Roses are red

Sometimes, I need a reminder to stop and smell the roses.  Life can get so busy that it is hard to remember to be mindful and truly in the moment.  I work part time in a hospital, I am a mother of 2 active boys, I am a wife, and I am an artist starting my business journey.  There are a lot of items on my “to do ” list, so many in fact, that it is often overwhelming, and I don’t know where to begin.  I feel like I have different versions of “me”, literally different hats to wear, and different personalities in each part of my life.

At the hospital, I am professional.  I am a perfectionist, paying extreme attention to detail.  And I am looking after other people’s needs above my own.  I deal with hunger, dehydration and fatigue in order to keep up with the work flow most days.  Everyone and everything else comes before my needs.  I try to act confident, as I am in a position of expertise, and I do know my job well.

At home, when I am with my family, they come first.  Even as my boys are growing, I need to feed them and wash their clothes and keep them entertained and not fighting.  I feel like I need to do things my husband would want me to do that left to myself I would likely leave.  Just me, being a people pleaser.  I feel like  I am not keeping up, not doing a good enough job.  There are always things to do, and ways of doing them better.

As an artist, it is often just about me.  What do I need or want?  I can play and create freely, using colours of my choice.  I can leave my space a mess because it is MY space.  I can discover my secrets and passions.  Until…I get into my head…will people like this?  What would they prefer?  What does this even mean?!  And then…I get stuck…I cannot let my perfectionism and people pleasing intrude on my art, or the art will not happen.  Worse…it will become another item on my ever lasting “to do” list, and that is not what art is meant to be.

So I have to keep all these aspects of me separate it seems.  I can’t be vulnerable in the hospital, or I will be taken advantage of and not trusted.  I can’t be completely professional, organized and in control at home because there are too many other opinions and attitudes to incorporate.  And I can’t be free and messy at the hospital or at home, because that is just not acceptable.  There has to be a middle ground somewhere…to somehow not feel like 3 completely different people.

So, this is my reminder to stop and smell the roses…enjoy the simple pleasures in life…paint on my fingers, the ground under my feet, the sun on my skin and wind in my hair… giggles from my boys.  Pretty stones, lipstick, and flowers.  A hug.

This is a 6×6 mini rose that I painted a few months back.  And I must admit…I kind of love it and want to paint more of them!  I was afraid to paint a rose because I want to develop a loose, more abstract and relaxed style, but to get the shape of the rose I had to pay some attention to detail.  And I find red tough to work with, because you can’t lighten it easily without making pink, and I don’t want muted pink highlights, I wanted it bright and bold!

Someone told me it reminded them of Alice in Wonderland.  I LOVE that idea!  It suits me so much!  I feel like since my head injury I have fallen through the rabbit hole, and am trying to find my way back home…knowing that I will never be the same self that I was before entering.

Have you had a rabbit hole moment?  Can you see the positive that came from it, despite the pain you may have endured in the beginning?  Tell me about it!  And take a moment today to stop, and smell the roses!


Donna is Coming to Town!

workshop collage

Friends!  I have some very exciting news!!!  I have the privilege of hosting one of the main artists I admire and have been learning from over the past few years!  Yes!  Donna Downey is coming to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada!  (Stoney Creek, if you want to be precise).

Just over 2 years ago I attended 2 workshops at Donna’s Studio in North Carolina…one with her and one with Jane Davenport.  And I am telling you with no word of a lie, it was a life changing experience for me.  With Donna’s Abstract Florals workshop, I learned how to see and translate shadow and light onto the canvas.  I learned to paint freely and intuitively, appreciating the movement and flow of the brush strokes.  I learned to paint emotion through colour.  I left feeling alive, brave and free.  I left with more confidence…both in my art and in myself.  I felt inspired to create, and to share with other people, for I may be able to inspire others.

Donna’s workshops are so much more than just art lessons.  She enables you to dive deep into your intuition and encourages you to trust and express your truest self.  She encourages you experimentation and play with colour, which evokes joy, excitement and peace.  I believe anyone can benefit from a workshop with Donna Downey.  She teaches in a way that a beginner can follow and be impressed and happy with the experience and outcome.  At the same time, she pushes the experienced artist beyond the limits of their comfort zone, uncovering a new technique or way of seeing or transferring what is seen onto their work.  Donna challenges your mind and teaches not only techniques, but ways of looking at your own work in a new light.  She encourages you to embrace your own unique style, and follow your heart’s desire with colour and brush strokes, media and subject.  To explore something intimidating, in a friendly, encouraging and non-competitive environment.  Regardless of your experience and style, there are tips that everyone can benefit from, and at different moments in your life, a new aspect of her teaching will resonate with you.

Donna is also very inspiring.  She is self-taught, and takes a lot of pride in her experience.  One of her online courses is an Artist Study, where she focuses on one famous artist from history every month, teaches and practices techniques and then interweaves them into her own style.  It is a phenomenal course!  She dives fearlessly and passionately into new techniques, styles and art media, and is enthusiastic to share her talents and techniques with the world.

Figurative and Flowers is the name of Donna Downey’s Traveling Studio Workshop.  And it sounds so very exciting!!!  Students bring their preferred supplies, either oil or acrylic paint.  Wooden cradle boards primed with gesso and red acrylic paint are provided, as well as the use of an easel.  On day 1, Donna will instruct the class in a guided lesson.  You will paint together to develop your own painting based on Donna’s painting model.  On day 2, you begin a fresh canvas with your very own inspiration!  Donna will model techniques while you paint your own figurative composition of your choosing!  She will be there for hands-on guidance and encouragement each of the two full days of the workshop.  This course just screams excitement for me…the human figure AND flowers!  Two very expressive subjects!  And you get guidance for your very own original painting inspired by an image of your choice by Donna!

Interested in more details?  Click here.

I wish I could be a student in this course.  I would LOVE Donna’s feedback on my painting style, and to experiment with oils under her direction.  However, I have the honour of hosting the event, and I am sure I will be busy helping and making sure everyone has what they need to be able to create freely.

It amazes me how easily this came together.  No, it didn’t happen over night, and yes it took up a lot of my attention and time, but it was totally worth it.  I learned a lot.  It is interesting to me how when you open yourself up to something, the opportunities needed to make it happen just appear.  My original venue, Steel City Studio, couldn’t accommodate the large class size.  But I joined a group online of Hamilton Makers as per their recommendation.  That’s how I found the venue for this amazing workshop.  Shabby Sunflower is a new storefront and workshop space opening up in Stoney Creek in September, 2018.  They put out a post looking for people interested in teaching workshops in their beautiful space.  So I reached out and we worked out the details.  It really was that easy.  I am so excited to see the studio in person next month!  The renovation images look amazing!

I am still working out some of the details, so if you have any questions, please, contact me by email ( and I will happily answer you or find the answer for you.

Please share this blog with your friends and family.  You never know who could use this amazing workshop and some face time with Donna Downey, as well as like-minded artists.  Thank you!



Finding Inspiration



Inspiration flowers

Sometimes I don’t know what to paint.  I either have too many ideas and I can’t choose, or I have none at all.  Sometimes I have paintings on the go that I need to work on, but want more time to devote to them than I have to work at the moment.  Sometimes I am intimidated by what I have done so far, and fear messing it up, even though I know it is not complete.  Sometimes, I have blank canvas anxiety…but this is less often than the other reasons that I have mentioned.

So when I want to create and don’t know where to start, I look for inspiration in my surroundings.  Every day little things.  But this can also become overwhelming, because I could really paint anything at all.  How do I choose?  The flowers in my garden, photos of my kids or landscapes from trips we have taken.  Simple household still lives like a lemon or an apple, a tea cup or a vase.  Or any one of the many inspirational pictures I have saved on Pinterest.

So sometimes, when I’m shopping, I buy myself some flowers.  This makes me happy, brightens the house, and gives me inspiration to paint.  I can paint the entire bouquet, or each flower individually.  It inspires me with varying shapes and colours.  This bouquet, especially, I LOVE the colours!  And I have not successfully painted a rose or a lily as of yet, so it is a new challenge.  Even this simple attempt to focus my inspiration has so much potential and so many directions I can go.  But it helps me to focus.  And it makes me happy.

I LOVE to paint whimsical portraits, but they take a lot of time and focus and effort, and are slow to get the same gratification as painting flowers.  And I am still experimenting with colours, but find portraits a little more limiting to the palette.  Abstract florals on the other hand, allow instant colour enjoyment, and a playful child-like experience.  They are happy making.  And they look good in a loose style.  I can let go of perfectionism with florals, and just splash some paint around for a while.  Layering and playing with light.

Where do you find your inspiration?  How do you decide what to paint?  Do you buy yourself muses?  Or use what is around you?  Or do you have images in your head and stories that pour onto the canvas or page?  Tell me about your process.



A Soothing Inspirational Original by Katrina Koltes

Katrina Koltes is a woman I admire over the internet.  We “met” in an online workshop by Jane Davenport.  Katrina had an instant knack and talent, from what I could see.  There is a beautiful grace to her art…a whispy airiness, and a comforting warmth.  I bought a few prints from her journal pages, early on in her career, and thought “this woman is going to BE someone”.  And now, years later, I have managed to score one of her originals in her first online solo auction!  And she is building her art business and reputation, and I couldn’t be more proud to call her my friend.  She inspires me every day, and proves that a woman with small children CAN chase her dreams, grab them by the coat tails, and learn to not only fly, but soar.

I am SO amazingly grateful that this beautiful piece is hanging in my home, above my art table, where I feel she is watching over me as I create.  She is “The Guardian”…soft and strong, confident and kind.  I love the combination of her flawless skin and the textured background…like even through a storm she is gentle grace and compassionate freedom.  Nothing is going to stop her or those she helps on their journeys.  She is strength and courage and love.  This is MY interpretation.  Tell me about it!  Share a picture!  Did you get it?

Wildly Inspiring Print by Annie Hamman

“Abundant Love” is the name of this GORGEOUS giclée print by Annie Hamman, from South Africa.  And 11×15 inch print, I love the way the colours of the frame and the matte accent the painting.  This is a very special piece for me.  I wanted the original, but it went so quickly at auction that I didn’t have a chance.  Lol.  Which is amazing for Annie!  I am grateful she made a handful of prints for people like me who missed out and ADORE this painting.

When I first saw this painting, I was in awe…look at her hands!  I LOVE the way that Annie paints hands, and faces, and I absolutely admire the way that she blends a perfect painterly portrait with intuitive colours and scribbles.  The combination of beauty and “destruction” is captivating.  I dream of painting like this…both her amazing colourful portraits and with the free spirit she also incorporates.

Annie’s “story Art” truly tells a story, and touches hearts across the world.  This piece resonates with me on so many levels…I had to have a copy of it.  I feel like she has a secret to share with me…some deep down in her heart wisdom to reveal, when the timing is right.

For now, I think her message is that help is available when you are willing to ask, and to trust your wings.  Be gentle and kind to yourself and others, for anything is possible when the heart leads the way.  There may be obstacles, and there may be hard times.  Embrace your beautiful imperfections…the glorious mess of your life, and own it, for you alone know what it is like to be inside your head.  Most importantly, you are not alone, and you are loved.  This is what she says to me.  What does she way to you?  What does she make you feel?

Do you admire people who make similar things as you or those who have a totally different style?

Convenient Portable Payment

Look!  I have a Square!  A portable debit tap, and credit card reader!  How cool is that?!  It was a bit of a long process to get it…always a story…never a straight path…always more of a meandering trail.  lol.

So I went to a panel talk at Steel City Studio a few months ago, and the panelists got into how they accept payments, and the pros and cons of the Square vs Dream Payments.  And so, based on the opinions laid out before me, and the price of my general artwork, I opted to try the Dream Payments system.

I should have been more suspicious when it was out of stock locally, and I had to order one from BC…because within a couple of weeks, before I even had a chance to activate it and start accepting payments, I learned that Dream Payments will no longer be supported.  Yep…I spent a bunch of money on a system that I thought was superior when in fact it is obsolete before I even got to play with it.  Lucky for me that they set a date that they would offer refunds to people who ordered after that date, and I fit into that category.  …but then, of course, I had a little trouble returning it.  In the end, that all got sorted out, just took some time and emails and phone calls.

And then, I went out and bought myself a Square.  Because the biggest, easiest way to get out of a purchase is “I don’t have cash on me”.  I say it all the time!  Well, let me help you with that.  😉  It was super easy to set up and link to my business bank account, and it walked me through test payments and refunds.  So now, I just need a real customer to give it a try.  Maybe tonight…at Art Crawl…James Street North, Hamilton.  Come and visit!

Have you used a square to make a purchase?  Do you love the convenience of being able to use debit or credit on the fly?  Or are you hesitant to trust the technology?  I must admit, I feel much more legitimate as a vendor having the ability to accept debit or credit…even if I haven’t used it yet.

Tattoo Reminders

I am sure many of you have seen my tattoo…but do you know what all it symbolizes to me?  Likely not…because I have been selective who I have told what, and not really shared the entire message with any one person.  There is so much depth to this seemingly simple little doodle, that I didn’t even understand the impact it would have on me fully until after I had it and spent some time looking at it, reminding myself to be kind to myself, pause, and keep going.

The story behind my first tattoo…it started with an online art workshop by Kelly Rae Roberts called “Hello Soul, Hello Mixed Media Mantras”.  Kelly Rae encouraged us to write our intentions or affirmations on our hands or arms while we created.  So I spent a lot of time writing on both hands and/or arms, until I started getting deep and embarrassed for other people to see what I wanted to write to myself.  So I started playing with symbols and a sharpie.  At that same time, I was introduced to the semicolon project, and being in the state of mind I was at the time, it really touched close to my heart.

Have you heard of Project Semicolon?  It began in 2013 as a social media movement, encouraging people to draw a semicolon on themselves and post a picture.  The semicolon represents mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention.  “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to.  The author is you, and the sentence is your life.”  This grew into a non-profit organization…a “movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury.”  Multiple projects were inspired by this movement, including the Semicolon Tattoo Project.  “(The tattoo) is a conversation starter…People ask what it is and we get to tell them the purpose.”  There is a huge stigma associated with mental health.  The more we talk about it, the less power that stigma has…for shame cannot survive when spoken.  It’s kind of like saying Rumpelstiltskin, he can’t survive hearing his name.

I had been struggling with a severe depression, following a head injury, and was learning a number of different strategies and tools to help me get through the tough moments and eventually each day.  I was constantly reminding myself to pause, and breathe, and be mindful of my feelings and my current surroundings.  So this symbol and the thought of a visual reminder to “pause, and then keep going” really resonated with me.  I drew a semicolon on my arm with sharpie for a few days…but it wasn’t enough.  I was still reminding myself in those moments of pausing to be kind to myself.  To practice self-compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness.  And just like that, the dot became a heart.  And I loved it and I wore it around for a week or two like that.  And no one knew what it meant except for me, and I was practicing my affirmations without embarrassment.  But it still didn’t quite seem like it told me the full message I needed to hear.  In my mixed media mantras, my intentions were becoming “trust your wings” and “follow your heart”, and so, just fiddling around, I added wings to my doodle.  BOOM!  There it is.  And if anyone asked that I didn’t want to explain it to…I could tell them it is a stylized dragonfly…I love dragonflies so this was suiting as well.

So I got the tattoo!  I played with colour a little bit, and settled on this amazing teal.  And then, I got thinking about dragonflies…and did a little research into their symbolism and well, that just added to my excitement.  First, dragonflies, like butterflies, are a symbol of transformation.  “The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.”  Take for instance that the dragonfly can move in any direction, or hover.  It is highly adaptable and able to change direction smoothly in an instant, living in each moment.  The dragonfly can also see in 360 degrees, symbolizing the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self.  It also spends time living in water, on land and in the air, demonstrating comfort with change and evolution, and again, adaptability.

How perfect is this?  What started as a little doodle has become such a significant symbol in my life.  So significant, that besides using it every day as a reminder to pause and be kind to myself, it has become a part of my logo…the symbol of my art journey.  Again…how amazingly cool is that, the relevance of all that it stands for.

Do you have a symbol that means something special to you?  How did you come up with your logo if you have one?