Taratories Blog

My first "Curiosity Portrait" with Cara Mancari

On my artist residency in Wales back in the fall, I used women's portraits to tell the stories of the Welsh folktales from the area.  Not only did I enjoy painting the portraits, but I loved reading a story and trying to visualize what that might look like in a painting.  One day when I was there I had an idea.  The idea was that when I came back to the States I would tell the stories of as many women as I could.  Right then and there I started formulating a list of questions I would ask the women that I interviewed.  

I decided that I would call these allegorical paintings "Curiosity Portraits" because there is so much mystery and curiosity held in these unique portraits.  One thing I have always been drawn to in art are the questions.  I love trying to figure out what the meaning is behind the paint and what story the artist was trying to tell.  

When I got home from Wales I was so excited to get started on my first "Curiosity Portrait" but I still felt like there was a piece missing.  I wanted something that would be a common thread that would be woven through all of these portraits but I didn't know what that would be.  So I waited, and waited.  Until one day in February I had an "aha" moment!  It all clicked and I was freaking out I was so excited!  

Before I went to Wales I had an idea in mind that I was going to pursue while I was there and it incorporated fashion.  I had brought with me a big envelope stuffed with inspirational images from fashion magazines and some pinterest boards full of great images I could use as inspiration. Although I didn't end up pursuing this theme in Wales, I still had these images lingering in my head.  This particular day in February I started thinking about these images and a lightbulb went off in my brain.  I thought to myself,  "I could tell stories of women through fashion!!"

And so it began.  My first model was the beautiful Cara Mancari...


I went on a little weekend retreat at the end of February which was the perfect time to work on this painting.  Before I left on my retreat I had interviewed Cara asking her a list of questions about her passions, memories, likes, dreams, etc.  I just LOVE this part of the process because I love getting to know people and what things come together to make them who they are.  I have always loved asking people questions because I truly love learning about people!  

At the retreat, I began by looking through my notes from the interview and writing down things that I could use as symbols and visuals to express some of the things she shared about her life.  Next, I searched inspirational images that I could incorporate into the painting.  Here is my messy table where I began a sketch to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.  It was challenging, but for some reason I really love the challenge! I love painting portraits but it has never felt like enough for me in the creativity department.  Having to take these steps of creativity is exhilarating for me and takes portrait painting to a whole new level.

I then worked out a color palette that I was going to use based on her answers in the interview.

One of the questions I asked her was, "what was your favorite memories from growing up?"  She told me that when she was a little girl she loved playing in the woods and she found these curved branches that she used as the top of her "house." She made her house and then found moss that she laid down under the branches to lay and play on.  Cara loved this imaginary play and I thought that would be a beautiful thing to capture in the painting.  

Here is the moss in her headpiece...

Here are the branches...

Her favorite bird is a blue jay so I perched him on top of the branches...

I asked Cara, "What about nature inspires you?  What are you drawn to?"  She told me that she loves asymmetrical patterns in nature.  So I painted a tree bark pattern on her clothing...

I asked her "If you could live in a scene of a book or a movie where would you live?" and she told me that it would be "Lord of the Rings" so I decided to add a hobbit house underneath the moss in her headpiece.  I also incorporated wild flowers in front of it because those are her favorite kinds of flowers.

Another thing we talked about was what dream she had for her future and she told me that she wanted to own her own interior design business.  She told me that Scandinavian design is her favorite kind of design.  I really didn't know what Scandinavian design looked like so I did research.  I just love learning about new things through art processes!  I found that in Scandinavian design a lot of black, white, copper, blush, and hints of blue are used (hence the color scheme).  Considering this, I thought that the copper on her headpiece and black polka dots would be the perfect elements to complete the piece.  Blush is actually her favorite color so that worked out nicely, and also the fact that she loved blue jays worked out well with the color scheme as well. I also hung the blue jay feathers from her head piece to bring more blue to the bottom of the painting. 

My favorite elements in the painting are the polka dots and the way that her face blends in with the blush background.  I love the subtlety of it and it veers from my norm. I would like to play with more subtlety in my future works.  Cara was thrilled with how the painting turned out and was so excited to see all the personal elements of her life story incorporated into the painting.  

When she saw it she said, "It's so cool because I feel like my life is a storybook, that my experiences and the details of my life are more than just subtle memories, but vibrant details and a part of who I am!" This quote really encompasses what I want people to experience through these portraits.  I want every woman to feel like she has a story, a beautiful story.  That her life is valued.  What is your story?  Email me at taratories@gmail.com if you are interested in telling your story without words.. 

"Flights of Curiosity"

I am so excited to finally reveal the paintings that I did in Wales!  I have a new web page dedicated to the new collection called "Flights of Curiosity" found at http://www.taradeetscreek.com/new-page-1/ .  On this page you can see my art and read the stories that were behind the paintings.  I still have originals for sale and you can also order prints!  Please contact me at taratories@gmail.com if you are interested in prices of originals or prints or if you have any questions about the work at all.  If you are local to the Akron area, my paintings will be on display at Revival (822 W Market Street, Akron, Oh 44303) through the month of December.  Here is one of my paintings entitled "In Her Mind's Eye".  Go to my new web page to see the whole collection!


I just finished a painting today of a beautiful mother and child.  I have found that the type of art that brings me the most joy to create is the kind that I have the most connection with.  I may or may not know my subject that I am doing a portrait of personally, but either way, when there is a mother and child in a loving embrace such as this, I feel instantly connected.  God blessed me four times with babies to snuggle and with each child it was a magical experience.  What I would give to go back in time and experience those tender moments again...

I took this photo of them when this baby was about a month old.  The fact that she was a first time mother made this moment I captured even more special.  

I worked in my medium of a mixture of fluid acrylics and colored pencil on canvas. Layer upon layer, and wash upon wash, I developed this painting and brought it to a soft and dreamy place.

For this custom painting, she requested blues and greens along with hydrangeas.  I incorporated hydrangeas in a more subtle abstract way in the background which gave some depth and texture to the painting.  I snuck in some bird silhouettes and added some touches of gold, of course.  These are two signature elements I feel MUST be included in the portraits that I do ;)  I played around with the composition with this painting and placed the mother and baby off center and coming out of the corner. I was pleased with how it turned out and I can't wait to do more!  I am taking orders for mother and baby portraits, but these orders will not be started until 2017.  To place your order email me at taratories@gmail.com or click HERE.  

"instagraham" 20X20

"instagraham" 20X20

My Sleeping Sister

On my previous post "Draw the Curtains or Draw a Line" I showed the beginnings of a painting/drawing I was doing of my sleeping sister and baby.  This is the photo that I was using as reference.

I wanted to share the progress that it has made this week so far.  Here is where I added a circle to frame their heads and begun adding flower details.  Her hair went from flat black to highlights and lowlights forming a three dimensional head.  

I work organically and make decisions along the way when I do art.  I think it is more fun that way!  Take note of the blue under the baby's arm on the picture above.  I didn't like the way that it made the baby seem to be floating away from the mother.  I decided to add black on top of the blue to make it into hair.  That just seemed more fitting and brought them together more.  

I am excited about filling in the circle with designs and adding more texture to the blue background.  I am putting this on hold for a little bit to work on an exciting project that is more pressing, but when I am finished, I will make sure to post pictures of the final project!