Friday, September 30, 2011

Crows are Geniuses

Today I'm using the birds in this video as references for the Crow Series piece I have in progress. It's worth watching, though, just for the ingenuity of the crows, who have figured out what stoplights are for.

Crow in progress. This 7 x 5" oil on salvaged aluminum is the heart of a new piece, the full design of which I haven't worked out just yet, but that's normal for these things. They develop on the fly.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Painting While the Sun Shines, Part 2

Rail Cars and Red Grass, 8 x 10" oil on canvas board
There are several tracks running through Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, where I painted this, so if you can imagine the clanging, and squealing, and the track-rhythms, and the roar of those big diesels -- four in a row, sometimes, black red yellow like a coral snake -- then you know where I was.

I'm drawing trains more and more lately, and I hope there are enough people out there who like both trains and art to make this worth my while. Because I'm not likely to stop any time soon.

Painting while the Sun Shines

Above, yesterday's little panel with the freight train. This was at the end of the session. I didn't stop painting long enough to take a photo until the sun was gone and I had to stop anyway. 

Later, in the studio, I finished the piece but didn't have good light for photographing it. I'll do that today. It took me a long time but I have finally accepted that it is simply not possible to truly color-correct a photo of art taken under artificial light. I always end up re-shooting in daylight anyway.

And here's the finished Path with Dry Goldenrod, 8 x 10" oil on canvas board.

Are there places in your world that you think would make good paintings? I think most of us have them, even if they're just particular stretches of highway we see on our commute. I invite you to take photos (um, preferably not while driving) and post them on my Facebook page. Or tweet me, @TracieTheArtist.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paint Foal Portrait

Little Tag, 10 x 8" mixed media on cotton rag paper
This little fellow is a commission. His owner had only one very poor snapshot of him as a youngster -- the one on his original registration papers. I did my best therefore to adhere to his spirit, since the letter, as it were, was somewhat blurry.

His very rich coloring made watercolor the easiest, fastest choice for completing the picture and lending the free, happy feeling I wanted for him.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tiny Flower Garden

Garden at the Faire, 5 x 3" watercolor and pen on paper
Another drawing from yesterday at the Renaissance Festival.

The humor of this: it was just to the left of the Legends Stage where the Puke & Snot Show was going on. Ribald humor and dahlias. I smiled all through the sketching part, but didn't get to finish it until much later in the day. I enjoyed the cool breeze and some remarkable music while I sat in the Queen's Tavern with my watercolor kit and a pint of good cider, happy despite knowing how soon winter will arrive.

The intricate pattern of leaves and flowers required considerable time and attention, but it felt good to slow down enough for that.

This little piece is now available at my online shop.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shih-Tzu at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival

Sushi, drawn from life at the Renaissance Festival today. About 10" x 8" mixed media on paper.
This little dog was perched on top of the counter at one of the vendors' stalls at the Ren Fest, sweetly accepting all the attention she got from people walking in.  So I drew her. I mean, really, what else could I have done? It's not every day you get such a lovely little model, complete with the flower in her hair.

It's become habit for me to always have drawing supplies, and today I made five drawings while at the Festival. I hope I didn't annoy my friends too much. What I want now is to go back and do more, but it's a long way and a lot of money for beer food, so I doubt I will do it this year.

Drawing is 10 x 8" mixed media on cotton rag paper. Priced at just $45 for the drawing only, or $59 with mat to fit a standard 11 x 14" frame. I use a museum-quality Bainbridge mat in a soft cream color that really complements these drawings.  Includes a signed "pedigree" for the drawing, detailing how, where, and when it was made. A very nice gift for someone in your life who loves Shih Tzus.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Too many dogs to upload now, so have a landscape!

After Bark and Roll, I took my shiny new Guerrilla Painter Box and went out with a friend to do some landscape sketching. Days this lovely are rare and we needed to use this one while we could.

Path with Dry Goldenrod, 8 x 10", oil on canvas board.
We went to Bruce Vento Park, where the light falling across the trail caught my attention immediately. I seem to enjoy stripey landscapes.

Working outdoors, there's always a time limit, and this little piece took ... somewhere between 70 and 90 minutes, I think. It's a guess at best because I rarely know what time it is while I'm painting. The world kind of stops; that's one of the nicest things about making art.

Chances that I'll make a few tweaks to this: approximately 100%. I'm happy with it, though, and look forward to putting it up for sale in the next few days.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Progress at International Market Square

The same curvature that made this wall ideal for a mural also makes it terribly difficult to photograph. I sure wish I could call in my brother. He'd capture it beautifully, but I don't have the budget to have this particular job photographed. 

Yesterday I got the ruined temple painted in, solidified a lot of the landscape around it, and then did some work on the lower foreground areas to give them a bit of depth and detail. Today I am going to lunch with Julie Dasher of Concept Interiors and some other new friends in the building, and will continue with the process. I expect to finish there tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Highland Villager spot!

This is in the current (Sept. 14 -- 27) edition of the Highland Villager here in St. Paul. Brad Stauffer came out, took photos and talked to everyone on site at Wet Paint, and a good time was had by all.

For those of you who've missed it, there's a minor error in this story: the mural isn't going into a local shelter, but into the new offices of Enchanted Makeovers in Detroit.  This organization is transforming lives by transforming environments, and I'm so honored to have an opportunity to work with them.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Woman in Pink Velvet Jacket

Woman in Pink Velvet Jacket, 5 x 3" mixed media on paper
The eternal challenge with making art is finding the time to actually do it. For me, it helps to carry very small sketch books around. These drawings-in-little-moments are fuel, and they sharpen my skills, and they make me happy.

Often, they make other people happy, too. There were two women I drew on this same day, and the other one's drawing isn't posted here because she gleefully bought it from me on the spot.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tiny Freight Train Sketches

Idle Tankers, above, and Hiawatha Freight Cars, below. Both 3 x 5".

Trains have something I find endlessly attractive. The heft and power of them, the strong perspective of rails and cars stretching out over the the landscape, the rhythmic sounds they make -- I fell in love as a kid and it's never changed.

Its thriving rail yards are among my favorite things about living in the Twin Cities. Freight trains were scarce in Florida; here they are a constant, energetic presence. They never fail to engage my imagination, not even when they're holding me up on my commute.

These two original watercolor sketches are available at my Etsy shop, matted to fit any standard 8 x 10" frame, at $30 each/$55 for the set of two.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Enchanted Makeovers Mural on Display

Enchanted Makeovers is a nonprofit organization that works to completely transform the environment of women's shelters -- and help those shelters' clients transform their lives. I encourage you to visit their site and learn more about them; they're the only organization I've ever heard of who does this, and the results for the women and children they help are amazing.

This is their booth at the Creative Connection Marketplace in St. Paul today, at Crowne Plaza on Kellogg Blvd. Seeing my mural in context here almost made me cry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

See? Dinosaur!

Meet Dominic. Now, this is surely not his real name; I don't know his name, because he is not my dinosaur, but he looks like a Dominic to me. He belongs to the Children's Science Museum and, as I understand it, he and his friends will soon be migrating south to Texas. For the moment, though, they're on the fourth floor of ACVR Warehouse here in St. Paul, which happens to be the same location as Old Town Artists, where my studio is.

So last night, my student showed up for a drawing lesson and I said, "Check this out. We have dinosaurs!"

Naturally, given the choice between the usual collection of Still Life Objects versus DINOSAURS, we chose to draw the dinos. The drawing above is my demo from last night. About 14" x 11", I think.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Completely Enchanted! The finished mural

5 p.m. on 9/11/11 at Wet Paint Art Supplies; tired and happy with the finished work.


See Enchanted Makeovers for more about the organization. The mural will be on display at their booth at the Creative Connection Marketplace on Sept. 16 and 17. Many many thanks to Wet Paint for donating the canvas and paints, and to The Creative Connection for all their assistance.

Most common questions people were asking:

What it's made of: Acrylic paint and a LOT of waterborne faux finishing glaze, on canvas.

How long it took: Approximately 24 hours' work for me, plus a few extra for my Valiant Volunteers. This is LIGHTNING speed for a project this size -- 10' long x 5' high.

Is this a specific place somewhere in the world? It's inspired by scenery here in Minnesota as well as in France and Italy, but it's an allegorical landscape rather than a literal one.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

$99 Sale at the Soap Factory

Saint Paul Crow, 8 x 10", salvaged metal and wood, oil paint, wax medium. Click to enlarge; for some reason, Blogger makes the thumbnail photos a little blurry.
I have no idea who bought this piece; it had sold by the time I arrived at the show. That made me very, very happy. This is the seventh work in the Crow Series and I plan on creating more.

Can safely say a good time was had. There was some amazing art at the sale, worth much more than the $99 asking price. Also very good food, and an ongoing exhibit I liked a lot. See The Soap Factory's site if you're curious.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Enchanted Makeovers mural, day one

Looks like I got a lot done, doesn't it? And I did -- but this is still ever so far from finished. There will be several more layers or paint and a lot more detail and depth (and bluebirds!) before it's done. Size is 5 feet high x 10 feet wide.

Canvas and paints generously supplied by Wet Paint; this mural is being created just outside their store on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.  I'll be there on Friday from about 1 to 6 p.m..

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

mackmiller design+build project in progress

The wall when I began working yesterday -- sketched in with terra-cotta colored pastel.
Same wall at the end of the day, with much of the foundation of the mural blocked in.
This is at Suite 542 in International Market Square. The mural solves the problem of what to do with a curved wall where it's not possible to hang things nicely. The timing of this was such that it had to be scheduled around many other projects on my plate, and will be finished within the next ten days (five days is my average for a mural of this size and style). I'll keep updating as it progresses.
Evening Sun at Minnehaha Park, 5 x 7" oil on canvas panel
I'm getting more use out of my field easel lately. Bought a few small canvas panels to play around with, and this sketch is the first of them. Painted Labor Day evening at Minnehaha Park, while a bluegrass band played nearby.

One of the most fun things about doing this is how many people will stop and talk to me.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Mural for Transformation

This is a thumbnail sketch, four by five inches. It's a mural design, made to order for Terry at Enchanted Makeovers -- click the link to find out more than I could possibly tell you here. What they're doing is incredible.

In my life I have been blessed never to have endured violence. I know so many women who have. When asked to donate some of my time and talent to help them, I said yes.

I get to lead a few other volunteers in tag-team painting this mural. I'll do the drawing and give instruction and paint right along with them, and we'll all have a great time. Once complete, it'll go to the Enchanted Makeovers booth at The Creative Connection Event. After the event, it will be placed in the offices/intake area of the women's shelter, to greet and reassure new clients as they arrive.

I won't pretend that I don't want the recognition and financial gain that comes with success; of course I do. But this is what I think art is for, no matter the form it takes: it helps us see the best possibilities in ourselves and our future.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Goldfish (waiting for the pizza to get done)

Josephine's Goldfish, 5 x 7" pen and watercolor
Everywhere I go, I take art materials. This was at my friend Josephine Geiger's place yesterday evening; I was sketching at the edge of her little goldfish pond while we waited for our pizza order to get done.

It's my first shot at drawing fish from life as opposed to photographs, and it was fun, if difficult because they do move constantly! I went for a general characterization rather than real accuracy, which I wasn't going to get anyhow.

Josephine needs to give away some goldfish, because hers have been fruitful and multiplied, and I may be seeing a small fish tank in my future.

Update: Sold! Wow, that was fast!

More small originals available on my Etsy Shop.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Portrait of a Dog Named Ally

Ally, 8 x 10" mixed pencils and watercolor on Stonehenge cotton rag paper.
I fall kind of in love with every animal whose portrait I create. I can't help it. Paying that much attention to their expressions -- I start to sense their characters in the process.

Ally has such a softness about her that I chose to use watercolor washes to soften the edges of the drawing and lend a quiet atmosphere that matches her nature. She's so lovely. I just finished her and I can't wait to share her and her sweet, sweet face.

If you're wondering, I do most of these portraits from photos emailed to me by the owners. Prices start at just $79 for an 8 x 10" drawing like this one, which will easily fit a standard 11 x 14" photo frame. If you'd like one for the holidays, order soon; demand is increasing all the time.

I ship these all over the world. Ally, here, lives in Canada.