Tell us a little bit about your background… What made you interested in art? Who were your early influencers?

I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. I fell hard for art in high school, where I had a wonderful art teacher that nurtured my talents. Art was my ticket out of the small town. I received a scholarship to attend The Kansas City Art Institute and went on to receive my Masters in Painting from Goldsmiths’ College in London, England.

tracey1Who are your current art inspirations? Do you look to other contemporary artist’s work during your artistic process?

I go through stages of looking at other artist’s work. I enjoy a broad variety of visual arts. Inspiration comes to me in varied places, contexts and media content. At the moment I am interested in researching classical female painters and am looking back to the Renaissance. I am going to see an exhibit by Artemisia Gentileschi in Italy, in a few months. SO excited!!! (Squeal.) Usually I stay with Contemporary Artists. And I have many Art Buddies throughout the states. We often message each other throughout the workday complaining, just like any other job. But, I have been known to draw inspiration from any mundane object from life. It could be a feather duster, tool belt or retro kitchen appliance. I enjoy taking an iconic retro tool that women have used historically and change the context in which it may be used. Or show that women can also use the tools that they historically were not known to. Just mixing it up over here.

tracey_ctr1How did you transition from abstract to realism?

I began studying in the traditional representational style but found I didn’t know how to inject my personality or concerns into the work. It felt very inhibiting to me. I then painted abstractly and conceptional for many years. I was dealing with the concepts and content I wanted, but felt that the audience for understanding the work was smaller, and my ability to translate my thoughts were inconsistent. Again, it was inhibiting. But just as in life, as you get older you begin to learn how to express yourself  more efficiently. I was then able to paint more freely, expressing concepts through Realism.

What is your state of mind when you are painting? 

Mellow AF. Autopilot. However, the concept building, planning and layout of a painting is a thoughtful, excitable state.

tracey_ctr2What are you currently working on? 

I work on several paintings at a time. I have a large-scale painting that I have been planning for a couple of years. It is a response to a Thomas Hart Benton’s painting, Persephone. While laying this out, I am working on a couple of figurative works where I have the figures in movement with a patterned scarf. I like the optical illusions inferred when, for example, a dotted scarf in movement becomes a striped illusion.

What’s your take on the Denver art scene?

We moved here four years ago and I admit, I have been too busy with galleries out of town to fully experience the art scene here. I am beginning to though. There is a wealth of great galleries and art venues. Denver has developed a great hub of culture, especially for the size of the city. This is partly why I chose to move here. I really need to get out more.

tracey_ctr3What is your advice for budding artists? 

Don’t let people tell you that you need to get a real job!!! The Arts can be a real job. It takes time and a lot of hard work. Don’t let all the rejections get you down. In fact, just expect them, ALL THE TIME. The rejections make you apply yourself even more each time. Stay openminded and grow from each one. Eventually if you have accepted and learned from your rejections, you will have enough experience and strength that people will be seeking you. Also, some of those rejections may only have been due to you not being in the right circle. Over time, your audience will find you.

You have a distinct style, what are your guiding principles when choosing your subject matter? 

With the figurative work, I definitely stay away from the “women tripping through heather” or “reclining lady” type work. Women are strong powerful and have great senses of humor. I paint that! As for the book paintings, I focus on doing parodies of “Self Help” books. They are hilarious to me and I love giggling in the studio. That makes for a great day. Especially the Relationship Self Help titles. Ha! So fun!

Musical inspirations? 

I listen to everything. I may be mellow and have on a little Andrew Bird, or may be listening to The Slits, and PJ Harvey. Mostly during painting time, I listen to podcasts and documentaries. I save the music for evening. I want to learn while I am painting. (Not that listening to music isn’t learning.)

Tell us about Max, Natalie and your models. 

Oh, MAX! Max is twelve years of awesome. I have raised him from birth by myself. The early years were when my career really began to take off. Looking back I am not sure how everything got done. Seeing him grow into a thoughtful, kind, funny and intelligent young man is amazing to me. I suppose our early life together with me sleepless and busy was not too traumatizing. One would think that being a single mother, full time painter, would have held me back, however, I believe it was due to him that I succeeded. He has made me a better person/mom/painter in every respect. Miss Natalie is my Italian Greyhound “Painting Supervisor”. I paint from home, she keeps me in line. As for models, I have been lucky to have had many bright, intelligent, humorous women who have been willing to serve as my model. They happen to be beautiful as well. My current model has been collaborating with me for a couple of years. I respect her feedback and she is the amazing Mom of three going on four children!

Speaking of an amazing mom, not only is Tracey an incredibly talented artist with a powerful voice, but a dedicated mom and an overall great person. We are lucky to call her our neighbor.