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.

En Plein Air

Every summer my family and I go to Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina for vacation.  This summer I thought that I would bring my art supplies along so I could work on a commissioned piece that someone ordered from me.  They wanted a tranquil beach scene with two adirondack chairs to symbolize times spent with her and her daughter at the beach.  She is giving it to her for a graduation present which I think is so special.  I first laid down some washes of color at my easel.  The wind was blowing intensely that day, but the easel stood firm.  My hair, not so much.  I have to admit that besides doing some light sketching and watercolors outside, I have never worked on a piece from beginning to end outside.  Having the blue waters as my backdrop was so inspiring and beautiful to have around me.  I felt such a sense of freedom as I painted outside.  There was peace and calmness about me as I worked.  This meditative environment helped me feel so comfortable with every brush stroke and line applied to the canvas.  "En plein air" is a French expression which means "in the open air" used to describe the act of painting outdoors.  I never realized how fresh air, beautiful landscape, sun, and breeze could have such an affect on the way I worked, but now I am determined to make more "plein air" happen in my life.


I also loved working beside my nieces.  When they found out I was doing art, right away they gathered their art supplies and started working next to me and it was so fun!  They were very curious as to what exactly I was doing.  I just love how kids are so curious and how inspired they can be just by watching people.  They are quite the little artists themselves!  One of my nieces does beautiful typography and she was working on a "T" For me, the other was having fun using the colored pencils I had out, but ended up chasing her paper in the wind most of the time :)  

When I took this picture, the beautiful coastal sunlight snuck in and laid on the most perfect place on my canvas!  It wasn't until later that I noticed what happened and I think it's kind of crazy!

After I stretched the canvas on the frame I realized how perfect this piece would look on my dining room wall!  Sadly, I had to package it off to ship it out.  I might just have to paint another beach inspired scene again...

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.


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.  


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.

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!


Stages of "Into the Deep Blue"

I just recently had someone commission me to do a piece of art for them.  This piece was so fun to do because she let me have complete creative freedom and let the piece be a total surprise to her!  I was able to choose the size, medium, and subject matter and just go to town! I have never been given the chance to do something like this and, being that it was such a great experience,  I hope I have the chance to do something like this again!  I thought it would be interesting for people to see the stages that "Into the Deep Blue" went through.  I worked with a mixed media technique using inks and colored pencils to create a really atmospheric painting/drawing.  

This piece was 3X2ft, so due to the size, I created a grid on the canvas to help with the initial placement of my sketch.  After that I began drawing a few simple shapes that would be the focal points of my piece, i.e., the coral and fish.  Then I shaded all the areas that would be medium to dark in value to create a tonal background for me to layer on top of.  

After that first layer of neutral pencil, I went on with colors to start forming the subjects.  It is still a faint looking layer, but I hadn't added any inks yet.  The piece was already starting to take shape during this step though which was exciting.  The shapes were very abstract at the beginning which made it more challenging for me because I tend to work more realistically and precisely.  Letting go a little bit and just letting the scene be a little more ambiguous at this stage was a really good exercise for me.

This is the scary part... adding the layers of ink onto the drawing that was just done.  By adding the inks, the fish were already starting to pop and the abstract shapes were already looking less abstract.  I just love seeing the shapes morph as each layer is applied.  

Here is where I started to add some detail along the way which really made the coral and fish pop!  It is so hard for me to be patient up to this point because details are like the cherry on the top... the really fun part.  I probably rushed a little to get to the detail, as you can see, because the ink washes weren't even done yet, but I just couldn't wait!

Its all about the little details.  The highlights around the holes in the coral...

The scales on the fish...

Here is the finished product which I am really happy with!  I added a lot more blue ink and pencil to the background which helped give the piece more depth.  There were many, many layers of pencil and ink that made this piece what it is, but that is what makes the piece interesting to me.  I have always loved working in layers, compared to working in a more flat manor.  I love the depth that the layers bring.  I think my personality goes along with the way I like to do art.  I love dreaming of what's next, seeing the beauty of life unfold, and I love the journey!! 

Here are a few words from the person that commissioned me to do this piece...

Summer Art Camps Drawing To a Close

It has been a great summer working with local children in the area at my summer art camps!  Kids ages 7-12 have been trying out their hands in painting, mixed media, and paper mache.

This was the first time I ever ventured into classes that were more lengthy like these four hour ones.  With a packed lunch to break it up in the middle, it was a great amount of time for the kids to try something new and finish a beautiful piece of art that they could take home and hang on their walls!  

I put my own children to work as my "staff" and they were a great help to me as I needed many hands to help.



 The kids really enjoyed themselves and I had many repeat students this summer.  Also, parents were thrilled to pay $40 to have a break while their kids were having fun and making colorful artwork to bring home.  It was a win, win situation for all!  I will definitely be hosting more of these summer art camps next year!  Please contact me if you are interested in your child/children being a part of these art camps.  I will be hosting more camps throughout the 2014-15 school year.  More to come on that...