A Mish-Mash

Some days are a mish-mash of activities and projects.  Today is no exception.  First off, I have to tell you about my visit to Northeast Elementary School, which occurred day before yesterday.  We had a GREAT time!  The kids and parents listened to me read two books–Bug Summer-Raining Ladybugs, and Sylvia McBye Learns To Fly.

Bug Summer--Raining Ladybugs

Bug Summer–Raining Ladybugs


Yes, THIS was the "lucky" book...

Yes, THIS was the “lucky” book…

In between, I did a quick Flash illustration, which made everyone very happy.



After all the packing and preparation, it was a worthwhile way to spend the evening.  And afterwards, the hubster and I got to go out for a sandwich together, which rarely happens.

I have also spent more time on Soda’s Valentine, getting pages ready so I can eventually publish!  Yay!  Here are a few more photos that are all tricked out and ready for page design.

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Then I spent some time on the photography portion of my business—I do run a photography studio called Images By Tracy Lovett, and I had to design a customer book of images that we did of her daughter–here are a couple of the pages from THAT project.

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And you may learn more about my photography studio by checking out my Facebook page here.

After THAT, I was back onto Inclement stuff.  My friends Jared and TJ–the founding members of the band BETWIXT that I work with quite a bit, are coming down this Sunday to work on a collaborative project with me.  We have taken Sylvia McBye Learns To Fly and turned it into a script for what will hopefully become an animated children’s television pilot.  My 11 year old son, one of his friends, and my 8 year old daughter are going to read the parts for us, and we will record their voices so we can produce a finished audio portion of the show for future animation.  I am hard at work doing storyboards of the script as well.  Eventually, we hope to meet with people at PBS, maybe Nickelodeon, or other children’s tv networks to see if they are interested in what we are doing.

I was supposed to have a photo session this afternoon in my Studio, but one of the little ones wasn’t feeling his best, so we have postponed that until Saturday.  And that gives me  a bit of time to write my blog today.  After I am done here, I’m going to return to photography stuff for a few hours, editing some customer photos, and printing an order or two for Senior Portraits.

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Oh, and I played a game of chess with my son–partial game.  Chess and I do not get along, and I always lose interest about half-way through.  I also need to stretch two canvas portraits for customers today.

So, that is what my plans are for the rest of the day.  My sons (who are homeschooled) have had an art day today, working on “macro” projects–they have to design a macroscopic world, either real or imaginary–and do a drawing of it.  One of them is working on rendering a corner of his room, up close, complete with a tiny city and buildings that, at least in his imagination, exist in that space.  The other one is doing an outdoor scene, where the stems of plants are enormous and there are critters of all sorts living and breathing and fighting and dying, all on a tiny scale.  I wish I had time for this project as well….it sounds so fun and full of possibilities.  But alas, I have a full plate already.

See, that’s the thing about creativity, and creative jobs.  Sometimes, they require laser-sharp focus, and many times, you are running hither and nigh, accomplishing many unrelated or semi-related tasks just to get through the day.  But, that’s my life.

So, back to it!

Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.


31 Days of Halloween–Project 14

Another crazy weekend of photography for me, so I’m falling behind on my posts! However, we will persevere! Today, we are going to do some printmaking! You will need potatoes, paint ( I used orange and black, because of fast-approaching Halloween), paper, and small, sharp knives.

Small children will need an adult to actually cut the potato for them. My older kids–11 & 13, loved cutting their own potatoes for printing. First, slice the potato in half carefully, making a flat cut surface for your “stencil”. Then, come up with a plan. Are you going to make jack-o-lantern faces? My boys liked doing this, and, in fact, that was ALL they did.

So, play around with the potato and your knife, cutting out eyes, nose, mouth, and any other details. Obviously, the larger the potato, the larger and more easily you can cut your shapes. Our potatoes were not huge, but each potato “stamp” only took a few minutes to complete.

We then painted the surface of each potato stamp with whatever color we wanted to use.

Then, grab some colorful paper and stamp away! Experiment a bit with each stamp–because of variations in the cuts, each will require different amounts of paint, and different amounts of pressure.

Do NOT expect “perfection” from any one stamp or print. Have FUN with this! You can create Halloween cards for friends, stamp on fabric, or just make a whole lot of fun designs on paper!

And the magical part of all of this is that when you are done, you can THROW the potatoes away! This little project is quick, fun, and works with any theme or holiday. Experiment with different fruits and vegetables as well.

Check out my new children’s book,  I HATE HALLOWEEN, which can be purchased here, and visit Bug Summer on Facebook and post pix of your own Halloween art projects here!  Have a tremendous day!

31 Days of Halloween–Project 11

Today is totally a Soda Pop day. For those of you who don’t know, Soda Pop is the star of my book, I HATE HALLOWEEN, which may be purchased here, AND the inspiration for my 31 Days of Halloween projects. He is a black cat with attitude. Today, we are going to make something that all children (and many adults) get a kick out of–puppets. Soda Pop puppets.

The supplies you will need are black felt–I got 9×12 sheets of it at the craft store. 2 sheets per puppet. You will also need a hot glue gun (for easy assembly), or craft glue (if you’re patient) OR needle and thread or sewing machine (if you want to be a perfectionist, which I am NOT). And then whatever kind of supplies you want to use to put eyes on your puppet, or any other decorations that you think Soda Pop would enjoy wearing on his person.

Here is a printable stencil pattern to get you started with your Soda Pop puppet.

Print it out, cut it out, lay it down on the felt and cut around it. DON’T cut out the eyes in the felt.  The eye marks on the stencil are there for guidelines for eye placement.   I was able to cut 2 sheets of felt at a time, but one at a time is fine. Young kids will most definitely need help with the cutting and glueing of this little guy.

After you get two Soda Pop cut outs done, it is time to add facial features/decorations or whatever else you can think of on the front of your puppet. My kids chose paint for the eyes. On your stencil, please note the two eyes delineated there. If you have a craft knife, you can cut those eyes out and have openings which you can overlay on top of the felt use as guides to paint/draw/sew your eyes on. You could also cut other pieces out of colored felt and glue them on for the eyes. How about button eyes?  Sequins?  Diamonds?  Hey, go for it.  Here you can see one of my boys painting the eyes on through his stencil.

Of course, you may ALWAYS freehand the eyes and facial features, which is what I did.  I added a nose, mouth, and paws, but you don’t need to.  The REAL Soda Pop’s features are totally black, so do whatever YOU like.

After you apply whatever decoration to Soda’s face/body, you may need to let any paint/glue dry.  Then it is time to attach the front and back cut outs together. I chose hot glue, because I feel it is magic. Really. Yes, you can burn the you-know-what out of yourself, but it is so darn FAST! Or you can use craft glue, if you have a couple hours.  OR, you can use needle and thread to sew the two pieces together, or even a sewing machine. Now, you will glue or sew the two pieces together, keeping the glue/stitches about 1/4″ from the edge, ALL the way around EXCEPT for the bottom of the puppet, where your hand is going to go.  Sew or glue right sides OUT, so there is NO “turning” of the puppet when you are done. It is simply finished with stitching (if you chose to sew) visible.  You will end up with a cat-shaped glove.

My kids love puppets. Even my teenagers, which some may find weird. Personally, I think it is one of the most creative things you can guide your children to make.  And there are people who make their livings doing things like puppetry (Jim Henson, anyone?). Not only do you MAKE something with your hands, but then you can create an entire world of activities/stories/songs/plays, whatever, that are all about the puppet you just made. I’m thinking about making felt “costumes” for my Soda Pop puppet, so he can be just as disgruntled as a puppet as he is when I dress him up in real life.

I am having my two homeschooled boys write stories about what their particular puppets do during the course of an average day. One boy named his puppet Cat Man (feline superhero). The other kid named his Just Regular Cat. I’m interested to read the stories they come up with, and I imagine they will be TOTALLY different, as my boys are themselves. ( I think another fun activity would be to have your Soda Pop puppet read I HATE HALLOWEEN to your children!) You can also have children write poetry, or even a play featuring the puppet.  Make more than one puppet if you like, in different colors.  Make different KINDS of puppets—cats aren’t the only critter out there.


Have fun with this, and check us out on Facebook at Bug Summer here. Become a fan and post some of your own creative fall projects!

31 Days of Halloween–Day 10

Complete Tracy Lovett – I Hate Halloween Interview

The Local Record program, hosted by Jenny Burkhiser of the Family Radio Network, had the privilege to interview our own Mayor Tracy about Fostering Pumpkins, Black Cats & Creativity: I Hate Halloween by Tracy Lovett for airing on Shenandoah radio station KYFR, 920 AM on October 27, 2012.

Sometimes less is more. And today, that is my philosophy. So far, we have had lots of projects and ideas presented in this October venture. Today, everyone—including me—has a moment to catch their breath, and perhaps catch up a bit.
Recently, I did an interview for a radio station nearby, and they were happy to give me an mp3 file of the whole deal, so today, I’ve posted it on this blog–click the blue link above all these words!   Take a listen if you have a few minutes, do some drawing or writing with a kiddo (maybe one of the previous projects!) and see if a more creative lifestyle suits you. Later, Gator!

Please see my new children’s book, “I HATE HALLOWEEN”, which can be purchased here. It’s a very funny book, and features my cat, Soda Pop on every page.  Please find Bug Summer on Facebook here, and become a fan–post pictures of your own Halloween projects there as well!

31 Days of Halloween–Day 8

Happy Monday, creative people! And because it is Monday, I am feeling not-so-ambitious. I spend every weekend, all weekend (in the autumn season, at least) doing professional photo sessions, so, by Monday, I’m a tired baby. So, today I am going to “phone it in” so to speak, and offer up some fun downloadable  note cards with some goals for using them, that I hope I myself can follow.

First up is Soda Pop in his mask. I love this shot. It is one of my favorite for the book I HATE HALLOWEEN (which you can purchase here) and I’m seriously considering making room for a nice canvas print of this one for my wall. Soda just looks so mysterious in his mask, and I love the green and black color palette.  All the notecards are sized 4×5 to fit in invitation envelopes.  They will print out 5×8, and you fold them in half on the top of the image.

Next is my jack-o-lantern illustration from (guess what) I HATE HALLOWEEN. As far as illustrations go, this one is in my top ten. I love the way the color in the shot is focused on the cut-out portions of the pumpkins, just as it would be if it were Halloween night and we were out walking the streets with our bags of candy dangling by our sides.

The third one is also from the book, and it is the cover shot. When I was a little girl, I loved kitties, but I could never have one because we had an allergic family member. But I simply LOVED them. So, one Halloween, I asked my mom if I could make a kitty cat jack-o-lantern, and she helped me map it out on the pumpkin. Every year, to get in touch with the little-girl-Tracy, I make sure I cut a kitty cat jack-o-lantern using virtually the same design as I did back then, and this one is it. I hadn’t planned on using the photo as the book cover. I rather thought I would use an illustration of sorts. But, when it was all said and done, and I was looking through sketches of work that I might use, the photo of the kitty-lantern kept coming to mind, and I decided it was the perfect fit for the book. When I saw it printed full size on my first book shipment, I have to say I agree with my decision wholeheartedly.

So, now you have 3 pieces of “stationery”.  Print them out on high quality cardstock, matte photo paper or even a glossy or luster photo paper at the highest print quality. Now, what to do with them?
Write. Write a letter to someone you need to talk to, but haven’t made the time. Write to someone to say thank-you for something that meant a lot to you. Write to just say “hello”, or “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Halloween”. It doesn’t matter who you write to, really, or what the message is, but put pen to paper and write something to someone, slap a stamp on it and send it the old fashioned way. I still get a thrill when I receive a 1st class letter addressed to me in flowing handwriting, and I bet you do too. I don’t take the time to do this the way I should.

I think it is the rare person who writes letters these days, and a stamp, even at 45 cents, is a bargain. In the days of unlimited calling plans, poorly spelled emails and even worse, abbreviated texting, a letter is a rarity, a precious thing that is so tangible. I have a letter from my Grandmother, a couple years before her death from dementia, and it means so much to me to have that little piece of her, such a PERSONAL thing created by her flowing hand. We need to give that gift to people as often as we can. So, print out these cards. Write a note on them, or, maybe, better yet, write the note on a separate sheet and tuck it inside so the card is more like a GIFT to the other person. You could even go so far as to double your money and stick a self-addressed stamped envelope in there as well, so you can be almost assured of receiving a reply. I’m going to start doing this—and including my kids as well. I’m even thinking about having a “correspondence hour” once a week, where everyone in our family creates little letters for others, and drops them in the mail with no thought of getting something back. Our children have missed the magic of opening the mailbox and finding something special in there just for them. I want them to have it.
So, take these cards, download them, save them, print them out for your own personal letter writing campaign. Get a pen that feels good and right when you grasp it in your fingers and communicate in that beautifully archaic language, the handwritten word. I’m going to do it right now.

All images featured today are from “I HATE HALLOWEEN”, which can be purchased here. It’s a very funny book, and features my cat, Soda Pop on every page.  Please find Bug Summer on Facebook here, and become a fan–post pictures of your own Halloween projects there as well!
Until tomorrow…

31 Days of Halloween–Project 7

Wow! This post will conclude my first week of ideas, crafts, and art all themed for Halloween! Of course, as I’ve said before, this is to celebrate not only Halloween, my favorite holiday, but to also celebrate my first Halloween book, “I HATE HALLOWEEN”, which can be purchased here. It’s a very funny book, and features my cat, Soda Pop on every page.

So, this is part two of our ART TRADING CARD project. For those of you who missed it, ART TRADING CARDS, or ATCs, are tiny pieces of art, 3.5×2.5 inches, created specifically with the goal of swapping with other artists, just like sports trading cards. You are actually sharing something much more important though–a bit of your own creativity and imagination. Read the previous blog post here to learn more.

Today, I’m going to show you a display/trading area where I keep my family’s ATCs and encourage visitors to make their own. It’s simple-simple. Here’s a pic of the back of our piano, where I have it on display.

Now, the frame is simply a frame I had around the house. Use whatever size you have, the larger the better because you can show more cards. There are many tutorials for creating the ribbon “bulletin board” inside the frame, but I will go into mine briefly here. I didn’t go out and buy ANYTHING for this. I found a sheet of nice, heavy corrugated cardboard and cut it to size with a utility knife. This part is NOT for kids.

Then, I grabbed a scrap of fabric big enough to wrap around the cardboard on all sides and hot glued it down to the back of the board. THEN, I grabbed some ribbon and started wrapping lengths of it across the front of the board at various angles, wrapping it around to the back of the board and tacking it down with hot glue.

Now, if you measure, you can make a very ordered, pretty pattern with your ribbon. I did not measure, I eyeballed. And then I gave up the pattern idea and just put ribbon across it in interesting ways. After THAT, I tacked down the ribbon with plain silver tacks wherever it intersected with another ribbon, or wherever it felt loose.

I flipped the board over and tacked the ribbon and fabric down firmly on the back as well. Then, I popped it all in the frame, secured it, and I was done!

Displaying cards is very simple–just wedge them under the ribbons on the board. And put a sign on top explaining the rules, such as “You may take ANY card you like for your very own, but you must replace it with a card of your own creation!”

I also have a basket of supplies—blank ATCs, markers, pencils, crayons, glue stick, tiny collage pieces.


If you feel ATCs from scratch are too hard, also include fun sheets of stickers and tiny objects that can be glued on to the cards. Don’t forget, on the back the artist needs to put the title of the piece, the medium, their name, and the date.

Bring a LITTLE art into your life! Change the culture of your home one tiny card at a time!  take pictures of your own ATCs and post them on Bug Summer’s Facebook page here! Have a great day, and do something creative with a child! !

31 Days Of Halloween–Project 4

Good morning, and welcome to Project 4 of 31 Days of Halloween! I have set myself the challenge of coming up with a new art/craft/writing project for each day of the month of October, all of them celebrating the spooky vibe that permeates my favorite month. I’m also celebrating my favorite black cat, Soda Pop, who is the disgruntled main character in my new children’s book “I HATE HALLOWEEN”, which can be purchased here.

A couple days ago, I was walking the dog with my children, and we noticed a large, black cat lurking in a neighbor’s flower beds. Upon seeing our dog, the cat froze, and, from a distance it looked as if it was a cat-shaped piece of negative space. He was so black, he contrasted with everything perfectly, and gave me the feeling that someone had taken a cookie cutter and removed a portion of the real world in the exact size and shape of a black kitty. So, this got me thinking about silhouettes. I then drew some up on plain paper.

Download me!

Save me to your computer!

I drew some simple Halloween themes shapes which are pictured here. You may feel free to right-click and download, using them as you like. To use them as I do in Project 4, you need to print them on heavy cardstock so they can stand up to a bit of “stress”. Cut them out, and cut out the eyes, noses and mouths of the pumpkins as well. I used an X-acto knife for this, but if you’re good with scissors, go for it. Then I thought about what medium I wanted to use.

For me, the best medium is always the one I have on hand. And I love chalk pastels. Yes, they are a bit messy, but I think they are easier to clean up than paint, and they really show up well on colored paper. They can also be very inexpensive. So, there it is—chalk pastels, colored construction paper, and the cut-out silhouettes are all you need.

Now, I need you to get into the Zen of creating here. You have the cut-outs, so you don’t really need to do much drawing. BUT, you do need to lay down the pastels all around the edges of each shape, and inside the eye holes of the pumpkins and ghosts.

Start slow but HAVE FUN!

Put a shape down on a piece of colored paper (I chose black, because it seemed the spookiest) and, starting from inside the shape, radiate outwards over the edge and onto the construction paper, holding the shape down firmly as you work (you could use a bit of masking tape beneath the shape to help hold it, but be careful–construction paper may tear under such treatment).  I started very carefully, and then got more freeform and crazy with my movements as I went, picking a variety of colors as my surround for the silhouette.

Getting into it a little bit...

Really work those edges well, layering colors right up the the edge of the shape.  Remember, as you are doing this, you aren’t actually drawing the shape of a black cat or a jack-o-lantern, but rather, you are drawing what is AROUND the shape.

Getting some color in there...

Negative space in art is very important.  When you have trouble drawing a complex subject, try drawing the space around it, instead of the subject itself.  Hopefully, this little silhouette exercise will give you some experience with that.

Work the edges with different scribbling marks and lines and colors until you feel you have the look you want.

I think I'm having FUN!

Carefully pick up the shape off the paper, and check out your work.

All different, and all beautiful....

Do you like the piece you just created?  Why or why not? Are you not pleased with the color scheme?  Did you lay down enough pastel?  Make a judgement, and if you don’t like it, pitch it and start again.  You will not BELIEVE how many ideas and, consequently, how much paper is thrown away by professional artists.  Experiement.

Lots of shapes to try...

Try different techniques with the pastel.  Try it on different papers.  Do it on tagboard, on cut up cardboard boxes.  You could even use paint and stencil brushes, or spray paint to create your silhouettes.  Grab some sidewalk chalk and make silhouettes all over your driveway.  Have fun.  Make a lot of them.  After you are finished, spray each one liberally with cheap hairspray to fix the pastel to the paper (it won’t make it, like, PERMANENT, but it will help it from getting smeared).  You could even (gulp!) try some of your OWN drawings with pastels and colored paper!

And hey, you could do some writing about the project in front of you.  Does it inspire any ideas/feelings when you look at it?  For me, my best ideas for writing come from images I see or I create.  Try to encapsulate you art in words, in the form of a story or a poem.

Yes, the children in your life will require some hands-on help with this one, if they are young.  But my older kids loved it as well, and they helped each other.  Spend some time with the kiddos, and help them make Halloween silhouettes!  And take pictures and post them on Bug Summer’s Facebook page here!  We can always use more “likes”!