Taratories Blog

Critique: Wales Residency

This last week we had two new resident artists come to stay.  The girl on the left is Michelle Loa Kum Cheung and the girl on the right is Jessica Raby.  

Jessica is currently getting her MA in Aberystwyth and is studying film.  She collects things from nature and isolates outside of their natural environment to film and photograph.  This is her in her studio filming a flower she picked around the area while here.

Michelle is a painter and uses a unique technique where she burns into wood and uses oil paint to paint around and inside her burnt drawings.  Right now she is doing a commission for a restaurant which is a tetraptych (painting that has four parts).  Go to Michellelkc.com to see more of her work.

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And there is me.  I focus mainly on using a combination of acrylic paints and colored pencils on canvas.  I have been enjoying exploring this mixed media technique more and more and have enjoyed focusing on people as my subjects. Since I have been in Wales I have been using Welsh folklore to tell stories in my paintings and I have had so much fun trying my hand at allegorical paintings!

This week we decided it would be fun to do a critique with each other in our studios.  I haven't done a critique since college and it was so fun to be a part of something like this again!  First we gathered in the attic and watched what Jessica had filmed so far on the projector.  

We loved the flower that she had filmed slowly spinning as it hung from her studio ceiling.  The light created beautiful shadows on it and I loved how mesmerizing it was to watch.  She talked about her work and we also took a look at some of her past films.  She appreciated our input and used it to help her plan out her direction for the rest of her stay here. If you want to see more of her work go to www.jess-raby.com.

Next we looked at what Michelle had painted so far on her panels and she talked about her process and how she got into pyrography.  She talked about what kind of subjects she paints and how she is drawn to landscapes but likes to play with scale in her paintings in a surrealistic way.

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The time came for my critique. I talked about my different paintings that I have painted in Wales and how I incorporated Welsh folklore into them. We talked about some of the commonalities that the paintings have with each other and the parts of the paintings that worked better than others.

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Discussing art with each other was so fun and we all benefitted so much from our discussions.  Here are a few more detail shots from another painting I did.

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Little Luv Bugs

Recently I had the pleasure of doing a pair of commissioned portraits for someone of her two daughters.  The person that had me do the portraits is the photographer of Luv Bug Photography .  What a gift it was to have gorgeous photos to work with!  The reason I changed the flowers on this photo was to coordinate with a family picture of theirs.  

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The reason I changed the flowers on this photo was to coordinate with a family picture of theirs.  Here is a look into the different stages that this painting went through...

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The second photo was just as dreamy as the first and really portrayed the true essence of childhood. 

I contemplated how I was going to paint her straw hat, and keeping the color of the canvas as the main color was my solution. I just added the shadows and highlights to it with paint and pencil.

I had a variety of ideas of how I was going to incorporate designs into this one, but I just felt that any designs added was going to take away from all that was going on.  I decided to just add some gold dots on some of the leaves to give the painting a little extra something and I'm really happy with how it turned out.  Sometimes less is more.  

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I had the pleasure of hand delivering these little 10X10 paintings to my client on her birthday! I felt so honored that she chose paintings from me as her birthday present to herself.  Please feel free to contact me through my website or email me at taratories@gmail.com if you are interested in a custom portrait for you or someone else.  

"Bleeding Hearts"

Recently I did a commissioned painting for a man who lost his daughter to cancer this past year.  In this photo there is a father sharing a sweet moment with his daughter who was battling cancer at the time that this was taken. He is a photographer and normally is behind the lense, but for this brief moment he was the one captured on film instead. 

Using my typical circular designs, I framed the faces and sketched in the placement of everything on my canvas.  I began layering skin tones first with my paint and colored pencils.

I developed his face first and then moved on to hers.

The joy captured in their expressions in this moment in time was so touching.

Changing the color of his shirt helped me go with a monochromatic and more subdued color palette.  The shadow where there heads are touching really became an important element of this painting because it gave some important depth and contrast.

After searching and searching for the perfect flower to include in this piece, I stumbled across the "bleeding heart" flower and right away knew this was the perfect choice because of its symbolism.

The person who commissioned me to do this painting asked me if I would make sure the designs weren't distracting from the faces.  So instead of color, I chose to paint with gold to be used as a neutral inside the outer circle.  

I then began painting in the flowers and designs.  I chose the white "bleeding hearts" with tips of red to help tie in the little sliver of red in the camera.  I struggled so much with picking a color for the background behind their faces...

I needed a color that wasn't too strong, yet one that would be dark enough so that the heads would stand out from it.  I didn't want a distracting color, and I didn't want to clash with the colors I already had here.  So many things to consider.  I ended up layering many different colors of paint and pencil to achieve the color that I ended up with.  I just kept going with one more layer until it felt right!  

The blue washy background really made everything pop and tied it all together.  I was so glad to be able to be a part of this family's healing through the language of art.  As I painted this piece I found myself praying for the family and feeling my heart bleed...

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