This book is finally out! I’m so proud of it. This heartfelt, illustrated tale is a departure from the dark and spooky adult horror and mysteries I used to write. See the book here!
Amazon Book Description: Granola Barr is a tiny puppy when she comes to live with her new family. She grows very close to rascally Scruffy, and the old and frail Grandma Anna. It’s a perfect, cheerful life for Granola until one day Grandma Anna becomes very ill and goes to the doctor. When she doesn’t come home, and Granola learns her beloved Grandma Anna has passed away, she’s overcome with grief. Granola struggles with her sadness so much, that Grandma Anna returns as a spirit to help the puppy through her sorrow until she’s strong enough to let go. During this year-long visit, Granola takes the time she needs to accept Grandma Anna’s death and to say a proper goodbye.
Saying goodbye is never easy but Goodbye Grandma Anna shows how love, our memories, and our souls live on long after we pass on. This story of love, sadness, and finding hope and joy again is told from a puppy’s point of view alongside beautiful, original oil paintings created by the author and artist Tracy L. Carbone.
Losing a beloved grandmother is heartbreaking for little Granola Barr. A curious young pup, she cannot fathom why Grandma Anna went away or how she will ever get along without her. After a mysterious series of events, and an unimaginable surprise that helps her say goodbye, Granola’s spunky spirit is revived and her tiny tail begins to wag again with new life.
Goodbye Grandma Anna: A Granola Barr Book tackles the delicate subject of loss with a positive focus on the healing power of love. Seen through the eyes of an adorable puppy and the artistry of Tracy Carbone, it is a story for anyone who has ever grieved the passing of a cherished pet or relative. In whimsical illustrations, Ms. Carbone’s affection for animals shines throughout, reminding us that family members come in a variety of shapes and species, and teach us important lessons that enrich our lives. In a circle of life meant to expand our hearts and minds, the special bonds we develop never really leave us. Through loving memories and messages that can be passed along from generation to generation, our most valuable connections live on forever. Sure to appeal to children as an enchanting Granola Barr adventure in rhyme, Goodbye Grandma Ana offers a hopeful takeaway for readers of all ages.
—Tuya Pearl, psychotherapist and author of Tell Me Your Story: How Therapy Works to Awaken, Heal, and Set You FreeA fantasy that reinforces the animal/human bond and the inevitability of loss. The author utilizes clever rhymes and prints of her oil paintings to tell the story.
In my literacy methods courses at St. John’s University I stressed to my students the invaluable skills and love of reading “Read Alouds” developed in children. With the rhyming narrative and full page illustrations to reinforce the theme this sweet story serves as an excellent tool for a key methodology so useful in early literacy development. It should be in every school library. Dr. Peter Quinn , Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. St. John’s University, New York City.
If you pick up a copy, please, please, please leave an Amazon review!
In the last couple of weeks I tackled a couple of different dog breeds. Both are oils on stretched canvas. The Bull Terrier is an 8X10 and the English Bulldog an 11X14. $150 for Bull Terrier and $200 for English Bulldog plus shipping. Matted prints are $15 plus shipping.
First up, a Bull Terrier. I used a pallet knife at the end to give it some texture. This was a fun process and I may start incorporating this into more paintings.
Completed painting of the Bull Terrier.
Next up, an English Bulldog. I love this breed and think they’re adorable. I used the pallet knife here too and it makes such a big difference. It’s somewhat using the deconstructing method which is great for making some of the sharp edges not so sharp.
Contact me if you’d like to purchase one of the originals or a print.
The last few months I’ve been on a painting frenzy. All told, including the cover for Goodbye Grandma Anna: A Granola Barr Book, I painted 21 pieces for the book. Below is the cover. CLICK THIS LINK for a time lapse video of the first session of the painting.
The Makers’ Market I attended a few times has closed down, at least for now, so with my “spare” time I’ve been painting friends’ and my family’s dogs, some cats, and also a goat (Ted) who I saw at a Kindred Spirits Care Farm, a non-profit that rescues animals.
After a LOT of practice, I’m ready to start taking commissions for portraits. Prices start at $150 for an 8X10 or 11X14 on stretched canvas. Plus shipping. Local delivery in SoCal can be arranged. Up to two pets included. Inquire if you have a bigger pet family and need to add more.
I’ve recently started an instagram page @oilsbytracy.Please follow me there for updates and new videos. You can order via DM on Instagram, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the contact page of this site.
I’ll post new pictures as I finish them. Until then,
The book is just about done, Meaning the rough draft at least. All painting are complete, except one. Once I finish that one I’ll do one more run through for final brush strokes. The narrative parts of the story are also nearly done. I decided to tell the story in poem form since it’s for kids. Here’s a picture of most of the paintings in various stages, plus the “Very formal” outline of the book with notes.
In the next part of the book, where I left off in the last post, Anna tells Granola that it’s time for her to go, for good. She says Granola is ready. Granola is saddened by this so runs away from home, has a good cry on a rainy day, and is finally brought home by her parents. She gets a warm bath and lots of hugs.
Later, Mom sits Granola and Scruffy down and tells them some big news.
In the end, time passes. Granola turns two! She doesn’t see Anna anymore but says she knows Anna still watches over them all. Except she says this in kid-friendly terms, in rhyme.
I’m still working on the cover but here it is, still in progress.
My next post about this book will be when it’s done and ready to read. Until then I’ll be focusing on some of the other paintings and my new foray into Makers’ Markets and selling my work.
Though I’ve sworn off writing fiction and instead have thrown myself into oil painting, I’ve realized recently that maybe there’s a way to do both.
The day after Christmas, my old Schnauzer Anna passed away from complications of dementia and heart disease. My dog Granola was very close to her old doggy sister, though she also adores her middle- aged buddy Scruffy. One day I noticed Granola looking in a mirror, so I photographed her as I often do. I decided instantly to paint it but then got the idea to add Anna in, but only on one side.
From there I became completely pulled into the idea of writing a book about loss for children. I planned out the book on index cards, just like old times. Though this time there weren’t as many cards as an 80,000 word novel needs a bit more planning.
I decided to start the story when Granola was little. These paintings still need a little touching up but they’re a good sneak preview.
Over time, Anna’s age started to get the best of her. One day she got sick and Granola and Scruffy waited and waited. But she didn’t come home… Note my masterful sketches I use as a guide.
After that day, the pups were very sad…
Soon after, in the book, Granola sees Ghost Anna in the mirror, where it all started. She is very excited until she jumps right through her. She runs and hides but eventually comes out again, tentatively. Again, not to worry, these paintings are drafts. I’d never post drafts of writing online but with paintings I think it’s fun to see the process. I’m grateful my dogs are so good about picture time.
After that, when Granola saw Anna’s ghost wasn’t going to hurt her, it made her happy. Anna stuck around for a while. They hung out and played games together, though Scruffy couldn’t see her and thought it was her imagination. Why I got the idea of puzzles I’ll never know but I thought it would be fun to paint.
That’s plenty of teaser for now. I’ve got a lot more paintings done and only ONE PICTURE left to paint. Then I have to work out the narrative part. I know what I want to say but any good writer will tell you, it’s how you say it. And that, I don’t have figured out yet.
I’ll share more soon but didn’t want you all to think I was being lazy or binge watching TV with my “free” time. Okay, I am also binge watching TV, from behind my easel. I highly recommend Offspring and Wilfred. I’ve recently started watching LOST which I haven’t seen since it aired. And of course the perfect shows whose seasons end all too quickly, This Is Us and Call the Midwife.
Since my last post, I’ve had twinges of longing to write again. I’ve sat down at my laptop and “scribbled” down some badly written starts. In the past I’d persevere until the bad scribbles turned into something good. But with my long hiatus from writing, it’s still difficult to bring myself to write much more than blogs. In the meantime, I’ve been exploring my newfound love of painting.
When I was very young I loved to draw. I wanted to be an artist when I grew up but wasn’t good at it. This was back in the 70s and we didn’t have much money so art lessons in person weren’t even thought of. When we were kids, we played outside a lot and followed our creative pursuits and let our schools lead the way. There was no Internet or YouTube, no online lessons. Maybe there were art books in the library but writing stories came a lot more naturally to me. So that’s what I did. In sixth grade, I still really liked drawing and art class but because of budget cuts (Prop 2 I think it was called) only the tops kids got to pursue art in seventh and eighth grade in a class they called Super Art. I wasn’t chosen, not by a long shot, so that was that with art except for occasional cartoons I’d draw for myself or others.
When I took an oil painting class months ago it was a random happenstance, and I didn’t expect much. I couldn’t draw so I wouldn’t be able to paint. I’ve learned in the last several months that they don’t have to be interrelated. When I paint now, I’ve got the same excitement and enthusiasm I had when I was a child.
Since the last post here are the paintings I’ve finished. I’m throwing fewer in the trash and more are being hung on my wall or sent to people who want them hanging in their homes. This is a wonderful feeling, seeing my work on someone else’s wall. Each day something I created brings them joy. There’s nothing better than that.
Without further ado, here’s my newest stuff.
We’ll see what 2022 brings but for now as long as I’m doing something creative, I think I’ll be just fine.
I’ve been painting like a madwoman because whenever I start a new hobby I go full force. I started painting dogs for practice and feel like I’m getting pretty good at it, enough to start selling them one of these days. Maybe it wouldn’t be as much fun if I had to do it but I may explore this and put any money earned toward my credit card debt. And if I don’t go that route, I’ll paint a bunch more and hang them to add fun and whimsy to my living room wall.
Here are the ones I’ve completed to date. The black and white ones are all of my Granola. The Australian Shepherd is my friend’s dog, Jasper. The terrier-type dog is my stepfather’s buddy Scooter.
This weekend I did the two below. The little brown dog, Maysie, belongs to my husband’s coworker. The poodle is my father-in-law’s dog, Bridget.
I’ve got two more to paint that someone requested and then I’m seriously going to consider opening an Etsy shop or at least advertising locally. I’m a little intimidated with trying to paint humans but I should give that a shot too.
Painting is so relaxing. The materials are a bit expensive but once I have the paints they last a while, except for black and white which I use up pretty quickly. I use Winsor and Newton Paints, Artist’s line, linseed oil and Dammar Varnish. I’ve been using the Winsor Winton Titanium White from Amazon because I use so much. It’s a little thicker but the oil thins is nicely.
I’ve got shelves full of tile and need to get back to mosaics one of these days. The only reason I’ve slowed down, okay two reasons, are the mosquitos that are STILL HERE even though it’s October 31st. Happy Halloween by the way. And second, I used up all the wall I can easily get to that’s not obstructed by plants. Any new work I do will need to be on the hill and it’s a lot harder to tile, lugging up heavy tile, water, and grout.
I hope you enjoy the paintings and feel a bit inspired.
A lot of people still don’t know what a Sugar Glider is, which is probably a good thing. They’re adorable, snuggly, loyal, and more work than someone would expect for a tiny marsupial that weighs less five ounces. A lot of people buy them on impulse, like Ivy and I did, and then realize they’re not just an expensive, smart, hamster-sized creature that is content to live alone in a cage and chew things. A lot of them end of being neglected or rehomed. Ivy and I had one for eight years until she passed away. Mia, as we named her, had a lot of adventures with us. She was on Pets 101 on the Animal Planet with us, played escape artist and got lost several times in our old place, and spent about six hours a day on average sleeping in my shirt and sharing my lunch when I worked from home.
A few weeks ago I thought it would be fun to add a sloth to a bare spot I had on the wall. I looked at cartoon pics of a sloth and laid out a draft of it on a 12 inch square tile. I was pretty excited at how cute it was and expected this to be an easy project. I used bathroom white tile from the Habitat for Humanity Restore, gray floor tile from the same store, and various pieces of brown glass tile and black penny tiles from Home Depot. I’ve got some Dollar Tree broken plates for the leaves.
Unfortunately once I added it to the wall it looked terrible. But I wasn’t worried because once I add the grout everything usually falls into place. Except because there was so much white, it didn’t look at all like a sloth.
So I painted the in between spots with black grout paint. It looked ridiculous. And worse, I discovered sloths didn’t have tails so I had to chip away the tail, much to the annoyance of the husky next door who DID NOT LIKE all that hammering and chiseling. This was the final, which I hated. I planned to go out the next day and chip the whole thing off the wall which I have never done before but I was not pleased with it, at all.
When I looked at it closely, I saw that it kind of reminded me of Mia, my old Sugar Glider. She was gray and hung upside down from things and resembled this bad attempt at a sloth. She passed away a few years ago and I had failed to memorialize her on the wall previously.
I picked up medium gray grout stain and mixed it with my grout. I chiseled away the nose and the sky where the big ears would need to go. I didn’t want to chip away the sky where the sloth tail had once been, and add the tail back. But Sugar Gliders have long tails. I placed the tail tile over the sky tile, to go give it a 3D look but more so because I didn’t want to start chipping away too much of the long-settled piece beside it.
Finally, my finished result! Still not great but a lot cuter than it was before and now I’ve got my little Mia to make me smile when I look at the wall.
Now that I’ve got the gray stain I may go back and work on the Easter Island heads again. If I do, I’ll add an update to the last entry.
Two weeks ago I started an oil painting class so I may be adding pictures of new art one of these days.
Though I didn’t add the pets to the wall all at once, eventually they all made their way. The first one I attempted was my Mini Schnauzer, Anna. I was excited because as I made her likeness on the wall, I was looking at an old picture of her on my phone. When I finished though, she looked more like a raccoon than a Schnauzer. As I’ve filled in the areas around her, she’s starting to look more like a dog. As of today, she’s 15 1/2 years old and still just as wonderful as when I got her at 4 months old.
The next pet attempt was Sasha, my 21 1/2 year old Siamese cat. This was shortly after I discovered grout paint, so I colored her face in. Somehow the mosaic ended up huge, compared to everything else. Since this is a creative endeavor, merely to keep my brain busy and cover the gray concrete, I decided to enjoy the giant Sasha mosaic.
Next came Mabel, who came out just about how she looked in real life. We only had Mabel for a short time. Two years ago I went outside for a walk and saw a woman with her on a leash. The woman said she’d found her running in the street and thought someone may have dumped her. I estimated her to be about ten years old, which a chip later confirmed. She was a pretty dog, well behaved, and very itchy. I said I’d take her in until we could find her owners, since the woman was going to have to bring her to a shelter. The owners never appeared. Mabel loved the other pets and instantly took charge as the pack leader, guiding them along the way as herding dogs do. She had a big personality and we loved her very much for the time we had her. About a year in, she developed heart disease. Despite lots of vet visits and, by the end, twelve pills a day, plus allergy shots, eventually her heart gave out. I’m happy that I see her image every day on the wall.
Next came Lily, our Yorkie. Like Anna, Lily came with me from Massachusetts. She passed away about a month before Mabel, also from heart failure. Lily had health issues for many years but she was so sweet. Losing two dogs so quickly was heartbreaking and I’m glad I added them to the wall when they were still with us. She was about 8 1/2 when she passed away.
Scruffy was the last mammal entry. We got Scruffy about five years ago when we innocently went to PetSmart to get cat food. It was Pet Adoption Day and Scruffy was with her foster sisters, in a small area in the center of the store. She was ten months old when we got her and had been rescued from a kill shelter. She’s a great dog but has really been affected by the loss of Mabel and Lily.
Tortuga was my boyfriend’s turtle long before I was in the picture. I know the mosaic looks nothing like him but turtles are hard to make. Tortuga came from a street fair when he was about the size of a silver dollar. He’s about twenty-five years old and the oldest pet.
I hope you enjoy a glimpse into my life, and seeing my pets.