Being an Artist is Not Quite What I Expected


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Here’s a new little painting. “Lady Frances, Bewitched and Bejeweled.”

Lady Frances, Bewitched and Bejeweled

“Lady Frances, Bewitched and Bejeweled.” (Oil on paper, 3.75″ x 5.5″) © Gina Matarazzo

Being an artist is not quite like I expected, and yet, it’s everything I had hoped for.

When you’re a kid, sometimes you are lucky enough to have an idea of what you want to be when you grow up. Sometimes you agree with that when you do grow up and sometimes you chase the ghost of what you thought you wanted to be when you were a kid. And this ghost chasing can keep you from being happy because you think you “promised” your inner child something and if you don’t honor that, then you can never be truly happy.

Well, I got news folks, that inner child never knew the whole picture. That inner child didn’t know how you’d feel as an adult and he/she didn’t know how you’d feel about a lot of things when you gained real responsibility. Heck, that inner child would probably be stunned and shocked at you to find out that you love vegetables EVEN LIMA BEANS! Things change. You learn and grow. And this includes the things you want to do in life and how you decide to do them when you become an adult. To change your mind or see things differently isn’t a betrayal of that inner child. It’s getting to know the real you behind the instincts.

For example, for years I wanted to work for Disney and be an animator. And when I grew up and went to college, the reality of what that entailed made me change my mind. I knew enough to know that I didn’t want to draw 24 frames per second. That’s a lot of work – and that was back when you had to do it all by hand (OK…I had no idea I could have just worked on backgrounds at the time…which I might have been cool with). But anyway, that wasn’t me betraying my childhood dream, that was me realizing something about my true self. I just didn’t want to work that hard. And knowing that about myself was important. I don’t think that lifestyle would have made me happy.

And as it turns out, the freelance illustration lifestyle didn’t suit me either. (That was my second choice in college). Every time I’d get a freelance job, I couldn’t wait for it to be over so I could work on my own projects. I knew enough to listen to my inner self rather than my inner child. And so I found myself working as a Graphic Designer with full time pay, benefits and a steady paycheck. My inner child didn’t know how much I would grow to love a steady paycheck and the value of health benefits.

And here I am today, loving being a Graphic Designer and loving coming home to work on my own personal artwork. Where will that lead me? I’m not sure. But I know I’m having fun working as an artist and that’s all my inner child ever really wanted.

Here’s a painting I finished a month or so ago:

Henrietta, in Her Wildest Dreams

“Henrietta, in Her Wildest Dreams,” (Oil on panel, 11″ x 14″) © Gina Matarazzo

And I also got news last month that the following painting made it into “Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Vol. 24” (due to be released at the end of this year).

Animals in Forest Fairy Tale Oil Painting - Gina Matarazzo

“Her Majesty, in the Afternoon,” Oil on Panel, 18″ x 24″ © Gina Matarazzo

The only real complaint I have is that I’m usually working all the time and I’m exhausted. But I will do that for as long as I am able and enjoy it as long as I’m able. When I can’t do it anymore, then I’ll rest and sleep and read more books and sit on the sofa more.

Did you want to be an artist when you were a kid? Did you become one? Is life an an artist what you expected it to be?



No News Is Good News?


“Ravi the Squirrel” (Oil on Panel, 8″ x 10″)

"Mouse Explorer Extraordinaire"

“Mouse Explorer Extraordinaire” (Oil on panel, 4″ x 4″)

Yikes. It’s been about a year since my last post. With a full time design job designing books (yes – I switched from CD album design to book design) and painting at night, I need a whole other person to do social media updates (AND clean my house!) Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook so you get more up to date posts of my work (I do post more regularly there). But here’s catching up with everything that’s happened since the last post.

The biggest thing is that I was juried into the IX9 Main Show this year. I am very excited for that and have been furiously working on art to bring to the show. Just finishing up one more painting, so I’ll have five new paintings for that show which is just a month away!

I finished this painting shown below for “The Art of Saving a Horse” gallery show mentioned later in this post.

Mouse Explorer Extraordinaire #2“Mouse Explorer Extraordinaire #2″ (Oil on Panel, 6″x 6”)

I also completed and published a book of my sketches and paintings which is available for sale in my web store. I only have a few copies left in the store and am reserving the rest for IX9 in October. (But after IX9 I’ll add the remainder to my store).


“Animals Imagined” book. 6″x9.” 64 pages.


Interior Page of book.


Another interior page of book.

Here is the line up for the exhibits I’m participating in this fall:

IX9 – Reading PA – I will be attending and exhibiting my work here in the Main Show from October 19th – October 23rd 2016. I will have original paintings for sale, along with prints, original drawings and my sketchbook, “Animals Imagined.”

Dream Worlds: The Art of Imaginative Realism – Canton Ohio Museum of Art – I will have three pieces exhibiting in this group show from November 26th 2016 – March 12 2017.

The Art of Saving a Horse – IKON IMAGES, The Illustration Gallery, Canton, Ohio – I will have one painting exhibiting in this group show. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the artwork will be donated to Last Chance Corral, a horse rescue in Athens, Ohio. October 15th – December 30th 2016.

Sweet Dreams

“Fox Sleeping” (Oil on Panel, 11″x 14″)

So that’s almost up to date. I’ll post the two new paintings when they are done in the next couple of weeks.

Promise! 😉


Finished Fox Oil Painting “The Familiar”


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"The Familiar," Oil with gold leaf on panel, 18"x24"

“The Familiar,” Oil with gold leaf on panel, 18″x24″

I worked all darned summer on this thing! Here it is! Here’s a refresher on its history here. It’s a large size for me, so it took me quite a while, chipping at it a few hours per day about five days a week. Funny how painting traditionally again, I realize how great it is to have something to see and hold that’s an object as opposed to digital illustration which is an elusive art form, what with being digital and all, but it sure stinks when you scan a painting in and then have to take days to clean the darned thing up (removing dust particles and reflections of EVERY SINGLE SHINY BUMP AND BRUSHSTROKE) to make a presentable image to show online. AND all of that and it isn’t quite accurate at all! Kind of like the difference between watching a performance of a play on TV and actually seeing a performance live, on stage. So, please go see art in person when the mood strikes you! You might forget how different the original art is in person.

Speaking of seeing art in person, “The Familiar” and many more of my paintings will be on display at the Showcase at IX8 in Allentown, PA this year in a couple weeks. I’m super excited and panicked at the same time. I still have so much to do to get ready! I don’t know how artists do multiple shows per year. It’s exhausting!

Wish me luck!

New Study for Upcoming Painting: “The Familiar”


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"The Familiar," pencil on paper by Gina Matarazzo

“The Familiar,” pencil on paper by Gina Matarazzo

Here’s a new pencil study for my next painting, titled: “The Familiar.” It’s about the journey of a fox spirit animal named Kimi. Here, in a rare glimpse, we see Kimi at rest, entertaining a few forest animals with her magical skills.

I’m working on color a color study now and hope to start painting in a few days. Since I only get a limited amount of time to devote to painting each day, I’m guessing this will be my summer. I am looking forward to it!

Hope you have a great week and a Happy Fourth of July!

“Fairy Bunny Eve” Finished Oil Painting


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"Fairy Bunny Eve." (Oil on Panel, 11" x 14")

“Fairy Bunny Eve.” (Oil on Panel, 11″ x 14″)

Above is the finished “Fairy Bunny Eve.” It took me much less time to paint than “Tamias Striatus,” which was similar in amount of detail/complication, but I stopped working on it for a week or so to start working on something else and finished it up Memorial Day Weekend. Now all I have to do is frame it. And that’s going to be a little more difficult than usual, as our frame source has ended. MS used to frame everything at the framing store he used to work at years ago, only paying wholesale prices. So now we have to find a new source that isn’t crazy expensive. And I have to stop painting weird sizes.

To remind yourself what the sketch looked like, go here.

Hope you like it! For my next painting, it seems I’m getting adventurous. At first I wanted to get two more paintings done this summer. But then, I thought, what if I did one painting this summer that was the work of two paintings in one? Larger, with more going on… Anyway, that’s the plan. I’m working on roughs now and I hope it doesn’t take me too long to pin it down, because it’s June!! I SAID…IT’S JUNE!!! Ack! The next animal hero will be a wise ol’ fox.

New (old) flat file cabinets.

New (old) flat file cabinets.

On a side note, because of MS’s old boss selling the shop, we got these wonderful used flat files for the studio! We’ve been wanting these since we each knew flat files existed (which is a pretty darn long time). New ones are crazy expensive and they are heavy and awkward too, so finally the price was right and we had the means of transporting them home. Aren’t they beautiful? It’s always nice to acquire “tools” of our trade that are useful.

Well. That’s all for now! Back to work for me!

On the Easel: Bunny Fairy Eve Painting


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“Bunny Fairy Eve” Pencil on Paper by Gina Matarazzo

Here’s the sketch for “Bunny Fairy Eve.” I just started the painting last week. I am trying to finish the painting by the end of May. We’ll see how it goes.

I thought about my Dad when I was working on this, because he introduced me to drawing when I was two by teaching me to draw Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. Made me wonder if I would still have become an artist had he not spent that special time with me. I do remember being very delighted watching him draw – like he was a magician performing a magic trick. He’d draw usually in felt tip pens with very sure and deliberate strokes like some comic artists do. It was so fun watching each line build upon the others, eventually becoming something familiar and happy to me. He and my Mom told me I used to ask him to draw his caricature of me all the time: “Do Deeny…” I would say (mispronouncing my nickname of Beanie). It was basically a bean shaped face with big eyes and a tiny nose and whatever hair I had at the time of execution. Sure wish I had some of those drawings! He’d draw them on napkins and things like that at the table after dinner, so we never really thought of saving that stuff. He was actually quite good at drawing characters, caricatures and comics. Somewhere we have a comic book he drew when he was young of a roller derby girl, sometime in the late 1940s. Not sure where it went when my parents moved. At any rate, I think I should dedicate this painting to him. Drawing and painting makes me very happy and I owe it all to him.

Kind of funny (odd funny) how those kinds of memories come back and sparkle with so much more meaning and life now that he’s gone. Thanks, Dad.

See you later!

“Queen Birdy” Final Oil Painting


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Finally, our King Birdy has his Queen…

"Queen Birdy" (Oil on Claybord, 6" x 6")

“Queen Birdy” (Oil on Claybord, 6″ x 6″)

birdy pair

Don’t they look happy together? Well, they are keeping up appearances of civility, I suppose. Now that I post this, I think it would be funny to paint a third painting of their heirs…but I need to move on from this! Haha. My natural tendency is to come up with ideas that are a bit humorous and cute, but I have been trying portray a more understated humor in my new work. I often find myself dialing things down a bit. Humorous–but not too funny! Cute–but not too cute!

Oh and in other news…if you didn’t notice, I added an Instagram feed on my blog. I often post in progress shots of what I’m working on that I never publish on the blog, so feel free to follow me there for all the sneak peeks! I tend to tease with Instagram and publish final work on the blog. It just seems to be easier that way.

See you soon! Enjoy your week!

Queen Birdy Sketch


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And so, the lonesome “King Birdy” gets his Queen…

"Queen Birdy" (Pencil on Paper)

“Queen Birdy” (Pencil on Paper)

I’ve already started the painting. I’m trying to make the most of my time by working on this oil painting while simultaneously working up the sketch for the next larger painting involving a very lovely rabbit. That way there’s less time between paintings for me. I mentioned last time how I don’t like that lull. I love working on sketches in general, but when they are complicated – like the rabbit one coming up – I love them even more. I could work on it forever. Drawing is pure fun. And when you work on other people’s ideas all day long, it’s even better when you get to work on your own.

Oh and I got good news this week. There’s an art annual called “Spectrum: The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art,” and I managed to make the final cut this year! This year marks its 22nd year in publication. One of the judges (five judges total) mentioned that there were over 5500 entries this year, so the competition was pretty huge. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to be a judge with such a large amount of work to go through. See me under the “M” section under the artists tab. You can see my hubs’s name in the next column under “S” for Stewart. He usually gets art into this annual. I’ve entered probably 6 times in the last 15 years and this is the first time I got in. Won’t it be funny if our art ends up on the same page? A lot of artists’ work I admire will be in the book too, so it would be super cool to be next to their art too. I don’t know yet what piece got in. MS says they will mail an acceptance letter and tell me what piece to upload to their FTP site. This annual is pretty much an industry standard, so it’s a good thing to get into. The book comes out in November – just in time for my birthday – which is only about eight months away. (Yes – I count down the months until my birthday ALL of the time and I’ll be doing it every year I am lucky enough to get!). 😉

See you most likely after Spring has sprung! Eight more days in these parts!

“King Birdy” Oil Painting


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"King Birdy" (Oil on panel, 6"x6")

“King Birdy” (Oil on panel, 6″x6″)


"King Birdy" (Graphite on Paper)

“King Birdy” (Graphite on Paper)

Well, I’ve been so busy painting that I forgot to post the sketch for this painting before I did the painting! Ha! So here’s the finished oil painting and I threw in the sketch just because I should have done that before. I had great fun painting this fella. The fatness and coloring of his feathers made me think of portraits of medieval kings and/or King Henry VIII. For some reason, I feel strongly that he should have a Queen, so I’ll be working that up soon too. They will make a nice pair, I think.

I’ve been enjoying painting more regularly and I have a big goal this year. I’ll be displaying my work in a great art show in October! More information on that when the time comes nearer. I haven’t had a good goal in quite a while. I find it invigorating!

I’m getting a little ansty/fidgety because I’m still in sketch stages with the Queen Birdy and the next larger painting. I don’t want too much time to pass between paintings. I tend to forget valuable lessons learned rather quickly! On this painting, I put a medium cool ground of acrylic paint underneath the drawing. It made for a much quicker painting in that it prevented me needing to build up layers of color for opacity. It was a welcome change from the Chipmunk painting where I didn’t do that and I had to spend a lot of time building up color. There’s nothing wrong with that process – in fact it can yield glowing results – but for a girl with a full time job, she needs to make good use of every free hour she has available. Especially when most of her free hours are late at night when she’s already tired from designing all day.

Hope everyone has a good week!

See you next time!


Chipmunk Saint Final Oil Painting


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"Tamias Striatus." Oil and gold leaf on claybord panel. 11" x 14."

“Tamias Striatus.” Oil and gold leaf on claybord panel. 11″ x 14.”

“Tamias Striatus.” My little Saint Chipmunk.

I learned a lot with this painting, including how to gold leaf with genuine gold leaf, which is a little trickier than using composition gold leaf. For example, it will stick to parts that you aren’t expecting it to! So if I ever gold leaf a painting again, I’ll most likely gold leaf at the start of the painting. Another reason to gold leaf the area first was that it changed the look of the painting considerably…meaning the color of it made an impact on other colors in the painting. It made such an impact that it required a fair amount of repainting! It’s such a pretty thing to add to a painting. It’s going to be hard to restrain myself from using it more often. I don’t really want to make it a regular thing. But in this case, when I came up with the idea, it was obvious that the halo should be gold leaf. This is my little homage to the little character in our yards that makes a big positive impact on our ecosystem. Good job, little fella, good job!

Have a great Valentine’s Day everyone! Let’s keep the love going all year round.