Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Beagle, Appaloosa, and Disappearing Posts


In progress right now, two of my 12" square series. I thought I had booked two horse portraits, but one of the horses turned out to be a dog! And, you know, that's all right. Just a very cute surprise.

In other news, I've just learned that if you "liked" my Tracie Thompson's Studio fan page on Facebook, chances are you're still not seeing many of my posts. Facebook now shows new fan page posts to only about 7% of the people who think they're following the page. If page owners want their own fans to actually see their posts, we now have to pay for that. If you're interested in continuing to see updates from me, Facebook will show you most of them IF you click "like" or comment on at least some of the posts you do see. 

And I'm sorry about that. I don't feel you should have to ~*engage*~ in order to get the site to do what it was supposed to do.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Sixth in my Horse Crazy Series of 12" square canvases. Isengard is a Friesian cross and this painting is based on a photo of him galloping in the afternoon sunlight.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Horse Crazy Series #2 and 3

These are both of Darla, an adorable Gypsy Vanner mare. I had two fantastic photos, couldn't choose, and painted them both ... which means my series of seven is expanding a bit. :-D

Monday, November 18, 2013

Horse Crazy series #1: Spotted Saddle Horse

I'm playing a bit fast and loose with these, and having a LOT of fun. Canvases are all 12" square.

My reference photo is below; I may or may not go back and tweak that long nose or the star he has. Meanwhile, I'm on to the next one, a lovely Gypsy Vanner mare named Darla.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Horse Crazy Series, Set to Begin

You are looking at seven canvases, all 12" square, all wired to hang and with their surfaces prepped for oil paint.

Over the next three weeks, these will become seven horses, done fast and loose to capture their sense of movement and life.

I'll post each one as the series progresses. If you have photos of your own horse that you think would work for this, email them to me or link me to them online and I'll have a look. Do keep in mind that the paintings will be bold, loose, and fun -- and may look nothing like your particular horse. If I use your photo, you'll have first dibs on the painting, but no obligation to purchase it; I simply enjoy seeing other people's horses and getting to use photos I'd never see otherwise. 

The finished works will be for sale at the Horse Crazy Market on December 7th, at a price range of $99 to $149. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fox in the Henhouse!

This fun poster is now available at my Fine Art America page.  I love it a lot and may order one for myself, since I'm selling all the originals at the Art of the Holidays Sale over at Minnetonka Center for the Arts.

FAA has a lot of Chicken Art and I expect to add more over the coming months.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Crowned Corvids, Continued

The Jackdaw, Triumphant. Fourth in the Crowned Corvids series, which I am enjoying more and more as I get bolder with my designs.

The Jackdaw is a European species we don't have in North America, and is considered a variety of crow. There are stories about these birds, going all the way back to Aesop, who told a tale in which the Jackdaw wanted to be King, so he picked up a lot of fallen peacock feathers and paraded around in them, lording it over the other Jackdaws and then trying the trick among the peacocks themselves. It didn't end well, with the poor fool Jackdaw outcast from both the peacocks' society and his own.

A much later tale from the 1800s has him stealing a jeweled ring from a Catholic cardinal, and being caught out by the Cardinal's curses. Again, in the end, he was humiliated and brought down.

These stories made me think about the idea of "too big for your britches" -- of people having an intrinsic "place" from which we mustn't try to rise. I know that there's more to it than that; it's simply that I think the "don't pretend to be what you're not" stories can be a good thing or a bad one, because who's to say what you are, or could be? How many people have wasted their potential because "people like me don't [become wealthy, go to college, write books, whatever]"?

So I gave my Jackdaw a souvenir of his adventures with the peacocks, worn with pride; and in my tale, he got to keep that small treasure he found, because God has a sense of humor and the Cardinal was rich enough. It's possible in my world to both be who you really are, and be better than you were.

Shameless promotion time: If you like these little fellows, you can find prints, greeting cards, and even cell phone cases at my FineArtAmerica page. They're a fun site known for excellent quality and service.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

And then there were Three

My Crowned Corvids series is taking shape and it's making me really, really happy. The Steller's Jay above is the latest addition; Crown of Twigs (the Crow) and Magpie in a Milkweed Crown are the other two so far, and I've got an RSVP from a Jackdaw who'll be attending this gathering of the extended family. 

I'm posting all these so folks can get prints of them (and cards, and even cell phone cases) at Fine Art America, where they'll come up on my page or if you search for birds there.

Horse Art News

Bug Bite, above, and Rocking Horse, below. Designed as companions to each other; the originals are both 22 x 28" oil on canvas.  They're currently with my favorite Twin Cities art consultant and may become available in December or possibly sooner by request.

If I still have them on hand, they'll be part of my display at the Horse Crazy Shopping Boutique on Dec. 7th; meanwhile, prints of these and a lot more of my horses are on Fine Art America's Equine Art page.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Yes, More Horse Paintings

Bug Bite, 22 x 28" oil on canvas. Available, $500
In reality, she was scratching her leg after I put salve on it for the bizarre scrape she gave herself in some mysterious way. Nobody ever could figure it out, but if you know horses you know that's like saying they have four feet; the equine talent for "how the hell did that even happen" injuries is boundless.

But back to the picture. This kind of thing is why I so often take my camera into the pasture. Usually I get nothing worth using, but sometimes there's a moment when I can catch something a little beyond "pretty horse" and more like their characters. Those are the photos I use for art.

This painting is available until Monday the 14th, when I'll take it to an interior designer who may or may not purchase it for her client. I can't predict that outcome, so if you love it, snap it up (remember, artists do layaway). As usual, I've also made prints available on Fine Art America -- a fun site I recommend checking out; there's a lot of fantastic art there.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Northbound and Southbound

These were designed and painted as a pair, both 20 x 16". They're a little different -- drawn in various pencils on basswood panels, then coated in translucent wax medium and painted with a wax medium/oil paint mixture. The grain of the wood is one of the things that made me buy the panels in the first place, so I left some areas with only the translucent wax coating, allowing that natural texture to contribute to the paintings.

They're priced at $300 each/$575 for the pair, and prints are available here at my Fine Art America page.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Kingdom for a Horse

Flying Duchess, 20 x 20" oil on canvas, available, $500. Fine reproduction prints start at $17 on paper, $42 on canvas.
This is a painting I'd been meaning to create for months -- and I finally did it because I had committed to a show and I had a deadline.

The show is called My Kingdom for a Horse, and opens Saturday, 10/5, from 4 to 9 pm at the Stillwater Art Guild Gallery.  I'm one of 18 artists who was invited to exhibit, and it's been a real honor to be chosen.

The heat isn't off, though! Because now I'm getting ready, and still making art, for Saint Paul Art Crawl -- which begins Friday at 6.  I'm a guest artist at J.A. Geiger Studio where a lot of fun events will be going on for Josephine Geiger's 10th Anniversary celebration.

The notion of deadlines as bad things, as stress and restriction and everything art should avoid, is in my experience all wrong. I seek them out, because they cause me to become productive and creative in new ways. The pressure overcomes the other fears that go along with the creative process; when there's a deadline, perfectionism has to step out of the way.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Four Things Nobody Tells You about Buying Art

So, it's time once again for Saint Paul Art Crawl! As a participating artist, I talk to a ton of people during Crawl, and I notice that there's a short list of things basically nobody knows about buying original art. What follows are the Big Four:

 1. You can afford original art.

At my two shows this weekend, I will have originals ranging from $1500 to $20. I own several under-$100 pieces by other artists. Drawings, hand-pulled prints (if you're not sure, ask the artist if they're hand-printed or reproductions; see Item #2), small paintings, pieces of fine pottery -- there are plenty of options, and events like Art Crawl are a great way to see what's out there.

Art Crawl is the only time I create "on the spot" animal sketches, like this 8 x 10", for $20 to $40 (depending how long you ask me to spend on the piece). If you've never bought art before, this is a fun way to start, because you can watch the whole process.
2. Your questions are perfectly good questions. 

Somehow, people get the idea that there's a yardstick: YOU MUST BE THIS EDUCATED TO RIDE -- and most folks feel they don't measure up, so they leave their "dumb" questions unasked. Such a barrier, if it really existed, would result in a world full of sad, lonely artists who all had to find other jobs.

So what you want to know is super basic? It's okay. The level of art knowledge most artists expect from non-artists, is about the same as the level of chinchilla-breeding expertise we expect from ourselves (Sample question from artist to chinchilla breeder: "But how do you tell which one is the boy?").

 3. Artists (and many galleries) offer layaway. 

I am trying to remember if I've ever met a professional artist who would not happily arrange a layaway plan so that someone who loved their art could afford that piece they really wanted.

... nope, so far I don't believe I have. And I know that a lot of galleries will do the same. It's just good business sense. Asking about it falls under Item #2: perfectly good question.

4. We'll take commissions (as seen in yesterday's post, "I Didn't Know You Could DO That!")

As long as it's in our basic style and medium, most of us are glad to work with you if you need "Something like that, but in this other size" or "That kind of pot, but with a deep red glaze instead of the green that'll clash with my house," or whatever it is. It's also possible we already have exactly what you need, but it's at home, or there wasn't room to display it.

I hope this will put you a bit more at ease before Art Crawl, or that outdoor fair, or when you're standing in front of that little gallery and wondering whether to step inside.  There's plenty I didn't cover here, of course, so if there's something you're wondering ... remember Item #2.


Here's where and when to find me at Fall Art Crawl 2013. Please note that on Saturday I will be at My Kingdom for a Horse at Stillwater Art Guild Gallery from 4 to 9 -- an unavoidable overlap, so if you have an animal you want drawn that day, arrive right at noon! I'll be leaving for Stillwater at 3.

Monday, September 30, 2013

"I didn't know you could DO that!"

That's what someone said to me yesterday. The man's neighbors had hired me to create a set of three big canvases for a dining room wall, and until then it had never occurred to him that this sort of thing was possible.

The canvases in question -- each 40" high x 30" wide. My years of experience as a muralist meant that the size was not a challenge for me. The homeowners wanted an old-fashioned Italian type landscape with a medieval/Renaissance procession of figures, with five banners that would represent the family's five children and their occupations.

This is all oil paint, and the decision was made by the homeowners and their designer (the wonderful Mary Mackmiller of mackmiller design + build)  to keep the colors low-key so that the art would fill the space but not overwhelm it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Crow and Magpie in their Best Attire

This pair of drawings are about 7" high x 6" wide, and they come from ... well, I've been drawing birds since I was five years old, and this week I allowed myself to go ahead and put some "silly" ideas I had on paper, and see where it took me. These are the same mixed media technique I use for so many of my animal portraits: layers of watercolor, pencils and pastel on heavy cotton paper.

Surely there's a story here, a fall festival of the Corvid family, perhaps. The Steller's Jay will be next in this series, though I don't know what his headdress will look like yet. I'll figure it out.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Louise the Greyhound

Below is the photo I was using for reference. I printed it out, then sketched the changes I'd need to make -- primarily, correcting the way the camera had "shrunk" her rear end. Copying verbatim from photos rarely makes for good art, and camera distortion is one big reason why not. 


In the photo, her tail was tucked underneath her so you could barely see it. I pulled it forward to show that adorable little Greyhound tail-curl at the end. And I thought I was done, until Josephine Geiger said, "But what's she looking at? Put an ant in there!"

I groaned, but she was right. We needed to see what had caught Louise's eye. The dog's expression and winglike ears made me think of a butterfly, so that's what I went with. Just a small one -- but enough to emphasize Louise's charming, lively character.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What's Wrong with This Picture?

When I come home with groceries, my rule is that I must put them all away RIGHT NOW. No matter how tired or hungry I might be. So I followed that rule yesterday, and later realized this had happened:

Look closely. Click the image to enlarge, if you need to.

Most people say, "Don't shop when you're hungry" -- because you'll buy stuff you don't need. But I have, um, other reasons. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Goldfish Greetings

I have new greeting cards coming out! The first two designs are the ever-popular Goldfish series; this time, a pair painted from life at FK ArtGlass in Minneapolis, where they have a nifty indoor fish pond.

The cards are 5 x 7" (standard size), blank inside, and come with pretty linen-textured envelopes. Sets of four -- two of each design -- are available at $16 plus $3 shipping in the US. Ordering is easy; just email me and let me know what you'd like.

The original paintings are watercolors measuring 6 x 9." I held onto them until my printer was done scanning and formatting them for the cards. They are now available (unframed, art only) at $65 each.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Great Chicken Art Mystery

Chicken Sister (Pop), 10 x 8" oil on canvas
What is it about paintings of chickens? I've discovered that people LOVE them, and I can always sell them -- usually pretty fast!
The Chicken Sisters (Pop and Punk), 10 x 8" each, oil on canvas. Available at $125 each; $225 for the set.
This isn't a complaint. I grew up with a henhouse in the back yard, and I think chickens are fun to watch -- all those rounded forms and surprising shapes make them interesting art subjects. I know why I like them, but I like a lot of things and few of them get the kind of response that the chickens do.

Chicken Sister (Punk), 10 x 8" oil on canvas
 So, what do you think it is about chicken art?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Drive-By Chickens

Chorus Girls II, 12 x 24" oil on canvas, by commission. Click to enlarge -- it doesn't shrink down that well.


And with that, I must dash out the door to go get food and cocktails deliver a horse portrait.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here, Chickie Chickie Chickie

Chorus Girls, 10 x 20" oil on canvas, for the Black & White Show at Maple Grove ArtsCenter. Available, $195. 


My source photo, above. I found it fit a 1:2 format perfectly, and I had a 10 x 20" canvas on hand, so we were off to the races. First step, get the drawing established. Below, the drawing in brown pastel pencil, which is easy to erase or paint over. Regular graphite pencil is NOT, so I don't use it when I paint.

I don't often outline forms before I paint them. This time, I wanted a little bit of a graphic flavor to the painting, so I used a liner brush to establish my drawing before I began blocking in the light and shadow.

Much as I loved the tractor wheels in the source photo, I really couldn't use them in the painting. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice things you love a lot, in order to get what you love the most. In this picture, I loved the sense of movement and rhythm of the hens and I'd have lost that if I'd junked up the background, so the tractor had to go.

Oil paints usually work best if you start with the shadows and then add more and more light, so that's what I did here. Overall this is very thin paint, and will be dry to the touch in a couple days.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Big Mare, Finished

This was, more than anything else, an exercise in knowing when to hit the brakes. I love color and contrast so much ...

One of my college professors taught us about Martini Syndrome, which is what happens when you're painting and you do a little bit of something and it. Looks. Amazing. And so you figure, if a little is that good, you need a LOT MORE. And then it turns out, no, you really, really didn't. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Art on the Easel ... and on the Floor.

This is a pretty large canvas, 40" h x 30" w.  Based on a snapshot of my Twilight looking rather elegant, short-legged Percheron that she is.  These three shots show the progression from first stages of sketching and very thin washes of solvent/oil paint, to working out some of the "background" composition.

Above, what the painting looks like as I type this post. I've got a good sense of solid form and some depth happening, and from here on out the challenge will be to finish the piece without overworking and killing it. I like the looseness and want to keep that.

Meanwhile, on the floor beside the easel, I've got a composition laid out for a salvage piece in black and white. I have to paint some of these elements, assemble them all, and then create other pieces to add. This is feeling more and more like part of the Crows series, so expect there to be black birds involved.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Black Dog

Portrait of Zeke, 8 x 10" mixed media on cotton paper. This is a commissioned birthday gift for his person -- so I finished it a few days ago but couldn't post it yet.

I like black animals; my own horse is black. They're challenging to draw and paint, though!

I lucked out with Zeke: the person who commissioned the portrait had two excellent photos of him for me to work from. That's often not the case -- and there's often nothing to be done about it, because so many of the portraits I do are memorials of animals who are now gone.

I've said this before, but get photos of your creatures now; you'll want them, and wish you had taken them, if you don't. In this age of digital photography, we really no longer have excuses. It's not as though we'll be wasting expensive film.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tribute to a Sweet Sheltie

Portrait of Lady, 11 x 11" mixed media on cotton paper. This elegant little girl passed away earlier this year, and I had the honor of capturing her from a few photos her owners had.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Horse, Flowers, Owl -- Days 5 though 9

 Cocoa in Motion, about 3.5 x 8", for Day 5. Day 6 I chose to create something less tangible -- a new game with my own horse; Day 7, I went walking and came home with Stolen Lilacs, below.

Day 8 was probably technically Day 9, and is titled Sleepless in the Kitchen. A portrait of my little owl kitchen timer, done at *mumble* last night while I was entirely too awake.  This and the Lilacs are in the same small book, about 6.5 x 6".

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fear is Unrelated to Ability

So I signed on to do the 30 Days of Creativity Challenge.  What you're seeing here are days 1 through 4.

 You'd think, for someone who makes art for a living, pledging to create something every day for 30 days straight would be a breeze. And you'd be mistaken. But, you say, amateurs and students have to fight with distractions, self-doubts, and fears! We struggle with the feeling that all the other times we got it right, were flukes somehow, and this time it's going to suck. 

 ...and that is basically what I go through almost every time I pick up a brush or even try to decide what I'm going to do next. 

Promising to create daily means I have to do something even (especially) when I do not wanna. And the "don't wanna" almost always turns out to be fear. Sometimes I'm just tired, but mostly, nah, fear.

So far this is what I have. Four small things, each of which was an uphill battle just to get started. Keko, the horse at top, was moving around; I'd never drawn a bird's nest, let alone in watercolor, and it was so complex and subtle; my inner censor screamed at me for the black horse silhouette because "isn't this cheesy" and all kinds of accusations; the pond edge was a complicated jumble of rocks and grass and how on earth would I make that look okay?

 Almost everything I do is that way. If you're learning any kind of creative endeavor and you think that you must not be very good or have much potential, because you still find it scary to try, just know that nope, your ability and your fear are unrelated.