The Creative Brain and Bunny Painting


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Finally finished this little painting a week or so ago:


Sophia Zettericini, con Torta (Oil on paper, 3.25″ x 5.5″)

Here it is in its intended frame:


She is for sale, framed, btw. Contact me if you’re interested. ūüôā

Part of what I love about working as a creative is what it does to my brain.

There’s a weird phenomenon that happens that I can kind of feel. Well, maybe it’s not a feeling, but a sense that things are popping or bubbling into existence. This happens at different times. It’s kind of like a fuzzy picture coming into focus in my mind’s eye and then boom…there it is. I think it’s at its peak for me when I’m trying to come up with an idea for a picture. And then it continues as I’m painting something from nothing into something. A painting and its imagery is really just illusion come into a form our brains can recognize symbolically. So when a painting is finished, the challenge for me is whether it lived up to the expectations I had while the idea was in my head.

It happens to me all day as I’m trying to come up with decisions and ideas while designing books. But it’s the most challenging for me when I’m working on making pictures. I love collecting ideas and figuring out how to finesse things together. It’s such a creative mess and I love untangling it!

What do you love about the creative process?




On Personal Happiness and New Sketch


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As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look once in a while, you could miss it.” And that’s why from time to time, I check in with myself to make sure I’m happy. I never want to wake up some morning and realize I haven’t been true to myself. (Sure, we are rarely¬†100% happy with everything going on¬†in our lives at any given time, but as long as the happy-o-meter tips toward mostly happy, that’s sufficient to me).

One of the most eye opening thoughts about leading a happy life was something I came across randomly. The person mentioned that there are two facets of happiness: Enrichment – the feeling that comes from love, relationships, family, friends, and Fulfillment – the feeling that comes from personal growth and achievement from your life’s work, career or other personal accomplishments. That was kind of an a-ha moment for me because “they” (you know, who they are) say that family and relationships¬†are¬†the most important things for happiness as though you should never want for anything else. So if you do “want for something else” there is basically¬†something wrong with you or you don’t value the people in your life enough. IT’S SO¬†NOT TRUE. For me, it’s definitely¬†the difference between enrichment and fulfillment. We all need love, but we all need to feel a sense of fulfillment from the work we do because…well…simply…in this life we need to work to live. That’s a lot of time that needs to be spent away from family, so it should be spent on something worthwhile! If we could spend all of our time with our families, perhaps¬†that would be enough. But we can’t, so we also need¬†personal fulfillment.

And this really isn’t limited to a career. It could be volunteering and doing charity work or a¬†fierce¬†love of quilting. It’s just something you do on your own that gives you a profound¬†sense of accomplishment.

This may not be how I will assess my¬†happiness in the future, but for now, it works for me. I do believe that the Eastern philosophical notion of contentment through just “being” is probably the higher road to aspire to, but I admit that I’m just not evolved enough yet as a human to pull that off. Maybe someday.

In the meantime, I will “do” and enjoy working. Here’s a sneak peek at a new painting I’m starting soon…


Do you check in with yourself once in a while to make sure you are doing well and on the right track? How do you measure your level of contentment? What contributes to your happy meter?

New Print and New Way to Work


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I’m trying not to look too much at the calendar and how much I hope to get accomplished by the IX 10 show in October. I’m a little horrified that it’s already April. Ack! I think I spent too much time thinking. ¬†I also wanted to try doing Dragoncon¬†this year, but Matt reminded me that I already am at full capacity just with the one show. It’s true. Ah maybe next year.
Things are exciting lately for me in the studio, though. I’m working a little differently, with a medium that takes a bit longer to dry, which now means I have to work on multiple paintings at once, so while one painting is drying, I have something else to work on. On the one hand, it’s a little frustrating to have to wait longer for things to dry, but on the other hand, it forces me to be more productive in getting new ideas worked out. I admit that if I don’t have a new idea worked out by the time I finish a painting, it takes me twice as long to come up with something new. Always happens to me! I think this might help keep the momentum going a little better. Momentum brings out the creative sparks in me. So this past week I’ve been focusing on two new sketches and dragging my feet on my current painting, because I also hate finishing one without having a new one on the board ready to go. If all goes well, by the end of next week, I’ll be able to start on two new paintings. It will certainly be a juggling act. But hey, that’s my life anyways.
I just received new¬†prints this week of “Henrietta, in Her Wildest Dreams.” They are 12″ x 18″ and signed. Go here to purchase if you so desire. Perfect for your Frenchie loving pal’s birthday!
Well, I’ve a schedule to keep. Back to work!

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 ‚Äď 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! ūüėČ


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‚Äôs the sketch for ‚ÄúBunny Fairy Eve.‚ÄĚ I just started the painting last week. I am trying to finish the painting by the end of May. We‚Äôll 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 ‚Äď like he was a magician performing a magic trick. He‚Äôd 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: ‚ÄúDo Deeny…‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôd 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‚Äôt 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‚Äďbut not too funny! Cute‚Äďbut not too cute!

Oh and in other news…if you didn‚Äôt notice, I added an Instagram feed on my blog. I often post in progress shots of what I‚Äôm 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!