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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


One of her favorite flowers is the hydrangea…


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.”


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.


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.


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


Incorporating this caterpillar was another request…


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


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.


Listen: Wales Residency

The last few days I have been glued to my canvas from morning until night.  I think knowing that my time is drawing to a close has given me an extra dose of motivation to use my time to my advantage.  I know that when I go home time to create will look very different.  I have painted 4 paintings and I am finishing up my 5th one now.  Having this kind of time to work has been amazing.  No distractions, no schedule.  The only sounds I hear are the footsteps of the other artists on the old wood floors, the jets flying low above Corris, the sound of kegs being hauled up from the basement of the pub next door by the owner and his sons, the chatter of people inside the pub at night, little children on the street running home from school, and my spotify playlist.  I will miss these sounds.  These will always be the sounds of Wales in my memory. What sounds have you heard today?

This pub is not like a typical bar in America.  There are Grannies in their sweaters, children, babies, families that hang out in there.  For Halloween yesterday they had a little disco for kids with games and hot dogs and candy!  They were so cute dressed up in their little costumes.  We had some trick-or-treaters knock on the door but we had nothing to offer them unfortunately.  

I am keeping my art to myself while I am here until a show that I will be having at the end of the month but I am going to start to sharing a few detail images on this blog and eventually I will show the full works in their entirety.  Here are a few details from one of my paintings that I did...

Reflecting: Wales Residency

Yesterday started off with some time in the studio working on a new painting and also ended the day working on it.  I am on my third painting and I am really excited about this one!  I headed next door for lunch.  I'm now a regular at Andy and Adam's!  

I had the most AMAZING carrot and ginger soup there which helped warm me up.  I feel so cold all day long here and I long for the moments that I get to warm myself up with soup or a hot drink.  

This is what the street looks like right outside Maelor.  I love this street.

After lunch Yuki and I went for a walk that ended up being about 3 hours long!  

This is a local old chapel that is being turned into art studios, so we heard.  My dream!

We saw more sheep, some cows, some great stone buildings, and a beautiful mossy stream.

We stumbled upon this old post office that is for sale!  We peered in the windows and it was gorgeous inside!  It was a long room with a wood burning stove on either side and a spiral staircase right in the middle of the room!!  If I didn't have a husband and children to go home to, you bet I would be buying this place and never returning.  


We were heading to the old slate quarry and on the way was this old telephone booth so of course I had to have a moment with it.

We stopped to read about the history of the slate quarry then trekked on the footpaths to get to it. The slate was surrounding us in every direction.  It was on either side and underneath our feet.  I just LOVED the sound of the slate underneath my boots as I was walking.  It was a very satisfying sound.  I video taped the sound so I would always remember it. 

The size of the hole in the mountain was monstrous...

I collected a few things along the way to press and I just happened to open up the bird book to the owl page which is ironic because that is what I was painting yesterday.  I have never painted an owl before but as I did I began to really learn about the form of an owl and all of its details.  Every time I paint something I have never painted before I learn more about it as I study the subject.  To me, painting equals learning.  It is easy to look at something without really studying it, but with art it forces you to take note of every detail.  I felt like my walk today was a little like this.  When you are in a car you don't stop to study the world around you.  On foot you have the chance to be a student of the world around you.  Every time you touch the moss, pick up a fern, feel the smooth slate, watch the light hit the mountainside and move as the sun shifts, listen to the sheep bleating and the water dancing over the rocks, you are a student.  A student of God's artistry.  His amazing, awe-inspiring artistry that I love to capture on my canvas.  Although I can never be the level of artist that God is, I love learning about what He has presented us with and reflecting it as best as I can.