Study of Cezanne and Donna

From Donna Downey’s Artist Studies online course, I completed the exercises on the left of the lime, red bowl, and the striped pitcher. Paul Cezanne painted many still life paintings, with emphasis on how objects interact with one another. I had a lot more fun than I had anticipated painting a lime, multiple times. And although I am not yet a master of lime painting, I do see much improvement with each attempt. I decided that I needed to continue this study on my own as well…so I purchased a few items and bought some flowers and fruit, and I set up some of my own still life studies.

I decided to start with individual items, such as some pottery and a clock…a clock with no numbers which absolutely thrills me to no end. It’s like, there is no time limit, no rush, just this exact moment. I am sure you will see this clock in many more paintings as I get braver with my set ups.

And then, a beautiful and fun statue, flower and lime. I will admit, I struggled with the white/grey again, and the appropriate shadowing. and I feel the depth on this type of flower was difficult to obtain. But I LOVE the shadows! And the lime on this one! One benefit of painting in a basement with dim lights is that the art light produces heavy shadows, which are so fun to recreate. So dramatic!

I will admit, I got a little…ok, a lot carried away searching for items to paint at Value Village and Home Sense…Don’t ever let me say “I have nothing to paint”…for I am surrounded by piles of inspiration. Not to mention ideas that are still stirring in my head!

How do you decide what to paint? Do you set it up and take a photo, or do you paint from what you see in the moment?

Study of Van Gogh and Donna

As many of you may know, I am a HUGE fan of Donna Downey.  I went to her studio in June of 2017, originally for a workshop with Jane Davenport (another idol of mine), and I added in Donna’s Abstract Florals class, for something new and inspiring and fun.  And I LOVED it!  Her style, her techniques, it all spoke to me in my soul.  I had not painted so freely before, and I didn’t understand layering and abstract art at the time.  I gained a whole new appreciation for acrylic painting, and began noticing natural beauty in the world around me again, as I was finally coming out of my depression.

I followed Donna online…possibly became a bit of a fan or stalker, lol…in the kindest way possible.  Recently, I signed up for her online workshop called Artist Studies.  The first (and free) lesson was about Van Gogh…one of Donna’s all time favourite artists.  I did the lessons, and then ventured into some other paintings.  One of the most valuable teachings I have learned is that it is OK to copy someone’s art…as long as you credit them and don’t profit off of their idea.  It is how artists learn and grow.  In Donna’s lesson, she demonstrated how she took some of Van Gogh’s style with his colour choices and brush strokes and infused them into her own work, giving an amazing painting similar to the one pictured above on the right.  The one you see is my copy of her work inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night.  I created this one evening that I couldn’t sleep.  I am so thrilled with how it turned out!  And I feel like I got to study from two masters in one by copying this piece!

I took what I learned in this painting experience and applied it to part of a self portrait I had started and hadn’t yet fallen in love with (pictured completed above on the left).  It is of me and my first son when he was a few days old.  I changed my colour palette for the skin tones, and I infused some Van Gogh like brush strokes into the background.  I love this idea, and want to transfer it from my journal to canvas some day.  It speaks to me and reminds me of the precious, gentle, quiet snuggle moments in the midst of the chaos of having a new born, and becoming a mother, a family.  I attempted to bring Van Gogh into the portrait as well, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with it and kept resorting to my style.  Which I am ok with…I think the complementary blending effect works well to demonstrate the emotion behind this image.

Until this point, I would paint for fun and use colours that made me happy.  I didn’t think about my art beyond being something fun to do and pretty to look at.  Now, I feel I am starting to think like an artist.  And the inspiration and ideas are flowing!  I need more time to paint and play and explore!

Who is your favourite artist?  Or who have you learned the most from to this point in time?

Mini Series

mini series

After experimenting with oil paints while participating in Donna Downey’s 6x6x6 class, creating 6 oil paintings, 6×6 inches in size, I decided to use the theory she teaches for a series and make some mini series of 3, 6×6 inch images of fall flowers with acrylics.  These were for sale at my bake sale for 261 Fearless, a fundraiser leading up to the New York City Marathon in November 2017.  Unfortunately, they didn’t sell, but at some point in time I intend to make more minis and attend Art Crawl a monthly artist gathering on James Street North in Hamilton.  I just need some seasonal inspiration.  😉

I can barely believe that running in New York was already 7 months ago.  Here, in just a few days, I have the honour of meeting with Kathrine Switzer and 261 Fearless in Niagara Falls for the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon.  I am super excited about this adventure…hoping that I have gotten enough of my training runs, and recovered enough from the Mudcat Half Marathon, and my foot/ankle injury, to break last year’s time of 2 hours 51 minutes.

But back to the art!  I kind of love making minis because they are completed so quickly!  They are a very satisfying size to work with.  But it is hard to stay loose when working small…for me anyways.

Here are a couple of more recent mini’s…some Snow Drops for Spring!  I LOVE the one outside, in the little drifts of snow, but I also love the mini vase.  FYI…white flowers are HARD!  Maybe that’s because I don’t really like black, and don’t use it very often.  lol.  So getting a grey scale doesn’t really happen for me because of that.  Hmm…giving away my secrets.  😉

Ooo!  I just had an idea!  I should try to make a mini a day!  That would be so fun!  And a great warm up before diving into commission work, and more detailed points of my works-in-progress (WIPs)

Stay Tuned!!!  Who wants to join me???  We can start a real challenge…one 6×6 creation, paper, canvas, board or whatever you have or like.  One mini a day for a week…let’s keep it simple.  Share with me on facebook or Instagram!


Self Portrait

Self Portrait - Donna and Van gogh

As part of the Van Gogh lesson in the Artist Series by Donna Downey, we were encouraged to create a self portrait.  This is what I came up with in my journal.  Donna’s process involves going right in with paint on a brush and NOT sketching first.  This was a big challenge for me!  Not that I am an experienced sketch artist or portrait sketcher, but I have found comfort in sketching out or transferring an outline to the canvas or paper first.  Not this time!  And you know?  I didn’t do too badly!  And it was FUN!  Exhilarating even!  To paint loosely at first and tighten up the details as if came along.

As you can see…i struggle with cheeks and noses.  I may fiddle and fix it up more, or I may try again, but I am currently super excited with other ideas and photos in mind that I will leave this as is for now.  I have not had this much creative energy for a long while now, and it is exciting and fun.  I wish I could paint, all day, every day, to get my ideas out!

What do you do when you have ideas but no time to execute them?  Do you journal?  Sketch?  Collect pictures on pinterest for added inspiration?  Can you tell what I do?  LOL!  I tend to do a mix of each…write notes in my journal for ideas, and I have recently started sketching ideas in a sketch book, or in my art journal to be painted.  And I am a frequent pinterest hoarder.

I also tend to start multiple projects and then wait until I have time to focus to sit down and fiddle with the details.  This is why I have so many half painted canvas boards!  Starting and being loose is fun!  But the details and calling it done freak me out!  Especially if I am painting for someone else.  What if they don’t like it?  I fuss and nit pick, and make myself crazy.  But I am getting better, with time and experience.

Stay tuned for more creative sharing of my ideas and works in progress!!!  Thanks for following!

Chan Man and friends

Chan Man 2

A running friend asked me to paint her pets for her. This is going to be my first real series, and my first time painting animal portraits.

I started with multiple images of each of her pets, and chose the pictures that spoke to me. I transferred the images onto gesso’d 10x10inch boards. I was given the freedom to “do my thing” with them. Which is interesting, since I am still discovering my thing. But at the time that we were talking about this project, I was posting a lot of multicolour and bright background pieces. So I decided to keep working with colour.

I started with a black cat named Chan Man…and my favourite background colour combination. Now I’m not entirely sure if I’m finished or still fussing with some details. But it has been so long since I worked on him that I am afraid of messing him up. So I started colour blocking another member of the series and family. This is Carl…

Carl In Progress

I am also in love with this colour combination! This is only the first layer. In fact, you can still see the grid lines in the white from drawing him. But the colours make me happy. And I hope to make the owner happy too! Who knew painting pets could be so much fun! As with portraits, I am trying to find the balance between vibrant fun colours and a realistic portrayal.

Here is Sassy…I believe she is my favourite thus far. Also a work in progress…


I LOVE the character in these pieces so far! But I have found I can only paint them when I am happy…I just can’t get into them if I’m tired or a little sad. So needless to say, they are taking me some time to complete. Thank goodness the owner is a patient lady! Lol.

Any advice from the artist community about working on commissioned pieces when mood affects your style?

Around the Bay – The Run and the Art

ATB print

As many of you know, I ran Around the Bay 30km road race as a training run for the Mudcat Marathon that I had planned to be participating in tomorrow…the day before Mother’s Day.  This was to be my second full marathon, and this time I have completed most of the recommended training, although I have also been battling an injury.  Due to the injury, and the missed runs or had lesser quality runs for fear of worsening the injury, I have decided to drop down and run the half marathon instead.  This was a difficult decision, as I was looking forward to running a full marathon surrounded by my friends and running family.  I am looking forward to the small town feeling, the time in my own head, as well as knowing I can do this.

What many don’t know is that this journey began at Around the Bay, last year, 2017.

In March of 2017, I ran a 2 person relay in Around the Bay…running 15km, as a training race for my first half marathon.  It is amazing having such an iconic run, being the oldest road race in North America, in my hometown.  What I hadn’t experienced until this race, was the strong sense of community among runners.  I was (and still am) a member of the Stoney Creek Run Club, and have made many friends there.  I have always felt supported and encouraged.  But it was at this run, as I waited at the finish line and cheered for people coming in, that I truly felt the emotion and sense of family.  I was so excited for and proud of the people that had completed this amazing feat.  30km sounded out of reach to me at that time.  But seeing some of the members of my run club coming in toward the end of the race, showed me that it really is about completing the run, and not about time.  And since time doesn’t really matter, maybe, just maybe, I too could do this.

This was reinforced at the inaugural Mudcat Marathon in May of 2017.  Some of the people that had moved me at Around the Bay, were truly inspiring as I watched them cross the finish line of their first full marathon!  They did it!  Slow and steady!  What struck me the most, and I know this sounds odd, was that they were in obvious pain and discomfort in the end.  But the did it…they ran the finish line.  These ladies gave me permission to struggle in my runs.  They showed me that running isn’t easy, and that I don’t have to look and feel fresh and strong all of the time, especially after a marathon.  They showed me that it is ok to feel pain, and want to quit, and yet that it is possible to keep going.  That it is worth continuing to move forward, one step at a time.  Marathon’s aren’t pretty.  They are hard.  The distance must be respected or it will beat you.  That day, these ladies beat the marathon. 42.2km…taken down.  The sense of accomplishment, the pride, the empowerment, every emotion could be felt after that run.  These ladies became my heroes.

And it was then that I decided that I would train for a marathon, and do the full Around the Bay.  And it was this experience of being surrounded by my running family that lead me to the Mudcat Marathon.  This was intended to be my first marathon, but some amazing circumstances came up and the stars aligned and I ran in the New York City Marathon in November 2017.  I trained and travelled on my own, but it was my running family that got me through.  I drew strength and confidence from their encouraging words, and I kept their successes close to my heart for inspiration.  It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect, I just needed to keep moving forward.

But there is no point in hurting myself.  I have many other plans for runs and experiences this summer, that I need and want to be strong and healthy for.  So although I was feeling a bit defeated, like I had failed my training, I know that a part of being a good athlete is being smart, and knowing when to push through and when to pull back and listen to your body.  My body has been screaming slow down for months.  It’s about time I listened before it forces me to stop entirely.

This print was a gift for registering for the 125th anniversary Around the Bay road race, in 2019.  It was painted by Dylan Swan, a local artist who created a painting at every kilometer of this iconic race.  I absolutely LOVE this print.  The colours, the movement in the brush strokes, the painterly effect, and the comforting feeling of  familiarity and home.  I run this area by the bridges often.  And marking the 15km mark, the half way point of the race, means so much more to me now having completed it.  By this point I felt strong and wonderful.  I felt like I had this race under control.  Little did I know that after 8 more kms, I would fall into self doubt, but that’s another story.  I did finish, and this point was monumental.

So I framed this print and have it hanging in my living room…To remind me of my strength and resilience.  And to remind me that inspiration is all around me.  I run and I paint for the same reason…self care.  What better way to bring it all together than with a painting of a run?!

Do you find you are drawn to artists and styles similar to your own or very different?  I LOVE this style, and aspire to paint more loosely like this, using colour and brush stroke to portray emotion.  I am learning and practicing.  And this print makes me happy on so many levels.

Cheers!  Wish me luck for tomorrow!

Emotional Spectrum

growth seriesWarning!  Vulnerable blog post coming up.

These two paintings are the first to be completed for a series idea that I have recently fallen in love with.  I am SO excited to take you on this journey.  However, I am also nervous, because it requires being vulnerable, and real, and admitting that my thoughts and feelings towards myself are not kind.

I strive to be like the painting on the right…head held high, standing confidently in the light with the darkness behind me.  Surrounded by beauty, of which I am completely aware of and grateful for.  Strongly rooted, healthy, and growing .

Yet recently, I have been battling with my “not enough” gremlins, and spent a few days feeling very much like the painting on the left.  This was the first time while experiencing those feelings, I painted to work through them and express them, rather than to hide them, distract from them or make them “pretty”.

I must say, I absolutely love both of these paintings.  And they are both so emotional and real to me.  Even though the one on the left is so sad, defeated, and weak, wilted in her unworthiness, completing her brought me such joy.  I am no longer hiding…no longer pretending everything is sunshine and rainbows.  I am embracing imperfection in so many ways…through the art by letting the discrepancies be, as well as by admitting that I am flawed in my thoughts and feelings, to name just a few.

Do you create through tough emotions or around them?  Do you express them or make them go away for the time being?  Or does your creative energy shut down when you are low, as it has for me so many times.  I am determined to work through my emotions in my art.  We are not alone in our thoughts and feelings.  And there is nothing to be ashamed of when a low day comes around.  It is ok to feel not ok.  Only through feeling it, and expressing it, can we break the hold of depression.