Saturday, 31 January 2009

Getting There!

I have gotten several layers of the dress/background done with various shades of violeta and magenta, as well as some gold. Now I'm going to add some colour to the hair and start to define the dress a bit more by either lightening it or the background.

Friday, 30 January 2009

New Work in Progress

Here is the beginning of my latest "Les Femmes" series painting. So far, I have sketched the girl onto canvas and added collage and gesso for texture. Next, I will begin building really rich colours over many, many layers. I haven't decided yet, but I am leaning toward purples and orange tones for this piece. I'm hoping that I can cheer myself up by losing myself in painting.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Goodbye, My Friend

I was going to work on a few paintings that I have on the go tonight, but I just couldn't find the enthusiam, so I watched TV instead. I'm just too sad. My sister called to tell me that my dog had died. I suppose technically, he was her dog now, as I had no choice but to leave him behind when I moved abroad. Still, everyone new he was my baby.

I had him since he was a puppy, but he was 14 and I knew he probably didn't have much time left. He was a maltese, a small breed, so I hoped he was one of those who would hang around until 16 or 17. He went peacefully in his sleep and he seemed happy until the end, so for that I am grateful, but I'm also sad. I loved that little dog like you wouldn't believe. I know everyone thinks their dog is the best dog, but mine was the best little dog ever. He was so cuddly and funny and such a flirt and I swear he had a cheeky grin! I don't care if dog experts say dogs don't smile, Bailey did. There will never be another like him.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Bond...Maxx Bond. He Likes His Milk Shaken, Not Stirred

This is my nephew, Maxx. His mission, if he chose to accept it, was to look absolutely adorable (and he clearly accepted it!). You'd never know from his smooth demeanor that his diaper was about to self-destruct in 5 seconds...OK, so I'm mixing my movie themes, but I don't care. I just love this little guy so much! He is the newest addition to our family, but I also have 3 adorable nieces from one of my other sisters. I'll have to post some photos of them as well.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

My Youtube Video Fiasco

After chatting with a few other artists who have been posting videos on Youtube, I decided to go for it and recorded my first instructional video last night. I collaged and talked, gessoed and talked...painted and get the idea! I recorded for over an hour, planning to edit and cut it down to several videos. I had been so nervous about doing it, but it felt as smooth as any live workshops I do, so I thought I was actually going to end up with some pretty good video.

So after an hour of working away and explaining as I go, I played my video back to begin the edits. Guess what I forgot to do!? Come know where this is going, don't you? Yup, that's right...I forgot to set it to record audio. Doh! I can't believe I didn't do a test run first. I'll either have to do the whole thing again on the next painting, do a voiceover or just put text in the video. Ah well, lesson learned.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Emma...I am an Artist Too

Emma working on adding some colour. At this stage she has added collage and gesso for texture, some Stewart Gill Byzantia paints for some shimmer to peek through and is now adding glazes to build up some rich colour.

Emma's painting in the early stages, just before she moved on to painting the background.

This is Emma...artist extraordinaire! She took classes in my studio for 3 years and has continued on with me as a private student since I decided to close. For as long as I've known Emma, she has had an artist's heart. She has always approached every lesson with excitement, enthusiam and creativity. I needed a creative kick in the pants, so I recently took some online workshops, including one with the fabulous Suzi Blu. I learned some new techniques, was reminded of old favourites, and most importantly feel creatively rejuvinated. I started approaching my art as Emma does if every painting is an adventure...because of course, it is.

I always show whatever I have been working on to Emma, so when she saw my mixed media girls, she wanted to try her hand at this type of painting too. She's been working on her own mixed media girl for the last several weeks, probably around 5 hours worth of work so far. We have reviewed the concepts of drawing a face in quadrants, layering, creating texture, applying collage, colour theory and more. This was Emma's first attempt at shading a face and I have to admit to butterflies in my stomach when I saw her wonderful results! Can you believe she is only 7!? Emma still has a fair bit of work to do on this painting, but wow...what a journey so far.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Mini Canvases Revisited

Since painting detailed girls on the mini canvases frustrates me too much, I decided to paint textured abstracts on the rest of them. I am definitely enjoying minis more when I don't have to worry about tiny details. I am only about halfway finished, but will post pictures when I'm finished with them.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

A Better Balance Today

I didn't do a lot that was art related today, but what I did do was much better balanced. I spent a bit of time working on my leaflet design and then a bit of time sketching. I have started a new piece that I intend to paint tomorrow. I have heard back from two galleries that would like to see my work and someone recommended me to another gallery that he feels my work might appropriate for. I definitely feel I am on the right road.

I have been so immersed in art lately that I have hardly watched any TV, so I felt the need to just veg a little today. I forgot how darn good CSI New York is! I should also be embarrassed to admit that I watched the Suite Life of Zach and Cody, but I'm not. I don't know what I would do without my Disney channel. I've seen every Halloweentown movie several times. I waited anxiously for the High School musical movies, Camp Rock and every other original movie they put out. I can sing every word of the Phineas and Ferb theme tune and think it's one of the most clever shows on TV. My husband thinks I'm just a little nuts...but then again, he loves Phineas and Ferb now too! I guess I'm really just an 8 year old trapped in a 38 year old body. LOL

Friday, 23 January 2009

I am an Artist

I used to tell everyone that I am an artist. It was such a part of my life that I just couldn't help bringing it up in practically every conversation. Then one day I just stopped. It was like in giving up my studio I felt like I no longer had the right to call myself one...silly, huh!? Well, no more! I am an artist!!! I've decided it's time to own it again...that's right, I am an artist and I want everyone to know it.

So I have been networking like crazy and telling everyone and anyone that I am an artist. Obviously, I need to do more than that though. They need to know how to reach me, where to see my work, etc. I have been giving them my blog info, but it will be a lot easier and more professional when I have cards with all my details printed on them. That's at the top of my agenda. so I am working on the design this weekend. I should have some cards printed up by the end of next week and in the meantime, I have my mini CDs with my video portfolio. Wow, it feels great to be so proactive again!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

My Video Portfolio Rocks!

I've finished my video portfolio and it's pretty good, if I do say so myself! The programme I used is fantastic, as it does all the backend technical stuff for you, but it's just as important to get the text, music and order right. I tested a few pieces of music and lots of different text before it had just the right feel. I'll probably play with it again just for fun, but now I think the video sends the right message now. Oh!...and along the way I finally came up with a title for my series that feels right..."Les Femmes".

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Living up to the Plan

I didn't do any drawing or painting today. My new plan for 2009 included not only making time for creativity, but also making time for marketing and getting myself back out there. So far, I have painted a lot, which is great! But other than staying true to my daily blogging, finally posting on flickr and sending out a few feeler emailers to galleries, I haven't done enough with the marketing. It should really be a 50/50 split of my time between creating and marketing. It's been more like 90/10, so today I took some big steps to improve that.

So here's what I did today...Created a nice digital portfolio as well as a video portfolio to really create a strong impression and hopefully separate me from the crowd. I will burn those to disc for showing potential collectors and galleries. I also posted a few times on twitter, signed up for a ning account (which I will be developing over a period of time) and started working on some videos for youtube. I've visited several other blogs and left comments when I had something to say. I know we all appreciate the reciprical comments, as they help increase traffic.

I also ordered labels for mini cds, which are a very cool way of giving someone your portfolio and am searching for an A3 scanner. I'm struggling to get good enough photos for etsy, especially if I am going to sell prints, so I think the scanner will make things much easier. All in all, I feel like I had a pretty darn productive day!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

One of my Favorite Artists

The painting above is one that I commissioned from Liz (image posted with her permission), who is known by her collectors as Primoriginals and can also be found under that name on etsy, youtube and flickr. It represents my sisters and me and I commissioned it because I live thousands of miles away and wanted something that made me feel closer to them everyday. Liz really listened to all the kooky stories I told her about my sisters and me. She translated those memories perfectly with lots of symbolism and colours that have personal meaning.

The best artwork isn't about the level of skill that the artist has (though Liz has heaps of that). The best artwork sparks an emotion...and I cannot begin to tell you how much this painting moves me. It's my most treasured possession and somehow brings me so much closer to my sisters. Well, darn it! I'm crying again, as I have several times since getting my painting. See? Sparks an emotion!

I didn't even realize Liz had a blog. You should definitely go and check her out, as her work is way too good to miss. There are so many of us (artists) out there and it can be hard to be seen in the crowd. I don't want anyone to miss out on all the beauty that is being created in the world, so I have decided that once per week I am going to post about an artist that I admire. I'm off to explore and see who I want to tell you about next week.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Four New Mini Girls

I have four mini girls finished, with mixed results. I am not happy with the face of the girl with blue/green patina background, but am too annoyed to keep working at it. Everytime I fix one thing, I accidentally mess up another because it's so small and fiddly! I did draw the girls a bit larger on the next two, which was easier to work with. I'm mostly satisfied with the other pieces, but certainly didn't find it as fun as working on my regular sizes. Doing these took every bit as long as a larger piece. I doubt you'll see me permanently switching to minis any time soon!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Exercise in Frustration

Well, I have my far, mini canvases are an exercise in frustation! Sketching wasn't so bad, but a little bit tricker, as there was nowhere to rest my hand and tiny eyes are harder. That's a minor thing, so no biggie so far. Obviously, there isn't a lot of space for collage, so I had to settle for just a few bits. I didn't have much space to go play with spreading gesso for texture either.

On the plus side, I was feeling impatient and wanted to get straight to the paint, so I used my heat tool to speed it up. The gesso bubbled and popped from the heat, leaving a fantastic texture! I could probably translate this idea to my larger canvases, but I'm not sure how well it will work, as I put the gesso on much thicker on big pieces.

I have the first few background layers of one canvas done and it's looking cool so far, much better than in my photo. I used a few blue and green colours of Golden Fluid Acrylics and Stewart Gill Byzantia, as well as Lumiere sunset gold. It is giving it a rich, aged patina look.

So here is the frustrating part...the face! Even with a tiny brush, I keep smudging everything and accidentally painting over part of the features. Grrr! I am just not a steady handed person and my nature is to paint with big, fast, carefree strokes. That doesn't work too well on a 4 inch canvas.

I'm going to keep at it though. Who knows? It's a challenge that I might start to enjoy once I get my head around having to do things a little differently. However, I am going to draw the face about twice the size on the next one. It will mean less background and no torso, but I think it's a compromise that will make me happier.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Look What I Found!

I rarely go to shopping centres...not much of a fan of them. I had no choice today though, because the strap on my handbag broke. My very patient husband traipsed around with me while I looked for the elusive extra long-strapped purse. I finally found not one, but two of them at 70% off! I had a hard time deciding which one to buy, so some drastic measures were necessary. Let me tell you, it's very handy to have a hubby who is secure in his manhood when you need him to model a couple of purses in public.

As we were leaving the mall, he pointed out a hobby shop that I was going to skip, as I have more art supplies than I currently need already. I changed my mind and decided to go in afterall and am so glad I did! Not only did I find pigment pens in several sizes and colours, but I found a pack of these adorable 4x4 inch canvases. I'm going to try some miniatures of my mixed media girls on them. It will either be great fun or an exercise in frustration!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Celebrating 8th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my 8th wedding anniversary and I can honestly say it's been a wonderful 8 years! I didn't get any painting done, as the hubby took me out for dinner. We went to a great steak place called, "Wild Willy's Steakhouse". It's owned by an American (I'm an American living in the UK) and is a great taste of home. I can't quite explain it, not sure what the difference is, but steak is just different here and this place was a great find. We have been here a few times over the last year and it's always great.

The rest of the evening was very quiet, just the way we like it. We got caught up on a few TV shows and I sketched a new piece out for the "Belfast Babes" series. It's a lesser known building called Clifton House, which was also known as Belfast Charitable Society when it was built. I liked the shape of the building and the gate in front of it.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

...OK, I guess I do!

My painting pace seems to have slowed down dramatically, so I guess I DO need sleep! LOL

I am itching to paint and yet I can't keep my eyes open, so I'm going to catch up on many, many missed hours. I guess this 3 to 4 hours of sleep per night for the last few weeks has finally caught up with me!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

First Complete Belfast Babe

I worked on this piece yesterday and today. It's the the first completed piece of a new series of girls in front of local landmarks, tentatively called "Belfast Babes". She's standing in front of Belfast Castle. I photographed this at night, so the lighting isn't great. The colour of the dress is more accurate in the detail shots.

I have included some work in progress shots every several stages from the sketch (see sketch in yesterday's post) to completion. For the dress, I printed out history on the castle in a nice font and punched different size circles from it, collaging both the circles and the leftover paper. I also used silver card, mesh (my new found love) and then randomly spread gesso over it. The castle is done with many, many layers of Caran D'Ache Neocolor water soluble crayons and acrylic paint. I wanted the sky to have a very soft, dreamy, yet smooth effect so I used a combination of acrylic paint and porcelain paint. This was an experiment that was very successful. This piece is the 4th Belfast Babe that I sketched, but the 1st I actually painted on, so I have a few more waiting to be painted.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

More Belfast Babe Sketches

I have 2 more sketches in the Belfast Babes series. One is of Belfast Castle and the other is the Albert Bridge Clock, both very well-known landmarks. I'm going to start the Belfast Castle painting first tonight, because I want to see how it turns out before tackling my more detailed Belfast City Hall canvas.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Belfast Babes?

I had the idea to continue on with my mixed media girls, but to do local landmarks in the background. I have decided to do a series of girls with local landmarks in the background. I have 2 sketches on canvas ready to go, but can't decide which direction to take next. I'm considering keeping on in the same vein by collaging all over and painting the same colours on both the girl and the background. That would be very interesting, but might make it really hard for the landmarks to stand out or be recognized. On the other hand, I can't decide whether I want sky, etc in the background either. The top photo is a Photoshop experiment and am going to just mull the idea over for a few days.

The landmarks are the Belfast City Hall and the Harland and Wolff cranes famous for holding the Titanic during it's construction. Unfortunately, I didn't notice while sketching that it looks like one of the cranes is coming out of the girl's head. Doh! I like the placement of the cranes and wish I had done the girl further to the left. It's a bit late to change it though, as I have outlined the cranes in permanent marker already. Hopefully, it will look more like background and not a weird head growth when I am finished. LOL

On a side note, I'm no longer positive about the title "Belfast Babes". It has been in my head for a while, but my friend (Toni) isn't nuts about it. She suggested "Global Girls" and considering doing girls in other cities too. I'm mulling that over too.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Two New Paintings

Two more again today. Am I on a roll or what!? I did another monochromatic painting, but decided to take a break and go back to a little more colour. I intend to do a brunette as well, but it will be trickier to make that pop against the black and white and I wanted to experiment with brown hair first. I think I have a plan now. On the brunette I did today I used Stewart Gill Byzantia in a sort of coppery/golden tone for highlights. This really brightened the hair and I think could hold its own with a monochromatic background. I have included several details shots so you get a sense of the texture and depth of colour in each of these pieces.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Inspiration from Other Artists

I've wanted to do a monchromatic painting with just one shock of colour for a long time. I think of it from time to time and have even started a few. I always chicken out though and end up adding tons of colour.

Yesterday I saw this piece and several others in a collection by artist, Jodi Ohl and decided, "Right! I'm finally going to do it!" Her piece is simple in both colour and composition, and yet it is so interesting that I had to keep going back for another look.

This is my 1st time actually doing a monchromatic piece and I am very pleased. I used black and white acrylics, along with a couple of the gray tones in the Stewart Gill Metamica and Alchemy ranges. The background and the dress were done exactly the same way, except I rubbed Platinum Stickles on the background the subtlely separate the two. For the buttons, I glued card in a circle shape 3 pieces high, so that it would be 3 dimensional, painted them black and added a red acrylic jewel on each as a finishing touch.

Friday, 9 January 2009


This is a self-portrait, though not in the "traditional" sense, as I didn't even bother to look at a photo of me while drawing. It's a self-portrait in that I used the entire background as a big journal page and wrote all about me: my good and bad points, people and things I love, my hopes and dreams, etc. I chose colours that I personally love and mostly buried the writing...but I know it's there and that's what's important. I have included a work in progress shot, as well as some details.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Finally Set Up a Flickr Account

After being hounded for the last few years by my best friend, a photographer who loves flickr, I have finally set up my own account at I don't know why I waited so darn long! It was so easy to set up and is such a great way to have an easy to update online portfolio, as well as a great way to connect with other creative people.

By the way, you can also check out my friend, Toni (only I call her that) at or see her professional website at She is an amazing photographer and has travelled all over the world. Her style is so personal and unique that it's totally worth paying her travel expense to book her. I'm lucky though...I'm the only person to get her for free!

I completed 2 paintings today, including my first girl with short hair in a while. The bottom painting was completed a few weeks ago and represents Toni, her 4 children, her fiancee, her friendships and more. I can't bring myself to let it go yet, so she'll have to be happy with a digital file for the moment.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Who Needs Sleep Anyway?

I completed 2 paintings today and I love them both! I have taken a few details shots so you can get a sense of the texture and finishing touches. Unfortunately, my photography skills leave alot to be desired again. The colour looks fairly accurate, but I wasn't able to pick up on the glitter or some of the more subtle touches.

I'm so obsessed at the moment that all I am doing is painting! I'm nowhere near ready to go to bed yet and am about to start some sketches for painting tomorrow. So far sleep deprivation hasn't hurt my painting, but it sure isn't doing much for my concentration! I can't hold a decent conversation at the moment I'm pretty sure anyone who has met me in the last week or two either thinks I'm a lunatic or an idiot! Oh well, it's worth it to have this much fun!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Recycling Artwork and Happy Accidents

So I had this abstract painting on canvas that I wasn't happy with and it sat in a box for Lord only knows how long. I have been painting so prolifically though, that I ran out of canvas and had to recycle. The canvas was already covered with lots of texture, so I had to think a little differently about how I was going to create this piece, as I need to start with a smooth surface for the landscape girls I have been doing.

I picked the least textured area to draw the face and added loads of collage everywhere else. I used my star shape punch to cut out some scrapbook paper. I glued those down and used the leftover paper with the negative space star shapes as a stencil to put some gesso stars on the canvas, then I glued the "stencil" on too. I found some fantastic mesh several weeks ago that I had in mind to use for a fence, but it makes the most amazing collage material! I then randomly spread gesso here and there for more texture and to integrate some of the collage pieces. I built up colour over many, many layers with Golden Fluid acrylics and several different types of Stewart Gill paints. It's hard to tell with my not so amazing photography skills (too bad my friend, Toni doesn't live nearby), but the result is super rich and has so much depth. I'm definitely going to do more of this type of mixed media girl!

I always told my students not to worry if they made a mistake or if they don't like what they have done. They should look at it as a happy accident, as it's an opportunity to really stretch their creativity and come up with something they might like even better. That advice is easy to say, sometimes hard to follow, but this is proof positive that it's true! If I hadn't had an unsuccessful piece, I would never have reworked it into this piece that I love.

Monday, 5 January 2009

A Couple of Night Time Paintings

I don't know why I haven't painted more girls at night. I did the one with the girl that is large in the foreground a few weeks ago and she is one of my favourites. I know, I know...they ALL seem to be my favourites! I can't decide. I am just loving this series.

Anyhoo...I got some new Stewart Gill paints today and thought they would be great for creating a dark, yet vibrant sky. I used a hint of black and white craft acylics with Liquitex Glossies in a dark blue and a medium blue. For the clouds I used a little white and the Stewart Gill Metamica steel blue and Alchemy genesis colours. I worked really fast so the clouds were integrated with the rest of sky. After it was dry, I added these fantastic tiny irredescent stars that I picked up a while back. I can't find any more, so I am dreading the day I run out! There are a lot of layers and details in this painting, so it took ages, but it was worth it.


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