After painting a purple cow and then a blue cow, I ran across a photograph of this gorgeous blonde cow with the most interesting crooked horns. I love the beauty of the unsymmetrical twists and sizes. I was also drawn to the color. It was a yummy caramel mixed in with a good dose of a color which reminded me of chardonnay--a nice, generous pour on a sunny day is always welcome.
When I started this piece, my daughter asked me why I keep painting cows. I'm wasn't sure other than the fact that I sold the blue cow and the purple cow is hanging in my kitchen. (My husband won't let me sell the purple cow!) A few days later, I was writing my artist biography. I am trying to find a sells rep for my giclee prints, so I am working on a packet of information. Any way, I found myself, as many people do, starting with my roots. Here is what I wrote:
"Tracie is a Texas artist who lives in Rhode Island. She is a Seventh Generation Texan! She primarily grew up in Lubbock, TX, located in the Texas panhandle. Springtime was abundant with sand storms with skies hued by the native red dirt. And, yes, there were tumbleweeds in the streets--at least my street, because we lived near a large open field. Oil pump jacks lined the highways. One of her major sensory memories of Lubbock is the stockyard aroma on hot days when the winds of the plains would swoosh it into the city. Not the most pleasant smell, but definitely a memorable one!"
I guess that rich aroma of those West Texas stockyards had more impact on me than I realized. The cow represents home to me. Skies that glide along forever. Dust devils dancing in the fields. Soul shaking thunderstorms with lightening to rival any fireworks display. Cicadas' songs on a summer night. Red clay dusting my boots. (Yes, I even wore boots. Pink ones, in fact.)
I know it is an overused cliche, but it rings true for my cows: "You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl." Which is probably why my daughter calls me a "Yee-haw Momma."
Trying to be cryptic and cool, I recently posted this picture on Facebook and asked my friends, "Who am I? What am I?" Within minutes came a comment: "Little Red Rooster!" Foiled, again!
It hadn't occurred to me at the time of my enigmatic status update that there aren't many animals with the color red around their eyes. In fact, I can only think of two: a cardinal and a rooster.
It is widely known that a rooster has long been a symbol of good luck. Which is why many people, plop one down somewhere in the kitchen as a chotsky, wall decor, or some other form. The kitchen is the hearth of the home, and, perhaps, the luck radiates from there throughout the family. I come from a long line of rooster huggers. My great-grand-mother had a rooster and hen set that now I have nesting in a window. If memory serves me, my grandmother had a matching set sitting loving looking at the salt and pepper shakers on her table. My mother has roosters all over the kitchen, including a three foot one who sits proudly on her kitchen table.
Throughout history, the rooster has had many meanings for different cultures. (http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbol-meanings-of-the-rooster.htm) The ancient Greeks believed that the brave and confident crow was a symbol of conquering the night: victory over opposition. In Christianity, the rooster has morphed into a way to protect against evil; hence, weathervanes sporting roosters are believed to provide the same protection. If you see a rooster in your dreams, it is time to be honest with yourself and show others your true colors.
I was born under the rooster in the Chinese zodiac calendar: specifically the Wood Rooster (go ahead a Google it to see how old I am if you're that curious!). Oh, here, I'll make it easy on you: (http://www.chinesezodiac.com/rooster.php). People born under the rooster are believed to have many different traits ranging from not-so-attractive ones to OK-I'll-take-that ones. My pride (a rooster trait) encourages me to share only some of the more positive attributes: a rooster is honest, trustworthy, loyal, organized, motivated and detail oriented. I'll take that.
We had a party to attend last night. I was excited about it, because it has been ages since I have gotten to dress up. I've become so relaxed in my daily appearance that my children get concerned and confused if I have on even the smallest amount of makeup: "Why do you have on makeup? Where are we going? What do we have to do?" So, last night I put their heads in a spin with a full makeover: complete with a glossy, straight waterfall of hair down my back.
Ka-Boom! That is when the downpour came! Buckets of rain. I looked at my satin dress, my flowing hair and my heels. Hmm. I cursed Mother Nature a bit and then started pulling out my trench coat, cheetah rain boots and green polka dot umbrella. My heels would have to wait a little longer for the party.
We planned to attend an event before going: it was an art show at Gilbert Stuart Museum. (www.gilbertstuartmuseum.com) I had put a few paintings in it, since I am starting my journey into the RI art scene on my tippy toes. I had a split second thought of not going, dreading sloshing through the puddles and huddling under shelter. But since this was one of my first show participations, I really wanted to be there to see my work on the walls.
So I geared up, grabbed my heels, sloshed to the car and my husband and I went: me dressed in my beautiful floral satin cocktail dress and cheetah rain boots. Not quite the ensemble I envisioned, but I had no choice, really.
I loved seeing all the different art: there were so many different styles and I truly appreciated the beauty in all of them. Of course, I also loved seeing my paintings among them. At almost the same time, my husband and I saw a red sticker on my apple painting called "Crunch Time." Ever the pessimist, my first thought was that surely there was something wrong: they must've put that on the wrong painting. I could not have sold a painting on the first night! I was so nervous and befuddled that my husband double checked to make sure for me that I had, in fact, sold a painting!
I got to meet the woman who bought it. She told me that when she saw it, it spoke to her immediately and she bought it on the spot. She talked with me of its delicious color and the lusciousness of the apples. Her deep appreciation for my work left me awestruck and hovering somewhere between Wonderland and Heaven.
The sun came out, so I didn't have to make a mad dash for the car and I could slip out of my trench coat. In the car, on the way to the party, I switched my shoes and checked myself in the mirror. There with my humidity ravaged body: frizzy hair, swollen feet and a rain spotted dress, I felt more beautiful than ever knowing that something I created made someone else so happy. The woman who purchased my painting gave me more than just a payment. She presented me a gift of encouragement and a little shot of self confidence, both of which are much more glorious than pencil straight hair.
One of my favorite nursery rhymes as a child was, and still is, "Little Bo Peep." I had a big book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. The cover was black and white checked and had a beautiful illustration of Mother Goose flying, well, on her goose. My mother read me the book so many times that I had all the rhymes memorized and we would say them together over and over and over. This one came to mind as I was painting "Peep":
"Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep,/And doesn't know where to find them./Leave them alone and they'll come home,/Wagging their tails behind them."
The origins of the poem are debatable, but some believe it was written in the early 1800's.
Picture the quintessential costume of the meringue skirt, large, ruffled bonnet and big shepherd's hook, complete with a huge satin bow is some pastel hue. This 6" x 6" painting of a little sheep is a nod to that poem. Look at that mischievous face! Where has that sheep been?
The rhyme now reminds me of my own children (although not lost) running around in the neighborhood, playing with their friends as I did as a child. Eventually, they come back home. Sometimes with their tails wagging--like when my son went swimming with his cell phone in his pocket! But, mostly they come home bleating,"Mom! What's for dinner?"
I am lucky to live in one of those 1960s neighborhoods where you actually know your neighbors and kids can stay out until dark. So even when I am not around to herd my children through their days, I know that there are good shepherds watching after them. Now, if I could just get my hands on one of those hooks!
I was recently with a 13 year old girl whom I love very much and admire tremendously. She is shrouded in privacy, so I can't reveal who she is to me. But I can say that she is an amazing artist who gets better by the minute, because she literally draws every second she possibly can. I've seen her even use a scrap piece of paper and the bottom of her shoe as a drafting table. Whenever something is in her head, she just has to get it out. I wish I could show you one of her drawings, but she is extremely protective with them and only lets a lucky few see them. I am one of the lucky ones who are blessed and inspired by her tenacious drawing produces.
On a recent trip home, I found myself with a ton of time to on my hands. I watched her no-stop sketching and decided to pick up a pencil and pad myself. I haven't sketched in several years even though I have been painting. It was so relaxing to watch the pencil move quickly but cautiously across the page. Scribble here. Line there. Should this be darker? Does that look weird? His nose is too long. The shadow is wrong. It was a process that took me right to the present.
I don't necessarily think this lion sketch is the greatest. But it does represent a moment in time where I let loose for an hour and just let the lead flow. I have found myself sketching a bit more---mostly basic apples, spheres, bowls of eggs. Mainly to study the importance of lights and darks to apply to my painting. You can't feel the depth of a pig's eye socket or the meaty nose of a cow without the highlights and the shadows.
I guess there is something to that theory in life: putting together our bright times and dark times to create a whole, solid life that looks like you could actually touch it. Enjoy your moment: now.
I'm really swimming through a sea of confusion (sorry for the cliche) called "The Art World." Like anything, I guess, I just have to do what I do and hope that someone likes it. Or, better yet, buys it! I'm reaching for the ultimate dream of loving what I do and doing what I love. I know I am just going to have to figure things out on my own. I really wish my Fairy Art Mother would swish in and tell me what to do next. Will a cow painting sell faster than a pig? Should I do another rooster? Where do I sell my prints? How do I sell my prints? How am I going to sell any of these?
I have a stack of canvases and a checklist of ideas in my head for paintings I want to create. As a wife and mother, time is precious. Although, I must admit, since deciding to try this venture (my family made me do it!), my family is more understanding about giving me a bit more time to paint. Both my kids are creative and my husband is literally my biggest fan. He wants me to sell my paintings, but doesn't want me to sell any I paint! He ends up loving them so much, that he wants to keep them. I understand, but a little wish of mine is for one of my paintings to hang someplace other than on my walls or in my extended family's home. Don't get me wrong, I feel blessed by the support I get for my creativity from my family! Just starting to put paintings in small area shows is a really thrilling for me--knowing other people are seeing them and probably smiling, because how could you not smile at a pig?
Today I was able to squeeze out some time for myself. I decided it was a good day to try a painting on a 6" x 6" canvas. I've always wanted to try a smaller size, but just haven't done it. Here is the little piggy who showed up on my canvas. The title is "Chin Up!" Which is just what I need to do: keep my chin up and keep doing what I'm doing until it is done!
My show at the Dunes Club was successful in the fact that I got a lot of positive feedback from a lot of people. I know that some of the weren't just being nice: I heard several talking about my paintings and they didn't know I was listening! It really made me feel proud of my efforts. My husband was my promoter by handing out my business cards through the event if someone asked him about me. Even though I thought there would be a place to put my spec sheet for my reproductions, it didn't work out as expected. I was a bit disappointed, because I am so proud how they turned out. I am back to taking baby steps towards making this happen. I am gathering names of stores and galleries in the area.
My children also received accolades for their pieces. I was thrilled for them to have the experience of an art show for themselves. I hope it encourages them to continue to develop and hone their talent.
I have a few more shows coming up in the next couple of months. My "art mentor" I call him, has told me to just try to get as much exposure as possible. I'm working on it!
I'm so excited about tonight. Our beach club hosts a member's art show every two years. Both my children are presenting two pieces from their portfolios. My daughter, age 10, has two paintings and my son, age 13, has two pencil drawings. I am so proud of both of them.
I've grown so much as an artist over the past two years. I am curious and a bit trepidatious about how my paintings will be received this time. I'm so self deprecating sometimes and just think people are being nice when they express how much they like my paintings. My husband always says, "Well, they could be nice but they could also really like your paintings!" My confidence has grown as an artist but I still have a bit to go.
I am offering my fine art quality reproductions as well. I won't be shoving them in people's faces, by any means. I will have them available for viewing, should someone request. Luckily the show coordinators let me put on my tag that I am selling the prints. We will see what happens. One step at a time, right?