Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Small Pleasures

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I bought a new sketchbook the other day. It was such fun to choose the right one, and to come back to the studio and open up the packaging and flip through all the perfect white pages that are for me alone to wreck. I was giddy all day. It really is the simple joys in life, and I think we tend to forget to revisit the things we loved as children.






I used to work at an art supply shop. The other staff members were the best comrades for geeking out over art supplies. When this travel-sized watercolour set came in, two of us snapped them up. I’m not a watercolourist, so I wondered if I’d just gotten jazzed about the packaging. It’s become one of my absolute treasures, and has been with me to New York, Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong.


Here’s a tip for customising your watercolour set. Pull out the pans of colours you don’t use and squeeze in another colour from Daniel Smith, Holbein or Winsor Newton and let it dry. This also works for cheap & cheerful sets. Customising it gives you higher quality paint.




A note on pigments.  If you’re working with a budget (who isn’t these days?), I recommend skimping on the earthy colours like:

Burnt/Raw Umber
Vert de Terre, Sap Green
Burnt/Raw Sienna

And splurging on one of each of the primaries:

Magenta/Rose Madder
Cobalt Blue
Lemon Yellow

Teach yourself to mix these colours to make almost any other colour. There are many books on the subject of colour mixing, but what it comes down to is a whole lot of trial and error. And that’s half the fun, no?

~ By the way…~
Rose Madder is made from actual roses and smells wonderful. Next time you’re in an art shop, open a tube and have a sniff! You won’t regret it.

Pressure Cooker

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I have been quiet this week, busily applying paint to canvas in preparation for another show here in Victoria, at the UVic McPherson Library Gallery on the 18th. Funny how I find myself in this position yet again, hoping the paint will dry faster than chemically possible…I’ll be back here soon with photos, but it’s hard to show photos of unfinished paintings. Check in later, friends…

A Lovely Inside Day

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I don’t have a lot to write about today, rushing about trying to get into the studio. Funny how when I most want to get my work done, that’s when other things get in the way. I sometimes wonder if it’s a challenge, like my resolve is being tested by the mundane. My old professor’s wife called this wee battle “studio tyranny” and I’ve never forgotten that. 

I just did a Google Images search for the word “lovely” and the poster for The Lovely Bones came up. I had little interest in this film until I saw that the screenplay was done by Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, the trio that did the screenplay for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hmmm. They seem to have the hang of adaptation. Maybe it’ll be worth a look. It looks sad, creepy and beautiful…What a lovely combination.



A Room of One’s Own

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of a Room of One’s Own. I’m fascinated by people’s work spaces, and when I come across a photo of someone in their artist’s studio or craft workshop, I’m mesmerized. 

A space to work, outside of one’s home, is a lovely thing. To separate work from play has been a long-time goal, and one that is a challenge for the self-employed. It’s easy to become distracted by laundry and home life when working in a room in one’s house. After much deliberating, I decided that I’d like to give an outside space a try. Not a few days later, a downtown studio space was made available to me. Needless to say, I snatched it up. It was not so inspiring though.

Studio Before:


Now, I like a clean bright space to work in. Bratty? A little. So, with the help of two gallons of mistint paint and some elbow grease, (thanks, C) it now looks like this:



Nothing like some white paint to cheer things up! The stage area is used for storage underneath, which is great for my large collection of ready-to-go canvases, and the shop-vac to make sure the delicate drying surfaces remain dust-free. Of course, since this was taken, I’ve covered the floor of the stage with canvases with underpainting waiting to dry, but it was almost perfect for a few days.



Supreme Gorgeousness

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I was messing about on a new favourite blog, The Red Thread, when I saw her post about Shane Waltener‘s beautiful crocheted webs. My husband and I painted our front steps the other day (pink, no less!) and the front part took especially long, as one of us had to hold the end of a very elaborate spiderweb while the other painted around it. We managed to preserve it fairly well, I hope  Charlotte approved when she returned.






A side note: She’s approved. The web appears to have been repaired (much like the steps) and she’s happily out in the middle again. 
More gorgeous images of the crocheted ones, here.

Inspiration from Michelle Ward

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Michelle Ward of When I Grow Up Coach fame, is fab. This is on her Motivation Monday post today, and it made me smile. I had to read it twice for its meaning to sink in, but hey…it’s Thanksgiving up here and I’m a little sleepy.



Sometimes I procrastinate sending out submission packages to galleries and magazines because I feel like it’s just not quite good enough yet. I’ve been doing that for years. A bit silly, really. Especially as, with artists, when we begin something new the older stuff instantly changes for us. It’s either this beacon against which we compare the new work, or it suddenly looks inferior. There are a million reasons to not move forward, but it’s so important to ignore all of them! Thanks, Michelle, for the reminder.

Three Cups of Tea

Monday, October 12th, 2009

I’ve just become part of a new book club. I’ve never been in a book club before, but our first meeting was a hoot: plum danish, prosciutto & dates, wine…oh, and books. The suggested first book was Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin. It reads like a novel of Greg Mortensen’s adventures with climbing, but mostly about his passion to make schools for children in remote Pakistan.




I’m not actually reading it, but listening to the unabridged audio book while I paint. I love to do this, and I highly recommend it to other painters. My analytical (read: critical) mind escapes to the Himalayas to leave my creative mind to completely deviate from my planned paintings, and make something unexpected. Isn’t that what every painter wants?

The book is inspiring and humbling. Alone in my studio, it makes me think about the “purpose” of paintings, and how they can help others. Donating a few pieces a year to fund-raising auctions feels good, but building a school for poor kids? Not quite the same thing. I’m sure there’s a way for artists to do some good out there in our own painterly fashion…Ideas?

Moss Street Paint-In

Friday, July 17th, 2009


Another mad-dash for another summer show! For those non-Victorians, every July over 100 artists line both sides of Moss Street, from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to the ocean at Dallas Road.  I remember going to the Paint-In when I was 15. It was one of those cloudy summer days that puts the pause button on air-mattressing and sand castleing. I was so blown away by all the artists, I just wanted to draw. They had easels. Well now I’m part of it. Over 30,000 people come through in 4 hours. Pretty impressive for an art event in Victoria. It’s a bit nerve-wracking (or I make it so…) but I had a great time last year, and I hope this year will be the same.

So, I just Googled the Moss Street Paint In to look for images for this post, and the second picture to come up is me! Looking confused, yes, but that’s not too unusual. Anyway, it made me laugh.


Letting Go

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Selling work is a bittersweet thing. Of course it’s the best compliment an artist can receive, but it’s also sad to see something you put energy and love into go off into the world without you. I just sold Queen Anne’s Lace to a lovely young mother who saves her tips to buy original art. How wonderful and inspiring is that? I guess I’m lucky in that I genuinely like the people who are drawn to my work. I get to hear stories of people’s childhoods and memories that are triggered by my images. An 83 year old woman saw Redhead and she told me it looked like her sister when they were small. She had tears in her eyes. I love my job. Do you have anything to say about selling work? Any stories?

Top 5 Art Supplies & Yummy Paint

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Art Supplies 1

Call me an art-supply geek and I’ll readily agree. My history of working at an art supply store turned me into a bit of a paint snob. My Top 5 Can’t Live Without, Worth Every Penny supplies are:

1. Gamblin Oil Paints
These are the absolute best paints ever. The pigments are rich and saturated and just transparent enough to make delicious glazes. My favourites: Transparent Earth Yellow and Orange, Quinachridone Red, Quick Dry White and Chromatic Black.


2. Gamblin Neo Megilp
Like painting with butter. It thins the paint perfectly and dries glossy and fast. 

3. Opus Legato Brushes
Acrylic bristle brushes. Most oil painters use real hair, but these are so smooth, cheap and easy to clean. I stock up when they go on sale.

4. Golden Acrylic Gesso
This is the highest quality gesso. I don’t skimp on this one. Three or four coats of this non-yellowing gesso makes for paintings that last long past their painter.

5. A Glass Palette
I got mine from an auto glass shop. They cut it 18 x 24 from non-shattering glass and I use a paint scraper to clean it. It’s not portable, and it takes up most of my table, but having all that mixing room makes me happy.

6. Windsor & Newton Brush Cleaner and Restorer
Okay, I said top 5, but I love this product. Remember the brushes that are easy to clean? Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean I get to it before the paint dries. 24 hours soaking in this stuff makes the dried paint dissolve and saves my brushes. And it’s somehow non-toxic. My only complaint is that it doesn’t come in a 5 gallon drum!