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About the Artist

Visit my blog to catch an occassional glimpse at new things coming down the line. You'll see some "not-ready-for-prime-time" diversions, too. Pictures of new drawings and paintings are sometimes posted there, cross stitch design models and projects, along with entries about those other things that make up my life (kids, husband, music, gardens, and such.)

Tracy Horner

I’m Tracy Horner and I have been drawing and stitching since I was a wee squirt. When I was a girl, my Mum had a yarn & needlework shop.  I was fed ample supplies of Eva Rosenstand cross stitch kits and Norwegian and Icelandic knitting wool that she imported.  She can take much of the blame/credit in the “early influences department”, but as my father is quite an accomplished stitcher perhaps he is also responsible.

I was schooled as an engineer, served a stint in the US Navy followed by a 20 year career at the Hanford Reservation (a GOCO superfund site). I’ve been told you can tell that I am an engineer by looking at my art. I’m not sure that is a compliment.

At some point the art and the embroidery hobbies merged.

I have a wonderful husband and two amazing kids, and now a bit more time to spend with them.

mandala in process

My Techniques:

    Mandalas - I use 140# cold-pressed watercolor paper, and begin by drawing in pencil a few construction lines to establish my planes of symmetry, “bulls-eye” rings to keep the design balanced, and some arbitrarily sized circles at various intersections to give just a little structure. Using Sennelier’s India Ink and a fine brush and starting at the center, I draw in round after round of petal shapes and organic looking curves. I also have a thing for Rapidograph pens, and sometimes use them. The construction lines keep things basically symmetrical, but the free-handed spontaneity gives them the look I like. When it is all dry, I give it one more hour to dry. (I have ruined too many paintings by smearing ink that I thought was dry.) I erase all of the pencil lines. 

    Mandala by Tracy Horner

    Starting again from the center, I use watercolor paints and watercolor pencils to color the petals.  I use Winsor & Newton Artist w/c paints, but have recently found some other brands (like some DaVinci iridescents) creeping into the box. I sometimes use gouache, or opaque watercolors also for a very vibrant look. For w/c pencils, I think the Caran d’Ache Supracolor Soft are quite nice.  I don’t have as big a set as my Faber-Catell Albrecht Durer set, but I really like the ease and completeness that the colors disolve when the water hits them. And I love the Sennelier ink - it is deep and dark and most importantly, fully indelible.  (Again, I have ruined too many paintings by having my watercolors smear the ink lines.) Just don’t ever put Sennelier ink into a technical pen.  Bad juju. Use Koh-I-Noor Trans-Mix inks in these, at least that is MY favorite.

    My palette

    Celtic Knots - I use 140# watercolor paper or Bristol. I've started to enjoy the hot-press paperIt takes a few hours, even for a small knot, just to pencil in the construction lines. I have a miniature architects scale that lets me grid out the field into diamonds of the proper 4 x 3 size ratio. Boy, do I wish I still had access to a drafting machine. With the advent of CAD, those antiques are probably as rare as hen’s teeth. To my grid, I add an assortment of random, but symmetrical, horizontal and vertical breaks. Otherwise the project would look like a perfectly braided square - not very interesting. The grid lines represent the center of the ribbon path. If I am drawing a double ribbon, I’ll pencil in the centerlines for each of the ribbons. Other projects, called zoomorphic drawings tangle up bodily appendages of various creatures using the same topological rules as the knots.

    I use a Rapidograph pen with Trans-Mix ink to weave the ribbon around on the page.  The Trans-Mix inks come in about 30 colors and are very cool. I think I have every color except Orange, which was always sold out when I ordered from  Jerry’s Artarama, my usual source. They don’t carry Trans-Mix inks anymore so I am worried it is a discontinued product line.  Since I am free-hand inking using the centerlines as a guide, these knots come out slightly irregular and imperfect. (I am not trying to make it look like a computer did it.)  Every once in a while, I do go cross-eyed and cross a path incorrectly (wrong ribbon went on top at an intersection), in which case, these knots become candidates for opaque coloring. I wait for my ink to dry then I erase all the pencil lines.  I color the ribbons and/or background with another color of ink, watercolor paints or opaque paints like metallics.

    Islamic mandala
All images, art, embroidery designs on this site are copyrighted by the artist, Tracy Horner,
and may not be used in any form without permission.