Taratories Blog

An Artist Worth Remembering

Last Fall I had the opportunity to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to see an amazing exhibit featuring a large collection of paintings by the famous John Singer Sargent, a leading portrait painter of his generation.  I have always admired his work and it was thrilling to get up close to his paintings and take in all the details. 

As I was viewing this exhibit, a girl in the distance caught my eye.  She seemed to have been transported in time from another era with her dreamy victorian ensemble.  She fit in with the paintings and it even felt as though she could have just stepped out of one.  I wondered what she was thinking.  Who was she?  What was her story?  I felt the need to photograph her to possibly use her in one of my paintings.  

A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I were talking about what a great trip that was to NYC and I thought back to our time in the gallery.  I thought about this girl whom I photographed and started to make a connection.  I had a feeling that this mystery woman was actually an artist that I started following on Instagram a few months ago.  I pulled out these photos from New York, and, sure enough, it was a match!  

Her name is Teresa Oaxaca and she a figurative oil painter and Master of our time.  It makes sense that she was at this particular exhibit because she observes and copies the painting of the Old Masters.  It also made sense that this is the outfit she was wearing because this is her normal attire!  She always wears period clothing which I think is so enchanting!  I was so excited when I realized that it just so happened that my family and I were going to be in Washington D.C. the following week, and Teresa was having an exhibit in Alexandria during our time there!  Her exhibit was entitled "Misfits" which I thought was such an appropriate title.

This piece was a self portrait entitled, "Blue Duchess" and it was right outside the entrance of The Art League Gallery on an easel.  I loved the way that it was a cross between a still life and a portrait.  The painting beckons me to ask what her story is.  The wig, the doll, the mask, the striped stockings, the flowers... all leaving me with questions.

She makes these frames herself and I love the way the colors and whimsy of them really compliment the paintings.  The frames really work together with the paintings and seem to make them complete.

This painting is truly bizarre and I love the composition of it.  The blue is striking, and again, more questions.

Each piece was unique but they all fit together in a cohesive way.  This show was definitely worth taking time to see and I am so glad we did!  So next time you are wandering around a gallery, take note, you may be brushing shoulders with an artist worth remembering.  

"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...