Monday, March 28, 2011

Work in progress: Down Among the Briars

Down Among the Briars, in progress. Oil paint and wax medium on canvas, 40 x 30".
This began as a pattern of cracked concrete where I saw a figure in energetic motion, dancing. As I worked, it shifted; it told me a story about being caught and fighting to get loose, to get to a different and more open place, to rise up.

At this point it is more finished than not, though there are some adjustments to be made, and a few better photos to be taken once that's done.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Remembering Hanah the Greyhound

Hanah, 10 x 8" oil on canvas, by Tracie Thompson
Her people lost Hanah in a terrible accident just a few days after I met her and took the photo I used for this portrait. Her kind, soft, sensitive nature really showed in her elegant face. She's very much missed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bright Bulbs!

Bright Bulbs, oil on canvas, 6 x 6" each, by Tracie Thompson
Each spring I make a few paintings to celebrate. These two are the first of four 6" squares I have planned. The next two are the flowers from these same bulbs, which are now in bloom. Daffodils. Stay tuned.

Taking photos between heartbeats

When you don't have a tripod to steady the camera, and it's getting dark and you need slow shutter speeds, that's what you do. Your pulse makes your hands move (try this at home; you'll see), so you do your best to slow it down, and click the shutter in between.

Railroad with overhead walkway, looking west from Edgecumbe

Standing at the corner of Fairview and Ford, missing my WALK signal to take a picture
Now, I'm not a pro photographer. I'm a painter. But there's a lot of joy in taking a camera and going exploring; I don't have to be a genius with the lens. This was just a walk I took yesterday evening.

The puddle-reflections here had a rhythm I liked. Walking, snapping shots, and James McMurtry playing on my iPod.

Sometimes even I can't resist the cliché Full Moon and Branches thing.

Another shot I loved for its rhythm. Does anyone else notice that these trees all lean inward, over the road?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Awesome Whimsy: Bent Objects

Photo Artist Terry Border has me laughing with twisty delight this morning:

 (this links to his blog)

Go forth and be inspired.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lukas the Dressage Horse, or how scanning/posting is important

Lukas, 11 x 8" carbon pencil and pastel on paper, by Tracie Thompson

Above, the drawing as it is now. After I scanned it last night and put it up here, I realized the horse's right ear (the one further from the viewer) looked "off." In my source photo, the ears were pointing sideways, but the horse's owner wanted them forward. So I was making my best guess, and I thought it worked until I saw the drawing on my monitor.

Below you can see the mistake I corrected. Look closely and you'll see that in addition to reshaping the ear, I added more shadow around the horse's mouth.
First state, before I corrected the ear.
A particularly fun, friendly horse I met in Florida while I was there in January. This drawing is for his owner.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Peppergrass, 11.5 x 8.5" pastel and pastel pencils on paper, by Tracie Thompson

Yesterday I went to WARM Coffee with the Women's Art Registry of Minnesota, and saw some great work by Patricia Olson and Carol Lee Chase (FYI to anyone interested: WARM Coffee is a great time, but no actual coffee is involved, so be sure to get your cuppa before you arrive).

The confluence of those exhibits and looking again at my good friend Jennifer Lowery's work led to the Peppergrass drawing, done last night; a companion piece for it is in progress today.

I emailed this drawing to Lauri Flaquer at Saltar Solutions, and she remarked, "For some reason it reminds me of a symphony." Thanks, Lauri. You've given me something extra to work with as I finish the next one.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's That Brown Drawing Paper?

Lately I've had several people ask about the paper I use -- the brown stuff. What it is and where I get it.

So I figured I'd post some links, and encourage y'all to play because I've found brown paper SO much more fun than stark white.

The dog portrait, above, is on a cotton-rag printmaking paper called Rives BFK Tan. I love this paper so much it might not even be moral. You can get it at Blick or at Wet Paint. It comes in big sheets and you tear it to whatever size you need. This is heavy, velvety, and holds up to ink washes, watercolor, paint -- pretty much anything you throw at it, it won't buckle, and that's a tough thing to find.

The Greyhound drawings, and a lot of the sketches I've posted recently, are in my Cachet Earthbound Sketch books. The only place I know that carries them locally is Wet Paint, but even they are hit or miss. Easier to get these online. They come in a variety of sizes. The paper has a lovely speckly quality and a really nice tooth for drawing. I love it, but for dry media only; it is lightweight and will buckle badly if you use washes on it.

Some of the bolder things, like this toy horse drawing (Uncle Oscar's Appaloosa, mixed media, 13 x 10", sold but if you love it I'd love to make one for you) are on textured brown paper I prepare myself. If you click and enlarge it you'll see the brush-stroke texture that permeates the drawing, and that's from the prepped paper.  It's a fun and simple process and I'll share it in another post if anyone's interested.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Willow Sketch

Dear Readers, I have lost my camera. I am utterly bereft. I just finished a beautiful new dog portrait and can't photograph it.

So meanwhile, a soothing willow tree for Friday, and the hope that my beloved Nikon is only temporarily missing, and not stolen, as I fear.

Willow Study, carbon pencil and pastel pencil on paper, 9 x 6.5"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Morning with Coffee and Tree Sketches

Orono Elm, 5.5 x 3.5" pen sketch in my Moleskine notebook
Imagined Tree, 9.5 x 6.5" pastel pencil sketch, study for a detail of a mural
These are from December when I was working on the Orono Elevator Mural. The ink sketch is a detail from one of the big, beautiful trees outside the window of the home. The pencil drawing is a study based on one branch of that tree. I used the structure of it for a tree in the landscape I was painting.

It's very rare for me to make art purely from my imagination. My mind has too many set patterns, too many limitations; the natural world does not, and always does surprising things I wouldn't do.

In other news, COFFEE. For about six months now, I have lived without an electric coffee pot. The one I had and loved has apparently got a broken switch, and will not turn on. Now I've gone low-tech and have been using an old-fashioned espresso pot that goes on the stove. Make espresso, mix in about a 1:1 ratio with hot milk: café au lait, and it is soooooo good. If you love coffee, I recommend it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"... but I don't know a thing about art."

Trail Drive-In, mixed media on paper, 5.5 x 7.5", by Tracie Thompson.
The other day I happened upon something I'd never expected from Roger Ebert (yes, that Roger Ebert):

You can draw, and probably better than I can

I didn't know Ebert drew, but it turns out that he does, and I have so much love for the way he presents this as something to be done for the joy of it, for the process more than the product.

If you've ever thought, "Oh, I wish," and gazed longingly at a store shelf with sketch books, pencils, watercolors ... well, why not? It costs very little. Nobody else has to see or judge. And you might spark something in yourself that you didn't even know you possessed -- a sense of immediate wonder, a sharpness of memory, an awareness that's worth a lot more than the drawings themselves.

For those who've wondered how professional artists feel about people who draw, paint, etc. for their own pleasure, this is the best take on it I've seen, and you'll note several pro artists in agreement, in the comments.  My experience is that we pros do not want the sandbox all to ourselves, not at all. It's so much more fun when the other kids come and play, too.