A few more Brynhilds and a few Serenitys

I’m getting a little more consistency with Serenity’s mom, and I’ve begun to sketch Serenity again. She is not as stylized as I would like, so my goal next week is to work on that. I would have gotten further this week but once again my basement studio has puddles of rainwater. (When will this end?!?!?!?!) Before the floods came I was able to spend a day with my acrylics. Below is a close-up of one of many Serenity faces.

I just love the energy of the paint! I really think I’m onto something with these acrylics! Who knew?!

The bottom image is a few different tries over the last few years of the idea I have for the cover image, including the acrylic on the right, my current work in progress. I still have to decide what I want her frog to look like and ya know what? He doesn’t have a name yet. Like Brynhild, his name will probably not be used in the book but it would be nice to be better acquainted. I’m open to suggestions.

Character practice – Brynhild

As promised, (to myself mostly) I have worked on a character from my current picture book. This is Serenity’s mom (I named her Brynhild today). I still have a lot of practicing to do. There are certainly inconsistencies but not too bad for my first efforts, and I feel like I’ve jumped over a hurdle. I’m excited to push a few of these a bit further and maybe even get out the acrylics.

     Below are the first two sketches I did:

I did the top one and knew I wanted a character that was a little more unique and whimsical.

I pulled out a copy I had done of an illustration by one of my favorite children’s illustrators . . .

Chris Van Dusen.  Please click on his name and check him out. He’s amazing! Again, this is a copy of his work that I did a few years ago for educational purposes. Once I had a look at these characters, I returned to Serenity’s mom and did the more stylized second version.

The next thing I did was get out my clay and doing a little sculpting. Sometimes doing a three dimensional version of something helps me understand how to draw it.

Creepy, yeah? I was home by myself as I worked on her and my imagination started to run away with me. I was a little freaked out thinking she was going to open her eyes! What the heck is wrong with me?!

I pulled her out again the next day to refine her and I changed her expression. I was alone again and thought that if she did open her eyes she would at least be smiling at me.

Until next Wednesday! Have a lovely week!

Mrs. Cow – a portrait in ACRYLICS

7 1/2 ” x 8 1/2″ acrylic

I used to dislike acrylics completely. I used them on throw-away pieces, sketching out ideas before turning to my precious oils. (There are no bad painting mediums only bad painting medium owners.) Little by little I’ve been discovering their benefits. They keep my illustrations a little fresher and more painterly. I’ve always fought against having my brushstrokes visible to the world but the truth is brushstrokes can give a piece more energy. Bring on the brushstrokes!

Thankfully, I did the majority of Mrs. Cow on Monday. I added a few last minute touches Tuesday morning with wonderful little puddles of rainwater all around my feet in my basement studio. I did not want to spend my day down there, so from the comfort of my dry living room I pulled out my iPad and practiced some facial expressions.

This is what I don’t do enough of. This is where fear of failure comes in. These aren’t terrible but they aren’t great. I’ve been meaning to do this with my book characters and I’m dragging my feet about it from fear that I can’t make it happen. But I can . . . with practice. I simply need to make a commitment to draw more. So, (shall I do this?) next week I will post some sketches of one of my book characters, in different positions, or with different expressions, or both. There, it’s out in the world. I will share my results, good or bad, or both. See ya next Wednesday!

If at first you don’t succeed . . .

I’ve started working on my next picture book and this one I’m doing a little differently. Instead of one painting for each page like I did with the First Pearl, I’m doing several smaller paintings and hope to put them all together digitally at a later time so that I have more flexibility for edits. This is one of those smaller images (done in acrylic).

Now for the fun part. I’m going to show you how this guy started. Please don’t laugh. Okay you can laugh, but don’t tell me you laughed. Below are three starts in my sketchbook. Notice I actually wrote the word BAD beside each image. I guess I do this in case a hundred or so years from now, when someone is looking through my sketchbooks, I want him/her to know I knew it was a bad sketch. Sometimes I’m ridiculous. I may have mentioned that before.

Next is the winner:

I thought this guy was pretty cute! (Notice I wrote the word – Better. I need an eyeroll emoji right here.) The challenge was now going to be coloring it. It is a black kitten, looking at a glowing pumpkin. Using the sketch above, I got out my iPad and worked out his coloring.

 He’s a little creepy, but with both of these images I was ready to get out my acrylics.

Much better, but not as happy as that little sketch in my sketchbook, so I opened his mouth a little, threw on a bit more highlighting and added digital whiskers. The whiskers and a spot of highlight on the eyes are the only things that are digital in the final piece. Nothing worse than trying to add something like whiskers over the top of the painting and messing them up. Acrylics are not forgiving.

I wanted to share how crappy some of my starts can be. There are just times I feel like I can’t draw to save my life and then with patience and perseverance it falls into place.

Flower Shop in the Rain

This is a 17″x11″ acrylic and oil on illustration board that I did for me! I posted about it a couple of weeks ago. For anyone who didn’t see it, below is the original sketch I did on my iPad.

I like the reflections in the sketch but I’m very pleased with how the painting turned out.

Logo/Home page design

Wow! Look at me! I finished something!

Below I share my progress. It took quite a turn from the original idea.

Now I’m second guessing myself.

Did I go too far?

Does the perfect design lie somewhere in-between?


Just move on, Tracy!

Original Idea

     Last Wednesday I talked about all the pieces in my studio that are unfinished. I’ve done some soul searching and the truth is that all of those unfinished things are driving me crazy. This morning I hid them from view. I left out my current picture book (a very large project), one large 24″x36″ painting that started beautifully and deserves my attention, and the flower shop in the rain that I shared last week. That’s it. That gives me flexibility to do what I’m in the mood to do, and helps me to avoid the dreaded OVERWHELM that tends to cripple me.

    Once in a while I see photos of other artists’ studios. Mostly, like mine, they are nicely cluttered with supplies, works in progress, books, etc.  If I’m honest, I think I might thrive in a very sterile, white room with only one thing on my art table and just the supplies necessary for that one project.

     Maybe I need closets! Or a white sheets to hang up all over the place.

     See ya next week!

One WIP (Work In Progress) After Another

There is one (maybe more than one if I’m being honest) thing that drives me crazy about myself. I have an idea for an art piece, get started, make good progress, have another idea, get started, make good progress, have another idea . . . you see where I’m going here. I could repeat myself at least 15 times. Fifteen is the number of unfinished projects in my studio within my current line of sight.

The above piece is an idea that I’ve wanted to work on for over 4 years. Four and a half years ago I was riding along in the backseat of a car and passed this beautiful little flower shop all lit up, sitting by itself in a dark park on a rainy night. Really. The vision was stunning but I was unable to stop or take a photo so the image has just sat in my mind, waiting. I finally sketched it out on my iPad a couple of weeks ago when I was under the weather and all I could do was sit on the couch.

Here’s the actual painting I started last week. It’s 17″ x 11″. This is the base coat done in acrylics. Dear Painting, I promise to finish you. You’ve waited long enough already.

I’ve mentioned before that I will be getting a new website in the not too distant future. I’ve been trying to work out a logo/home page image for several weeks and here (above) is where I am with my latest idea. Dear Logo/Home Page Image, I will finish you too.

Please stop by next week. Who knows? I may have something done!

Santa Monica Pier

8×10 oil painting still in progress but close to being done.

This would have been done by now but . . .  I. Got. The. Flu. I had just finished the wonderful book “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero and was really, really, really feeling like a badass. I had my goal list for February, the ideas were flowing, I was making things happen, then Boom! I ended up watching t.v. for the second half of the month. Tomorrow is a new day. Heck! It’s a new month! My whiteboard is ready for my March goals. My studio has missed me.

I want to take a moment to tell you about the above piece. I worked from about 5 different photos that I had taken in California in January. The evening we were at Santa Monica Pier, the Saints had just lost a playoff game to the Vikings and the mood was rather somber. I pulled out my reference photos of happier people from Newport Beach that I had taken a couple of days earlier and put that crowd at Santa Monica Pier.  There are, however, a couple of people (the central guy in the blue shirt for one) who represent the Saints fans.

Rain Baby

This is from a photo I took many years ago of my daughter. She was just stepping up onto the porch and out of the rain. The photo was not good. It was taken with a film camera and there was no going in later and increasing the exposure or doing anything to bring out her sweet face. Here’s the photo:

So all these years later, I tried brightening her up myself, the old fashioned way, on my iPad Pro. (Well okay, maybe that’s not really old fashioned, but my drawing supplies were in my studio and I was under the weather.) I may go in and tweak her a little more. I still haven’t captured those apple cheeks and beautiful eyes to my satisfaction.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Dear Valentine’s Day,

Why are you my favorite?

Is it the chocolate? The glittery hearts? The sparkling sugar cookies? The little stuffed animals with hearts for eyes? The potential to receive a dozen red roses from a secret admirer? (My husband is not allowed to send me a dozen roses because I will complain that it is a waste of money), (it’s not easy being my husband)).

Valentine’s Day, you are like snow to me. Not only am I no longer a child, but my children are no longer childs, (that was on purpose) and I still get excited when school is cancelled for the day! I just can’t get past that youthful glee!

I remember the afternoon Valentine’s parties in elementary school; cookies and punch and my valentine’s box, covered with pink gingham and plush red velvet hearts on top (thanks, Mom!) I remember how cool it was to get cards from ALL my classmates and some of them were super nifty and came with a Hershey’s kiss or a red lollipop attached.

And thankfully, Valentine’s Day falls in a month where there is a potential for . . . SNOW. Can you just imagine how I feel on a SNOWY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!??? Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year, but I’m always hopeful.

Valentine’s Day, you are awesome.



p.s. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!