would.

I started to add more color, and at this point the orange started to seem less prominent and then came the sense of relief.

I then added some cherry blossoms to frame my face.  I love to incorporate nature when I can and I think it added a softness to balance out the more intense patterns.

Then came the Eiffel Tower.  That wonderful iconic symbol of Paris.  I kept it realistic, but somewhat muted, in the background.  I added these painted designs in the sky to balance the pattern around the eiffel tower and to create another layer of softness around the face.


I then painted on the first coat of green that was to be a base coat for the foliage.

Then I darkened up the green and gave it some texture, then moved on to the peonies.  Making the peony large that is closest to the viewer helps give the feeling of depth and perspective in this piece.  Overlapping the flowers a little in front of my body also helps with this.

I felt like the corner where the flowers were needed a touch of realism and detail.  A bee was the perfect addition to give some life to that corner.  I call my new little friend "Bee-rad".


I then painted 3 layers of grass on.  The first layer being a light green, the second being a shade darker, and the 3rd layer I painted the more defined blades of grass.  I also put some pants on:)

The peonies kept bothering me and I wasn't sure why.  I knew I wanted them to be this shade of pink to tie in with the pink in the designs in the background, but the pink still seemed too strong.  I thought of polka dots, and this was the perfect solution to toning down the pink and giving them some personality.  I discovered a new technique in the process.  I used masking tape to pick up a layer of the colored pencil to make the polka dots.  I didn't actually add any color to the flowers.

Then I finally gave myself a foot and chair to sit on.  I had been holding off on this part because I needed to paint the blades of grass first so I could then paint around them. 

Last, but not least came the palette and sketchbook.  

And this is the final piece.  I really enjoyed this marathon I have been on these last two weeks to complete this piece, but like all races, you are glad when it is over and you can sit down and get a tall glass of water.  

The best feeling in the world.  Nothing left to do but to sign your name!


Beauty Within the Boundaries

Kids want boundaries.  In fact they thrive within boundaries.  I believe that we ALL need boundaries in our lives to have healthy, happy lives.  When there are no boundaries we can feel overwhelmed, insecure, unsafe, and uncertain.  

When I was in art class in high school I remember the projects my teacher would give us... Draw this still life, copy this photo, paint this landscape, sketch this figure.  Every assignment was constructed within some sort of boundary.  Within these boundaries I felt such a sense of freedom, and with less options for choices I was seldomly overwhelmed.  

I have always loved Art Nouveau and, recently, I have been trying to infuse some of the characteristics of Art Nouveau into my work.  After countless hours of pouring myself over Art Nouveau books I have been able to really understand all of the things that makes Art Nouveau what it is.  One of the things that is used repeatedly in Art Nouveau designs are circles.  I have tried incorporating circles in my work recently and I am LOVING the freedom it is giving me.  For some reason the rectangle shape of a piece of paper does NOT give me that same sense of freedom.  This circle has become my boundary within the realm of art.  I tend to get overwhelmed by a blank canvas or sheet of paper, and having to begin a piece of art starting with a circle has really helped!  When I decided to add the circle element, I had no idea that it would become a beautiful boundary for me, but it has!

Some inspirational art nouveau pieces...

This has been my circle template for the last few weeks for a new project I am undertaking.  Each design I am working on starts with this...

I am so excited to share the finished products with everyone once it is time, but for now, here is a little peak.