Friday, June 28, 2013

My Mentors Interview Series: Effy Wild

As an artist and art instructor, I am extremely grateful for those teachers who have inspired, encouraged and supported my development as an artist. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share this interview with you.  I have been taking classes with Effy Wild for a year now. I started by taking Book of Days her art journal course.

(Keep reading for a video and the giveaway!)

Tammy Dial Gray (TDG): Welcome Effy Wild! I am so glad to have you with us today!
Effy Wild (EW): I am so excited to be here with you!
TDG: Effy Wild, I know you as an art instructor, community builder, painter, writer, and a keeper of art journals. Why are these practices so important to you?

EW: Ever since I can remember, I have longed for ways to express what was happening inside myself. For many, many years, I was a writer and built community around poetry and creative prose. I developed a horrible case of writer’s block after a very traumatic family crisis (addiction hit our family full force), and in my attempts to unblock myself, I discovered art journaling. There was something so satisfying about expressing myself *without words* and after taking every class I could get my hands on, it morphed into my primary mode of self-expression rather than merely a way to ‘unblock’. I was so excited about what I was learning, both about art journaling and myself that I *had to share*. It’s in my nature to grow communities around the things I’m passionate about. I’m a bit of an evangelist that way! So when I knew how effective art journaling was, how amazingly healing ART was, I reached out. I shared. And I’ve been lucky enough to see the growth and expansion of one of the kindest, most amazing tribes I
've ever been a part of!

TDG: I am blown away by  your approach to creating art journal pages  They are so much more than a "pretty page." How has the practice of keeping an art journal helped you on your personal journey?

EW: I am a survivor of severe childhood trauma. While writing was always a helpful way to come into awareness about what was ‘now’ and what was triggered past stuff, I didn't find it very helpful in terms of changing the patterns I was uncovering. Art feels magical to me in that the effort that goes into creating an art journal spread seems to set change in motion. It seems to communicate with a deeper, more powerful part of my ‘inner committee’ that can actual act on the wisdom I glean from my art practice. Where before I had years’ worth of morning pages (written journals) all complaining about the same patterns and behaviors, now I have art journals full of tangible proof of how much I’ve changed. Since I began art journaling, I've got from a sense of purposelessness to a sense of vocation. I've gone from a deep sense of loneliness to being surrounded by an incredible tribe. I’ve gone from accepting crappy treatment in relationships to standing up for myself and demanding respect (or walking away when it isn't forthcoming). I've gone from desperately wanting everyone to like me (which does remain an issue for me) to learning how to self-love rather than seek love outside of myself.

Art journaling seems alchemical to me. It seems to allow me to take the dross of every day and spin it into the gold of personal empowerment, meaningful work, self-awareness, and authenticity. It also keeps me so busy that there’s little time to spiral into depression, which has been a huge boon.

TDG: A profound lesson that you demonstrate is "showing up to the page" which is a technique you use in collaboration with your process of layering. Through the  process you teach of layering and listening to the self, I learned that while I might not know where I was going with a page when I started, an unfolding of my heart and soul happens as I participate in creating the work. You teach us how to "find ourselves" on the page. It almost feels like the layers of my page are like the outer layers of an onion and as I put the layers down, I get closer to what my heart and soul are aching to express. Can you speak to how this process works for you and why you find it so important to meet yourself in your work?

I refer to this process as ‘reverse excavation’. Even though you are building layers up on the page, it actually feels like a kind of archeological dig. As I layer, I am actually ‘digging in’ and going deeper, uncovering my own inner wisdom. Digging deeply into the stuff beneath whatever is going on with me is something I’ve learned to love to do even though it is often painful. I believe that you can’t heal what’s hidden. I believe that shadow stuff (Jungian) needs to be gently dug up and brought into the light before it can be effectively dealt with. In digging it up, layer after layer, I am bringing shadow into light. There’s another benefit to this – especially since I do a lot of this on camera for my classes – and that is that my shadow stuff gets *witnessed*. This witnessing shines a light on the shadowy places. It is an incredibly healing activity, even when healing isn’t my intention.

TDG: Another profound "take away" I have relearned from you is the art of the reframe. I was so in awe when I saw you work through your personal challenges and reframe situations. It is a life skill that is life changing. How would you describe a reframe and how did you develop this talent as a part of your personal practice and can you speak to how it impacts your art?

EW: The reframe is a process of turning something that feels like dead weight or negative ‘stink think’ – a belief or situation that is just full of yuck – and turning it around. I learned this from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” in which she advocates turning every negative thought we have or write our morning pages into affirmations. While I’m not a huge fan of affirmations as a healing tool because they feel a little too much like faking it, I do find it effective to find *what is true* in any given situation, and focusing on that. For example, if I’m working on my journal and a thought or image comes up that is just not helpful (like “This really sucks” or “I am so tired of being mistreated” or “I wish I could get a handle on my emotions”, I will work to reframe it so that I am working with a positive, helpful statement instead of a negative one. “This really sucks” might turn into “Challenges Grow Me In Strength” – which is absolutely true, right? And totally affirming. “I am so tired of being mistreated” might morph into “I am worthy of excellent treatment”. True! “I wish I could get a handle on my emotions” might seem like an okay goal to have, but it is actually kind of self-shaming. My emotions don’t need ‘handling’. They need respecting, so I might reframe that statement into “I let myself feel so I can heal…”

This is a skill I've demonstrated often in Book Of Days since I am a walking minefield of negative self-talk, but I have found my crappy old tape really winding down over the last few years, and I find I need the reframe less and less often. Helpful, positive thoughts come more often now than the negative, unhelpful ones and I attribute this change to my art practice.

TDG: One of the ways that you describe yourself is that you keep things "real." I have certainly found that true as you have allowed yourself to be vulnerable within your community by sharing what is going on with you. I find that this correlates beautifully with your method of creating an art journal page. On camera you have shown us what to do when a page goes through awkward stages or something just doesn't look quite like you want it to. I have found it extremely helpful to learn from your methods of recovering a page and from coming back from a personal challenge. How did you find the courage to be so human and real in your work?

EW: I grew up in a family for whom the appearance of things was far more important than the underlying reality. This was incredibly traumatic for me, since I was always highly sensitive to hypocrisy and injustice. Even at a very young age I was infuriated with the way ‘how it looked’ seemed to take precedence over how it really was. As a survivor of abuse, I was steeped in ‘don’t tell, don’t feel’ messages. When this messaging became truly toxic in my early twenties (I was in an abusive relationship), I began (slowly but surely) to break free. I began to use my voice, even though it was dangerous. I began to talk and tell and feel out loud. This was absolutely the only way I could begin to heal, and so I model that in my work and my life as best as I am able. Does it take courage? Yeah. It does. Being this vulnerable in a place as scary as the Internet can be, in a place where people feel free to be hypercritical and even mean and insulting is *terrifying*, but it is also incredibly gratifying to see the impact of my ‘real’ on others, so I can’t not do it. Courage is feeling the feel and doing it anyway, so yeah. I’ll claim courage as one of my super powers.

TDG: What do you find rewarding about your art practice and teaching? What is the compliment or feedback that has touched you the most?

EW: I work primarily with women, and while the financial rewards are certainly nice because they help me feel financially sovereign for the first time in my life, what really rocks my socks is watching women step into their own personal sovereignty. I get so many letters from women who see themselves in me and because I’ve been brave enough to reveal shadow stuff, THEY feel brave enough to reveal shadow stuff. Wounds heal. People change their very LIVES as a result. I get to facilitate that? ME? That’s crazy affirming and rewarding, and while I know THEY are doing their own work, I also know that I modeled the work they are doing. Sometimes all we need is permission. Sometimes permission comes in the form of witnessing someone else doing what we know we need to do for ourselves. It is a calling I am so grateful I answered. It is second only to parenting in terms of meaningful work. Watching women come into their own is the very best feedback I could ever ask for. Ever. And that women trust me with their shadow stuff (mostly in private letters and messages) is the greatest compliment I’ve ever received. Ever. Bar none. The trust placed in me by my tribe is better than any accolade I could ever imagine receiving.

TDG: I know the next session of BOD is open for registration, now. Can you tell us about BOD and what participants can expect in the program?

EW: Book Of Days is an 18 week immersion in the art of self-inquiry and memory keeping through mixed media art journaling. For the duration of the class, students get lots of instruction and art journaling demonstration designed to inspire them to fill up their own ‘Book Of Days’. Each week, I deliver three videos: A discussion video in which I muse on my process, supplies I used or discovered, techniques I am loving, a “Book Of Mirrors” video in which I demonstrate doing inner work in the journal, and a “Book Of Days” video in which I demonstrate memory keeping in the journal. The videos are meant to be watched for inspirational purposes, but the real meat is in the doing. To that end, I provide challenges, journal prompts, and constant, tender hand holding in our Facebook Group. The class also includes an additional four week Boot Camp in bookbinding, and art journaling 101. Boot Camp on it’s own has been called ‘worth the price of admission’, and I agree. It is jam packed with instruction that, once taken, will lead you to a healing, fulfilling intentional creativity practice. You can expect fun, deep digging, gorgeous spreads, new skills, confidence, sharing, sisterhood, and a lot of love & glitter.
TDG: Are there any other offerings that you would like to share with us?

EW: I’m teaching in Life Book 2013 this year, and my lesson on turning on your heart light goes live in August. ( I am also doing a HUGE GIVEAWAY for a seat in BOD2013 Session Two!  (Please see the video below.)

TDG: Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your work with us here today. I honor your impact in my life.

EW: Namaste, lovely Tammy! Thank you for your thoughtful questions!  

Effy has a GIVEAWAY and a sample of her class here.  

Please visit Effy using the following links:

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Mentors Interview Series: Jodi Ohl

As an artist and art instructor, I am very grateful to the teachers who have inspired me and have had an impact on my artitistic life.  Jodi Ohl is one of my mentors.  I have taken both her Painterly in Pink and Twinks on Yupo classes and am looking forward to her next course.  As I prepare to take her next class I knew I wanted to share the joy of Jodi Ohl with you.

Her next class is: Funky Little City Scapes
Her Blog: Sweet Repeats
Her Etsy: JodiOhl
Facebook: SweetRepeatsStudioShoppe

Gratefully, Jodi agreed to participate in an interview and is willing to tell us more about the new class she has coming up that starts July 12th.

Tammy Dial Gray (TDG): Welcome, Jodi Ohl.  So glad to have you with us!
Jodi Ohl (JO):
Thank you, Tammy!  It’s a pleasure to be here to chat with you today!

TDG: When did you first realize that you are an artist?  What went into your transition from being a bank manager to becoming a full-time artist?
JO:I don’t know if there ever was one moment that I just woke up and said, yes, I’m an artist. It has been more of a long term evolution of acknowledging the creative side of me, something I truly believe is in everyone.  My creative side has manifested in many different ways over the years.  For example, I was a musician for many years playing piano and flute, and then I moved on to writing and minored in creative writing in college.  It took many years however for me to develop my creative side to the point I actually could make a living at it.   In a lot of ways, I wasn’t a very disciplined artist when I was younger.  Rather, I needed structure in my career path and as it turned out; I rose through the ranks at several different organizations and became a bank manager for a good portion of my corporate career.  It was during the latter part of my career in finance that I had some personal situations that drew me back into creating more and more.    It was a life preserver that I held onto which eventually led me to calmer waters personally and reignited my fire for the arts.  The transition from corporate life to a creative life took a lot of planning and soul searching, especially being a single parent, my decision wasn’t just affecting me, and it would affect my son so it was not a total leap of faith. Looking back now, the timing had to do with several big opportunities that I just couldn’t take on while still working at the bank so I was at a crossroads where I had to make a decision to go one way or another and I decided to give it a shot. I figured I could try this for 6 months and if it didn’t work, I can go back to the bank.  I’m still here. J

TDG: Do you think your art has a message?  If so, what kinds of messages do you intend to share through your art?

JO: I hope a lot of my personal feelings come out in my art when I create it and the viewer resonates with those messages I hope to convey, and those would be a sense of empowerment-you can do anything you set your mind to, messages of home and community and belonging, of reaching out and becoming a part of life rather than just a voyeur of it.  My art tends to be very colorful and playful, not super serious but at the same time, if you look closely, there are a lot of layers to it including hidden messages and symbolic themes incorporated throughout many of the pieces.  This year has been an  emotional  one for my family.  A sudden death of a close family member reminded me very quickly that life is short and taking time out to enjoy it and do what you love with those you love are very important.  I have been incorporating a lot of ‘seize the day’ carpe diem type of messages in my latest pieces.     In any case, I hope those that follow my art are inspired by my story. I totally get the chaos of working full time in or outside of the home, the trying to be ‘it all’ for everyone you touch and how if you don’t slow down and take stock of what is really important to you and your family, you lose a good portion of life by chasing after things rather than enjoying what you have, when you have it.

TDG: I know that in addition to the online classes you teach, you also teach and inspire through your magazine submissions. How did you make the transition to being a teaching artist and what inspires you about teaching?

Well, many artists that are full time artists have different paths that they take to make  a living  full time doing what they love, for some it may be doing art shows in addition to selling in galleries or online, or perhaps they design products for companies, or having open studio events…who knows, perhaps combinations of all these things.  Writing for magazines helped me really break down the projects I was doing in ways that everyone, experienced or not, could understand and hopefully be inspired by what I was doing enough to take it and make it their own.  As a manager in my former life, I spent the good portion of my day coaching and mentoring my team and peers in the business which has helped me transition into the teaching end of the art spectrum.  When I teach, it is so gratifying to have my students feel that spark of passion that I feel when creating, when they have the moment of clarity and suddenly realize they can do this, too…well it is wonderful feeling to see it all transpire.  I’ve come across a lot of people that are very similar to me in the classes, those that really crave a sense of calmness and peace for whatever reason.  Being able to guide these students into a place that really sparks their own creativity which in turn, helps soothe their heart and soul, is also very gratifying. I could go on and on about teaching, the truth of the matter is,  I learn as much from my students as they do from me.

TDG: There are many things I appreciate about your style of teaching and one of them is that you teach techniques that allow for individual expression.  Your students are able to take those techniques and create their own unique pieces of art.  Would you please tell us a little bit about the new class you are offering, the kinds of techniques we will be learning and how we can sign up for the course?

JO:Thank you for saying that Tammy, I really appreciate it.  Yes, I obviously have projects and ideas I want to share with my students when I teach a class, but I always encourage my students to make it their own. I’m always hesitant to give colors out in my supply list and not because I want to be proprietary about it, I just want my students to choose colors that speak to them, and I want to encourage that individuality throughout my classes. In my newest class which will be offered at Icreateflix  (which is a new website one of my former students created with her team of creative partners) is called “Funky LittleCityscapes”.  It may not be a city scape you create and it may not be little (see I’m allowing for some flexibility there), but it will definitely be funky!  The project that will be highlighted is a whimsical collection of houses, buildings, stores, anything your heart desires painted with acrylics on canvas.  I will be teaching the students about building layers, using gel mediums and other mixed media  techniques to create rich, fun compositions. We will also discuss color and color combinations as that seems to be a question I get over and over again.  As the project comes together, I will also give many tips throughout the class on how to embellish and fine tune your compositions.   This class will begin July 12th and be open ended for 12 months (perhaps longer,  but to ensure you have the longest access to the class as possible, registration is open now . Your subscription will start on the day the class opens.   This class will also include a full paint along so in addition to seeing all the step outs and working together on a piece, I will also do one from start to finish.  I hope to see some you and some of your readers in class, it’s going to be a lot of fun!!

TDG: Thank you so much for participating in this interview, Jodi Ohl.  I am looking forward to the start of the next class.

 Thank you Tammy for having me, it’s been a lot of fun chatting with you. I appreciate everyone stopping by and ‘hanging’ out with us today as well!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Hibiscus" Twinks on Yupo

"Hibiscus" Twinkling H2O's on Yupo
I recently took Twinks on Yupo a course by Jodi Ohl. I learned about using the amazing substrate of Yupo paper.  Jodi shares many tips and tricks in the class.
For this piece, I mixed together Golden's Tar Gel and Self Leveling Gel and put it in a small bottle that I was able to "draw" the main shape of the hibiscus with.  After that layer was dry, I painted the page using Twinkling H2O watercolor paints which are made by Luminarte.  When the paint layers were completely dry I used a damp paper towel and the Sea Foam Stencil from the Water Series and wiped away the paint leaving the circles in the background of the piece.    Finally, I used my Faber-Castell Pitt Pen: Artist Four-Pen Set and doodled all around the piece.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Fantasy Forest" 18 x 24 Intuitive Painting

"Fantasy Forest" Intuitive Painting by Tammy Dial Gray
This week I played with layers and layers and feelings that bubbled to the surface.  I thought about connectivity and abundance, history and ecology and thought deeply about how these ideas have been represented in animated forest scenes such as the movies Avatar and The Secret of Kells.  This painting is what developed from those reflections.

Here is a more detailed shot:
Close Up of "Fantasy Forest" an intuitive painting by Tammy Dial Gray

You can read more about this piece here

Friday, May 17, 2013

"His Gift" Acrylic Abstract on Canvas

"His Gift" Acrylic on Canvas Abstract Art
I recently purchased a package of 20 canvases.  I have never had this many blank canvases at one time.  They only thing I had in mind when I bought them was that they would be colorful, textural and meaningful.  Most of the art I purchase is abstract spiritual art.  So, I asked myself why I wasn't creating more art along those lines.  This is what resulted.  The first canvas out of a box of 20.

Currently, it is adding brilliant color to my home and it will be in a show on the 28th.  However, it is available if you would like to have this piece in your home.

Thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thinking of you on Mother's Day

Watercolor on Yupo by Tammy Dial Gray 9" x 12"

I posted this painting on Facebook last night in honor and celebration of all those who nurture and make the world a better place through their love.

This morning I found myself tearful as I thought about those who will mourn today.  I believe that love really does make a difference in this world.  My heart is with all of you who love unconditionally.  May you come to realize how important you are.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Enjoying Twinks on Yupo

"It's A New Day" 9"x12" Twinks on Yupo by Tammy Dial Gray

"Rejoice"  9"x 12" Twinks on Yupo by Tammy Dial Gray

"Vibrant Flower"  9"x 12" Twinks on Yupo by Tammy Dial Gray

This past week I took Twinks On Yupo a class by Jodi Ohl.  She did a great job of showing us how to work on this unique substrate with these luscious water colors.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Creating Authentic Community Through Art Classes

Last night, a session of my Mixed Media course ended.  I am feeling reflective and am experiencing some pangs of loss as this season ends.

Teaching and attending an in person art class is a unique experience.  It is a vulnerable process for both the students and the teacher because we see one another while our work is still "in process."  Brene Brown says that connection requires vulnerability.  I do believe that through allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in our class we are also allowing for true connectivity and the formation of a community.

One of my primary beliefs is that one way to grow as artists and human beings is to start where we are and to be brave enough to try new ideas or to keep going with the ideas we already have.    As we grow, we often experience awkward stages of imperfection, vulnerability and risk.  It is most helpful, when going through those phases, to have the support of an authentic community.

Specific praise helps to foster an authentic community.  Specific praise is a form of critique.  It is looking closely at the work of another person in the class and finding specific and positive things to say about the work.  We often ask questions while we are in this process.  Through this intentional process of looking deeply at the work of another, learning their process and finding specific things to offer encouragement about, we become more adept at noticing details of artwork and also more talented at speaking specific praise into our day to day life.  We begin to take on a new way of seeing artwork and the world, as we notice the efforts and perspectives of others on a deeper level.

Hearing specific praise also allows us to see ourselves and our work from a different perspective.  As artists we can get caught up in our own internal dialog.  The offering of a different way to think about our work can break through our self-talk and help us become more graceful with ourselves as we go through our growing pain stages.  We discover that while we might have been ready to dismiss something about our work, others can see value that we might have missed.

Speaking specific praise into the lives of others feels good. Each time we have spent a session sharing specific praise the group has bonded on a deeper level and we feel invested in the well-being of one another.  This authentic community is not an accident but is as purposeful a creation as our art pieces are.

As I prepare for my next classes I do so with great expectation and I look forward to helping to foster a deeper sense of community as well as teaching art techniques.

I am offering two courses.  One in Mixed Media and the other is Intricate Doodles.  More information is available here.  I am available to answer your questions at

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Creating and Using a Color Wheel with Silks Acrylic Glazes

Tag Sampler  
Creating a Color Wheel With Silks Acrylic Glazes
Creating a Color Wheel with Silks Acrylic Glazes
I am passionate about Silks Acrylic Glazes. I can get sheer gorgeous color and shimmer with one coat or use more than one layer to achieve opaque brilliant shimmery colors. In this article I illustrate how easy it is to use color theory, create tint and shades with these beautiful paints.  
Once you have decided what colors you want to use for your Silks Acrylic Glaze Color Wheel, you can start trying out different color theories. I decided to use tags as they are small and easy to experiment with. Here are a few illustrations.

Spit-Complementary Colors
Using A Color Wheel With Silks Acrylic Glazes & a Tag

Complimentary Colors
Silks Acrylic Glazes, Girls Night Tag
Spit-Complementary Colors April Showers Tag
Silks Acrylic Glazes & April Showers Tag

For my tags I also used the following Artistcellar Products:

You can get your own free color wheel template here.  I printed mine on Bristol Board Smooth Paper.
Making Stamps from Stencils
Tutorial: Making Stamps from Stencils
Silk Spray Paint Tutorial (791x1024)
Tutorial: Making Spray Paints with Silks Acrylic Glazes

Thank you for stopping by.  I am always grateful for your comments.

 Please "like" my artist page at:  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Quirky Birds Mini Book

"Quirky Birds" for Lifebook 2013. I used selected lyrics from Annie Lennox — Little Bird. This was so much fun! This is mixed media on watercolor paper. It folds like an accordion book.

The lyrics I picked start with the bird on the top left:
I look up to the little bird
That glides across the sky

But this little bird's fallen out of that nest now
I've got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I've just got to put these wings to test

For I am just a troubled soul
Who's weighted...
Weighted to the ground
Give me the strength to carry on
Till I can lay this burden down

So I've just got to put these wings to test

Here are some close ups:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blue Moldable Stamps + Stencils + Heat Tool= Personalized Stamps!

Tag and Wrapping Paper

I have been collecting stencils for awhile now and I love them. I am always looking for new ways to use them. I was thrilled when I discovered that I could turn my stencils into stamps...(drum roll please) and the product to do that with only costs $1.50 to make 2 stamps! You need Blue Moldable Stamp, and stencils such as Brain Coral Stencil, and the Constellation Stencil. Here is the tutorial for turning your stencils into stamps! :) Making Stamps from Stencils

After I made the stamps, I decided I would have fun making my own gift paper and tags. I simply stamped deli paper with the Blue Moldable Stamp that I created and Ranger Archival Ink Pad. I heat set the ink and then added Tim Holtz Distress Stains to color my paper.

untitled-8339 (1024x685)
. Tag and Wrapping Paper

For my finished project, I wrapped a gift using this deli paper. I sprayed tags with Homemade Silks Acrylic Glazes sprays, dried, and then stamped as described above. I created roses with the stamped and stained deli paper as well. Finally, I put it all together with Burlesque Fibers and a Black Viva Decor Pearl Pen. 
For those of you who haven't tried the Home Made Silks Acrylic Spray Paints, here is the tutorial for you.  

Silk Acrylic Glazes Spray Tutorial Thank you so much for checking out my post. I would love it if you show me what you create and your comments are always gratefully received! Tammy Dial Gray

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When you smile, the stars dance in their heavens.

When I had the joy of opening up the Shooting Stars Stencil package from Artistcellar and playing with it in my studio one thought kept returning to my mind. It wasn't as much an image as it was a sentiment. When I look at the Shooting Stars Stencil it looks to me like the stars are dancing. The sentiment I kept thinking of was, "When you smile, the stars dance in their heavens."

After much thought, I realized that I wanted to make others smile. So, I sketched out one of the things that makes me smile. A dog, and a smiling dog is even better. :)

I used my regular sketching pencils and Bristol Smooth paper. I thought this dog's smile could put a smile on a young child's face. So, I decided to keep with the whimsical theme and paint my dog in bright colors.

For this 12 x 12 wood panel I used, Silks Acrylic Glazes, bleeding tissue paper, Shooting Stars Stencil, black pens, white pens, gesso, gel medium, home made Silks Acrylic Glazes Spray Paints (the tutorial is provided below,) punchinella, and white acrylic paint.

 The truth is...When you smile, the stars dance in their heavens. 

 Tammy Dial Gray

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Liebster Award and Blogs for You to Enjoy

This lovely Easter evening I discovered that Sumaiyah Dymonz Yates had gifted me with an award from her blog.  I am so grateful and am delighted to take this opportunity to share some blogs with you. 


This award was designed to be a blog award in the pay it forward fashion. Once you've been nominated, you award it to five blogs that you like that have fewer than 200 followers, to encourage new visitors to visit these blogs. 


Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to their blog. Post the award onto your blog. Give the award to five bloggers who you appreciate that have fewer than 200 followers. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know that you have given them this awesome award!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Good Friday is a hard day for me as a Christian.  It is the day I remember that my sins cost the world and ultimately my Savior a lot of pain.  Even though I usually remember this day rather quietly, the pain of it is with me.

I created this simple piece as I processed the pain of Good Friday.  I wanted to show the darkness of my sins and the pain that they cause.

The process I used is as follows:

1. I mixed Sunshine and Spicy Tomato Silks Acrylic Glazes and painted the entire piece of water color paper.  I let that layer dry.

2. I used a Stabilo black pencil to outline the image of the cross.  I decided to not make the cross a precisely lined image as the very point of the piece was my imperfection next to God's perfection.

3. I then used a palette knife to drizzle Golden Tar Gel all over the piece.  I let that dry.

4. Next, I used Golden Black Gesso and painted the entire piece except the cross.  I quickly wiped off the gesso from the parts of the piece where the tar gel was applied.  The effect allows the red and gold color of the base coat to come show up through the clear tar gel.  The students in my Mixed Media class said that it reminds them of blood in a special effects sort of way.

5. Finally, I used a damp baby wipe and Viva Decor Inca Gold and went over the cross portion to add highlights to that portion of the piece.

May you feel God's presence and grace with you today and always,
Tammy Dial Gray

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What? I thought they said it was spring!

I painted this bunny after seeing and adorable photo of a bunny eating a flower.  We have had tornadoes in our area so I wanted a wild Florida sky.  I used the Ripples Stencil and three colors of paint for the sky (Rich Cobalt Acrylic Glaze,  Stewart Gill Byzantia Aegean, heavy body white acrylic paint.  

For the grass and blue flowers I used Stewart Gill Byzantia Acanthus, heavy body white acrylic paint, and Fern Silks Acrylic Glaze with the blue colors listed above and the Cherry Blossom stencil.  

For the color of the orange flowers I mixed Sunburst Silks Acrylic Glaze with Spicy Tomato Silks Acrylic Glaze.

For the bunny, I did an under coat with colored pencils and then used a dry brush and white heavy body acrylic paint.  I used white and black pens to finish off the details.  

Happy Easter to You and Yours!

Jane Girl Happy Easter
 I have had so much fun with the Jane Girls Series Face stencil.  It has been amazing to see so many different styles of faces created with just this one stencil.

For this face, I have enlarged the eyes and stretched out the face some to create a more childlike appearance. I started this project by creating my face using colored pencils and black pens in my Strathmore Visual Journal - Mixed Media.  When I got the face colored and shaded the way I wanted it, I sprayed the page with workable fixative and set it aside to dry.

I painted 140lb watercolor paper using my Gelli Plate and craft paints and let it dry.  I used heavy body white acrylic paint and the Rouen Cathedral Series Stencil and the Tortoise Japanese Geometric Series to stencil over the paint page.

 I cut around the Jane Girl that I had set aside to dry and then used matte medium to collage her onto the page.  I used a dry brush to add some yellow and turquoise craft paints to the page to add interest.  I scanned my page and then added the sentiment using my computer.

I hope this Easter is full of joy, peace, and grace for you and yours! Tammy Dial Gray
  Artistcellar and    

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

She's Got Style: Mixed Media Canvas

Cat Girl Style Cat Girl Style 1 Cat Girl Style 2Cat Girl Style
I have always liked fashion illustrations. So, when I looked at my Brain Coral Stencil and my Ripples Stencil and realized that the size and patterns of the designs would look great on an outfit for one of my girls,  I couldn't wait to get started on this project.  The first thing I did was sketch out my girl and her obvious companion, a stylish cat.  I used Bristol paper, and graphite pencils to do the sketch work.  I then used a black pen to trace the lines of the Ripples Stencil on the jacket of my girl.  I traced the Brain Coral Stencil on the dress.  I started the coloring process with Inktense and colored pencils.      I continued adding color to the design using Inktense.  I cut out my girl and her cat and used matte medium to adhere them to my prepared background. Some of the supplies I used in my background are as follows: Stencils: Amiens, Ocean Waves, Cherry Blossom, and Seven Jewels. Silks Acrylic Glazes, white pens, gessowhite heavy body acrylic, bleeding tissue paper, gold paint pen, water soluble markers, and workable fixative. Tammy Dial Gray 

Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Story: Living an Unlikely Dream

If I were to share with you all of the amazing dreams I have lived since my birth in 1966, it would take up a book rather than a blog post.  Therefore, I am going to start with a dream I had when I was in the 7th grade.  I wrote down the commitment that I made to living the dream of working at the Florida United Methodist Children's Home and tucked it safely away in my Confirmation Bible.
I don't think I shared the dream with anyone else because it seemed rather improbable.  I loved my Bible and I loved every sacred item that I placed determinedly, reverently and privately, in its pages.  This bit of paper where my 7th grade self made such an important commitment is a sacred treasure to me so it is very fitting that I placed my dream in a sacred keeping place.
As I got older, I realized how improbable my dream would become.  I learned that the pay was minimal and that the job of House Parent required that my husband do the job with me.  Of course, those obstacles did not occur to me when I committed myself to the dream as a child.  I thought, “Oh, well…you were a child and you didn’t know better.  No need to worry about childhood commitments.  God will understand.”
I went on to college and got a degree in Elementary Education and began teaching public school.  I won awards for innovation in education, received grants for special projects and became a Professional Development Trainer, consultant, and curriculum writer for the School Board while still relatively new to teaching.  My husband worked for Delta Airlines and we were desperately trying to have a child of our own.  We enjoyed traveling with Delta and the terrific benefit package the company offered. 
Just when we thought we had our life figured out we faced an earth quake sized shift in our life.  After 7 years of marriage, a pregnancy and birth fraught with complications, we finally had our precious child.  She was born in September and in December my husband went into work as normal but came home from work without a job.  He had been laid off.   In the months that followed, he worked desperately to come up with another job that would adequately replace his lost income but it didn’t happen.  We ran out of savings and we were more than desperate.
It was at this time of searching that the dream made itself known again.  I was reading the job listings in our local and very small newspaper and astonishingly to me; I saw an advertisement for House Parents at the very Children's Home I had dreamed of so many years ago.  The largest obstacle to us living this dream was now behind us.  We no longer had to consider the challenge of leaving the luxury and trajectory of my husband’s job at Delta.  Time had taken that barrier away from us and our great need smoothed off our edges and prepared us to live at poverty level in order to live the dream.
Saying, "Yes" to this dream meant letting other dreams go.  We put our house on the market.  We left our pool, corner lot, and privacy fenced back yard (which, I thoroughly enjoyed) and most painfully, we had to find new homes for our beloved shelties.  We sold precious furniture pieces and left our comfortable life style behind as we embarked on one of the most challenging and important quests of our lives.
While I was the oldest of four children and had more education and experience than was required to be hired, my husband was the youngest child in his family and did not have any child care experience at all.  This was no small obstacle.  Gratefully, we participated in quality training events that have helped to form us into the people we are today. 
     We were assigned to Shannon Cottage and we moved in with 12 girls between the ages of Kindergarten and 18 years old.  With our daughter of 10 months old, the 12 girls and ourselves, I suddenly was responsible for preparing meals for a household of 15.  Helping children with homework, managing after school activities, chores, medical and counseling needs as well as behavior programs took all that we could muster.  
I can’t say that we were prepared for the depth of the challenges we would face.  We went through a two year period of constantly battling lice and scabies.  Let me tell you, bugs and dirty things are seriously gross to me.  This challenged everything in my being.  Even harsher was dealing with the parents who had abused and/or abandoned their children but thought they should have input into the way I cared for their children.  I learned that I was called to love all of humanity at the same time as hating the evil humanity is capable of perpetuating. 
     Living the dream was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  It was also one of the most important.  The sheer desperation of the struggle taught me more about the human condition than I could have ever imagined.  Spending my nights scrubbing floors taught me to more deeply understand laboring for love.  I was able to connect with the deep abandonment that others were facing and the parts of myself that I had abandoned.  I found out that as much as I hate scrubbing floors, or eating from the local food pantry, I could do so out of sheer unadulterated love for my family and my extended family.  The extreme challenges taught me about the strength of my family of three, the depth of my inner resources and the importance of my faith.
     As I currently face one of the challenging times of living my current dream of being a working artist, I am reminded of the lessons I learned 18 years ago when I said "Yes" to the dream of my 7th grade self, knowing full well the improbability of it all while also not fully understanding the deep and powerful challenges we would face.  Despite the struggles, I sometimes think of going back to the Children’s Home out of the powerful love I have for the children.  Yet, I know, I have already lived that dream and other dreams calling to me now.

Would you like the support you need to live your dreams?  Do you need a listening ear that can offer you specific praise and encouragement?  Would you like help creating attainable and measurable goals so that you, too, are able to live your dreams?  Would you like to create your own life plan or a stage of life plan?  I offer one on one mentoring sessions tailored to your specific needs.  Contact me at for more information or to schedule your session.