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!

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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).

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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...

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

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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... 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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"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.  

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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. 

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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.  

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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.

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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...

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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!

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Stories From the Nest

Over a month ago, I decided that I was going to do a Mother's Day themed custom art piece that would be available for the whole month leading up to Mother's Day.  I have always loved birds and also birds nests and they seemed appropriate for all that encompasses being a mother.  There is such a calming and peaceful feeling that I get when I look at the resting eggs in their nests.  They symbolize life, children, and the wonder associated with all that is to come or that has come already.  I begun advertising these eggs with them being robins blue with the option of number of eggs in the nests.  It quickly evolved to more options!  Someone asked if I could make some pink ones for girl eggs.  Then there were twin children who were distinguished by difference of color.  Next, someone asked if I could do a smaller egg to symbolize a miscarried child and I absolutely loved that!  When that piece was shared on social media, people really connected with that idea and there were a lot of people following that piece wanting to have their heavenly babies included in their nests as well.  I also had someone who lost a child at a very young age that they wanted to have a part of their nest.  There were even nests with grand baby eggs.  I was so very touched by peoples stories and I felt a great connection with their lives as I was painting their eggs.  Art has a way of bringing healing by acknowledgement of what one has gone through.  I have found that as I do custom art, I find that it has a way of reaching into my heart as well.  These are some of the nests that I painted/drew...

I began this nesting by doing my first giveaway on Instagram which was so much fun!  The winner turned out to be my friend Audrey who was happy to win this to give to a friend. I loved this whole giveaway experience and I will definitely be doing it again!  

As I worked on my canvases, I clipped them on this wire in my studio until I was ready to mount them.

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I mounted them on wood with a staple gun and then wrapped them up in paper and twine for people for them to give as gifts or for them to open themselves.  

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I just love how some of these nests ended up being displayed in peoples homes!  These small canvases are perfect for collage walls which really seem to be "the thing" right now.  

Seeing my art in people's homes brings me great joy!  It is an honor to have something I have created on display for others to enjoy and connect with.  I hope these nests tell lots of stories without words to people.  I hope they bring deep joy and healing to others as well.