Sunday 29 December 2013


I hope you are enjoying the holidays and like me getting some quite time for creating art.


Just recently, I came across this soft pastel study I did when I was in my late teens of Georgia O'Keeffe's artwork "Mule Deer Skull and Flowers". I remember I painted the desert too deep and therefore had to shorten the length of the skull. There are a couple of things I would like to go back in and start fixing but at the same time I appreciate those mistakes and acknowledge them, if I am to grow as an artist.

I decided to revisit soft pastels, this time using soft pastel pencils, painting the polar opposite of the desert, water. I have always been attracted to the surreal, quirky and different in art. Over the years, shades of orange, fish or water often make an appearance in my art. Being a Pisces might have something to do with it!

I used a photo reference for the female, I knew I wanted to do something in her hair but I did not know what. A flower of some sort with butterflies maybe? Then suddenly water lilies popped into my head, possibly my love of the artist Monet. This triggered a chain reaction of thoughts of a fish with the water dripping from the water lilies creating rings of water.

I had forgotten how easily the soft pastels smudge, I believe many soft pastel artists use a workable fixative for this purpose. A kneadable eraser helped and I also used it for blending. Building up the soft pastels in light layers made them easier to blend. I found the soft pastel pencils are good for adding detail. I think I have only started to scratch the surface with this medium. As with all art mediums, they come with their own rewards and challenges.

A word of caution, I used a soft sketching pencil for adding definition around the water droplets, the white pastel would not grip over the pencil so easily to give me nice bright highlights.

A white poster paint sharpie gave me the effect I was looking for.

Have you worked in soft pastels? What are your experiences and have you learnt any tips along the way?

Comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Until next time, happy creating and see you in 2014!

Friday 13 December 2013

Christmas Reflections

Jeanette Maisy House Life Book 2013 lesson is about Celebration and Gratitude. When I saw Jeanette's page with the robin, it immediately reminded me of my Mom. When I was growing up in Ireland she would softly call me over to the kitchen window to watch the little robin who visited our garden on a regular basis. How brilliant his burnt orange breast looked against the white dazzling winter snow. We would watch him just hopping in and out of the foliage that was bowing heavily with snow. The slightest sound would make him cock his head before continuing his search for hidden berries.

Jeanette's page had round collage speech bubbles where you could write what you were grateful for over the year. They looked like Christmas baubles to me, so I thought I would have my robin looking into a bauble at his reflection. Hence my idea of reflecting on past memories.


Stamps and gesso were applied to the background. I did not have any suitable metallic paint but then found iridescent medium in my art supplies. I mixed a few drops of acrylic paint with the iridescent medium on my palette to give the desired colour. Hey presto! Beautiful shimmery paint. I applied the paint with a stencil and pallet knife to get a raised effect around the page.

I don't know about you but I cannot draw a perfect circle! This is where the help of circle templates come in useful.

I finished off the background with a snowflake stencil.

I am so grateful to have shared these treasured memories with my Mom. This past year has been such a blessing in many ways; for the love and support of my family and friends. For all my online friends I have connected with, and the talented and gorgeous Tamara Laporte whose faith in me has given me the opportunity to be one of the teachers in next year's Life Book 2014. I can't express in words how humbling and exciting this is to me. The Life Book program/workshop has been running very successfully for two years now, next year will see monthly giveaways along with lots of golden products. If you have not heard about Life Book, check it out by clicking on the image below or on the sidebar.

I am not sure if I will get to do another post for 2013, so I wish you all the joys of the Festive Season and a healthy and Happy New Year!

Friday 29 November 2013

On Fairies Wings

I have had a couple of busy weeks working on some personal projects and workshops. Here is one of those I can share with you. These cuties are my very good friend's two daughters. Believe me they are as cute as buttons in real life too. This artwork is for her eldest daughter's birthday.

This is a mixed media piece using spray inks and gesso for the background, acrylics and caran d'ache watersoluble crayons for the figures. Pink dotted scrapbook paper and glitter paper made the pink fairy dress stand out that little bit more. A wave of glitter paint over the wand and and fairies wings, add to the effect. Sparkle glitter glue and a pink embellishment bedazzle the little tiara.

An appropriate inspirational quote in glitter gel pens completes it. The finished artwork sparkles and twinkles in the light, it is a pity the camera didn't pick up all that glittery goodness. I did not have a photo of the girls to work from but hopefully I have captured their personalities.

Working on this piece made me think, as adults, we can lose that sense of magic. Children remind us to believe in the impossible and just have fun!

Until next time, happy creating and have a happy glittering weekend!

Friday 8 November 2013

Festival of Trees

I have just finished and posted this project for Lorrie Boudreau Jonas and Alison Rogers. They are inviting artists around the world to get involved with this very worthy cause by donating a small 5x5 or 5x7 Christmas themed canvas for the Festival of Trees, to raise money for the Primary Children's Hospital.

Here are my two mini mixed media canvases, slightly different styles.

The reindeer girl's dress and tree are scrapbook papers with extra paper words and glitter snowflakes. I really enjoyed working on this one because of it's simple message.

The Russian style girl has red scrapbook paper for the flower and leaves. Dimensional paint for the centre and acrylic paint for the highlights. Silver snowflakes stickers give it a little bit of twinkle along with pearlesent paint on her coat and berries on her hat. I'm afraid the camera hasn't picked it up.

It was a lovely project to work on. I hope Lorrie and Alison get a lot of response to the event and I wish them every success.

Until next time, happy creating and have a great weekend!

Thursday 31 October 2013

Halloween - Wednesday Addams and Scaredy Cat

Halloween has always been one of my favourite times of the year growing up. The costumes were not very elaborate but I remember always having lots of fun and eating many sweet treats. Luckily it was only once a year, probably not great for the teeth!

I seem to like the more quirky and slightly darker side of Halloween, so here are a few quick rough sketches. I decided to go with a cuter version of Wednesday Addams from the old TV show "The Addams Family". It tickles my funny bone, pun intended.

Tearing and gluing down scrapbook papers and script tissue paper in typical Halloween shades of orange.

Filling in the background with acrylics.

Turning my attention to the main characters and getting more of a feel of the piece with acrylics and caran d'ache watersoluble crayons.

Nearly finished, I put in a little strong light here and there, adding to the details as I am going. I turn to the background again. I decided on a stamp in black ink to frame the edge of the paper and to give it more texture. A Q-tip rubbed in the permanent ink pad makes a good black dot. To balance the picture out, I painted in the bats, it also creates a bit more interest and movement.

This was a nice little project to work on. It is fun for me to create something a little spooky every now and then, Who is your favourite Halloween character and why?

Comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Until next time, happy creating and have a Great Halloween!

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Erecura the Guardian

This artwork is for Life Book 2013 wk36, a catch up lesson for me. As usual, I deviated a bit from the lesson and ended up with a bit of a Celtic feel to this painting. Erecura is the Celtic Earth Goddess and I thought she would fit this painting perfectly. After returning from Ireland recently, I was still missing everybody terribly, especially our new granddaughter.Therefore, this is a little reference to them.

Tamara Laporte mentions in her class how sometimes she is conflicted with being a painter or an illustrator. I can identify totally as I would like to be more of a messy painter. More often than not, before I know it, I am leaning on the illustration side of things. Not to say that is a bad thing but sometimes it is good to not paint in between the lines or get bogged down with details.

Here is an earlier page of mine from Life Book 2013, notice the stencil in the background, I patted off the dylusions inks left on the front of the stencil onto spare watercolour paper, to use at a later stage. Instead of staring at a blank page this can come in useful when you don't have a clear pallet or focal point. In my case, I just hate wasting good inks!

After sketching my idea onto the textured paper, I used white gesso primer to block out the background on the main figures.

Just starting to get in the base colours for the skin tones using acrylics and caran d'ache watersoluble crayons.

After painting in the fawn, I added gesso primer around the figures and used a brayer to blend it in. I then turned my attention to the hair which I am not quite feeling yet and decided to give her a bit of a windswept look. Be mindful when working on top of dylusions inks, as they will bleed when moisture is added on top of them.

For this Life Book lesson we were supposed to use a transfer either using a printed transparency sheet or a paper print out. It was a particularly hot day here and the paint on my brush was drying out quicker than I could paint! So not ideal conditions for using the transfer method. Instead I drew this Celtic design, scanned it into Photoshop added the green gem and printed it out. After spraying it with workable fixative to set the inks, I painted over it to blend it in more with the painting.

I thought a pair of deer antlers on the girl would work well with this piece and then continued around the image adding the final touches.

Well, I was trying to aim for messy in this painting but as you can see I ended up somewhere in the middle! I don't think it is so easy getting that detail girl out of me haha! How about you? What type of artist are you? Have you changed your style, was the transition easy? I would like to hear about it!

Also in the past I have tried transfers using gel medium or hand sanitizer with a printed transparency sheet or a paper print out. I haven't had great results and I was just wondering have you had any experience with transfers? As always comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Enjoy your week, thanks for stopping by.
Until next time, happy creating!

Sunday 6 October 2013

Life Book 2014 Give Away Winner Announced

Drum Roll Please.....and we have a WINNER! for the free place on Life Book 2014 it is...
 Diana, number 1 on the list of comments on Life Book 2014, Can you Believe It! post.


Congratulations Diana, leave me your email and I will be in touch with you shortly.
Commiserations for those who did not win but Big thanks to all of you who stopped by, I was very touched reading all your heartfelt comments and knew I could not pick one over another. Therefore, I listed the help of to do it for me.

Just a head's up, registration opens for Life Book 2014 this Monday 7th October, if you are thinking of purchasing a place and go through the Life Book 2014 blog button on the side bar of my blog, I get paid a few dollars. This is how the Life Book 2014 teachers are compensated. This then gives me the chance to purchase and share with you all the exciting artiness I have planned for next year. Hope you can join me there!

Until next time, happy creating!

Friday 4 October 2013

Return to Oz

Well I am back on the Central Coast of Australia after our trip home to Ireland. I miss everybody already, especially our beautiful granddaughter Lucy. The weather got so wild and windy here on the Coast the other day that it reminded me of the movie "The Wizard of Oz". A personal favourite of mine as a child growing up.

What started out to be a simple idea for this illustration ended up a more complex piece to paint. The challenge were the textures of the gingham dress, wicker basket and the sequin shoes. All textures which I hadn't painted before.

After going through my art supplies, I decided the blue Letraset aquamarker was the best choice for the gingham pattern. It would give me crisp lines and reasonably quick to do. But then after the pattern was applied on the dress, I realised that where the two lines crossed I would need to go back in and redo each cross section!

That I discovered was the easy part, now to tackle the basket weave. I referred to a picture from the movie and studied it for a while. As you can see from the photo below, I tried out a sample section using acrylics on a spare piece of the hot pressed 140 lb watercolour paper. I knew this would work and could outline the wicker weave in darker colours using caran d'ache II watersoluble crayons to make it stand out more. Again very time consuming!

Ok, last challenge, the sequin shoes! I began with light and dark areas, taking in where the light would be coming from. I stippled black sharpie dots in mostly the highlighted areas and then with a white poster paint sharpie, went over the tip of the black sharpie dots. Varying the size of the white dots in clusters gave it a more of a realistic look. Adding in a deep orange here and there over the white dots also added to the effect. I applied this same technique in the form of slightly bigger dots to the wand, to add a bit of contrast.

Close up of basket.

I changed the direction of the Koala's eyes slightly, so he was looking more towards the wand. Adding the finishing touches, highlights to the Koala's eyes.

Close up of Koala.

I am very happy with the end result and glad I persevered with the textures. Sometimes we need to push ourselves in order to grow as artists. Will I be racing to do these textures again? probably not for a while haha! However, if there comes a time that I need to use one of these, at least I know what I have to do now.

How about you? Have you had similar experiences? As always comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Enjoy your weekend, thanks for stopping by.
Until next time, happy creating!