Embracing the bright and bold

Auburn artist Traci Owens lives for color
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Traci Owens doesn’t do small. Visit her studio, located in the basement of the Arts Building, and you might feel dwarfed by creations like “I Hope You Dance,” a metal sculpture standing 7 feet tall. One of her pieces currently on display at Latitudes is “Life’s a Circus,” a 6-foot-by-7-foot painting. Owens has been immersed in art since quitting her job as an auditor for the state controller’s office six years ago. “I’m so flamboyant that sitting behind a desk just stifled me,” she said. “You’re pretty much showing your soul when you paint. It comes out on the canvas, and that’s where the colors come out.” Owens got her start in the art world as a muralist. “I love bringing someone’s wall to life,” she said. Painting big and bold has extended beyond the walls Owens has painted. “I think that’s why I paint so big, because that’s what I learned. I can’t paint small — it’s too confined,” she said. Owens creates larger-than-life paintings dripping in rich colors. She likes to incorporate a little humor, and sometimes a little scandal, in her creations. “I like to be playful with my painting,” she said. “I don’t want to take life too seriously.” Take her “Faces of Fantasy” series, for example. Owens paints portraits of people “doing what they would do if they could be anything.” Her portrait of Angela Tahti depicts the PlacerArts executive director as a flamenco dancer. “I think she’s just a joy and a delight for our art community,” Tahti said of Owens. “She’s so creative. You can give any challenge to her and you can just see the wheels turning in her head.” Owens also teaches classes in her Arts Building studio, everything from “Makin’ Monday Mornings Much More Marvelous” workshops to “6 to 9 Wine & Design,” or, as she calls them, “drink and draw” sessions. “I just really think everybody should have at least one piece of art in their house that they created,” she said. Owens appreciates the support and inspiration she gets from daughter Cheyenne, 11, and husband Kel. “He’s the one who inspired me to do what I love to do,” Traci said of her husband. “He has never once said, ‘Oh, that can’t be done.’” Owens adopts a can-do-anything approach to art. “I love to buy new products and not read the instructions,” she said. “You don’t want to put a limit on your imagination.” No matter the end result, Owens embraces the creative process. “I am doing what I love and am so blessed to be able to do it,” she said. Learn more about Owens at http:// __________ Know and go What: Reception for artists Traci Owens, Diane Ruhkala Bell and Darlene Engellenner When: 3:30-5 p.m. Sunday Where: Latitudes, 130 Maple St., Auburn Info: (530) 885-5670