One of the most striking features of the Bella Coola Valley, where I live, are the mountains. They soar up to as much as 9,000 feet surrounding us in a narrow valley only about 1.5 km wide at the most. (Correct me if I’m wrong, locals!!) On the valley floor it seems next to impossible to capture the magnificence of their high peaks, and I’m not one of those brave enough to scale their massive heights. I’m more of a day hiker! But the son of a friend of mine is one of those brave kids, whose Instagram is drool worthy. He graciously allowed me to use his photo. Check out his beautiful photos and adventures at @jortuck…
This one is fresh off the easel and finally dry. Most days, my art making routine is very similar. I first pull myself an Americano, light an incense, put on some weird Viking music from The Last Kingdom or Vikings, and then lay out my paint. I use a limited palette of Gamblin oils, usually titanium white, cad yellow light, cad yellow medium, cad red, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna (cuz I’m too lazy to mix browns and it greys down the blue nicely for mountain colours) and titanium white. I use brushes from Rosemary and Company, their set called Alla Prima. They have the BEST brushes. I then stain my canvas with a thin wash of burnt sienna, build a value map, and start laying in color.
This piece is for sale as part of the Covid #ArtistsSupportPledge. We artists will put up works for $200 or less, and once we make $1,000.00, we pledge to buy a piece from another artist for $200 or less. I’m happy to say, I made my $1,000 and was able to purchase a piece from Dana Statham, an artist friend from Vancouver Island, who I actually met in Kenmare, Ireland! But that’s another story entirely. Make sure to go to and check out her beautiful paintings as well.
Finally, the New Moon is here! It feels like the difficult time I had in May is over. A new cycle has begun. I’ve never really considered myself a New Agey person, although I’ve always been extra intuitive, have dreams that come true years later and I’m super sensitive to subtle energy shifts in people around me. For years I’ve struggled with being overflowing with happiness and energy for half the month, but then suddenly lacking energy, focus, and creativity, sometimes to the point of illness. In my twenties, doctors suggested that I was “borderline bi-polar” and I struggled with chronic depression. Finally, I started to journal and keep track of when this was happening.
I thought a lot about cycles, how we’re really just animals living on this planet where every other living thing is influenced by the cycles. First I tracked the obvious, my own monthly cycles and researched about hormonal changes over the course of ovulation, etc…and things started falling into place. But then, I realized that my own monthly cycles were synced up more or less with the cycles of the moon, which led me to more and more research. To the point where I can now almost guess what sign the moon is in, and if it’s almost full or almost new, or if it’s gone void, without even looking, just by my emotional state. It’s liberating. I don’t feel damaged anymore, just human. A perfectly human animal, in sync with this amazing planet and it’s heavenly bodies. Does that make me woo-woo? New Agey? Or really, can we somehow all begin to accept that we are a part of something so much bigger, that we’re not separate from, but with which our lives are inextricably entwined.
The New Moon is about setting intentions and letting go of what doesn’t serve you from the previous moon cycle. My intentions for this cycle are to get out of my own way. To stop being afraid of showing people who I am, through my art, or my business or otherwise.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson
I hope that what I write and paint will inspire people to shine their own light, write down their thoughts and feelings, paint some pictures. I hope that we can all begin to see what a gift nature has given us, honour hers and our cycles, and nurture it and nurture each other. I’m so grateful to her, I’m so grateful for us. I’m grateful for the pause that the horror which is Corona-virus has given us all, at the same time as I’m heart-sickeningly worried for the people that it is hurting, either with the illness, or with financial instability, or their inability to escape violent parents or spouses. We’ve been shown our vulnerability. We’ve been shown our shadow.
I created this little guy as a request from one of my Etsy shop customers, but I can’t think of a name for him! I’m going to add him to the shop soon as a physical print, and I’m in the process of setting up a new section where you can buy my cute watercolour animals as an instant download. You’ll be able to print them yourself and don’t have to spend time sitting around waiting for mail to arrive! You can follow my shop here for updates.
It’s raining. Not just drips and drops…torrents. I’m feeling restless and antsy this month. Tied down and trapped. I want to travel and see new things and be inspired. I’m sick of corona-virus. At first I was happy for the extra time away from having to work for a living, to actually create, but the longer this strangeness goes on, the more I’m sick of myself and my moods, my indecision and my lack of ability to commit to any one thing artistically. My brain is everywhere now and I can’t decide if I want to paint mountains, or animals, or flowers, or my daughter…watercolour, oils, plein-air, still life…so here I sit. I’ve spent all day trying to learn how to build an online presence, how to promote my work. I’ve ignored these things because I had to work. Now I have the time, but my brain hurts from information overload. My butt hurts from sitting all day! I really haven’t gotten very far, and all I really want to do is paint. All of the advice out there says to be real, to connect with others and be vulnerable, pick a theme and stick to it. Vulnerability and decisiveness…neither are my strong point. I was inadvertently taught to be invisible. To be quiet and not bother people with my problems. I was a bullied, shy and timid kid. The only way I knew how to get the attention I wanted was to shut up, make pretty pictures, and learn how to do everything myself.
I don’t think many people know how many hours and days artists sit at the computer, tearing their hair instead of painting. It’s certainly not all romance and fairy tales. And I’m not usually a grumpy person!
April was blissful. Endless stretches of time off. Spring exploding around me everywhere, off the charts summer temperatures. I got outside and painted, I painted still lifes if the weather was bad, I took a course with Dennis Perrin. I planted a garden for the first time in years. It’s been productive and meaningful. But May hit me with a ton of bricks. I’m all over the map. Everything that I thought I knew last month seems to be flipped on its head. I wonder if it’s the collective consciousness, or the fact that a whole bunch of planets went into retrograde this month? Whatever it is, it seems like a lot of people, especially creatives, are feeling this way.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m so grateful for so many things: a supportive and wonderful spouse, brilliant and loving kids, a home in the country with hardly any restrictions due to corona-virus. I live in the wilderness enveloped by beauty with bears and wildlife at my doorstep, surrounded by waterfalls and mountains. I walk in the woods every day. These are definitely first world problems I’m dealing with! And I know that I’m my own worst enemy.
Marie Forleo, a fantastic business and life coach I have followed in the past says that “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” I’m finding this to be so true. As soon as I actually commit to a course of action, and absorb myself in it, all of the confusion goes away. Even writing this blog post has helped. How’s that for a dose of ‘vulnerability’. And yesterday, needing a little kick in the butt, I decided to do the “Paint a bunch of Sunflowers” Daily Paintworks Challenge. So I painted these three little guys. They’re only 5″ x 7″ oil on panel and canvas board, respectively, but will easily pop into any little photo frame if you take out the glass. I’m only asking $75 CAD each or $200 for all three, and shipping is free.
I hope you all are finding some resolution and joy in these strange times, and that you’re all safe and well.
Is anyone else out there feeling like this? I’d love to hear from you!
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~ Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn, the epitome of woman, the bombshell…she always supported women and celebrated their successes. She’s been a favorite of mine to paint, and this is my second little painting of her. I’m playing with thick paint again in this one, which makes it a bit more difficult to scan. As usual, it looks better in real life! This painting goes up for auction at 12 am CST, at https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/1046367
I’m absolutely thrilled to have finished this painting, for the second time. The first time was a little 6″ x 6″ panel that I sold on DailyPaintworks, way too quickly and way too cheaply! I’ve missed it ever since. Some images stick with you for life, and this is one of them. I have to admit, it is not my own, and I so gratefully borrowed it with permission from HaoJanChang on Flickr. I fell in love with it when I saw it, and had to paint it immediately. It speaks to me of longing, of nostalgia, of yearning and mystery. Ever since it sold, I’ve wanted to do a larger version, and maybe keep it for myself. Unless there is someone out there who loves it more than me!
It’s oil on 16″ x 16″ cradled panel, an inch and a half thick. It shows some nice juicy brushstrokes, and the color is better in real life. I hope you love it!
Koala Fundraiser – signed Fine Art Giclée Print, 8 x 10 inch
As many of you are, I find myself distressed and horrified by the terrible state of emergency that Australia is in, and the horrible impact that the fires are having on the wildlife there. I’ve decided to create a series of Australian wildlife portraits in watercolor, for which 60% of the profit from the sale of the prints will be donated to WIRES (https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund)
I feel like I haven’t painted in weeks! I was starting to feel guilty, depressed and even questioning why I bothered!! Crippled with indecision about style, medium, and subject matter…I finally know from experience that the solution is to pick something, just anything, and start painting. First the ground, then the sketch, and suddenly I’m “in it”. Time disappears and the silly self doubt disappears. I started this one last night from a reference photo by Velinar Ivanovo from @Unsplash, a great resource for artists!
I chose this image first, for it’s simplicity, because of my self doubt, I knew that I had to choose something easy, so I didn’t “shoot myself in the foot”. Secondly, I love the sense of mystery, the delicate fabric of her robe, her melancholy. It tells a story, and I want to share human stories…
I’ve recently joined a daily painting challenge with Facebook Friends, and fantastic artists, Corey Matthews and Jan Little. 365 days of painting! I haven’t been entirely successful in painting every day, but I did decide that when I was able to fit in a little one, that I would like at least half of them to be practise from life. Here is a Raven Skull, generously gifted to me by a friend who knows of my love for ravens.
It was very interesting and satisfying to paint from life, to see the different colors in the white of the bone, caused by the light bouncing around the room and off of various surfaces. I hope to do a lot more of painting from direct observation in the future.
Who else out there, working as an artists, feels like they don’t have time to practise?! I feel like I have so little time to paint that I have to make every painting count, but I know the folly in that. If I’m ever going to improve, I know I need to slow down, observe life around me. Paint the color in the shadows!
I’ve had a lot of fun with these cute little critters. I plan on developing a line of greeting cards with them to sell in my online and Brick and Mortar shops. They also look great in a little frame and would suit a nursery or child’s room very well. The prints turned out very well, and you can hardly distinguish them from the originals! Drop me a line if you’re interested!