Taratories Blog

Island in the Sky

This summer I was commissioned to do a 5ft X 5ft Curiosity Portrait but without an actual portrait. My Curiosity Portraits are heirloom paintings, created on commission, and painted specifically for the individual.  I interview my clients to learn about their life and what makes them unique.  I then go back to my studio and find symbols and elements from my interview notes that I will then use in my preliminary sketches.  After brainstorming creative ways to combine the various imagery, I begin.

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The first thing that I painted was this whale. I’ve never painted a whale before and, I must say, it was my favorite part to paint! I asked her “what scene of a movie or book would you step into if you could?” She told me that she would step into the movie “Man on Fire” where a bodyguard fought for a little girls life. She loved the relationship he had with the little girl and how he gave his life for her. She talked about the memory of the time where she was on a swim team and didn’t feel like she could make it to the end of the lap. Her dad came to the edge and told her, “it’s ok, you can stop swimming.” She always wanted that kind of male presence to keep her safe. I represented this male presence with one of her favorite animals, a whale. She loves how majestic they are. The whale is rescuing her and will be holding up everything in this painting that represents her.

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When I saw the wall in the home where this painting would be hung, I noticed the design on the chairs in the room. Incorporating the design around the whale gave added a graphic element and also added some movement and depth to the painting.

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Then I painted a wash of blue over the entire bottom of the painting.

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She asked God if she were to be an animal what would she be, and He revealed to her that she would be an owl. I loved painting this great horned owl on top of its own little garden island.

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She has always wanted to see a hummingbird nest, and now so do I!

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One of her favorite flowers is the hydrangea…

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Her friend had a vision of her in a garden as a flower. This flower was no ordinary flower, but one that was larger than life! In her vision, God told the flower “I love you, you are one of my favorites.”

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This flower was the most time consuming element in the painting. To give you an idea of size, it’s about 3 times the size as my head. I probably spent about 30 hours on the flower alone! I layered colored pencil, paint, pencil, paint, and so on, until I achieved the desired look that I wanted.

At some points as I worked on it, it was very meditative and soothing as I worked on the repetitive petals, but there were some times that it was really hard to push through and work because it was feeling monotonous. Working on art is a very good discipline and it is a good feeling when you push through the hard parts and stand back to see what you have accomplished in the end.

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She requested that I incorporate these butterflies and I let the blue sky peak through the wings since it was the exact color that I needed for the butterflies. I surrounded the flower with the butterflies to give glory to the flower. I represented God’s favor on her with the gold dots falling from the heavens onto the flower.

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One of her favorite things to do as a child was to swing on her swing in her garden…

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Incorporating this caterpillar was another request…

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This is a photo of me and the painting before it was stretched and framed.

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Here it is in its new home! It was such an honor to do this painting and I can’t wait to paint more Curiosity Portraits in my lifetime. If you are interested in having me paint your story without words, email me at taratories@gmail.com.

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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.

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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...  

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Winter Wreaths

When I first started brainstorming what I wanted to make to sell for Christmas, I pondered what I would want in my own home.  

First, I knew that I would want something small to put on my mantel or to add to my collage wall.  That's why I went with the smaller 9X9 inch size.  

Second, I would want something that has a natural and muted feel to it.  I wanted texture and a washiness to the painting. This is why I chose to use my mixed media technique of ink and colored pencil on these paintings.

Third, I knew that I would want something that I would be able to display not just during Christmastime, but all winter long.  This is why I went with gold accents on the wreath instead of red.  I also made this painting very neutral from the gray background to the white letter.

Fourth, I wanted it to be personal and custom to our family.  That is why I am painting a custom letter inside each wreath.  

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These make great gifts at the affordable price of $25!  Purchase one HERE today!

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Scarlett O'Hara

Scarlett O'Hara, one of the main characters in Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind, has always been one of my favorite literary characters.  Not only was Vivien Leigh an incredible talent and beauty, she was part of a film that my parents got my name from.  Tara was the plantation that was Scarlett's most treasured possession and I feel a great kinship to her and the film because of this. This is one of my favorite looks she had in the movie.  The feathers, the tulle, the glitz, the glam, the scarlett, I love it all.

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I decided that this photo was the one I would use for reference for a painting I was going to do.  First I drew Scarlett's face.  I think her raised eyebrow really makes her look like Scarlett.  I never thought about that before, but after I drew her I realized that this was signature to her look.

Then, I added the beautiful scarlett dress with my watercolors and built it up in layers to create the right tone.

Next I added gold behind her which really made her face pop and was a great compliment to the Scarlett color.  Usually I do more in the circle behind the women I paint, but with this one, I felt that all it needed was gold.  I didn't want anything to distract from the star of the show and I felt like less was more in this situation.

I added some touches of acrylic paint on her dress where it needed some darker tones and also darkened up her hair.  I also gave her some red lips and added the gold bling additions which really made the piece come alive.

I'm really happy with how it turned out!  This painting was created for an auction that is for a great cause!  The money raised through this auction goes to the National Down Syndrome Society.  Bidding is live as of today!  If you want to have a chance to win this painting and support a great cause, place your bid here: https://www.501auctions.com/ndssgala2017/item/517744 . The silent auction ends at 10pm on March 30th!

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Adult Art Classes in Full Swing

These past couple of months have been busy with adult art classes in full swing! I had 3 themes for my art classes.  First, I held 2 classes with a "Watercolor Hydrangea" theme.  I taught the women how to do a watercolor painting of hydrangea flowers using a technique called "negative painting."  

With this technique, you paint in layers around your flower blooms to create depth.  It is so fun and kind of magical!  The women really enjoyed seeing the flowers come together through this layered process.

The second class theme was "Zentangle Umbrellas."  First, we used turquoise ink to create a rainy sky.  This step of the process was so spontaneous and fun!

Next we drew and shaded the umbrellas, and finally created the Zentangle patterns with pen and ink.  I loved the way they turned out!

The most recent class theme was "Fall Crafting and Cookies." During this night we decorated pumpkins using hot glue to create our leaf relief designs.  Then we painted a couple coats of white chalk paint on top of the pumpkins, and then brushed the gold paint on top to give it the finishing touches and bling that every girl loves.

During the drying time we decorated pumpkin cookies and drank apple cider.  This was a great time to socialize and connect with new friends.  It was also a great way to celebrate the beginning of fall!