Sunday, 19 December 2010

More butterflies work in progress

And some more butterflies!

I thought it was interesting to show the progression of a painting and the nail biting angst in the decision making process... Here is the current piece I am working on - first I create the face and the butterfly.

What colour? How detailed? What style? Will I ruin it if I add this? Have I captured what I set out to achieve?...
.... there are days when I leave my studio and I feel as if a hippo has been sitting on me!

It was a difficult decision whether to keep the eyes of the girl as they are or to use the butterfly markings. I decide to keep her eyes, as a window into her thoughts.

Then I paint her neck, upper torso and jewellry. Again a decision - intricate jewellry or simple? What colours?

I almost went for a turquoise neck piece, however I love the orange warm sunset hues in this and when holding up a turquoise coloured piece of paper to her neck, it was just too disctracting. The focus must be her eyes and the butterfly combined with her regal poise.

My next step will be her hair ... I love the hints of strands of hair and the incompleteness of the first butterfly picture I did back in November ( ) I feel I should do that with this one also. There is a spaciousness to it. And what of her hair style? Should she have a coiled head piece (my current preference) or little dreadlocks? Or be shaven? And then I must move to painting her eyes and finishing the butterfly...

Oh sometimes how I miss the pixel pushing of my computer! I notice that my once sharp brain has become sluggish in making the decisions - to used to my undo button enabling me to test many options. Now I must learn to use my creative intuition again!

... some weeks later
Returning post snows, Christmas and adventures in wild Wales I have finally got my fingers messy with oil pastels and paints and almost completed my African Butterfly goddess.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

A nude butterfly work in progress ...

Butterflies have always been special creatures to me, symbolising transformation and beauty. I wanted to play with this further, using them as masks on portraits, replacing people's eyes with the markings on the butterfly wings, questioning what beauty is, what transformation is and looking at masks - do they hide or reveal?

We have life drawing at the studio and thus I decided to create a nude butterfly painting.

This painting has been a challenging one ... It started out with great promise and I loved it. And then, when i should have gone home and come back with fresh eyes... well you will see. I am still not sure if it is finished or not...

First I paint the torso and face using oil pastels.

Then I ponder how to create the butterfly mask.It must be painted as the oil pastels are too thinck and hard to control for the delicate finess of butterfly wings. I have a moment of doubt and so I do a practise butterfly.

She just zings off the paper - the dance of colour between the blue and the red is breathtaking! This photo is taken with a crappy old camera, I promise to get some better shots soon.

OK, take a deep breath and paint the mask on!

And then, rather than leaving the hair and allowing it to be a few strands I went and got excited (stepped away from the painting and consider!) See the difference in the two? The later one looks somehow constricted and cheapened ... oh NO!!!!

I then went through a thousand different hair colours searching for the solution. Black, grey, white, brown, blue... I have scraped so many layers of oil pastels off and tried so many different techniques. I want an UNDO button!

Anyway, perhaps I have rescued her. She is not as I had hoped, however she is something different and it does seem to work. Her hair is a blue quite similar to the paper, sort of zings and looks quite interesting, which this photo doesn't show very well. She is wild and gypsy-like....

And then after many months of staring at her and pondering if she was finished ... a creative frenzy swept over me. Tis strange, I barely remember what passed. Suddenly there were shadows on  her face, defining her features and making her look as if she was lit from below. I touched up her skin and made it glow more, added some wind swept hair strands and let myself go in the joy of oil pastels and their wildness.

Look how thick and chunky the oil pastel is! Tis edible... although hard to get out from underneath fingernails

Frames Glorious Frames!

For the past few months I have been scouting the shops, internet, everywhere (!) looking for frames for my prints. The criteria was good quality, affordable frames. After much research, I found that metallic/vintage ones seemed to suit the leap of faith series of Little Red paintings the best.

I found some really gorgeous frames and of course couldn't pick just one!

Finally after weeks of buzzy busying, I am ready to launch them. Smooth, sleek and modern, metallic clean lines chic, a sumptuous vintage look - which one takes your fancy?! .. I just adore them.

Here is the link to them in my etsy shop -

My favourite one is still to be revealed - a luxury frame with a beautiful mirrored surround. I just adore it with my 'Listen' print, it seems rather fitting to see the reflection of yourself whilst looking at a painting about inner self and reflection. I also have a lovely stock of wooden ones for the children's paintings to come...

... however, the snow put paid to any photography today! (as the bench amongst the snow drifts is where I photograph my works!)


Thursday, 16 December 2010

Dreaming Elephant

I have a gorgeous nephew who when he was born he didn't like to sleep! So I painted him a 'dreaming elephant' to gaze down on him and accompany him in his dreams.

My husband, mature and handsome fellow that he is, was jealous that my nephew had got the painting and not him! So I painted another and decided to share it with the world.

Weeks later in my busy buzzy bee pre-Christmas buzzing I am finally listing him on etsy and posting him here for you all to giggle at.

Here's to sleep my darling nephews and niece! xx

Sunday, 12 December 2010


I did my second markets today. What an idyllic spot the Duckpond Markets are!  The medieval barn is such a fairyland with so many talented people gathered under one roof.

I stand there with my paintings and my heart and soul on show and it takes alot of courage.

The thing with dreams is they can involve long and rocky paths.
A helping hand and a moment of inspiration makes all the difference ...

I surveyed the ancient barn with exposed beams and breathed a deep contented sigh. Balm to the soul of a slightly homesick aussie at Christmas time, grateful to be amongst such ancient splendour.

How blessed I feel to have friends along the way who help and support me. Thank you thank you to the Noddy Mobile! The tardis conquers again! And its driver a wonderful friend who drove across London in his busy life just to be there and transport 4 boxes, a table, a chair, an easel and myself .... home.

Feeling blessed for precious friends and happily tired.

Tomorrow is back to paints ... YIPPPEEEE!!!!!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

The elves have been making notebooks!

I share my hideaway studio with other artsists, one of whom makes utterly beautiful hand-crafted notebooks. We were chatting over a cup of tea and decided to collaborate. I got so excited I hardly slept that night!!!

So voila! Together we have produced these beautiful notebooks. The leather on them is soft as soft and the colours she has chosen are gorgeous. She is one talented lady and the needles she wields are the scariest things I have seen in a long time! She showcases her talents here

I imagine people sitting and writing their innermost thoughts, sketching ideas, creating poetry and dreaming dreams into them and it brings a feeling of deep gladness to my heart. I have written journals and poetry since I was a child and I have kept every single one of them, marks of my voyage through time.

Here's the link to them in my etsy shop

I made up bookmarks to go in each one with some words about each painting.

"Listen ...
Listening to the inner self requires stillness and courage ... sometimes the inner self is wilder that the outer! This is where all first steps begin"

Faith ...
"We can not know what the future holds for us once we take the first step. We must trust... and take the step anyway."

Fly ...
"Once we step out in a leap of faith we often realise that the imagined was much more fearful that reality could ever be."

Balance ...
"True wisdom comes in knowing when to balance the passions of the hearts ... with the reason of the head."

Sending love

My family and many close friends are in Australia and I will be far from them this Christmas, far from 'home'. Sometimes following dreams can be hard!

I was thinking about them all and sometimes wish I could magic myself there, just for an afternoon cup of tea. Or attach some little wings to my heart and send it.

In this exciting creative adventure of highs and lows, they are my base and help me to make sense of what I am doing.

So I painted them 'Love' and send it on ... knowing I carry them in my heart even when we are far away from each other.

Monday, 22 November 2010

This little piggy went to market!

Once upon a time I took a leap of faith and began painting again...

which led to printers ...

and selling paintings on etsy ...

and opened up new worlds ...

and then one day a lovely lady saw my work and invited me to her markets.

With a deep breath I took another step, spent many sleepless nights printing, painting, preparing, nail biting and with 4 hours sleep (arggghH!) went to market.

What a beautiful magical place, set in an old medieval barn straight out of fairytales. I laid out my 'wares' and took another step in opening my art and my heart to the worlds. What a gorgeous place to do so.

Everyone was so kind, helpful and welcoming of green, nervous me! I had fascinating conversations with many interesting people, sharing my little red angel world and adventures and listening to theirs, marvelling at so much talent collected together in one market. I learnt so much.

Wonderful friends came along to support me. My lovely photographer friend got up early with her two gorgeous boys and off we trooped. I couldn't have done it without her. She encouraged, directed and helped in a truly wonderful display of deep friendship and love. The boys were amazing, so well behaved and courteous (so proud of you two - drawing classes at the hideaway studio soon!)

Other friends arrived, my heart jumping with joy and surprise each time to see their smiling faces. One for whom it is not so easy to get around, who touches my heart with his joy and his courage (JL & G, you are truly angels!) Another significant friend who originally found me the hideaway studio appeared with her mum.

Another turned up to take me home in a little Noddy-mobile - into which we managed to fit all of my boxes and paraphernalia, which proves that the Tardis is real!

I sold prints and cards but more importantly I came home rich in heart and spirit.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

searching for clarity

Sometimes in life, I have searched far and wide for the 'answer'. I have looked in many many places and asked many many questions. How funny to discover that the key was at my feet all along - in my heart and my fingertips (and my paints and my words)!

My Dad used to tell a tale of a monk who was searching for something late at night, in a circle of light cast by a lampost.  Another monk saw him searching and asked him where he had last seen his lost object.

'Oh round the corner back there' replied the first monk.

'Why arent you looking over there then?'

'Well, there's no light over there.'

I have launched Tara Winona Art to the world!

I feel incredibly grateful for all the feedback, support and encouragement I have recieved. Thank you to you all for taking the time to look at my creations and send me your messages.

It is a strange and wonderful thing to swirl away into my paints and my heart. Recieving so many messages after finally summing up the courage to share my work truly means alot. It gives extra purpose to my step, strength to my courage and joy in my creating.

Thank you!

Monday, 1 November 2010

know yer onions

Onions are simple - right?!!?!

Right ....

Smooth yet rough...

 shiny yet dull,

brown yet orange and gold and green and russett...

As I tumbled into my painting I discovered why they say "know your onions!"

A little bit of a different path from my usual meaning-filled paintings. And lots of fun!

sharing a leap of faith

A few days ago I shipped off my first consignment of prints from my Etsy shop. It was such an exciting, nerve wracking and wonderful experience - like sending my babies out to the world.

All parcels have landed safely and so we cracked open a bottle of champers!

I recieved two beautiful messages and I feel so proud and humbled I wanted to share them ...
'Am so excited with this purchase! You are so soulful and very talented which shows through these works. 

Thankyou for sharing your heart! 
'My print arrived last weekend and I am sooooooo happy to add her to my collection!!!!! 

Your artwork speaks to me on many levels...I am a redhead and right now I'm at a point in my life where I'm trying to make smart choices but still hold on to my inner 'magic'. The clarity and clean lines of your work causes me to take a deep breath and be still but it also gives me a lovely dose of joy as well. Faith reminds of a Grace Potter song, "Falling or Flying"...

Thank you for sharing your vision and know that your treasure has found a good home here in the states!!

Good luck and have a wonderful November!

a day in the studio

I am blessed to have many creative friends. One came and joined me for lunch and a spot of photography! She is so talented, I wanted to share...

butterfly transformations (or the samba!)

I have finished my painting! 

Oh what a wonderful rush of exhilaration I feel when I finish a painting! Oh the smugness of it!!
This one has certainly been all about dancing the Samba. It has been a wild dance - from joy to despair in seconds as I overeagerly dashed something down or lost the feeling I was seeking for.

I have inked and painted and painted and inked. I have dotted like Seurat and dashed like Van Gogh. I have painted so many layers that it could almost get up and walk by itself!

At midnight last night I was ready to let it go ... another one bites the dust... Today I came in with fresh eyes. Some insights from fellow artists in the studio and within a couple of hours it was transformed! Now I feel cheshire-cat smug and as if I can climb any mountain.  

The inspiration behind this painting has been all about transformation. Hidden layers that lie beneath, blossoming and bearing fruit. Beauty which is more than skin deep. A different way of seeing the world. From pupa to butterfly. I feel like I have been incubating a very long time and am finally truly waking up and stretching my wings.

For this idea to work the butterfly had to be strong and almost realistic (eek said she in the grips of a wild oil pastel samba frenzy!) Oil pastel was not the right medium for the delicate feathery feeling of butterfly wings. It is so deliciously lumpy and wild, like painting with gelato in its lusciousness - perfect for portraits, difficult for delicate. I had to find a different medium. Gouache and ink!

Pablo Picasso once said 'The artist goes through states of fullness to emptiness.'


from bach to the samba!

The images of my 'Little Red Angels' are so simple. When I dreamt them, I wanted their symbolism to be powerful and to speak louder than my arty technique.

It has been so challenging creating them in the free and yet incredibly constrained medium of watercolour - one wrong blob and you are out! They dry so differently to how they look as you paint them. It is always a sigh of relief when I open the studio doors the morning after a creative frenzy and see that they worked!

In other media you can paint over and hide any mistakes. In watercolour it is the juxtaposition of wild freefall comnbined with military precision to get it right. You can not hide!

My Faith series are so different to anything I have created before and I have learnt so much about myself, about persistence and willingness to learn, taking a leap and often getting it wrong (and then do it all over again!)

Watercolour for me has been like playing a complicated Bach sonata - all technique and controlled passion.

Right now I am working on my next adventure in the wild rhythms of oil pastels and ink. It feels fabulous. Like I am doing the Samba with swinging hair and a thumping beat! I eagerly dash down to my studio each day with such joy in my step. I am bursting at the seams with ideas and have to force myself to slow down.

I will return to watercolour and am determined to find my voice in its wild untameable beauty ... for now though it's samba on! (a little peek of a work in progress above)