Taratories Blog

An Artist Worth Remembering

Last Fall I had the opportunity to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to see an amazing exhibit featuring a large collection of paintings by the famous John Singer Sargent, a leading portrait painter of his generation.  I have always admired his work and it was thrilling to get up close to his paintings and take in all the details. 

As I was viewing this exhibit, a girl in the distance caught my eye.  She seemed to have been transported in time from another era with her dreamy victorian ensemble.  She fit in with the paintings and it even felt as though she could have just stepped out of one.  I wondered what she was thinking.  Who was she?  What was her story?  I felt the need to photograph her to possibly use her in one of my paintings.  

A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I were talking about what a great trip that was to NYC and I thought back to our time in the gallery.  I thought about this girl whom I photographed and started to make a connection.  I had a feeling that this mystery woman was actually an artist that I started following on Instagram a few months ago.  I pulled out these photos from New York, and, sure enough, it was a match!  

Her name is Teresa Oaxaca and she a figurative oil painter and Master of our time.  It makes sense that she was at this particular exhibit because she observes and copies the painting of the Old Masters.  It also made sense that this is the outfit she was wearing because this is her normal attire!  She always wears period clothing which I think is so enchanting!  I was so excited when I realized that it just so happened that my family and I were going to be in Washington D.C. the following week, and Teresa was having an exhibit in Alexandria during our time there!  Her exhibit was entitled "Misfits" which I thought was such an appropriate title.

This piece was a self portrait entitled, "Blue Duchess" and it was right outside the entrance of The Art League Gallery on an easel.  I loved the way that it was a cross between a still life and a portrait.  The painting beckons me to ask what her story is.  The wig, the doll, the mask, the striped stockings, the flowers... all leaving me with questions.

She makes these frames herself and I love the way the colors and whimsy of them really compliment the paintings.  The frames really work together with the paintings and seem to make them complete.

This painting is truly bizarre and I love the composition of it.  The blue is striking, and again, more questions.

Each piece was unique but they all fit together in a cohesive way.  This show was definitely worth taking time to see and I am so glad we did!  So next time you are wandering around a gallery, take note, you may be brushing shoulders with an artist worth remembering.  

Behind the scenes of the Sarah Jessica Parker Painting

This is a story which all began in March of this past year.  I was new to Instagram and just happened to start following the actress Sarah Jessica Parker on her birthday.  On that day, she posted this charming photo from 1958 of a model wearing a Christian Dior gown.  The photo was taken by Sabine Weiss.  I absolutely fell in love with everything about this image.  I was sleeping one night and the connection between this vintage photo and Sarah Jessica may have come together in my subconscious brain or something.  A vision woke me up of Sarah Jessica being the girl in the photo with all of her shoes from her SJP shoe collection surrounding her.  I sat up in bed with inspiration swirling around in my head.  Night time is usually when I have the clearest sources of inspiration that I later use when I sit down to paint.  I decided to go with what I saw that night and paint what I had envisioned.  

I primed my piece of canvas and couldn't wait to get started!

First I drew out the placement of Sarah Jessica and the background.  I found a photo of Sarah Jessica to use as reference that was the best match for the direction of her head and neck.  Once I attained her likeness, I moved on to the floor, legs and feet, and walls.  I contemplated what color I should paint her dress, and landed on this beautiful blue.  Painting the folds of her gown were so exhilarating to me (I know I am a weird).  

The shoes were like the icing on the top.  I painstakingly searched for the perfect shoes from her collection to add into this painting.  It was harder than I thought it would be to pick the right colors and styles that would make a good color scheme.  It was difficult not to include all of her shoes, but if I did that, there would have been no place for the beautiful Sarah Jessica Parker!  As I painted these shoes, I just fell in love with them. I love the strip of complimenting color that graces the backs of their heels.  The sparkle emanating from some of the shoes make them (in Sarah Jessica Parker's words) "the modern day glass slipper."  They all have their own distinct personalities and I enjoyed painting every one of them!  

Lastly, I painted the designs in the background which helped create movement and energy in the painting.  I feel like the designs compliment the shoes and really help tie the whole piece together.  

I enjoyed every part of doing this painting, but when it was all finished in August, I felt that it didn't belong with me.  It belonged with the one person who would appreciate it most, but I had no idea how it would ever be possible to give it to her.

A couple of weeks later, I saw that an art exhibition was going to be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City that I really wanted to go see.  It was a huge collection of John Singer Sergeant's works all in one place.  He is a portrait artist that I have always loved and I thought that this would be an awesome and inspirational exhibition for me to see in person.  It had been a couple of years since I had traveled to New York and I was ready for an adventure and determined to get there.  I found a few other girls interested in joining me and within a week we coordinated a day when we were going to drive to one of the greatest cities ever, see an amazing exhibit, and drive home the next day!  I know people thought we were crazy, but I would have driven there for even a couple of hours!  A week before we were scheduled to go, I saw a post on Sarah Jessica Parker's Instagram saying that she was going to be at the Bloomingdales in NY making an appearance and selling shoes from her collection! I looked at the date and she was going to be there the day after we were leaving to come home.  I couldn't believe it.  We were going to miss her by one day, but I was determined to find a way to get my painting to her because it seemed like too much of a coincidence for me not to try!

I emailed Bloomingdales and asked them if I could leave the painting at their store overnight so that she could get it the next day.  They told me that there was no secure place for me to leave my painting overnight. Dead end. The end. No, not really.  I am a fighter and someone who likes a good challenge.  So when I have a road block in front of me, I am more determined than ever to find a way to accomplish my goal.  So a couple days before I was scheduled to leave for NYC that is when it all came together.  Through God's help and some amazing contacts, I now had made arrangements to drop this painting off on my trip to NYC!  The seemingly impossible was now possible and I was excited to say the least!!

While hailing a cab with one hand and the other clutching my carefully wrapped painting, I felt that I was in a dream.  What all started with some inspiration from a beautiful image, then a vision one night, some hard work and determination, prayer, and now an open door, had led me to this moment in time. 

All sorts of thoughts were going through my head in the elevator if you can only imagine. 

The grand finale... going to the SJP collection offices/ show room and handing over this gift that felt like a piece of me.  But knowing it was literally safe in her hands and surrounded by the very shoes featured was worth giving it up for! This was an experience I am so thankful for and one I will never forget. THE END.