Solstice Art Challenge! June 20, 2017 17:42

studio drawing table with canvases being prepared
Where most of the work happens--my studio drawing table

Extended art-every-day projects are difficult for me at this time in my life, but I would like to give myself a little Solstice push through the end of the month. So every day for the next 10 days, I'll be creating a new 6 x 6" painting!  When it's done, I'll post it on Instagram for you to purchase for only $50.  If you're not already following me, I am LeaKArts.  

May your Summer be full of Art!

Generations - Mother, Maiden, Crone May 23, 2017 12:14

Mother Maiden Crone Moon Painting by Lea K Tawd
"Generations (Mother, Maiden, Crone), 12 x 12" mixed media on wood by Lea K. Tawd

We hear stories of artists, especially sculptors, looking into their raw material and seeing what it wants to become.  My painting process is also very intuitive. My first step is always painting the wood grain so that it will stand out.  This is a meditative time for me, during which I begin to feel out the image that wants to exist on the wood.  After the wood grain is prepared, I often add collage elements, and then draw out the picture.  After drawing, I add more collage, paint, ink, stamping, and whatever else the piece calls for.  

This painting, however, was calling to me before I even touched it.  The wood grain was shaped in such a way that I could already see these women standing before each other.  Each of their bodies is actually a shape in the grain, just the way it was before I added the smallest drop of paint.  These are generations of women standing before each other in Time.  Grandmother, mother, daughter; daughters all.  They are also the archetypal Women, the Mother, Maiden, and Crone, standing in their feminine power and wisdom before the crescent moon, with a starry compass to guide them.

If this piece is calling to you as loudly as it called to me, you can take a closer look and purchase it HERE.

Custom Portraits February 24, 2017 13:09

I wrote this piece for the Artistic Portland blog, but wanted to share it with you here as well:  


Have you ever considered buying a custom portrait but felt nervous about the price or the process?  I would like to share my process with you so that you can see how fun it is, and worth the cost for a personal piece of art for your home or as a memorable gift. 


family portrait by Lea K. Tawd

"Rita, Chris, and Rory" 10 x 10" by Lea K. Tawd

The most important thing you can do before you get started is shop around and find an artist whose work really resonates with you. As a portrait artist, the first thing I want to do is make sure that you are in love with my artistic style so that you will be in love with your painting!  I have lots of artistic skills and capabilities, but what is fulfilling for me about painting portraits is that I get to put YOU in one of MY paintings!  My style is whimsical and feminine, and my people are very stylized.  If you are looking for a realistic portrait, there's nothing wrong with that, but I am not the artist for you.  

The next thing you'll want to look into is the price.  My prices start by the square inch, so I can send a price list at your request.  This will help you choose a size that fits your home and your budget.  We will both sign a very simple contract to agree on any special requests and a date that I will need to finish by, and I'll ask for 1/2 of the price up front. 


Portrait Process - laying out the composition
Then we are ready to get started!  I'll send you a photo whenever I get to a "point of no return"--a part of the painting that can't be changed once I move to the next step.  I'll start with a simple composition in charcoal, which can be wiped away easily. 


Portrait Process - sketching out details
Then, working from photos that you have sent to me, I will fill in the details so that the subjects will resemble themselves.  I am not trying for realism, but I do want to capture their basic features and a "feeling" of the person I am painting.


Portrait Process -beginning painting
Next I'll start to add some color.  I'll go back and reference your photos throughout the process, and each time I send you a photo I will wait for your approval before I move on.


portrait process - getting all of the color down
I prefer to paint my subjects with their eyes closed.  When it is just one person, it gives them a sense of introspection and a moment of quiet.  When it is a group of people, it shows them really feeling the intimacy of the moment, enjoying each other's presence. 



Mother and babies New Mom portrait  by Lea K. Tawd
"Julia, Fiona, and Natalia," 2016. 11 x 14" By Lea K. Tawd
A few final details, and it's finished!  I'll send you a final photo to approve, sign the back and add a wire so that you can hang it as soon as it arrives.  My paintings are on a solid wood panel, with a 1.5" thick cradle on the back, so there is no need for a frame. 


The time it takes from start to finish depends on several things--my schedule, the time of the year, whether or not you have a deadline, and the size and scope of the project.  We'll talk about all of that when we get started and I will keep you updated if anything changes.  
Many of these steps will be similar with any custom work that I or another artist does for you.  I hope that seeing them laid out this way helps you to feel more comfortable with the possibility of purchasing custom art for your home!  I am always open to answering questions, and will gladly send a price list without any pressure to buy.  Just email me at

Off the Walls! December 31, 2016 20:25

Artist Lea K. Tawd's work at Off the Walls! Gallery in Shelton, WA
Photo by Shelly Barnett

It's been such a busy year that I forgot to tell you some exciting news!  Over the summer my art was picked up by the lovely Shelly Barnett, owner of Off the Walls! Gallery in Shelton, WA.  She is carrying some of my prints and cards, as well as ALL of my art dolls and some of my best original paintings!  So if you are taking a drive through Washington, be sure to stop by Shelton and adopt some art.  

Located at 703 W. Railroad Ave., Shelton, WA 98584


Siren Nation's Celebration! November 01, 2016 17:06

Siren Nation's Celebration! with painting of women by Portland artist Lea K. Tawd
This Thursday!  Come see my painting "Sisters," (pictured above--see all the detail in person!), at the kick off to the 10th Annual Siren Nation Fest, "Celebration!".  The opening includes 65 local women artists filling the walls at the Antoinette Hatfield Hall/Potland 5's Center for the Arts. The opening is from 5-8pm
While you're out and about for 1st Thursday downtown, be sure to walk a few blocks over to 318 SW Taylor and check out Artistic Portland!  I recently joined this co-op of over 50 artists and artisans, and you can find our work there along with refreshments, plus samples from House Spirits Distillery.  

Exquisite Moon June 20, 2016 17:07


I made this for you! 

I've been learning how to make animated gifs (I know, about a decade or so late..), so I thought it would be fun to show you my latest painting, "Exquisite Moon," in progress. Plus, sparkles in the end!

I am sorry to say that the original painting does not literally sparkle. But the moon is a gorgeous shiny rose-gold (rose-gold, that is an Official Art color for sure!) that I cannot stop looking at, and the little energy-spirit-nebulas around her body were so much fun to make.  

She would really, really like to come live with you!  She will enliven your walls and remind you to be your beautiful self.  You can see more and purchase "Exquisite Moon" right HERE.

Remember to Breathe June 14, 2016 16:33

Beautiful woman painting "Breathe" by Lea K. Tawd

I few days ago, I had a big plan for what I was going to write about for this post.

But right now, nothing sounds right.  With nearly 50 people dead and their mothers wringing the tears out of their own hearts. With another 50 hospitalized. With their families and friends, communities throughout the world crying our days away. Pulled towards the news trying to make sense of it all, finally turning the news off because there is no sense, only anger and sadness.

Forget my plans for what I was going to write.  I just want to share this painting to everyone who needs a reminder to breathe today, including myself.  The world is overwhelming right now.  

I do everything in my power to encourage my children to be themselves in every way. To let them know that I love them inside and out.  I try to keep my fears to myself because I don't want to hinder them.  But I am afraid.  Who knows what dangers they face as they go about their daily lives?  Give your children, your friends, your spouse or partner a hug.  Give yourself a hug.  Don't let the world stifle you.  


Remember to breathe.



Buddy Bench Friendship Mural April 24, 2016 07:00

Have you ever heard of a Buddy Bench?  Neither had I, until I was contacted by Buckman Elementary school to paint a friendship-themed mural behind one. 

My daughter and her buddy on the bench in front of my mural

At first I thought it was a bench for making up after an argument, but it is so much sweeter than that!  When a child is feeling lonely on the playground, she can go sit on the buddy bench.  Then the other children will come over and talk to her, hang out, and include her in their games.  

I wanted to create something that was simple but would add a lot of color to the playground and make the bench more inviting.  A teacher at the school suggested that I include the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The only way to have a friend is to be one."

Here are some photos of the mural from start to finish:

buddy bench at Buckman Elementary

start of mural behind buddy bench at buckman elementary in portland, or

work in progress friendship mural at buckman elemetary buddy bench portland, or

wip buddy bench friendship mural by Portland, OR artist Lea K. Tawd

Friendship Mural behind Buddy Bench by Portland, OR artist Lea K. Tawd

Do you know a wall that needs a mural?  You can always reach me at for more information and pricing. 

Thistle January 27, 2016 14:55

Girl in a blue dress holding a thistle Art by Lea K. Tawd

My first painting of the year, "Thistle," is a small one at 8 x 10 inches.  

I had so much fun being painterly with her blue dress, I think I'll be doing more of that. I have been working with a dry brush technique for so long that I almost forgot what it was like to work into lots of wet paint! 

I rarely consider symbolism before I paint, so it is interesting to go back and wonder what my subconscious was doing while I was working.  To me, it is the same as interpreting my dreams--dreams that I had while I was awake.

I've been playing a lot with white hair on young-looking women.  My 40th birthday is in a couple of weeks, so I think this one is pretty straightforward.  It is a transitional time for me. I am still feeling young but aging , starting to feel time in a bit of a different way.  Plus, I love how elegant and Victorian the white hair looks.  I wish my own hair would skip the salt and pepper and go straight to white! 

Then there is the thistle.  Why a thistle? I've never given them much thought before and I couldn't come up with any particular reason why I would have her hold a thistle--it was just something that came to me while I was working, so I went with it like I normally do when something wants to show its face in one of my paintings.

Since thistles don't mean much to my conscious mind (except yum, artichokes!), I did a little research to see if they have any symbolism.  They are a symbol of protection in Scotland and France, and also represent pain, hardship, perseverance...

Perseverance. That's the one for me.  Finding a way to survive and even flower in hard times. It is so important to me to find a way to follow my passion no matter what else is happening in my life.  

 If you need a reminder of how strong you are even through hard times, you can make this painting your own.  Just click Here.

The Perfect Gift January 17, 2016 03:00

Mother and child portrait by Portland artist Lea K. Tawd

Over the holidays, I had the honor and pleasure of painting this sweet mama and child portrait of some friends of ours.  I worked from a series of photos of them combined with a healthy dose of my own signature style. 

In my regular work, my figures usually come from my mind, with some occasional photo references when I am struggling with a certain angle or detail.  I like working with photos, though, and especially love the challenge of getting someone's features right for a portrait while staying true to my artistic voice.  Being able to do this for a friend made it even more exciting and heartfelt.  

Do you want to see yourself or someone you love in one of my mixed media paintings? I have 2 portrait openings available for Valentine's Day! Contact me at for details and a price list.



Happy New Year! January 10, 2016 03:00

planning 2016
I'm a week late getting to a New Year's post, but that's how life feels right now. Everything is a week late. Scratch that. Time? It is more elusive than ever.  It comes and goes on its own schedule with no regard for me. Mostly it goes and goes and goes and I am unaware of where I stand with it.  I just had to check the date in my planner to see that I was actually a week behind the New Year in my head.  Such is life with a toddler.

That may sound really negative, and sometimes it is. It's frustrating to have tons of ideas and by the time I execute them it is too late for whatever intended deadline.  But on the days when I can just go with the flow, it is freeing to live on the time of a small person as she learns and grows so quickly.  She doesn't care about time.  She only cares about stretching her little mind and body to it's limits, always pushing to grow, grow, grow. No matter how I look at it, it has been about 2 years since I was seriously able to focus on my art on a regular basis.  I want to get back into a routine so that my art and my business can begin to grow again.

So I've spent the last week mapping out the year, art goals, marketing goals, show goals.  I started a small group of other artists to share goals with and keep each other on track.  I am reading "Big Magic" to light a fire under my soul as I go.

I have some exciting goals and so much art that I can't wait to share with you! 

If you are a parent of a little one, how do you keep up with your own needs?  If you run your own business, how do you hold yourself accountable?  

On the Easel - The Old Becomes the New October 12, 2015 14:09

beautiful woman painting in progress by Lea K. Tawd
"In Time," 2009/2015 Mixed Media on found wood
I am honored and excited to be invited back to the Siren Nation Fest's annual visual art show.  This year the theme is "Paths to the Pacific Northwest."
My entry is a piece I started in 2009, shortly after I began almost exclusively painting on wood.  Entitled, "In Time," I think it is especially appropriate to go back and rework her--not just for this show, but for myself.  
"In Time," before re-working.
I have always liked this piece, but also felt there was something missing.  I have no problem with shy, but she was too shy, shrinking into the background, maybe even wishing to disappear.  A feeling I have had myself sometimes, and one that I don't wish to dwell on or to feel again.  She needed some oomph, a little push out of her shell.  Still introverted, but powerful and brave.
Her hair was black, and now it is white.  She has aged but is not older.  Her spirit is stronger.  She is ready to come back out into the world.  
Come and meet her on November 5th at the Albina Press.

Studio Time for Mama June 03, 2015 01:08

How is a mama to get time to herself?  With a busy now-13-month old running around, it's not easy.  She is busy, busy, busy being a little scientist, undoing most of the work I try to get done around the house, and clinging to me like a cute little monkey when I attempt to leave the room.  Think, mama monkey swinging through the trees, baby monkey holding on as tight as she can so she doesn't fall.  Yep, that's what we're going through right now.  Normally she loves the shopping cart at the grocery store, but on our last trip she screamed whenever I tried to put her in, and even wanted to nurse halfway through shopping, just like when she was a teeny tiny newborn.  It's a 13 month old thing.

And studio time?  Yeah, no.  Don't get me wrong.  We spend a little time in my studio most days.  She likes to climb up the steps, keys in hand, and attempt to unlock the door herself. I can do a bit of straightening up or hang half of a curtain while she gets into my old business cards, spreads them around the place and finally gets bored and starts to chew one of them up.  We do some coloring and exploring together.  But I'm not going to get any of my own art done with her in there, not at this phase.  

So, at the beginning of Summer, we bit the bullet and started her at the sweetest little Montessori daycare part time.  She loves it there, her teachers are fantastic, and she has learned and grown SO MUCH in these past two months.  For a few hours a couple of times a week, I feel like I am getting my life back on track.  I absolutely love my days with her, AND I am in such great and terrible need of some art-making and of getting my business back together so I can feel like myself again. 

Because let's be honest for a second. Children are wonderful and beautiful and amazing, curious, busy, snuggly (I live on her snuggles right now)...and exhausting.  Whatever life you had before is completely changed, and it is HARD.  And that's ok.  I am the kind of person who needs a lot of time to myself, and I haven't had that time in many, many months.  I am a person who needs to make art or I feel like my soul is withering.  It's ok to love your kids and to need time away from them.  It's a funny thing about being a mom--all of these contradictory emotions co-exist.  It seems like you wouldn't be able to feel so grateful for snuggles and at the same time an incredible urge for some time alone.  But you can.

How do you make time time for the things you are passionate about?  I would love to know.