Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sketch Book Girl

Last post of 2008. This is one of my random doodlings in my sketchbook. My model was probably lifted from something in a flyer or magazine while I waited in my car for my kids to be finished school. I seem to do most of my work there lately!
Happy New Years, thank you to all my regular readers and subscribers - you've made this a fantastic year. Keep checking back in 2009 - I have a bunch of things lined up.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Christmas Commission

A few months ago, I was approached by the husband of one of my regular clients. He wanted to surprise her for Christmas with a portrait of her with one of thier sweet dogs. This is what we came up with. Now that Christmas is over, I can post this without ruining the surprise!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Prairie Sunset

Finished! If you click on this image, you will have a better idea of the matte vs. glossy and variations in texture going on here. If you are interested in purchasing this 24" x 36" acrylic on canvas painting before I list it on etsy, feel free to contact me for more details.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Just When I Thought I Was Finished - Prairie Landscape - step four

I was on my way to do a few little touch ups on the painting I had considered "mostly done" when inspiration hit. What followed was an unscheduled afternoon spent mucking about with big jar of gel and some semi transparent Kroma hues.

I'm having fun playing with opaque vs. transparent, matte vs. glossy. I've been studying the peach painting sitting in my office and figuring out a way to replicate some of the "happy accidents" that occurred when I was mixing a very opaque white (matte) with a semi transparent white (glossy) and the resulting depth that was created.

I like thinking in layers and placing foundation elements that get buried but are essential for texture or enhancing colour. Today I spent a good amount of time laying transparencies and additional texture by the spoonful to help create even more movement in this piece.

I'm hoping to grab a moment tomorrow to post the finished piece. I know I keep saying that but this piece keeps telling me to work more on it. Best if I listen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks to the ARTS blog

Just a quick post (more to come this weekend) to thank the Airdrie Regional ARTS Society for featuring me on thier new blog! What an honour.

I'll be posting the finished prairie landscape this weekend provided I can get some good light for photographing it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

On the Easel: Prairie Landscape - step three

One of my favorite things to capture in an evening sky is the switch that occurs as the sun dips below the horizon, the clouds become the darker part and the sky seems brighter. Such a change from the fluffy bright white clouds against the deep blue sky of the morning.

Its funny because I didn't quite notice it for the longest time - my brain took the switch for granted. When I finally looked up and noticed which was the brighter value, I couldn't get enough of that.

Trying to convey this change in a way that is unobtrusive and looks "normal" to my viewer has been a challenge I've been tackling for a while now. I think I'm finally getting the hang of it!

You will notice that in this step I've added warm hues to the palette - yellow and red. That is the other part about sunsets that I love to play with, how to sneak as much colour as possible in without it looking overwhelmed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On the Easel: Prairie Landscape - step two

As you can see, things are looking a little more coherant now. I've layered more colour and smoothed out a lot of the edges. It is still choppy and unfinished though.

A lot of my inspiration comes from reading other people's blogs. Two recent posts on Alberta skies caught my attention. Joanne had a post on recent chinook sunsets and Veronica posted a painting of a smoke filled sky she had vivid memories of.

I actually didn't have either of those in mind when I started this painting, but halfway through I had an "ah ha!" moment that those had been sitting just under the surface of my concious thoughts.

Its really hard to not be inspired in some way by the palette of these expansive prairie skies.

Friday, November 14, 2008

On the Easel: Prairie Landscape - step one

This 24"x36" canvas is the first step in creating a prairie sunset. As you can see the paint is wet and the image is really roughly blocked out.

I have this habit of snapping random photos with my cell phone camera. It doesn't take very high resolution pictures, more of a rough guideline. That is where I'm getting my cloud colouring from here.

I actually don't even remember taking this photo, it could be "Anywhere, Alberta" along the Deerfoot highway. Often I'll see something in the twilight sky that causes me to take a pile of reference shots, only for them to sit on my camera phone for a couple of months till I upload them onto my computer and wonder what on earth I was trying to capture.

Keep checking back over the next few days to see the progress on this!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Peek in my Sketchbook: Skating Class

My daughter was born to skate. When I watch her on the ice, I see she is truly free. It was so funny, the first time we put skates on her, we were dreading the eventual falls, crying and resistance. Once we laced her up, we set her on the ice and waited for disaster. Her response was to effortlessly skate away. The very first time. A natural.
To encourage her in this, she goes to skating lessons every week. I have started to pass the time with my sketch book in hand. She was my model this time around. These are not the most polished sketches in the world, but they were really fun to do!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Charity Auction - Steel Watering Can

This piece is going up for auction on November 15th, 2008 at an event called "Rockin' for Rescue" a 50's themed evening which features a concert, refreshments and silent auction.

The money raised will go towards this AWESOME organization in Cambodia called Place of Rescue which assists families dealing with AIDS.

To see close ups of this image click here.

If you are in the Calgary area and would like to attend this Charity event, contact me and I'll put you through to the organizers!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sketchbook Landscape

Today we went to Irricana, partly to do some research, partly to take our dog for a walk. It was terribly windy and cold while we were out. I ended up in our car with some kids while the dog was entertained by a long game of fetch (by my husband who was smart enough to wear his winter coat)

While my kids read books, I decided to sketch the prairie before me, its been a while since I've used my sketchbook to record my surroundings. My favorite thing these days is to outline my shadow and then scribble in the value. I think I stole that from Egon Schiele... it may have been Gustav Klimt... it was somebody Austrian.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fresh Peaches with Paring Knife

Sometimes, I'm free to paint for the pure joy of painting. The above painting was mainly done to play with my new Kroma palette but turned into just the pure act of creation. I loved trying to balance the neutral ground with the intense vibrancy of the peach flesh. I'm very happy with it.

You can find out more about it here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Peek in my Sketchbook

I love drawing faces, I love random doodling. This is a lot of both here. I've been working through a healthy fascination with birds lately too.

I'll have to post some note taking some time.... that is odd grab bag of writing and drawing.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Companion Piece

My client asked if I could do a portrait of her mother and her sister, very stylized with gladiolus in her mom's hair and lilacs in her sister's hair. She also wanted an emerald on her mother's finger.

The above piece is a companion to a commission I did last year which is a portrait of my client:

Both of which she has taken to Lady Luck Tattoo to have inked on her arm, unbeknownst to her mother and sister. By all accounts they were really touched when she showed them. I can hardly wait to see how they've been fit together!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kroma Acrylics

I was in Vancouver recently and had a chance to stop in a little store on Granville Island called Kroma Acrylics. I was picking up some items for a friend but the shelves and shelves of intense pigments led me to pick up a few treats for myself.

Next week I'll be loading a palette with these creamy paints and taking them for a spin. I've tried the Black Gesso and it is amazing.

I'll keep you posted on my results! (and finally post some sketches, I haven't forgotten)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Cross Stitch Patterns at The Golden Hoop

A few months ago, I had an interesting request - a licensing agreement with The Golden Hoop for a line of Cross Stitch patterns featuring my artwork. I was very excited to see my work translated into this medium.
Anyways, click here if you want to see the patterns available so far, they will be adding more in the near future.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sketchbook Cover - Sparrow

It has been a long, long time since I kept a sketchbook. I used to have one on me at all times, not to sketch so much, but to noodle around and dream on paper. Looking back, I used a blog format even before there was internet.

Since I've never minded sharing my sketchbook, I'm hoping to post some of the pages of my newest endeavor over the coming weeks. Its a different side to my art.

The cover was painted with acrylic on black gesso. I'm doing some research for a client right now that involves sparrows, and I was so in love with these birds I was inspired to put one on my new book!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Charity Auction Donation - Blue Bowl

An event in the news recently caught my eye. A missionary couple in Kenya was attacked and brutally beaten. Despite this horrifying event, they have somehow managed to find it in thier hearts to not only plan return to Kenya but to forgive the people who did this to them.

I was working on my forgiveness painting when I recieved an interesting email from a friend asking me I would like to contribute to a charity auction for this very same couple. I am so humbled to be a part of this because not only is this going to pay for medical expenses, but also help them to return to thier work in assisting widows and orphans.

100% of the proceeds will go to help John and Eloise Bergen.

Here is some information, please contact me if you have any questions.

Live Art auction Fundraiser
John & Eloise Bergen
August 29th 7 to 10 Pm
FootHills Alliance Church, Calgary, AB
preview artwork 5 to 7 pm

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This is another departure piece from my usual style. Some people might recognize immediately what this picture is about, others might need a more in depth explaination. Here goes, perhaps grab a cup of tea before you start. Click on the image if you want a more detailed look at everything. The original is 12"x18" acrylic on canvas.

I guess the overreaching theme here is sin and forgiveness of those sins. This is a major component of Christianity... (if you need more information on that, let me know and I can point you in the right direction, but I digress) Christian or not, forgiveness is a difficult thing to master and I think no matter what faith you practice (or don't practice) you will know that the feeling of relief and cleansing that comes with truly forgiving someone, or being forgiven is amazing.

This painting is an illustration tracing the path of sin and how Christians must deal with it. I decided to draw on traditional Christian and Liturgical colour schemes here to underline my point and add a depth of symbolism to the piece.

Firstly we have a black snake. The snake represents the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It also represents sin itself. It is the only part of the painting where I've used a true black pigment. Black often symbolises death, and if left unaddressed, sin itself ultimately ends in death.

On the left hand side of the painting is the setting of original sin. Adam and Eve have already started to feel the effects of the fruit and are hiding themselves in the bushes from the realization and subsequent shame of thier nudity. I've mainly kept this side dark, with greens and browns - some traditions tell that brown means spiritual death and degradation while green is the triumph of life over death.

On the right hand side of the painting we have a church setting on Forgiveness Sunday, which is observed by some churches (usually more Orthodox) at the beginning of Lent. The people here are engaged in the act of mutually forgiving each other for sins commited against one another. I have used a lot of purple in this which is the Liturgical colour of Lent as well as traditionally being a colour of penetance.

Going back at the painting as a whole, I think looking at Matthew 6:9-15 sums up our obligations as Christians, whether or not people fully commit to this or not I can't comment on, but this is what the Bible says for us to do on a daily basis.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Sale!

Its my Birthday - I want to celebrate by having a shipping sale. Free shipping on all of my paintings and signed open edition prints in my etsy shop (Canada and US only). Contact me if you have any questions!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Paper Cranes

Check out the crazy patterns on the paper!
Below are 200 cranes wrapped in bundles of 25, ready to ship.

I had a very special request recently. My sister is getting married this summer and she wanted to know if I could help with some decorations, specifically if I could fold her some origami paper cranes. 200 of them. Sadako would be proud.

At 2.5 minutes (approx) per crane my output was about 24 per hour.... so a little over 8 hours of folding time. I did it over this past weekend. I had a little help from my kids and my husband. They were eager to learn origami once I told them about sampans and water bombs.

I spent this time to be with my family and also to reflect on this wedding. I hope that they have a rich and rewarding marriage. They've been good for each other so far and I'm glad we are adding such a great guy our clan.

Once we were done we made some boats and floated them at the creek.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Get Email Updates

After having a reader request for this service, I've added an email subscription service courtesy of feedburner. If you are losing patience with my erratic posting schedule, take heart in the fact that by signing up, all the work is done for you and new posts arrive in your inbox!

It is as simple as entering your email address in the little window off to your right (under "Get Updates Via Email") and then clicking on a confirmation email that will be sent to that address.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Briefly Surfacing

There. Had to post something to prove that I have been working. This is not yet finished though - I will post a better picture when I get it completed.

I've been thinking a lot lately. I've started a bunch of canvasses recently, but I've been really dissatisfied with most of them. The ones I like (like the above picture) I've had a hard time completing for various reasons.

For the past two years I've been selling online, first on ebay now on etsy. The whole time I was caught on a hamster wheel of bigger, better, more. Have to keep painting, have to keep posting, have to keep blogging... I think I've been afraid that I'd lose my audience if I took a moment to breathe.

Good pieces, bad pieces it didn't really matter because I felt like I had to keep showing something in order to keep people engaged. Right now, I don't really want to put it online unless I've really put my all into it. I'm wary of the pressure that comes with keeping up with other sellers or bloggers. For me, prolific doesn't always mean good.

I also took a step into the unknown this past spring and applied for a grant and some other institutional based stuff. It was pretty humbling to be turned down. I'll keep trying doors though to find one that opens for me. I do feel like I'm being led along a trail - I just have no idea where I'm going to end up yet. I'm trying to let it go and see where things take me.

I've also taken a few weeks to just be with my kids and concentrate on family stuff. Basic things like walks to the creek or piling on a couch with a cup of tea, CBC radio and a good book to read. I have a hard time shutting off my brain so this process is something that takes longer than a weekend for me. We've been rewarded though with a lot of family memories, so slower production has definitely paid off.

Anyways, this post has a LOT of rambling. I could say more but I'll leave it at this. I will try to post sooner next time though!

Friday, June 13, 2008

New and Used

I have this thing about old cd/record stores and used book stores. That yellowed light, the racks and racks of items and the low lying musty smell all bring a sense of comfort to me. I keep being drawn back to it.

Also, another thing I keep being drawn back to is portraiture. I started out only wanting to do portraits then decided to work on other subjects that didn't come as easily. Painting portraits feels the same as a well worn pair of slippers. Restful and relaxing.

You can find out more about this 12" x 18" canvas here.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Charity ARTS Auction

Hello! Long time, no post - my apologies to my regular readers. I am painting and trying to enjoy what little time in the garden I have.

The above piece has been accepted to the Empty Bowls Arts Festival held by the Airdrie Regional ARTS Society. All proceeds will go to support the Airdrie Food Bank.

Local patrons can check this painting and others at Benjamin's Coffee House all the way up to the auction on June 19th. Check here for ticket info for this charity event!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


This commission is one of those pictures that depending on your perspective and experiences you can have a totally different reaction than a person standing beside you. I always enjoy pieces like this - they ask the viewer to question the scenario and lets them come away with a pieced together event on how that scene came to be.

Who is this lady? How long has she been here? What sort of room is this? Did she consume the contents of the bottle? Why? Is she someone to love? Someone to hate? Someone to pity?

I really enjoyed painting her features, there are some complicated shadows and highlights that were challenging but I think well worth the result.

The overall size of this piece is 24" x 36" - quite striking in person.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Okay, this painting is a departure from my usual stuff but I am experimenting with a few things right now. I started this piece on Easter, only working when I felt moved. Lo and behold - I finished today, Pentecost Sunday - 50 days later.

One thing I've mentioned before is my love of Byzantine mosaics, icons and all sorts of pre-Renaiassance Christian art. There are strong graphic elements, clear story telling and a directness to them are not found in art much nowadays. I also love how there are symbols common to many of these pieces which help describe people and ideas to the audience that they were designed for.

It wasn't unusual for God to be shown as a hand emerging from a cloud or the Holy Spirit being depicted as a Dove. When looking at a picture of the Disciples, you knew the man holding the key would probably be Peter. People who have halos are usually Saints, Martyrs or Major figures of the Bible.

Since a lot of these audiences were Pagan, so unfamiliar with Christian symbolism, you might find a mosaic of John the Baptist with a little figure holding an urn under the water - this would tell a non-Christian that they were talking about a river. The little figure would be a river god and the urn would contain the source of the flow. These sorts of elements would be not be meant to change the story of John the Baptist but rather be a translation to help the audience understand the scenario.

Although piece above has a lot of contemporary (almost cartoonish) elements, it actually shares quite a few similarities to paintings and mosaics done hundreds of years ago. Pentecost is one of those really interesting stories to illustrate because unlike other events where you can piece together the historic context, this has so many crazy supernatural elements to it, it is very difficult to describe in a two dimensional, frozen moment.

This is where the symbolism and lack of reality come in. By breaking down the elements into little pictograms and tying it together with unifying colours and composition, you can very easily tell the elements of the story. It doesn't matter that there is no background landscape of Jerusalem, no sky or landmarks. Those things are the least important parts of the story.

All you need to know is that the heavens were sending down tongues of fire to the people below - remembering a sermon or the passage in Acts would have a regular believer know that this was talking about Pentecost.

Anyways, long post for a small picture. I guess I got carried away there! Told you I had a slight obsession.

You can purchase this painting here.

Friday, May 02, 2008

When I'm an Old Lady

Okay, so lately I've been trying to decide what I want to look like when I'm an old lady. I figured its best to start laying the groundwork now so I don't startle my future grandchildren with the sudden transition.

First off, I don't want to look like an 80 year old who is pretending to be a 49 year old or even worse - a 29 year old. I don't mind wrinkles and whatnot. I've seen many beautiful women from most decades and the ones with the most charm are the ones who proudly show thier true age.

After much thought, I've narrowed it down. I could totally go either way. I think if you know me in real life, you would agree that either would be a good fit. I've considered my options carefully.

First Look - Neurotic Artist

This is that skinny old lady you see on the bus. She's wearing head to toe black, huge plastic "Roy Orbison" sunglasses, super artificial jet black hair with a bright red slash of lipstick from one side of her face to the other.

She seems pretty tough and outspoken but has a deep love for people who don't irritate her.

I figure for this look to work, I will start smoking again when I hit 80. By that time, the benefits of this rekindled hobby will far outweigh the negatives. I'll exist on nicotine, coffee, and art gallery openings.

Second look - Smiling Grandmother

This is that unflappable entirely lovable lady you see in the produce aisle. Always happy, always saying slightly unintelligible things to little children. You will usually find this kind of old lady has hair to her feet which she twists into towering displays featuring fresh cherry blossoms and plastic barettes.

She seems so sweet until she confesses at Bible study that sometimes people really annoy her.

If I go this route, I want to keep running. When I'm 80, that will finally be my time to qualify for the Boston Marathon and possibly place in my age group. I'll also put flax seeds and wheatgerm in all my baked goods.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shipping Sale on Prints!

Check out the ever increasing selection in my etsy store!