A Bull Terrier and an English Bulldog

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.

Thanks for checking in.

-Tracy

New Paintings: Dogs and Guinea Pigs

After painting a friend’s chihuahua, my sister-in-law’s guinea pig, and another friend’s pitbull, I decided to branch out and paint random dogs. Everyone doesn’t want pictures of Granola, afterall, even if I think she’s the most adorable little thing ever.

The other pictures below were from random pictures I found online, that Iater gave my own little Tracy spin.

This weekend I’m planning to attend a craft fair and hopefully I’ll find a buyer for some of these pieces, or get some interest in new work and new paintings. Note, the Cattle Dog is my old Mabel and the original isn’t for sale.

Until next time, stay creative!

Oil Paintings- A Continuing Journey

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.

Here’s to a creative and happy 2022.

-Tracy

My Mosaic Wall – Haunted House

Inspired by the autumn tree, I decided to create a haunted house all around it, replete with a spooky cemetery, ghosts, a black cat, and some bats. A storm cloud with lightning completed the scene.

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I used penny tiles (small round mosaic tiles sold by the sheet) for the black cat, ghosts, gravestone, and bats. Since they are small, it was tough to use my glass cutting tool. Instead I smashed them with a small hammer and they mostly broke in half on their own. These are my favorite type of tiles to work with because they break easily and don’t cut my fingers. The blue was leftover flat tile I bought online. The orange leaves and green grass below are broken 99 Cent Only Store broken dishes.

Spooky things under the tree

I used black grout paint on the gravestone. The bats were black penny tiles split in half. Tiny pieces of broken yellow penny tiles make the cat’s eyes.

I tried but failed to get the effect of shadow people in the windows. In retrospect their bodies should have started at the windowsill. You’ll have to use your imagination and pretend they’re floating ghosts. I used gray tile for the storm cloud with black grout paint, and flecks of gray with yellow for the lightning.

The full house is shown below, taken recently with some new items around it, others covered in previous blogs. Shown further below is the current picture of the whole wall, though I add to it all the time.

the house with the surrounding fun things

The wall as of the end of July 2020

Thanks for tagging along as I beautify the concrete wall and have fun with creativity.

-Tracy

My Mosaic Wall – Seasons and Flowers

Though my original tree was a bit of a mess, the next one I made is still one of my favorite pieces. For this I used a lot of broken plates from the 99 Cent Only Store. For the branches I used pieces of glass tile leftover from my kitchen renovation.

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On the heels of that, I made a winter tree, which reminded me of New England winters that were such a wonderful part of my past. This was a combination of mosaic tiles from sheets (green and brown) and broken white tiles I bought in a sheet.

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What I’ve noticed when creating this wall is how different items look once they’re surrounded by more tile. Later I broke dark blue dishes from the 99 Cent Only Store when I was creating a night sky and constellations, and added them around the tree.  For this I painted the grout with black grout paint and wiped away the extra.

xmas tree with sky

For Valentine’s Day I made a heart. Nothing very impressive but you can at least tell what it is. You can see the chalk line, where I planned the size. Once I started working on it, I realize I’d never have enough red tile to make it that big. It ended up smaller but still plenty big enough. The picture below is before it was grouted.

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The wall was coming along but there was so much ugly gray concrete left to cover. I’d made some palm trees which didn’t look great so I wanted to spruce those up as well (tree pun). This was done with a combination of craft stones, and various colored penny tiles I bought from Home Depot online because stores don’t carry them.

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Where I live in Southern California there are a lot of fires. Though my house has been spared, and hopefully will continue to be safe because we live toward the center of town, not by the hills, there are a lot of burned trees around. After a fire, you see a lot of black trees. Often enough though, you will also see leaves growing out of them, and eventually, a lot of regrowth. I used river rocks from the Dollar Tree to represent all the burned trees that continue to sprout life.

And because I now live in the southwest, I felt compelled to make a cactus.

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As always here is a picture of the grout and adhesive I use.

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Here’s a current picture of the wall from August 3.

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I hope you’re enjoying my tile journey.

-Tracy

My Mosaic Wall – Underwater Life

When trying to find new ideas for the wall, I found clearance penny tiles at Home Depot. They were pearlescent and shimmery and instantly made me think of fish scales. Needing guidance, I searched Google and saw several images of fish. One would think making a fish would be pretty easy.  It’s a basic shapes, limited colors right? For some reason this was harder than I thought it would be.

 

The layout on the white board was after several rounds of rearranging pieces until it actually looked somewhat like a fish.  Unfortunately I can’t capture how sparkly it is with the camera. Especially at night, the piece is as pretty at Rainbow Fish.

Sometime later, I decided to expand upon the underwater section and made a small red and white fish, a seahorse, and LOVE spelled out with seaweed and an octopus.

It may be hard to see the letters but look closely. I made sure the octopus had eight legs. In retrospect I should have used more dark green to make the letters but I didn’t have a lot of green left. Unlike some artists who have the best materials, and inventory everything beforehand, I look at what I have on hand and create from there.

Seaweed Love

Here’s a picture of the products I use in addition to tile and broken plates. IMG_20200616_120114

And here is a current picture of the wall from today, August 3rd.

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Until next time, happy tiling!

-Tracy

 

 

 

 

My Mosaic Wall – The Dolphin

Once I made my first item on the wall, and learned a lot of what not to do, I was prepared to do something bigger and better. I decided to make a dolphin. It’s worth noting that except for being able to envision and describe things, I’ve always conceded that I don’t have much artistic ability. More and more though, as I complete this wall and look at some of the crafts and handiwork in my house, I’m thinking maybe I was too hard on myself. I’ve judged my work against artists who can draw something exactly as it looks. But haven’t just as many, or more, artists whose interpretations of what they see filled galleries with their work? My creations are certainly not gallery worthy, or anything I’d sell (except apple butter at fundraisers) but I need to stop thinking of my work as “something a kindergartner would do.” Which is how I usually describe my wall. As you’ll see in future posts, much of it has become a snapshot of people and pets and occasions in my life, right now. It’s a giant tile time capsule. It’s a way of expressing myself and capturing everything around me. It’s art for art’s sake, the best kind.dolphinstart

Since dolphins are complex,  I knew I needed to lay this one out on a whiteboard I used previously for brainstorming stories and books. It was collecting dust in the shed so I resurrected it and now it’s my go to layout board.  I recall using the tile cutting machine I bought when we did the kitchen, and painstakingly making a black circle for the eye, and carefully cutting the pieces of gray marble. Since then I discovered I can buy penny tiles from Home Depot online, and they’re already perfect circles. They’re the size of pennies and come in a sheet. The trend for home decorating now is white and tan and gray so it’s hard to find any fun colored tiles in the stores. I starting checking eBay and Home Depot for colored tiles.  I’ve gotten some for very little cost this way. I also check the Home Depot and Lowes stores for sale tile sheets.

Initially I bought mosaic tile from Amazon but when I got it, it was a box of tiny, thin pieces, shown above for the water and sun. I didn’t use it on the actual wall for the sun and didn’t have any other yellow then. There’s nothing wrong with thin tiles but when you have different height in the tiles, you can lose them when you’re grouting unless you remember to dig away the grout.

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This is the completed dolphin before I added any grout. I was pretty excited about it, mainly because it looked so much better than the trees.

Next I added in some water. The blue glass was from a man on eBay who I drove an hour to meet rather than wait for it to come in the mail.  The only problem with it is that it’s glass and not ceramic tile, so if I smash it with a hammer it shatters and the shards fly into my legs (I’m usually in shorts and barefoot). Generally I try to fit it and otherwise use different tile when I’m trying to get into small spots. You can see some medium blue triangles. Those were the small ones from Amazon I mentioned. This is how I learned not to use them with the thicker tile. The black tile is from the Habitat from Humanity store.

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The next day I grouted. After this follows a later picture when I added a couple of palm trees and a sun. Those we done later but I don’t have a picture of the dolphin and trees only. Looking below I went back and added some other tile to the tree to get it to look better.

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Here’s a picture of my go to materials, which I’ll add every time. I also use this adhesive and this grout. You can use something else but I prefer this texture. It’s easy to work with especially on a vertical surface. Since I like to immerse myself in the process I used to do this barefoot, and I never wear gloves because they tear on the broken tile anyway.  Eventually I had to start wearing shoes because too many times I got tiny bits of glass or tile in my feet and couldn’t get them out. I still do it all bare handed though and cut my fingers pretty regularly. Not bad cuts though, no sutures yet. The first couple of times I used a putty knife to spread the grout but because of the uneven surfaces it didn’t work well.

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Since I’m writing these posts retroactively, here’s what the wall looks like today.

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Until next time, thanks for reading.

 

My Mosaic Wall-Beginnings

Welcome back! I should say I’m glad to be back, blogging again. As I posted some (long) time ago, I add posts to my Rebounddogs.com blog here and there, but apart from that have been somewhat living in a creative vacuum. I was really enjoying the peace, not being manic and creative. But alas, I couldn’t contain it forever so in September 2019 I reached my limit of not expressing myself and shifted to “art.” That word is in quotes because it’s not perfect, but it’s been a lot of fun.

The burst of art creativity started when I wanted to paint a living room wall. I saw an ad on Pinterest for a special paint (though I can’t recall now what it was). I searched three hardware stores and online and couldn’t find the (now discontinued) paint. In desperation I searched “wall ideas” on Pinterest. What I stumbled upon instead were posts about how to dress up concrete walls. I was intrigued as I had some UGLY concrete walls, fifty feet of them in the back, and both sides of my yard. Gray, concrete, prison type walls. But there was the magic word,  a solution to a problem I didn’t know until then that I even had. Mosaic. The word excited me.

Mosaic. Years ago I had taken a stained glass class so I knew how to cut glass. My second husband was a tiler and we’d worked on some house projects together so I had the general idea down. And two years ago, with the help of friends and my boyfriend we retiled the kitchen. Once I’d made a large mosaic (on plywood that was too heavy to hang and ended up at the Salvation Army when I moved) to match what a character did in one of my novels (Missing). I suddenly wondered how it was possible I’d never thought to cover the outside walls with mosaic before. It was a brilliant idea!

I went to Home Depot and bought two products which I’ve used each time I’ve tiled since. There are other things you can use, like cheaper grout you need to mix. But for convenience, and since I’m doing small projects at a time, these are my go to favorites.  The Adhesive & Grout mix doesn’t come in big buckets, at least in my Home Depot, but it’s got a nice elastic feel to it. Regular grout can be sandy and grainy. I also bought some floor tile, the kind that looks like wood.IMG_20200616_120114

Next I went to the Dollar Tree and bought some cheap dishes. I went outside, covered them with a towel, and BANG BANG BANG. Before I knew it had lots of material.

This is the first entry about the wall and am not going to repeat all of this each time but bear with me.

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I smeared the Acrylpro Professional Tile Adhesive on the wall, a section about a foot long. I wore a rubber glove and carefully added the pieces of the tree truck first. Next I added the light green tile (the only color green Dollar Tree had at the time). I had some colored glass pieces from the craft store (in my garage from another project) so added those in as well. I must say I was pretty impressed with how it all looked.

But then day two happened. I excitedly smeared a whole lot of Simple Fix Pre-mixed adhesive and grout. I covered the whole tree trunk section all at once.

Lessons learned:

  • For one, September in Southern California is hot. I also hadn’t tiled in a long time and forgot how quickly grout dries in the sun. Actually I’d never tiled outside so should have given that some thought.
  • White grout on light green “leaves” would make it look more like a cotton puff.
  • Floor tile that looks like wood is crazy porous and sucks wet grout deep into the grooves.
  • You need a sponge and a bucket of water to immediately wipe off the grout as you go. Not baby wipes. How did I forget that?
  • When you grout, gloves are cumbersome. If you take the gloves off and wipe grout over jagged broken dishes you can cut your fingers, even if you’re careful.
  • A wire brush and hot water will get dried grout off tile and when it doesn’t, you have to sit in the really hot sun with a razor blade.
  • Those little glass beads were coated so when I scrubbed them with a wire brush some of the coating went away.firsttree2

I am happy to report that though my first item on the wall was a little bit of a disaster, I got better as time went on. I’m writing this in July, ten months from that first tree. I hope you will join in on my journey from blank wall to a permanent happy place in my yard.

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Drinking and Writing

I come from a background where alcoholism and drug addiction were rampant. I saw a lot of lives ruined, some quickly, some gradually over the course of decades. As such, I always get a little paranoid if I drink. I  wonder if it’s too much, or too often. For anyone who knows me, I hardly ever drink. Sometimes at Cons, always at NECon, but not much in between. I get tipsy pretty quickly, usually after one drink.

In the last several months, I’ve noticed I really haven’t had anything to drink. I’ve also noticed my writing has just about dropped off entirely. There have been bursts of creativity but mostly I’m down for the count. I’ve also put on weight so I  feel like a sloth slugging along staring at a blank page. munching leaves and willing words to appear.

Maybe I need to lighten up, accept that a drink here and there won’t hurt me and it really does kind of go hand in hand with writing. If you ever go to a writers’ conference you will see that. Everyone doesn’t abuse it and there are some who abstain entirely, but for the most part, it’s part of the process, even if only a small part. Maybe it helps calm a person so all the random creative thoughts can be compartmentalized into chapters or characters.  Hemingway and Fitzgerald were examples of what not to do in terms of imbibing, but damn if they didn’t produce some amazing fiction.

There’s something to be said for using a supplement to move the creative process along I think, within reason. Sure, people can get carried away and an occasional glass of wine can spiral into gallons but hell, people can choke to death on sandwiches, or OD on Nutella or warm chocolate brownies.

Liquor has been used for centuries to plod writers and artists along. Without it, our libraries (except for the non-fiction sections) would be barren.  I like Lucid Absinthe a lot and even in small quantities (half a shot) it alters my perception a bit. That’s all well and good but it also puts me to sleep in a matter of minutes. That’s certainly not going to up my word count.

Lots to consider as I face most of the weekend alone in my house with my MAC taunting me, begging for some keyboard activity that doesn’t involve Facebook news feeds and comments.

I will be in Foxboro all day tomorrow 9am-3pm with members of the NEHW if anyone wants to stop by. For details, click HERE. I’ll have books, bread and butter pickles and strawberry jam for sale.

Have a great weekend all and here’s to perpetuating the stereotype.

-Tracy

To see all the work Tracy currently has for sale, please go to her AMAZON PAGE.

Delusional or Just Really Creative?

by Tracy L. Carbone

Sometimes I fall asleep on the train to Boston during my morning commute. And then I wake up at some point really confused and see the most peculiar things, like walls of ocean or thousands of colors smeared across the sky like Van Gogh in real life. But then I wake up all the way and things come into focus and I realize there’s nothing extraordinary at all about what I see. I always enjoy these sleep-muddled forays into that weird realm.

And admittedly, sometimes when I’m walking down the street and not paying attention, I let my imagination run away with me and let real images blur into not so real ones. It’s fun in a way, and harmless (unless I trip over something).

I find if you keep looking at anything ordinary, eventually, if you let your imagination get the best of you, you can transform it into something else. It’s a fun exercise to boost creativity. This SITE has some wonderful images.

I’ve always assumed that everyone looked at regular people and sidewalks and doorways and saw magic in them, but the older I get I’m thinking, hmm, maybe not. Maybe it’s just the writers. It’s certainly amusing to cast nearly everything in a skewed dramatic light at will, but where does creativity and imagination cross the line into delusion?

Ally McBeal thrived on her visions. Her Dancing Baby became an icon.  Half the time people thought she was crazy but there were those special episodes where her co-workers surely envied her ability to transform make believe into real. The writers of the show celebrated her insanity. I mean, her “creativity.”

I, for one, like the quirky heightened way I view world, especially when I’m half asleep.  Next time you’re out and about, take a hard look at the world around you, toss in some childhood wonder, and see if you too can’t make a little magic happen before your eyes.

Tracy L. Carbone ,  is the author of The Man of Mystery Hill, published by Echelon Press. Buy Now as an eBook on Kindle . The print version will be available this summer, and can be pre-ordered now.

Follow Tracy on TWITTER for continual updates.