*Animalitos – Updated Course Page






Hello and welcome to my very first mini mojo online workshop!

I am very excited to offer the first in what will be a series of self-paced online Mini workshops, each based around a common theme.

The videos will be yours to keep forever and I have also provided some helpful notes and prompts to compliment each tutorial.

If this is your first time learning with me, WELCOME!!!

I applaud your willingness and desire to rekindle your creative mojo! 

You may find my teaching style a little different as essentially I am taking you along on a little ride into my creative process as my art pieces unfold, and hoping that my journey will inspire your own.

I encourage you to practice outside the box thinking, listen to your intuition and add in a dash of your own perspective to come up with your own fun take on these tutorials.

Watch them over and over, practice the techniques I show you and use them as a launching platform to find your own creative magic!

I am a HUGE advocate for the amazing, wonderful, unique gifts we all bring to the table and my biggest desire is to help you rediscover and bring forth your own creative voice. 

Note * Although this is not a structured course with weekly assignments (more of a video purchase with accompanying notes), I have decided to start an FB group for my Mini Mojos as I feel that community is a massive part of our creative growth!

You can find our group here.

Can’t wait to see your amazing animalitos emerge!

Lots of love Tracy






*substrates: 2 12×12 canvases, plywood boards, cradleboard or similar

*large sheet of  watercolour paper, or mixed media paper ~  I use cold pressed. Exact size not important. This exercise could even work on several smaller sheets.

*mixed media pad – I use THESE

*regular cartridge paper or any old sketchbook for practicing ink techniques

*piece of cardboard from a cardboard box, approx 8×11

*an assortment of markers – NB: you don’t need to have them all. Work with what you have and watch the videos first to see what appeals to you. I use a variety of the following to show you different effects: gelly roll pens, Deco colours acrylic paint pens, dark brown and other felt markers, Sharpie pens. (White gel pen is a must.)

*various brushes – a wide flat brush (I use a Renoir 2 inch), watercolour brush (no. 11), cheap flat foam brushes, bamboo skewers

*stabilo pencil

*watercolor pencils – I use Derwent

*pastel pencils

*white oil pastel

*acrylic inks – my favorites are FW Daler Rowney acrylic inks (29.5 ml – 1 oz): white and various colours. My latest faves are Flame Orange, Antelope Brown, Paynes Grey, Marine Blue, Indigo, Olive Green, Quinacridone Magenta, Pyrle Orange, Quanicridone Nickel Azo Gold

*collage ephemera

*gel medium or matte medium for collage

*heavy bodied acrylic white and various other heavy bodied acrylics if you have them on hand (optional)

*black gesso

*view finder – made by cutting two L-shapes into paper or cardboard



Image source: http://www.hgtv.com

Now… Lets get started! 


header_inky animalitos1


Let’s have some time to play, to warm up, to experiment and get to know the inks!  

I have collected a few of our animalitos from around our casa to inspire and help us to begin .


Let’s start by loosening up! One of the best ways I know is to begin with just water and a wide flat brush.

If the idea of trying to paint invisible animals with water terrifies you just start with some little watery shapes and experiment with dripping the inks into them. I’m sure you will find little creature potential without even trying! 

I am working on a heavy piece of watercolour paper, but you might like to practice on some cheaper paper until you get the hang of the technique. 

We are going to start with a simple shape of a small owl, using a cheap craft foam brush. Work the shape of the form onto your paper with just a little water on your brush. Lets make several to practice! Choose an ink colour and lightly touch the dropper to the edge of the damp owl shape. I LOVE that part! Seeing the colour magically spread onto the paper! Try a couple of colours in each shape to see how they merge. Make mental (or actual) notes on the combos you like best. You can also use a small brush to gently move the ink around but be careful no to overdo, instead make use of the inks natural movement. Leave your owls to dry for a while and move your attention to another part of the paper.  

Using your own animal inspiration or my images above, begin adding in some new forms. You might work towards a whole cohesive painting or you may want to just use the large sheet to practice individual forms. You can always use a viewfinder later to crop into the areas that have worked out the best.  

Once you have finished adding in your animal forms, you can work with creating an environment for them to live in. I added in some foliage from my imagination, but you can also look at a picture for reference or even go for a walk around your garden for inspiration.   

Try to stick with using your larger brush to avoid becoming tight! 

*TIP : When working with a colour use it in several areas of the painting. Repetition of colour and other elements brings cohesion to a composition.  

Texture can also be added by a sprinkling of rock salt on areas of wet paint or a few drops of isopropyl alcohol. (The rock salt is left on until the piece is dry and then flicked off to find the textural effect beneath)       

Cast your eye around your page often to see the movement of the paint, whether parts need blending or whether they need to dry before being re-worked.  

A bamboo skewer can be used to move ink from one area to another and add some subtle patterns or marks. 

Once you are happy with the overall layout, let it sit for a while to dry!  

Notice what areas work and know that you have options!  

You can now work in some pattern and line with gelly roll markers, sharpies, pencil work, gel pens, paint pens or watercolour pencils.  

What lights you up? What feels right and real for you?  

I want to work in some facial features; this can be done by working with our watercolour pencil and wetting the lines with a wet brush. Also you can try working with bolder lines with a gel pen.  I encourage you to work from a reference picture, if you wish for a bit of guidance.  

You may prefer subtle markings or more over the top patterning, bright colours or earthy tones. The choice is yours! 

I personally love diversity in my works so will often leave some areas less busy and others more decorative. 

*Remember this is fun playful practice! There are no grades and no expectations of perfection. Look for solutions to problems rather than deciding to toss the whole thing. Look how I solved the odd looking cat/sun/lion with a tree and remember viewfinders can be used to isolate areas that are working best! 



Video password: inky_animals

To view the video in Vimeo and to download, please click here




Lets stay loosened up with ink!

There are infinite possibilities with these luscious inks: layering them, drawing over them, adding resist beneath with oil pastels or wax crayons. Lets keep it simple to begin with…            

There is a common misconception that if you can’t draw a particular image from your imagination you are not a “real” artist!

Lets throw that one out the window once and for all, shall we? Drawing is a learned skill, one which, like anything else we seek to become proficient at, requires practice.

Whether you practice by viewing the world around you, using reference photos or emulating other artworks to better understand the process it is all a valid way forward. A curious mind is always the key and an eventual desire to take what you have learned and bring it forward with your own personal twist, and yes, this does take time!

Learning about your subject – Elephants.

In this first video I talk about the differences between Asian and African elephants. Here are the images I used which do a great job in explaining the differences between the two species of these magnificent creatures.





Image Source: : www.elephanttag.org


If this is your first time using the acrylic inks you may want to practice on some cheaper cartridge paper to get the hang of using the dropper. Very little pressure is needed to get the ink out onto the paper and a little goes a LONG way! When you feel confident enough with the dropper, you can move onto your mixed media paper. You’ll see the difference in how the more expensive paper absorbs and allows the ink to spread.

Have your reference images nearby and to start, spend a little time tracing the line of the elephant on the reference photo to get the overall shape of the elephant in your mind. Do this as many times as it takes to feel freed up and confident. 

Take a deep breath and a clean piece of paper.

Grab your flat brush, making sure there is not too much water on it. Squeeze off the excess water on the edge of your water container. Start by painting the overall shape with water. You are free to start where you would like on the outline, I am going to start with the head, with the bumps, the ears and working my way down the body of the elephant.

Making sure you don’t have too much ink in your dropper, hover your dropper over the wet shape. Lightly touch the edge of the wet shape with the dropper. You will see the ink spread immediately. Continue outlining the shape with the dropper. 

You will notice what happens when you give it the tiniest squeeze. Be aware that you don’t have to outline the whole figure with bold lines. I much prefer the hit and miss line and personally feel it makes for a more pleasing sketch. You can then take out a smaller brush and move around some of the wet areas to create some tone in the body of your elephant.


Elephant Ink sketch part 2

Start off with a clean sheet of paper, your large flat brush, a clean jar of water and your reference picture of the African elephant.  Once again you will be creating an outline of the figure with water. Using fresh eyes for the African elephant as the features are different from the Asian elephant, here we are exercising our observation skills too.

Breathe deeply and work slowly. There is no rush 🙂

*At any time if you need to pick up any of the excess ink, use some of your paper towel and just dab.

Remember this is all practice and play. We are not aiming for perfection or an outstanding finished piece. We are aiming to learn something new.

Once again making sure there isn’t too much ink in the dropper, lightly make the outline of the African elephant. Remember to look at your reference photo every now and then for guidance with the light and dark areas. The Stabilo pencil can be used like a watercolour pencil to feel our way around some of the features of the elephant; the eyes and the deep wrinkles on the trunk .

Be aware and embrace the variations in your tone. Try to keep your line work loose and free, bringing in more definition in some areas.

You might choose to leave your pencil lines defined or work into them with a little water.

Remember no self judgement allowed! Look at my wonky little elephants! This is purely an exercise in getting to know how an elephant looks and how to begin to use those inks!!

After drying time lets work some more!

First the little Asian elephant. Mine is looking rather cute and chubby!

Let’s try and bring in some line work with your white gelly roll pen. You can use this as a tool to make corrections over some of the ink spills and for bringing in a little definition. If you work quickly you can use your small brush to soften the lines a little. To add some dark areas you could also use your pencil and soften the line with a damp brush.          

Back to the African Elephant ….

I decide here to not add much as I feel that there is a beauty and softness to the fluidity of this one.

I do make a decision however to bring in some white ink around the elephant and make an adjustment to his ear in this way.

*TIP: Working with a large brush will keep you free and loose! Resorting to a smaller detail brush could mean that your work (and YOU) begin to tighten up and for this little exercise we are trying to avoid that 🙂

To add some details use your stabilo pencil. If you want to keep the rawness of the drawn line, don’t add any water to the mix. To keep the looseness but add some diversity and highlights, you can get out your wooden skewer and work in some lighter tones with some white ink.

If you feel like the skewer lines need softening, you can use a small brush and a little water.

Most of all HAVE FUN!!!



Elephant ink sketch part 1


 Video password: elephantlove

To view the video in vimeo and to download, please click here

Elephant Ink sketch part 2

Video password: africanelephant

To view the video in vimeo and to download, please click here






Overwhelmingly my elephant paintings have been the most popular of my animal series with the kitties coming in a close second. In this project I’d like to share with you one of the ways I like to paint these majestic animals.

We will be using one of our inky sketches or an image found online as a reference for light and shade. A simple google search will come up with some great images and there are many great elephant boards on Pinterest also. We are not making copies of these images, just using them as reference for body shapes and characteristics and for a little help with tone.

You can work on a canvas or ply board for this project. I prefer to work on the harder ply surface when I am using mixed media elements. Firstly apply a coat of gesso to your board or canvas. Once that is dry we are going to add some collage elements. You can use a matte medium, gel medium or  PVA glue; whatever you have at hand to glue the pieces down.

Go through your pile of collage pieces and find pieces you like that work in interesting ways together. You may like to work within a simple colour palette choosing just a few colours. I like to have a variety of pattern, text, old artworks, textural scrapbook papers.

Adding pieces to the board is as easy as a layer of gel medium on the board, paper down and then a layer of gel medium on top of the paper.  You can also use an old credit card or brayer to smooth out any creases and excess medium.

Bear in mind when positioning your collage elements that the elephants face will be fairly centred.

Let your collaged board dry completely.

One of the things I love about laying down collaged elements first is that it gives me visual prompts that help me to move forward.

In this piece I have kept with a limited palette of greens, slight touches of pink, dark and light. I decide that I am going to let that foundation guide me with my selection of paint colours.

On my Palette is :

Quinacridone magenta

Heavy bodied acrylic white

Daler Rowney FW Olive ink

My intention when using collage is to allow it to be an integral part of the work, but not be just a collage but rather blend into the overall painting, adding subtle patterning and textural elements.

Once the collage medium is completely dry you can begin to apply paint spontaneously in some areas, using a brayer to spread and watching for happy accidents. Notice how spreading the paint with the brayer produces a thin transparent coat over the collage elements that push them back.

Next I play with a little olive green ink, dripping and spraying, then using a brush to move the ink. I also bring in a third color, marine blue in the ink and add some more patterns and lines. Keep the colours in this first layer fairly separate with just a little mingling. Use paper towels to selectively lift any areas that are too heavy with colour or to bring back any interesting collage elements you wish to see.

Let the paint dry completely.

Turn the substrate several times to decide what would be the most pleasing direction to create your ellie. Once you have decided use a piece of regular blackboard chalk to make a rough outline. This line can be wiped off with a damp paper towel.

Once you are happy with your drawing block out the background with a loose application of heavy bodied paint. You can choose any colour. For this softer piece I am starting with white. Feel free to leave some little peek through’s to the underlayer.

Bring in some subtle shading into the face and body of your elephant using a blend of white, pthalo turquoise and a darker paint to compliment your palette. Use a dark ink or paint like Paynes Grey for the eyes and strongest line work.

Keep the paint thin with water and a wet brush. I often have a clean dry brush nearby to blend out any heavier lines before they dry too solidly.

Don’t be afraid to really push the contrast, deepening the darks and brightening the whites as you go.

Sometimes I look to the patterns on my collaged pieces to give me inspiration, duplicating shapes or patterns I see in other areas.

Use a sharpie or a gelly roll to work on the eyes and the wrinkles around them, making sure that you are happy with the shape and placement. Continue working with your light and mid tones around the eyes and face to bring expression and life to your little elephant.

Use a dry brush and scumbling technique to blend together different areas of colour and to add texture in some areas.

Once this layer is dry have fun with adding other patterns and designs using stencils, stamps, paint or freehand drawing with gel pens and/or markers.

Add some fun elements into the background area: flowers, plants, sun, etc., using the same colours to bring cohesion to the overall painting.

At this point you may need to work another layer of transparent glazed paints (same colours as the first layer) for a better transition of light, mid to darker tones. I generally just use water to thin down the Golden fluids and acrylic inks but you could also experiment with other glazing mediums.

Now for the fun part! Add in as many decorative designs and patterns as you like with paint markers and gel pens until your festive elephant is ready to celebrate!



 Video Password: elephanto

To view the video in Vimeo and to download, please click here





After a fun day at Taronga Park Zoo with Sienna I chose this wonderful image of a tiger to inspire an artwork.

Over the past 16 years I have explored many different directions, as a way of arriving at my own style. I continue to explore and evolve and consider myself a lifelong learner. Currently, I am focusing both on expanding my knowledge of creating abstract works and, simultaneously working on ways to combine realistic and abstract elements within the same work. This project is a part of that personal exploration. Hope you enjoy!

*I encourage you to paint and practice on anything, all types of substrates. For this piece I am using a piece of cardboard cut from an old box flap.

I decide to keep this piece more neutral than my regular works and begin with some neutral collage elements. I sometimes like my collage ephemera to have some kind of link to the subject matter so for this piece I use rice paper from an old Indian journal and a page of text from a  dictionary, with the word tiger on it. Other times I pick random pieces of unrelated collage and allow them to help me shape a new story.

Set aside until the piece is completely dry before working on the next stage.

I want my drawing to be very loose and un-contained.

Using various markers, inks and other drawing tools I work quickly and without censorship, open to making marks and losing them again, having any corrections become a part of the unfolding story of this piece.

Please watch the video several times and make notes to help you better understand the process I am working with.

Many times if I feel myself getting tight I use my fingers. Here I bring in some white, around the tiger and for highlights.

Use gel pens or smaller paint markers for details such as eyes and markings and for highlights. Focus on creating a central more realistic area, moving outwards into a more abstracted image. Make corrections as you need to, as I do with the eyes when I realize that the shape is incorrect.

Try this method with different animal images! I cant wait to see what you come up with!



  Video Password: inthejungle

To view the video in vimeo and to download, please click here





For this fun piece we are going to gesso a 12×12” piece of ply, cradleboard or canvas with a coat of black gesso and then allow it to fully dry.

Choose a color to apply a loose first layer of paint. I used light pthalo turquoise in heavy bodied Golden Acrylic. Make sure to leave some irregular black space around the paint for some delicious contrast early in the piece.

Choose a harmonious color in ink or acrylic and apply on top of the other color, blending in some areas. Wipe back any excess paint/ink with a paper towel.

Paint in some loose shapes around the edges with water to suggest flowers and drop inks into these shapes.

I use several colours from the Daler Rowney FW pearlescent acrylic ink range and also some white. Stay loose and don’t make your flower shapes too contrived. Add a little splatter if you wish.

Use a skewer to move the ink around the board creating some more delicate marks in areas.

NOTE: Consider that at any point in any of these projects you might want to explore other directions, or feel that a piece might be finished half way through watching a video. Your voice is what is important here. Begin to make lists of the things that light you up.

What are your passions, what colors do you gravitate towards?

How do you take the things you have learnt from various teachers and bring them forth in a new way? I purchased the black gesso and first used it in a workshop given by my friend Orly Avineri, one of the most gifted teachers and artists I know. You can find her HERE

Play with applying the ink in different ways. Use the dropper to create a drawn line. Pull some ink out with a twig or bamboo skewer for a finer line. Try working with other tools for a drawn line over some parts of the more fluid flowers. You could try out gel pens, markers, pencils and paint pens.

Collect leaves from nature as reference and add some leaf designs in using a small brush.

Continue to layer inks and acrylics alternating between more flowing and more defined shapes. Allow for drying time between layers.

Use a rag or paper towel to dab areas of wet ink and allow some of the underlayers to show through.

If you feel the piece beginning to lose its spontaneity, dip your fingers in the paint for a little while to bring in some playful marks.

Add some deeper tones to some of the bottom edges of the flowers and blend with the other tones using a small brush or your fingers.

Experiment with paint pens and a drawn line, overlapping shapes as you go.

Add white ink to the mix to make some areas really pop!

As we did with our Elephant Love project grab some white blackboard chalk and play with the different orientations of your board to see where your kitty will be best placed. Make sure that your piece is completely dry before adding in the chalk lines.

Look for the quieter areas as more suitable paces to bring in the facial features.

Consider the negative spaces (the shapes around your kitty) as equally as important when sketching in your chalk outline.

Note: As I mentioned earlier you may feel at any time during these tutorial videos that your piece is already finished in which case you might not choose to move forward with the next steps.

What I want to offer most in my video tutorials are prompts, suggestions and possibilities for you to create your own artwork rather than exact instructions to duplicate mine. 

If you have chosen to move ahead and create a kitty form you can now choose a background colour (I am using Golden fluid in green gold and white heavy bodied acrylic) to block out everything that is not the cat. Leave some openings so as not to lose every interesting part of the background. You can also scratch through with your bamboo skewer, which will add more diversity to your marks.

Once the background paint is dry you can remove the chalk lines with a damp brush or paper towel.

Now its up to you! Bring in some whimsical or more realistic facial features with markers of your choice.

Consider the overall feel of your piece so far. Is it bold and playful, vibrant and intense, soft and ethereal. Let the tone guide you in choosing how to proceed with the features of your kitty. For a softer look use markers which are water soluble, not permanent, and a small damp brush.

Use paint pens to further embellish your cat whilst waiting for other areas to dry.

At any point you can choose to change up your background. In this piece I decide to make a huge leap and bring in a complete new colour, opposite on the colour wheel to those already used (*find colour wheel in resources, just under supply list).

 When applying this second background colour leave some openings through to the old one. Bring a small touch of the new background colour into the body of the cat and voila “kitty in the garden” or “Garden in the kitty?” 




Video Password: flowermeow

To view video in vimeo and to download, please click here




A little video about always having inspiration at your fingertips. There are no notes on this intuitive video just a quick little glimpse into my studio process.

Hope it sparks some new possibilities for you. Enjoy!




 Video password: inthebackground

To view the video on Vimeo and to download, please click here



Be sure to post some of your Animalitos pics in our FB group here and let all of your friends know that they can sign up for it any time on my website here!

Or you can hash tag your works on Instagram with #animalitosonlineworkshop or #minimojoone to create a gallery for our Animalitos group. 

Video password: muchasgracias

To view the video on Vimeo and to download, please click here

Please click here for a pdf version of this class.

error: Alert: Content is protected!