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.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Now Offering Private Classes

I am now offering Private Classes in both Mixed Media and Intricate Doodles.  The classes will be tailored to your current experience level, schedule and personal interests.  Private classes can be accessed online through a private Skype, Google+ Hangout or Facebook Video chat.  Private classes are also offered in the Gainesville area.  Contact me for additional information and to schedule sessions at

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Life of an Artist: Overcoming the Artistic Blues

It happens.  Sometimes, it seems to come out of no where and at other times the slump is predictable.  It is that feeling of uneasiness, struggle, and pain that every creative person experiences.

Some things that cause a slump, down turn or serious period of self-doubt:

  • Illness
  • A period of growth in which you are learning but haven't become completely comfortable with your new skill set
  • Perfectionism
  • Negative "I Am" statements such as, "I am not good enough."  
  • I am sure you can add to the list of things that cause these slumps and I suggest that you do write down a list so that you are aware of when you are facing a danger zone.
Every artist faces these painful slumps and obviously some recover from them more quickly than others.  If you are interested in minimizing the negative impacts of a down period here are some ideas:
  • Following an illness try to return to your routine in a modified fashion.  Sometimes, doing too much too fast only prolongs the illness and frustration.  Be positive with yourself when you do get back to creating and remind yourself that if you treat your body well you will get back in the swing of things more quickly.  
  • When going through a growth period where you are stretching yourself also give yourself the opportunity to incorporate skills and techniques that you are already comfortable with.  Take breaks in which you go back to your comfort zone for a specific period of time and then continue on with your learning and experimenting.  Remind yourself that everyone begins somewhere and there is no such thing as wrong in art.  It is all a part of the learning process.
  • Re-frame those negative "I Am" statements.  "I am good enough."  "I have done enough."  "I have something unique to offer."  Use the positive "I Am" statements in your work.  
  • Keep a list of things that inspire you to create.  Some people use Pinterest boards for this.  Resources for getting back into your creative mindset might be: a music play list, a set of favorite movies, online support groups, etc.  
  • Cultivate a positive creative practice.  My practice is to: prep my work space, put on my play list, eat my breakfast, prepare a cup of ice water to keep hydrated while working, turn off the computer, and alert my family that I am going to be occupied.  I even take care of my pets needs before I get started and like so many others, I have a dog bed in my studio so that I can keep an eye on my youngest dog.  In other words, I set the stage for success.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jane Girls: Under the Sea

Jane Davenport Girls Under the Sea for web (809x1024)
I have the entire tutorial including all of the supplies I used available for you at Artistcellar.  I would love it if you leave a comment for me there.  xoxoxox

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Having Fun With the Jane Girl's Stencil

untitled-7378 forwebWhat a thrill it is to get to work with the Jane Girls Series Stencils. They offer so many options. I have been playing with eye placement, curve of the lips, and hair styles. In this post I show what subtle differences can do to the look of a piece. I used the same colors and supplies in both 8"x 8" canvas pieces.

In this canvas, I have her eyes looking towards the viewer, have hair on both sides of the neck, have a more subtle background pattern and use a hair band all the way around the face.           In this canvas, the girl is looking more forward, her lips curl more upward, the hair is pulled back and on one side of her neck and the background pattern is more pronounced.

 For these projects I used:
  1. The 3-Quarter Stencil from the Jane Girls Series.
  2. The Star Coral stencil from the Coral Series.
  3. 8" x 8" Canvas
  4. Derwent Inktense Blocks
  5. Silks Acrylic Glazes
  6. Water soluble color pencils
  7. Sekura Koi WaterBrush
  8. Water soluble crayons
  9. White Gesso
Thank you for checking out my post.  I would love to see what you are doing with Artistcellar stencils. Tammy Dial Gray