Ask the Artist

Tracy responds to some frequently asked questions …

How long have you been an artist?
I have been interested in creating for as long as I can remember. I used to draw humans with no arms right around pre-school thru kindergarten. I got into a “horse” phase in grade school. I always wanted a horse (the closest thing to this was my buddy, Juneau, the St. Bernard). One of my best friends had horses, and although I always wanted a real horse, I had a nice collection of plastic models. So I drew them obsessively. My favorite subject in school was art, and I even won some of the “contests”. I loved it when my parents signed me up for summer art classes and summer camp. Remember weaving “macram√©” plant hangers and making popsicle stick “God’s eyes”?
Tell us about your first attempts to be creative.
I remember mom decorating my sister’s and my room. There was definitely fresh wall paper involved. I must have thought, “oh wow, a big canvas of space for me to go crazy with the crayons”…oops. I loved creative toys like Light bright, Etch-o-sketch and Spiro-graph.
How did you pick your creative medium?
I have dabbled in many mediums over the years such as oils and acrylic painting on canvas, ceramics (not so great at the potter’s wheel, but I loved painting the surface decor on my hand-built pieces), jewelry making, photography (loved blk & wht 35mm and especially the darkroom work), a few printmaking techniques such as lithography, silk screening, and my favorite of all: monotype. This method speaks to the painter in me as it gives a more immediate gratification. So right now my favorite medium(s) is painting on canvas or board, and monotype print making.
What are your inspirations?
I really love to witness funny situations that include goofy people and animals. I have had inspiration from dreams and travels. I always carry a small notebook with me to jot down ideas and/or create a quick sketch of a particular idea or scene.
What is your favorite art related book?
I went through a phase of really digging the Impressionists, especially Renoir, Matisse, Manet and Monet, so these artists were the subjects of the first art books I owned. Several years back, I was given the generous gift of a large collection of gorgeous art books from a family friend whose artist partner had passed away. I like to rotate them on an easel to have a visual inspiration at all times. One of my favorites is “20,000 Years of World Painting, A Comprehensive Historical Survey from Cave Painting to Modern Art”. It’s pretty good for fitting all that in a nut shell!
Do you have a favorite artist?
I think Peter Max is awesome. I have always liked his pop images and color sense, and he is a savvy business man, as was Andy Warhol. Oh, and there is a glorious palette of light and color that Maxfield Parrish used. He has always fascinated me when it comes to my love of the art deco era. I’d also like to give a shout out to a couple of very talented Portland artists who I admire. Lisa Kaser creates these whimsical characters I really relate to. And Jolie Guillebeau has delighted me with a series she created about vintage toys.
How do you recharge when your creativity hits the wall?
I take a walk and look at landscaping and gardens in the neighborhood…bake something…go on a motorcycle ride with my husband…go camping or to the beach….travel anywhere outside the home (or outside the city, or outside the state, or outside the country)…listen to music to create a mood…look at art books and magazines…watch dogs play in the park…go to art shows and artist festivals…hang out with friends.
What was your first job?
Well, technically that had to be my chores at home. We earned our allowance and had a job chart. I, being the eldest, had more of the “hard” jobs like cleaning the bathroom. I got my little sister to help me one day and told her to scrub the bath tub. She wanted to know when it would be clean, and I told her to “keep scrubbing…the water will turn blue when it is finally clean”. I let her scrub and scrub! This may be the point where she went to “tell on me” and complain to mom, but I secretly put some drops of blue food coloring in the water and told her to “come quick! look! It’s clean! You did it”!
Do you make a living with your art?
Over the years I have shown in galleries and sold original paintings here and there. I am looking forward to a new chapter of my career using e-commerce and having quality “affordable” prints and products of my artwork available for sale. I left my “day job” to make a commitment full time in my artistic endeavors.
What are your artistic goals?
To have lots and lots of folks get a good laugh and smile from my art images. Also, to sell lots and lots of art images to those folks who get a good laugh and a smile from my art images.
What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?
A favorite memory I have is when I had a show at the Stanford Children’s Hospital. I was getting ready to take down the artwork and someone pushed a girl out to the reception/waiting room area. She was in a sophisticated wheel chair and I could tell she was severely physically and mentally challenged. She was not able to speak or communicate, however, when she saw one of my paintings (I think it was Nose Monster), she started to laugh and giggle with glee. My heart melted, because I knew the image had touched her soul in a positive way. That was the icing on the cake for that particular show! Bringing joy to others through my images is the ultimate goal.