"Striped Wolf Furry"
"Green Fox Furry"
"Furry Waltz"
"Rainbow Ermine"
"Copper Ermine"
"Blue Powder Ermine"
"Blue with Red Chile Ermine"
"Blue Loch ness Ermine"
"Pink Checkered Ermine"
"Lea's Pink Striped Ermine"
"Rusty Ermine"
"Leonard's Hot Rod Ermine"
"Red Odalisque"
"Fire Dragon" still from performance
"Fire Dragon"
"Bouquet" (front)
"Bouquet" (back)
"Fecund Anteater in Nest"
"Animatronic Reindeer"
"Puff-Foo-Lump and Pup"
creature sculpture

2003 - 2014

paintings,soft sculpture
























The soft sculpture “Peche” is a giant mouse puppet, inspired by the Japanese Bunraku style of puppetry involving four puppeteers. This piece evolved into the music video  "A La Creme", by Ivette Spradlin. 



As a child of the 80’s with a massive stuffed animal collection, I grew up with Jim Henson’s Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, in favor of Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls.


As an adult, I look to images of my old stuffed animals for creative kindling, to combat dry stretches of artistic production. Frequently, I create soft sculptures or puppets that will be the subjects of paintings, a nod to the art historical conventions of still life and staged portraiture.  


This has resulted in paintings such as “Red Odalisque”, the red Muppet-like Cyclops puppet that I performed with in a variety show theater production, and later painted his portrait from life in the studio, as he sat alongside two suspended feathered Putti.


Other similar works include the “Ermine” series that featured yarn creatures I knit and posed against cloth backdrops. Perhaps I was thinking of Leonardo’s “Lady with an Ermine”, but without the Lady.


Other soft sculptures were meant to be the subjects for paintings, but instead became performance pieces, like the cloth and paper mache “Fire Dragon”, that was inspired by Chinese Fire Dragon Festivals.


I see my soft sculptures as the muses of my painting. They help me imbue my paintings with humor and life, and sometimes evolve to replace the painting altogether. 

© 2020 by Tara Zalewsky-Nease

Commissions, pet portraits and party style painting classes offered through Pittsburgh Paintings